Author's Note: This is a retelling of Snow White, except now Snow White is a gay man who falls in love with a gay Prince Charming. Snow White is played by Squall. "Prince Charming" is played by Seifer. They are characters from the game FF 8, so that would make this an Alternate Universe fan fiction. This takes place in a sort of Medieval setting.
This is Shonen Ai. There is no LEMON, but if you can't even stomach Shonen - Ai, then please don't read this or you would be highly offended which would just leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth. Please review whether you like this or not. I appreciate all criticism, as long as no one is verbally abusive. Thanks. Rated PG - 13.
By Miss Dincht
Once upon a time, there was a sprawling kingdom called Eshtar, and this great land was ruled by a king named Laguna Loire. Laguna was a wise and gentle king, and his subjects adored him. Hyne’s blessing was definitely with King Laguna for the kingdom flourished under his just rule, and most importantly, Hyne had seen fit to give Laguna good health, good looks, and a good wife in the lovely Lady Raine of Leonhart.
Lady Raine was a very doting wife. She lived her life only for her husband, her only desire was to see to his well – being. Although she was Queen and had several servants at her command, she served King Laguna with her own noble hands. She cooked for her husband, cleaned for him, and on occasion she would even stitch his clothing for him, something only peasant wives usually did for their husbands.
On one dark, wintry evening, Raine sat by one of the windows in her bedroom sewing a lovely crimson cloak for her king. As she sewed she pricked her finger, and she watched in fascination as the red blood dropped from her fingertip to land in the snow that had collected on the window ledge. When she saw the red blood against the white of the snow and the dark stone of the castle, a wistful feeling took hold of the Queen’s heart.
"When I have a child", she said, "they will have hair as dark as stone, skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood."
At that very moment a bright star passed overhead, but the Queen did not notice it. Quite satisfied with herself, the Queen went back to her sewing, and she forgot about the pledge she had made.
Although King Laguna was a busy man, he spent as much time with his wife as possible. His love for her was deep, as was his lust, and so it was not strange that the Queen would be with child shortly after the two were married.
The Kingdom of Eshtar was filled with joy when it was made known that the Queen was with child. Both the nobles and common - folk of Eshtar were greatly pleased. They had been eagerly awaiting news of an heir, and eventually the news spread into even the farthest kingdoms. Queen Raine’s pregnancy was an easy one, and so no one could have suspected what would happen on the night she was to give birth.
That night was a dark and stormy one. The servants whispered about whatever ill omens they may have seen or heard, but they remained hopeful that the birth would be quick and that the child would be safe. King Laguna paced back and forth before the birthing chamber, desperate to see his wife, but too afraid to venture to his wife’s bedside. The midwife did all she could to comfort the Queen and quickly deliver the child, but her task was far from easy. The babe was large, and had been positioned incorrectly in the Queen’s body, and so it was a difficult labor. Queen Raine’s body lasted long enough for her to free the babe, but there was too much blood, and she did not survive.
The child cried. Indeed, he wailed loud enough to rouse the heavens. Upon hearing that cry, King Laguna burst into the chamber – his aides Kiros of the Moors and Ward of House Zabac behind him – and immediately grabbed his child from the midwife. He had been so overjoyed that he had noticed neither the grim faces around him nor the still body of his young wife. His smile faded when he finally did look down upon his beautiful bride. A cry of anguish tore from his lips, and his new son answered the anguished wail with one of his own. King Laguna looked out at the storm then down at the weeping babe and felt his heart constrict.
"Squall." He said.
He placed the child back into the midwife’s arms and staggered from the chamber.
Many years passed, and Prince Squall grew into a fine young man. He was a beautiful boy, with hair as dark as stone, skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood. All who looked upon him adored him, and to but see his face was enough to make even the most hard – hearted person know warmth.
Besides being beautiful and well formed, the young Prince was also a very wise boy, indeed, as wise as he was beautiful. He took his studies and his role as Prince of Eshtar very seriously. He would spend long hours with tutors, or locked in his chambers pouring over the many old tomes that he had discovered in his father’s library. Although he was young, hardly more than a boy, he was becoming adept at war tactics and a master of the blade. Squall was not particularly friendly, for he had a somber, melancholy way about him, but he was loyal and honorable. He was simply a very quiet boy, and he liked to pass the time alone rather than in the company of others. The people called him White Squall because of his icy nature, but they also called him this because of his fair beauty and the startling whiteness of his smooth, flawless skin.
King Laguna did not spend much time with Squall, and some blamed this for Squall’s cool, melancholy nature. King Laguna loved the boy dearly, but he had always found it difficult to be near his son. The memory of his Queen still haunted him, and to be in Squall’s presence seemed to sharpen that pain for him. Laguna’s friends had been urging him to remarry, but he had been unwilling to let go of Queen Raine’s memory. However, King Laguna missed having a queen, for he was lonely, and he so wanted Squall to have a mother. He was unwilling to betray Raine, but after much thought and prayer, he decided that he could still uphold Raine’s memory and have a new bride. He decided that Raine wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer so, and he was certain that she knew that no one would ever replace her. So, King Laguna decided to remarry.
When the noble houses received the news that the King was once again seeking a wife, they hurried to present their daughters, nieces, and cousins to him. They were all fine ladies, but only one managed to pique his interest. The Lady Edea of the noble family Kramer was a cold, distant beauty, but there was something about her that intrigued Laguna. He could not say exactly what this was, but he found her very appealing. It was almost as though the woman had cast a spell on him.
Prince Squall was not pleased to hear that his father would remarry. Squall thought that Laguna’s behavior dishonored his mother, and he wanted no part of his father’s plans. The boy also distrusted the Lady Kramer, and he believed that a marriage to her would bring ruin to the kingdom.
"You cannot marry her father." Squall said one evening when the two sat in the Hall having their dinner.
"I know you do not approve, but the Lady Edea with be a fine wife and mother." Laguna replied.
"She will never be my mother. She will never replace Queen Raine." Squall said.
"You will learn to love her, and your mother would want you to be happy." Laguna said.
Squall rose from his chair. "I will never be happy with that woman in this house." He said. He abandoned the table and stormed from the Hall.
King Laguna shook his head sadly and resumed eating his meal. He hoped that the young Prince would learn to accept the new Queen.
But Squall would not accept her. The marriage took place on a warm summer’s day, and nobles and other great people from all over the land attended the celebration. Squall attended out of respect for his father, but once the ceremony had ended he retreated to his room and refused to join the gathering in the Hall. He retired to his bed, and his sleep was troubled.
The young Prince and the Lady Edea hated each other from the beginning, and the hatred between them only increased as the months wore on. They avoided each other as though the other were plagued, and rarely were the two ever seen in the same room together. Squall’s hatred was born out of immaturity, but Edea’s hatred had been born of envy and fear, and so her hatred was far more potent than the young Prince’s could ever be.
Lady Edea had come from a wealthy family that had fallen on hard times. Despite their hardship, the family was still feared by many, for it was rumored that certain members of House Kramer were in league with dark forces and that some of them practiced evil magic. King Laguna had heard these rumors, but he had dismissed them as fantasy, for he had known certain members of the Kramer household since his youth. But there was truth to the rumors, and the Lady Edea did indeed dabble in dark magic.
Queen Edea possessed many spells and magical artifacts, but her most potent relic was a magic mirror. Queen Edea was a vain creature, and in this mirror she had found the secret to lasting beauty. For as long as she had lived she had thought herself the most beautiful creature in the land, and the mirror had always told her that this was truth, but most recently the mirror had begun to tell her otherwise. As Squall began to grow, to change from boy to man, so grew his beauty. The love that others felt for the boy increased a hundredfold. Both men and women lusted after and longed for the youth, and in the eyes of all who looked upon him he was greater and more magnificent that one of Hyne's own angels. He was more loved than Edea ever would be, and this truth was destroying the bitter Queen.
Queen Edea’s hatred for Squall increased tenfold when the mirror began to taunt her with the growing boy’s beauty, and although Squall would never have acted on his hatred, Edea had no qualms about raising a hand against the youth. She behaved cordially to the young Prince whenever she saw him, but her mind worked feverishly for a way to be rid of him.
The Hunter was from her King’s own army, but Edea’s knew very little about him. She did not need to know anything about him, for she knew what he wanted, she knew that he would obey her every command once she’d allowed him to have her body. It was a simple task to coax him into her bed, and as soon as the deed was done she wasted no time in making her desires known.
"I want you to kill the boy." Edea said. She sat at her vanity combing her lustrous black hair. The Hunter sat in the bed watching her, his eyes still filled with lust.
"I cannot kill him. He is my Lord, my Prince. I have pledged myself to him, and the King would have my head." The Hunter said.
Edea turned from the vanity. She allowed her shift to slip below her lush, white breasts so that the young man’s desire would cloud his thinking. "The King will have your head when he discovers that you have forced yourself upon his wife, Sir Kinneas." She said.
"You wanted this." He said.
"Did I? No one will believe you." She said. She turned back to the vanity, to her mirror, and resumed combing her lengthy, ebon tresses. "You will kill him, and you will cut out his heart and bring it back to me."
Edea gave herself to the Hunter one last time to ensure that the youth fulfilled his promise to her, and when dawn came she threw him from her chamber.
Lady Edea had never been as happy as she was on the following day. She was kind to the servants, more loving to King Laguna then she had ever been, and she even behaved sweetly toward young Prince Squall, who was at once baffled by and distrustful of her behavior. Prince Squall had risen that morn with a feeling that some ill would befall him, but he had quickly dismissed it. When he left the castle for his daily hunt, he took no guards with him.
Prince Squall had never liked guards to attend him when he hunted, and this was the reason he hadn’t allowed anyone to accompany him despite the troubling feeling he had. Squall rode his white steed deep into the woodlands and hunted well into the afternoon, and when night began to descend upon the forest, he headed back toward the castle. He rode somewhat leisurely through the ever – darkening wood, lost in his thoughts and unmindful of his surroundings. The young Prince did not notice the other youth until it was far too late. He only glimpsed the man once before he was struck on the head and knocked unconscious.
The Hunter gazed down at the Prince and raised his sword to cut off the fallen youth’s head. It would have been a simple matter to bring the blade down and cut through the Prince’s graceful neck, but as the Hunter looked down at the pale, exquisite beauty he could not bring himself to commit such an evil act. Although he’d known and loved the Prince his entire life, he would have killed the boy for a night with the Queen. The Hunter was ashamed, and he hated himself for what he’d almost done. He could not kill the youth, and so he lowered his sword.
The Hunter returned to the castle that evening and presented Lady Edea with a bleeding heart wrapped in a silken cloth. Edea was so overjoyed that she did not notice the Hunter’s odd behavior. She sent him on his way without a second thought after thanking him for his good work. Sir Kinneas climbed atop his steed and fled the Kingdom as soon as he was dismissed from the Queen’s chamber. He found employment in a distant kingdom, and was never heard from again. When the Prince did not return that evening King Laguna went out with his men to look for the boy. They found the Prince’s steed, but there was no sign of young Squall.
It had begun to snow, and deep in the forest, far from any place where humankind dwelled, the Prince was awakening. Squall opened his eyes and somehow managed to find the strength to sit up. His head throbbed painfully, and it took several moments for his vision to clear. He remembered being attacked, but he could not remember who had attacked him. He examined his surroundings and soon realized that he recognized nothing around him. He was still in the woodlands, but he’d been carried a great distance from any place he knew. Darkness surrounded him, and strange beasts cried out in the distance. Prince Squall reached for his sword and cursed when he realized that it had been taken from him. When the Prince heard a loud roar in the distance, he quickly decided that it would be wise to move on. He shakily rose from the ground, and after gaining his balance, he chose a direction in which to go.
The snow - storm worsened as Prince Squall continued on, and he could hardly see through the blinding whiteness. He clutched his dampened cloak tightly to his body as he stumbled through the cold dark, woods. The Prince was a courageous youth, but even he feared the woods at night, and it was so terribly cold. It was so cold that Squall did not think he would be would be able to go on. Every step was torture, and his body grew more exhausted with each passing moment. He tried very hard not to weep, but he was so tired and so cold and so hungry that he couldn’t prevent the tears that began to pour from his eyes. Despair soon overwhelmed him, and he was about to surrender to the cold and the darkness when he spotted a faint light in the distance.
Prince Squall moved as swiftly as he was able in an attempt to reach the glowing beacon before his body betrayed him. As he ran though the green woodlands, thorny bushes ripped at what remained of his clothing, but he was unmindful of the pain. All his woes seemed to vanish when his eyes finally beheld the small cottage. He collapsed onto the doorstep of the small dwelling and wept for joy.
Eventually, the young Prince managed to pull himself from the ground and enter the tiny abode. He had never seen such a place, and he marveled at it. Everything within the tiny shack seemed of a size that suited a young child. Squall wondered at the small table and chairs before him, the small bed he could see in the far room, and the tiny pots and pans that hung from the walls. Squall’s stomach protested loudly when he noticed the food on the table. Squall rushed forward and collapsed into one of the small chairs. He grabbed a loaf of bread from a bowl in the center of the table and began to devour it. An hour later Squall had eaten five more loaves of bread, half of a roast, and several fruits. He yawned and clambered up from the table. He was very, very tired, and he didn’t hesitate to climb into the bed and drift off into sleep.
When he woke he heard voices, strange musical voices the like of which he'd never heard. Blue eyes opened, then widened when he saw the two little people, a woman, and a man, standing beside the bed. The Prince scrambled up and stared in wide – eyed wonder at the pair. One was male, the other female. They wore strange clothing, and each held a picking tool in their small hands. The Prince had never seen such odd people. He had of course heard of the little folk that lived in the forest, but he’d never believed in the legends. They both resembled children in face and form, but their eyes were the eyes of those who had lived a long time.
"Who a – are you?" the Prince asked.
"I am Selphie. He is Zell, my husband." the small woman said.
"You know who we are boy, but who are you?" Zell said.
"I am Prince Squall." Squall said softly.
"He is a Noble's child!" she said.
"What are you doing here human boy?" Zell asked.
"I do not know. I…am lost." He said.
"Lost. Only a human could get lost in the wood." Zell said.
"Can you not find your way, child?" Selphie asked.
"I cannot." Squall said.
"Your father will surely look for you." Selphie said.
"He does not know where I am. I have no where to go." Squall said.
Selphie looked at her husband and grinned. The small man sighed heavily and looked toward the Heavens.
The little woman smiled and looked at Squall. "You could remain here with us, child, if it please you. At least until your father finds you." she said.
"But you must work for your bread, boy. Nothing here is free." Zell said.
Squall nodded and smiled. "I would like that." He said.
So, from that day on, Prince Squall dwelled in the home of Selphie and Zell. The Prince became very fond of his two little hosts, and they in turn became very fond of him. They were able to thaw some of the ice from his heart. Zell and Selphie had never been blessed with children, and they treated Prince Squall as though he were their very own son. In time the two came to love Squall dearly, and they would do anything at all for the beautiful young Prince.
Prince Squall adjusted quite well to his new life, although living in the forest was not an easy task. There was always much work to be done, and Squall was not used to so much work. He complained often, but he was thankful that he had found a warm place to stay. Although he loved Selphie and Zell deeply, he missed his father and longed for his home, and he would think of these things often. Yet he never sought to return to his home, for he had vowed that he would never return home as long as the Lady Edea was Queen. This vow pleased Zell and Selphie greatly, for they feared what would happen to the youth should his step - mother ever find him. They warned him about going too far from the cottage, and they made him vow that he would never, ever speak to anyone who should happen by.
Three travelers on horseback had come to the woodland seeking a place to hide. The silver haired woman was disguised as a man, and although she was a woman, very few men could wield a sword as well as she. Her name was Fuujin. The dark, dark - haired man wielded a staff, and he was also capable in battle. His name was Raijin, but people called him The Bear. Both were servants of the blonde on the black horse, but they were his friends as well.
The blonde was a prince, although one would not know it to look at him. His hair was wild, his clothes filth - covered and torn, and his smile was wicked and full of mischief. His father was King Cid of Galbadia, a most noble man, but the youth was a wastrel, a whoremonger, and a rabble - rouser, and on occasion he was even what one would call a thief. He was, however, a fearsome warrior, so his father did not complain overly much. Many a battle had been won by the Prince's arm alone, so King Cid allowed the youth his dalliances. Prince Seifer had vowed long ago that he would not waste his youth. He vowed that he would mend his ways when the time came for him to be King, but until then life was a sport to be enjoyed and nothing more.
Prince Seifer and his cohorts had just raided a party of pilgrims who had been headed to the Shrine of Hyne at Dollet. Seifer was quite pleased with their spoils, but he was tired, and he longed for a bit of sleep. He and his company made camp some ways off the road, beneath the shield of a great oak. While Fuujin and Raijin got a fire going, Prince Seifer wandered off in search of some water to give to the horses.
Although winter had come several weeks ago, it was a surprisingly warm day. Prince Seifer was glad for the fair weather, for it had been far too cold for the past few days. Seifer had never liked the winter months. Although he could admit that there was plenty to do on a cold winter's night, especially if he had a nice, warm body next to him beneath the sheets.
It was not long before Prince Seifer came upon a lake. The body of water was surrounded by thick trees and other growth. There was a small fall of water that cascaded down from a short cliff above the lake and flowed over large, glimmering rocks at the base of the fall. It was quite a lovely scene, serene and peaceful, and despite his coarse nature he could appreciate it. It was like a Faerie's abode, a place of magic and enchantment.
Prince Seifer moved through the heavy forest growth, but halted abruptly when a pristine white form broke the surface of the water. The blonde immediately hid himself behind a thick cluster of brush. He crouched down low behind the large, thorny bramble bush and peered through the leaves.
"A Faerie." he whispered.
Of course, a seasoned warrior such as the Prince of Galbadia did not believe in such nonsensical musings, but he found no other word to describe the exquisite beauty before him. The boy was a creature too fine and too fantastic to ever be real, and Prince Seifer was even afraid to move in fear of shattering the beauteous vision. His breath caught in his parched throat as his emerald green eyes explored every lovely line and every elegant angle of the youth's nude flesh. The boy's movements were shameless and pure, for he did not know of the lecherous man who watched him, and so Seifer was given an uninhibited view of the brunette as the dark - haired sprite bathed himself in the glittering water. Prince Seifer's tongue danced over his lips as he watched the beauty's slender hands explore thigh, chest, and belly, and when the brunette's hands would grace his most secret part, the golden - haired prince thought that he would die.
Seifer rose to his full height, and without giving it a second thought he marched through the brush and toward the water's edge. The fair brunette was startled by the intrusion and he placed one slender arm across his chest and one delicate hand over the place between his white thighs. He dropped into the water, so that only his head broke the surface. Prince Seifer stared at the youth's features, noting that the boy was even lovelier up close. Hair as dark as stone, lips as red as blood, and skin as white a snow. A lovely sight, and Seifer decided that he would trade his soul for an opportunity to feel all that pretty white skin against his own. Seifer turned from the willowy brunette, but only for a moment, just long enough to snatch the youth's clothing from the muddied earth at his feet.
"My clothes. Give them to me." the boy said.
Seifer's eyes fluttered as the youth's clear but sensuously soft voice filled his ears and caressed his body.
"I will gladly return them to you, but only if you tell me your name." he said. He grinned evilly.
"Why should you know my name?" the boy said.
"I would know it so that I may tell it to the Cleric when he is to marry us." Seifer said.
The boy was silent for some time, his blue eyes both thoughtful and confused. Then he laughed. A lovely sound. "You jest, scoundrel. Now give me my things you filthy rogue. I want no part of your foolishness." the youth replied.
"You want these pitiful rags? Come and take them." Seifer said. He dangled the garments from his fingers.
The young man hesitated, but eventually emerged from the water. Prince Seifer stared at the boy shamelessly, but the icy brunette did not waver beneath the fiery gaze. The brunette stood before the blonde proudly as he reached with one slim, white arm for his clothing. As soon as Prince Squall's slender fingers touched the garments, Prince Seifer flung them aside and grabbed the brunette in a tight embrace. The boy uttered an obscene string of curses, and the large blonde silenced him with a forceful kiss. The boy's taste was exquisite, and Seifer overindulged himself in the sweetness of it. He could not help it, for the boy's lips were like the sweetest nectar, his mouth like some heady wine. Seifer sucked eagerly at the brunette's lips, and his rough hands roamed mercilessly over the silky, white skin of the tender beauty's lush backside and creamy thighs. All coherent thought fled his mind as his lips and hands ravished the boy's body, he knew only that the boy should be his for all eternity.
The youth, however, had other ideas. The sultry brunette allowed the onslaught for a time - too short a time by Seifer's account - but all too soon the boy decided that he wanted no part of the blonde Prince. He bit deeply into Seifer's lip and pushed the larger youth away from him. Seifer touched his bloodied lip with a hand and looked at the brunette in shocked silence. The brunette snatched his clothing from the ground and fled. Prince Seifer raced after Prince Squall, but he could not catch the swift brunette, and he eventually lost sight of the smaller youth among the thick trees.
Prince Seifer spent the rest of the evening searching the woodland for any sign of Prince Squall, but it was all in vain. He returned to his camp and company with a heavy heart. From that day forward, Prince Seifer searched for the winsome youth. He searched high and low, day and night, but found nothing for his trouble. He would return home from time to time, but he could never stay there long. The world became dull and meaningless, and he had no joy in his life. He became a sullen fellow, and he was always in a very bad mood. He ate and slept with the boy in his thoughts, and he vowed that he would keep searching until he found him. He felt cold and empty without the boy, and his life had no meaning.
Things were a bit different for Prince Squall. The ice that had encased Squall's heart had melted away because of a handsome blonde's fiery touch. Prince Squall was in love. He had never been in love, so he had no idea how to behave. He only knew that he felt as one does who has lived too long in the cold and has finally found warmth. He did strange things because of the way he felt. He would burst into a song for no apparent reason. He would suddenly grab Selphie or Zell in his arms and spin them around until they were all dizzy and they fell on the ground. He would dance, just get up for no reason and dance. Zell hated to dance, so Prince Squall would dance with Selphie until the little woman would squeal with delight. Sometimes he would simply sit and stare off into nothing, and he would sigh softly as though remembering a lover's caress. He smiled more too. Indeed, it was rare to see him without it.
Zell was baffled by the Prince's behavior, and he didn't approve of it. He chastised the Prince often, but Squall hardly paid the disgruntled, little man any attention. Selphie, however, encouraged Squall, and the two would spend hours talking about matters of love and desire. Prince Squall listened to every word the little woman said like it was the most precious utterance he had ever head, and when Selphie spoke Prince Squall would think of the handsome blonde who had kissed him. He wanted to see the man again, and he wished he hadn't run away from the striking blonde. He had been afraid of the man because the man made him feel things he had never felt before, but now that he understood what he felt, he wanted more.
Queen Edea had lived a blissful life since Prince Squall's disappearance. She was now the most beautiful creature in all the land, and she was loved and adored by the entire Kingdom. It did not matter to her that Laguna had begun to withdraw from her, for she was worshipped and adored by vast numbers of people. The Ladies of the Court would lie, cheat, steal, and kill for the opportunity to become one of the Queen's favorites, and the Lords of the Court would fight amongst themselves for an opportunity to but kiss Edea's hand. The castle servants were enchanted by her beauty, and when the peasants saw her they worshipped at her feet. Edea had all she had ever wanted, and so she had no more use for the mirror. Until one day when she heard a rumor about a beautiful boy who lived deep in the woodlands.
Edea was angered and frightened by this news. She searched desperately for any word of this beautiful boy, but not many knew about him, and even fewer claimed to have ever seen him. Edea had no choice but to consult her mirror, and the Queen was horrified by what the mirror showed her.
"He cannot be alive." She cried.
The ancient artifact glimmered.
Oh, but he is alive. You knew he was alive. You knew the Hunter lied to you.
"No! NO! It isn't possible! The child cannot be alive!" she cried.
But he is. See what I have shown you? He is alive and well, living in the woodlands, and because he still lives you cannot be the fairest creature in the kingdom, for young Prince Squall will always be far lovelier than you my Queen. Your beauty can not compare.
"NO!" Edea cried.
Yes, but if you are rid of him, you will be the fairest one of all my Queen. None would be fairer. It is the only way. Should he replace you? Should a foolish youth stand in your place?
"It cannot be...." Edea sobbed.
Ah, but it is. You know what you must do. The wicked Hunter failed you, but I would never betray you. I could never lie to you.
"I.....must get.....rid of him." Edea whispered.
Of course. That is the only way.
Queen Edea retreated to the highest tower in the castle. It was a dark place, and none ever dared to go there. There, in the faint light of the dank chamber, she toiled away, day and night, for more than a month. She consulted her dark books and cast devious spells, and eventually her work was done. She had only to wait until a time when she could execute her plan.
On a certain night it snowed. It was not a severe storm, but it provided enough cover for the Queen to enact her plan. Heavy flakes of snow fell from the darkened sky to cover everything in a blanket of white. The palace was still and silent, and no one noticed the bent figure that traveled the castle's dimly lit corridors. No one paid any mind to the old crone as she slipped from the castle then through the gates and down the dirt road toward the village. No one saw the decrepit hag as she made her way through the village, beyond it, and then into the woodland. She had the appearance of an old woman, but inside Edea was as hearty and dangerous as she was when in her true form. She overcame the obstacles in her path with ease, and although she had no idea exactly where it was that she was going, a dark purpose propelled her forward, and so she knew this would help her find her way.
That night Prince Squall dreamed of his beloved. He dreamed that he and the handsome blonde prince were lovers. It was a beautiful dream filled with sweet kisses, gentle caresses, and soft words of love. Squall woke the following day feeling a warmth he had never known before. He chatted on incessantly at the morning meal, and he didn't groan or complain as he went about his daily chores. He didn't complain when Selphie scolded him for being careless with the laundry, and he didn't mind when Zell scolded him for forgetting to go to the well and get water for dinner. He was so happy that nothing could ruin his mood.
Zell and Selphie left that afternoon to go dig for gold. While they were gone, Prince Squall went to the well to fetch the water for dinner. He sang sweetly as he made his way down the snow - covered path to the ancient stone well. Squall was startled to find an old woman dressed in rags there waiting. Squall remembered that he was forbidden to speak to strangers, but he was in such a wonderful mood that he couldn't have found fault in anyone even if he had wanted to. He saw no harm in speaking to the old woman, and so he did not shy away from the ancient crone. Indeed, he went out of his way to assist her.
"Hello, good mother." he said as he placed his bucket on the edge of the well. "How do you fare?"
Blackened lips curled back over yellowed teeth when the crone smiled. "Water for an old woman?" she said.
"Of course." Squall said. He filled the small bucket with water then handed it to the old woman.
"Thank you, my sweet." she said.
"You are welcome." he said.
The crone looked up at the clear blue sky. "A strange winter this is. One day it storms, the next it is as clear and warm as if this were summer." she said.
"The weather is moody." Squall said. He smiled.
The crone grinned. "My, you are certainly a lovely one. Here pretty boy, mother has a gift for you." she said.
The bent woman pulled a large basket from beneath the fold's of her warn cloak. Prince Squall's eyes widened as he examined all of the marvelous wares that were in the woman's possession. There were all sorts of treasures in the basket. There was gold and silver and jewels, there were strange animals in small metal cages, and wooden boxes filled with rare spices. Prince Squall saw many items that he liked, but he was most fond of a set of golden rings.
"What is the cost for these golden bands? I don't have much coin." Squall asked.
The crone smiled. "Take them. Payment for aiding a poor old woman." she said.
A deep blush came to Squall's cheeks and he smiled prettily.
"One must be for yourself. So who will get the other? Who has warmed your heart?" she asked.
"I do not even know his name." Squall said.
"That's just as well, child. Love, like beauty, is a fleeting thing. It goes just as quickly as it comes." she said.
Squall frowned, his lips forming a pretty pout.
"Now, now, I'm but an old woman. Here. I have something that will lift your spirits." she said.
The woman pulled a shiny, red apple from her cloak. Squall looked longingly at the ripe fruit as the crone dangled it before his eyes. He was enchanted by it, and he liked his lips in anticipation of how it would taste. The woman cackled as Prince Squall took the apple from her skeletal fingers.
Edea's heart thumped wildly as she watched the boy bite into her poisoned apple. He chewed slightly on the bite he had taken, and the apple's juices cascaded over his lips and down his slightly rounded chin. He closed his eyes as though experiencing some erotic pleasure, and then his pretty blue eyes opened wide as the poison began to take the desired effect. Edea cackled loudly and watched, malicious glee in her heart, as the slender youth collapsed at her feet. The deadly fruit fell from his hand and disappeared in the snow. The youth's chest heaved once, and then he was still.
Edea screamed with joy and examined the boy to make sure he was dead. She laughed long and loud before spitting on the youth and cursing his still form. She gathered her skirts about her legs and fled from that place before anyone should see her.
The Queen had never felt so wonderful, so exhilarated, and she laughed loudly as she raced through the woodland. All she could think of was how she would finally be acknowledged as the most beautiful creature in all of the kingdom. She would lack for nothing, and anything she desired would be hers. There was no longer anyone to threaten her place, and furthermore, with Squall out of the way, she could eventually rule the entire kingdom. Edea had never even considered such a thing, but the idea appealed to her. The first thing she would do when she returned to the castle was consult her mirror, and when that was done she planned to hold a feast in her honor. Afterwards she could make plans for the future of Eshtar.
As Edea made her way home, following the same route she had taken to come into the woodland, a snowstorm arose. The sudden squall was many times worse than any that had ever come to the land, and Edea quickened her pace in an effort to reach the castle before the storm worsened. She still had a very, very long way to go, however, and the storm seemed to grew worse with every step she took. The snow whipped at Edea's skin and clothing, and the swirling whiteness made it extremely difficult for her to see anything before her. By the time she realized that she had come to the edge of a dangerous cliff it was already far too late. Edea screamed as she plummeted over the edge of the cliff but the horrific sound was swallowed whole by the wind. So was the sound of her body as it shattered on the rocks below. She was not even missed, and she was soon forgotten.
Zell was the first to see the fallen child. He and Selphie had both been terribly worried when they returned to find the cottage empty and no sign of Prince Squall. They searched and searched, but it finally occurred to them that Squall might be down at the well. Their happiness at finding the boy soon turned to dismay and fear when they realized that something terrible had happened to the lovely youth. They saw the other set of footprints in the snow, and they could easily guess who had committed such a wretched act.
Zell tired his best to revive the boy. Selphie wailed uncontrollably as Zell did everything he could think of to revive the boy. They tried to revive the boy by pouring water on him. They tried to revive him with food. They beat on his chest and tried to breath air into his lungs. They prayed over him and cried out to the Heavens, but not even these things worked. Nothing worked. The boy was cold and dead and they could not bring him back.
The two took Squall from the ground and carried his body back to the cottage. Zell scrubbed the body clean while Selphie sewed a garment for the Prince to be buried in. These were some of the most difficult task either of them had ever done. They loved Squall like he was their son. When he was cleaned and dressed they laid his body out on the dining table. They placed candles around the body to ward off evil spirits, and then they went to bed. Neither of them could sleep, so instead they remembered all that they had shared with the Prince and how much he meant to them.
When morning came Zell and Selphie went to the mines. They worked through the morning and the afternoon, never once stopping to rest. By late afternoon they had enough gold to fill their wheel - barrel. They took the gold back to the cottage and immediately went to work making a coffin. They toiled all through the night making the coffin, but by dawn it was finally complete. It was a beautiful piece of work, fit for a Prince. It was made of light blue glass, but shining gold covered most of the glass. The gold took the shapes of griffyns and dragons, wizards and faeries, and many other amazing creatures. It was the finest work that they had ever done. They lovingly placed the Prince's body in the coffin, and each kissed his check before they closed it.
It was not an easy task, but the two little people managed to haul the coffin into their little cart that was pulled by a little pony. Zell climbed in front of the cart while Selphie chose to ride in the back with the coffin. Zell snapped the reigns and the little pony was off. Zell and Selphie had decided that they would bury Squall near the lake because that was a place he was fond of. It was treacherous going and the forest roads were terrible because of the snowstorm, and on the way the cart fell into a ditch in the road. Zell got out of the cart to fix the broken wheel, and Selphie watched over the coffin.
There was another traveler on the road, and Selphie was quite surprised when she saw him. Selphie was alarmed by the sudden appearance of the human. Travelers in this part of the woodlands were rare, especially human travelers. She quickly covered Squall's coffin with an old blanket before shouting out a warning to her husband. Zell jumped into the back of the cart and grabbed a large axe. He then jumped out of the cart and stood before it. The large human on the enormous black stallion stopped directly in front of Zell and gazed menacingly down at the small, blonde man.
Prince Seifer was tired, weary, and unhappy. He had traveled wide and far in search of a dream, and he had been unable to find it. He had been traveling without food or rest for days, but he no longer cared about the needs of his body. He existed in perpetual darkness, and nothing could thaw the ice that had settle on his heart and chilled his soul. The two little people were threatened by his presence, but he had no intention of doing them any harm. He only wanted to pass, so that he could go on his way and find some peaceful place to die.
"Out of my way little man." Seifer said. "I have no quarrel with you. Move this contraption out of the way."
The little man relaxed slightly and lowered his axe. "It won't move. It's stuck." he said.
Seifer closed his eyes and groaned.
"You can go around us." Zell said.
Seifer sneered. "There is hardly enough room. Would you have my horse break his leg? I still have miles to go before I sleep." he said.
Zell shrugged. "I'll be done in a bit." he said.
Seifer suddenly wanted to hurt the gaping, little buffoon, but instead he slid off of his stallion and went over to the small cart to survey the damage. He knelt beside the cart and examined it thoroughly. The little man came to stand beside him.
"The wheel is shattered." he commented.
"I know that." Zell said.
"There is too much weight in the cart." Seifer said. "What are you carrying?"
Prince Seifer stood up and looked inside the back of the cart. The little woman was sitting there, next to something beneath a thick blanket. The woman smiled rather foolishly. Seifer snarled.
"What is that?" Seifer said.
Zell rushed to his side. "It's nothing. Nothing at all. Now can you help or not?" he said.
Seifer turned toward the small man, but from the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of something golden. He marched around to the back of the cart and grabbed the blanket.
"No! Don't!" Selphie cried.
The little woman grasped the blanket and pulled, but she was hardly as strong as the Prince, and the tug - of - war ended almost as soon as it had begun. The coarse blanket fell away revealing the beautiful, gold and glass coffin. Seifer's eyes widened when he saw the wondrous piece of work, but even more startling was what had been placed within the strange treasure box.
The blonde Prince scrambled to climb into the wagon. As soon as his weight bore down on it, the cart broke. Seifer jumped back as the coffin and the little woman slid from the wagon and onto the muddy road.
"Idiot human! Look at what you've done!" Zell cried.
Selphie wailed pitifully and began to cry. Zell picked her up from the road and held her close. They watched, a combination of horror and dismay twisting their features, as Seifer ripped off the lid of the coffin and tossed it aside. He grabbed Squall's lifeless body and pulled it close to him.
"What has happened to him?!" Seifer bellowed.
The two little people jumped and held each other tightly.
"He - he - his step - mother did this to him." Zell managed.
A harsh strangled sound came from the blonde's lips as he trailed bloodied fingers down one of Prince Squall's rosy cheeks. The boy was cold as ice, but Seifer's love warmed the still form. Prince Seifer had fallen deeply in love with the beautiful boy the moment he saw him, and he had searched the entire kingdom in hopes of seeing the youth again. His intention was to claim the brunette and marry him, but now there was no reason for him to continue living. Life was cold and barren without Squall, for without Squall life meant nothing. If he could not have the boy in life then he would gladly join Squall in death. Nothing else mattered. Seifer closed his emerald eyes and placed a gentle kiss upon the youth's red lips.
"Even in death he tastes sweet." Seifer said before kissing Squall once more.
Prince Squall responded with a loud cough. Seifer drew back and cried out he was so startled. Selphie gasped and Zell's mouth dropped open. Squall coughed once more and a chunk of apple fell from his lips. His dark lashes fluttered and his blue eyes opened. He groaned softly then sat up.
"Squall! Squall!" Selphie screamed.
The small woman tore out of her husband's arms and flung herself at the brunette. He held her tightly. She covered his face in kisses and he laughed prettily. Zell came to Squall's side as well, and he too held the boy. Both little people shed tears of joy, but none was happier than Seifer. He knelt back beside the coffin and grasped Squall's hand. Squall pulled away slightly, but when he recognized the handsome blonde his heart grew warm and his body burned.
"It is you!" Squall cried.
Seifer grinned. "So it is." he said.
Squall leaned forward and kissed the blonde. "I want to have you." he said when the kiss was done.
"You have fine ways of showing it." Seifer said.
Squall blushed. "This feeling is new to me." he said.
Seifer licked his lips. "I can teach you all you need to know." he said, hunger in his voice.
Squall grinned. "Take me home. I want you to meet my father. You must ask him if you can have me." he said.
"And if he says no?" Seifer said.
"He will not say no, but if he does we will do it anyway. I will be a king someday after all." Squall replied.
The entire Kingdom of Eshtar, from peasant and pauper to Lord and Lady, was overjoyed when their lost Prince finally came back to them, and none was happier than the King himself. He held a magnificent feast to celebrate the return of his son. During the celebration, Zell and Selphie were rewarded for their care of Squall. They did not want gold or jewels because the had plenty of that, but they asked the King to promise them that he would always protect the woodlands and never destroy them. King Laguna immediately created a law that prevented anyone in the kingdom from cutting down too many trees at once. Irvine, the Hunter, was allowed to return to the kingdom, and his was restored to his place among the King's men. And Prince Seifer was given permission to marry Prince Squall in a ceremony that would take place at the beginning of the summer season.
Prince Seifer changed his ways, and lived a pure life which made his father proud. Fuujin and Raijin were allowed to join King Cid's Guard, and they were always Seifer's closest friends. The winter passed and so did spring, and when summer arrived the noble houses of Leonhart - Loire and Almasy were joined at the Shrine of Hyne in Dollet. Prince Seifer married Prince Squall, and the two went to dwell in a large castle in Galbadia. On the wedding night Seifer claimed his beloved companion, and in the heat of fiery passion their two bodies were joined as one. The ice had completely melted away from the White Squall's heart, and he lived the rest of his life in warmth and love. And indeed, they all lived happily ever after.
What the heck? Anyway, REVIEW, PLEASE? And thanks to everyone who has ever reviewed anything I've done. Good or bad I really appreciate it. You keep me on my toes and encourage me to want to keep writing. Thank you.
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