True Love’s Kiss
AU Setting: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the original fairytale, not the Disney film). That being said, I’ve used the nicknames from the film just to distinguish between the different dwarves. Genre is humour/fluff/crack. I don’t know if I need to put a warning for character death seeing as I imagine all of us know how the story of Snow White goes already…?
For your reference:
Following the death of their beloved Snow White, the seven dwarves mourn in their own ways. Grumpy takes it particularly hard, and Happy tries to comfort him.
The cottage had grown incredibly quiet since that fateful night.
The seven dwarves had laughed and sung working songs as they trudged home with their pick axes slung over their shoulders. It had been a long, tiring day in the coal mines, but they knew that their hard work would come to fruition when the court jeweller would come to purchase their findings.
Knot had been the first to open the creaky wooden door, being the responsible keeper of the cottage keys. A few others had trickled into the living room after him, before stopping in their tracks, their song and laughter dying down as they’d taken in the scene in front of them.
Oak had immediately pulled Bright and M back outside into the open, knowing that they would get increasingly upset if they were to stay.
Kongpob, for a change, had wiped his usual cheery demeanour from his face, hands trembling as he watched Tutah and Knot rush to Prae’s side, trying gently to shake some consciousness into her lifeless body, and pulling Arthit’s angry, tearful face into his shoulder when Knot had looked up at them mournfully after placing his short, stubby finger shakily under her nose. Tutah had solemnly picked up the apple that had fallen out her grasp, just after she’d taken the smallest of bites.
When Bright and M had finally realised what had happened, they had been inconsolable, sobbing and sniffling late into the night until exhaustion had finally overtaken all of them. It had been especially difficult to have to tuck themselves into bed that night, having grown accustomed to being lulled to sleep with Prae’s gentle song, and gentle kisses to each of their forehead as she brought the blankets up to their chins.
Over the next few days, they’d worked on building their beautiful caregiver an equally pristine coffin to rest in. Tutah and M carve out intricate patterns of vines and birds into the mahogany base of the coffin, while Doc busies himself with hammering a large concave of glass into crystalline shape, that would serve as the coffin’s lid. Even in death, Prae’s beauty deserved to be fully on display, for anyone who would come by to witness the purest of souls being preserved in her element.
They’re working on the final touches now, M brushing a coat of varnish onto the wood to give it a gleaming finish. The others rest after hours of hard work, sipping on clay mugs of hot tea that Kongpob had brought them to warm their hands in the nipping air of dusk in the forest clearing where they’re building the coffin.
Barely any of them have said a word to each other since Prae’s death, and the silence breaks in the most inelegant of manners.
“I can’t believe it,” Arthit says through clenched teeth. “After all we told her about not talking to strangers, she goes and does this.”
Tutah is the first to look at him, incredulous. Being generally fatigued by nature, he’d become even more lethargic in the last few nights, lying wide awake at night while trying to stifle his yawns.
“How could you say that, Grumpy? Are you trying to say that Snow did this to herself?”
“I’m not saying it’s her fault, Sleepy, but honestly!” he narrows his eyes. “Who takes an apple from a complete stranger who passes by the window?”
“I’m sure she was just being polite,” says Knot. “You know what she’s like. She even fed every bird who sat on our windowsill.”
“That’s exactly what I mean, Doc,” Arthit shakes his head in exasperation. “Maybe if she’d learned to say no once in a while, she wouldn’t have ended up like-“
“You know what, Grumpy? We don’t need your negativity right now,” Oak stands up, pointing an accusing finger at him. “We just lost our Snow and all you can do is complain and talk like you’re any better than the rest of us.”
“Yeah! Sneezy’s right!” M pipes up. “You’ve barely helped us with the coffin, and now you’re basically blaming her for her own death!”
Bright, who’d been crying up to this point, looks up at Arthit with angry, tearful eyes.
“Now look what you’ve done. You’ve gone and upset Dopey,” Knot sighs in exasperation. “Look, Grumpy, if you don’t have anything remotely helpful to say or do, just go back to the cottage.”
Arthit takes in the five angry glares surrounding him, and bites back the tears welling up in his eyes.
“Fine, I guess I’m not needed here.”
He dumps his empty mug on the ground next to the log he’d been sitting on, and stomps back towards the cottage as quickly as his short little legs will take him.
Kongpob watches after him, and his stomach sinks. He turns to the others, and sighs, picking up the fallen mug.
“You all know that he doesn’t actually mean any of that, right?”
“Happy, he basically said that it was Snow’s fault. How could he?” Oak pinches his nose as he holds in a quiet sneeze.
“I don’t think that’s what he meant,” Kongpob replies, standing up now, dusting moss off the back of his trousers. “Anyway, I’m going to go and check on him.”
The others bite back muted huffs of irritation as Kongpob, too, makes his way down the path leading back to their humble cottage. Kongpob had always been the only one among all of them who could tame Arthit’s ever-grumpy outbursts, and it’s only natural that this is the case now.
When Kongpob reaches the cottage, he sees Arthit standing at the edge of the pond that stretches out in front of their home. He’s kicking pebbles, watching as they plop with a resounding bloomp! into the mossy green water.
“You want to tell me what’s really on your mind, Grumpy?”
Arthit sighs, glancing sideways at his companion, whose usually sparkling eyes are now dim with a mask of sadness. Kongpob sits on a nearby log, patting the space next to him, into which Arthit slowly settles after a moment.
“I didn’t mean that I thought it was her fault,” he says, almost bitingly. “The others always just assume that I’m being horrible.”
“I know,” Kongpob shuffles closer to him and stretches his own small arm over Arthit’s narrow shoulders. “So what’s going on?”
“I guess…I’m just mad at myself, Happy. She’s always been so pure and kind, and always thought nobody could do her wrong, even me.”
“You never did anything to her, Grumpy,” Kongpob reassures him.
“I did! I knew how innocent she was and I knew someone should have stayed with her at the cottage, especially after her crazy stepmother tried twice with the suffocating bodices and the poisoned comb. I…I could’ve stayed with her, Happy, and I could’ve-“
“You could’ve what?” Kongpob reaches out to wipe a stray tear that’s rolling down Arthit’s cheek. “Grumpy, if not this time, the Evil Queen could have found another way. There’s nothing any of us could have done. We were all at the mine, like we always are, and it’s nobody’s fault, especially not yours.”
He pulls Arthit in closer, gently brushing a speck of dirt off the tip of his nose. Despite his nickname, Kongpob knows, looking into Arthit’s wide, scared eyes, that under all the snarky remarks, he, too, has a heart of pure gold.
“She’s at peace now, Grumpy,” Kongpob whispers, pulling Arthit’s crying face into his chest, the entire length of his arms cradling his head.
As he holds him, Kongpob looks up briefly to see Knot, whose shoulders are slumped over with guilt at having chastised their friend, who is clearly hurting just as much as the rest of them.
Knot walks over to them, frowning slightly before he, too, wraps his arms around Arthit, resting his head on his back. Arthit startles a little at the contact, but soon nestles his face further into Kongpob’s chest. As the others make their way back from the clearing, they join in on the collective embrace, crying silent tears together at the loss of their lovely Prae.
It takes all seven of them to carry Prae’s body to the coffin, but with some careful and calculated teamwork, they manage to heave her onto the bed of the casket, Tutah smoothing out her skirt and folding her hands on her abdomen. Despite almost a week having passed, she still looks as fresh as the morning they’d last seen her, almost as if she were merely deep in sleep. The only sign of her lifelessness is the colour gone from her cheeks, leaving her skin as white and pale as, well, snow.
As they stand around the casket, they each pull their caps off of their heads, clasping them in their fists as they silently say their goodbyes. Kongpob silently reaches for Arthit’s hand, and he takes it wordlessly, gripping it tightly as he looks down at his feet.
As Knot moves slide the glass top over the casket, they hear the trotting of a horse in the distance, causing several of them to look up. They watch in amazement as the stallion in question slows to a halt when it reaches the clearing.
The rider of the white steed, a broad-shouldered woman with large eyes and raven-black hair, gracefully slides off of the saddle, her long riding boots thumping onto the ground with the crunch of leaves. M immediately cowers, stepping backwards towards the coffin as though this sword-wielding, strikingly handsome rider could cause any further harm to their beloved Prae.
“I’m not going to hurt any of you,” she says, noticing the fear in some of their eyes. “I’m Princess May, daughter of King Tew from the neighbouring kingdom.”
The dwarves, upon realising they’re in the presence of royalty, immediately kneel in front of the princess, who quickly ushers for them to stand.
“Please, good men, there’s no need for that. I simply noticed that there were people in this clearing, and wondered what the commotion was.”
Knot, although somewhat reserved, speaks up.
“We’re holding a funeral, your Highness,” he says, gesturing to the coffin behind him. “Our caregiver was taken from us too soon.”
Princess May’s brows furrow with concern, and she moves towards the coffin, her sturdy armour scraping with every step. She sighs gently, taking in the features of the young woman, the gentle slope of her nose, her still-pink lips and the ebony hair swept off of her face.
“She’s beautiful,” she says, almost a whisper. “What happened to her?”
“She bit into a poisoned apple. The Queen of our kingdom has been trying to kill her for some time now. She’s incredibly jealous of her beauty.”
“Your queen? Queen Paga?”
“Yes,” Oak squeaks at the sound of her name. “We think she’s the one who disguised herself and gave our Snow White the apple.”
“She was too pure!” Bright wails suddenly, and Tutah pats his back.
“Oh, Dopey,” he says, an attempt at comforting his usually scatterbrained friend.
“You know,” Princess May stands up straight, still looking at Prae. “There’s an old legend that says that Queen Paga is actually a witch. She was once the most beautiful woman in all the land. But her first love broke her heart, and she grew bitter. From then on, she conjured a spell that could kill any woman who dared to surpass her beauty. I imagine that that’s what she’s done with the apple.”
“Like a curse?” Kongpob tilts his head up at her in wonder.
“Exactly,” May nods at him.
“Well, every curse can be lifted, can’t it?” Arthit finally speaks for the first time. The others look at him curiously as this realisation dawns on him. “Is there any way we can bring her back?”
“There is,” May speaks slowly now. “But I don’t know if it will be so easy to accomplish.”
“What is it? We’ll do whatever it takes!” M says, eyes pleading.
“Well, the legend states that the only way that the curse can be lifted is if she receives a kiss from her true love,” she sighs, pushing her sword hilt behind her. “The problem is that we don’t know who that is.”
A moment of silence hangs among them, until suddenly, Bright breaks it with a loud outburst.
“I volunteer myself!” he cries. “I will kiss her!”
Knot smacks him in the chest with the back of his hand.
“Nobody asked for a volunteer, Dopey. And anyhow, she loved us all equally.”
“No, she loved me best!”
“No, I was her favourite!”
“She said I was handsome!”
“She said I mined the best diamonds!”
May tries to stifle a giggle at the way the miniature men around her are bickering.
“Gentlemen,” she says, trying to bring the focus back to the matter. “Look, I’m sure she loved all of you very much. And in such a case, I don’t think it would hurt for all of you to try.”
They exchange hesitant glances at each other, before nodding.
“I’ll go first!” Bright says, stepping closer to the coffin and climbing onto the edge to prop himself up so that he’s tall enough to reach. Despite his initial eagerness, his heart drops upon seeing Prae lie motionless, and a tear trickles down his nose as he gently presses a kiss to her forehead. The others hold their breaths as they wait for some sort of miracle reaction.
But none comes even after several minutes, and Bright eventually lowers himself back down to the ground, clearly disappointed, both with Prae’s persisting unconscious state, and with the fact that he was not, in fact, her true love.
“Um…I guess I’ll go next,” Knot mumbles. He, too, quickly pecks her forehead, and anxiously watches for any sign of awakening. Nothing.
The others follow after, each placing furtive kisses on her cheeks and forehead, each leaving disappointed when she doesn’t so much as flinch. Her skin remains cold and lifeless.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen,” May looks glumly down at her feet. “I wish I knew how else I could help. But there’s not much we can do when we don’t know who her true love is.”
They cling tighter to their hats, all solemn with defeat. Kongpob, however, who still has a teary Arthit’s face buried into his shoulder, looks up at her.
“Princess May, if I could, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for your highness to try as well? There’s no saying that her true love must be a man.”
At this, the others snap their heads up in surprise, trying to comprehend his meaning. Even Princess May takes a moment to ponder his words. Eventually, all the others are nodding in agreement, and gaze up at her with pleading eyes.
“Please?” Arthit says through a sniffle. “It’s our last hope for now.”
The handsome princess looks from them, to the resting maiden in the casket, and then back at the crying dwarves. For them, she would try. And if one as beautiful as the fair one lying before her were to be her true love, she can’t say that she minds terribly.
She steps forward, tucking her hair behind her ear, before slowly bending down, until her face nears Prae’s, observing the curve of her eyelashes and the ethereal glow of her pale skin. Then, her breath hitches as she gently presses her lips to the young girl’s, surprised by the softness, nothing like the lips of the nobleman with whom her mother had tried to arrange an engagement for her.
A few seconds pass, and she pulls away, her own cheeks slightly rosy.
She and the dwarves peer closely, breaths shortened as they wait eagerly.
Then, a miracle happens.
Kongpob thinks he might be seeing things, but he gasps when he realises that indeed, the colour in Prae’s cheeks flush a gentle pink, and her lashes flutter ever so slightly.
The others soon realise, too, and May grasps at Prae’s hands, feeling the warmth return to them gradually. A few more rises and falls of her chest and Prae’s eyes slowly flutter open, hazily taking in her surroundings.
The first thing she sees is the most dashingly beautiful woman she’s ever seen, and the small, dimpled smile on her face is lovely.
“Hello,” May whispers to her. “You must be Snow White.”
They stare at each other admiringly for a few more moments, before Prae finds herself surrounded by the hugs and kisses of her seven little friends, who are crying tears of joy and singing songs of praise.
Another week passes, and Kongpob and Arthit find themselves sitting at the window inside the cottage, gazing out into the front yard, where Prae is blushing and giggling at something Princess May whispers into her ear.
The two dwarves have just finished sweeping all the kitchen dust out the door, and after Oak’s complaints of it worsening his allergies, they decide to take a breather.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Kongpob says, watching the two girls.
“What is?” Arthit rests his chin on his hand, elbow on the windowsill.
“How love is so powerful that it can bring someone back to life,” he clarifies. “A simple kiss brought our Snow back to us.”
“Yes, well…what are the chances, though? Not all of us can find our true love in this lifetime.”
Kongpob smiles at his friend, an aching tightness forming in his chest as he observes the soft features of Arthit’s face, a complete juxtaposition to his nickname. He’s always thought that Arthit is just as, if not more, beautiful than Prae.
“What are you looking at?” Arthit suddenly feels awfully shy, blinking rapidly as the tips of ears redden with embarrassment.
“Would you kiss me to save my life, Grumpy?”
“Wh-What?” Arthit stutters. “Who says I’m your true love? And besides, you shouldn’t be taking poison apples from strangers anyway!”
He exhales sharply, a slight pout forming at Kongpob’s cheeky suggestion. The cheerful dwarf simply chuckles, leaning in closer, sending Arthit’s already thumping heart into overdrive.
“But hypothetically, if you were my true love, would you kiss me to bring me back?”
Arthit glances sideways at him, leaning away from the mischievous smirk.
“No,” he huffs, earning a slightly dejected look from Kongpob, who now moves away to rest his chin on his hands, palms laid on top of each other.
The corner of Arthit’s mouth turns up slightly. Feeling a hint of bravery wash through him, he leans in close enough to whisper in Kongpob’s ear.
“I’d kiss you even if you weren’t dead.”
Then he stands up, picking up the broom again and heading into the kitchen where Knot and Bright are stirring something in a large pot.
Looking over his shoulder briefly, he sees Kongpob’s shocked expression, and smiles slightly as Kongpob’s own mouth breaks into a wide grin, the sparkle in his eyes returning for the first time in two weeks.
True love does come in all genders, shapes, and sizes, after all.