And so Aurora stayed and life went on as it should.
The dwarves went to work whistling, Snow White worked around the house, and now, with her new friend, Aurora, had someone to talk to.
And they talked for hours. Sometimes the dwarves would come home to no food to eat because the two friends had been chatting all day. Luckily, one look from Snow and they knew not to say a word.
They had Twirly Bird delivery service deliver take out meals on those days.
(What? You don’t think the Enchanted forest has take out? Come on. It’s not that impressive. It’s just a couple of birds with a couple bags full of food that they get from the local taverns. No biggie.)
And Aurora’s long-dormant confidence was allowed to shine. How could it not with so many caring and accepting people around her?
Even Grumpy was starting to warm to her.
The nights were still troublesome though. While Snow always had friends to stand beside her, Aurora had been alone for quite some time. She hadn’t seen her fairy mothers in years. The nights brought out her fears.
Fear of Phillip coming to find her.
Fear of being punished.
Fear of being abandoned even though her new friends showed no sign of leaving her.
It was one of those nights when she laid awake tossing and turning and trying her best to stifle the sound of her tears when she felt the bed press down behind her.
When she looked over her shoulder at who it was, she saw Snow White in her white cotton night gown holding a plate with the leftovers from the apple pies they made. With seven men and the two of them, they had to make a couple, and there was just a quarter of a pie left.
Snow White gently laid the plate on the bed and put her hand on Aurora’s arm.
“I get nightmares too sometimes,” she smiled a little.
“It was worse when I first came back here, after I left,” she cleared her throat, “Charming but the longer I’ve been away, the fewer I’ve had.”
“Would you like to talk about it? Even if you don’t we can still have some pie. It’s better than trying to make yourself fall back to sleep, I’ve found,” Snow shrugged a bit self-consciously.
Aurora could hardly believe it. Snow had been so nice to her. Something she really hadn’t experienced since she was growing up with her fairy mothers.
She had been looking back a lot lately and wasn’t even sure if her memories of the early days with Philip were as good as she once thought
She took a deep breath and turned to sit up, her back leaning against the wall her bed sat next to.
She would trust Snow but she wasn’t sure she would survive if she turned out to be wrong about her.
But she had to take this chance.
Snow crawled up beside her, balancing the plate to make sure the pie didn’t fall, and sat down next to Aurora and handed her a fork.
They both dug in, the sweetness on each of their tongues distracting them for a moment.
“Damn, this pie is good,” Aurora whispered.
Snow could not have looked more shocked.
“Don’t you think so?” Aurora muttered.
“Of course. It’s my mother’s recipe and she knew how to cook like nobody’s business but I…I just never expected any kind of swear word to come out of your mouth.
Aurora giggled and Snow soon joined in a moment later.
“You’re right. I usually wouldn’t. My fairy mothers never liked it and Philip didn’t either. But, I’ve found over the years that some of the less lady-like words have their uses,” she grinned and plunked her fork back into the pie for another bite.
Snow finally got over her shock to say, “You can say that again.”
They ate a few more bites each before the air seemed to change, as if some force was pushing them to the conversation they knew was supposed to happen.
Snow slid her fork from her mouth, setting it softly on the plate next to the bit of crust the was still left.
“What did you see? In your dreams?” she whispered.
Aurora’s hand stopped midair, her grasp tightening around the fork she was just going to place down on the plate.
“You don’t have to say but I think it would help.”
Aurora nodded and placed the fork on the plate, trying for gentle but the fork ended up scraping over the plate and falling on the blanket covering her feet.
“Philip,” she whispered around the knot in her throat. “I always dream about Philip. Hurting me or doing worse things than he ever got the chance to do.”
Aurora could feel her skin buzzing with the hyper-awareness. Like it used to in the castle. Because if she wasn’t constantly vigilant, something worse than what was already going on would happen.
She didn’t realize how fast she’d been breathing until she felt Snow’s hand touch hers.
She turned her head down and bit her lip ashamed.
But not for long.
“Don’t do that,” she heard Snow say and then felt her chin being tilted up, her eyes meeting Snow’s.
“Don’t feel bad for sharing what happened. I may not have experienced what you’ve been through but that doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. If the dwarves have taught me anything,” she smiled a little, “it’s that we are all in this together and we don’t have to share our burdens alone.”
A tear fell from Snow’s eye and Aurora watched as it slid down her cheek before she moved forward and wiped it away.
Her hand lingered just for a moment near Snow’s face before she slowly put it back in her lap.
Aurora took a breath, ready to say something, but the words got stuck.
Her mouth wobbled, opening and closing a couple times before the words finally settled in her brain.
“The last time…The thing that made me leave was…I was baking. I love to bake,” she smiled, “I’m so glad that’s not something I’ve had to give up here.”
“Me too,” Snow replied.
“But, I was baking in the castle kitchens and was feeling like myself for once. Then Philip came in, he looked at the things I had made, asked if I had baked them, and when I said I had, he…slapped me. Right in front of the whole kitchen staff who I considered friends, who I respected.”
Snow grabbed for Aurora’s hand again and held it tight. Aurora grabbed hers back.
“It wasn’t…I knew he was awful but I never thought he would do it in front of people,” her voice trembled as she shook her head.
Aurora went silent after that. The only noise in the room was one of the dwarves snoring and Aurora breathing deeply, sniffling every now and again.
“You didn’t deserve any of that, Aurora.”
Snow’s vehemence makes Aurora’s head shoot up.
“You didn’t and I’m sure if they felt they could, the people in the kitchen would have tried to help you.”
Aurora smiled sadly.
“They tried. The cook gave me food and water when I left but they need the work, I know. I would never blame them.”
“Of course not,” Snow smiled. “You have a good heart.”
Aurora could feel her cheeks heat at the compliment.
“So do you, Snow.”
The two women looked at each other,
just for a moment
before they both jumped.
One of the dwarves (probably Grumpy or Sneezy) let out a particularly loud snort.
After a momentary fright, they both broke out into almost silent giggles and rolled onto their backs on the bed with their laughter.
“Ohhwww” Snow yawned once their giggles subsided.
She tried to cover the sound with her hand but her jaw cracked with the force of her yawn.
“Oh, I should head to bed. Goodness, it must be later than I thought.
If you need me, don’t be afraid to wake me up again, ok?”
“I feel a lot better now. I… I’m so glad I found you all,” she said.
“Me too,” Snow responded, squeezed Aurora on the shoulder, and then slid off the bed and headed to her own.
Aurora sighed and wondered how the night could have taken such a good turn.