A Heart in Disguise

Chapter 16

We were almost there. I'm pretty sure in my head I almost said home but that didn't make any sense. Where we were headed to, I knew almost nothing about save for a few things about politics of the kingdom which were rather mundane overall. Home had become wherever I could rest my head and get a good night's sleep without nightmares.

Therefore, such a thought should have left me homeless, but the nightmares were withering away which each night. I was beginning to side with the part of me that wanted to live this lie till the end. Give up all I had known and stay with Snow because would it have been so bad to relinquish my title as the Evil Queen? I'm sure no one was missing me.

I had grown fond of the life I had created where perhaps my mother was still abusive, but she didn't force me into the bed of a man old enough to be my father, where my father was just a man with simply a broken heart. Daniel had only died in a tragic accident and not murder. I could live with that story. At least I wanted to.

Yet deep inside I knew that I could never completely be free either way I chose.

From behind me I heard the brunette turning in her sleep until she was up against me. The sound of her breath was calming and I reached behind to pull her arm around me. This wasn't an unusual act now. It kept the chill away and my mind sane. For the past several days we had awoken somehow in each other's arms no matter how distance we began the night before, and strangely enough there was no awkwardness. Perhaps a shy smile, but it was always followed by a warm good morning.

I couldn't have told you what time is was, but it was still dark out. There was an owl in the distance hooting accompanied by the whistling of the breeze against our tent.

When I closed my eyes again I was greeted with the events of today when the sun had reached its peak. The snow had stopped falling about an hour before which I was highly grateful for since we had been walking against the flurry. Along our right was a wall of rocks that displayed glistening crystals of what was once flowing water, now frozen towards the pull of gravity.

"I want to climb up there and see how close we are," Snow said as she scanned the height of the rocks. It wasn't deathly high, but high enough to pose a threat if one fell on their ascent.

"How?"

I frowned; going upwards would take far more climbing skills than I possessed. The stones that were free to grab seemed sharp enough to slice while the rest seemed too slick to attempt. Despite this, Snow proceeded to find her own way.

Before I could ask her what she was doing, she had already reached inside her bag and tied the end of a rope to an arrow. I watched as she aimed it upwards. The arrow went flying, bringing along the rope with it, and pierced the bark of one of the trees at the top. Taking a few steps towards the now dangling rope, she tugged on it.

"This doesn't seem safe," I uttered, but it went ignored.

Next thing I knew, she was wrapping her hands around the rope and pulling herself upward. I watched her with worry along with fascination as she ascended towards the top with a rather impressive upper strength. When she was about halfway she stopped.

"I'll be right back," she called down to me with a brilliant smile.

Her movements were seamless and I could hardly believe that was the child I had saved from a runaway steed. When she disappeared from view and leapt onto the top, I held my breath. I waited for a response, a signal. A minute passed and I figured she was scanning the area; after a few more seconds seemed like an eternity and I began tapping my foot.

"The view is fantastic up here!" I heard her shout, "You should see it."

"I'll take your word for it," I hollered up to her, "just…will you come back down?"

Then her head popped over the edge and she grinned down at me, her dark hair hanging down.

"Why? Do you miss me already?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes, crossing my arms.

"No," I lied, "It just unnerves me."

She shook her head and I could hear her laughing at me as she stood back up.

"I'm coming," she said and took hold of the rope once more.

Using her feet to help her out, she began climbing back down, but when she got about half way I got a dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach. My eyes looked up, past the brunette, and what caught my attention almost made my heart burst out of my chest. The arrow that was supposedly lodged into the tree was slipping ever so slowly.

"Snow," I said hesitantly, "I think you should—"

"Wh—ah!"

The rope became slack and suddenly Snow was shouting, yet somehow in that split second she had managed to grab hold of the rocks. The rope coiled onto the ground as the arrow landed with a soft thump.

"Snow, are you okay?"

"Never been better," the brunette laughed breathlessly as she hung there, "I think I can make the jump."

"Don't you dare! You'll break your legs!"

"Do you have a better plan then?"

Her face contorted as her grip tightened. Any second now she could fall. But then it struck me.

"I'll catch you."

"Are you crazy?"

"Snow, please just—"

No more words were needed as the younger woman's grip slipped. She accelerated downward until I was able to catch her. Sort of.

The impact sent me stumbling backwards and into the ground with a grunt.

"Ow," she croaked.

I was more than positive my ass was purple.

"I caught you."

"You did. Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine, dear Are you?"

"No."

Her response came out a bit airy and she smiled down at me. It was warm and inviting, and before she had time to climb off of me, I grabbed her face and kissed her hard. There was a slight alarm in her jolt, but merely from surprise as she relaxed and began to move her lips against my own.

I felt the rush of all my emotions spilling into this kiss and I held onto her as if she were my anchor not letting me drift into insanity. The cold earth beneath me felt nonexistent and all I could feel was her overwhelming warmth.

Eventually, though, I had to pull away.

Her hazel eyes burned into my own and I could hear, or actually feel, her short breaths hitting my cheeks.

"Let's set up camp here," she told me softly, but there was a glint in her eyes I hadn't noticed before and it was rather endearing.

My mind found its way back to the present where it was night and I could feel Snow's bare skin against my own. Only a few hours ago had we shared a moment of pure passion that I couldn't have even stopped if I had tried. I had never felt so comfortable with another person in my entire life and it had just felt so right. I could still hear her sweet sounds in my ear that made my face flush whenever I thought of what we had done.

The brunette had passed out shortly after as well as I, but unfortunately the howling of the wind had stirred me awake. Turning around in her sleeping arms, I tried to look at her features, but the shadows veiled over everything.

We were finally nearing the end of this bitter cold journey which made my heart leap for joy but at the same time it sank into the depths of devastation. The end also meant I was getting closer to having to make my decision that had the potential to change my entire life. I could pick up this alter ego I had created and live in the shadows of deceit for the rest of my time, staying with this woman I had grown to adore. There could be endless nights of falling asleep in each other's arms.

The more I pondered this choice the brighter my future seemed. No more head-pounding kingdom business, no more complaining peasants kneeling at my feet begging for land. No more hunting down a woman I had sworn to hate.

The Evil Queen would all but fade away, her disappearance a mystery to all but one man (one slimy, impish man). But what would happen to her kingdom? Everything she had worked for, every ounce of pain and anger put into having all the power in the world. It would vanish in a puff of smoke. Her name would be a whisper, remembrance of the dark ages of a Queen so cruel and heartless.

No power. No control. No magic…

Would it be worth giving it up? That question would have been obliterated the very second it arose in the Evil Queen's mind. Nothing could ever be more important than her power. But to me...but to Wilma, it was a completely new world. Could….could this…

Love is weakness.

I involuntarily shivered as my mother's voice echoed through my skull.

"Are you okay?"

Her whisper was hardly audible accompanied by a warm hand against my shoulder. Through the darkness I knew she was looking at me, looking straight through into my core.

"Yes, dear," I answered back quietly before placing my lips upon her jawline.

I knew she was smiling as her arms tightened around me pulling our bare bodies together. In a few more hours it would be dawn, so I buried my face into her neck and forgot about my worries.

I had made my decision. I was staying right here.

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