A Heart in Disguise

Chapter 5

"That is a carriage of royalty!" I hissed under my breath, "Not only that but they are surrounded by knights. Do you honestly believe you can rob from them?"

The devious smile on her face only grew wider accompanied by a twinkle in her eyes that made my heart feel odd. I shook my head to rid the feeling. I tried one last time to object at another angle.

"The guards are already on high alert. These may not be the Queen's men, but if they have any sense they will surely turn us in for a wealthy bounty."

She shrugged nonchalantly as if she didn't care at this point, yet I knew better than that. We truly were running low on gold and this may have been the best and only option. The voices screamed inside of my head, yet a tiny, strangled voice made its way upward. It was the essence of my youth and it screamed for adventure. I was astounded by the words that left my lips.

"What's your plan?"

"Help!" I cried out to the oncoming carriage. The two white steeds pulling the coach came to a halt upon hearing my shouts. "Help! Oh God, please!"

In order to slow the carriage, we had managed to cut down a midsized tree that fell across the length of the road. With the help of Snow, I was able to position myself underneath the tree to where it looked as if it had fallen on me. Hoping, to whatever resided within the Heavens, that the plan would work, I had waited for the coach to arrive.

The door swung open once they had come to a complete stop and out stepped a blonde haired man. I conjured up the best plead I could as he stepped forward, his kind face contorting into concern. I recognized the emblem of a near kingdom as that of King George and my eyes widened. Not only were we robbing from royalty, we were robbing from a prince.

"It's going to be alright," he said soothingly, leaning down. He turned his head and motioned for his knights to remove the tree, but it was too soon.

From the corner of my eye I saw Snow sneaking from the depths of the bushes towards the open door of the carriage. However, she hadn't had nearly enough time to acquire anything valuable. We needed more time, but how?

The men went to lift the tree, but I let out a startling scream. Fake tears began to pour from my eyes. "No! Please don't. I think something is broken."

He held up his hand towards the knights and then looked down at me, placing a gentle hand upon my arm.

"It's okay, miss. We'll get you out and to a doctor."

I shook my head like a child, a loud sob leaving my throat. Oh the wonders of acting! Raising a finger towards his chin, he sat up for a moment to think.

A bit the inside of my cheek and begged for her to hurry it up. I couldn't hold them for much longer. My heart was pounding in my chest as nervous sweat was beginning to make appearance. Perhaps this wasn't the greatest plan ever. Furthermore, how was I supposed to get away from them once they realized this was a trap? Snow could easily sneak away, leaving me behind to their mercy.

I heard the jumbling of words coming from the Prince's lips, but nothing more as my eyes zeroed in on the brunette slipping out of the carriage and looking my way. Her gaze shifted for a moment towards the woods and fear engulfed my senses.

I barely felt the tree being lifted off of me as one of the knights leaned down to help me up. I leaned into him, not exactly playing my part, but because I couldn't believe that the woman was about to leave me high and dry.

Finally gaining my own thoughts back and coming back to the moment, I was able to catch a peculiar look on the prince's face as he examined the end of the tree that had been cut. The realization of what was happening dawned on him.

His eyes narrowed as his eyes flashed towards me, but quickly averting as his gaze caught hold of Snow, a pouch within her grasp. Her first instincts should have been to run and leave me there, but the very opposite happened.

Suddenly everything happened in a blink of an eye that I could hardly capture what was happening. Arms grabbed me from behind, seizing me. I heard the prince shout something to his knights as Snow began to run towards a steed that wasn't connected to the carriage. I barely even caught her movement as an arrow left her hand, impacting the man on the horse.

He hit the dirt with a loud thud as the others quickly surrounded Snow, yet she remained unfazed. She hopped onto the white steed and charged straight through them, knocking several to the ground. The prince drew his sword as the brunette charged directly towards us.

The grip on me grew slack and when I turned my head I realized that an arrow had barely missed me, hitting the shoulder of my captor. He went down to the ground gasping in pain. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flash of silver coming towards my direction and I nearly screamed.

Before anything tragic could happen I felt strong hands grabbing me as I heard Snow shouting at me to do something. All in the same second I realized that she was pulling me up onto the horse. I used all of my strength to leap onto the horse.

My surroundings were a blur as the horse galloped at an ever growing speed away from King George's knights. Angry shouts were directed at us ordering to follow. Choosing to make the chase worthwhile, Snow darted into the woods dodging trees left and right.

Upon instinct, I wrapped my arms around her waist and held on for dear life. Of course I had ridden before, but never like this. I feared that if I let go I would fall off, so I pressed myself into the brunette's back, squeezing my eyes shut.

I was unsure on how far we had ridden through the woods, but it was apparent that we had lost the knights. How we kept evading them was beyond me. I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, my head resting on a shoulder. My arms were still locked around a slender waist and I couldn't do much but lean into the warmth. It was a strange sense of security that was encasing me. A soft hand flittered across my own and I had a strong urge to wrap my fingers around hers, but it was gone before I had the chance.

"Wilma?" she called out and it took a few more times before I realized she was calling for me.

I snapped back to reality and nearly fell off the horse, the sudden actualization of who I was riding with hitting me. I felt the horse slow down and Snow looked back at me, concern within her gaze as her eyes locked on mine.

"You alright?"

I nodded before lifted my head high.

"Just startled myself is all, dear." A twitch her brow told me that she wasn't buying that excuse, yet she turned back around. "How long was I out?"

"I'd say about an hour. I'm surprised you fell asleep though after that adrenaline rush."

I laughed lightly as I hesitantly placed my hands on her waist just for security, feeling rather awkward.

"Adrenaline rush? I was about to have a heart attack when I thought—" when I thought you were going to leave me. "When I thought we were going to be captured."

I couldn't bear to admit how dependent I had become on the woman. I should have hated her, yet the longer time dragged on such thoughts were getting mixed in the haze.

"Never doubt my ability to slip from the radar." Although she was faced forward, I could tell she was grinning. Her sense of invincibility was endearing. "We're here."

Where? I asked myself, but then saw the people up ahead. We trotted onwards until we got to the entrance of the village and then hopped down. Sliding up her hood, Snow led the horse over to one of the stables, giving the boy the last bit of coin she had to hold him until we got back. The last thing we needed was a huge horse to draw attention towards us.

"You do realize that was the last bit of gold we had right?" I asked wearily.

She reached into her bag and pulled out a finely sewn pouch, a large grin painting her face.

"I thought that our little plan was in vain until I saw what was in this bag."

She opened it up and I peered inside, my eyes widening when I saw a large diamond ring that was clearly something or worth.

"How much do you think we'll get?" I asked her.

"Plenty," she replied before grabbing my hand and leading us through the village.

The village was a small one and the architecture wasn't extravagant at all. It was simply a village on the outskirts of the mountain trying to get by. Many of the people looked as if they worked far too hard and still came out penniless. A felt a string of my heart being pulled and I had to force myself to look away.

With a bit of scouting around, Snow was able to find something equivalent to the black market which was always searching for anything valuable, stolen or not. The man that she was trying to bargain with was grouchy and far too greedy for my liking. He wore a gruesome scar that was etched from the top of his cheek and down across his lip and his teeth were a sordid yellow.

"Where'd ya get it from?" he asked as he held the ring up close to his eye.

"Does it matter?" Snow asked, crossing her arms.

"Not really. Was jus' curious," he placed the ring back onto the table, "two-hundred."

His first offer for the ring had Snow appalled and she almost hit the table in rage.

"You're kidding me."

"The Evil Queen has left us with squat, lady," he huffed through a raspy voice after his second offer, "Take it or leave it."

"Come on. Can't you do a little better than that? We're all struggling here."

I watched as she negotiated with him as kindly as possible. It was quite astonishing. If it had been me doing this I would have merely demanded the coin along with a death threat, but what use would a peasant without magic be?

After a long, hard thought he agreed on the price. It wasn't nearly the amount we were hoping for, the diamond itself was worth at least double, but it would still get us by for awhile.

We made our way without further quarrel, not wishing to draw anymore attention than necessary. I stuck by her side in fear that I may get lost. My castle may have been huge, yet I could walk the halls with my eyes closed. However, here I knew that one misstep and I wouldn't be able to find my way back. These were unfamiliar grounds to me and it made me miss my real life more than ever.

I knew that people recognized us as we passed by, well actually Snow; to them I was a nobody. However, no one made the effort to alert anyone. It wasn't a fear of what Snow could do; she wouldn't harm them anyways. Actually, it was as if they admired her which I couldn't exactly fathom.

"I can't believe he ripped you off like that," I said as we walked to each vendor we could find for supplies.

"These are hard times. Ever since Regina took reign she let most of the villages devour itself from the inside out. It's a wonder that these people survive."

It was a stab to the heart, if I even had one. I could hear the spite in her voice as she was most likely wondering how someone could be so cruel. The urge to stand up for myself gripped me, but I bit my tongue. It was not the time for such things.

My eyes wandered across the display of hide that lined one of the tables and fell upon a surprisingly beautiful black fur cloak. Passing it off, I tried to focus solely on the items the princess was negotiating on. She smiled, pleased with the price, and took the bundled up items and slid them into her bag.

"Get it," I heard a soft voice whisper into my ear, sending a chill down my spine. I turned my head to the side to see that the young brunette's face was merely a few inches from mine. My hand had somehow wandered back over to the cloak, my finger running small circles through the fur.

"What?" I shook my head to rid the clouds.

"Go ahead and get it," she nodded towards the dark cloak.

I eyed it for a long moment, marveling at how soft it was beneath my skin. The merchant came over as Snow asked for the price.

"One-hundred gold," replied the fur-clad woman.

My stomach turned knowing that that was almost a quarter of the money we just attained. Quickly pulling my hand away, I turned away feeling a bit upset. Times were hard, but that didn't mean people had to rip you off everywhere you turned. Though that was something I could solely blame on myself for allowing the lands to fall into such ruin.

"Thank you," I heard someone say from behind and before I had a chance to turn, I felt something being placed around my shoulders. My hands reached up and found the soft, black fur, my eyes widening.

"Snow!" I gasped and turned around on my heels.

Her lip was pulled between her teeth, a smile lighting up her face and she laughed.

"It looks good on you."

"But…the gold—"

"—it's fine, Wilma," she reached out and took hold of my hands, a spark traveling up my arms from the contact, "I wanted to get it for you…as a gift."

"A gift?"

She squeezed my hand while nodding, "for staying with me."

Her hands didn't leave mine and I found that I couldn't pull away either. I became suddenly entranced by the endearing hazel eyes that were looking into mine. And in that moment it was as I had never been the Evil Queen. It wasn't myself at all. I was simply a traveler, passing by, yet the way Snow was looking at me made me feel as if I was worth so much more than all the gold in the world.

Just as I was beginning to cherish the moment, my ears picked up a familiar voice, and my head darted towards the right. In sudden haste I gripped the brunette's hand and yanked her to the nearest corner behind a building.

"Wilma!" she hissed in surprise.

"Shhh!" I clamped my hand over her mouth, her eyes wide.

I removed my hand and peeked around the corner, confirming what I had seen. Allowing Snow to look in the direction I pointed, she let out a low curse as she spotted the blonde haired man talking to one of the villagers.

That particular person he was talking to shook their head at some question and he continued his interrogations. Meanwhile another conversation caught my ears on the other end of the building and I slowly crept that way.

"You think something has happened to her?" one man said.

"I hope to the Heaven's that somethin' did happen to 'er!" the other one spat, his words slurring from too much alcohol, "Deserves 'er right for all of the hell she's caused us."

"What about that woman she claims murdered the king? Do you believe any of it?"

"I could cer less 'bout her. All I cer about is that wretched Evil Queen bein' burned at the fuckin' stake."

As if I could feel the said flames engulfing me, I flinched and stepped away from the men, drawing my cloak closer to me as if they would know who I was. So my disappearance had been noticed finally? My chest was twisting and turning with a mixture of rage and sorrow, but it quickly faded as my back bumped into Snow. She gave me a funny look when I turned around and I wasn't sure what exactly it was for.

"He's gone for now," she said in a hushed tone, "Let's go fetch the horse and get out of here while we can."

When we reached the stables we found that our horse was gone. Or to put it in other words our stolen horse had been taken back. The prince had most likely given the stable boy a large some of money to release the horse; the boy would have been a fool not to take the offer.

The loss was unfortunate since it meant our journey would only be getting harder. I had been looking forward to not having to tread through the ice and snow on foot. Alas, we were back to square one, but at least had the supplies we needed.

Sneaking out of the city, we headed towards the mountain path, only the items in the single bag to our name and the clothes that clung to our skin. I held the cloak close against me and found myself walking closer to the brunette as we treaded onward into a trekking journey that I was definitelynot looking forward to.

In the depths of my head I could hear myself screaming that I needed to get back to the castle before something dire happened in my absence, yet I was far from it. There was no turning back anymore and I wasn't so sure that I would want to if given the chance. It was an odd thought, but I pushed it aside, saving such thoughts for another day.

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