"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
A woman, long-limbed, supple. Cheeks smooth and round, flushed with youth. Eyes blue and as brilliant as the noonday sun, shadowed by lashes as long and dark as the night. Hair like spun gold, hands as soft and white as doves' feathers, her mouth a waiting kiss.
A woman, long-limbed, her stance proud. Cheeks smooth and round, flushed with triumph. Eyes blue, and brilliant as chips of ice. Hair like spun gold, soft hands with nails as sharp as a hunting bird's. Mouth like a waiting kiss, like passion, and fury, and the sharp sting of teeth.
She is beautiful.
She is beautiful, and she has nothing else.
Her feet are melted to iron shoes. Her feet are red, bleeding, and she has danced past the point of agony. She is left on a hill, out of sight, iron shoes still strapped in place. Her fingers shake, and she tears off shoes and skin. Her feet are useless. Never again will they carry her lightly, quickly, gracefully.
(Who remembers the girl with the golden hair, and brilliant blue eyes? Who remembers how she first found favour in the eyes of Snow White's father: straight-backed and smiling, skirt fanning out around her legs. Spinning, laughing, the loveliest creature he'd ever seen. So lovely his breath had caught, and he had imagined bringing joy and beauty back into his home, and to his daughter, to himself.)
Her eyes and mouth and nose are wet with her anguish and her humiliation. Her hair is ragged around her face, gold and grey. Her cheeks are sunken, lined with defeat, and she has grown ancient within the space of hours. She has grown ancient, and terrible, and her rage will shake the Nine Kingdoms. Her fury will bring the house of White to its knees, and she will have her vengeance.
She will have her vengeance.
A woman, feet twisted, and back bowed with pain. Eyes as cold as ice, as hard as diamonds, as unyielding as steel. Hands curled like claws, teeth bared in a snarl. Swamp Witch, crone, hideous.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, how to bring ruin to the House of White?"
Any who cared to tell her story might begin here, with a small, hand-held mirror. A foolish thing, cheaply made by the half-breeds of the Ninth Kingdom. With a wooden frame, and an oval face easily smudged, the mirror whistled whenever she looked into it, fogged in passionate embarrassment whenever she smiled.
Her first magic mirror was a foolish thing, but she was not.
Her second magic mirror was not so easily gained, no cheap gift by a stammering village boy. Her second magic mirror was bought with blood, and a kiss, and it's power would make her great. Power enough to shake the Nine Kingdoms, and she stood before her, fingers to her perfect lips.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall. . . who is the fairest of them all?"
A woman, bent with age and agony. No longer fairest of them all, a woman surrounded by mirrors. Mirrors, mirrors, everywhere, and she the center of them all. No longer beautiful, she is furious, and powerful, and her mirrors speak to her, whisper secrets, tell tales of vengeance, death, despair. Her mirrors open upon a world not her own, and she draws forth the means of her revenge.