Chapter 6 : Camelot
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Author's Note Welcome to the last chapter of Snow Red.
The curse was coming. Swiftly, swiftly, it was coming, and whispered its icy temptations into her ears.
The words (the curse is come upon me, upon me) echoed like ripples in a stagnant pond, reaching all corners–the poisonous ones, the secret ones, even the locked away ones–of her mind. The touch of the idea was gentle, alluring; it brought sweet, clear thought to parts of her consciousness that hadn’t worked for months, perhaps years. It was at once exhilarating and frightening, divine and terrible. It was like nothing she had ever known, but all at once, faster than even she could realize it, the feeling encompassed her… her… there were not words to describe those secret places hiding, quivering, within her bones. The idea (upon me, upon me) was everything. It would consume her, squeezing her dry of everything, except perhaps fear. The fear would always be there, beating like a heart in the cavities of her consciousness.
Astoria Greengrass cast a fleeting glance about the tower room. The cavity yawning in the walls of the bedchamber. The cracked mirror gleaming still in the snow-light with wicked intensity. The vanity, the bed, the ledger, the pillows, the crusted blood on the canopy hangings. The window–
Ah, the window. She edged toward it carefully when she remembered the purpose it served. The seal of blue fire still lingered, made the glass hot to the touch, even as the brunt of its force was mitigated. Beyond the tower room were snow-drowned fields, where poppies would reappear once again in the springtime. They would blossom once more, a herald of a new year, a new time, a new life. But the petals would be soaked in blood, possibly–probably–her own. She would never get it back, all the spirit and the life she had bled out and cried out and sang out in this damned place.
She reached a shaking, dry hand to the window. It was still warm, unpleasantly so, but the scabs on her palms would shield her from this most insignificant of pains. For the first time in all of her interment here, Astoria unlatched the window. Yes, her fingers were burned, for she handled the latch clumsily, but she ignored that pain; indeed, she barely felt it. So little feeling was left to her hands now, or perhaps she could not bring herself to care about such temporal discomfort. Her heart was pounding, her head spinning, when she pushed the lone window out for the first time.
And then, it was shut again.
It had opened without struggle, without a sound, as if it had been waiting for this moment for generations. The initial sign that something had changed, that the balance of power had been disrupted, was the rush of air as the seal was once and for all popped, like an exhalation of bated breath. But once the winter air stormed in, there was something else as well. Sunlight.
Astoria barely remembered what the sun felt like. She hadn’t seen it, truly seen it, in a lifetime. She never thought about it anymore. It had become a deity to her, something to watch for and pray for, but never something she expected to experience until her dying day. She dreamed that she would die with a sunbeam falling over her bloodless face.
So when a stream of light did fall on her, she panicked. It had only fallen at her feet, true, but it had touched her, and she felt it. It burned her, singing her pale skin, marking her without a doubt as something else now. She was no longer simply a caged bird, a willing prisoner. She belonged not to the unnamable Selwyn palace, whose architecture was hers to know and love, whose very vitality had replaced her own, but to the outside. The poppy fields, the meltwater river, the distant people her mirror had once faithfully reflected.
The knight in the river.
This, she thought ruefully, was truly a death worth living for.
Without another word, another thought, she rushed to the iron door, and pushed it open. It did not take as much force as she might rationally have expected; it too had been waiting for this, unable to provide its one service for so long.
There was shadow in the hall outside of Honoria Selwyn’s bedchamber, but Astoria didn’t mind.
Hannah Abbot hadn’t been asked to work Christmas Day. That was her own doing. And though she hated herself every minute of her shift, she consoled herself by thinking of her family in Dorset (what was left of it) and how they’d appreciate the money. She imagined holding a sack of Galleons and Sickles in her hands, buying up all the property of Diagon Alley. These dreams, of course, were never to be, and in her deepest self, she knew it very well.
The Cauldron closed at three today. Outside, the sun was beginning to set; soon enough it would fade out and make way for the moon. Tom had already withdrawn to his flat above the pub proper, to a roaring fire and a goblet of spiced wine. Hannah had been left to clean-up duty, which she had rushed through in half an hour, but wasn’t done quite yet. Her last detour for the afternoon would be a trip to the alleyway behind the building that hid the brick wall to Diagon Alley. She had decided earlier that week, as a result of the rumors that filled her ears, to put wards on the wall. It was against the law to do anything to bar it without government permission, but Hannah figured that it couldn’t hurt to have friends in high places.
She raised her wand with a shaking hand, and was about to begin her new ritual, when she was barreled into from the other side of the wall.
She didn’t recognize the figure immediately, but she was more occupied with having been tackled to the ground. Her Muggle clothes would be absolutely ruined, and what was she going to wear to dinner?
But then, she felt something she never wanted to feel again. A wand tip at her throat.
“You scream, I kill you.”
That was when she realized who it was.
“D-Draco?” Her voice was a stutter, her mind uncomprehending. Draco Malfoy had been an acquaintance, a forlorn, desolate young man, to her for so long. It startled her to remember what he once was, and what he still could be. “That isn’t you, is it?”
The pressure was removed from her throat hastily, and the wand was stuffed into the stiff folds of his robes. “I wish it weren’t.” He rolled off of her and, upon getting to his feet, offered his hand. It was cold, but she took it without question. He didn’t apologize for assailing her. “What’re you doing here? Today of all days?”
In return, she didn’t answer, and completed the wards on the entryway. She knew he was watching her, but there was no intensity to his gaze tonight. He was, dare she speculate, tired. And not in the general way he was after work. This was a bone-deep weariness, a hard-earned cynicism and despair that she hadn’t seen since… since…
“I suppose you want in, then.”
Draco nodded, too quickly. With a sigh, she led him back in, quick to lock and spell the back door.
Without asking, she put out the last of the day’s bread and what was left of the soup. Hannah couldn’t watch him eat, and went around tidying the dining room up for the umpteenth time.
Draco finished quickly, and spun around to look for her.
“Where’ve you been?”
He pursed his lips and licked away the rest of the bread crumbs. He didn’t respond for some time, pondering instead what must have been said in his absence. Another Uprising. The Malfoy boy on His side. Again. Or maybe He had killed him. That wouldn’t have been a surprise. If it had been anyone else, Draco would have speculated the same things himself.
“I found Daphne.”
Hannah had to use a chair to support herself.
“How…” She could barely speak. The remembrance of the state of her room wavered behind her eyelids. To think her capable of such… such…
She couldn’t finish.
“I mean, how is she? What happened? Where is she? Is she–”
“She’s not well. She’s gone again. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Hannah had never liked Daphne. There was something very off in her laughter, back in the day. She used to catch the sable princess with a strange, contorted expression on her face, as if the sun inflicted some horrendous torture on her. She seemed to fit in with Pansy’s group too seamlessly. There were things whispered about her in the dormitories late at night, the catty gossip that always had a grain of truth somewhere within it. It wasn’t until now that Hannah gave serious thought to all she’d heard.
He shook his head. “She won’t be back, though.” He knew she would never return. Not to the Leaky Cauldron, at least. He took some comfort in that, knowing that Hannah and the other quasi-innocents who dined here would be safe from her hysteria. The only reason she would ever come back to London would be for him.
He was silent for a while, and though she didn’t want to disturb him, there was a question bubbling at the tip of her tongue, and she flung it at him when it became too much.
“Why’d she come back?”
Draco looked at her long and hard. That same weariness permeated his eyes; she could barely see them at all, while his face was frighteningly translucent in the darkness. Finally, he said, “She came to me. She wants to find her sister.”
To herself, she whispered, “I thought they were dead.”
He made no outward indication that he’d heard her.
Louder, she said, “Weren’t they together this whole time? Their dad took them out of school, didn’t he?” She shuddered quietly as she remembered having the same experience.
“She said they were in Wales for a few months, but then she decided to up and leave for Prague in the spring.” His tongue stumbled over the city’s name, fumbling with the foreign pronunciation and all it signified. There was fear resonating in that one syllable, and he couldn’t place where that fear was coming from.
“Prague?” Hannah couldn’t pronounce it correctly, either, too thoroughly British to imagine such a place. And yet… “Daphne went to Prague?” She didn’t wait for his affirmation. Something was stirring in her head and she hurried it on, hoping it would boil into something useful for both of their sake’s. Something that would save Draco, Daphne, the sister, the–and then she had it. “Draco, you know what’s in Prague, don’t you? Don’t you?”
He still found it difficult to ascribe any real significance to the Old World city. The idea that there were other places out there that did not know or understand this strange, strange place threw him off. He could hardly see farther than this very instant, so how could he be expected to understand somewhere so alien?
It was a surprise, then, to see that Hannah Abbot, a callow young barmaid, knew about such a locale. It didn’t fit his admittedly much-altered vision of her. But then again, which truth he had conjured up out of darkness and slant sunlight had proved true? The ideas he held to heart were little more than cobweb illusions, too easily batted away, though they were dense and thick.
But still, he could not speak, and let her tell the tale.
Strangely enough, everything looked exactly the same. Perhaps madness had saved the unnamed Selwyn palace from the ravages of time. Perhaps it was the curse bestowed upon its chambers all those nightmares ago that guarded against it. But now, as Astoria drifted through the palace, she could already see time catching up with it. The first wind in months finally swept through the halls, bringing tales of a long Christmas Day to come, though much of it had passed already. The dust gathering on the floor and the staircases was disturbed at last, rushing into the stale air and dancing while still it could.
Astoria dimly remembered her last day in the palace, all those years ago, watching as some uniformed men came and carried the furniture through the air. The sofas she had fallen asleep on, the cushions she had dried her tears with, the wardrobe she hid her sobs behind, all gone. Her own bed, the one she shared with that flighty devil child, floated out the great doors even as she chased it, her cries stolen from her mouth by a similar wind.
After many years, she retraced that path, matching every footstep with the ones she had made before. She crashed once again into the bureau in the parlor, and watched with frozen horror as the vase tumbled from its place. She felt a tiny shard scrape her ankle, and winced when she felt the slow trickle of blood from the wound. She kicked at the dislodged, dying poppies and ran off, zigzagging between workers and their floating burdens, and paused a second to admire the light glinting off the ancient crystal chandelier, and tripped on the threshold, landing on the stone steps that led to it, and felt the skin being pulled from her knees, but she didn’t care, and ran, ran for her bed and her freedom and her death.
She was panting heavily when she crossed the threshold for the last time, feeling not just her breath but also a little bit of her soul leeching away. It occurred to her for the first time that her very blood ran through the halls and the sewer systems and gathered on the floor with the dust. The palace, her cave, had become an extension of her very self, and so escaping it meant so much more than death, for that surely awaited her in the poppy fields and beyond the river. It also meant damnation, torment, horror beyond what she could experience in this world. There was more to dying than met the eye. There would never be peace, nor quiet, and the voices in her head wouldn’t stop singing, and the dead wouldn’t stay dead.
Astoria had to remember to breathe, still deeply, inundating her feeble lungs with air that stung and burned and smarted a little when it blew into her eyes. She looked down at her hands and was startled to see how very pale and fragile she actually was; the blue light of the window and the stale reflections in the chamber had played horrid tricks on her feverish eyes. Yes. Yes. Death was to come, and come quickly, escorting her essence to an eternity of singing and screaming…
And so, she forced her trembling legs onward, down the virgin-white knoll, vaguely aware of the bitter cold, in an effort to beat death, or try to. The sun shone brighter at the base, so she skidded and slipped and tried to direct her fall towards where it sparkled, where it burned her eyes. And there, at the bottom of the hill, was a sinuous river of what looked like ice.
It seemed too good to be true. She had never come across a river here in those leaden memories of her time here, but here it was. The knight’s river. He had followed it away. Where was away? Who really knew? Certainly not she. With celestial light on her back and the wind in her face, Astoria tumbled further down the slope until she reached the very banks of the snowdrift, managing only barely to avoid the rushing water.
But as it happened, once she had recovered her balance, she saw that her abrupt halt hadn’t been necessary.
A boat was waiting for her on the river.
She couldn’t see an anchor or a line holding it in place, and hadn’t the faintest idea where it had come from. Judging by its regal, austere simplicity, it could only be taken as a sign, though from whom and for what she couldn’t have said. How else could it have arrived here just when she needed it? Perhaps this was a part of the curse; perhaps transportation was to be provided for her flight from damnation. Perhaps. She didn’t consider this for very long, however. Astoria was mad, not stupid, and in her frenzied, freezing state of mind, a boat was a boat, and it was clear to her that she was meant to have it. If she had read the words carved on its prow, she would have known for sure.
She barely had climbed in when of its own volition the boat began its downriver descent.
Draco knew his parents would be expecting him this evening of all evenings. He would have to see them eventually, to placate his mother and flatter his father, and to hide from the growing tide of disfavor, to breathe air only less tainted with suspicion and fear. But after his conversation with the barmaid at the Leaky Cauldron, he couldn’t bear to face them, the people who in his mind had never reformed, who still straddled the line between what was to be and what could not.
He reached the office in one piece, thankfully, and undid his own wards for only the time it took to enter; they sealed behind him once he was inside, and he added a few more hexes for good measure. Considering the rumors, he could not be too careful.
Draco made his way from the outer waiting room into his personal office. In the semi-darkness, he saw the outline of the unwieldy desk and the two chairs, but all were wreathed in heavy shadows. He whispered a spell to illuminate the room.
One great swath of shadow, though, would not go away.
It was sitting in his chair.
On its face was a deep gash that bled poppies and pearls.
“Happy Christmas, Draco.” An extension of Daphne’s shadow, probably her wand, gestured at the chair that had always been meant for clients. Her smile widened. “Aren’t you excited about the season? Do sit down. We’ll have a fabulous time, I’m sure.”
He sighed. From this side of the desk, the figure opposite seemed all the more menacing.
“Afternoon, Daphne.” He crossed his arms over his chest, with his wand clenched in the outer hand. It might have been best to tread with caution, but he couldn’t be bothered at this point. It was better that she knew what she was dealing with, if she didn’t know already. “If you don’t mind terribly my asking,” he said, putting on the same airs as her, “what are you doing here?”
She leaned forward. The same royal blue cloak draped down haphazardly, as if it was slipping off her shoulders. “Well, my friend, you made me a promise. But it’s been an awful long time, and you seem to have forgotten about it.” Daphne’s frown was the most extravagant he had ever seen, and she used it to great effect now. Her entire face, already dynamic, shifted with the gesture. The expression in her eyes did not. “I’m here to remind you of it.”
“There are other things that require my attention, you know.”
“Are there really?” She seemed genuinely surprised to hear this, but ‘seem’ was very much the operative word. “Oh, I should have known. Little Draco is scared, is he?” Her laughter drowned the room. “He believes everything he hears and trusts everything he sees. Well, little Draco, that is not a very wise position. I’d have thought you knew better.”
He uncrossed his arms, arranging them in such a way that was not overtly threatening, but still got the message across. “Second chances are valuable things. Which is why I haven’t Stunned you right now and taken you to St. Mungo’s. Don’t ruin your chance, Daphne.” Draco’s voice grew softer, almost smokier. He spoke as if to a lover. “You want me to keep my promise? You want to find your sister? Then you’ll have to help me, Daphne. I know all about Prague. That surprises you, doesn’t it? I know that you were there for your mother–”
“I don’t have a mother.” At his bewildered expression, she deigned to continue. “I did have one, for a time. I didn’t like her, Draco, you must believe me!” Daphne’s eyes grew wild, but not mad, not yet. His grip on his wind tightened, but he made sure she didn’t see that. “You must believe me! I hated that old crone, that ugly old hag! I hated her! But don’t you see, that’s so wrong!” She laughed again, savagely, the sound clanging against his eardrums. “Daughters aren’t supposed to hate their mothers, are they? We’re supposed to cherish them, adore them! And mothers! Mothers are supposed to love their daughters! You must understand! I did everything for that goblin woman. I went back for her. Don’t you understand? I–I am the one she should reach for and cry for and fall to her knees for, I want her to break her damned knees and I want her lips to bleed for kissing the ground I walk on! But no,” snarled she, with a choke in her voice, “no, it isn’t for me. You think I’m mad, Draco? Is that it? You don’t remember her, then. And even if you did, you wouldn’t understand, don’t you see? Every single day I endured her diatribes and monologues and her spit landing in my eyes because I am the good daughter! Where was she during all of that? Where was she?”
You tell me, he thought.
“So I–you know what I did, Draco? Can you guess? I think you should guess. You’re a smart boy, Draco. Take a guess. Just one. I’m sure you’ll get it. Guess!”
He could barely move, but he knew she would not let up if he didn’t do what she demanded. He knew he was on the verge of something big, very big, and did not want to jeopardize it. “Did… your mother… she wanted…”
“Wrong!” She pounded on the table, just once, but the entire thing shook under his hands. “I thought you so much smarter than this! Oh, no, don’t guess again, I haven’t the time. I’ll just tell you, shall I? I wanted to find her! I volunteered my services! I said, so foolishly, I know, ‘Mama, I’m going to find her! I’m going to find her!’ And you, Draco, you would have laughed to see the expression on her face. You would have laughed so hard that your lungs would bleed. I told her that I would find her and that stupid old witch just about pissed herself with elation, the likes of which I’ve never seen, not until you walked in and saw me. Ha! I see the look on your face now. It all makes sense now, you say! This is how it is! This is what I’m meant for! Am I right, Draco? Is that how it is? Right?”
“Oh, Draco.” Daphne smiled, her cheeks flushing and her eyes losing some of the madness but none of the wildness. “You know the story now. But do you know how it ends?”
“Really? How droll.” Her pupils flew into her skull, leaving the whites of her eyes bare. He tried not to vomit just looking at them. But then they returned, and he felt even worse.
“And you, Daphne?” There was a pit of sickness in his stomach, growing slowly but steadily, and he tried to quell it while still he could. It was Christmas, for heaven’s sake. This was not supposed to happen. Today, of all days. “You’re telling me you know where she is?”
“I didn’t say that!” she giggled. “I only asked you if you knew how her story ends.”
“I said no.”
“Well, then.” She stood up, the legs of the chair screeching as they buckled under the force of her movement. “Let’s you and I find out.”
She was out the door before he could say Incarcerous.
Astoria was silent when she began her journey downriver. She was waiting for a strike of divine retribution. She was waiting impatiently for death to alight behind her, and whisper in her ear, and carry her off, gently, from the blazing glory evening to damnation. All she felt settling on her bones was the chill, but even that was not so bad anymore. Goosebumps ran up and down her arms and wind dove into her eyes and nose, but she didn’t feel its effects. She did not feel welcome in this world; she felt as if she were back in the tower dungeon again, looking out the window. The temptation was there, the view was there, but she was barred from it. Now, instead of fire, it was ice that blocked her from truly becoming one of this world’s own.
Snow still coated the ground here, sometimes spilling into the river, but Astoria did not look at the banks or the trees or the otherwise chilling landscape. She was more concerned with the sun beating down on her back. She was afraid that, though it was by no means warm, its intensity would be too much and that, before she died, her skin would be burned off. She did not want to be the pile of bones she had seen so long ago, with the branch melted into the shards. She would die with her body intact, though it had long since been broken.
She hadn’t been afloat long before the sun began to fade, casting the whole river into dim gold darkness. The ice was no longer translucent, but rather reflected the dying sun; the river took on the hue of a city’s midnight, though she did not know what that looked like. The coming sunset allayed her fears of burning, but before long a new something was boiling in her blood and being vomited out.
The palace was shrinking from the horizon, from behind.
The palace that had soaked in her blood and tears and songs and had become hers, or maybe she belonged to it now, still straddled the white-blurred horizon.
Astoria tried to twist her torso to face it, to catch one last glimpse of the place that had become her own gilt ribcage, but the boat was too narrow to allow for much movement. It rocked back and forth, back and forth, and Astoria panicked–she was used to having the world sway around her, but this was different, for she knew this was the physical manifestation of the horror of her interment–and made the boat rock more. The current would not allow further erosion of its absolute authority and lashed out at the tiny vessel. Meltwater sloshed in over the sides, splashed at her feet and flew into her very eyes, but she blinked away the tears and the river water because there was the palace. Just there–her arms rose as if to either embrace it or repudiate it, she wasn’t sure which, but as she made to bid farewell to the palace forever, the river’s retaliation reached new heights.
For a moment, the boat nearly buckled under the water, knocked over by its force. It rolled sideways, threatening to spill its lone, frightened passenger into the current.
This lasted but a second. Astoria’s screams, having gained strength and endurance, lasted much longer. Though the river threatened to take her, she drowned out its noise with her own, a scream so drenched in fear and terror, almost a high-pitched melody, that it reverberated from the water outwards, to who knew what distances. Soon enough, the subconscious took over her functions and changed the unbroken breath into song–a chant, rather, one that had been carved out of sugar and mercury.
Lowly it began, as she was still frightened and could barely console herself. Then, she finally caught an unbroken glimpse of the palace–she had never seen it from so great a distance, and in the sunset light, it really looked like a gilt collection of bones shuddering against the wind, and the cold, and everything else it had hid her from, protected her from. The sight gave her strength, though it was shaky and mutable, to sing louder, so that it might hear her one last time, so that the world that was not hers would have some mark that she had existed. She chanted rather than sang or screamed, as if in a choir for the angels, for her voice was still young–so young–so close to death, so close–her eyes fixed ahead and yet behind–
When he came, he did not whisper her away.
Death stole her away mid-song.
It was all over very quickly.
He came in the form of a flash of green light in the darkness. She did not greet him, lost in the music that never was–and then. Then it was all over, blood frozen and eyes darkened.
Her fall was not slow, or sweet, or tragic. The fall–the body’s fall–was caused by a last wave, an unseating force that knocked it on its back, looking up into the sky that she had forgotten to watch in her brief time of freedom. It did not see her, though; the heavens were more concerned with the dying of the sun than the dying of this, a prisoner of stone and charms.
The boat, now without purpose, seemed to drift to the riverbank of its own accord, cutting swiftly across the contrary current to the left bank. Here, too, the bank sloped into a snowy knoll, but the snow was dirty here, splattered with ash and blood. The regal vessel alighted on the shore soundlessly. However, as it landed, whatever had given it the strength to fight the current was waning, and already it began to slide from the shallows to the deeper side.
Seeing this, a dark figure scampered down the hill, leaving deep footprints in its wake. These did not remain there, though, for even as she ran, the footprints disappeared as if shoveled full of snow again.
The figure reached the boat, out of breath and wheezing slightly. A slender, shaking hand emerged from a sleeve and pushed back a dark blue hood sheathing the face. Sable hair spilled out of the hood and there was an undeniable, unstable brilliance in her eyes as she leaned over the edge of the boat. There was a catch in her throat as she tried to breathe, but the sight of the corpse splayed out, darkened eyes staring up at the darkened sky, was too much. The figure smiled, reached out the same hand to touch the skin. It was cold and dry, but still, the body retained some of that transient beauty. Soon enough it would freeze over, preserved in this exact state.
The figure did not look up, made no intimidation that she’d heard anything. Instead, she kissed the cheek of the cadaver and smiled again, a Cheshire cat smile, memorizing the exact expression on the face of the dead girl, wondering what it would feel like to see the still picture in the newspaper, and what it would feel like to shed tears as illusory and brilliant as her own sanity.
“Happy Christmas, sister dear.”
She seemed to wait for an answer, but none came.
“I’ll give your regards to Mama, shall I?”
Daphne murmured a command, and with a flick of her wand, sent the boat back into the current. She took a moment to watch the river swallow it up, and then turned her back on it. Her wand hummed contentedly, and even she couldn’t stop herself from smiling as she skipped back through the snow.
“I don’t know why we’re here, Draco,” she whined. “You know she isn’t here.”
He barely noticed as his charge swept up to the skeleton of Camelot and paid no attention to her damaged-bell laughter. He had a job to do.
He would find the little Greengrass girl if it was the last thing he ever did.
Author's Note II This is the first chaptered fic I've completed since Christmas '07. So you can imagine how I feel today. But indulge me in my rambling. For someone like me, finishing things doesn't happen every day.
Now, my thanks. To every single reader and reviewer who has even as much as skimmed this story. Notably: Chelsea, Liz, Dani, Rachel. To Susan, whose unwavering support and subtle hints were actually one of the few reasons I pushed myself to open up the Word document. To the rest of you, whether I requested you stop by or you simply popped in, whether I know your names or not - thank you. Just, thank you. To those sweet people who actually added this to their favorites list - I can't believe it. And how can I forget Kalina, whose support this time exactly one year ago helped me realize that writing this wasn't a complete mistake, and to whom this is dedicated.
Also, my immeasurable gratitude to the uber-lovely LovlyRita, who with SpringTime featured this on their Story Seekers podcast in August '09. Hearing their praise actually made my life; and though I say that surprisingly often, it's actually true.
And to all of the wonderful people who have stuck with me for years. If you ever see this, you know who you are. You guys are the reason I'm still here.
There are so many things I want to say, so many things I want to tell you guys, but I don't want this note to be as long as the chapter. Therefore, within the next week or so, I will be putting together an All Things Snow Red blog to be posted on the HPFF forums, including all the little plot things I can't say here. Keep an eye out for it :) My username is gubby; you have to be logged in at the forums to see my blog.
And now, I bid you all farewell. I can only hope that this last chapter satisfied your expectations and that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.
I love you all.
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "The Lady of Shalott"