Beneath the glass, her face was soft and sad. Even with preservation, she had aged slightly. It was a mask – hiding the animation and light she had possessed.
He had been travelling the world for centuries searching. Every isle had housed him for a time, as he scoured it for the signs of magic. Since his recovery, he’d known what he had been missing all along. And he knew that she had been protected by the very women who sent her his way.
Here, he’d stumbled upon the quiet glade as he had walked through the forest. Something about the slanting light had enchanted him.
This place had not been disturbed for a long time. A hint of the priestesses was there, in the carved steps into a gentle waterfall, the discarded pitcher by the water. Even the turtle regarding him from a rock had been placed for effect.
He’d heard the stories of Snow White and knew it had been a message to him. The poisoned apple, the description of his fair love, the magical dwarves who would have had to carry her here. He heard the message that she was ready to be saved. A directive.
Beneath the glass, she waited for him. Her fair cheeks still blushing, lips red, dark hair in curly tangles. Unbidden, the memory of their softness and scent against his cheek made him shiver.
His time walking had made him forget a love that was not without problems. Her indiscretion, he now knew, had been in part his error too. Leaving his wife alone to pace the turrets would destroy even the strongest of loves. His drive to be the best king, to possess that damned chalice. He only hoped that in her dreaming sleep that she would remember him fondly, with the love they once shared. He was sure he looked the brute now, with deep lines around his eyes and mouth, salt and pepper locks unkempt. He knew she would remember, regardless.
Trembling, his hands lay on the glass covering. He slowly removed her sarcophagus, taking care that it did not strike her. With great effort, he placed it on the ground.
Hoping he had understood the messages of the priestesses, he bent slowly to her, hesitating a moment. His lips pressed hers with love, praying to all that was holy that he was the one meant to awaken her with a kiss.
Beneath his mouth, he felt her lips moved. He stood up, watching her stretch languidly as a cat, smiling sleepily up at him.
A second later her eyes unclouded and the rich emerald eyes pierced him with her stare. He could not distinguish which emotion reigned – hurt, distrust, aching love or confusion.
“Arthur,” she said softy. “You came.”