Bashful and the other dwarves ambled home to their cottage after a long day’s work in their mine. It was a remarkable mine, full of all kinds of gold and jewels, which meant that they were properly minted. In fact, Bashful often wondered how much longer they would be staying in the cottage, given that they could probably afford to be off on their jollies by now and in much better accommodation. He asked Doc but it was always “next month, we just need a bit more and then we can retire in style, see?”.
They had to cross a big tree, which Bashful didn’t mind but Grumpy hated; he was always afraid that he’d slip off the wood, what with Sneezy shaking the tree every now and then with an almighty explosion of phlegm and sputum, Sleepy the narcoleptic liable to fall off if they didn’t keep they eye on him, Dopey tripping over himself, and Happy tripping balls on mushrooms. This meant that every day they had to listen to Grumpy humphing and grumping about health and safety and remarking that they should go the long way round, but nobody else could be arsed and besides, where was the fun in that?
There was the singing too of course, this was necessary to make sure that everybody was present and correct; they could hear if one of them dropped behind or went awol because the singing would stop or veer off in another direction. The singing was often punctuated by a thump and an ouch from Dopey as he fell arse over tit, sneezing and nose-blowing from you-know-who, and Happy interrupting to point out how awesome and colourful everything was.
Eventually they reached their humble lodgings in the woods, humble in the sense that it was such a dump that the most tolerant and optimistic monk would probably not deign it worthy to spend the night in.
It had four walls and a roof, sure, but they could tell when they first moved in that it had been neglected for ages. The stone bricks were crumbling and loose in places, there were gaps around the rotting timber of the window frames, and the thatch on top was wet and mouldy; the whole place creaked and moved when the wind blew. It was infested with woodlice, spiders and all manner of creepy crawlies, and stank to high heaven of damp and heavens alone knew what else; the cess pit in the back yard probably didn’t help. The cottage had four rooms – living room, kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom; very cramped for seven individuals to live in, especially under these circumstances.
So they rolled up their sleeves and renovated the place, camping outside in tents until it was done; Doc was damned if he was going to spend good money on contractors when they could do the job just as well themselves. Well, Doc, Bashful and Grumpy did most of the work, because Sneezy was incapacitated by his allergies, Sleepy kept nodding off, Dopey was too stupid, and Happy was in la la land.
What Doc was thinking when he signed the deed for this place Bashful had no idea, but of course he was too shy to speak up when the transaction was taking place; he sure as hell wasn’t going to draw any attention to himself. They hadn’t even seen the hovel before that shifty little sycophant of a man had convinced Doc that of course it was a very wise decision he had made and that Doc wouldn’t regret it. What was that sly little oik’s name again? Oh that’s right, he didn’t say did he? What the man had done was told Doc that if he guessed his name correctly then he would get a 25% discount; Doc made three incorrect attempts so that was that.
Still, it was solid, clean and dry now that the work had been done; and it was only temporary, Doc assured them. Much better value for money than paying for lodgings in town, closer to work etc.
They reached their glade, strode up to their cottage and found their front door open. Dopey must have forgotten to lock it behind them when they left; he would get a clip behind the ear for that. Bashful personally thought it was daft for Doc to give Dopey the key in the first place, but Doc said the responsibility would be good for him and that he needed to be involved as much as possible.
The living room was in disarray, one of the benches was overturned and the dining table was a mess of dirty plates, chicken bones, and beer stains; pretty much as they’d left it. Sleepy was meant to be in charge of clearing this lot up, it was his turn last night, but of course he’d nodded off.
“Well well, we’d better clean this lot up hadn’t we? Grumpy…” Doc started.
“Fucked if I’m doing it” Grumpy surly interrupted, “I did it last night.”
“Bashful…” Doc said, turning to look at him.
“Ah, er, well I…”
“Good, that’s all settled then!” said Doc cheerfully. “Now then, perhaps we’d better just lay Sleepy upstairs and then we can get scrubbed up for dinner”.
Bashful blushed with frustration, then went about collecting up the crockery and beer tankards, picking up and throwing out the leftovers onto the midden outside, and started scrubbing and cleaning while the Sneezy and Grumpy picked up Sleepy (who had fallen asleep) and carried him up the rickety stairs to the bedroom. Dopey went outside to play for a while, and Happy sat himself down in one of the chairs, rocking back and forth gently, staring at the patterns in the wooden floor and giggling to himself now and then.
Soon there was a cry from above, and Doc exclaimed “hey, what the fuck is this? Who’s that? Grumpy, did you pay for a whore from town to drop by here?”
“Nope, wasn’t me. Damned if I’m going to be liable for her health and safety in this place. Nope, I’d go into town and sleep there! Damned if I know why we don’t all do the same, we make enough money and I’m sick and tired of…”
“Yes yes alright Grumpy” said Doc placatingly. “Well, she’s a beaut anyway”.
The pale white-skinned woman lying on Happy’s bed, her raven black hair spread out across the pillow, was fast asleep. Her head was turned to one side, her ruby red lips partially open. It was a warm summer night, and she had sprawled herself on top of the bed, her torn and dirty dress pulled about her long shapely legs, and her corset accentuating every gentle movement of her bosom.
Sneezy leered over at her from behind Sleepy’s shoulder. “Well, I’d do her” he remarked, casually “wonder how much she’d ask for?”
“It doesn’t matter!” said Doc irritably “she shouldn’t be here, we don’t have enough room for her. We’ll need to wake her up”. Doc stepped round to one side of the bed, leaned over and placed his hand on her shoulder, shaking the young woman gently “hello? Can you hear me poppet? Come on now, wakey wakey!”
The girl groaned and stretched, turned over onto her back, opened her eyes, looked up at Doc, and shrieked. “Ooo!” she squealed as she sat up against the headboard.
“Hello there” said Doc, smiling at her and giving her a little wave. “Are you alright? What’s your name?”
“S, s, s, Snow White” the girl stuttered, her eyes wide, a blush rising to her pale cheeks.
“Well then, Snow White…shall I call you Snow? Is that alright? Well, Snow, would you mind telling us what’s brought you here?” asked Doc patiently.
“Well I, you see there was this huntsman, and he told me that my stepmother wanted him to kill me and carve out my lungs and heart, but then I begged him to let me go, and he did and, and, and, I was just so frightened and I ran into the woods and I got lost and then I, I, I saw this cottage and it looked so sweet and I was so tired…so I…” said Snow rapidly.
“Not to worry, we’ll sort something out. How are you at housekeeping young lady? Perhaps you could look after the house and have food on the table for when we get back from work, and stay with us for a while, how’d that be?”
“Oh, yes! Thank you, I’m happy to help out in any way I can!”
“Well, that’s all settled then. You know how to use a broom I suppose, and how to mend clothes?” Doc continued.
“Oh certainly, I’ve seen the maids doing it, and I’ve picked up one or two things from my governess”.
“Maids, and a governess?” Grumpy guffawed, “I suppose you’re a princess or something?”
“Why yes I am!” Snow exclaimed happily. “I’m going to be married to a prince one day, and become his queen!”
Doc looked at her intently for a second, his mouth open, and then at the other dwarves. “Well my dear” said Doc, “I’m sure that will do fine. Why don’t you just go down and speak with old Bashful and see what he wants you to do?”
So it was that Snow White got up from the bed and went downstairs. Bashful had already cleared the table, scrubbed it down, and had swept the floor, and was now washing the crockery while a cooking pot filled with water hung over the fire to boil.
Bashful was occupied with washing the dishes, chipping bits of old food off and scrubbing away and hadn’t heard the commotion upstairs. He felt a hand tapping him on the shoulder and turned round to see a wall of blue and one long, white, decidedly female arm beside him, as the musky scent of the woman filled his nostrils and overwhelmed his senses.
“Er…um…” he began to stutter, completely bewildered.
“Hello! You must be Bashful! I’m Snow White! How about I help you with the cooking? I’ve never done it before but I’m sure I can learn fast, and perhaps you could help me? I’ll be working here you see, so that the queen doesn’t find me and cut my lungs and heart out and eat them, so maybe I should grab some of those vegetables over there?”
Bashful went bright red and carried on staring at her waist, never looking up for more than a second. He tugged on his beard, took a big gulp, nodded his head and pointed to a sack in the corner where there were some potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
Snow White giggled with delight and clapped her hands gleefully, then skipped over to the sack and brought over some of the vegetables to the table to wash them and cut them into chunks for the cooking pot.
“Do you have any rabbit? Or boar? Or chicken? Or…” Snow continued as she set to her work.
“Ah, er, um…” Bashful said. A woman, in this cottage? Where had she come from? What was this about a queen wanting to eat her heart and lungs? Maybe she’d been eating some of Happy’s shroom stash before they’d arrived, she was certainly very happy…and very pretty! Bashful was instantly smitten, and wondered how he would talk with her.
From that night onwards, Bashful was completely Snow’s bitch, being utterly enthralled by her, and would do anything that she asked. Snow used this to her advantage and enjoyed teasing him and making him blush.
“Oh Bashful dear?” Snow would say, “would you be a darling and untie the laces at the back of my dress? They’re frightfully difficult, and you have such strong fingers…” Or it would be “Bashful dear? Would you be a sweetie and pass me a towel? I seem to have forgotten to take one before I stepped into the bath!”
This of course made Bashful feel as if his head would explode, and made him completely forget about the times when she had obviously been snacking on some of the dried plants Happy kept in jars in the darker recesses of the cottage and had been frolicking around the place with her broom in hand, singing at the birds which were sat on the windowsill, then pausing with her hand at her ear, waiting for them to join in, then nodding and giggling with delight and continuing on her merry way.
One day they all got a scare when they arrived home and found Snow White unconscious on the floor, her head turned the colour of one of Happy’s blue mushrooms and drool dripping from a corner of her mouth. Bashful was mortified.
“Quick quick!” said Doc, scurrying over and kneeling beside her “I’ve seen this before, help me turn her over onto her back!”
The other dwarves rushed over to her, and as they turned her over, Bashful couldn’t resist taking a deep breath, inhaling the heady perfume of the gorgeous skin which he kneaded under his fingers as they gently rolled her over.
“Get me a knife! No, not you Dopey, you’ll just hurt yourself. No, not you Slee…oh, not again” he said as Sleepy fell over and started snoring. “Bashful? Come on man, stop staring at her and get a bloody knife!”
Bashful shook himself out of his dream-world and hurried over to the kitchen to get a knife. He handed it to Doc who cut open the laces on the back of the dress and then the laces on her corset – Bashful stared at Snow’s naked back, his eyes as wide as saucers; his chest filled with a feeling of manly assertiveness and he rubbed his fingers against his thumbs as he imagined what it would be like to run his hands over the soft, silky smoothness of that uncharted territory, his lip quivering at this voyeurism.
Snow didn’t wake though. “M…m…maybe we should try mouth to mouth?” suggested Bashful, not believing the words that came out of his own mouth, or that they had come out at all.
“Perhaps we should cut the magic string?” said Happy, pointing at the stay-lace around her torso. “Look, it’s all colourful and sparkly; she wasn’t wearing that before”.
Bashful’s heart sank as they all looked at the plain brown cord which was tied around Snow’s midriff. Nobody had noticed that until now; it certainly wasn’t as Happy described, but then this was Happy after all.
Sod’s law that this would be a magic cord and now Bashful wouldn’t be be able to gently knead Snow’s bosom or press his lips against hers…
“Well” said Doc, shrugging his shoulders “worth a try”. He cut the cord, and everybody took an involuntary step back as Snow took a deep rasping breath and started coughing, pushing herself up from the floor while clutching the front of her dress to her chest.
The dwarves guided her over to a chair and sat her down, and Doc fetched a tankard of mead and set it in her free hand.
“Oh” Snow said, still a little out of breath, “whatever happened?” she asked, looking around at the dwarves.
“You tell us” Grumpy replied gruffly. “What was that magic cord all about?”
“Magic?” asked Snow uncertainly, “why yes, I remember now! While you were out, a sweet old lady dropped by and said that if I put this cord around the middle here, that it would help me dance while I was cleaning, and that it would make it all so much easier.”
She looked at Doc. “The next thing I know, I can’t breathe, and then I don’t remember, and then I woke up, and all of you were here. Was that magic cord bad? Did it do this to me? Oh but that old lady was so nice, she didn’t seem bad, but the cord was bad, and it made me pass out…”
Grumpy and Doc looked at each other knowingly. Not only had Snow probably been high, but the evil witch of a queen had paid a visit and tried to kill her.
“Now look here Snow” said Doc, “tomorrow when we go out, don’t go eating any of the stuff in any of those jars, and don’t open the door to anybody.”
Snow agreed, and the next morning the dwarves left the cottage and went to the mine as usual. All the way along the journey and for the rest of the day Bashful dreamt of Snow and her naked back, scarcely paying attention to the dull thud and clink of his pickaxe as he worked, singing more softly than usual as he imagined her dropping her hand away from her dress and letting it fall to release her perfectly formed breasts, for his eyes only…
When they returned, they found Snow unconscious on the floor again. This time she was lying on her side, and there was no cord around her body. Happy scanned the room, but saw nothing that shone or glittered, nothing magical. She wasn’t breathing, and no amount of kneading or exhaling air into her lungs would revive her, she had clearly eaten a bad shroom and, from her colour, had been dead for some time.
Bashful was utterly depressed. For days afterwards, while he and the other dwarves used their innate skills to fashion a coffin made from the finest quartz crystal for their happy princess, he was lost in a dark fugue of sadness and despair.
The dwarves took the coffin into a glade in the woods and placed it upon a granite plinth which they had carved with her name engraved on it, and then transported her corpse in their mining cart and placed it on the padded coffin base and covered it with the crystal cover. They stood solemnly next to the monument with their caps in their hands, nobody speaking. The woods were completely silent as they took time to remember how she had come into their lives, and had so tragically been taken from them.
Just then, a loud horn shattered the tranquillity, immediately followed by the baying and barking of hounds and the thudding of horses hooves. The dwarves turned to see bannermen on horses riding in front of a richly dressed nobleman, bloodhounds swarming and roiling around them. They stopped by the coffin, and the nobleman swung himself off his horse and walked over to the dwarves.
“Who is this fair maiden, who lies upon this stone?”
Doc replied for the group, as usual. “Why sir, it is the Princess, Snow White.”
The nobleman looked at the coffin, then back at Doc. “I am sorry for your loss. I am Prince Cedric of the Yonderlands. I have come to marry the Princess, but since she is clearly dead, the marriage cannot take place and so I will need to take her body back to the castle to be buried with her ancestors. I would be most grateful if you could place her coffin upon that cart and return with me, where we will here your story.”
The dwarves looked at each other uncertainly. He was clearly a nobleman, and since Snow said she was a princess, why shouldn’t she be returned to the royal castle? So they drew the cart over to the plinth and started to push and shift the coffin from its place. Then the unthinkable happened; Sleepy collapsed to the ground snoring at the same time as the forest pollen got the better of Sneezy and his body shook violently as a fit of sneezing took hold of him.
The coffin fell down one side of the plinth with a loud thud and as Snow White’s body was thrown against the hard crystal coffin lid, her mouth opened and a chunk of red apple fell out of her mouth.
“You stupid bastards!” Doc shouted as the other dwarves hurriedly set the coffin upright, “look what you’ve done!”.
Snow White looked up as she raised a hand to her bruised head, she coughed and looked up at the scene around her as the dwarves roused themselves from their state of shock and unclasped the crystal casing from the base of the coffin, allowing her to step out into the fresh morning air. The dwarves (with the exception of Sleepy) clasped their caps in their hands once again as they looked upon her in wonder.
“What happened?” she asked, looking down at her friends.
“We were hoping you could tell us that” replied Doc, smiling at her. “Did you eat something from one of Happy’s jars after we left?”
“Why, no, no I didn’t, not at all” Snow said, shaking her raven hair about her shoulders. “I did eat an apple though, an old lady came by and…oh, do you suppose it was that same old lady as before? Or maybe it was her sister? She looked different, but she might have been the same, and she said that the apple would make me feel good, and that I wouldn’t be hungry all day, and then I ate the apple, and then I fell down and…and then I woke up, and you were all here, and…who are you?” she said, looking up at the Prince.
Sod’s law, thought Bashful morosely, as the dwarves watched Snow White ride away with Cedric to the castle.
Based on a prompt from CreativeWritingPrompts.com