Snow could hear the deer walking through the forest, could smell its scent as it drew closer to her. She pulled back on her bow, waiting patiently. A shadow passed over her and the deer raced away. She let her arrow fly, missing it by an inch. She looked to the sky, glaring angrily at the blue dragon. She stepped out of the woods. “Hey you stupid idiot, what do you think you’re doing?” She yelled. The dragon turned its gaze on her and circled toward the ground. It landed and shifted into a man with red hair and intense green eyes.
“I’m sorry, did I do something wrong?” He asked, looking far to innocent for such a huge beast. Her heart stuttered and she tried to hold onto her anger.
“Uh, yes you scared away the deer I was hunting. I was trying to catch something good for my family for dinner.”
“Aren’t you a dragon, why not shift and hunt?”
“Because I’m still learning after Irim changed me.”
He cocked his head to the side. “You know Irim?” He inhaled her scent. “You must be Ariel’s sister. I am Irim’s friend Barnum. If you are hunting for the castle please allow me to help you. Especially since I just scared away your prey.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Please princess, allow me to help you. It would be an honor to aid such a beautiful young woman.”
She blushed and looked at her feet. “Thank you, but please call me Snow.”
“Alright Princess Snow, I shall catch you a deer to share with your family.”
Barnum shifted back into a dragon and came back with a dead deer much faster than Snow expected. He shifted into a man as he landed again. “Allow me to carry this to the castle. I’m sure you are capable, but I would like to aid you further and then eat with you.”
“I guess.” Snow said in a tone that said she was only tolerating this. He was still making her heart flutter and act weird, it was annoying. She wouldn’t be rude though. She committed to being a better person and she would be. They walked to the castle together, Barnum finding himself enraptured in Snow’s beauty. He thought she was truly gorgeous and could see how Irim could find a woman to be better than treasure. He hadn’t heard good things about princess Snow but she didn’t seem all that bad to him right now.
When they arrived at the castle Barnum took the deer to the kitchen and they promised to make them something delicious with it as an addition to lunch. “We should get cleaned up. There’s a guest room beside my room so you can shower in there.”
“Thank you.” he said with a bow. He followed her, finding even her walk entrancing as they approached the guest room.
“Just meet me in the dining room.” Snow said then swiftly walked into her bedroom. Barnum felt sad she was gone but all the same went straight into the room to shower.
Snow washed quickly, rinsed, and got out. As she dried she looked at herself in the mirror. She didn’t know why Barnum thought she was beautiful. Next to her sisters her beauty seemed to diminish so she didn’t understand, especially after he had seen Ariel. She sighed and went into her room, pulling on some clean clothes then brushing her hair and pulling it back. She and Barnum stepped out of their rooms at the same time and he gave her a warm smile that had her cheeks growing hot. “You should wear your hair down, I bet you look even more beautiful.” He said as he followed her downstairs.
“I don’t like wearing my hair down.”
She shot him a look, but it didn’t seem to scare him in the least. “Because it gets frizzy and I hate it.”
“Here, let me see.” He grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop then pulled her hair out of its bun so it fell in damp tendrils around her shoulders. He ran his fingers through it, still smiling and making her want to slap his hand away. “There, let it dry, I bet it looks amazing and if you still hate it later I’ll braid it for you.”
“Why are you always so angry, why not smile more? I bet you have a wonderful smile.”
“Where were you going when you scared off my deer?”
He gave a little frown. “I was coming from Irim and Ariel’s home. I was visiting for a couple of days. I was actually heading home.”
“After lunch will you be on your way?” Her question hurt his feelings but he wanted to be around her still. He knew there was a happy person in there. Ariel had told him Snow finally gave her a hug when she was changed. Something in him wanted her and Barnum was not easily deterred when he found something he wanted.
“Maybe, I find myself wanting to get to know you. I will not stop until you are happy and smiling at me.” Snow swallowed, not knowing how to react when she both felt anger and want for him.
“Whatever.” She decided on saying then kept walking to the dining hall. Erminia glanced at Snow and Barnum when they entered. This was the first time she had seen Snow’s hair down and she really liked it.
“Hey there, you helped in the Kifnira games one year. Barnum right?”
“Yes, nice to see you again.”
“What’re you doing here?”
“Spending time with Snow.” Erminia didn’t know how to respond so didn’t before her foot got lodged in her mouth. They had to wait about ten more minutes before food started coming out. The first thing Snow tried was the food the cooks had used the deer in. “You like it?” Barnum asked and she shrugged though she loved it. It wasn’t like he had made the meal, simply caught it so why should she praise a man that was planning on following her without even asking if it was okay.
“I think your cook did an excellent job, I wonder if she’d make me an apple pie if I asked.”
“Dragons eat apple pie?”
“Well you’re a dragon right, do you eat pie?”
He sighed and went back to eating. He just wanted her to be happy, to give him even a little smile. “Hey I have an idea. Would you like me to show you how to shift shape?”
Snow actually glared at him. “Why do you persist?”
“Because that’s the way I am. Now, would you like my help?”
She sighed angrily. “Fine, if you insist.”
The rest of their meal Barnum chatted with Erminia about Kifnira and congratulated her on so many wins. He tried to include Snow, but she had never competed so didn’t know what to say. She envied the way he got along so easily with people and it irritated her beyond reason. She wished she could be like that, smiling and laughing with everyone, but she didn’t know how. When they were finished eating Erminia told Barnum to leave the dishes and go ahead and begin Snow’s lesson.
They walked out into the castle courtyard and Barnum said, “Just close your eyes.” Snow crossed her arms and closed her eyes. “Now imagine yourself shifting. I promise it’s easy. It doesn’t even hurt for us dragons.” Snow tried, hastily getting frustrated when nothing happened. “Just relax, you wont change in such an angry mood.”
“How do you know I’m angry?”
“You look it.”
“It’s just not happening.”
“You have to relax for it to happen” Snow sighed and tried her best to relax. “I bet you’ll look just as beautiful as a dragon.” Barnum said trying to be encouraging.
Snow opened her eyes and snapped, “Why do you keep calling me beautiful?”
Barnum sighed, “Because you are.”
“No i’m not, you’ve seen my sisters. Next to them I’m so plain. I hate how I look.”
Barnum got closer and stroked her face. “You are gorgeous Snow. Don’t compare yourself to anybody. You are every bit as pretty as your sisters.” Snows heart did a flip and her cheeks flushed. Her embarrassment roused anger in her as always and she tried to storm into the castle but Barnum saw that outcome and held her arm. “Please don’t, you are beautiful. Don’t deny it Snow.”
“I’m not, stop saying it.”
“No, I’ll keep saying it until you believe me. Even if it makes you angry.” She balled up her fist and he pulled her into a hug so she couldn’t hit him. “Lets keep trying the change. Calm down and just try. I know you can do it.”
“Would you let me go?”
“As long as you promise not to run away from me?”
“I wasn’t running, but I promise not to leave.” He let her go and she straightened her clothes before closing her eyes again. Barnum grabbed her hands in his and she felt goosebumps crawl up her arms.
“Just breathe to calm yourself and see the change happening in your head, see your body changing.”
She focused on her breathing and relaxed her muscles then her mind. She imagined herself shifting into a dragon, the scales, the wings, everything filled her head and she felt a strange sensation run through her. Barnum released her hands and when she finally opened her eyes again she was towering over him. “Amazing, you are as exquisite in dragon form as you are in human form. Follow me, lets go to the lake so you may see yourself and have your first flying lesson.”
Barnum knew flying would come naturally. It didn’t matter if you were changed by a High Dragon or born as a dragonling flight came as an instinct. So he had no fears of flying with her high in the air. If for whatever reason she fell he would fly under her and catch Snow on his back. Snow took off nervously but did it as if this was the hundredth time. She felt so proud and happy, she truly felt happy up here with Barnum. She was grateful to him for this and would force herself to give him a thank you even if she didn’t want to. When they were over the lake Barnum descended first with Snow following soon after.
Barnum and Snow walked over to the water, Snow barely believing her eyes when she saw herself. She was a midnight black dragon with purple eyes, the purple eyes she had always wanted. The ever stone or angry faced Snow actually shed a tear of happiness which concerned Barnum. He shifted, hoping she would do the same. She did and he held her, unwilling to let Snow push him away. “You okay, you don’t like being a dragon?’
“I love it. I was actually pretty.”
“You’re pretty now Snow. I told you, I honestly think you’re beautiful.”
“Thank you for helping me shift and then fly. I was actually happy up there.”
“Then lets fly some more. The best thank you you can give me is a smile.”
“Why do you care so much about if I smile or not?”
“Because I just do. I want to see your face light up, I want you to see how beautiful you really are. You have the most beautiful blue eyes, like the brightest sapphires I have ever seen. Your skin is beautifully pale, like fresh snow and your hair is the most gorgeous shade of brown, very earthy. You are the vision of beauty and grace.”
She felt new tears spring to her eyes and pressed her face into his shirt. “How do I know you are telling the truth and aren’t just saying this because I’m a princess?”
“You don’t, but you’ll just have to trust that I am. Dragons are not known for their lies, being tricky maybe, but we don’t tend to lie.”
Snow pulled back and wiped her face, not liking she was crying in front of Barnum. “Sorry I’m being such a baby. It’s stupid to cry over such things.”
“Why do you always have to act like that. I can tell by your eyes that you don’t mean it so why act that way?” She just shrugged and he stroked her cheek. “I want to make you happy Snow, so please try for me. Smile more, love your family more, just please stop looking so sad and angry.”
“You stupid dragon, following me around and making me cry.”
“I’m sorry beautiful Snow, from now on I’ll do all I can to bring a smile to your face, anything at all.”
“Can we fly some more? I want to go anywhere as long as I can be in the sky.”
“Would you follow me to my home? I’d love for you to see all my treasure. Maybe I have something that will highlight your beauty further.” Snow blushed and he hugged her again.
“I’d like that.” She admitted instead of acting like she wouldn’t. They shifted shape then soared through the sky. She smiled as the wind rolled off of her, a smile that Barnum saw which made his own heart flip in his chest. Snow truly was the greatest treasure he had ever found and would only be better once he could make her happy.
He watched her as they flew, not really needing to watch too much to get home. Snow was so happy in the sky she didn’t even notice his adoring stare. When they were at his cave he made a long, slow descent to make sure she landed alright. He shifted when they were on the ground and she soon followed. Barnum took her hand, making Snow blush worse. She fought herself not to pull away. She liked it and knew he probably wouldn’t let her go anyway.
He pulled her gently into the huge cave where he had made his home. It was similar to Irim’s just with less furniture since it was just Barnum. He let her go long enough to light candles and get a fire going in the fireplace he had carved out of the stone wall then grabbed her hand again and pulled her down a tunnel to a seperate room. He lit candles here too and she gasped when the light bounced off of his pile of treasure. There was jewelry, gold, dishes, and even weapons. Some she had never seen before. “This is amazing.” She said as she lifted a jewel encrusted goblet out of the pile.
“You may I have anything you wish.”
She looked up at him. “I thought dragons were very attached to their treasure.”
He shrugged. “I would rather you be happy than worry about a few pieces of this.”
She blushed and sat the goblet down. “I’m not very good at picking out things like jewelry. Could you maybe find me something?”
He gave her a big smile and flipped open a big chest. He sifted through the jewelry sitting inside and pulled out a small box with pair of sapphire earrings inside. He then grabbed a necklace with a sapphire pendant, and a blue bracelet. “Come here.” He said and she moved closer. He put the earrings on first then the necklace, last he held up the bracelet. “This bracelet is made from my scales Snow. If you ever need me for anything, just say my name and I will fly right to you.”
“I really like being near you. Could I have a smile, please?” Snow didn’t smile often so she almost didn’t know how. She gave him the best one she could and he smiled back softly. “Thank you, I enjoyed your real smile in the air. You seem truly happy up there. I’ll fly with you any time you want it. Flying is more enjoyable for me with you by my side.” Snow blushed and he truly made her smile again which made Barnum’s eyes light up with happiness. “So you do like me though you try to pretend you don’t”
“I may as well like you if you refuse to go away.” Barnum gave a small chuckle
“You are the first living thing I’ve liked more than treasure. You mean a lot to me. Do you know yet how beautiful you are Snow?”
“You’re getting weird.” she said in her embarrassment. “None of that Snow. I know you are only getting that way because I embarrass you. You like my compliments.”
“You must flatter all the women.”
Barnum took Snow into his arms. “Only you Snow. I’ve never been so taken by a woman.” He felt her grow hot. Snow wasn’t used to men talking to her this way and being so loving. Most men would have long since been fed up with her, but Barnum persisted.
“It’s not fair for you to say things like that.”
“Why, because it makes you blush or because it makes your heart beat really fast? Either way, I like I can do that to you. Your blush is absolutely sexy and the sound of your heart like music. I love your scent, the softness of your skin, and most of all your beautiful smile. I want to always make you happy, I want you to see how much everyone loves you. Even Ariel loves you though you used to be so cruel to her. Let me show you how truly loved and needed you are.”
Barnum held her face gently in his hands and gave her a kiss. He loved how soft her lips were and when she didn’t do anything but bunch her fingers in his shirt he deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping into her mouth. When he finally parted their lips he smiled at her flushed face and rapid breathing. “No one’s ever kissed me like that before.” She said softly.
“And no one but me ever will beautiful Snow. I think…no I know that I’m falling in love with you. From the moment I saw you, I knew you would be important to me. Know that no matter what path you choose I will always be yours. That’s why I’m giving you a bacelet made of my scales.”
“What if I married someone else?”
“Then I’d still be yours even though it would break my heart to see you with another.”
“You don’t know how hard I can be to live with. I’m trying to change, but I struggle. I’ve been like this for so long I don’t know how to stop Barnum.”
Barnum took Snows hands. “I’ll help you and be patient. I love you and can see the wonderful, happy woman inside you. Please be my mate Snow.” Snow’s heart beat rapidly, almost fearfully about being in a real relationship.
“Maybe I’m falling in love you you too, but I just don’t think mates would be a good idea.”
“You’re just scared Snow.”
“You are. You’re afraid to love and be loved but damn it I am falling madly in love and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop me.” Snow swallowed then just stared at his serious, loving eyes. Barnum didn’t for a moment break their stare which was making her heart pump at painful speeds.
“You are one crazy dragon.”
“Maybe, you can’t help who your heart wants. Yours wants me too Snow.”
“You sure you aren’t just over confident?”
“I’m sure, you know I speak the truth.”
“This is just too fast Barnum.”
“If you require time I’ll give it. I’ll spend time with you daily until you want me as a mate.”
“I’m sure you have better things to do.”
“None better than chasing the woman my heart wants.”
She felt herself getting irritated by his persistence. “Why can’t you just take no for an answer. It won’t work, I’ve been in relationships before and they don’t last. You’ll get tired of me and you’ll leave.” He saw her getting ready to run again and grabbed her wrists.
“No more running and no more hiding Snow. I’m not letting you. When I say I love you, I mean it so believe me. I will never leave you, no matter what. I love you Snow, I love you so much I couldn’t take my eyes off of you when we first met. You’ve made me forget about my treasure and it takes something special to do that to a dragon.” She swallowed and looked away from him as she began to tear up. This was all so confusing to her and she didn’t know what to do. “Damn it, you stubborn woman. I’ll prove it to you.”
He pulled her out of his treasure room and into his bedroom where he pushed her down on the matress. She looked up at him with surprise and uncertainty. “What are you going to do?”
“Make love to you until you can see and feel how much I love and need you. Is that alright?”
She was shocked he was even asking and wondered what he would do if she said no. “What if I don’t want you to?” She asked.
“Then I’ll hold you and kiss you and whisper to you how amazing you are until you believe me. So which do you want? I’ll do anything.”
“Make love to me then.” She whispered, trying as hard as she could not to cry.
Barnum set to removing the cloth covering Snow, making her blush even more than before. As her skin became exposed he kissed it, enjoying her taste and the heat coming from her body. He whispered in her ear, his soft breath sending goosebumps down her neck. “You’re so beautiful Snow. I love you, truly.” He licked up her neck slowly, almost moaning from just the taste of her skin. He slid a hand between her legs as he began to kiss her again. Their tounges mingled and she began to moan into his mouth. It teased him up and he thrust into her. Snow let out a yelp that startled him. “You were a virgin.”
“Yeah.” She said with wet eyes.
“No, don’t be. I’m enjoying this so much.” Tears slid down her cheeks and he gave her a gentle kiss before slowly moving.
“Do you know how precious you are Snow? Can you feel in my touch how much I love you?” Snow nodded and sniffled. Barnum kissed the tears away as he kept the same pace. They climaxed together then Barnum laid at Snows side, pulling her against him so that their bodies had to tangle with the closeness. “I want to just hold you now my beautiful, precious Snow.
“I’d like that” She said with a truly happy look on her face.
She fell asleep wrapped in his arms and he smiled happily and kissed her forehead. He had no idea how she never saw how beautiful she was. Even now, when she was asleep and dishelveled from their lovemaking, she was absolutely stunning. “I love you more than anything, I hope you know that now.” He whispered as he stroked her cheek then brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them. “I love you so much.” He closed his eyes and allowed her warmth to lull him into a peaceful sleep.
The next morning Snow stirred and blushed when she saw she was still wrapped in Barnum’s arms. She just lay there, her head resting on his chest, not wanting to wake him. She ran her fingers lightly over his chest and it was enough to make him open his eyes. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you, I just wanted to touch you.” She said softly.
“It’s okay, I’m glad you did. How do you feel?” She blushed and he chuckled as he tipped her head back to kiss her. He knew he would be forever addicted to the sweetness of her lips and couldn’t help but hold her there. When he pulled back she was a deep crimson and he thought she was the most adorable thing he had ever seen. “Now, how do you feel my love?”
“I’m a little sore, but it’s not too bad.” She managed to say.
“There are hot springs in this cave. Would you like to bathe with me?”
“You don’t have to, we can always take turns.”
“No, please I want to go with you. It’s just another thing I’ve never done before so I’m a little embarrassed. Please, let’s bathe together.”
“I bet you look amazing covered in water.” She covered her face and he laughed softly as he got out of bed with her in his arms and carried her a little deeper into the cave where the hot springs were.
Barnum sat down in the water’s heat, still holding Snow in his arms. “Just as I thought, my mate is gorgeous in water too.”
“Did I agree to be your mate?”
He smiled then kissed her. “Will you be my mate?”
“I guess you’ll do.” She said with a blush that made his smile stretch as wide as it could go.
“You better stop acting like you aren’t madly in love with me.”
‘Many things, I have my ways to punish you my beautiful Snow. For that first quip I demand you move into my cave with me.”
“I guess all must be punished for their misdeeds.” Barnum couldn’t help but kiss Snow again.
“Let me enjoy you a while longer then we will gather your things from the castle.”
“I don’t want to leave yet anyway. Thank you for being such an annoying, persistent man.”
“Annoying and persistent is what I do best.” He joked and Snow laughed. They stayed in his cave a couple more days before returning to the castle and getting Rapunzel to call all their siblings to the dining hall so they could tell everyone the news. Snow was embarrassed and therefore cranky about it, but Barnum really wanted them all to know Snow was his mate. They waited until even Cinderella and John could make their way so they could be a part of the announcement. Richard did nothing to settle Snow’s mood since he got to teasing her about what the news might be. When they finally announced everyone actually clapped and rejoiced. Zane, who was rarely affectionate to anyone but Belle and his children even hugged the both of them.
What was more surprising than Zane was the fact George cracked a smile. The ever stone faced husband to Cinderella actually smiled. It was more for relief though. He hoped this would make Snow easier to visit when his wife wanted to return home. Rapunzel hoped her parents somehow knew of this moment and were watching them with smiles that Snow finally found love and a man that could handle her temper. She knew they would be gushing with joy if they could see this day.
“See my beautiful, sweet Snow, they all love you so much. They are all very happy for you.” Barnum said as he carried her upstairs to her room to gather the things she wished to take.
“I know, I guess I should have seen it sooner. I hate myself for hurting them so much with my petty jealousy and anger at losing our mother.” She replied with a little frown. “I should have been a better big sister.”
“The past is the past my love and they seem to believe the same. Just do your best to love them the way they deserve now.”
She smiled up at him as they came to her door and she pushed it open for him. “You know just what to say, I wish I did.”
“You’ll get there, I promise. You are a wonderful person, all you needed was a push in the right direction. I promise I will never lose my patience with you or leave you, no matter what you say and I won’t let you run away no matter how angry you get.”
He lowered her to her feet and she pulled him down into a kiss, her arms wrapping around his neck. He held her tightly against him and she felt herself tearing up at all the love she felt coming off of him. It was astonishing how much it effected her and she never wanted it to stop. He pulled back and wiped at the tears running down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, I’m just really happy and I don’t know how to react.” She said and he kissed her cheek.
“It’s okay, crying is okay. I’ll always be here to wipe away your tears.”
They held each other until Snow could stop then gathered what she wanted to take with her. They said a long goodbye to everyone then flew back to his home. Snow wished his home was further away so they could stay in the sky longer. She knew she was going to drive Barnum insane with her need to fly. She would want to go out every day and do this. When they landed and put her things away Barnum suggested “Let’s go out and fly a little longer.” Snow hugged him in excitement and he said, “I love how happy you look in the sky.”
Snow finally had her happy ever after, the one she had always told herself would never be and she had this wonderful man to thank. She was now going to put her full effort into being better for him. He deserved it and so did her family. She would also try to think of some way to really make it up to Ariel. She was cruel to all her siblings, but Snow knew she had taken out all her anger over Cantaly death on Ariel and it hadn’t been fair. Rapunzel had always been the focus of her cruelty before that, but what could you really do for a queen.
Barnum and Snow spent the next days flying, love making and planning things to do for her family to make up for Snow’s past. Barnum was sure she didn’t need to, but Snow deeply wanted to. It would help her feel better about her past. When they knew what she wanted to do they set out to make penance, first stop, Ariel and Irim. They would keep at it until Snow truly felt she deserved their forgiveness.
~ The End ~