Ruby was frozen in place, unable to look away from the sight before her. Her hands trembled as she held Crescent Rose tight, but there was no way she could make a move, not right here, not right now.

Not when Weiss was in Cinder's grasp.

Cinder chuckled. "What's the matter, Little Red?" She tilted Weiss's lolling head up even as her fingers curled around her fragile neck. "Lose something?"

Ruby growled. "Let her go." Still, she made no attempt to attack.

"Ah, I don't think I will. Is she so precious to you?" Cinder gave Weiss a thoughtful look. "I attacked her last time since I thought she was that pretentious Arc kid's, but this?" A wicked smile grew on her face as she reached up to caress Weiss's cheek, the gentle move a sharp difference to the tight grip she had around her waist. "Oh, this is even better than I could have predicted."

"She has nothing to do with this!" Ruby shouted, and to her horror she felt tears gathering in her eyes. She didn't have time for this!

Desperately, she looked for any signs that Weiss was regaining consciousness. If she did, they could easily come up with a plan and get out of this. However, Weiss remained limp and still in Cinder's grasp. Myrtenaster lay broken on the other side of the room, Weiss's left arm twisted at an odd angle as a result of its loss. Dark spots were already forming on her neck and cheek and probably also under her clothes since she had continued to fight even after her Aura broke and she always bruised so easily then.

Ruby was backed into a corner and all she could do was pray that Weiss would wake up.

"Nothing to do with this?" Cinder hummed thoughtfully as she let Weiss's head fall down, tapping her chin. "No, I think she does. She became involved when she became your partner. She became involved when she first fought by your side against me. She became involved when she learned the truth and still decided to fight. In other words:

"She was doomed the moment you met."

Ruby bit her lip. Rising to Cinder's bait wouldn't help anyone, much less Weiss.

Her silver eyes were effective against Cinder. If she could just take a moment to calm down and use them, maybe she could get Cinder to let go and then she could retreat with Weiss.

Ruby closed her eyes, and took a breath. Just think about what you want to protect…

"Ah! Ah! Ah!" Cinder taunted and while Ruby would normally ignore this and move on with her plan, a familiar groan prompted her to open her eyes and look up.

"Ruby?" Weiss blearily blinked her eyes open, glancing around as much as she could. "What…"

"Hello, princess," Cinder snickered as she jerked her even closer, "you're just in time."

Ruby's breath caught. Weiss was awake! They could do this! "Weiss!"

Realization crept into Weiss's eyes. They widened. "Ruby - "

Whatever she was going to say was lost in a spray of red.

Ruby was red. Weiss was white.

Each of the colors suited them and Ruby had always found the contrast between them to be delightful. And she would never admit it, but she'd always loved the bits of red that Weiss would incorporate into her wardrobe, whether it was just the lining of her jacket or a scarf wrapped around her neck. It was like Weiss carried a bit of Ruby around.

But now Ruby stared uncomprehendingly at the crimson that spread all over Weiss.

Without a sound, Weiss fell to the ground.

There was red on her clothes, red on the ground, red in her hair. Red covering every inch of white.

And she wasn't moving.

Cinder's laugh drew Ruby's attention away from her partner. Her Grimm hand held something red within its grasp. "Well, what do you know?" She sneered. "It seems at least one Schnee has a heart."

Ruby's heartbeat pounded in her ears. No. No, that can't be -

Cinder smirked and tossed the object at Ruby. "Here, I get the feeling this belongs to you."

At Ruby's feet rolled a red, red heart.

Ruby screamed.

All she could see was red on white, a permanent stain.

Ruby screamed as she jolted up out of her bed.

It took her a moment to orient herself, her eyes darting all over the room. She couldn't understand it. Cinder had been right there and she had - she had -


Ruby shrieked and whirled to face the speaker but she stopped as she took them in.

Weiss was frowning at her as she rubbed the last remnants of sleep from her eyes and softly walked from her bed over to Ruby. "Ruby, is something wrong?"

Ruby couldn't speak - she just couldn't. Instead she grabbed Weiss by the shoulders, earning a yelp from her partner, and quickly scanned over her form.

Long white hair cascaded down her back and over her shoulder, partially covering her light blue nightgown. Pale hands slowly reached up to loosen Ruby's grip and she allowed it as she received a comforting squeeze. Blue eyes were narrowed in worry, scanning her just as much as she was looking over her.

No red, no blood.

Weiss was fine and right before her, alive.

Ruby just needed one more check.

Ruby let go of Weiss's hands and wrapped herself around the other girl, her head settling right on Weiss's chest. She ignored the indignant cry of "Ruby?!" and closed her eyes, pressing close and just - listening.



Weiss's heartbeat.

Weiss's heart, in her chest where it belonged.

Ruby let out a sigh of relief and then flinched slightly as she felt an arm going around her back and a hand carding itself through her hair. She then relaxed into Weiss's touch, fully reassured.

"That must have been some nightmare…" Weiss whispered, and Ruby peered up and saw a slight red tint to her cheeks. She smiled slightly, even as she felt tears well up.

That was the only place where red should invade Weiss's white.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Weiss's touch and tone was so gentle that Ruby couldn't hold back a sob, even as she shook her head.

"Okay." Weiss said in that way that told Ruby she'd drop this for now, but they would be revisiting this.

Ruby ignored all that as she took comfort in Weiss's embrace, in the sheer fact that Weiss was alive.

And yet a shiver ran down her spine.

Cinder was still at large.

And Ruby had already lost so much, so many people.

What would she do if she lost Weiss, too?

AN: So it really was a nightmare all along. I generally try not to kill off anyone unless there's a way to bring them back, but just the thought of losing Weiss is probably a huge problem for Ruby considering all the people she's already lost.

Also, yeah, the thing with the heart... Remember how in the Snow White fairy tale, her heart's supposed to be ripped out and presented to the Queen as proof of her death? That's kind of what inspired that bit though it's a bit gory now that I think about it.