Looking at her perfect reflection in the polished metal of her mirror, Ravenna wonders when, exactly, it happened. When she morphed from that terrified young girl blessed-and cursed-by her own mother into this. This soulless woman who sucked the life from beautiful maidens in order to sustain her own eternal youth.

Her eyes narrow as she more closely examines the woman who looks back at her. Long, dark eyelashes that rim eyes that seem to smolder and sparkle at the same time, and luscious blonde hair that shines as brilliantly as any gold. A perfect specimen of the female form. Forever a perfect specimen of the female form.

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That cold day in her girlhood, when her mother cast the spell that would keep her beauty safe from the ravages of time, she had been petrified with fright. The stark contrast of her crimson blood against the pale white of the milk mystified her fright-numbed senses, and she barely registered her mother urging her to drink, tipping the bowl to her lips, and muttering ancient, powerful words in a tongue unfamiliar to her.

The soldiers, storming into her little cottage, snapped her out of her stupor. In terror, she clutched desperately at her mother and brother, even as the brutish men tore them apart. Ravenna was thrown onto a horse in front of a soldier as her mother screamed, demanding that she avenge her people, throwing a weight onto her shoulders that was too heavy to demand of any one person.

She was only a girl of twelve.

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She was taken to an old kingdom, to be a future bride of its ancient, decrepit king. His breath was sour as he peered into her eyes, wide with terror. He grinned drunkenly, revealing that what teeth he still had were rotting and yellowed. Ravenna tried to pull her head away, but his arthritic hand, surprisingly as strong as iron, held her head as firmly as any vice.

"Now, now…none of that," he censured, sneering. "I will not abide a woman who disobeys me."

She spit in his face.

He knocked her to the floor.

She swallowed, tasting iron from where the blow had split her lip.

She was marched from the hall to be thrown into a chamber of rooms that suffocated her with its gaudy trappings. Later, the door opened and Finn was tossed in as well. She embraced her brother, happy to have someone familiar to cling to.

They slept together that night, pressed close together on the gargantuan bed, and Ravenna fell into a troubled slumber, haunted by visions of old kings and screaming mothers and red blood against white milk.

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The following summer, she was married to the king. She was petrified, sitting on the throne in her gold robes as subjects shuffle by. She stared straight ahead as they showered her with compliments, praising her beauty and youthfulness. She could not, however, ignore the lustful looks her new husband threw at her as he grew more and more inebriated as the night wore on.

She was shaking as she was undressed by her handmaidens that night. Her wedding gown was removed and replaced by an ivory silken robe, painstakingly embroidered with delicate flower chains and birds.

Finally, she was led to the bridal bed. Tears welled in her eyes even as she refused to let them fall as the king stalked towards her. She tried to fight, but he was bigger than her. He tied her hands to the headboard and ripped her gown from her. She bucked her hips, trying to dislodge him, but he would not be moved, his bulk too much for her slender frame.

His mouth moved down her body, kissing and licking and slurping and oh, God, she thought, make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.

He grabbed her thighs, pushing them apart roughly and positioning himself above her. Tears were streaming down her face and she was begging him, but he was deaf to her pleas, and then he was in her and her body felt like it was splitting apart and she was screaming in agony and he was moving above her and she thought she was dying and hoped she was and she wondered why this was happening to her.

He collapsed atop her and rolled off. Her bare chest was heaving and she felt as though she couldn't breathe.

The next morning she could not move without feeling as though her body were ripping in two, and she needed help to wash off the dark blood that stuck to the inside of her thighs.

She was only a girl of thirteen.

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The king grew older and more desperate for an heir, and his nightly visitations grew more and more violent as he raged against her seemingly barren womb, and Ravenna's heart grew more and more stony. Eventually, he brought another girl into the castle. A pretty enough girl (though nowhere near as beautiful as she, Ravenna thought viciously) with dark hair and light eyes with a pert, small nose and large, full lips.

One day, Ravenna noticed a swell in the girl's stomach, almost hidden by her dress, but still obvious when the fabric was taut against her abdomen. Ravenna's blood ran cold. An heir meant Ravenna would be toppled from her throne. As horrid as her husband was, she could not fathom how she would survive if she were thrown from the castle.

Following that thought was pure rage. How dare he, she seethed. How dare he take everything from her, ruin her, and then toss her aside like so much rubbish.

No, she decided, finally. She would never give anyone that power over her. Never again.

When he sent for her that night, she was ready. A small, jeweled dagger was secreted within her robes and she waited for the perfect moment to strike.

She smiled as she cleaned the dagger, tenderly wiping scarlet from the silver of the blade. Her former husband lay on the bed in a pool of his own blood, gasping for breath, eyes open and clouding, face contorted in an expression of surprise. He croaked, and blood gurgled in his throat, choking him.

Ravenna leaned close to the dying king and whispered into his ear, hissing every word.

"Now, now...none of that. I will not abide a man who betrays me."

She was only a girl of sixteen.

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And now, she thinks, staring at Snow White as she gasps for air, it is she who has been killed by someone who was underestimated and betrayed.

And Ravenna understands, suddenly, that she has become the monster that she lived to kill.