A/N: Part of this chapter is narrated from Snow’s perspective. The other half goes back to Elena.
I wake up in the cold in nothing but my underwear. “Where the Berry am I?” are the first words out of my mouth.
I can see nothing but trees and a big rock for miles in every direction. “Hello?” I call. “Can anybody hear me? Hello?!” What the Berry, indeed? The last thing I remember is…an apple. A shiny red apple that had tasted funny. And somebody’s face. He was red.
Then I see a pool. Okay, things just went from weird to crazy. Why am I in the middle of what appears to be a forest glen, but there’s a pool in the middle of it? It’s not even a pond, it’s definitely man-made.
I move closer to it to stare into its depths. I am probably loopy from the apple. I should be trying to find shelter, or my clothes.
The hair on the back of my neck prickles. Then I am pushed.
“AAAAAH!” I scream as the icy water hits me. I swim quickly to the edge and get out.
“A-a-a-as-t-t-ton?! Wh-wh-what the B-B-B-B…” I am so cold I can’t even finish my sentence. If I was cold before, this is unbearable. I feel as though I am slowly dying.
He laughs at me.
“Y-y-y-y-you psy-psy-cho! Wher-wher-where a-a-a-are we? Where a-a-a-are m-my clo-clothes?”
“I am not a psycho. And if you wish to find your clothes, you will have a long wait. I’m sure they’re buried under all this snow by now.”
I turn and walk away. The first rule of thumb when freezing – stay moving. Also, I am pretty sure Aston will not help me. How come I never noticed how crazy my husband’s brother is before?
“Un-un-un-un-unless you-you’re go-go-going to hel-help me, go aw-away.”
He hit me. “Oh, I’m going to help you, all right. I’ll help you to the Grim Reaper a little quicker.”
“I-I-I-I c-c-can’t d-d-die! I-I-I’ve g-got ki-kids.”
“Do you think that matters to the Reaper? He reaps what we sow. He does not care who dies. And nor do I.”
“G-g-g-get aw-away fro-from m-m-m-me, you si-si-sick frea-frea-freak!” I start to turn away, intending to run if my trembling legs will support me.
But he tackles me.
My last thought is a memory. A memory of being warm and safe and surrounded by my family.
Then I see no more.
“I can smell them. And hear them in my head. We are close now.”
Holly was a fast runner, but I’m a fast flyer.
“No, Holly, don’t touch him!”
“I have to talk to him first.”
“Wh-wh-what’s g-g-going on?”
“It’s okay. I’m here. Let’s get you to the hospital. Come on now.”
Cameron left carrying Snow. He’d brought her outerwear with him and helped her put it on.
“I don’t care what you say. He needs to be toadified. Or zombie-fied.”
“Aston?” I stared at my son. How could he have done the things Claus had turned up at my house accusing him of? He was my baby, just like all my other babies.
“What are you doing out here with Snow?”
“What do you think, Mother?”
“I…I don’t know what to think.”
“You’re my son. You would never…”
“Never what, Mother? Never kill my brother? Never kill his wife?”
“Aston…no…don’t say things like that.”
“Then you do not really know me at all. It is as if you are not my mother at all. Yes, I would. And I did.”
I was crying, my tears freezing on my cheeks. “Why?” I whispered.
“For the pleasure. I live to cause chaos.”
Then he vanished. My…no. I could not think of him as my son. He murdered his brother and tried to kill my daughter-in-law.
“Oh, Berry! I can’t believe he got away! I thought my magic was working!”
Claus sniffed around for a few minutes while Holly tried to do a spell to locate his genes and I just stood there.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t smell him or hear him anymore. It’s as if he’s vanished from the Earth.”
“So he’s gone?” Why did I feel a teensy bit relieved?
“As far as I can tell, yes.”
“Just great. My uncle’s a murderer and we can’t even catch him.”
Back home, I tried to call Cam again. But his phone was either off or he was out of range. I’d tried to call him almost as soon as Cameron had come bursting into the house with his kids, but he hadn’t answered then either.
“Mommy, what happened? Why’s Snow sleeping?”
“She nearly froze to death.”
I paused. How was i supposed to explain this? “Because…because, she was kidnapped.”
“Kidnapped? Why? By who?”
“Yeah. All you guys said was that something bad was going on before you left. Is it over?”
“Yes, it’s over.”
“Well?” asked Yoshi. “Who was it? We can take it. We understand a lot.”
I was on the verge of not telling them. But I had to. What if he turned up again? “It was Aston. He…he…he was trying to kill Snow.”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t cry, Jesme. Snow’s fine now. She’s warm and resting.”
“I-I-I ca-can’t hel-help it. I was s-so worr-worried!”