IN THE PAST, During World War II
Elizabeth Williams opened the door, then stopped as she saw who it was. She accepted the telegram, then turned and shut the door slowly, dreading what was inside.
"Who is it?" Mrs. Williams asked, coming from the kitchen and wiping her hands on her apron. She, too, stopped as she saw the telegram. "Go to your room, Ellie," she said, snatching the envelope from Elizabeth's hand and slipping out the door to speak with the telegraph boy, who was, oddly enough, still waiting outside.
Elizabeth scowled. There was no way she was going to let this conversation go without listening to it. She crept out the back to her father and brother's toolshed and began dragging out one of his anvils and some strong cable. She went over to the fence and listened experimentally, to see if this was all unnecessary, but could hear only mumbles, so she looped the cable around a tree and tied the anvil to one end. Then she went and raided the pile of scrap metal her youngest brother (Elizabeth had three, all annoying) had been collecting to help the war effort.
She assembled something like a tin can telephone and placed one end on the anvil, the other next to her ear. Then she pulled down on the cable really hard until it rose above the fence, a little improvising and it was over to the other side.
"You told me the war with Mevolent was over." Elizabeth's mother spoke softly, not raising her voice for once.
"And so it is, Mevolent is dead, but a virtually unknown friend of Baron Vengeous decided to--"
"Stop dropping all these names and give me the story, Mr. Whatever your name is."
"Findit. Eventually Findit."
"That's an absurd name. Mr. Findit, I want the details and I want them now. How did my son die?"
He was the one who taught her to read. The teachers at school did it all wrong and boring, and then yelled at her for not learning.
"Effie," he said (he was the only one who called her that), "See what this says?"
"Perfect!" And then he'd hug her and start to read. "Once upon a time there was a young..."
"...a young girl who was very very beautiful. Her name was..."
"Oh. Sssnnnoooowww... Snout?"
"It's Snow, the W is silent."
"Weird. Is that W silent, too?" she pointed to the beginning of the next word.
"No, but the H is."
"Okay, W-skip the H-I-T-E... W ih t... Wit? Snow Wit--No wit? Is that a bad pun?"
Nate laughed that low laugh of his, the special one only Elizabeth--Effie got to see. "No, see the E at the end? It's silent, yes, but it makes the I say it's name."
"Oh, okay, like in poke?" Effie poked her brother and grinned.
"Yep, only with I instead of O."
"So it's Snow..snow White! I KNOW Snow White!"
And Nate was gone.
"It's all lies! Magic isn't--"
"Ma'am, would you like me to demonstrate?"
"NO! Get your witchcraft and trickery off my lawn!" With a combination of tears and rage, Mrs. Williams stormed back into the house, slamming the door behind her.
Effie was getting ready to dismantle her listening contraption, when Mr. Findit, Evan, spoke. "I'm really sorry for your loss."
He was on the other side of the fence, he couldn't see her, and her anvil should've been hidden by the shrubs, right?
"Oh, apologies for startling you. I sometimes forget that not everyone has the same sight I have. I can see metal, that can you have by your ear...at least, I presume it's by your ear. Genius listening device, by the way. Nate would've been proud."
"I-is magic real?" Effie's voice trembled, which it NEVER did, but Nate...
"I'm really sorry, but I can't show you. Your mother would kill me if she lost another child to this world.
"She doesn't care, none of them do. Nate cared, but he's dead." She wasn't sure why she was telling this to a total stranger, but it was true. And he couldn't be that bad, after all. It was pretty clear from the way his voice got softer at parts that he'd been a friend of Nate's.
"You can't believe that, I'm sure they just--"
"It's true." Effie shrugged and went back to her room...to practice magic.
(A/N: When I first imagined Effie, I had one past/back story in mind. When I second imagined her, she had a completely different one. So this is the third, and although the first and second were cool enough, Anna Zinaida wasn't in either. Neither was Nate. Eff always had brothers, though...wonder why.)