Lately, I have been toying with the idea of taking classic fairy tales and making them into something a bit darker. Many of the original stories were quite dark, but they have become cute and light in recent years. These are mostly starting with a core idea from the fairy tale and going in a different direction. The Little Mermaid
From the time a mermaid is born, they are told not to approach the surface and not to interact with humans. Only suffering awaits those who do so. Yet Ariel is convinced that she is meant to live as a human. On the day she comes of age, her father consents to give her a gift, a magical bracelet that will allow her to change between her natural state and human legs at will. Should she discover that she truly wishes to live as a human, she will have the means to do so.
Above them, Prince Eric is making the trek to his new home by ship. His kingdom is on the verge of utter economic collapse, so Eric's uncle has worked hard to arrange a union between him and a queen from across the sea. Eric has heard only that she is a cruel, merciless woman, but he has no choice in the matter. The pair will be wed by the end of the year.
As the ship travels, it is set upon by pirates in the midst of a storm. A fierce battle ensues, and in the fray, Eric is knocked out and falls into the ocean. He would surely have died, but Ariel intervened. She had been watching the ship for days, seeing the same look of hopelessness in Eric's eyes that she felt in her world. Rather than allow the prince to die, she helps him to shore. Exhausted from fighting the storm and pulling the weight of the prince, she falls asleep in his arms, still in her mermaid form.
In the morning, a second ship arrives, carrying Eric's uncle. The man believes all is lost, as the dowry that would be paid to the princess was lost with the ship, but his hope returns as he sees Ariel. No one has ever captured a mermaid before. Presenting Ariel to the queen would certainly be enough to ensure the marriage goes forward. Before she can fully awaken, Ariel is chained and brought to the new ship for transport, despite Eric's constant protests.
When the ship reaches the queen's kingdom, Ariel is presented to the queen as a status symbol, servant, and slaved. Delighted at the idea of owning a mermaid, the queen goes forward with the original deal. The marriage will take place in 30 days. Even as the day draws closer, Eric finds himself visiting Ariel more and more. The attraction between them is undeniable, and it only grows stronger. Soon, Eric finds himself promising that he will get Ariel out of this, somehow.
(There are a lot of things that could happen here. Perhaps the queen becomes jealous of Ariel's beautiful voice. Perhaps Ariel discovers that the queen was behind the initial attack on Eric, as a way to secure his dowry without having to marry the poverty stricken prince.)
Long ago, a queen was forced into an arranged marriage with a harsh king. She did her best to love him, and eventually they had a daughter together named Regina. The queen did her best to love Regina, but she saw much of her husband in her daughter. Their relationship was always cold. As she tried to find her own happiness, the queen fell in love with a peasant, and the two carried on an affair. Eventually, the queen had a second daughter, this one fathered by her lover. The queen nicknamed this daughter Snow White, as she viewed the girl as pure, not at all connected to the cruel king.
The relationship between the sisters was never good. Regina could always sense that her mother loved Snow more, and Regina would go out of her way to get Snow into trouble. Each time, the queen would simply forgive Snow, giving her all the affection Regina had gone without.
In the present day, the king and queen have perished under questionable circumstances. A few think that Regina might be responsible, but there is no proof. As the only legitimate heir to the throne, Regina is named queen, and her first order of business is to deal with Snow White. Regina goes to one of her father's strongest allies, a lord who could cause problems to the new regime if so inclined, and offers the hand of Snow White to the lord's son in exchange for the lord's continued service. The lord is hesitant, but his son convinces him to go along with it.
To show the lord, his son, and Snow White how this wedding is to work, Snow is sent to her marriage with her hands tied and a gag in her mouth. As far as the new queen is concerned, the matter is settled.
(This could go a number of different ways. Perhaps Snow's new husband is sympathetic, though slightly dominant. The two could examine ways to liberate the kingdom from Regina's rule, as Snow is taught how to please her husband. On the other hand, Snow's new husband could see the relationship in the same way Regina does, and focus simply on training Snow to please him.)