Everything was beautiful, that day. Positively radiant.
It was my first blessing. I was so very, very young, back then, still dazzled beyond words at the great hall, the great food, the twelve matching golden plates. Exactly twelve, that's important. Her parents had twelve made, just for the christening of their daughter, and they invited twelve fairies to be her godmothers and to grant her blessings. I would go last, being the youngest, and so simply watched and listened and waited my turn. Everything was so beautiful, distracting, gorgeous, I hardly touched my food.
The eleventh finished, and I stood, ready with my blessing, one of a sweet singing voice, for singing was always a splendid talent for a royal, even when no one thought it necessary. The girl's mother, the Queen, looked at me and smiled. I remember every glowing moment from that day.
The doors slammed open. Rhamnusia stood there, radiant in all her frightening glory, silencing the grand hall.
I've experienced pain severe enough that it deafens one, occasionally. I don't think it's ever been a physical thing. It's just a complete shift of focus, to the one point where your body is screaming to Pay attention! This was the only time I remember fear doing it. The only thing I cannot remember from that day are her words, though even through the fear, her intent was clear enough.
"Rhamnusia!" The Queen said, smiling with only the slightest strain in her eyes. "So glad you could make it. We, ah--" To all of us, she had said, 'We prepared a golden plate for you,' but they had not.
I stood, and moved to her."'Nusia," I greeted, curtsying. "Your seat is just here, I am so glad you could--"
"That is not my seat."
I bobbed up from my curtsy.
"You prepared me no place. You forgot me." The room remained silent, and I forced myself not to tremble. "You never shall again." Rhamnusia stepped up to the princess's crib and placed a hand on her forehead, as if about to bestow a blessing.
"On the first hour of the girl's fifteenth year, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die." She looked up. "Remember, next time." And she left, one step at a time. I knew how the story would go--a puff of smoke, a laugh, and then she was gone. But no. It was not that no one could lay a hand on her. It was simply that none of us dared.
I stepped forward, gifts of song behind me, and placed a hand on the girl's forehead. "Death is not a jealous one. I am sure he will not miss you for the years you live, when you spend so much time with his brother." The murmurs were starting up again, people comparing stories, already what happened being turned into something a touch more palatable. "On the first hour of the girl's fifteenth year, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and sleep a hundred years and a day." A hundred years would be at least fair, to stave off death. The day was good faith, for I did not know Sleep as well as Death, and knew not how jealous he might be.
There came more, after. A hundred and fifteen years of after, then a day and the dear princeling who walked through the parted briar to kiss our dear princess, the day we all woke. But this is the day I remember, and this is the story I have to tell.