This book is the personal property of Princess Rose of Middenheim.
Saturday, August 6th, 344 Fairhaven
70 days remaining
If you’re reading this, I’m probably asleep. Maybe for good.
This book is my last hope.
I feel stupid and melodramatic writing it. But it’s the truth. I’m as good as dead at a ridiculously young age unless someone – maybe you – helps me.
Even so, I can’t demand of you that you come rescue me. Not given what that means. But I do ask that you give me a chance. That you read a little more of this journal. That you wait until you begin to understand me before throwing it aside… and that in the case that you cannot appreciate it, that you pass it along to someone else who might.
I should explain.
You may have heard of my foolish fairy godmother. I don’t know. The tragedy of my life seems to be the comedy of everyone else who hears about it. It’s rather a popular tale in some circles. A proverb about how unwanted fairy gifts can be. But I have no idea where or when you will be reading this, so I have no idea if it will still be a common joke.
I guess in some corners of the world, they barely even know about fairy godmothers. I guess I’ll write about it, then, just in case. If you already know about them you can skip over this.
I’ve read a few books from distant corners that say utterly ridiculous things about fairies – they are no bigger than your thumb, they fly, they are incredibly flighty, they are immortal. Fairies are fairly normal, actually. For the most part. I mean, I guess I say that as someone who grew up with one. I dunno what I’d think if I met one for the first time now. I think the rumors started because young fairies are only born from magic at the birth of another living thing, and when they are young are small but in form look more like human adults than human children. Those fairies certainly are flighty. The right of children everywhere. They don’t fly, but a few do have pretty gauzy things on their backs that could almost be wings. They’re not. Ficienne told me once, laughing, that they were for shooing away pesky children. As for what they’re really for, well, they change colors and can help to hide their owner from unfriendly eyes, though imperfectly. They’re quite beautiful. The wings, I mean. Fairies are beautiful too, though – slender pretty features and very smooth movements.
So I guess fairies aren’t quite like humans. Still, they are pretty normal. Men and women and children. Happy families. A little bickering. Plenty of playfulness to go around. They make very loyal friends and very bitter enemies and take their word more seriously than most humans. They have a little bit of magic, but only on certain occasions. It’s a lot more limited than some of the stories would make it out to be. And they don’t have any special wisdom about how best to dish it out. Man, I wish they did.
I really, really, really wish they did.
My fairy godmother hurt me so badly, rumors spread she did it out of spite. She didn’t. She loves me about as much as a woman can love a girl. She’s just, well, a bit of an idiot on occasion. And one such occasion was my birth.
Fairies can’t do magic very often. Births, marriages, deaths. Life beginning and ending. At births, a wish, a gifting. At marriages, another wish, one meant more for the relationship than for the people. At deaths, should they so desire, they may wish for a gift of the departed to find a home with some specific loved one. It could be a skill or a love or even a memory. That gift can be uncomfortable for the receiver. It is far less common to invite fairies to deaths than to births or marriages.
And nobody invites my fairy godmother to anything, poor dear. Not anymore.
It takes a certain sort of trust for fairy magic to take its full effect. An invitation. From the parents of the baby or the happy couple soon to wed or the loved ones of the one about to die. A fairy uninvited can do mischief, but their words won’t take like those of one who is invited. Of course, it’s not just words that make the invitation. It’s a spirit of trust.
Did I say of course? It’s not so obvious as that, now I think of it. Fairy magic itself is built around words. Words, words, words. What the fairy says aloud, given the right conditions, will come true. The letter, not the spirit. It is the words that matter. But it is trust that guarantees that they will come true. Trust given before the words are uttered. Trust that allows a really huge wish to come true. Magic.
If my fairy godmother had really been malicious, she could never have ruined my life like she did.
Now perhaps you see, if you didn’t know already, why a fairy godmother is practically a proverb. A fairy godmother is someone whom your parents trusted more than anyone. Someone with the right to raise you should they die young. Someone they wanted to honor. Someone they loved and believed in. And she is a fairy. She has power in proportion to their trust. She can give you one ginormous gift. The trust they gave her is so large, a fairy godmother is just about the only sort of fairy in existence to be known to occasionally be able to perform minor magic at times other than births, deaths, and weddings. Minor gifts for the one she already gifted with a huge gift. Everyone wants a fairy godmother.
But we, like fairy godmothers, frequently want foolish things.
Yes, fairies are ordinary people, when it comes right down to it. Ordinary. No more foolish, no less foolish. Which is to say they’re pretty foolish.
I feel bad complaining about her like this. Godmother Ficienne really is dear and kind and loving and everything a fairy godmother ought to be except wise. Where love is, what matters wisdom? Yet it matters rather a lot, it turns out.
A lot of fairies came to attend upon my birth. For I am the firstborn and only child of King Arival and Queen Raine of Middenheim. There are many fairies in Middenheim, and a dozen of them managed to be present for my birth. A dozen with the power to give me a wish. A dozen, all trusted by my parents.
So many things they could have given me. So much power. I could have become the wisest and most beloved queen of Middenheim, perhaps, had they chosen well.
They thought they were doing me great kindness.
One wished me beautiful wavy blond hair with never a hair out of place. Another wished me lips like a deep red rose. A slender waist, another said. Graceful movements, said another. A clear and beautiful voice, said Savannah, who always did love singing herself. A rather nice gift,really. Elvira gave me the only other gift I am actually grateful for – the ability to remember whatever I read. (So you see I have read and written a lot with an incentive like that. I will always remember what I write in this journal, so long as I read it while I write it.) The others continued to give me gifts along the same line as the first. A clear complexion. Eyes the clear blue of the sky. Soft skin. Even teeth which will always be healthy and straight and white no matter what. “Pleasing features” – a vague gift, so less likely to come true, but that fairy was among the more trusted ones, and most people do find them pleasing.
And one last gift from the one most beloved of all. From Ficienne, most intimate friend of Queen Raine from the time of their youth. Ficienne was born in the moment of my mother’s birth and the two shared much of their spirit. Ficienne was perhaps more excited for my birth than my mother herself. I was so dear to her, being as I was the kindred of the one dearest to her soul. A young life. And Ficienne had the ability to give me a gift.
The problem, perhaps, was that my mother loved me and the kingdom of Middenheim which she now ruled. Ficienne loved my mother and she loved me. It grieved Ficienne when my mother was bartered away, given in marriage to a man she did not particularly love. There was respect there, but no great affection. My mother was happy enough with it, but fairies in general frequently had a fascination with romance, and Ficienne was certainly no exception. She had wanted true love for my parents. True romantic love. Raine and Ficienne had talked and laughed and giggled together as girls about who they would marry, what Raine’s future husband would be like. It was impossible. My mother’s father was lord of the marchlands, the all-important defenses against the neighbor country of Harrowmere. It was contested territory. There was some Harrowish blood in my mother’s veins. Her family’s grip on that territory was firm; Middenheim’s grip was not. Thus my father’s father, King Estoval, spoke to my mother’s father, and the thing was decided. Lady Raine of the March would become Queen Raine of Middenheim, and strong ties would bond the March to the throne. There were other possible marriages of advantage to the king, but this was deemed the most advantageous. And advantageous it did indeed prove.
So they married. There was not much love, for their personalities were not particularly aligned. They did share a mutual respect and civil courtesy, and they enjoyed each other well enough. They were tender to each other in times of trouble. On the whole they behaved as husband and wife ought to; but they were never the best of friends, never each other’s closest confidantes. They never really felt that they needed to be. I don’t think I really disagree.
They were happy. Maybe not the thrilling, ecstatic sort of happy I’ve seen in a few newlyweds. But happy, in a less showy way.
Still, Ficienne had wanted my mother to be both abidingly happy and thrilled happy. I can’t say I blame her for that. I would want the same thing if I had such a friend. Heck, I do wish the same for Auri, and although we’re friends we’re not nearly as close as Mother and Ficienne always were.
So Mother married Father and became the crown princess, and a decade passed, and then they became king and queen. There was still no heir. People began to mutter.
When Mother became pregnant with me at last, two decades after their marriage, near the end of her childbearing years, there was so much rejoicing. One way or another, the kingdom would be secured. Either I would be a boy destined for the kingship or I would be a girl who could be married off to someone suitable for the kingship. Perhaps I would be a girl but later she would bear a boy and the throne would be secured the first way after all. Now that it was proven she wasn’t entirely barren as they had thought.
I was a girl.
Ficienne knew all along as she prepared her gift that if a girl was born, there was no chance at all of that girl finding a thing like romance. Not with a kingdom on the table as a prize for the man who won her hand.
She could have wished that I find true love; but such things had been wished before. They tended to be overly ambitious wishes even for fairy godmothers. Love is too great a treasure to be forced by magic. Even in marriage wishes fairies had long since given up on wishing such a thing.
Ficienne thought only to smooth my path. But judge for yourself what she did when I was born and she uttered these words over my small newborn body:
“This child shall not be bartered away in marriage except to one who truly loves her. When she reaches her fifteenth birthday, she shall fall into a deep sleep. No harm will come to her nor shall time touch her. Only when a man who truly loves her and wishes to marry her kisses her will she awaken.”
Everyone in the room was stunned. Some were excited, briefly. But others saw immediately just what Ficienne had done to me. Their looks sobered the others, and soon their grave rumors spread.
The kingdom was not safe. The long-awaited child was not only a princess, not a prince, but a princess who could not be safely married off to a suitable king. A princess whom a fairy’s gift might cause to marry a peasant. Worse, far worse, a princess who might still be in a dreamless sleep when her parents died.
It was Savannah, giver of the gift of singing, who was the first to realize the other serious flaw in Ficienne’s plan. Savannah, one of the sweetest of old romantic fairies. Savannah was in love with love, one of the first who would have wished Ficienne’s plan to succeed. But so it was Savannah who had tried to give the gift of true love many times in many ways and had always failed. “Ficienne!” she gasped immediately, “Ficienne, take that back!” But it was too late. The words had been spoken over the birth of a child by a fairy dearly trusted by the mother. Wishes once invoked can never be recalled.
Ficienne was hurt, wounded to the core by the reactions she was getting. “Savannah,” she gasped, “Savannah, I thought you would approve.”
“Not of this, dear,” Savannah said. “Not of this. Perhaps of what you meant it for, but not what you said.
“Don’t you see what you have done, child?
“No fairy wish can grant true love. Not my best wishes at a wedding. And not yours now. It’s too great a treasure for that. All you’ve ensured is that if she doesn’t find it she will sleep forever.”
Ficienne blanched. “I’ve given her time! Time for her true love to find her!”
Heavily, Savannah answered her with the question that pierced Ficienne and my mother and now me to the heart.
“Can a man truly love a woman whom he has only ever seen asleep?”
Can he, indeed. That is the question.
That’s why I’m writing this. I’m hoping that some way, somehow, this journal will make it into the hands of one who could fall in love with me. And I’m hoping that he still can fall in love with me when he knows me only in the pages of a journal.
It’s a lot to ask. I know it. A deep investment of the heart, and for what? For a woman who you can’t talk to, can’t interact with at all until after you’ve fallen in love with her and kissed her. For a woman who will be ignorant of everything that has happened in the world for who knows how many years. For a woman who can get you a claim to a throne if you marry her, but one which may be at most a stale claim – thus one which may win you enemies in whoever is currently in power. Maybe you’ll fall in love with me and come and kiss me and awaken me, but I won’t fall in love with you. Maybe it won’t work at all. Maybe you’ll fall in love, but the magic won’t accept it because I won’t manage to give you quite an accurate enough picture of myself. Who is to know what the magic will accept? There is no way to ask questions. I only know that Ficienne’s wish will be fulfilled to the letter. Only when a man who truly loves me and wishes to marry me kisses me will I awaken.
No, I don’t really expect this to work. But I’ve got to try it. I’ve got to. I don’t want to sleep forever.
Can you forgive me for begging you to try this thing for me? To try to understand, and to see if you can fall in love. To try. Please. It’s my life at stake, or as good as.