A cold finger stroked her from her breasts to her womb. She squirmed away, whimpering softly. He shushed her gently, and began to stroke her raven black hair. She clawed out at him and he stepped back. Flicking a white feather away from his eyes he stepped back and mumbled under his breath. She stopped moving.

-

Early that morning Sestina left the stables and trekked back to the palace in the morning sun. The sky sparkled blue, and Sestina felt satisfied, and had hope in that today would be different, perhaps, better.

She imagined the Queen's reaction of her discovery, and hoped that perhaps the Queen could find it with in her to leave her bedchamber.

A manservant bowed as Sestina walked through the doors, somewhat filthy and covered in straws. She hurried to the kitchen, where she grabbed a bite to eat. Fiona served her, grinning shyly.

Afterwards, Sestina hurried to her bedchambers, where she quickly pulled back her hair and scrubbed her face before changing her clothes, aware that the Queen would be angry if she came looking like she did.

She knocked on Rosette's bedchamber. After a few moments, when there was no reply, Sestina quietly opened the door. Rosette was still in bed, the scarlet covers pulled over her body.

Sestina approached her. She laid still, her raven black hair fanned out behind her head like a dark halo. Her lips were the color of blood, a deep rust color, and she was very pale. Sestina reached out and gently shook the Queen on the shoulder.

She did not wake.

Sestina grew worried. Rosette had been having troubled dreams and nights, and was always awake before Sestina came in to her room. A sudden chill ran up Sestina's spine as unbidden a memory came to her.

"He comes at night, quietly as an owl. He creeps in the window and lies besides me. He is cold, cruel and oh, so cold. I see swans, many swans and they are trapped. One is black like the night, and another wears a silver crown upon its snowy head. It is night, a shadow and there is no moon…"

Suddenly frantic, Sestina reached for Rosette's wrist and felt the cool, clammy touch of Rosette's hands. There was no pulse.

Sestina began to cry, tears finding silent paths down her cheek. She leaned over and kissed Rosette's forehead gently, before kneeling down and placing her head on the bed, still holding Rosette's cold hand.

She was gone.

-

So what do you think?