This story was written for the Fireplace Writing Challenge #1.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters I use in the story.

Odette's delicate footsteps echoed lightly in the grand hall as she entered the palace, with one of her ladies-in-waiting just behind her. The eerie silence in the hallways was broken by the echoes of their light footfalls as they hurried to the ballroom. Odette asked herself why she had come here. As much as she cared for Siegfried, she had no place in this magnificent palace, dancing with a prince. Odette swiftly approached the door at the end, and knocked on it softly when she arrived. A jester, dressed in black and white, opened the door. He studied the girl thoughtfully, trying to remember if she was on the guest list. A small smile graced her lips as she whispered her name. Recognition filled his eyes as he beckoned her to follow him.

The Swan Queen followed him and stopped at the sight of the prince dancing with Odile, her nemesis' daughter. That he would do something like that - just go with her enemy - was terrifying. Rothbart must have planned it, she thought. The dance ended, however, and the jester ran to the Queen. He quickly whispered to the Queen news of the swans' arrival. The Queen nodded, and she gestured to the announcers to announce the young women.

Trumpets blared a regal tune as Odette slowly advanced, her long legs moving gracefully. Her lady-in-waiting stayed back.

Prince Siegfried was surprised at the sight of Odette, dressed in her customary white and Odile, dressed in black. Both women looked exactly the same, although with different colored outfits. Siegfried turned to his mother, who turned to her chief lady-in-waiting, who handed the Queen the flowers. She handed them to Siegfried, who looked at the two women. He wasn't sure who to choose; Odile had arrived before Odette, but she had arrived with Rothbart, Odette's enemy. He advanced slowly towards Odette, but
then saw Rothbart watching his every move. Rothbart's gaze was threatening, telling him of what could happen if he made the wrong choice.

The prince turned. He approached Odile and knelt before her. He offered her the flowers, a sign of his love for her. She accepted them, her dainty arms pulling them towards her body. Rothbart smiled wickedly as Odette collapsed on the floor, gasping for breath. Her lady-in-waiting, a small and delicate cygnet, rushed to her side, apparently checking for a heart beat.

Siegfried ran to her side and knelt, checking desperately for a heartbeat, however faint. "Odette, please, I beg of you..."

"What?" she asked.

"Please, don't die, Odette. Please, don't," he whispered, as her heart beat slowed down.

Rothbart towered above the two lovers, a cruel smile twisted across his face. "Such is the price of your mistake, O prince."

Odette smiled at him, her chest heaving as she gasped for breath.

"Your highness, do you want to go?" questioned the young Cygnet, knowing her Queen's time would soon be up.

"No," Odette whispered. "You should go, though. Tell the others."

"Your highness, what..." she trailed off as she realized what her queen was thinking. "Of course."

Siegfried tore his eyes from Odette to glare at Odile, who raised one eyebrow innocently. He sighed, and turned back to Odette, who was slowly pulling herself off of the ground. She fled quickly, afraid of dying in front of her enemy. Siegfried rushed after her, fighting off his mother.

"Odette, I'm sorry, please..." he pleaded, once he found her in the palace gardens.

"Hush," she whispered.

"Why did you choose her?" Odette questioned.

"I really don't know."

Odette nodded tiredly, her energy spent.

"Odette, I... I'm so sorry," he apologized. "I love you and I didn't know that..."

"What?" she interrupted.

"I love you and..."

"I didn't know."

"Well, I love you," he declared.

"Although I love you too," she said, "that doesn't help our current situation."

"Well, I'm sorry," he told her as he pressed his lips to hers.

She pulled back as she shook her head. "If I had known it would end like this, I never would have told you."