This is a story which was started by an odd dream that shoved all my knowledge of Arthurian legend into a weird non-time that was both Victorian and Renaissance Faire. Some of my stranger ideas start out that way. Someday I will actually write the book about dragons in a time bubble.

She was precisely two hours old when it became apparent that something was wrong with her. The new princess, Ninimue, was sobbing loudly and could not be soothed by anything. She could not be shushed, rocked, fed, changed, or left alone. Nothing made her quiet.
The older princess, heiress Gweneviere, had never had to deal with a small child before. She had never in fact ever even met a child more than one year her junior. But somehow the king, in his frustrations at his younger daughter as she continued to cry, had thrust the care of Ninimue into Gweneviere’s not particularly capable hands.

So as Gweneviere hovered over her baby sister’s crib and wiggled a ribbon from Gweneviere’s hair over Ninimue’s face to try to catch her attention, she heard people speaking in the hallway outside the nursery.
There was her mother’s voice and an unfamiliar man’s. He had a very strong accent and Gweneviere couldn’t understand what he was saying through the door, but she could hear her mother’s voice.
“…crying,” The queen was saying as she got closer to the door. “It must be the curse…When I first announced I was pregnant to the court…On time…Very small. But…it’s as though she can see through me.”
Then the door opened and Gweneviere turned guiltily to look at the queen. She stepped away from Ninimue and sketched a wobbly curtsy before turning back to her baby sister and offered the crying infant her fingers this time.
“Gwenny, I need a little time with the baby. Please go wake your nanny, and she can arrange your dinner,” the queen said simply and Gweneviere slipped through a door on the left side of the room, the wall next to the one where the queen and the foreign man had come through.
This room was a sitting room, and it had doors into two other rooms. One for Gweneviere and one for the nanny. Gweneviere didn’t go across the room to the door where Nanny was sleeping, instead she pressed her ear to the keyhole into baby Ninimue’s room, which had been hers until two months ago when she was finally moved out for Ninimue’s arrival.
“Yes, curse very strong,” the foreign man said after a moment, “I feel it from door.”
“Can you help her?” the queen begged. “I’ve prayed and prayed but Ninimue just sobs as though the world was going to end.”
“It might, maybe end,” the man replied, “she see everything. Past, present, future. Everything she know, and she see. Her brain…hurts. Too much.”
“But can you help her?” The queen demanded.
“Yes, but you trade. She will die. Life for life.”
“I’ll give you my life. I’ll trade my life for my daughter’s.”
“You must say, what you give and what you get. Very specific. Magic likes loopholes.”
“I offer my life, for the curse of knowledge on my daughter to be lifted.”
“This your trade?” He asked and there was a note in his voice that made Gweneviere want to stop all of this. She needed to stop this trade, but the first thing her mother taught her was to be wary of mages and their trades. They can do anything, and you have to be careful what you allow them to have, because they can create a trade was implications.
“Yes, I trade my life, to lift the curse of knowledge on Ninimue.”
There was a flash of light under the door and Ninimue’s sobs finally quieted, slowly like she had finally tired herself out.
Gweneviere ripped the door open and saw her mother on the floor in front of Ninimue’s crib and the foreign man’s shoulders were drooping like he couldn’t keep himself upright anymore. Gweneviere moved to her mother. She touched her mother’s hand hesitantly; it was already cold.
Then he reached his hand over Ninimue’s crib. It hovered there for a second before he snatched it back with a hiss.
“Bad trade. Two curses, she die.” He said and looked right at Ninimue. The man was hideously pale, like a marble statue, and his hair was a strange shade of gray that seemed to flicker blue in the slivers of sunlight through the drawn curtains. The worst thing was he seemed young, he wasn’t much older than the page who hovered at the nursery doors for a glimpse of Nanny, who the queen said was very pretty. Maybe he was fifteen years older than Gweneviere.
“What do you mean? Is she still going to die?” Gweneviere asked and scrambled away from her mother’s body to brush past the man and look down at Ninimue, who was silently squinting up at the ceiling. The baby’s eyes had changed. They had been dark before, black, and the king said she would have his mother’s dark eyes. But now they were pale, very pale blue.
“Yes, she die. Visions of future. They give pain and make baby blind. She die before 2 years old.”
“Well can’t you do something?”
“I can make trade.”
“I don’t have anything to trade. Just an old pocketwatch.”
Gweneviere reached into the waist of her skirt and pulled the old watch out. It was gold and slightly dented and scratched. It had been her mothers, and before that her grandmother’s. It was always passed to the youngest woman when she turned five. Gweneviere had only gotten it two years ago, but she was supposed to give it to Ninimue in five years.
“What you trade it for?”
“The pocketwatch? Well I’d trade it to move Ninimue’s visions, so she won’t have them anymore.”
“I can do this. Give me watch, and we do magic. Baby live.”
Gweneviere looked at the watch again, and unhooked the chain from the other side of her skirt and offered it to the man. As soon as his hand touched the watch there was another burst of white light and Gweneviere found herself sitting ungracefully on the floor.
The man bowed deeply to her before leaving the room the same way he came in.
Gweneviere struggled to her feet to look down at her baby sister again. She was looking up at the ceiling and restlessly shifting her hands and feet around inside the swaddling clothes she had been wrapped in.
Her eyes were dark again. Dark like the nighttime sky. It was almost black, but sort of blue at the same time. That was the color of her eyes.
Gweneviere nodded and sat back down on the floor and leaned against the baby’s crib. Her eyes caught on her mother’s form, still and pale on the floor. Gweneviere pulled her knees up to her face and pushed her eye sockets into the pointy parts of her knees.

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