I do not own Sofia the First.
Decided to do this one night. Wondering why I did, but figured why not. Hope you enjoy it, Alligators!
The news hit everyone hard, especially Sofia and Amber. Thirty nine hours, not even a full two days. In less than two days one of their number would be gone.
Over the last few weeks, she had been progressively on the decline. She had been fatigued, her skin and hair appeared more lackluster, terrible nightmares assaulted her at night, and dehydration had stolen her energy during the day. And all of this was just within the first week.
James and Sofia had tried their best to help her. James brought her water whenever he was on break from knight's training and Sofia held her at night in an effort to keep the nightmares at bay. Both of these helped to alleviate some of the illness, but it hardly mattered.
Over time, lack of appetite, constant headaches, dizziness, fuzzy vision, and other assorted ailments piled on until Amber could only sob miserably in her bed. At last, three weeks after the sickness began and no sign of it letting up, Roland brought in the best doctor he could. And that's when the news dropped. Amber didn't have but maybe thirty nine hours left to live.
She had been diagnosed with Elven Shrivel Disease.
Miranda's eyes were wide, her hands covering her mouth in horror. Both James and Roland's jaws were on the floor, their shoulders slumped in shock. Amber blinked, her expression blank as she merely stared at the doctor.
"A-are you sure?" Sofia rasped. "Isn't... isn't there something you can do?"
"I'm afraid not," the doctor said regretfully. "There's no cure for Elven Shrivel Disease."
"No," the violet-clad princess whispered. "No, no, no. There... there has to be something... anything... we can do!"
The doctor shook his head. "I'm sorry, princess-."
"A spell?" Sofia knew she was coming off hysterical, but a member of her family-the foundation of her whole world-was going to die. "There's no magic that can help?"
"No mage has studied the disease in depth," the doctor sighed. "Without a mage with extensive knowledge, no cure can be made and certainly not in time to save Princess Amber."
Sofia stared at him. Nothing. There was nothing they could do. Amber... she looked to her older sister. Amber stared back blankly. She must have been in shock.
Slowly, Miranda brought her shaky hand down. "Is... is there anything else we should know doctor?"
The doctor reached into his bag and removed a syringe. "The disease becomes excruciating in the last few hours. If Princess Amber so wishes, I have a serum that will allow her to pass painlessly."
Sofia looked to Amber and the blonde gulped. "I... yes... yes. I would prefer that, doctor."
The medical practitioner nodded. "When would you prefer?"
"Tomorrow morning," the ill princess responded. "I want to spend tonight with my family." She wheezed and held tight to Sofia. "I-it's... it's hard to... hard to breathe..."
"Another symptom, I'm afraid," the doctor said, returning the syringe to his bag. "I suggest no strenuous activity, especially as muscle failure begins to set in. Do not walk down stairs on your own."
"Thank you, doctor," Roland said quietly. "We will see you tomorrow morning."
The doctor nodded with a bow. "I will be back at sunrise." With that, he took his leave.
There was silence for a long moment before James spoke up. "What do you want to do, sis?"
"We should have breakfast," Amber responded, having regained her breath. "Baileywick must be terribly worried." She held out a hand and Sofia immediately took it, gently helping her stand. "I..." Amber paused. "I would prefer for Baileywick to be the only one to know for now. I don't want to make the servants sad."
"Of course," Miranda cooed. "Would you like one of us to carry you down the stairs?"
Amber hesitated. With how short of breath she already was, having someone carry her would be safer. Slowly, she looked to her father and Roland smiled tenderly.
"Just like when you were younger," he chuckled. Sofia moved to the side as Roland bent and gently lifted Amber into his arms. She snuggled against his chest and the family made their way for the dining hall.
Servants paused to wish Amber well, assuming the doctor had helped her. Amber gave them all smiles and the rest of the Royal Family thanked them. They all arrived at the dining hall and Roland carefully set Amber down in her usual seat.
Baileywick smiled as the Royal Family got settled in. "Ah, Your Majesties! I was getting worried!"
"Baileywick, a word?" The steward nodded and leaned down to listen to his king. Miranda watched the shock play on Baileywick's face before his eyes flicked to Amber. His expression fell and he gave a solemn nod to Roland.
"I'll go make sure the kitchens are ready, Your Highnesses," he told them with a forced smile.
As he disappeared, James looked across the table at his sisters. Amber leaned against Sofia, her breath shallow. Sofia held her tenderly, stroking her hair. James felt his heart sink, seeing his big sister so vulnerable and weak. It was so different than the powerful visage of her in his memory.
In the kitchens, Baileywick kept a calm image in place as he called, "There's been a change to breakfast."
"W-what?" one of the chefs exclaimed. "But we've spent so much time making the king's fav-."
"And there has now been a change. For Princess Amber."
The chefs nodded in understanding. Many of them had witnessed firsthand how sick the eldest heir had been recently. A few had even been instructed to take meals to her room during the time when the illness was hitting hardest. If the ailing princess preferred something different, they would do their best to oblige her request.
One chef, however, was quite irritated with the change. "Of course it's because of that brat," he grumbled. "Nothing's ever good enough for Her Royal- urk!"
Baileywick fancied himself a reasonable man. He knew that it was best to keep a cool head in most situations, especially when the children were involved. Not keeping a cool head could cause panic, so it was best to keep calm most of the time. However, he also understood that there was a time for action, for rashness, and for anger. Which is why, when he heard the insult to his beloved princess, Baileywick didn't even hesitate to grab the collar of the disrespectful chef and shove him against a wall.
The room was dead silent.
"You are a servant of the Royal Family of Enchancia." Baileywick's voice was chilling. "That means you do as the Royal Family wishes first and complain second. And might I remind you that an insult to the Royal Family, especially one of the ailing heirs, is an act of treason and can be punishable by fines, incarceration, or-."
"That is quite enough, Baileywick." All turned to the doorway as the voice of the queen rang through the room. All of the workers hurriedly bowed as Baileywick set the rebellious chef on his feet.
Miranda calmly strode forward, deep brown eyes focused solely on the chef. He shook in the face of his queen's calm fury. The regal woman stopped before him.
"You think my daughter a spoiled brat?" she whispered.
"I-I, uh, Your Majesty, um, it's... it's just..." Sweat rolled down the poor man's brow as he tried to come up with anything to say that would placate his ruler. After a few more moments of stuttering, he trailed off with a squeak and Miranda nodded.
Turning, the queen said, "The day Princess Amber dies will be the day of your execution. Is that clear?"
The chef slumped and dropped his head into his hands. "Y... yes, Your Majesty."
"Good." When she reached the doors, Queen Miranda looked back over her shoulder at the gathered workers. "Now, as I recall, some changes were made to breakfast. Princess Amber's favorite if you please. She's quite fatigued after her visit with the doctor and could use some cheering up." With that, she strode for the dining hall.
Baileywick straightened up and nodded to the chef, who scrambled to work. The other servants all eyed him viciously as they hurried to prepare Princess Amber's favorite breakfast.
Miranda returned to her seat in the dining hall and smiled at her husband. "Everything alright?" Roland inquired.
"Yes," Miranda responded. "Baileywick merely informed the chefs of the menu change."
"Menu change?" James asked.
"Expect pancakes," his mother told him with a wink.
The prince nodded and turned to his sisters. "So, what do you want to do today, Amber?" he asked. "I figured since you can't do much, if you didn't have any plans, we could walk through the garden."
"That actually sounds lovely," Amber responded. "I haven't felt the sun in a while. It will be nice to see the flowers again."
"While you all do that, I've got a few things to finalize," Roland piped in. "How about we have a picnic lunch at the center of the hedge maze?"
"Wonderful idea, Roland," Miranda agreed. "I'll make sure to tell the chefs after breakfast."
"Speaking of breakfast," Baileywick called, stepping into the room. "I hope everyone is hungry." A few chefs followed him into the hall, setting plates in front of each member of the Royal Family.
"Sweet!" James cheered. "The best pancakes!"
As one of the chefs turned away, Amber caught his sleeve. "Could you bring me some ice water, please?"
"Of course, Your Majesty." The chef bowed and hurried to the kitchen. He returned moments later, setting a goblet in front of Amber and an accompanying pitcher off to the side.
"Thank you," Amber murmured, sipping the drink as the chef disappeared.
The family made small talk through breakfast. James told jokes as usual while Roland and Miranda discussed happenings in the castle village. Amber smiled, enjoying the normalcy of the situation. She glanced over to Sofia, finding the younger princess digging happily into her food. Sofia paused when she felt eyes on her and she looked to her sister. Amber gave her a small smile and continued picking at her food.
Once breakfast was over, James and Sofia flanked Amber as the three of them made their way to the garden. "I'll join you after I inform the kitchen of our picnic," Miranda told them as she headed in the opposite direction. "Have fun."
Amber walked slightly in front of her siblings as they entered the garden. The sun peeked out from behind some fluffy clouds, its rays falling to the three siblings. Amber turned her face up, feeling the warmth heat her cheeks.
"It feels nice to be outside again," she whispered.
"The sun's probably missed you," Sofia giggled.
James laughed and teased, "You're it's toughest rival, after all."
The trio laughed as they walked along the garden path. Amber stopped occasionally to stroke the flowers. It was an effort to regain her breath without causing her siblings to worry, but James and Sofia caught on quickly. James lifted Amber into his arms, carrying her through the garden and lowering her when she wanted to touch the flowers.
Amber snuggled against her brother's chest as she had her father earlier. The sun on her face soothed her and made her sleepy. The scents of the earth wafted around her, lulling her into a sense of calm. Her eyes drifted shut, her body relaxing into the repetitive motion of James walking.
Sofia and James watched Amber drift into sleep and glanced to each other. James shrugged and his little sister bit her lip. They didn't want to stop, in case Amber fell into another nightmare. They continued around the garden until lunchtime.
"Afternoon, you three!" Miranda called, carrying a basket with her. Roland smiled at the three heirs and tilted his head toward Amber.
"She fell asleep on the walk," Sofia explained softly.
"Just like when we were younger," James chuckled.
Miranda presented the basket. "Well, we should go set up the picnic. Don't want lunch to get cold."
Baileywick appeared at that moment to guide them through the maze. James carried Amber to the center and gently laid her on the blanket Sofia set out. The elder princess was roused by the change in motion and slowly blinked her eyes open in confusion.
"Oh, I must have dozed off," she yawned.
"It's okay," James told her. "You probably needed it."
"I dreamed about the flowers," the crown princess chuckled. "I'm always surprised by how many there are."
Roland laughed, settling on the blanket with them. "I feel the same. There are so many types of flowers. All of them beautiful, despite no two flowers being exactly the same."
Amber hummed, taking in the scent of the hedge as Baileywick set out and tasted each dish. When he turned to leave, Miranda tugged his sleeve with a small smile. The steward looked to her expectantly.
"Won't you join us, Baileywick?" she asked quietly. "You're family, too."
Baileywick glanced to Roland, who nodded in agreement. Slowly, the steward agreed. He settled in with them as James entertained his sisters with embellished adventures he, Desmond, and Zandar occasionally partake in.
Throughout lunch, Roland told the family about some funny requests he'd received from the townsfolk. Miranda and Sofia shot occasional glances to Amber to keep tabs on her health, but the eldest heir seemed to be enjoying herself, despite her declined state.
The family remained in the maze, sharing stories, even after finishing lunch. James told stories from when they were younger, with Amber and Sofia piping in to correct the details. Miranda and Roland also filled in some details as well, including Amber and Sofia's constant and often spontaneous trips out to sea.
As the sun began its descent below the horizon, the group retired to the castle. Amber was once again in her father's arms, too tired to walk. As they entered, she rasped, "Can you... take me to my... room, Daddy?"
"Are you sure?" Roland asked gently.
"I-I just want to sleep..." Amber blinked groggily up at him.
"Of course," the king agreed, turning to the Royal Chambers.
Sofia followed along behind. She wanted to help stave off any of Amber's nightmares. They arrived at the middle room and the trio entered. Sofia removed Amber's shoes and pulled back the blankets. Amber had remained in a simple dress throughout the day, so it wouldn't be too uncomfortable to sleep in. Roland set the elder princess down and kissed her forehead.
"We'll be here at sunrise," he whispered. "You won't be alone. I promise."
"Thanks, Daddy," Amber replied, grasping his hand. "I love you."
"I love you, too." Roland squeezed her hand before heading out.
Sofia settled on the bed beside her sister, taking Amber in her arms. Amber's breathing was more labored than it had been all day and Sofia wasn't sure if she would be able to sleep at all.
"S-Sofia," Amber rasped.
"What do you need, Amber?" Sofia cooed.
Amber was silent for a moment. "I-I... want to tell... you... I love you..."
Sofia swallowed thickly, pain searing her chest. "Amber, I'm... I'm really glad I got to meet you, to know you..."
"N-no," Amber groaned. "Y-you don't... don't understand. I've loved you... since that first night... since your princess ball..." Sofia's eyes widened in shock. "We... we waltzed and... I could see how... how happy you were. I wanted you happy... all the time... I wanted to be... the one to make... you smile..."
Sofia's throat constricted. She hadn't known that. The two of them had been through so much together, but she always thought Amber's affection for her had grown over time. She hadn't known it had been there almost from the very beginning.
"I-I had no idea..." she breathed.
"It's not your fault," Amber laughed breathlessly. "I wasn't even sure... what I was feeling... especially after being... afraid of you joining... the family, but... the slumber party... your tea party... you helping me get rid of... those awful butterfly wings... oh, the trip to Tengu was... was one of my favorites..."
"Because of Jasmine?" Sofia asked, stroking Amber's hair soothingly.
Amber shook her head. "No. She was great, b-but... but the deserts of Tengu were... were so much prettier with you..."
Sofia leaned down to kiss Amber's head. "Nah. Everything's prettier with you. The Mystic Isles never shine brighter than when you visit."
Amber laughed softly, snuggling closer to Sofia. "Th-thank you... for letting me... tell you..."
"I would think you'd know by now that I can't deny you much," Sofia giggled. She leaned down to press her lips to the other princess' head. "I love you, Amber. Sweet dreams."
They fell into relaxed silence. Amber's breath slowly evened out and Sofia smiled. She pressed a kiss to Amber's forehead and settled down for sleep. She kept a firm hold on Amber to ward off the worst of the nightmares.
As Sofia drifted into sleep... Amber stopped breathing.
Queen Miranda blinked as the first rays of sun peeked over the horizon. Behind her, Roland groaned in the first sign of wakefulness. She turned to him and neither said anything for a moment. A knock at the door made them each glance up.
"Your Majesties," Baileywick called through. "The doctor has arrived."
Miranda moved to the door with Roland right behind her. "Thank you for coming, doctor," the queen murmured.
"Despite the circumstances, it is an honor to serve the Royal Family, Your Majesty." The doctor gave a short bow.
"Amber's room is right this way," Roland stated, leading the doctor down the corridor. Miranda stopped Baileywick from leaving and guided him along as well. The whole family needed to be present.
They stopped to knock at James' door. The prince stepped from his room, looking solemn. He nodded to them and they all proceeded to the next room. Slowly, Miranda opened the door and hesitantly moved inside. She motioned for the others to join her and everyone stepped into the room.
On the bed sat Sofia, staring down at Amber. She cradled the older princess in her arms, Amber's head settled against her chest. Sofia's eyes were empty, devoid of any emotion.
The doctor moved closer and cleared his throat awkwardly. "Princess Sofia? If you would be so kind, could you wake Princess Amber?" Sofia shook her head, to everyone's shock. "Your Highness?"
"Sof?" James called softly, stepping forward. "Sofia, what's wrong?"
Lifeless blue eyes lifted to gaze at him. "She's gone." Sofia's voice held an almost mechanical tone to it, as if she were speaking from inside a suit of armor.
"She's..." All eyes flicked to Amber. Chest not rising, no flush to her cheeks, not a single twitch from behind her eyelids, not even small movements from her fingers or lips.
"She's gone..." Miranda whispered, tears leaking down her cheeks. Roland fell to his knees as Baileywick bowed his head in sorrow. James reached a shaky hand out and touched his big sister's forehead. She was cold.
"Amber..." he breathed, voice cracking.
No one spoke for several long minutes as the reality set in. Sofia merely stared at her sister as the others processed. Hardly anyone moved, even the doctor.
At last, Roland stood. "Baileywick," he said thickly. "Cancel my schedule for the day. I want time to mourn."
"Of course, Your Majesty." Baileywick bowed to him and turned. As he was leaving, the steward caught the queen's eye and received a solemn nod.
James stroked Amber's cheek before standing. "We should bury her in the garden," he suggested quietly. "So she can feel the sun every day."
"That's a wonderful idea, James," Miranda agreed, not taking her eyes off the unresponsive Sofia. "Will you help me make preparations?"
"Yeah." The two of them strode from the room. Roland followed, leading the doctor out and thanking him for his time. Sofia was left alone with her big sister.
Gently, Sofia leaned down and kissed Amber's cheek. "Sweet dreams," she whispered.
I'm posting something fluffy in just a bit to lighten the mood. Hope you all enjoyed it anyway, though!
Remember, sneak peeks and update info can be found on my tumblr, gothalbinoangel-fanfiction! I just opened commissions!