Her husband stood at her bedside, day in and out never wanting to leave her. Still, throughout her illness her hair had maintained its golden appearance, shining as it lay fanned out around her.
"My love?" She whispered, squeezing his hand.
"Yes, my dear." He leaned forward, eager to give her whatever she desired.
"When I pass on and join our Lord in heaven, I know the kingdom will feel a great loss, and you as well."
"Indeed, but you will not die." He promised, caressing her pale cheek with the backs of his fingers.
She smiled, but knew in her heart it was her time to go, "But suppose I do, I have one request of you." Her voice broke a little at the thought of what she was about to ask.
Her blue eyes met his and she could recall all the times in their years together when he had looked at her with those very eyes.
His gentle hold on her, while he held an iron grip on his kingdom.
"I am not naive to believe you will not take another queen for I understand our people need one. One who is strong and loyal. Someone kind and gentle but firm enough to stand beside you."
"All of which you are, so don't worry, my dear." He said stopping her, "Don't speak of such nonsense. You will find your strength once more and be back by my side in only a matter of days."
But those days had become weeks and the weeks months.
2 years had gone by and here the queen was still trapped in her chambers, ill and dying.
"When you choose her, I ask only that she be as beautiful as me, with hair just as golden. Eyes of blue ice." She brought his hand to her heart, "For you deserve the world my dear husband, and everything I have not yet been able to give you, though I would if I could."
"You have given me more than I could ask for." He reassured her.
"Not a son. I have only been able to give you a daughter and nothing more." She sighed, turning away.
The king couldn't deny that they had failed to produce a son but he did not blame her or anyone else for this misfortune. He had been blessed with a child with the woman he loved, though he hadn't given her as much attention as he probably would have a son. He knew nothing of girls and left the nursemaid and her mother to raise her.
"Please... promise me." She whispered a tear slipping from her eye, "When you remarry, she must have hair as golden as mine or my soul will not be able to rest in peace knowing you could so easily forget me"
He didn't want to promise because he didn't want to admit that she was dying. That there would be a day, one very soon when she would slip away into the Lord's hands. But he couldn't deny her wishes and her beautiful smile always made it worth it.
"I promise, my love." He said with a sad smile, "No woman shall ever steal my heart again unless she matches your beauty. Lest she has your golden hair and your golden heart."
As soon as the words escaped his lips her eyes closed, her soul at peace knowing it could rest easy. She was known throughout the kingdom as the most beautiful woman to have walked the earth, so if he was to remarry the woman he chose would surely be worthy.
Weeks passed after the Queen's death and the kingdom was deep in their mourning, but none felt the pain of loss more than the king himself.
He began to neglect his duties, keeping himself shut in his chambers or in his wife's tomb. His beard grew unruly and his skin pale. Red rings formed around his eyes and a frown permanent on his lips.
Weeks turned into months and the King's advisors had been handling his duties for him in his time of mourning. However, while he had not yet moved on, the kingdom was returning to normal, but they needed a queen to fill a now ever obvious gap.
"My Lord, it is not out of anything but concern for both you and concern for the people that you remarry and soon." The King's most trusted chief advisor explained to him.
He sat on his throne for the first time in a while, his crown slanted on his head, his clothes wrinkled. He pressed the tips of his fingers to his forehead and sighed, "Have I not already explained to you that I will not remarry. Even if I wanted to, your men were not able to find any woman, noble or not, in all the 7 kingdoms as beautiful as she."
"Silence!" He bellowed, growing angry, "I will not remarry unless I can fulfill her promise. Do you wish to deny your Queen's final commands?"
"No, of course not, my lord!" The chief advisor found himself on his old and weak knees, shaking in fear.
With his anger growing more uncontrollable by the day, his emotions bubbling deep inside of him, the King returned to his wife's tomb to try and put his mind at ease.
But he wasn't alone...
Gentle humming echoed against the stone walls, an angelic tune that brought a small smile to the King's face, after so long.
Sitting beside her mother's headstone, sat princess Katerina, their only child. Her small and thin, pale fingers worked effortlessly on her embroidery as if she was by her mother's side once again.
Her face was youthful and full of life, a glow beaming from her that seemed to reflect off of her golden hair, which she inherited from her mother. Her ice-blue eyes shot up as the king cleared his throat and she scrambled to her feet.
"What are you doing in here?" He asked, forcing away the smile that had graced his lips moments ago.
The princess looked down at her stitching, feeling guilty, "I wanted to see her was all."
"You're supposed to be in bed." He scolded, grabbing her arm, "We have enough trouble without you running off and hiding away."
"Please forgive me. I truly meant no harm." She spoke softly, close to tears. She did not wish to upset him, being both her father and the king, but her emotions were already high from the loss of her mother.
The king looked down at his daughter as they stepped out of the tomb, the silver moonlight shining bright, a full moon high in the night sky. The beams of light made her hair shimmer as of it was made of gold itself, and her eyes shine like diamonds, gleaming with bright innocence.
His mouth parted slightly as he stared at her in awe, having never realized the close resemblance between her and her mother. In fact, the two could have been mistaken for sisters rather than mother and daughter.
She was an exact replica, one he had failed to notice. One he had pushed off to be taken care of by others, instead of giving her the love and full attention he now realized she deserved from him.
Though it would not be the attention that she had craved from him for her entire life. It was at that moment that she officially lost her father for good.