The frail woman took small shallow breaths. Her ribs barely moved up and down as she took them. From the look on her face she wouldn't be taking them for long.
Regina sat in the chair alongside the bed. The room wasn't very fitting for the princess royale. But she remembered who her friends were, and this loving nurse had been there, day in and day out since the early days in the castle nursery.
Mrs. Carlyle was the first to smile at you in the morning, offer a song while you played in the pram, or hug you while you learned to comb your hair.
There was staff, and then there was the family retainers that had somehow crossed that line and were more family than employee. This woman had touched all of the hearts in the kingdom, at least those lucky enough to meet her. She had managed to make their day just a little brighter, the sun a little warmer by her charm, and love. It just seemed to flow from her like the cookies she dispensed from the kitchens.
Regina remembered so many scraped knees that this lady had cleaned for her, then kissed her forhead for luck.... A tear tricked down the princess's cheek. It didn't seem fair.
The door opened quietly and another chair was brought into the room. It was now a crowded room, but Queen Aurelia sat down next to Regina. Her sewing on her lap, as always, but the needle didn't seem to be moving as it usually did.
"I've heard that you were cherished and loved by this wonderful lady." Her aunt motioned to Mrs. Carlyle with her head.
"Oh Aunt Aurelia, she was the best. I always knew no matter what was wrong, she would try to fix it, and then hug me after." She wiped another tear away.
"I just feel so horrible that I can't do anything for her now!"
"Yes, I know. That horrible feeling of helplessness." She leaned forward, the sewing set aside for a moment. Her hand took Reginas, and gently squeezed it.
"As Queen, there is so much I manage to influence. Things in my realm, that are there just waiting for me to rule over them.
"Regina, you must learn a painful, painful lesson." She wiped a tear away from her cheek, and looked at her neice for a moment before continuing.
"We never understand how best to use our power if we don't understand our limits. And we do have our limits!
"This wonderful woman is beyond you now. God will care for her in ways you couldn't here in this life.
"Death is a constant reminder to make life everything you can, while you can. Either you can use your strength to struggle or to strengthen.
"I hope you use your hand to help another person, instead of using it to harm another. That is what the life of Mrs. Carlyle stood for, and I think you really have learned it.
"That's why you're here now, holding her hand.
"And I think, she does know that somehow."
A gentle tap on the door was for Aurelia, and it was time for her to leave. But she leaned over, and gave a kiss to Regina's forehead,
"That was for Mrs. Carlyle."