"They're making an event of it," The Queen said. Her majestic, gauzy wings shimmered though she sat perfectly erect in the throne. George stood nearby, behind the throne, watching the three old fairies receive their instructions from his mother, as eager as they -- and perhaps moreso- to hear why this special audience had been called.
"They have issued formal invitations to you." She held up the notes in question. Stepping forward, George took them, and descended the dais to the throne room floor to hand each letter to their intended recipients.
To the first, a fairy woman with years beyond imagining written in her eyes, he handed the brown envelope. In this realm names were seldom used, but rather a combination of color, texture, and scent unique to each fairy. In his fourteen years he had learned to recognize this strange system, and thus was able to offer the correct invitation to the correct person.
The second was a shorter fairy, plump and round eyed like a fawn, and to her George gave an envelope of silky yellow, and for the last, the youngest of the three, he gave the one made of blood crimson. Of the three of them, she was the only to smile, a glint of excitement in her silver eyes.
George bowed, and returned to his place. Each fairy opened and examined the contents of the invitation, then Brown spoke.
"Your majesty, we are honored. It will be a long awaited pleasure to bestow gifts upon the newborn princess."
The Queen dipped her chin gracefully in acknowledgement.
"Are we to understand," Yellow began. "That your sister has not been invited?"
A moment of silence drifted through the throne room until the Queen rose, her wings twinkling like star bells, and descended. "You are. My sister has not been invited, and this bodes ill. With this task I have given you comes a great responsibility. Should my sister sour this gathering with her presence, it will be for you to undo what harm she may bring to the child I am sending you to bless. Her safety I entrust to you."
With sober expressions, the three fairies lowered to their knees and sat back on their heels, heads bowed in acceptance of the task the Queen placed upon them. With two fingers, George's mother touched each of their foreheads. They rose, bowed, and left, their feet making only the smallest of sounds.
George joined his mother, concern furrowing his golden brow. "Can they protect the princess from Aunt, mother?"
The Queen sighed. "They will do what they can. But I must also find her a Prince, for I fear there will still be need of one in spite of our precautions."
"Mother, send me," George begged. "I will guard her with my life, if need be, I swear it."
His mother's lips curved into a smile, and her eyes softened as she brushed errant curls off his brow and rested her gentle ivory touch on his cheek.
"Your time will come, my son, I promise you. But it is not this day. For today, I have another in mind."
George tried to hide his disappointment, born of the yearning in his heart, though he knew she could see it anyway. "Allow me to fetch him for you, then."
Her laugh was soft like a cat's. "Aye, George. You may deliver my message to his parents realm. His name is Phillip, and like the princess, he is young, but like his father, he bears the markings of a clever and stalwart heart. Travel with Keilmir and be back by noonday tomorrow."
While only a small task, George set off as if he'd gotten his wish to protect the princess himself.