Briar Rose woke up. She had never woken up like this before. Her lips were all warm as something pressed against them. Her body was feeling so strange like something was flowing out of her.
She wasn’t sure she wanted to wake up. The dreams had been so good. She had been dreaming about her true love, the young man from the forest she had met that day, or was it yesterday?
Would she ever be happy again after what had happened?
She was awake and could not sleep again, so she opened her eyes.
Before her was the young man from the forest, the prince from her dreams, her true love. She smiled. She could see the fairies that had been her aunts tiny and floating by the ceiling.
“Good morning, sleeping beauty.” He smiled at her. “Do you remember me, from the forest?”
She nodded and saw the fairies fly out the window.
“Good. My name is Phillip, Prince Phillip. We are betrothed.”
Betrothed, she knew that word. A word that had crushed her heart. She had been so happy, the happiest she had ever been, but then her aunts had taken it away, they had taken everything away, her home, her family, even her name and then came the nightmare.
“It’s alright. Don’t worry. I defeated Maleficent. She is gone. You are safe. I’ll keep you safe.” Prince Phillip said forcefully, he had seen the fear in her eyes as her smile ran away.
Rose lifted her hand, dropping the rose that was in it for some reason. She had to touch, to know. Those eyes were true, they had to be, they had been a part of her dreams for so long her whole life really, but were they real?
Rose’s hand came close to his face, her hand paused as she felt his warmth. She was still terrified she was in the dream or the nightmare. She cupped his face in her hand and he covered it with his own.
Rose’s vision went blurry as her eyes filled. “Y-you’re real?”
“Yes, I am real, as real now as when we met in the forest.”
“What did we do in the forest?”
“I sang to you and danced with you and we looked at the castle together.”
Rose nodded. “Where did we first meet?”
Phillip smiled, “One upon a dream. I’ve dreamed of dancing with you in my dreams my whole life, but I always woke up once I took you in my arms.”
Rose nodded, a smile tentatively showed through her terrible fear. “When could we meet again?”
“At first you said never, but then you said that night in the cottage in the glen.”
Rose nodded again, now for the final test. “What is my name?”
“What is my name!?” Rose begged.
“I don’t know your name. You didn’t tell me your name. I know your true name is Aurora, but I also know that isn’t the name you grew up with.” Phillip was looking concerned.
Rose nodded, tears streaming down her rosy cheeks. It was him.
“My name....” Rose began thickly. Years be being told not to ever tell her name to anyone restrained her.
“My name is....” Rose was fighting through all the restrictions she had lived under her whole life. This person was the person she loved, that she was betrothed to, that she could trust.
Briar Rose was panting from the effort. She grabbed him by his shirt staring into those loving eyes, “My... name... is... Briar Rose.”
She was a princess.
# # #
Prince Phillip held onto the bawling princess and let her cry herself out. There wasn’t much choice in the matter. He knew that Maleficent had accomplished the curse, that must have been terrifying.
Finally, Aurora stopped crying and he helped her sit up after pulling off the bolster, blanket and sheet.
They stood and looked out of the windows. She looked around. “Where am I?”
“You’re at the top of the highest tower in your castle.” Said Phillip guiding her out to the balcony, then he laughed a little, “Trust Maleficent to put you way up here just to make it that much harder to rescue you.”
“Oh, I don’t remember that.” Aurora looked down.
“I remember my aunts, the fairies, taking me to a room they called mine. They gave me a crown they forged out of thin air and they put it on my head as a symbol of my right and royal duty.” Aurora was shaking. Phillip lead her back to the bed and let her sit again.
He knelt before her and asked, “Are you okay?”
“No.” She whispered.
“Everything. They took everything and gave me this crown instead.”
“Everything?” Phillip was confused.
Aurora nodded. “My home is...was the cottage. This is where the princess dies in all the stories, and I don’t want to die. You’re here. They took my clothes, they made this today for me, even shoes. Aunt Merryweather could never make shoes that fit right. I couldn’t bring anything from home. They even took my name. They say my name is the Princess Aurora, but it isn’t, not really.”
“Aur...Briar Rose.” Phillip began and she looked at him tentatively. “I know this must be so very confusing. The fairies lied to you to keep you safe from Maleficent. I was there. I remember. You were a newborn. Our parents betrothed us so we could protect your kingdom. Maleficent was being evil and abusing your kingdom. She wasn’t invited but she came anyway and cursed you. It was awful. I couldn’t do anything I was just eight years old. But seeing your mother, your real mother, Queen Leah holding you, sobbing because her heart was broken, she was losing you to that curse. They tried burning all the spinning wheels but knew that wouldn’t be enough. You needed to go into hiding and me too.”
“Maleficent...” Phillip could see her fear in her eyes as she said the name.
“It’s okay. I killed her. She’s dead. I am sure of that.”
Briar Rose nodded but her shoulders were bunched up still.
“What happened?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“She was in my head. Making me move. I had to follow her. I was so scared. We walked through the fireplace. Up stairs, dark stairs, no rails, but I couldn’t. There was a little room and she made a spinning wheel appear. They warned me never to touch a spinning wheel, there were pictures in the sewing book. I was so scared. I tried not to. I stopped, it took everything I had, but she made me touch it. I felt myself fall, then I was dreaming. Dreams were good. Why did you wake me up? Life is so painful.” Rose looked at Phillip.
Phillip took her into his arms, he could feel her shaking. “I’m sorry, but the pain will fade. It’ll be okay. Things will get better, you are in the right place, with your family and your home. It will be good.”
“How can you be sure? My life is over, they took it all away.”
“Yes, one life ended. There is a new life down there waiting for us.” Phillip gestured to the stairs. “My own ended too.” Phillip said quietly.
“Wait. What?” asked Briar Rose pulling back to look at his eyes.
“Twice, actually. The day Maleficent cursed you, I could no longer be a prince. I had to leave my father and I spent the next sixteen years hiding from Maleficent. I moved all over the continent hiding as a squire or apprentice or a student. Today that life has ended too. I know how you are feeling.”
A tremulous smile began to shine through from Briar Rose. “I guess you do. But what is a continent?”
Phillip was surprised by the question, continent seemed like such a basic concept but she didn’t know. What had the fairies taught her? He thought to himself, but answered her, “Ah, a continent is how the land is divided.”
“Oh, okay,” but he could see she didn’t really understand the concept. He’d have to find a map and show her.
He moved some of the hair that had fallen onto her beautiful face out of the way and asked, “Are you ready to meet your real parents and your kingdom?”
“I am not sure what to do?”
“It’s easy, once we enter the throne room, where your parents are. I’ll guide you. We’ll stop and I’ll bow and you curtsy.”
“What’s a curtsy?”
“Um, you put your foot like this, hold out your skirt and dip like this.” Prince Phillip demonstrated. “Can you do that?”
Rose stood and tried it. She was very graceful. “Yes, I guess I can.”
“Yes, very good. Much better then me. Then you can go hug your parents. They’ll be right in front of us so you won’t be able to miss them. Your mother looks so much like you and she’ll be wearing a crown, so will your father. He is tall and skinny and has a black beard with three points. My father will be there too, he is short, fat with a short white beard and hair.”
“Um, what’s a beard?” asked Rose shyly.
“A beard is hair on their faces.”
“Oh,” said Rose quietly, looking down again.
Phillip could tell she was feeling bad. “I know there are so many new things. Didn’t the fairies teach you anything?”
“I thought they did. They taught me how to cook and clean and paint. We would go into the forest and thy would teach me about the plants and animals. I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be sorry. It’s okay. They had to keep you hidden and there are so many things that don’t get taught if the subject doesn’t come up. They kept you safe and that is important, it won’t take long to learn everything you need to know.”
“I’m sure of it.” Phillip said, though part of him was disturbed by her ignorance of basic things, as he lead her down the stairs.
# # #
“My room is just down here. I better change into something fancier.” They were still several floors away from the throne room. He had wanted a room that he could see the sunset from. It was pretty far up in the castle.
“So I look like a prince and not a woodsman.”
“Is that important?”
“Today, it is.”
“Oh, okay.” said Rose as they walked to his room.
“Ah, you better wait out here while I change.” Phillip said as she tried to enter with him.
“Okay.” Rose felt her stomach clench, she did something wrong again. She always helped her aunts change clothes, didn’t anything they taught her apply here?
“I won’t take long. Just stay right there.” He pointed to a chair next to some flowers that were looking a little wilted.
Phillip changed as fast as he could. He was a royal, generally he could tell the nobility to sod off, but the Return of the Princess Aurora and himself was supposed to be a big deal, so he had to dress up. At least he didn’t need to get into his armor, that needed extra people to put on. That took up several trunks for traveling.
He came out and saw Rose sitting quietly looking pensive.
“How do I look?” He said with a smile.
“Like a prince.” Rose said smiling back, not that she knew, but it seemed like the gracious thing to say.
Phillip looked around, it was still very quiet. “Have you seen anyone?”
Rose shook her head.
“Oh boy. I hope I don’t have to kiss everyone.”
“What?” asked Rose.
“To break the spell on you, your true love, me, had to kiss you. I had thought the spell would only effect you but when I got here after defeating Maleficent, I found the whole place asleep. I thought kissing you would break the whole spell. I guess I have to kiss everyone to have them wake up. That might take a while.” Phillip sighed.
“Why a while?”
“There are thousands of people and hundreds of rooms, it might take a few days to kiss them all before we can celebrate your return. Well, we might as well start with our parents. Oh man, I hope it doesn’t have to be on the lips.” Phillip groaned as he lead them to the throne room not noticing the much healthier flowers sitting in the vase.
As they passed down to the next level they could see several servants coming awake as they came down the stairs.
“Oh, good, it looks like we only have to get near them.” said Phillip.
Soon they greeted their parents and Phillip held out her hand to invite her to dance. It was wonderful to dance with her, just like in the forest. It was a pure dance of love, like dancing on a cloud. There were only the two of them and they could not have told you if there was music playing or not.
Then King Stefan put his hand on Philip’s shoulder. “Phillip!”
Phillip and Rose came back from the clouds of love.
“Ah, yes. King Stefan.”
“We got word that there are servants downstairs that won’t wake up.”
“Oh, okay. I guess I wasn’t close enough.”
“Well, I guess we should ask the fairies, but so far it seems like I had to kiss her to awake her up, but everyone else wakes up as long as I get close. Take me to them and you’ll see.” He turned to walk away, but Rose held his hand tightly.
“It’s okay. You can come.” said Phillip kindly.
A servant let the kings, queen, prince and princess to the lower levels, and as the prince approached the servants began to awake.
“How interesting,” said King Stefan.
“Indeed, and it’s better then kissing you all,” commented Phillip.
“Kissing us all?” asked Hubert.
“Well, I had to kiss Aurora awake, so it logically followed that I would have to kiss everyone awake,” said Phillip.
“Ah, yes, but why was everyone asleep?” asked Stefan.
“I guess the curse or the Merryweather’s counter spell made that happen, but we should ask them. Where are they?” Phillip asked.
“The last time I saw them they were in the observer box, they were fighting over the color of Aurora’s dress,” said Queen Leah. Leah looked at Rose’s dress.
Rose looked down, her dress was pink. She frowned, as she plucked at the skirt, it had been blue.
They passed through the Great Hall and spent a few minutes with the nobles, gentry and people and then were escorted to a small room with the fairies.
After some pleasantries Phillip asked, “Do you understand the curse? Because the entire castle and village were asleep and kissing Aurora woke her, but I only have to get near everyone else to wake them up. We just found some people downstairs that didn’t wake because I hadn’t gotten close enough to them.”
“Oh, that wasn’t the curse. That was us. We didn’t want anyone to miss Aurora’s Return,” said Flora, matter-of-factly.
“Ah-ha. Okay. Could you go check and make sure everyone is awake?” asked Phillip.
“Of course. It won’t take long,” said Flora happily.
The fairies stood.
“Aunt Flora?” spoke up Rose. She had been in the background but desperately needed to ask some questions.
Rose’s hands fluttered by her skirt. “Why?”
“Why what dear?”
“Why didn’t you teach me...this place?” She gestured around her.
Flora and the others sat looking sad, “We had to keep you safe from Maleficent.”
“I know that, but I don’t know so much, like continents and curtsies and-and everything. I don’t know anything.”
Flora sighed. “We taught you all we could teach you, but we had to keep you ignorant of certain things so you would be ordinary and unremarkable. We hid you as best as we knew how. We’re sorry we failed. We tried to keep you safe from your young man, had we known it was Prince Phillip we wouldn’t have left so early, you wouldn’t have been cursed.”
She hesitated and the fairies who had raised her knew something was on her mind.
“What is it, dear?”
“Who am I?”
Flora and Fauna exchanged looks, but Merryweather spoke up. “You are both our Briar Rose, and you are their Princess Aurora.” Merryweather gestured to Stefan and Leah. “Things will be different now, but you are strong and can learn to do everything they need.”
Rose nodded again. She glanced from her aunts to her parents and back, then she bit her lip, she was shaking. “Do you still love me?” she asked quietly.
Five people put their arms around her and said, “We do love you. We love you so much.”
And a girl who was feeling cut off and lost from everything she thought she knew, felt love from both of her families and wept from happiness and love.
Phillip and Hubert also hugged as they felt the love. Servants brought in some easy to eat foods for everyone to eat.
“So, you two lovebirds, what do you say to having the wedding tonight?”
Rose looked puzzled, she wasn’t a bird and birds don’t get married.
“No, father.” Phillip said firmly, then he gestured to Stefan and Leah. “They missed their daughter’s entire life, they deserve time with her.”
Hubert looked crestfallen but there was nothing to say against that.
“You missed most of my life too, and we need to spend some time together too.” Phillip said more gently.
Hubert slowly nodded and smiled. Grandchildren would be wonderful but his son was right, they needed some time together.
After a few wonderful weeks Hubert and Phillip went home leaving Rose with her parents.