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Roses and Thorns

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<<Hallo all! This is an RP between Trinity and me- a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, urban fantasy style :D>>


Dawning light.


The scent of roses.


Through the terrace window - a baby’s room. The room, delicately adorned with pink ribbons and gamboling ponies, wafted with the delicate smell of newborn skin mixed with slight rose perfume.


In the center of the room, a mother, Charlotte, rocking her sleeping child, Rose.


Charlotte gazed at her newborn’s face, a scrapbook perched in her lap. The glossy pages held the memories of the eight miscarriages she had faced before Rose. She and Henry and wanted a baby of their own flesh and blood since they had gotten married. They had settled on a secluded estate with wings of empty rooms that they wanted to fill with screaming children. They had acres of land prepared for games and horseback riding. They had gardens filled with roses and fountains, ready for hide and seek and tea parties.


At the age of 45, Charlotte had been ready to give up on her dreams. She was ready to turn her castle estate into an orphanage. She was tired of the quiet. But then- she had gotten pregnant with Rose. Her rainbow baby.


With each of her previous pregnancies, Charlotte had chosen a godmother for her baby before the end of the first trimester. She had chosen someone different for every child. She wanted, no, needed someone new. Someone who hadn’t yet experienced her sorrow. Henry, busy with his father’s multi-billion dollar company just couldn’t always be there. With Rose, Charlotte had kept quiet. She wanted to embrace this pregnancy as her doctor had said this was going to be the last round of IVF that he would try.


Charlotte smoothed her hands over each glossy page depicting the ultrasound of a baby lost until she finally got to Rose. The ultrasounds were then interspersed with baby bump pictures. She stopped at pictures of her baby shower. Somewhere around the second trimester, she had decided within herself that she would invite all her babies’ previous godmothers to be Rose’s godmother. She had excitedly sent an invitation to all of them for her baby shower and a tiny shoe box. In it was a small ultrasound card and a quote, “Will you be my godmother?†At the bridal shower, they had presented her with an adorable diaper cake spelling the word “YES!†All of them that is, but one.


Snapping the scrapbook closed, Charlotte shook her head. There was no use to think of that woman on such a happy day. This was the day that Rose was going to be blessed by her godmothers. Rose only had seven godmothers, no need to think of the eighth that was supposed to have stood by her side.


The scrapbook slipped out of her lap as Charlotte got up to dress Rose in her beautiful white christening gown.


A stray envelope slipped out of the scrapbook. A never- sent shower invitation…

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It was another busy day in another busy week, with cars, buses, vans and motorcycles of all sorts zooming to and fro on the road, carrying their passengers to their offices as the sun slowly rose over the horizon. Once in a while, a black sports car, or perhaps a limousine, would stop by the grand front entrance of a humongous skyscraper, flicking its hazard lights on as a man in a black suit stepped out, straightened his tie, and walked through the double glass doors. Once they had entered the building, they would immediately be greeted by the enormous golden plaque of a flaming bird rising out of the sun, the symbol of the pharmaceutical megacompany whose name was emblazoned in bold lettering below.


The grand hall was as crowded as a day in King's Cross Station, with employees rushing here and there as they hurried to get to their workstations before the morning bell rang. The elevators were activated by keycard, the doors by thumbprint scanners. Everything was sleek and mechanized, and the entire scene flowed seamlessly like a well-oiled machine. The abovementioned men in suits piled into one of these elevators in complete silence, one of them wordlessly pressing the button right at the top of the panel. From the elevator, they proceeded into the marble hallway, then into one of the many identical meeting rooms that filled the top level of Phoenixcorp. They took their seats around the huge table, straightened their backs, and waited.

The clock struck 8.


The sharp sound of high heeled shoe against the flooring resounded through the room, as the man closest to the door yelled, "Attention!" Immediately, all of them tensed up, freezing in their spots as a lone woman strode through the door. She was tall, slender and regal, carrying the air of nobility as she slowly paced her way across the room and admired the men who had assembled before her. Her jet black hair flowed well beyond her shoulders, and she was wearing a sleek white dress that hugged her form tightly. The woman stopped walking as she reached the head of the table, turning to face the men in black as a broad smile crept across her face. "Good morning, gentlemen," she drawled, her voice deep yet powerful. "Let the bi-annual progress meeting... begin."


"Data trends over the last six months have indicated that Phoenixcorp now controls over 55% of the global pharmaceutical market."

"Our next highest competitor is currently trailing behind us by over 60% in terms of sales."

"The 10 Year Dominance Plan is moving along smoothly, miss Harrington."

The CEO of Phoenixcorp leaned her chin on her palm, smirking like a lioness who had just caught a scent of her prey. "Excellent," she breathed. "I can sleep easy knowing that the company is safe in your capable hands."

A sweat bead rolled down one of the men's foreheads. "There is still... the issue of Project America." Immediately, the woman's gaze darted towards the speaker, causing him to jolt in his seat. "W-we have located the three possible infants, miss Harrington. You will find their details in the file before you."

Her gaze continued to burn right through the man as she reached down with manicured fingers, gently lifting the cover of the brown file as she looked down. She ran her index finger across the smooth paper, stopping at what had been printed in the Name section of the first infant. "Rose."

Lunch hour ended as usual, with the sharp ringing of a bell that could be heard throughout the entire building. Instead of milling back to their offices and research labs as usual, the employees of Phoenixcorp instead crowded towards the place known as The Atrium, a huge gathering spot which could hold over a thousand people standing. It was built in the back of the massive office, and had a small balcony built two storeys above which gave a brilliant overview on the entire place. Normally, the balcony would be empty, with no employee allowed access on top for safety reasons, but today, there were two men in suits and sunglasses who stood by the sides, waiting for the arrival of the VIP. As though one of them had received a signal, he abruptly shouted at the top of his voice: "The arrival of miss Adeline Mae Harrington, CEO, Phoenixcorp!"


"Employees of Phoenixcorp Medical!" boomed Adeline's voice as she emerged from the red curtains that covered the back of the balcony. Immediately, the lights over The Atrium were dimmed, while two spotlights began to beam diagonally upwards as they illuminated the whole balcony. "I ask you, what are drugs?"

"Drugs are artificial! Drugs are created!" came the resounding reply of every employee speaking in unison.

"Yes, indeed. We at Phoenixcorp are the world-leading manufacturers of the drugs that go into your clinics, your hospitals, your general stores. And yet, although they are not of our bodies originally, we depend on them for healing, for recovery... for life. Now then! I ask you again! What are drugs?"

"Drugs are life! Drugs are the world!"

"Excellent!! Work hard, good men and women, and know that under my leadership, you shall usher in a new, golden age that the world has never seen before! There shall be no more sickness! No more pain!! No more sadness!!! Remember the Phoenix!!!"

"Remember the Phoenix!" A resounding cheer erupted from the crowds below as Adeline concluded her speech, turning around to step off the balcony with a smile on her face.

"Start the car," Adeline instructed her butler, who bowed deeply as she strode past the man with a resolute determination on her face. "We have a baby christening to attend."

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<<Can't decide what font I want :( Trying different things...>>


“Charlotte, what’s taking you so long?â€


Charlotte paused, buttoning the last button on Rose’s christening gown. She smiled as Rose’s hand found one of her namesake flowers woven into a flower circlet on her head. Rose began pulling on it with full force.


“I’m just finishing up with Rose, can you come up please?†Charlotte shouted, untangling little baby fingers from the delicate circlet.


Boots stomped up the steps, “The ritual is supposed to be starting now!!â€


“Oh Henry, isn’t Rose the cutest most smushiest baby in the world?†Charlotte giggled. She waltzed over to the doorway and deposited Rose into her father’s arms. “Just a second darling, I’ve just got to finish up! Also, it’s the christening not the ritual.â€


Henry rolled his eyes at his wife of almost twenty years. Every time, he mused to himself. Every time they had a schedule, she was behind. However, his arms full of his baby daughter and her gurgling laughter, he couldn’t bring himself to be upset. People were here for Rose anyways, they might as well wait. His eyes drifted to his wife pulling off her shift nightdress. Her breasts were full and her stomach still swelled from her pregnancy.


God, she’s beautiful, he thought, I can’t believe she’s mine.


“You sure you don’t need help Char? I can call a maid,†Henry proffered, knowing that Charlotte would refuse. While he had been raised like a prince, spoiled and waited on, Charlotte had grown up in a family of nine children. In the years that they had been married, Charlotte had preferred to do everything that she could on her own, even refusing a nursemaid.


“No, I got it,†said Charlotte, struggling to zip up her new Katherine Hooker custom tweed gown while also trying to sweep her thick blonde hair into a sleek chignon.


Henry smothered a laugh as he poked at Rose’s tummy, “Isn’t mommy the most beautiful yet inefficient dresser in the world?â€


Charlotte scrunched up her nose and turned to Henry, “Well if daddy is just going to stand there, he might as well lend a hand and zip me,†she huffed. She decided that her hair just wasn’t worth the effort. Quickly, pulling her favorite nude pumps from where she had stashed them in Rose’s closet, Charlotte rushed past the changing table to grab the jewelry she had put there last night. She knew that the distraction of Rose meant that there was no way that she was going back to her own room to change. Turning her back to Henry for a zip while leaning on the doorframe to pull on her shoes, she was breathless, “There, I’m done.â€


Henry pointed at her hand, still grasping her jewelry, “What about those?â€


While rushing through the halls and to the gardens, Charlotte jammed her wedding band and engagement ring on her fingers, the first time they had fit since the third trimester, and drew a string of seed pearls through her hair as a headband. The last thing left in her hand was a round pendant that had been passed down by Henry’s grandmother. When Charlotte had first married Henry, she was cowed by his wealth and his family’s economic powers. He hadn’t even told her that he was well off until they were engaged. She had refused to wear any of the family heirlooms, daunted by the millions of dollars in gold, platinum and precious jewels that they represented. When Henry’s grandmother had presented her with a private gift at their wedding, she had been ready to refuse. “You’re going to want this one,†his grandmother had said. Charlotte couldn’t have agreed more.


The pendant was beautifully intricate, dark green jade inlayed with silver, copper and gold. While other jewelry pieces of the Kingstowne family dripped of money, the pendant leaked history.


“It’s an old piece of power,†grandmother Chloe had said while slipping the pendent over Charlotte’s head, “it will show its true face during the ritual.†Charlotte had wanted desperately to ask what the ritual was, but Chloe had already moved on and there were other guests to speak to.


When Rose was born, Chloe had come up to her and said, “It’s time.â€


Henry’s body snapped her from her private reverie, her nose bumping into his muscular back.


“Wha-?!†Charlotte took in the scene in front of her. She had expected that they were going to the chapel at the edge of their property, instead, they were in an open clearing. At the center of the clearing was a pond. Charlotte’s hand sought her husbands, “what is this?†she asked.


“This, is the ritual,†said a voice from behind, Chloe seemingly melting in from the woods. Chloe quickly slipped the pendant off of Charlotte’s neck and placed it on her great grandchild’s. She scooped Rose from Henry’s arm and walked sedately to the pond. At the water’s edge, she slipped Rose into the pond’s gentle embrace.


Charlotte sprang into action, mouth open, and arms reaching for her child. “NO!†She didn’t get very far as her husband’s arm pulled her into a tight embrace, “It’s okay darling, please trust.â€


Charlotte watched, mute, as Rose happily splashed in the pond, safely buoyed by what seemed like an invisible flotation device. A light had started to grow from the pendant on her neck and started to fill the clearing. Seven small lights dotted the clearing and they took the form of seven serene women- Rose’s godmothers: Abbey, Agnes, Aimee, Alexa, Annabelle, Amanda and Ariel. They each held a small candle in one hand as they each stepped on a waiting lily pad and floated their way to Rose. They circled around her, hiding Rose from view and chanted:


From the day

From the night

From the mystic, rose- hued light

Ride our wings of hope and flame

Spark and gleam

Our darling dear

Blessed by the Ancient’s might


Then, they scooped Rose from the pond and brought her into their arms.


Through Ancient wisdom and ancient creed

Our blessings are ready for you to receive


Abbey lighted her candle, “little one, my gift for you, shall be that of beauty. No one shall share the sheen of your honey- blonde hair, the beautiful pucker of your strawberry lips, and the ocean’s depth in your deep blue eyes. Yes, beauty is my gift.†Abbey passed Rose to Agnes.


“My gift is that of wit,†said Agnes, lighting her candle while placing a firm kiss on Rose’s head “you shall be wise. No orator before or after you shall have your aptitude for debate or your entrepreneurial spirit. Your parents will have their hands full with you.â€


“My gift is that of grace. While you will have the mental powers to preside over many, your grace will allow you to teach and to instruct. You will not use your wits to belittle others, you will use them for good.†Aimee lighted her candle while deftly moving Rose’s hand away from the open flame.


Alexa reached for Rose and lighted her candle. “My gift is that of dance. The freedom to move your body and to have it follow your commands. Your legs will never tire when your heart is free.â€


Rose yawned as she exchanged hands yet again. “My gift is that of song. Debates are long and hard, you have to have another way to express your feelings. No voice be it human or animal will be able to compete with your vocal cords.†Annabelle unpinned a small nightingale from her hair and placed it in gently in Rose’s lariat. Annabelle lit her candle as Amanda scooped Rose from her arms.


“My gift for you little nugget,†said Amanda, “is that of music. These other godmothers of yours have allowed you to dance and sing, but you could have the steps and voice of a goddess but no rhythm. My gift of music will grant you the ability to sing in tune and dance in time as well as come up with your own original work to be the next pop star!!â€


“Amanda!†Ariel muttered. “They said to be serious!â€


“Oh fine, I was just trying to make up for my lost pop star days.†Amanda passed Rose to Ariel.


Ariel snuggled Rose close as she lit her candle. “Finallyyyy,†she groaned, nearly flattening Rose with the enthusiasm of her grip.


“Psssttt, NOW who’s not being serious.â€


“Okay okay, my gift to you Rose, is ------â€

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Adeline Mae Harrington stepped out of the shadow of the trees, dressed in a glamorously glittering white dress that seemed to radiate light as the many jewels along its surface reflected the sun's rays at the little gathering of godmothers around the pond. Behind her stepped out four bodyguards, who took their positions to her left and right as they stood to attention and remained perfectly still. She smiled slowly, inspecting the scene before her as she slowly raised her hands at them, enjoying their surprised and confused looks thoroughly.


"Ho, ho, ho," she laughed slowly, approaching Charlotte across the grassy clearing as her dress trailed behind her. As she walked forwards, soft green balls of fire flickered into existence in her wake, levitating silently in mid-air. "I'm merely joking, my dears. My, my, what a gathering we have here today." Adeline slowly glanced at the circle of godmothers, pausing just a moment as her vision crossed each face. "Abbey. Agnes. Aimee. Alexa. Annabelle. Amanda. Ariel." Her eyes moved to the family. "Henry. Charlotte. And... the guest of honor, little baby Rose."


"But where are my manners!" Her eyes glinted. "Perhaps you do not know who I am. I am Adeline Mae Harrington, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenixcorp Medical. But in the company of so many of my fellow witches, it would be rude not to introduce the other name that I normally go by. I am... Maleficent!" At her name, Adeline flung her arms into the air, and green fire coalesced into the shape of a humongous bird in mid-air behind her, flapping its wings once before it soared into the air and vanished.


She continued to bask in the stunned silence of the onlookers as they stared at her. "Your heads must be filled with questions, right now. It is perfectly understandable. I am here to officially congratulate you on your child, Mr Henry and Ms Charlotte. I can only imagine what pain you must have gone through, having had seven miscarriages in the past. What joy you must feel now, holding that little bundle in your hands, finally a success after all of those failures."


Adeline smiled, staring straight at baby Rose. "My second purpose in coming here today... is to offer to buy your child."


Immediately, more men in suits rushed out of the entrance where Adeline had come from, lining themselves into neat rows to her left and right. Simultaneously, they raised the suitcases they were carrying, flipping it open at the same time. Each and every suitcase was lined to the brim with money. "Phoenixcorp Medical wishes to purchase the baby Rose from you for the grand total of eight billion dollars, paid with immediate effect upon agreement from both sides. You may choose your preferred payment method, be it cash, monthly installments, or in pure gold. The price is also negotiable, to a certain extent."


"The legal documents have already been drafted and will only require your signatures," Adeline continued, her smile widening as she spoke. Another man ran up to Henry, handing a black file to him and his wife. "You will find the terms and conditions very thorough and well-thought out. Phoenixcorp will raise your daughter in accordance with what the state deems to be appropriate. She will be given a happy childhood, with all her needs taken care of and her education sponsored all the way past university, if she wishes to pursue further studies. We will provide her with as much money as she needs to purchase the necessary toys and entertainment products she desires as she grows up. And finally, you will be able to visit her whenever you'd like, subject to terms and conditions, of course."


Her gaze shifted up from Rose to Charlotte, then to Henry. "If you have any more terms you would like to add to the agreement, I have brought a lawyer with me, and we can make the necessary rectifications on the spot. Now, all that is left is your answer..."


There was the glint of pearly white teeth.


"Will you sell me your daughter?"

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Charlotte strained against her husband’s grip when seven women, some of whom she had met through internet support groups and pilates class appeared seemingly by magic.


This can’t be happening. Is this the ritual that Chloe was talking about? Were these friends of mine just farces created by her?


She watched as each of them held her precious daughter and blessed Rose with gifts.


This is so stupid, none of these gifts come close to the more important things in life like feminism, self- confidence, and keeping your legs shut, Charlotte snorted to herself.


Charlotte even found herself smiling when Amanda gaffed by talking about her old pop star days. She was relieved to see that the women that she had loved and shared such laughter with weren’t just empty shells that were filled with lies. Amanda had been a pop star, for about five minutes. She had a one hit wonder when she was 14 and then never was able to produce a hit song again. She was always making Youtube videos with songs from her younger days and never quite understood why she couldn’t find any subscribers. Charlotte had watched some of these videos to provide helpful commentary when she was pregnant with her sixth baby. Not only did the videos feature songs from about three decades ago, they were also blessed with poor lighting and even worse sound quality.


Charlotte watched as Rose passed from Amanda to Ariel. Ariel was the youngest of Rose’s seven godmothers. Charlotte had met Ariel in a pilates class and her young spirit was infectious. She had helped Charlotte relive things with fresh eyes, “just like a baby.â€




Charlotte started. Her eyes peeled from Ariel’s warm embrace to the face of someone she had wanted to strip out of her life forever- Rose’s 8th godmother- Adele.


Out of all the women she had chosen to be her children’s godmother, Adele had been her favorite. She had met Adele at her doctor’s office. Adele had also tried multiple rounds of failed IVFs. With Adele, there was never any pressure to be optimistic. The women she had chosen before all already had children, were pregnant, or were too young to consider having children. They gave advice, encouragement, and suggestions for happiness. Charlotte didn’t want that anymore and Adele seemed to understand. Charlotte had thought, that of all the women that she had confided in, Adele would be the one to stay. Charlotte had slowly shied away from all her other friendships after she had a miscarriage, she was embarrassed, ashamed, and afraid. She saw in her friends’ eyes the admonishments for not following their advice, for not being happy. Adele, she would be different.


Charlotte had been wrong.


As soon as the miscarriage happened, Adele stopped calling, emailing, or texting. It was like she had fallen off the face of the earth. Yet- here she was. Or was she?


Charlotte slowly began the register what this… Adeline was saying. Did she just say that she wanted to BUY Rose? Her DAUGHTER? This couldn’t be happening. She had started out the day thinking that her this was her daughter’s christening day- but instead it was this stupid ritual! This was ALL Chloe’s fault.


“Chloe- fix this RIGHT NOW,†Charlotte’s gaze was piercing as her low growl reached across the small clearing.


Chloe calmly floated in front of Adeline, unperturbed by the bodyguards and men that accompanied Adeline.


“Why hello Maleficent, lovely of you to join the party. You should know better than to make idle threats. You know you have no physical powers in this space without my blessing. What’s the purpose of such a large entourage and this stupidity about lawyers? Is this what your life as an outcast has been like? Your power has dwindled so much without a coven that you’re leaning on these other methods now?† 


Slowly, a peach mist was gathering behind Chloe, bright lights dotting the mist ominously.


“Begone Maleficent… or else.â€

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"Begone Maleficent... or else."


Adeline Mae Harrington laughed, a loud, hearty laugh that filled the entire atmosphere. For a few moments, it remained the only sound in the otherwise dead silent grove, resonating in the air until it finally died down. "Chloe, my darling," she said, with venom dripping from every word. "Do you realize how ironic your words are? I have made no threats or done anything against the law ever since I stepped foot in here. Buying children from other people is not illegal; it is known as adoption. On the other hand, you have made a threat against me. 'Begone Maleficent... or else', was it? Perhaps you would care to complete that sentence. Or else what?"


As she spoke, Adeline retrieved a tape recorder from her glittering purse, waving it in the air for everyone to see. "I believe that in a court of law, they would find that you are the villain here, if they played back everything that we have just spoken about." She tossed the recorder to one of the godmothers standing around, continuing, "You can keep that. I have five other recorders placed in this area. It would be meaningless to attempt to delete the recording."


She sighed, examining the peach mist behind Chloe with an amused expression. "The world has changed, my fellow witches. Magic is no longer the sole power that determines who gets to be king, and who remains in tattered rags along the roadside. While you were cuddling in your precious covens, shutting yourself out from the world, the mortals have achieved things we wouldn't even dream of being able to do with magic! Can your spells bring you to the surface of the moon? Can magic tell you what is the gaseous composition of the sun, and harness its magnificent power? No, my sisters... My banishment was a blessing in disguise. I learnt the power of harnessing Science in the palm of my hands, to develop drugs that are able to eradicate disease completely. No, not just the temporary healing that our magic can give. Complete, utter healing!"


"And if magic and science are two of the three powers that rule today's world... The third is money." Adeline's eyes glinted. "With magic, science and money at your disposal, there is nothing you cannot do! And through my hundred years of exile, I have gathered all three powers under my control. I daresay I can take all of you on in this grove, right here, right now."


The peach mist shifted at her words, but Adeline held out a warning hand. "I wouldn't do that if I were you. You may have sealed my magic, but each and every one of my guards hold a fully automatic 5.56mm M1 Carbine in their hands. If even a scratch were to appear on me, they'd gun you all down before you could say 'Rumplestiltskin'. I also have an Apache assault helicopter patrolling the area, because I don't believe in the word overkill. Do you still doubt my other methods, Chloe? Or should I say... Flora?"


Adeline laughed again, permitting herself some measure of amusement from the situation. "Why the distressed faces? I am not a cold-blooded murderer. All of the weapons I have brought are for the sake of self-defense. But really, I am just here for a civilized talk between grown women. But I can see that I am being refused even that."


She walked slowly towards baby Rose, her high heels making soft rustles against the grass. Adeline stared down at Rose's chubby face, a hungry smile growing like a tiger that was crouched over her prey. She ran a manicured finger along Rose's cheek, then declared, "Since everyone is in the mood of gifts, let me give Rose a gift of my own too. Dear, sweet little Rose, I shall give you the gift of freedom. Freedom from the petty worries of this world... Freedom from life itself. On your sixteenth birthday, Phoenixcorp Medical will provide you with a complimentary drug. You will take it, and be freed of your mortal worries forever. By the word of Maleficent, shall it be done."


Power thrummed through the air as she spoke the final words of the promise, and Adeline could feel the intensity of the stares on her now. Straightening her back, she turned to walk back towards the entrance she had emerged from, giving the entourage a little wave of her hand. "It is unfortunate that you do not wish to consider my offer, Mr and Mrs Perrault. I shall redirect my funds to more suitable outlets instead. I wish your family a very happy life for the next 16 years, and the best of health to your baby daughter. You'll need it."


And then, with a flash of green fire, Adeline and her crew vanished from sight.

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