One of my favorite things to do when creating characters is to come up with names for them, and in finding the perfect names, I research the meanings of each name I like. A person's name can say quite a lot about him or her. One day, I decided to look up the meaning of Eglantine Price's name, which is "wild rose." Naturally, I researched the wild rose and found, much to my surprise and delight, that it is also known as the Eglantine Rose, which possesses a wonderful meaning and some pretty amazing healing properties - which you will read about later on in this story. I also started thinking about the wild and wonderful things that Eglantine did in the movie Bedknobs & Broomsticks, her adventures as a witch, her discovery of how much she truly loved the children... and, of course, her relationship with Emelius Browne. All of these and more are explored in this story, which goes back to before the movie began and creates what we all wanted for Emelius and Eglantine - a happily ever after. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is "a step in the right direction."
It used to be that nobody could ever accuse Eglantine Price of being wild. Ever since her father's death, she had lived alone in the big house outside of Pepperinge Eye, keeping to herself and venturing out into the village for groceries and the occasional delivery from London – and, now and then, a nice chat with Mrs. Hobday, the one villager whom she genuinely liked. Yet for her unassuming appearance and carefully constructed facade of normality, there were several things about her that were quite wild indeed. One was the old motorcycle she rode into town, sputtering like a soda fountain on the fritz and coughing out great billowing clouds of yellow smoke that smelled of sulfur. The first time she had ridden it into Pepperinge Eye, she had given the prim and proper villagers a bit of a shock, causing all of them to wonder if she had taken complete leave of her senses.
All of them, that is, except Mrs. Hobday. Regarded as something of an eccentric, kindly old busybody by the villagers, Mrs. Hobday didn't care what people thought and got a tremendous kick out of Eglantine's mode of transportation, clapping her hands and laughing out loud at the delightful idea of it. To her, Eglantine was a breath of fresh air in a little hamlet that sometimes seemed too stuffy; a Dorothy Gale in England's answer to Kansas, magical and free.
If only she knew just how magical, for the second wild thing about Eglantine was the simple fact that she was a witch. She hadn't taken up magic just because it was something fascinating or for personal gain; no sir, that wasn't her style at all. When World War II came to England's shores, she felt a burning desire to do something to contribute to the war effort. It was true, she could not take up arms and fight alongside the men, but she could put a special gift of hers to good use at last. Ever since she was a little girl, Eglantine had always had a knack for spells and charms – when she was three years old, she turned a butterfly into a dove and sent it flying away into the sky, and when she was six, a simple enchantment cast on a turtle caused the reptile to run circles around the barn cats that kept away the mice.
Unfortunately, her gift was not seen as such by her parents, who were frightened out of their wits that their daughter would be shunned or even worse if her powers were discovered. After the turtle incident, Mr. and Mrs. Price forbade Eglantine from using her magic again, even in private, lest it be discovered by accident. From that moment on, Eglantine had grown up as a normal human being, but at a great personal cost: all memory of the spells and magic she had performed as a child had disappeared, save for a few precious, albeit faded, moments that lingered. And upon the eruption of World War II, it was those lingering memories that gave Eglantine the drive she needed to enroll in Emelius Browne's Correspondence College of Witchcraft.
With her memory for magic as fractured as it was, Eglantine's first few attempts at magic had been slipshod at best. The very first lesson of the College's course taught a spell to light candles, basic enough for a five-year-old child to grasp. After fetching a candle from her bedside table and bringing it downstairs to the living room, Eglantine pointed her finger at the wick and spoke the incantation aloud. The results were quite literally explosive, as not only the candle, but the entire table upon which she had set it, went up in flames and threatened to ignite the rest of the house as well. Thankfully, she was able to douse the fire in record time, but after that scorching performance, she moved all of her magical equipment outside into the old barn that she transformed into her new workroom.
The lessons got better with time and her talent for spells gradually reemerged bit by bit, much to her joy. Potions lessons, however, were somewhat less joyous. The ingredients sent with the school equipment were standard enough for any witch, yet the very idea of using something as wretchedly awful as poisoned dragon's liver made her sick. Indeed, the first time she ever tried brewing a potion that called for that very ingredient, the results were disastrous. Not only did the whole ruddy thing blow up in her face, the smell of it gave her stomach such a nasty turn that she threw up. Needless to say, the potions ingredients were shelved and the entire section on potions thrown into the fire. Eglantine slaved away at her lessons as they came after that, learning spells and charms and finding, much to her surprise, that they were coming quite naturally to her at last. And the promise of that one last lesson, the one to imbue inanimate objects with life, filled her with the hope that she would be able to do something good with her powers after all. Nothing and no one could stand in her way.
And then, out of the clear blue sky, came the biggest surprise of her life. Eglantine had zipped into town on her motorcycle to pick up her latest delivery from Professor Browne when Mrs. Hobday pulled her into the museum. There before her stood three boisterous youngsters, whom Mrs. Hobday introduced as Carrie, Charles, and Paul Rawlins – and then proceeded to inform her that they would be coming to live with her to escape the bombing of London by the Nazis. Eglantine was flabbergasted. She had not been blind to the children dressed up in the museum's armor, swinging at each other with swords and acting like a trio of monkeys. These lairy little moppets in her quiet house? Not likely!
But government orders and service to king and country won over, as Eglantine finally acquiesced and took the children in. Neither side was very happy about the arrangement, as the children wanted to run back to London as quickly as possible and she wanted them out so that she could have all the privacy she needed to practice her magic in peace. But, times being what they were, they would just have to grin and bear it. After all, she could keep her secret safe from them... or so she thought. That night, when she bungled her first attempt at flying a broomstick, she had tumbled head-over-heels out of the air and into the shrubbery near the house – witnessed, unbeknownst to her, by the children. When found out, Eglantine began to worry that all of her time spent practicing magic was all for naught, especially when Charles threatened to expose her secret.
As it turned out, she needn't have worried. Although they had all gotten off to a rough start, they all became closer than a blood-tied family, and all it took was an ordinary bedknob and one extraordinary spell. That was what created the next wild thing – the wild and wonderful adventure that Eglantine and the children embarked upon to recover the missing spell. It was the adventure that proved to Charles that there was indeed marvelous magic to believe in, that took them flying and soaring through space and time like nothing else on Earth, that sent them dancing and singing through the streets of London... and that introduced her to Professor Emelius Browne.
Ah, now there was a wild thing, indeed. Emelius – or Mr. Browne, as she'd stubbornly insisted on calling him then – was a charlatan magician who put on wild shows for a reluctant audience, capering and gesturing like a madman. He'd been no better once they'd all retired to "his" (she used the possessive loosely) mansion to find the lost spellbook containing the incantation Eglantine so desperately needed to make her plan succeed. Skipping and hopping, prancing and dancing about the library like a dervish and singing about how they were going to make a fortune together with his brains and her magical talent. He rabbited on until she quite literally gave him something to rabbit on about – by turning him into a fluffy white rabbit. Astonishingly enough, sprouting long ears and a cotton tail seemed to warm him to her rather than chase him away, and he joined them on their next adventure – traveling on the bed to the Island of Naboombu. That adventure had been the wildest yet, as they watched Emelius referee a soccer game between the ruling animals to steal the Star of Astoroth. The animals had beaten the tar out of each other and mowed Emelius down like hay over and over again, leaving him a dusty, hot, and disheveled mess by the time the game was through. And then, when Emelius had cleverly swiped the Star from King Leonidas, they'd barely escaped unscathed when the king came roaring after them... and then went hopping away when Eglantine turned him into a white rabbit.
From that moment on, Emelius had become part of their newfound family. They discovered the secret of Substitutiary Locomotion together and performed the spell with hilarious results, shared their first family meal together in a home that finally felt warm and cozy, and, against incredible odds, banded together to use Substitutiary Locomotion to raise their own army of armor and scare the Nazis away for good. Emelius had departed for battle shortly thereafter, but now he was back... no longer as a stranger, but as a father to Carrie, Charles, and Paul and a husband to her. Eglantine had never thought she would meet someone to share her life with, someone to love this deeply, but in Emelius Browne, she had found her match. She loved him despite his theatrics, his "flair," and his somewhat shady past as a mountebank showman, for beneath the razzle-dazzle was a man who yearned to be accepted and loved for who he was. A flawed man. A good man. Her man.
And he loved her in return. She'd discovered just how deeply his love for her ran after their wedding, when they were honeymooning on their own private island, thanks to the magic traveling abilities of the bed. In their cottage, he'd turned up an encyclopedia of flowers and their symbolic meanings, and much to her amazement, read her a passage that stole her breath and her heart.
"'It has long been said that the Eglantine rose is one of the most beautiful pieces of flora in all creation. Also known as the Sweetbriar Rose, it possesses a tough, hardy stem covered with thorns, yet is crowned with a flower of extraordinary beauty. Ranging from the palest pink to the most brilliant fuchsia surrounding a radiant golden center, the petals are delicate and soft, a marked contrast to its prickly beginning. The Eglantine is frequently called a wild rose because it grows of its own accord, rambling beyond the confines of a garden and out into the world, along roadsides and into the deepest forests. Renowned for the intoxicating, apple-like fragrance of its foliage, this glorious rose is also capable of healing wounds and regenerating life that was once thought lost.'"
He smiled tenderly at her as he closed the book. "A perfect description of you, my dear."
"Emelius Browne, are you calling me prickly?"
"You were when we first met." He laughed and ducked out of the way as she aimed a whack at his head with a pillow. "But now I know that that prickliness was only protecting your beautiful heart and spirit. Eglantine roses open if they are tended lovingly, just as you opened up to love."
Eglantine smiled as he laid back down beside her. "You said that the Eglantine rose is a flower of extraordinary beauty. I certainly can't see what's beautiful about myself."
"Didn't you hear the description of the rose? It sounds exactly like you. Soft and delicate, pink and perfect..." His hands caressed her skin and wandered upward to sink into her soft rose-gold hair. "Golden, radiant... fragrant with apples..." He breathed in the heavenly smell of the apples that they'd partaken of, the scent still lingering on her breath. "And totally, completely, and utterly intoxicating." He captured her lips between his and kissed her deeply, reveling in the sweet apple taste of her mouth and the softness of her lips. "Eglantine..." he murmured against her mouth, "My beautiful Eglantine..."
"Emelius, my darling..." she whispered, allowing herself to be swept away on a wave of love and desire. When they rested together afterward, she pondered all he had said in her heart. Yet for all the words of adulation, there was still more to be said, she felt; questions to be answered. "I'm a wild one, aren't I?"
Emelius smiled and stroked her hair away from her beautiful blue eyes. "Now why would you say such a thing?"
"Because the Eglantine rose is a wild rose. And ever since I became a witch, adopted the children, and met and married you, I've had some wild adventures and done some wild things. Flying brooms, enchanting bedknobs, traveling all over on a bed, bringing an army of armor to life and scaring away a fleet of Nazi soldiers..." She chuckled softly and shook her head. "Were he still alive, my father would have an absolute fit if he knew that his little girl had turned into such a wild woman."
"A wild and wonderful woman," Emelius corrected, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "You grow where you're planted, my dearest, and you grow wild and free and all over the place. And I wouldn't have you any other way."
"Mmmm." Eglantine hummed happily as she laid her head on his chest. "That's nice to know." Another moment of sweet silence passed before she spoke again. "Have I really healed wounds?"
"Hmm?" Emelius asked absently, tracing lazy patterns on her bare shoulder.
"You said that the Eglantine rose has healing properties. How have I healed anyone?"
"How? My love, you've healed more wounds and restored more lives than you could ever know. You took Carrie, Charlie, and Paul in when nobody else would and gave them back what they had lost: a mother, a family, and love. You healed a wound England nearly got by using your magic to frighten away the Nazis. And you healed me. You healed me of a past where I cheated and schemed to get what I wanted and restored me to life by loving me for the man I am, not the man I was." Emelius's eyes glowed with love as he embraced his wife. "You brought all of us back to life with your love, Eglantine. That's the greatest magic of all."
"You sentimental fool," Eglantine whispered despite the tears of joy pooling in her eyes. "I love you so."
"I love you, my shining Eglantine," Emelius said, kissing her lips again and thanking God for this extraordinary woman in his arms – Eglantine Browne, his wonderful wife and the beautiful wild rose of Pepperinge Eye.