Briar Rose's aunts each had something they called a book. They were filled with neat handwriting, in Flora and Fauna's case, and hurried, yet legible scrawl in Merryweather's. They were the only three books in the cottage aside from the Bible they had Rose read every night.
"Now walk across the room," said Aunt Flora.
Aunt Flora had decided to make Rose graceful. Rather than have Briar Rose read the books, she had her balance them precariously atop her head, in order to develop good posture.
This was only her second attempt at holding all three books on her head, and the last time hadn't gone so well. Rose was not clumsy by any means, but neither was she very patient. Her eight-year-old attention span was only long enough to walk around the room with books on her head for only a few minutes a day, before she pulled them off her head and attempted to read them.
Aunt Flora was no more patient than Rose, in this regard, and before Rose could read a full sentence, she snatched the books away from her and sent her outside.
And that was all right, because that usually meant she was allowed to take a short walk in the nearby trees.
Today, though, she was determined to walk around the room five times with the three books. She clasped her hands together daintily, and carefully, carefully, walked about the room.
Flora watched her like a hawk. Should the book even wobble, Rose would have to start over.
When she'd completed the fifth circuit (she'd been keeping careful count), she said, "Aunt Flora, is this good enough?"
Flora pressed her lips together irritably, but at last, nodded. "Very well. As a reward, you may read the books."
That was more exciting than Flora might have anticipated. Rose pulled the books off of her head, sat down cross-legged on the floor and spread them in front of her.
"Fix your dress," Flora scolded, and Rose dutifully adjusted the dress to cover her more. It had hiked up when she'd spread her legs to cross them. "You have to be a lady."
"Yes, Aunt Flora." Rose observed the three books. It was easy to tell whose was whose. The red one was Aunt Flora's, the green one Fauna's, and the blue Merryweather's. She opened the red one. Aunt Flora's world of flowers intrigued her.
Rose still wasn't very good at reading, so each page took her about ten minutes to complete. The book had lovely illustrations, though, which might have sped up the process, except that Rose spent more time looking at the pictures than she did on the words.
Aunt Flora eventually left her alone, muttering about how the kitchen needed cleaning.
Barely thinking about it, Rose moved to the window seat and leaned against the sill. It was summertime, and her skin was a lovely shade of brown. This was the result of hours spent romping in the clearing, and the rest of her time hanging out of windows.
Her brown skin also seemed to vex her aunts to no end – well, Flora, anyway. Merryweather liked bringing it up just so she could argue with Flora, as far as Rose could tell. Whenever this happened, Fauna would of course step in and smooth things over. "Yes," she would say. "Brown skin isn't fitting for a girl of her station, but see how lovely the sun has made her hair."
And this was true; the sun had bleached Rose's naturally blonde hair to a shade that was nearly white. Her dark skin and light hair looked lovely against the dark green dress Aunt Merryweather had made for her when she'd grown out of her old one.
"Aunt Flora," Rose said suddenly.
"Yes, dear?" Flora said, reentering the room. She frowned when she saw where Rose was sitting, and added, "Move to the table, sweetheart." She would keep the girl out of the sun as much as possible. Honestly, if Queen Leah saw her daughter looking so dark, like a peasant of all things…
Rose obeyed, walking with her nose practically stuffed into the book. "What's this mean? 'Mandrake root can be used to increase fertility when drunk with chamomile tea on a full moon.' What's fertility?"
Flora turned pink. It had been assumed that Fauna would tell the girl about sex. After all, animals were her area of expertise. Was eight old enough for the girl to learn about such an adult subject? Perhaps it was a good idea. After all, in just eight more years she'd be married to Phillip, and such a thing would be expected of her.
Eight years, Flora thought to herself, was a long time. But eight years had already passed, in what felt like a blink of an eye.
"Fertility," she said at last, "is the ability to reproduce." There, she thought. An honest answer, but one she wouldn't understand until she was older.
And Rose, acting in the manner that most eight year-olds do, said "Oh, I see." She nodded sagaciously and returned her attention to the book. And before Flora could get back to the kitchen, Rose asked, "What's a potion?"
"It's like a tea," Flora hedged, hoping the answer would sate the girl.
"Why do you need a wand to stir it?" Rose asked.
Well, that was that. "How about you read another time," Flora said with a smile. "I need you to sweep the sitting room."
Rose sighed dramatically, but shut the book and handed it to Aunt Flora. "Okay."
Aunt Flora was grateful that the girl was obedient, at the very least. The curiosity would be the death of her, though, if she ever grew out of her mischievousness. She was quite certain, in any case, that this would not be the last time Rose begged information about magic.
A/N: I know, this is painfully short. But this is just me continuing to explore her childhood...I guess I'm continuing this, but it will be at whatever pace I choose. I'm setting it at incomplete now. The plan is to have a one-shot/drabble sort of thing for every year of her life, from 7-16. Probably 16. I'd like to do something that was either in the movie, or after it. Maybe the dream sequence. We'll see!
Oh, and I just want to say that I'm hopefully going to be uploading something (be it this story, my other story, or one shots) every day for the next five days. Because the 10th is my 5 year anniversary on fanfiction. Enjoy!