I was watching the movie Sabrina (the 1954 version) the other day and I thought it would be fun to see it with David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Barrowman. I didn't really intend to write this, but after a little prodding the idea caught fire in my mind. And it's my Christmas present to the two people who asked me to write this A Who Down in Whoville and my fantastic beta lastincurableromantic,
For those of you reading Paradox, due to recent events in Connecticut and what comes next in that story, I'm taking a short break. I'm not abandoning it, just waiting until I feel like I can write a COE story without breaking down in tears.
Oh and an interesting (at least to me) fact, the character Sabrina from Unexpected Family and Paradox was an homage to Audrey Hepburn's Sabrina.
I don't own either Doctor Who or Sabrina, much to my dismay.
Once upon a time, a short distance away from London town, there stood a mansion. It was a grand place owned by the Harkness family. They were a family of old money, but not born from aristocracy. Instead they had made their money from hard work and innovation. The family company, Harkness Enterprises, had been influential in Great Britain and in the world for four generations.
The estate had many servants. There was a gardener who kept up the grounds and a personal valet who attended to the gentlemen of the house. There was a house manager to plan the parties and keep the cook and the small army of housemaids in line. A chauffeur kept the fleet of nine expensive automobiles in order and they even had a staff physician because everyone on the Harkness estate deserved the best care, no matter if they were a family member, a guest or a servant.
There were only three surviving members of the family, the late Mr. and Mrs. Harkness' two sons and their daughter.
John, the oldest, was a business man. Very handsome with a flair for fashion, his current choice of pinstriped suits had started a national trend. He was a notorious bachelor and it had been many years since there had been even the slightest rumor about him being in a relationship. That was probably because he didn't have time for luxuries like girlfriends or a wife while he saved the world one business at a time.
People called him the Doctor, because he made things better. He was known for taking failing companies and turning them around so they thrived. Instead of massive layoffs, the employees got raises and profit sharing. A business genius he was. Only 34 years old and he was one of the most well respected men in all of London.
Next was John's, younger by three minutes, twin sister Donna. A few years earlier, she had married a reputable, if not quiet, man named Lee Noble. So quiet, he hardly ever said a word. Donna Noble was John's right hand and COO at Harkness Enterprises. Fiery and headstrong, Donna easily carved a place for herself in a man's world. She also handled the family's many charitable endeavors. Currently her pet project was Friends of the OOD (Orphans Ongoing Defenders). It was an organization that championed the rights of children who were wards of the state.
Last but most certainly not least was the youngest brother, Jack. With movie star looks and charisma, he was simply gorgeous: tall, muscular, pretty face, lovely smile and a very nice bum. He could charm any girl or bloke that he wanted to. In fact, Jack had gone through quite the assortment of dance partners. At only 29 he'd already been married and divorced twice. Somehow he had managed to graduate from business school and he too worked for Harkness Enterprises, if in name only.
On that estate above the garage, there also lived a girl, the chauffer's daughter. She was a perfectly ordinary girl, with waist-length dull, brown hair, thick glasses, and lips that were almost too big, whose only real wish in life was to be an invited guest in the Harkness house. Not just one of the help. However Rose Tyler never expected be more than a dinner lady.
Oh, you could dress it up and call her a chef; she was soon to attend a summer culinary program in France. She even had a posh accent from having grown up around people above her station. The Harkness' had paid her parents enough that they could afford to send her to a decent private school nearby, so she was well educated. Rose even had a handful of A levels. Nevertheless, there was no doubt in her mind that the mousey chauffeur's daughter would simply start to work in the kitchens, after she returned from cooking school.
Not tonight though. Rose sat in a tree overlooking the massive gardens. Tonight, the family was throwing a party. They were simply famous for these events. Party planning was a master skill that had been passed from the late Mrs. Harkness to her only daughter Donna. Delicious canapés were being passed around on trays. Fairy lights twinkled in the trees; champagne flowed freely. Men in tuxedos swayed in time with the music of the band, twirling women in fancy gowns around the dance floor.
Rose let out a malcontented sigh when she saw the object of her lifelong affections, Jack, leading some attractive ginger around the dance floor. All of the notorious playboy's relationships tended to have one thing in common and it started with a dance at a family party. Next came champagne. Rose saw Jack extricate himself from the arms of the leggy woman.
He whispered something in her ear and the woman giggled and headed in the direction of the indoor tennis courts. Jack had gone to the bar, taking a bottle of the finest bubbly. He then slipped two champagne flutes into his back pockets and headed off to follow his date. He made a brief stop at the bandstand, no doubt to arrange for his signature song, Glen Miller's In the Mood, to be played. It was all part and parcel of the Jack Harkness experience and Rose would have done anything to have it be her instead of the redhead.
There was no doubt where this was going. Rose had followed Jack and his dates down to the tennis courts too many times for there to be any doubt as to what the pair would be up to tonight. With no more reason to spy on the party, Rose jumped down from her tree and almost landed on Jack.
"Sorry," she murmured, looking at him but not quite catching his eye.
"Oh, hello, Rose," he said, giving her a half grin. "I thought I heard someone there." Without another word, he turned away from her.
"No," she said softly so no one would hear her... "Nobody's here. It's just me." Defeated, Rose headed off in the direction of the garage. If she only would have turned around she would have noticed that John's penetrating gaze was fixated on her. The deep brown eyes of the eldest brother had been aware of her every movement since she climbed up that tree half an hour ago. There wasn't a single party in the past ten years that he couldn't recall seeing her in that perch. He made a hesitant step forward to go after her but was stopped by a member of his board of directors.
Rose ran across the lawn and quietly slipped into the suite of rooms she shared with her widower father, Pete. When she was three, her mother and father had taken jobs with at the estate. Her mother, Jackie, had been the head cook and the family had been given the rooms above the garage to live in. Rose's early childhood had been very happy. Both her parents had encouraged her to spend her free time doing things that she enjoyed.
Frequently she could have been found in the main house. Donna sometimes sat with her. Rose would draw and Donna would tell her all sorts of stories. Knowing that Rose enjoyed reading, John had granted her access to his private library. He always seemed skittish around her, like she was some sort of wild animal that would spook easily. Some of the time Rose thought John didn't like her. Yet almost every time he came back from a trip he would bring her back a trinket. Sometimes it was a book or a new set of paints.
There was one childhood memory that stuck out prominently in her mind, more than all the others. Rose had been eight and Jack was fourteen, nearly fifteen. His mother had insisted on him taking dance lessons and Rose had been homework. One rainy Saturday afternoon, Jack had spent hours practicing his moves and trodding all over her feet. That was the day she fell in love with him. Part of her knew it was crazy, they were just kids and he was virtually seven years older than her.
But like all good things, Rose's happy childhood came crashing to an end. Tragedy had struck when Rose was fifteen; her mum died of an aneurysm. That morning Jackie had appeared to be perfectly fine and a few hours later she had been found lying on the floor of the kitchen. It was too late by the time help arrived.
John and Donna, who were twenty-seven at the time, had rushed to help comfort Pete and Rose. The Harkness' had taken care of the funeral arrangements themselves. Jackie had been cremated and her ashes scattered under her favorite tree on the grounds. Jack had been in Australia when it had happened. He hadn't even called home to learn about the tragedy until almost a month later.
Three years after that, the private plane carrying Sylvia and Geoffrey Harkness crashed off the coast of South Africa. It had then been Rose's turn to comfort the family. That had been four years ago. Rose had hoped that the shared grief of losing a parent might help her and Jack grow closer. Instead, it made Jack run further into a life of parties and fickle partners. Rose had turned inward, closing herself off to the outside world.
"Dad, are you home?" Rose called out.
"In here, Sweetheart," Pete called from the small sitting room. "Where've you been, then?"
Rose averted her eyes. "Nowhere. Just larking about."
"Please tell me you weren't up that blasted tree, watching the party again," Pete said in exasperation.
"I love watching the dancing. You know, imagining I was one of the people there." A deep blush grew on her face.
Carefully, Pete stood and face his daughter, partially hating himself for what he was about to say to her. "Sweetheart, Jack Harkness will never go after the chauffeur's daughter. Not that there is anything wrong with you, because you are very special. But cads like him are only after flash, flesh and money, not the kind substance that you possess." Pete clenched and unclenched his fists several times. "When it comes to men like him, it's best to remember, there's a front seat and a back seat."
"And a window in between," they finished together.
"I'm sorry, Dad. Deep down, I think I know that. I just can't help how I feel." Rose grimaced and walked across the room to where her father was standing. "It's just that this is the last party that I'll be able to go to before I leave for Paris in the morning. And when I get back, I'll probably be working for them." She tried hard to bite back the resignation in her voice.
"Oh, love, you don't have to become a cook just because your mother was. Your mum and I were incredibly happy and I want you to be as well. You can be anything that you want, anything at all." Pete wrapped his girl in a hug. "Just don't set your aim squarely on that bleeding man." He sighed and squeezed her tightly. "It's good that you're getting away from here. I just hope Paris is far enough to find your place in life."
She scoffed. "I'm not destined for more than this life, Dad. I'll probably just live here the rest of my life. Maybe marry one of the blokes from the village. They're probably the only ones who'll have me." She sniffled. "That mechanic Mickey's been asking me out for ages… Since Jack doesn't even know I'm alive. I know it's pathetic but I just can't help it, I love him."
"He doesn't deserve you, love. Hopefully Paris will help you see that there is more to life than Jack Harkness."
"Probably not though. I just can't see a life without him in it." Rose gave her dad a watery smile.
Pete was saddened by his daughter's lack of determination. She had been such a feisty child. Jackie would have known what to say, what to do. Instead Pete just patted her back and hoped that his daughter would find that drive that she had lost.
A few years back, Rose had attended an art school in London. She had always been a gifted painter and had gotten into a prestigious school in London. Every morning for almost a year she had rode with him as he drove John and Donna into the office. Occasionally Donna or John had invited her to sit in the back with them when one or the other wasn't in the car.
Pete had been sure that things were going well; Rose had even been invited to put one of her pieces in a highbrow Art Show. Her piece, a beautiful landscape of the Harkness estate, had sold rather quickly and for more than what they had been asking. One day, however, Rose had stopped going into London, stopped going to the art school and had simply busied herself helping around the estate.
Three months ago, she had announced that she was going to culinary school and wanted, eventually, to be the estate cook. It would be an intensive four month course.
Four months in Paris, a brief period of excitement before a lifetime of waiting on others. It wasn't what he wanted for her. He wanted her to dream bigger than that. More than anything, he wanted her to get over her crush on Jack Harkness and finally start living a life just for her.
A few moments later Rose pulled back. "I'd best get to bed. Early day tomorrow, the train leaves at eight."
"Yeah, best get your sleep then." Pete gave her a small smile. "Goodnight, my Rose."