Disclaimer: I don't own Persuasion & Disney's Sleeping Beauty. I own Blake Willoughby , although I still don't know what I'll do with him. Cassie too.
She walked slowly through the church's mahogany double doors. She stopped here and there to fix the otherwise already perfect floral arrangements decorating the benches along the aisle. She picked up a stray ribbon from the floor. She inspected the altar. She checked her notepad one more time. She was the wedding planner. She would make sure this wedding was going to be the wedding of the year that everyone would talk about for the next twelve months or until she arranged another perfect wedding. She wouldn't let a trivial thing to destroy her work, not even her own heart being broken.
What is my heart got to do with this? I'm the wedding planner. This is just another job. Another day at the office. I can do this. This is just like the other weddings I did for the last three years. Not counting the ones I did when I was just an assistant for the notorious Blake Willoughby, the greatest wedding planner in New York, ever, according to his own words. Hmm, I wonder how Blake is now.
She chuckled, remembering her former boss' antics. She realized moments later that it was the first time she smiled. A truly genuine smile, for the last three weeks. She wasn't aware that three pairs of eyes were watching from the balcony. She took a last look at the room, and finding it as close to perfection as it could be, she left.
"What do you know? I didn't expect to see her smile like that at times like these," one of the three ladies in the balcony said with a huff. She waved around her blue handkerchief, knocking everything in the way. "Now, now, my dear. Give her a break," her friend said, while retrieving her green handbag from the floor. "Just because the love of her life is going to marry someone else it doesn't mean she has to cry every minute of the day. Life does go on, you know."
"Yeah, but…" she was cut short by the third lady who grabbed their hands. The ruby on her ring glistened. "Let's go. We have no moment to lose. We must act quickly, before it's all too late," she said in a hurried tone. And in a blink of an eye they disappeared.
She was watching her reflection in the mirror. Not bad. Those hours of workout helped me to stay in shape. If only my little sister did come with me to exercise instead of just paying the gym's membership fee every year while complaining about her weight.
The little black dress was like her uniform to attend a client's wedding. The sabrina gown didn't show any cleavage. She still emitted a business-like appearance but also elegance, or so she hoped. That's why she had several identical dresses in her wardrobe.
After tying her brunette hair into a bun, she picked up her lucky charm. A golden brooch she always wore to a client's wedding. Her hand stopped in mid air. She remembered who gave it to her on their three months anniversary. The future husband of her client.
Should I wear this? Will he see it? Does he remember? What if he thought I wore it only to mock him? God, I miss him.
She fought so hard to hold in her tears that she didn't notice the people who suddenly crowded her dressing room slash base camp. She always had a room spared as control center. How else she's going to manage her assistants and everything else concerning the event? As the wedding was not going to start in a few hours, the others were still outside, busy with whatever they had to do. She also put a do-not-disturb sign on the door handle. She needed some time alone.
That's why nobody else was around when the three ladies mentioned before just appeared out of thin air. She gasped when someone touched her arm, saying, "Dear child, please don't cry. We're here to help you." She looked around and saw three elderly women. The one who touched her hand was wearing a pink dress with matching handbag and shoes. On her finger was a ring with beautiful ruby. The other two ladies were wearing identical dresses but for the colors. One was all in green while the other one wore blue.
"Who… who are you? How did you get here?" she asked as she glanced at the door. Still closed. I was so consumed with my grief that I didn't hear them came. "Are you friends or family of the bride and groom? Their dressing rooms are in the other wing of this building," she said as she tried to regain her composure. Her hand was still clutching the aforementioned brooch.
"Now, now, child. We're here to help you, Anne. We're your friends," said the green lady. She sit on one of the chairs in the room.
"My friends? But I don't know you." Anne just stood there with her mouth agape. Imagine if a client had seen her like that.
"Just because you haven't met us before it doesn't mean we're not your friends, silly," said the blue lady. She plopped down in a sofa.
Anne had enough. They barged in into her dressing room slash base camp uninvited, claiming themselves friends while she had never set a sight on any of them, and called her "silly?" If she was anything like her older sister, she would have called the security guards and had them escorted out of there.
But she wasn't her sister. So she put her hands on her hips. "I'm sorry ladies, but you have the wrong person. I must ask you to step out. This is a private room and I have a wedding to organize."
The pink lady looked up to Anne from the seating arrangement she was reading. "No, we're quite sure we have the right person. You're Anne Elliot, age 27, the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch, England. You came to New York eight years ago after your break up with a young actor who is now going to marry your sister's sister-in-law whose wedding you're handling. Right?"
Anne was startled for the second time that day. "How… how did you know? No one was supposed to know about him. Are you friends of my step mother? Is she the one who sent you here?"
"No, no. We're not sent by the former Lady Russel. Or by any body else. We're here because we want to help you, Anne," said the pink lady. She guided Anne to a chair. The green lady asked her, "Do you want some tea, dear? I think you need it." Without waiting for a reply she pulled out a wand out of nowhere and started swishing it in front of her. A small table appeared in the middle of the room and on it were a pot of tea, four cups, sugar, milk and small cakes.
Anne gasped to see them. She looked around her, expecting a pink elephant to show up. Maybe followed by green and blue elephants as well. She had not been drinking, so she was sure she's not drunk. But then who were these people? Her imagination?
The pink lady took a cup of tea. She put in a cube of sugar, no milk, just like what Anne always had, and offered it to her. The young woman accepted it. She was speechless.
"Let us introduce ourselves. My name is Flora. That's my sister Fauna," the pink lady said as the green lady nodded her head. "And this is Merryweather," she said, nodding to the blue lady. The one mentioned was struggling to get up from the sofa. Afterwards she sauntered over to the table and helped herself to some cakes. "You always make wonderful cakes, Fauna. I've never been able to do it myself," she talked with her mouth full, Anne didn't understand her first. But it was clear Fauna understood, because between sips of tea she answered, "That's because you were only thinking of eating them, my dear. Not making them."
Anne finally found her voice. "Are you witches?" "What? Good heavens no," it was Flora's turn to be shocked. "We're not witches. We're what you call fairy godmothers."
"But I thought fairy godmothers only exists in story books."
"Well, life is a lot like story books. Never mind that. We're here now to help you. That's what is important," Flora continued. Anne shook her head in disbelief. "How are you going to help me?"
Merryweather, dusting crumbs from her skirt, asked, "You still love that boy, don't you? Eric Wentworth? Don't you wish things turned up differently?"
"Yes, of course I do. But he's going to marry Lisa Musgrove. He wouldn't marry her if he didn't love her," Anne anwered with a twinge of desperation in her voice. Fauna spoke, "Have you asked him? Whether or not he still loves you and why he's going to marry this Musgrove girl?"
Anne couldn't believe her ears. Didn't they hear what I've just said? Eric is going to marry Lisa. It means he loves her and he doesn't love me anymore.
Flora sit next to Anne and put her arm around the girl's shoulders. "Come, come. Don't be gloom like that. We must do something but it must be before the vows are said. The vows of matrimony are very powerful. We can't undo them. Only the people who said them can break them."
"So how are you going to help me? They're going to get married in the next," she glanced at her wrist watch, "three hours. Oh my God, my client's getting married in three hours and I just sit here drinking tea. I must go." She rose from her chair only to be pulled back down by Flora. She was stronger than Anne had thought.
"No, you're not going anywhere," she said in a voice that reminded Anne of her step mother when she ordered the servants around.
Fauna put down her cup and said in a gentle voice, "Anne, you must understand. We're here to help you. We can't do that if you're walking around outside, organizing a wedding."
Anne just sit there dejectedly. She might not like this particular job, but she promised Mrs. Musgrove that she would manage her daughter's wedding. These three weird but funny ladies kept her here, talking about helping her, but how? Anne was growing restless.
Finally Flora spoke to her, "Listen Anne, we're going to send you back in time. To six months ago before you first met Eric again after seven years and a half."
"What do you mean going back to six months ago? Do you want me to speak to Eric? He wouldn't even look at me that time. Let alone talk to me," Anne said, remembering her few meetings with him. "Why don't you send me to eight years ago? So I wouldn't break up with him in the first place?"
The three sighed. Anne was not sure, but was it embarrassment she saw on their faces?
Flora cleared her throat. "Our powers are not that strong to send you back that far. Time is not something you can take lightly. Even with the combined power of the three of us, we can only send you back to six months ago," she admitted. "But that's enough, right?" Merryweather asked. "You can change his mind and make things right."
"But how?" Anne was desperate for an answer. But they just stared back at her with compassion in their eyes. "You'll find a way," Fauna tried to convince her.
"So, are you ready?" Flora rose from her chair. "Remember dear, you only have time until midnight," Fauna told her sweetly.
What? Midnight? What is this? A Cinderella story? Anne was confused, but they didn't give her a chance to ask anymore questions. They stood around her, each holding a wand, pointed at her. She felt her body spinning around so fast, the sight of her dressing room went into a blur.
She opened her eyes only to find that she was in a garden. The garden of Kellynch Hall, to be exact. Her beloved home. It was night time. She's standing not far from the fountain in the middle of the garden. She checked her watch. It looked like the fairy godmothers had put some magic into it also since now it showed eleven o'clock. How thoughtful of them to give her a reminder. So she had an hour to find and convince Eric. What a joke.
This was six months ago, but when was it exactly? Anne was wondering what her next move to be when a figure came towards her. Well, actually towards the fountain for she's concealed behind a tree and a rose bush.
Could it be? Is it he? She was holding her breath waiting for the figure to come under the light. Those shoulders. The way he walked. They were all Eric Wentworth's.
Finally the light from a garden lamp reached his face. It illuminated his features. It was him. The love of her life.
He sat on the garden bench overlooking the fountain. He was clearly deep in thought. He finally let out an exasperated sigh. He looked up to the sky and she could hear him said, "What an irony. What do you think, Anne?"
She was startled to hear him called her name. Did he know she's there? But she calmed down when he saw him still looking at the stars. He must be talking to an imaginary Anne.
"Who would have known seven years ago that your father would go bankrupt? That he would lease out his estates? And to top it off, it is my brother-in-law who rents this place?" He stared at the fountain. Anne remembered it was their favorite place. It was also the place where he kissed her for the first time. Ah, memories.
"Who would have known that my films would be international hits? Me, the striving actor, now a Hollywood star?" he was still speaking to himself.
I did! Anne screamed in her head. I knew you would be successful someday. I've already known what a great actor you were. It was only a matter of time that you would be a star.
He continued, "And to see you again tomorrow at dinner. Aargh, I can't believe this."
A light bulb went on in Anne's head. So this is the night before their first meeting in seven years and a half. He has not met me yet, she thought. Now how am I going to talk to him?
Eric's head was bent. She looked at him longingly. Suddenly she felt the urge to pull him into her arms and hold him.
She was contemplating what to say to him when she accidentally stepped on some dry leaves. They made crunching sounds. He lifted his head then rose.
"Who is it? Show me your face!" he demanded into the darkness beyond. "I saw you. You're behind that tree. Let me see you!"
Anne didn't have much choice. She slowly stepped forward. She heard his shocked voice, "Anne! What are you doing here?" She couldn't look him in the eyes. She just stood there awkwardly.
"I… I thought you… Sophy told me at dinner that you're organizing that singer's wedding?"
Anne remembered, it was Jane Smith's wedding. The famous opera singer who happened to be her high school friend. It was so romantic. With white and pink roses, candles, music, and most of all the moonlight. The headache lasted a week but the coverage of the event lasted a few months. It was worth it. Not to mention helping a friend.
"Yes I was." She couldn't think of anything else to say.
"So the party's over, eh?" he asked.
"Umm, no. The wedding party will last until way past midnight," she answered.
"What do you mean? You're running away from your job?" he squinted his eyes at her.
"Well, sort of," she thought that's the truth. But the job she's running away from was his wedding with Lisa, not Jane Smith's.
"Really? Anne Elliot running away from her responsibilities? Why doesn't it surprise me?" he said with a smirk on his lips.
She was furious. To be accused of running away from her responsibilities! How dare he to say those things!
"What do you mean?"
"You made a promise to me then you broke it. I call that irresponsible, don't you think?" he asked with his eyes still intent on her.
She blushed when the realization hit her. Of course. He was the victim of her past actions and he suffered from it. No wonder he still had his grudge. But it was better than being ignored.
She struggled to find words. What could she say to convince him?
"I'm sorry," she finally said.
Eric was shocked. He didn't expect her to give up that easily.
She thought, it's now or never. "I'm sorry that I broke up with you. I'm sorry that I hurt you. I'm sorry that I hurt myself. I'm sorry not to be with you."
His mouth was ajar. She's worried that a bug might fly into it.
"Eric!" The call brought his mind back to reality.
"Huh? What did you say?" he asked her.
"I said I'm sorry I broke up with you. Not a day went by without my regretting it. I loved you, I still love you, and I will love you always," she said with determination in her voice. Corny, maybe. But that's what she felt.
That speech was not easy to recover from. He stumbled back to the bench.
Anne just stood there, afraid that if she had said anything more she would have cried.
"How should I know that's the truth? That you're real? What if I woke up tomorrow morning to find out that this was only a dream? Like what happened many times before?" he asked, his eyes pleading to her.
Her heart ached. So he dreamt about her? That's a good sign. How could she convince him?
She sit down next to him. Her body moved on its own free will. Before she knew it she was kissing him. He was stunned. But it didn't take long until he kissed her back. When their lips seperated she whispered in his ear, "There, weren't I real? Could you have imagined it?"
His hands were on her hair, releasing them from the ribbon that tied her bun. Her hair fell to her shoulders, framing her face. His hand caressed the silky soft strands while his other hand tilted her face to his.
"No, I couldn't have imagined this," he said in a low voice. "This is much better than dreams." His breath felt warm on her face. She could smell his after shave. He still used the same one from eight years ago, she thought. Oops, wrong. Seven years and a half.
That reminded her. She's here on a mission. How to tell him?
"Eric, I must tell you something," she said gently.
"What?" he wasn't really paying attention. He was busy planting kisses on her neck.
She pulled away from him. She must have his full attention. And she did.
"Eric, I must tell you something," she repeated. "I'm actually from the future," she couldn't continue her sentence because Eric was groaning loudly. His hands were on his head.
"What's wrong, Eric?" she asked, her voice filled with concern.
"You. You are. One moment you told me that you're not a dream, the next moment you said you were," he answered, a slight desperation in his voice.
"I never said I was a dream. I told you I 'm from the future and that's the truth. The Anne of this time is at Jane Smith's wedding. I'm the Anne from six months from now," she said in one breath. She was anxious of his response.
"This is the weirdest dream I've ever had," he said, moving his hand through his hair.
"No, Eric. This is the truth. I'm from the future. Tomorrow you will meet Anne of this time and she won't have any memories of this. But the feelings I have are the same as hers. In my past you ignored me. I thought it was because you no longer loved me. But I realize now that it was because you were angry. Please, I beg you, don't do that again. You will put us both in misery for the rest of our lives. Tomorrow you must talk to her. Find out what her feelings are. I assure you, they're just like seven years and a half ago." She paused to take a breath.
She watched him. His eyes showed mixed emotions. Confusion, bewilderment and, did she dare to say it, hope.
She thought she must do something to prove her words. But what? She's only from six months to the future, not a millennium, so she couldn't show him a flying car or tell him England would win the world cup finals. Anne raked her brain for something. Anything. That morning she didn't read the papers or do anything with much focus. She was tired because of Jane Smith's wedding and she's also anxious about her meeting with Eric. Suddenly she remembered the conversations at dinner.
"Your agent will call you tomorrow morning, telling you about an offer to do a movie with Clint Eastwood about World War II," she told him with a smug smile on her face. "And Sophy will announce her pregnancy at dinner. I couldn't have known it tonight because she will do the test tomorrow, after she faints in a grocery store."
He looked at her in disbelief.
She shrugged her shoulders. She did what she could. The rest of it depended on him. Love is about two people, right? She couldn't do everything alone.
She looked at her watch. Five minutes to midnight. When she put her hand back to her lap she noticed something in her pocket. That's the wonderful thing about that dress. It had concealed pockets so she could put in her Blackberry, pins for emergency, and most of all candies. She would eat them whenever she was nervous.
Earlier that night she had slipped her brooch into one of the pockets. She pulled it out and showed it to Eric. "Remember this?"
He apparently remembered. His eyes lit up as he said, "I gave it to you."
"Yes, for our three months anniversary. I still keep it with me. It's my good luck charm. I want you to have it, as a reminder that tonight is not just a dream," she said as she put the brooch in his hand.
She knew her time was running out, so she kissed him goodbye. And he kissed her back. She closed her eyes, savoring every moment. Suddenly the world was spinning around her just like before. She felt Eric fading away. When she opened her eyes again, she was at her dressing room. The three fairy godmothers were still there.
"So, how did it go?" Flora was the first to ask.
Anne just shrugged her shoulders. "I met him. I talked to him. I don't know whether I was able to convince him."
Suddenly it struck her. "I'm still here. Still organizing his wedding to someone else. So it means he doesn't love me?" Her heart ached. To think that she was given the chance to have her love back but she failed. She felt the tears warm on her cheek. Everything was a blur.
Fauna came to her. "Now, now my poor little dear. Come and sit with me." She was guiding Anne to the sofa. Flora and Merryweather also tried to sooth her. But she was overwhelmed by what happened. The hard work preparing the wedding started to take its toll. She felt exhausted. She just wanted some rest. She slept to the lullabies sang by the three fairy godmothers.
Knok. Knock. Knock.
She woke up with a start. Someone's knocking at the door. Where's Flora? And Fauna? And Merryweather?
She found that she's sleeping on the sofa. A soft pillow under her head and a blanket over her body.
Knok. Knock. Knock. That knocking sound again. "Yes?" she answered.
"Anne? Is that you? What are you doing inside? It's your big day. We have so much to do," the voice of her assistant, Cassie, heard from behind the door.
Anne jumped up from the sofa. Now was not the time to cry regretting past mistakes. She's not going to let someone call her irresponsible, let alone an ex-boyfriend. She glanced at her watch. The wedding's still in another three hours. Not a minute less. She couldn't believe her eyes. So all that was just a dream? A horrible nightmare during the day?
She opened the door to the anxious Cassie. She grabbed her arm, dragging her along the corridor. "Hey, what's this, Cass? What happened? The kitchen help spilled the soup? The florist ran out of flowers? What?"
Cassie stopped and stared at her in disbelief. "I thought you trusted me to be the wedding planner. Please don't second guess me today."
It was Anne's turn to stare. "What do you mean?" When did she pass the job to her assistant? Sure, she had issues regarding the groom, but she was a pro. She was confident she could handle it.
"I mean look at you. Worrying about the soup while you're not dressed yet. And your make-up. Oh God. Please Anne. Remember that this is your big day," Cassie continued, her hand still holding her boss' arm.
Anne followed but she checked herself in the nearest mirror. She's wearing her sabrina gown as usual. Her make-up, well, because she had been sleeping it was a little ruined. But nothing major. Why is Cassie so anxious?
They stopped in front of a wooden door. Anne recognized it as the bride's dressing room. "What are we doing here? I can change and do my make-up at my own dressing room," she told Cassie.
The other girl didn't say anything. She just opened the door and literally pushed Anne in. Inside was her friend Jane Smith who flew across the room to hug her. "Congratulations Honey. I knew everything would turn out right."
Anne was speechless. She didn't know how to response. Suddenly Mary, her little sister, entered. "Anne! You're not dressed yet? Stop running around. Cassie is the wedding planner today." She told Anne to change into a beautiful white silk gown. The fabric felt so soft and it fit perfectly. It complemented her figure. When did I buy this?
Anne, still didn't understand a thing, just obeyed. She sit still when Mary cleaned the old make-up and put on new ones. She also did Anne's hair. Mary did know what she was doing. No wonder her beauty salon was successful. All the while Jane Smith was hovering about her, telling them that it would be the most beautiful wedding ever.
When they were almost finished, someone knocked on the door. In came Sophy Croft, Eric's sister. Her big round belly didn't slow her down as she walked towards Anne. She kissed her cheeks, careful not to ruin the make-up. Mary was watching, ready with her brush and blush-on.
Sophy pulled out a small box then gave it to Anne. "Eric wants you to have these," she whispered to Anne. The girl opened it to reveal a pair of beautiful pearl earrings. "This is your wedding day and you look just amazing," Sophy said as she helped Anne put on the earrings.
Then memories came rushing into her head. The night she met Eric at dinner in Kellynch six months ago, the way he approached her to confirm her feelings, his assurances of his feelings towards her, the proposal of marriage, the engagement. So she didn't fail after all. She had changed the future.
She couldn't erase the smile on her face. She felt like a lunatic, smiling for no apparent reaseon. But nobody seemed to mind. This is her wedding day. She could smile all she wanted.
When she met her father at the small foyer, he just murmured congratulations. She didn't mind. He was there to walk her down the aisle. That's enough.
One of the bridesmaids was Lisa Musgrove. Anne's smile disappeared for a moment. But it returned after the younger girl hugged her and told her best wishes and she started to talk about her plans for a wedding with Jamie Benwick. Apparently Anne was going to be the wedding planner.
The music started and the bridesmaids started their walk one by one. Finally it was Anne's turn. She was able to see the groom for the first time. It was Eric, looking handsome in his suit. He was nervous but when he saw Anne, his smile was radiating.
Almost every woman in the room took out a handkerchief to dab moist eyes, including the three ladies in the balcony, wearing pink, green and blue.
What happened after dinner six months ago:
Eric told Anne about his encounter with the girl from the future. He woke up that morning thinking it was all a dream but then he found the golden brooch in his hand. And all that she had said really did happen so he believed her.
When Eric showed Anne the brooch and she took out the one in her possession, the brooch in Eric's hand disappeared. That's why in the end there was only one brooch.
*Words in italics are Anne's thoughts.
A/N: I think six months is awfully short to know a person & get married, but I tried not to differ too much from Persuasion's timeline (this from someone who brought fairy godmothers to the story). I didn't write about the accident with Lisa but I presume you know it already. I changed the names but you know who's who, right? Please review. I really appreciate it. Thank you.