Happily Ever After

Kneazle

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Disclaimer: I do not own characters, places, or names associated with Harry Potter. They belong to JK Rowling, Scholastics and Warner Bros. Based slightly after the Care Bear's Nutcracker Christmas Suite.

Plot Keyword(s): Slight AU; Fairy Tale

Central Character(s): Hermione Granger, Harry Potter

Summary: Hermione is caught in an alternate universe where Harry Potter is a Prince and Voldemort is the evil Vizier that has taken over Harry's world – it's up to Hermione to save the day and rescue him!


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CHAPTER ONE

            Hermione Granger had a splitting headache. She had been studying in the library when she had realized that it was past curfew. She placed the books that she had taken from the shelves back on their appropriate places, reading the titles over as she did so.

Hans Christian Fairy Tales… Mother Goose Grim… Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves… Rapunzel… Cinderella…

Sighing, Hermione fondly ran a finger over the last title, smiling slightly. Childhood dreams. What was that quote again? Ah, yes… "The universe is made of stories, not atoms."

How true that rang for her very life – a life filled with knowledge and facts that she recited from her memory; and a life filled with dreams and hopes and goals from a time long forgotten where princes and princesses reigned, where dragons and fairy tales were all that she cared about.

Hermione wasn't a little girl anymore. She was a seventeen-year-old witch who spent nine months of a year at Hogwarts studying to become a qualified witch under the tutelage of Masters. She was a brilliant student with a reputation of being a "goody-goody", only dealing with facts and never fiction.

And yet here she was in the library at two in the morning, reading fairy tales. Will the wonders never cease?

"It's not like anything will come of it," she whispered in the dark, moving slowly in the shadows towards the library's door. "Dreams and hopes are for those who live in the clouds and in their imagination. Not for someone like me."

Not having the Marauder's Map, or Harry's invisibility cloak, Hermione made her way gingerly around Mrs. Norris, Filch, and Professor Snape as she managed her way back towards the Gryffindor Tower.

            The Muggleborn witch crouched low behind a statue of Humphrey the Horrid, her breathing slightly ragged as she had just out-run Mrs. Norris for a second time in the past ten minutes.

            "Damn cat – shouldn't be allowed in the school," muttered the mahogany-haired teen, as her cinnamon eyes darted back and forth along the shadows to look for tall-tale signs of intruders.

            Finding none, she darted forward quickly, glancing backwards and forwards before finding the picture of the Fat Lady.

            "Pop tarts! Pop tarts! Pop tarts!" she shouted, as the portrait flung open. She darted inside, landing on her side as she glanced at the now closed portrait. Sighing, she laid her head down, rubbing her cheek against the soft, downy red of the Gryffindor Common Room. She had never been so happy as to feel its fabric before.

            Sighing in bliss, she slowly stood, running her hand lovingly through the carpet before gathering her books that she didn't place back on the shelves in her arms, which were teetering uncertainly, as she began up the winding stairs to the girl's dorms.

            She had barely made it half way up when two of her top books began to slide around and teeter on the edge of the third.

            "Oh… oh no!" the seventeen year old groaned, as the books began to fall. Completely forgetting that she was a witch, Hermione resorted to Muggle tactics. Twisting her weight, she shifted to try to catch them, but only succeeded in losing her balance.

            With a muffled shriek, the teen fell backwards, her back landing painfully on a couple steps before her head snapped back, and then forward as she rolled. Her shoulder hit the stone wall as her body turned under Earth's gravity, and then bounced the rest of the way down, landing with a painful thud on the red carpet floor, blood beginning to soak in it, underneath her hair.

            "Ooo," moaned Hermione once, then twice as stars and lights appeared around her head, only to finally lose all sense of consciousness.

--//\\--

            When Hermione came to, she only felt the throbbing pain in tune with her heartbeat as it hit sensitive nerves behind her eyes. Her tailbone, neck, legs and right shoulder were all sore, as well, and the sticky feeling that attached itself to Hermione's head didn't do anything to lessen her worries.

            What had happened again? Oh yes – she had lost her balance like any normal Muggle and forgot that she could levitate her books to her room. Yes, ladies and gents, Hermione Granger was officially an idiot.

            Fluttering her eyes open slowly, Hermione first noticed the sunlight. It was far too high in the air to be before classes. The second thing Hermione noticed was the silence. No matter what time of the day, there was always some noise in the Gryffindor Common Room. Was there a Quidditch Match against Slytherin? That was the only exception.

            Slowly, Hermione dragged her feet from their rut on the stairs, and slipped them beside her before she slowly stood. Stumbling slightly, her brown eyes surveyed the Common Room.

            There weren't any couples snogging – no Trevor croaking that he was lost – no, well, nothing. It was dead.

            Or so she thought.

            It was the loud bump from above her that alerted Hermione of another presence in the Gryffindor Tower beside herself. She knew that above the common room was the Seventh Year Boy's Dorm, so Hermione hoped that it was either Harry or Ron that were in there.

            Moving towards the stairs, she forced her mind to think of her aches and pains and check if everything else was fine and not bruised. It wasn't until she reached the stairs and had started a few steps up when she noticed something was different.

            Very different.

            Turning, with a gaping mouth, Hermione surveyed the Common Room for the first time. Instead of the normal tables and couches and armchairs, there were only two couches, a roaring fire in the hearth, small side tables, and a very open space between the two couches. Bookshelves lined the walls instead of portraits of earlier Gryffindors, and there was no Girl's Staircase leading to their dorms – instead the stairs wound down, towards the lower levels of the Gryffindor Tower (those of which Hermione had never seen before in her life).

            "Okay, I think that fall hit me harder than I thought," she whispered, before turning and making her way up the stairs, determined to speak to whomever was up there.

            The stairs went round and round until Hermione finally reached the top. There weren't any other doors for the younger years, just one solid oak door at the very top. Windows lined the passageway up, though, and when Hermione looked out of them, she saw lush forest and green fields – but no Quidditch stands or greenhouses or the lake. Confused, she began to stare at the door.

            It was simple oak, of a deep colour, but what was strange were the heavy iron handles and hinges that held the door in place. Above the door, engraved on the stone arch read: Here resides the Prince of Leonis, kept in the tower till the end of time

            "Well," chuckled Hermione quietly, "I never knew the boys had a flair for dramatics."

            She raised an eyebrow before whipping her wand out from her sleeve and pointing it at the heavy iron handle. "Alohomora!"

            The door swung open silently, and Hermione stepped into the room with an air of confidence. It did, however, slam shut behind her.

            She looked confused for a couple of seconds before shrugging, and turning back to face in interior of the room when she felt two hands around her neck, pressing tightly against her wind pipe, and cutting her air supply off.

            "Another assassin sent to kill me? How very unoriginal of the Vizier," the male voice spoke, as Hermione's eyes fogged over as she tried very hard to breath.

            "Look," she rasped, "I don't know what you're – you're going on about. Could you – you please let go of me so we can s-sit down and talk this out like – like civilized p-people?"

            The hands did not remove from her neck, but they did loosen enough for Hermione to breath. She felt the cold stones press up against her back, seeping into her skin as she shivered.

            Looking up, Hermione nearly rolled her eyes. Emerald green bore into her chocolate eyes, barely inches from her face.

            "Harry, kindly remove your hands from my neck. I'm in no mood to play your silly 'Let's practice defense moves so we can kick Death Eater ass' today. Why don't you and Ron do this to Seamus or Dean instead of me for a change?" she asked, sighing as she rolled her shoulders slightly to remove the kinks.

            The two black eyebrows drew together to form an angry V. "Don't you dare call me Harry, wench – you have no permission to do so! To you, I am Prince Harry!"

            Hermione pushed down the urge to snort. "Wow, all that Colin and Dennis Creevey worshipping has really left you with a big ego. Okay, I'll play your game for now, Prince Harry."

            The hands left Hermione's neck, withdrawing to hang at the teenager's sides. Taking a step back, Harry glanced at Hermione from head to toe.

            "Good God, woman, what in heaven's name are you wearing?" he demanded.

            Hermione started. "Clothes, Harry. God, what bit you in the ass this morning? Did you have another Voldemort nightmare or did Snape give you a detention?"

            Harry growled and took a menacing step forward, giving Hermione the chance to finally look him over. He wore richly coloured clothes: a forest green button-down tunic to match his eyes; brown pants; and an overcoat of blood red with long sleeves that tapered off in a peasant style. His eyes were framed by small glasses that were oval-shaped and made out of some form of metal that Hermione wasn't familiar with.

            All in all, this "Prince" Harry looked nothing like her best friend.

            "What the hell are you wearing?" she blurted. "And what are you doing locked up in here? Don't you have your wand? Where's Ron, or the other Gryffindors? Did something happen that made you stay up here? Was it Snuffles? Or Dumbledore?"

            Harry took another step forward, bringing his hand out and pointing it at Hermione to accentuate his words. "Madam, I have no idea who you are, or what you're babbling on about, but I am warning you – my name is Prince Harry and I deserve to be called as such!"

            Hermione was floored. "What do you mean, Prince Harry? You're my best friend! You have been with Ron Weasley since we were eleven and met on the train to Hogwarts!"

            Harry frowned. "What is this 'Hogwarts' that you speak of? And you – a commoner – my best friend, you say? My best friend is my squire, Ronald."

            "Ron, see?" Hermione cried. She then frowned, "I don't think he'll like being called a squire. You know he gets jealous of you and your fame easily enough."

            Harry's frown deepened. "Woman, what are you speaking of?"

            "Woman, woman, woman!" cried out Hermione, throwing her arms in the air. "I have a name, Harry, and it's Hermione. Can you at least remember that, and stop being such a prat and listen to me?"

            "I would much rather face the Vizier than listen to your shrill voice continue on like this," he snarled, before setting his hands on his hips. "At least the Vizier is gracious enough to spare small talk and get on with the torture he has planned for me."

            "Vizier? Vizier who? Do you mean You-Know-Who? Voldemort?" questioned Hermione. "And why are you speaking like something out of a history novel? What's going on, Har—"

            Harry stepped forward, his hand covering Hermione's mouth as his eyes darted towards the door. Faint footsteps could be heard tapping alongside the stone steps, getting louder as they came closer to the door.

            "Hide, wench!" Harry hissed, pushing Hermione towards a bed and couch. "Find somewhere to hide!"

            Hermione, confused more than ever, did as Harry said and ducked behind the couch, holding her breath as she heard a key being inserted into a lock. A click told her that whomever was behind that door could easily get in and out.

            Peeking from behind the couch, Hermione observed Harry. He didn't seem like there was a spell on him – but he was hardly the best friend she had met so many years ago. Having just seen Harry yesterday for dinner made Hermione wonder what had happened while she was in the library.

            The door swung open, and in stepped Lucius Malfoy, grinning evilly and thoroughly enjoying Harry shift his weight to reveal his discomfort. This, however, was not the Lucius Malfoy of her memory. This Lucius wore gold trimmed black pants, with a notched deep red shirt with the cuffs open. They were rolled up to his elbows, and he wore one black leather glove with a wide cuff on his right hand – something that Hermione thought only theatrical pirates wore. His other hand was adorned with two silver rings (large and plain). His blond-silver hair was pulled back into a ponytail with a black ribbon tied around it to keep it in place. He did, though, wear his trademark sneer and had the steely gray-blue eyes.

            "Well, well, if it isn't the little Prince," he sneered. "Where's your Leonis courage now? Has it deserted you like you deserted your people?"

            Hermione's head reeled. What the hell was Malfoy going on about? She shook her head and forced herself to listen to the rest of the conversation.

            "My courage never falters," said Harry stubbornly. "It's always there."

            "How very Gryffindor of you," answered Lucius in disgust. "It seems your ancestors left you with a gift that would be of no use."

            Harry shrugged. "That has yet to be determined."

            Lucius swaggered slightly before giving Harry a one-over. Finally, he said, "The Grand Vizier will be expecting you shortly. He is giving you some time to… regroup what is left of your mind. Then… he will begin his inquisition all over again."

            "He will get nothing out of me."

            "We shall see, little lion, we shall see. You cannot keep your secret forever."

            "Sure I can," replied the teen in the closest phrase of the old Harry that Hermione had heard so far, "and you can be assured that I will never reveal where the bracelet is."

            Bracelet? Since when does Harry wear jewelry?

            Lucius sneered and his right hand moved towards his left hip. Hermione's eyes widened as she realized what he was going to reach for. Harry looked scared and defenseless for one split second, so it left Hermione no choice.

            Lucius pulled his sword out, a glittering, magnificent steel blade with emeralds placed on the hilt. "You little, insolent—"

            "Expelliarmus!"

            The sword was yanked from the pale man's hand, soaring through the sky before it landed within Hermione's reach. She stood up from behind the couch, her eyes a furious brown. "Don't you ever get tired of pretending you're superior?"

            The man was startled by seeing the young woman's presence in the Prince's room, but didn't allow it to show. How had she done magic? Only the Grand Vizier was capable of it, and no one else in the land could…

            Sneering, Lucius began to move forward to reclaim his sword, but a quick, "Obliverate!" made him turn on his heels and pretend that he had never seen Hermione.

            As soon as the door shut behind him, the lock clicking into place, Harry turned to Hermione with an expression on his face that she couldn't place.

            "What?" she finally asked, placing her wand back in her sleeve pocket, "Was there something you wanted to say?"

            Harry nodded. "Where did you learn to do magic?"

            "At Hogwarts. You know, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We're in it right now," answered Hermione, raising an eyebrow to question her friends' sanity.

            "We're not in this Hogwarts you speak of," Harry said finally.

            "We're not?"

            "No… we're in the Grand Vizier's castle, in the land of Magus," replied Harry, looking warily at Hermione.

            "And who is the Grand Vizier?"

            "His real name is Tom Riddle. He served the Court of Basilica for many years without giving his treason away. He advised my parents when they ruled the land."

            "Tom Riddle?" shrieked Hermione. "Good God – you're living in VOLDEMORT'S castle and he hasn't killed you yet??"

            Harry shrugged. "Well, he does torture me quite often, asking for the whereabouts of a bracelet."

            "So I heard. What's this… bracelet?" Hermione asked, coming around from behind the couch to sit upon it. She was completely puzzled and confused. Where was she?

            "It's an ancient family heirloom. The links represent our world – each one something different, like law, family, war, peace, weather, love…" Harry trailed off. "Anyways. I hid it, and I refuse to tell him where it was hidden."

            "Oh God," moaned Hermione, sinking her head into her hands. "This is so Nutcracker right now, I could die."

            "Nutcracker? There aren't any nuts around here to eat," pondered aloud Harry, looking at Hermione strangely. Finally, she raised her head and the two gazes met. "You're not from around here, are you?"

            Hermione shook her head. "No… I'm not."

            Harry moved towards her, sitting down on his side of the couch as he watched the young woman in strange garb and accent, try not to cry.

            "Are you from the land across the sea?"

            Hermione let out a strangled laugh. "If only!"

            "I suppose not, then," spoke Harry, twisting his lips to the side. "Where are you from?" He tried.

            "Hogwarts. Well, Essex, actually, but that's in England. I travel to Scotland where Hogwarts is for schooling every year. It's my last year there," came a muffled reply.

            "And what do they teach you?" asked Harry, trying to be polite to the young woman who had barged into his chambers.

            "Magic," said Hermione, raising her head. "Wonderful things. Don't you have magic here?"

            "No," Harry shook his head. "Only the Vizier can do magic, and he's studied it for years, in the Great Castle of Magus."

             "Well, gee, I guess I'm one in a million, aren't I?" she muttered woefully, before squaring her shoulders and taking a look around the room. Although nicely furnished with Gryffindor red draperies and large bed, with plentiful pillows, the room didn't look welcomed.

            Bars ran along the windows to prevent escape, and the latched door meant no one inside would get out without authorization. There were, however, round marble tables that held plates full of food, over spilling with fruits and breads, with wine goblets along side them. It was a feast for a King – or a Prince – and it hardly looked like he was being starved to death.

            "So why are you locked in here?" asked Hermione finally, her eyes returning to Harry's face.

            "When my parents were killed"—Some things never change, Hermione though ruefully—"I was to become the next King of Magus. However, the Vizier wanted the throne as well, and the power of the bracelet. Since only the King could have it, and the rightful one, I hid it. He then placed me in this tower under imprisonment until I would tell him where it was."

            "And where is it?" asked Hermione, enthralled.

            Harry shot her a look. "Like I would tell you, a commoner."

            Hermione rolled her eyes. "Love, I just saved your life. I think I'm entitled to some answers here."

            Harry bit his lip, a vulnerable gesture, but finally nodded. "Okay," he said, looking around and leaning close to Hermione. He leaned so close, that his lips were on her ear. He breathed out the answer, his breath tickling the skin of Hermione's neck. It sent shivers down her spine and made her gut tighten against her will.

            "I've forgotten where I've placed it."

            Oh shit. They were in so much trouble right now.

--//\\--

            Hermione paced back and forth across the bare stone floor, wondering just what they were going to do next. In a couple of hours, the Grand Vizier was going to open that door and shoo Harry out for torture. Of course, he wouldn't be able to answer the Vizier as he had the memory of a gnat, but that was really beside the point.

            The point was, where the hell was Hermione, and how the hell does she get back?

            This boggled her scientific mind, twisting her thoughts into corners and paradoxes that she had never thought of thinking before, and left her with only one explanation.

            She was in an alternate universe, in which Harry was a Prince, Ron was his squire, Voldemort was the Grand Vizier, Lucius his noble and second-in-command of their army… the list went on. Hermione didn't know if there was another her, but she wasn't exactly going to ponder that. Her other self should be like her, maybe a bit snobbish or common (It was Harry's fault that that word kept popping up in her monologue – he kept saying it to her… that and "wench"), but scientific enough not to scream her silliness out.

            Sighing once more, with her hands clamped behind her back, Hermione nodded, "mhmm-ing" every so often. Finally, Harry, who had been watching her from the couch, snapped out, "What are you 'mhmming' about, Madam?"

            Hermione looked up, grinning a bit, before sitting down next to Harry. "Well, I think I've figured out a way to get everything you want," she pointed at him, and then at her, "and what I want."

            "And that is?" he raised an eyebrow.

            "Well. I bust you out of here, and we take off to find your squire. Then, we can put together what you remember of where you placed the bracelet, and then we go off to find it. When you get it, you come back here, kick the Vizier's ass, and then help me find a way back home. What do you think?" asked Hermione, smiling widely.

            "It's a horrible idea," replied Harry, frowning. Hermione's smile fell off her face.

            "What?"

            "I think it's horrible. You are only a commoner, who has no real power, and cannot help me escape this tower. And even if we did somehow get out, and find my squire, the chances of us finding the bracelet without spies and trouble along the way are slim to none. It's a horrible idea."

            Hermione's jaw dropped as she stared in horror and shock and anger at Harry. Who the hell did this guy think he was? Friend or no friend in another realm, he was about to be verbally assaulted by the girl with a whiplash tongue.

            "Well, excuse me," she huffed, rising slowly. "Just who do you think you are? I happen to be the smartest witch in a century at Hogwarts, and as for not being powerful – do you honestly want to take that chance to see what I could turn you into?" she voice began rising into a shrill shriek as she continued to hammer into Harry, who was shrinking back, as if he could melt into the seat of the couch and disappear. "And as for my plan, that's fine – if you don't like it, then you can stay in here and rot away until Voldemort learns that you don't know where that blasted bracelet is, and then when you admit this to him, you can go and get yourself killed – or worse, expelled!"

            Heaving a breath, Hermione turned and stalked to the window at the opposite side of the room, forcing herself to calm down. She had said what she wanted, and now it was up to Harry to rebuttal. If he didn't want her help, so be it. She would leave this place and find her own way home.

            She was thinking this when she heard it: laughter. Turning, she saw Harry doubled over on the couch, laughing his heart out, with tears running down his face. Anger bubbled in her again.

            "What? Think I'm funny, do you?" she started, but Harry sat up, wiping the tears from his eyes, and opened his mouth to speak.

            "Ooh… it's not t-that," he choked. "Y-You… you said," He gasped for air, "You said 'or worse, expelled'!"

            Hermione blanched, her teeth grinding together as she watched him laugh with mirth. "Glad you thought my warning to be so enjoying. If that's the way you see my help as – you're on your own!"

            She then stalked to the door, shouting out an, "Alohomora!" before the door swung open. She turned in the archway, looking at Harry who was staring at her in shock. "Goodbye Harry. Royalty doesn't suit you." She turned to go, only to pause again. "Oh, and by the way… petrificus totalus."

            Harry's body froze, and he sat in place with his arms and legs locked together, his eyes the only things moving around.

            "That should make you question my powers now!" she quipped, sticking her nose in the air as she walked away.

**//\\**

AN: Dear God, I just had to post this. I know, I know, I should finish up "EDN" first… but this was too cute to keep on my hard drive and not share. So tell me what you all think!