A/N: Greetings, members of the illustrious fandom(s)! I wrote this ages ago - it was actually one of my first forays into HP fanfic. I recently re-read a bunch of my own fic and was annoyed to see that the formatting in this one was out of whack in a lot of places. So I downloaded all the chapters, tidied them up, and re-uploaded them. Is it not shiny?
Initially, I suppose, this was supposed to have taken place in H/R/H's fifth year at school, but of course we now know that's not the case. I had to change a couple of slight details to make it fit with the newer canon, but otherwise, it doesn't have any particular time reference. Just sit back and enjoy the gooey, mushy absurdity of it all!
Obligatory disclaimers: Harry Potter and all related characters and references are the exclusive property of J. K. Rowling (or as my best friend and I call her, "our Queen"). Westley, Buttercup, and all related characters and references are the property of William Goldman (who wrote the book under the pseudonym of S. Morgenstern, so don't go griping about my assigning the rights to the wrong guy; there is no Morgenstern, Bill made him up, it was a terrible letdown and all that).
Finally, this story is dedicated after-the-fact to all of my wonderful friends in both fandoms.
It was Christmastime at Hogwarts, and Harry supposed the Great Hall was filled with the smell of a dozen roast turkeys with all the trimmings. He didn't actually know for sure, however, because he wasn't there. He and Ron were staying with Hermione and her parents over their vacation, and since Mr. and Mrs. Granger were at their dental office during most of the day, they pretty much had the run of the house. Ron was fascinated by such gadgetry as the microwave, television, and VCR, and after he pleaded for a good fifteen minutes Hermione relented and made a batch of microwave popcorn so he could watch.
"Let's show Ron a movie on your VCR," Harry proposed.
"A what?" asked Ron, interested.
"A movie. You know how people move in wizard photographs, but not in Muggle photos? Well, a movie is like a lot of Muggle pictures strung together and run by so fast that the people in them seem to move, and it tells a story," Hermione explained.
Harry could see that Ron was a little puzzled by this, but he shrugged it off and said, "Okay," then filled his mouth with popcorn. Hermione studied the rack of videos against one wall of the living room.
"How about this one?" she asked, making a selection. "It's called The Princess Bride, I haven't seen it in ages." Neither of the boys objected, so she slid the black tape into the VCR and pressed the play button.
It took a little while for Harry and Ron to get into the movie, but before long they were absorbed in the story, and cheered loudly during the swordfight scenes. Hermione settled back on her couch, thoroughly amused at their reactions, and continued to watch the movie through slowly drooping eyelids.
"The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern, chapter one," intoned the voice of Albus Dumbledore. Hermione's eyes popped open in surprise. She was in her dormitory bed at Hogwarts, and the headmaster was sitting beside her, reading from the book.
"Professor, what's going on?" she asked, perplexed.
"Not to worry, Miss Granger. We're just in the middle of another fanfic dream sequence. Let's relax and enjoy ourselves, shall we?" Dumbledore continued with the story. "Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin. Her favorite pasttimes were riding her horse and tormenting the farm boy who worked there. His name was Westley, but she never called him that..."
Hermione galloped across the fields, her brown hair flying as she slowed her horse to a canter, then a trot. He stopped and she dismounted, leading him into his stable stall and removing his saddle. Outside the stable, a tall young man with red hair was doing farm chores.
"Farm Boy," she addressed him, "polish my horse's saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning."
"As you wish," he replied. She flounced off to the house.
"'As you wish' was all he ever said," Dumbledore said in a voice-over. The scene changed abruptly, and Herm- uh, Buttercup came out of the house with two large buckets, which she carried to where the farm boy was chopping wood.
"Farm Boy, fill these with water." She set them down and then stopped, suddenly, for the expression with which he regarded her was filled with an emotion she had never noticed before. "Please," she added.
"As you wish," he said.
"That day," said Dumbledore, "she was amazed to discover that when he was saying 'As you wish,' what he meant was 'I love you.'" She walked back to the house, glancing over her shoulder as she did. He was still watching her.
In the kitchen, she worked to make them supper, and he came in with an armload of firewood. She watched him surreptitiously as he dropped it near the door. "Even more amazing," Dumbledore went on, "was the day she realized she truly loved him back." He turned to go back outside.
"Farm Boy!" she called, and he turned, waiting for her orders. She glanced around, her eyes falling on a pitcher hanging on a peg not two feet in front of her. "Fetch me that pitcher?" she asked.
He stepped toward her, and with deliberate slowness he slid the pitcher off its peg and placed it gently in her hands.
"As you wish," he whispered. She smiled.
Next thing she knew, they were standing in the field at sunset, kissing.
"Westley had no money for marriage," Dumbledore narrated, "so he packed his few belongings and set out to make his fortune in a country across the sea. It was a very emotional time for Buttercup." It certainly was, as they tearfully embraced in the same field, only now it was the middle of the afternoon.
"I fear I'll never see you again," she said.
"Of course you will," Westley replied softly, breathing in the scent of her.
"But what if something happens to you?"
"Hold it," said Hermione in the bed. Dumbledore stopped reading and looked at her. "Is this just the way the dream is going to go? A verbatim copy of the script of The Princess Bride, but with me as Buttercup and Ron as Westley?" She reddened at that notion.
"Well, what would you prefer?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said thoughtfully. "I love this story, but it's not quite right to just have it be exactly the same. It needs to be different."
"Well, let's see where we can make it different. Now," said Dumbledore, "Westley didn't reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate...Weasley, who never left captives alive. Buttercup learned of his murder, locked herself in her room for several days, and vowed never to love again."
"Okay, that's a LITTLE different," she said grudgingly.
"Would it help, maybe, if I stopped doing the voice-overs during the action?" he offered. She considered this.
"Yeah, it might."
It was five years after Westley's disappearance. There was a great mob of people assembled outside the royal castle in Florin City. It seemed like the entire country had turned out to learn the identity of Prince Humperdinck's bride-to-be. Prince Humperdinck, the son of the aging Queen and senile old King, pretty much ran their country, was the greatest hunter in the world, and was generally not someone you wanted to mess with.
He appeared on the balcony then, his silver-blond hair shining in the sun. ("Draco Malfoy has a cameo in my dream?" thought Hermione, but said nothing.) "My people," he proclaimed in stentorian tones, "a month from now, our country will have its five hundredth anniversary. On that sundown, I shall marry a lady who was once a commoner like yourselves. But, perhaps, you will not find her common now. Would you like to meet her?"
The assembled throng cheered affirmatively.
"My people...the Princess Buttercup!" He gestured down to where a large carpet had been rolled out of a first-story door, and Buttercup strode out to greet the public. She was gowned in peach satin, the billowing sleeves flowing behind her like angel wings, and her bushy brown hair was pulled back under a juliet cap. Her face was impassive, completely without emotion, as she surveyed the kneeling crowd and her bridegroom. She felt consumed by her emptiness, and while the laws of Florin allowed Humperdinck to marry anyone he chose, she did not love him.
She still loved riding, though, and that afternoon she saddled her horse and rode off through the trees, trying not to think about much of anything. This was difficult for her, as she was an unusually clever girl. Granted, in the years during which she'd been trained to become a proper princess, her royal tutors had done their best to quash that particular aspect of her personality; Prince Humperdinck, though by no means as dumb as the thick-skulled dimwits he used for personal bodyguards, couldn't really match her in the brains department. Naturally, he wasn't too keen on having a wife who could outperform him mentally, so Buttercup's education was severely cut back and she was pretty much restricted to only basic spells. Sometimes she managed to sneak into the castle library at odd hours, and do some studying on her own, but the closer she came to her wedding day, the less personal time she had for academic pursuits. Horseback riding was her only true escape; as it didn't show up the Prince in any way, he allowed her to continue the riding schedule she had followed for many years prior to their meeting. So every afternoon, weather permitting or not, she went to the stables and galloped away on her only true friend.
She'd been riding for perhaps two hours when she reined her horse in sharply, for on the path before her was an odd-looking trio of men. The first was an elegantly dressed man with pale golden hair and a cool demeanor; Buttercup couldn't help thinking that he bore an interesting resemblance to her betrothed. The second man was tall and very thin, with unruly black hair, bright green eyes, and a curious lightning-shaped scar that streaked across his forehead. The third man was enormous, more than twice the size of the other two, with lots of tangled bushy black hair and beard.
"A word, my lady?" said the first. "We are but poor, lost circus performers. Is there a village nearby?"
"There is nothing nearby. Not for miles," she replied.
"Excellent! That means there will be no one to hear you scream." At these words the giant man approached her, touched a place on the back of her neck, and she lapsed into unconsciousness.