A Story to Remember
A/N: This is a big day for us since we started writing this seemingly forever ago. It is our version of Sleeping Beauty told with Albus and Minerva. The story is based mostly on the Disney version since we are both big Disney fans but we have also added our own little twists and turns as well. We hope you enjoy!
"What was she thinking?"
"I believe she meant well Minerva. And it was rather nice. I especially enjoyed the triple layer fudge cake."
Minerva was looking at Albus as if he had lost his mind. "Albus, Xiomara just threw us an anniversary party and we are not married."
Albus grinned despite the frustrated looks being sent his way by his Deputy Headmistress. "She did have a point if you remember. It has been fifteen years to the day when I asked you to become my Deputy. Armando was so pleased with my choice; he started composing his letter of recommendation to the Board of Governors before I could even complete my prepared speech on your merits."
As Albus smiled fondly at the remembered time, Minerva found herself blushing a rather unbecoming shade of bright pink. "That is all well and good but we don't want to give the staff any ideas. There are already enough rumors floating around about us as it is."
The comment seemed to hit its mark as Albus became serious. "And do those rumors bother you, my dear? I may not be able to stop them completely but I can certainly address the staff on the subject of unfounded gossip."
Minerva sighed. She didn't mind the rumors at all. She only wished there was some truth behind them. Xiomara was a dear friend but Minerva didn't appreciate the way she kept putting her in awkward positions with Albus. If a relationship was to develop between them, she wanted it to be natural, not forced on either of them. Over the years, they had developed a close friendship and she was not willing to risk it unless she was certain of the outcome.
"No, that is not necessary. Besides, summer is nearly upon us and with most of the staff leaving for their homes next week, I am sure the incident will be forgotten by the time classes come around again."
The students had boarded the Hogwarts Express that morning and Minerva had never been more ready for a vacation. Teaching had become more draining on her every year since Voldemort's fall. She couldn't seem to rid her heart of its aching from all the pointless deaths of a few years ago. It didn't help matters that Severus had been hired as a professor after agreeing to become a spy for the light and had stayed on after the Dark Lord's defeat. Minerva would bet money that he went out of his way to irritate her. Usually she found their banter refreshing but near the end of this term, she had only become more stressed with every confrontation. And now with Xiomara, not to mention Poppy and Pomona, trying to actively dictate her love life, it was all she could do to go through the day without either falling asleep or hexing everyone in sight.
"Very well, Minerva. But if you have a change of heart, please let me know and I will address the situation." Albus seemed to regain a bit of his enthusiasm as he picked up the gaudily wrapped package on his desk.
"Surely you are not going to open that now. Perhaps it would be best if I take it with me and open it in the morning. It is late and I don't want to keep you from your rest." Minerva looked at the package with barely concealed fear. Xiomara Hooch had a mind of her own and Minerva didn't want to take any chances by opening the package in Albus' presence.
"What better time is there? Besides, if she went to the trouble of getting us a gift, we ought to do her the courtesy of opening it."
Minerva had the overwhelming urge to cover her eyes as she heard the sound of paper tearing. Instead she opted for averting her face and closing her eyes. There were several seconds of silence and Minerva felt a sense of panic rising in her.
"What a wonderful gift!"
Albus sounded genuine in his praise so Minerva ventured to open one eye. With a gasp of surprise, she strode across the small space separating them and peered down at their anniversary present. A beautiful burgundy colored, leather bound book was grasped firmly in Albus' hands. The gold lettering across the front gracefully spelled out the title, A Story to Remember. An outline of a witch and wizard in medieval dress, who looked suspiciously like the pair studying them, were holding hands and staring lovingly into each other's eyes.
Minerva found herself growing extremely suspicious of such a benign present from her friend. Xia was not known for her subtlety. "It is a lovely gift. I don't believe that I have heard the title before and I notice there is no author mentioned."
Albus peered at the book a bit more closely and with a smile opened it to the first page. A dedication was inscribed in Hooch's untidy scroll.
May you be blessed with many years of happiness and a happily ever after.
Minerva felt her face grow hot with embarrassment and irritation. Albus didn't seem to notice as he turned the page without a word. A picture of a beautiful white castle on top of a rolling green hill filled with wildflowers adorned the next page and had a small poem at the bottom. Albus' melodious voice filled the room as he read it out loud.Once upon a time in life
A person comes along
Who makes your world a better place
And gives your heart a song.
It is the tune of love, my dear
Though you each doubt what you see
But in your hearts the answer lies
For you hold the golden keys.
Reach out and claim what's always been
Yours alone to take
In the second that you do
Your hidden love will wake.
Now turn the page and step inside
Your dreams await you there
It's time you took a bold new step
Into the fairy tale love you share.
As the last word fell from his lips, Minerva's vision blurred and she felt a pulling sensation spread across her body starting with her belly button. Her last thought before blackness descended was how she was going to hex Xia for using a portkey on her.
Minerva was first aware of a tickling sensation on her bare forearms and around her face. Her head ached as she opened her eyes and took in the blue sky above, almost blinding in its brilliance Looking to her left, she was momentarily confused by her surroundings. When did she move outside of Hogwarts and why had she decided to nap on the grass? She knew she had been tired of late but surely she could have made it to her rooms.
Memories of the anniversary party and the gift from Hooch flooded her mind. Gently she rose to a sitting position and looked around. Confusion caused a ball of fear to form in her gut. She was not outside Hogwarts nor did it appear she was anywhere near the school. The surrounding countryside was somewhat similar, a grassy lawn with a pond laid to her right and an expansive forest lay before her. But the similarities clearly ended when she took in the giant white castle which rose behind her perched on a cliff.
"Minerva, you are awake. Are you feeling okay?"
Minerva had never been happier to hear his voice. Albus had appeared just over the ridge to her left. Her jaw dropped in surprise and after several attempts at uttering just a single word, she closed her mouth, speechless.
"Rather fancy and old world isn't it." Albus turned to one side and then the other showing off an outfit of which he looked rather proud.
Albus was dressed in a tan tunic and leggings with a red cape and brown boots. A cap with a feather was propped on his head at a jaunty angle. The grin on his face was almost comical as he swirled about. A sudden realization dawned on Minerva and she looked down at her own clothing. As she had somewhat expected and dreaded, she was dressed in a peasant dress of drab coloring with a pair of worn slippers on her feet.
"Albus, what in Merlin's name is going on?"
"I am not really sure Minerva. From what I can tell we are in the picture from the book. I haven't figured out a way to get out just yet but I am working on it. Unfortunately, my wand doesn't seem to be functioning properly. I looked around when I woke and the landscape just seems to go on forever, very beautiful. I haven't seen another person, magical or otherwise."
The way he was being so casual about the whole situation had her on her feet in less than a second. "And you don't seem to think this is a problem? We have to get out of here." Taking her wand out of her sleeve, where she always kept it, Minerva flicked her wrist. "Finite Incantatem."
Nothing happened and Minerva spent several more moments trying everything she could think of to get her wand to work. Finally she resigned herself to the fact that her wand was not working either and she sat down hard on the grassy knoll.
Albus who had been watching her with mixed emotions took a seat beside her and took her hand in his own. "I am sure that we will get out of here eventually. This must have taken Hooch a long time to create. It is really rather impressive. I wonder if she had help. In any case, we ought to enjoy our time here while we can."
Xiomara Hooch. How had she not come to that conclusion earlier? Of course, the interloper would be the one to set this up and trap her here. What she hoped to gain, Minerva had no idea. Hardly able to contain all the emotions tumbling inside of her, first she laughed and then she choked back some tears and in the end she opted for anger. "Enjoy ourselves? When we get out of here, I am going to hex Hooch into next week!"
A popping noise sounded somewhere above their heads and both glanced toward the sky, wands drawn, heedless of the fact that they would be of no use. A small creature started to fly toward them at an astonishing rate, coming to a halt a few feet before their eyes. It was only then that both of them noticed that the small flying creature was none other than Xiomara Hooch.
"Happy Anniversary! My name is Xiomara, your fairy guide."
Minerva stood in shock as she watched her friend transform from no larger than a small wren to her usual petite size. Clad in a rather unflattering dress of all things and a pair of wings, the sight of which caused Minerva to burst into laughter. "What…how…wearing?"
The winged witch looked at her with a frown on her face before turning to Albus whose eyes were twinkling merrily at the sight. "I am here to welcome you to your anniversary gift and to set a few rules."
That statement sobered Minerva and with narrowed eyes she addressed her old friend. "What rules?"
"The rules to the game of course. You entered the book by reading the poem did you not? And now you must play out the story in order to leave." Xiomara Hooch smoothed her skirts as she waited for Minerva to stop sputtering. "And don't bother trying to hex me. Your magic does not work here."
"Why you little…" Minerva was stopped by Albus who had taken her arm before she could attack the apparition in front of them.
"Please excuse us for a moment." Albus pulled Minerva to the side and started to whisper. "It is obvious that Professor Hooch has decided to give us a rather…interesting gift. I say we go along with what she has planned and see where it leads. As of this moment, we don't really have a choice and attempting to strangle her likeness will get us nowhere at all."
Minerva had to concede the point. Perhaps she was overreacting. Maybe this would be the break she needed and they would have a great time. She decided to hear the fairy out and find out what was going on. And if nothing else came out of this, Hooch in that outfit would give her enough blackmail to last a lifetime. They made their way back over to Xiomara and Albus asked her to continue.
"Thank you. Now, as I was saying, I am here to tell you the rules. You will become characters in a story. The story will proceed as dictated and at the end, you will be released back from where you came.
"The rules are simple and few. You may not deviate from the basic story line, scenes will only progress if you complete certain required tasks, and you may not leave early. And of course, you may not use magic unless denoted otherwise by your character. And one other thing, you will recognize most of the characters in the story as their physical appearance will resemble individuals from your real life. You may call them by either their story name or by the name you know for them outside of this book to address them – but they will not know you by your prior relationship, only by your character's relationship to them in the story."
"And what pray tell is the story?" Minerva had to admit that she was curious. She wasn't at all thrilled with being forced into this but she was willing to try and enjoy herself. At least she was willing until the story title fell from the deceptive fairy's lips.