As he dashed into the castle, the first thing that struck him was the fact that everyone seemed to have fallen asleep. Faces he recognized and many that he did not all became a blur as he raced towards Minerva in the highest tower. His heart was pounding fiercely in his chest, though whether that was from his recent altercation with the dragon or the fact that he was on his way to rescue Minerva, he couldn't tell. Perhaps one day he would stop to think things through or maybe place the memories into a pensieve and dissect them but for now nothing else mattered except getting to her and seeing those emerald eyes looking up at him.
It seemed like the stairs would go on forever as he climbed them two by two. The higher he went it seemed like there were still more stairs to go. Finally he reached the top of the stairs and was met with a large wooden door. Partially expecting it to be locked, he removed his wand from his pants pocket but when he tried the handle, it opened without any resistance.
The room was almost bare except for the offending spinning wheel and a rather large four poster bed in the opposite corner of the room. There were sheer drapes hanging from each of the posters and with the slight breeze, they seemed to ripple around the bed. A pale light danced through the window and fell upon the woman stretched out in the center of the bed. Without hesitating, he crossed the room and took a moment to gaze into her lovely face.
Minerva's lips were the color of the reddest roses. Her cheeks were pink, almost as if she had just received a compliment and her cheeks blushed her thanks. Her womanly curves were accentuated by the flattering dress which seemed to hug her body and stir desires deep within him.
His shaking hand reached out to brush a few errant locks of her hair away from her face and he let his hand lightly stroke her cheek. Slowly, he began to close the distance between his lips and hers, waiting until the very last minute to close his eyes and focus on the sensation of her soft lips beneath his own.
At first he was a bit frightened. When he first started to kiss her, she didn't move. Nothing seemed to change but he could feel a spark between them, almost as if he could feel her magic returning to her as it had to him earlier in the day. Suddenly, her lips parted slightly and she began to stir. His heart rate increased and he knew this was the moment he had waited for since this all began. He was about to pull back and give her a moment to catch her breath when he felt her arm slip around his neck, holding him firmly in place as she deepened the kiss.
After several blissful moments locked in a fierce embrace, Albus pulled back and smiled. Just as he had imagined, her emerald eyes were fluttering open and his raven haired princess was finally awake. The smile curling about her lips was a sight he was sure never to forget.
"Albus…you came for me. You did it," she said softly as she sat up and took a moment to gather her wits.
"No, we did it, Minerva," he smiled and reached out to take her hand. "I do believe you'll find that your magical abilities have been restored and correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this the end of the fairy tale?" Albus was still a bit muddled when it came to the actual story but as far as he could tell both he and Minerva had completed their main tasks set out by Fairy Hooch which meant they should be able to leave the book.
"Technically no this isn't the end. The prince wakes his sleeping beauty and then a feast is held to celebrate their…well…to celebrate but I'm sure if we both have our powers back there's nothing to stop us from returning to Hogwarts. And believe me, Xiomara Hooch had better have the best hiding spot in all of Scotland when I get home! She…"
"I'd prefer it if you didn't harm my quidditch professor, Minerva. She meant well I'm sure. But for now, let's see about getting back to our own world. There are many things I wish to discuss with you and I'd like to tell you what happened to me and to hear everything that happened to you while we were separated."
Before either of them could even begin to formulate a plan of escape, one last bit of parchment appeared in front of them and began to unfold.
Congratulations to both of you for a job well done. The Prince has overcome many obstacles to rescue his Sleeping Beauty. And the fair maiden was surely granted true loves kiss for that is the only way she would have woken from her slumber.
You must be anxious to return to Hogwarts and you have many things to discuss. Kindly place your hand on the spinning wheel and it shall serve as your portkey. And Minerva, kindly remember that sometimes friends mean well though their methods might be a bit drastic.
The instant their hands touched the spinning wheel, Albus and Minerva were transported back into Albus' office. Everything seemed to be exactly as they left it and the book which has started the entire adventure lay opened to the last page. It felt odd to Albus to look down and actually recognize the scenery, knowing no one would ever believe he had once lived this fairy tale. But his musings didn't get very far for Minerva was already gathering her things and making ready to leave his office.
"Where are you going?" he asked curiously. "I thought we could chat a while."
Minerva was suddenly very nervous and uneasy around Albus. The kiss she had shared with him had been so wonderful. Her lips tingled as she replayed the memory in her mind and she could feel her heart pounding with excitement. But her head was a completely different matter. She told herself rather quickly that it was nothing more than a kiss to get out of the situation they faced. Surely he hadn't meant it as a true lover's kiss for in her mind, he could never look at her that way, a painful realization that dug deep into her soul.
"I need to go. I'm sure there are things I need to see about since Merlin only knows how long we've been absent from the school. And I'm sure you'll want to take care of things."
"I do and that's why I'm asking you to please stay. I want to take care of you," he said softly as he reached out and took her hand in his. "You are the most important person to me. Everyone else can wait." He laced his fingers through hers and without asking he pulled her closer to him.
The air around them grew thick with anticipation. Blue eyes met green ones as she took a step closer to him, noticing how he subconsciously wet his lips then smiled. "What happened back there was a fairy tale, Albus. It was a means to an end." Her cynicism seeped through every syllable of her softly spoken words and it caused his heart to ache.
Suddenly it all made sense to him and he knew what he had to do to alleviate her fears. Without asking for permission, he closed the remaining distance between them and brushed his lips across hers. Her lips were softer than he remembered and more pliable as he lightly stroked her bottom lip with his tongue. He felt her stiffen in his arms at first but as he eased her mouth apart and slipped his daring tongue inside to deepen the kiss, they both relaxed considerably.
Minerva wanted to break and run when he took her hand in his. A large part of her was convinced that his little chat, as he had put it, was nothing more than his way of reminding her that what had happened inside the book could never happen in reality. There would be no fairy tale ending for them as there had been for the prince and princess. But that all changed when she realized his face was inching closer to hers and that his lips were parted. Butterflies began to swarm inside her and when his arm went around her waist and pulled her to him, she stiffened, unsure of how to react.
All of that seemed to melt away for both of them as the moments slowly ticked by unnoticed. The kiss grew in intensity until both needed to take a short break for a breath of much needed air.
"Albus , I…"
"Sssssh," he quieted her with a finger across her swollen lips. "Me first for a change." She nodded her head and he led her over to the sofa in his office, sitting down and drawing her into his arms. "I realized something while acting out the events in this book." Her look was enough to spur him on in his explanation. "I learned that you are my princess. You are my sleeping beauty. You are my world, Minerva, and if anything ever happened to you I'd be as lost as that prince in the forest. I love you and I always have. I was just too afraid to admit it until now."
Minerva sat speechless. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine such a profound declaration of love from the man she had fantasized about and wanted for years. And now, because of some silly childhood storybook and an overzealous friend everything was changing for the better. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes and were threatening to spill down her face when she spoke.
"I never thought you could fall in love with me. I was always your friend, your helper, your second in command but I didn't think you saw me as a woman. I suppose I gave up on that dream years ago but I never stopped loving you. Merlin help me, I swear I love you more today then I have ever loved anyone in my life."
His tender strokes across her flushed cheeks brushed away the tears that had started to fall. "I know it won't be easy for us but you already know my weaknesses and my strengths. You've seen me at my very best and my very worst but I promise you Minerva that if you give me a chance, you will never regret loving me. I want to take what I learned in that story and show you every day how much I need you in my life and want you by my side. Not for the sake of the school or for our jobs but for me, for us. Please, say you'll give me the chance to win your heart as I did in the book."
His pleading eyes were so compelling, though she needed no encouragement. "I will but only if you'll allow me the same privilege. I want you to fall in love with me and not the girl from the fairy tale."
"You are my fairy tale princess, my dear. And from now on we will start working on our own happily ever after. We can call it the Dumbledore story…once we're married of course," he laughed before capturing her lips with his own.
Neither cared nor noticed as the hours passed them by. Each shared their side of the story and how things had progressed, asking questions and explaining in detail what had happened while they were apart. Albus shared how he had come to realize his overwhelming love and devotion to Minerva and how she in turn had known from the very beginning that his kiss would be one she would always cherish.
"Do you still think that way my dear? Are my kisses really that good or are you just saying that to make me feel better?" he teased.
"Hmm, good question. Perhaps you'd better kiss me again and let me see if I can formulate an answer for you. Of course you realize it might take me a while to reach a firm conclusion but if you think you're up to the challenge, I'd be more than happy to stay as long as necessary until we have our answers."
"I look forward to spending the rest of my life experimenting with you, my dear. I can think of no other woman I'd rather have in my arms than you. I am just glad that Xiomara had the good sense to put us in Sleeping Beauty."
"Why? I know you weren't that familiar with the book so surely you can't claim it's your favorite fairy tale."
"Absolutely not, though now it is. I was simply being thankful that she didn't put us in Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid."
Minerva's interests were piqued and though curiosity killed the cat, she had to ask. "And why is that? You can't make such a sweeping statement and leave it at that," she laughed as she tilted her face up towards his.
"Because I don't like being the center of attention and in Cinderella the entire kingdom was invited to party simply because his father wanted the prince to marry. Beauty and the Beast would have been difficult as well because I could never be as cruel and uncaring towards you as the beast was to his beauty."
"And The Little Mermaid? What do you have against that story?" she asked.
"Ah, that one scares me the most. For you see, the young mermaid, that would be you in this case, would have lived deep in the ocean and I'm not a very good swimmer. But I will concede that you most definitely have the body to pull off the mermaid look. Ah yes, two shells covering your ample bosom while the rest of your creamy skin remained bare for my roving eyes to feast upon." He laughed heartily as she slapped his chest playfully mere seconds before he began to tickle her sides, pinning her down on the sofa. "What do you say we test our theory this weekend? We can take a trip to my estate and spend the entire weekend lounging around by the lake and getting more comfortable with our new relationship?"
"Are you serious, Albus? Just the two of us? No owls, students, worries…just us?"
"You and me. That's it, my dear. Oh and maybe a copy of Sleeping Beauty. We could read it together and relive the best bits…the dancing in the forest, the way your lovely voice sounded as you sang and of course the kiss. I can see us reenacting that scene most of all, though we could always venture beyond the kiss to adventures of our very own," he finished with a wiggling of his eyebrows and a particularly charming gleam in his eyes.
Minerva leaned up and captured his lips with hers and she pulled him down on top of her. After several long moments, her lips left his and began to trail towards his ear. "One thing, though Albus. Let's leave Fairy Hooch in charge of the school while we're away. It's the least we can do to repay her for all of her hard work," she finished before nibbling on his ear and driving all coherent thoughts from his mind for the rest of the night and into the next morning.
A/N: Thanks so much for taking time to read and review our story. We had so much fun writing it and we hope you enjoyed our efforts!