Disclaimer: I own nothing that belongs to the genius known as J.K. Rowling, and I am making no profit from this story. In addition, I own nothing from the fairy tale, either.
Author's Notes: Completely AU, as this ship tends to go, but really, this is very AU. You might as well throw DH out the window – I'm sorry, but I like having Dumbledore around, and people alive! Meanwhile, those of you who know the tale of Sleeping Beauty might find this familiar, as well as the title of the story. Enjoy this silly little plot bunny that bit me. And please review!
Hermione Granger was unconscious. On the eve of the final battle, no less. Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was in an uproar. It seemed, if Ginny Weasley's memory served correct, that Hermione had turned into a real-life version of Sleeping Beauty, and nothing would wake her except true love's kiss.
Ginny, who had accompanied Hermione to Hogwarts earlier in the day in hopes of rounding up more of-age students for the coming battle, was overcome with guilt. Yet she managed to tell the Order members, as Harry held her, what had taken place. Apparently, a couple of Slytherins had spotted them as they exited Minerva McGonagall's old office after Flooing in, and alerted Draco Malfoy and his gang. They'd converged on Ginny and Hermione at the end of the hallway, catching them unawares, and hexed them – Hermione had gone down, and Ginny had been covered in fungus, and the young redhead fought and fought, managing to drive their attackers off. She'd used magic to lift Hermione into the air, and held her tight as she Floo'd them back to Number Twelve.
"You did well, Gin," Harry reassured her, but his voice was shaking, as did his hand as he patted Ginny's shoulder.
"Miss Weasley… can you remember what Miss Granger was felled with?" Dumbledore's eyes were not twinkling, and his tone was intense, which made the Order members surrounding them on edge.
"I… it all happened… so fast!" Ginny sobbed, hiding her face in Harry's shoulder.
"Come on, Ginny! Hermione could be seriously hurt!" Ron was impatient, and his eyes kept darting toward the kitchen door; they'd laid Hermione on the sofa in the study, and it was apparent he was eager to return to her.
"I know you can do it, Ginny," Harry encouraged, his thumbs rubbing circles on her upper arms soothingly.
"I think…" Ginny sniffed, and gulped several times. "Well, I think what Pansy shouted was 'Diligo basium' but I can't be sure…"
"Pansy cursed her? I thought that Draco…"
"No, it was that cow Pansy." Ginny's voice was filled with anger now, even though tears still threatened to fall from her eyes. "Draco hit me." She cringed in remembrance.
"Albus, if that was the curse used on Miss Granger…" Minerva McGonagall's face was pinched, and drained of color, as if they had a very serious problem of their hands.
"Well, what is it, then? Diligo basium?" Ron's face was turning red, and his fists clenched and unclenched at his sides.
"That was brilliant, Pansy, but what did you hit her with?" Draco Malfoy had just sent out a few young Slytherins to guard every office with a Floo. He didn't expect the enemy to be so stupid as to return, but he wanted to be sure.
Pansy snickered evilly, and slid her hand down Draco's chest. "The True Love's Kiss Curse." She threw back her hand and cackled, the sound filling the entire Slytherin Common Room.
Draco shoved her away with fury etched on his face. "Are you stupid? Weasley's at her side every moment, your brainless curse will never last."
"You are the stupid one, if you haven't noticed Weasley sniffing out that Lavender Brown trash. Oh well, Greyback will take care of her soon enough." Pansy seated herself on a sofa and stretched lazily, then began stroking her Dark Mark lovingly. "It'll work. They won't be able to find Granger's true love by tomorrow, if ever – can you imagine someone wanting to be with that bushy-haired prude? – and it won't matter, because by tomorrow, all of them will be dead." Her voice spoke volumes about her confidence in Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Draco frowned at her for a few moments more, before joining her on the sofa. As he started undressing her while she fondled him, he let all thoughts of Granger disappear, confident that she – and in the long run, the rest of the damn resistors – was not a worry anymore.
"Perhaps… I might try." The deep, sneering voice echoed throughout the study from the shadows. Severus Snape stepped from the dark corner of the room, his hands folded in front of him, his face severe.
"Not on your bloody life!" Harry shouted, and Ron took out his wand.
"There will be no need for that, Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore spoke tiredly. He moved from his perch on the arm of the sofa where Hermione slept soundly, to the back of it where Snape now stood. "You have cause to think your kiss would wake Miss Granger?" Dumbledore's voice was light, not mocking, and not accusing – though Severus thought the question might hold more beneath the surface.
"I haven't had interactions with Miss Granger before this, if that is what you're implying, Headmaster." Severus tried to keep his tone bored, as usual, but the way people were staring, and the fact that the youngest Weasley was still clutching his wand tightly, set him on edge. "I just thought I'd offer," he sneered at Harry and Ron, "since no one else seemed to be doing the job." His narrowed eyes seared Ron, whose kiss hadn't been successful in rousing Hermione.
In fact, every unmarried male in the Order of the Phoenix had tried placing a chaste kiss on the unconscious young woman, except for Snape. They had absolutely no hope whatsoever. They had to face Voldemort tomorrow, or get attacked themselves. But without Hermione, they couldn't. Her place in the battle was essential.
"Go on then, Severus," Arthur Weasley suddenly said, though his voice was tight. He stood with Molly by the fireplace, his hands resting atop her shoulders. Around them stood an anxious Minerva McGonagall, the weary-looking Tonks and Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt, a nervous Hagrid, Mad-Eye Moody, and the five eldest Weasley brothers. Harry, Ron, and Ginny were in front of the sofa, Ginny holding Hermione's hand, and Ron with a hand in Hermione's frizzy hair. They moved reluctantly away as Severus approached, Ron eyeing him furiously.
Severus did his best to ignore them all as he knelt beside the sofa. If he could awaken Hermione, they actually stood a chance to defeat the Dark Lord. He would be able to truly live, to breathe, to enjoy what he had – which was very little, but he could make more of his life with the Dark Lord finally vanquished. Without Hermione, morale would be low, and plans in regards to attack would have to change. Too many things would be uncertain, and hinder their chances. He couldn't allow that. He had to revive her.
And, as he stared down at her peaceful face, her hair fanned out over the arm of the sofa, he thought it would be a pity for such an intelligent young woman to remain in slumber for so long. He let himself caress the smooth skin of her face, knowing the others wouldn't see such a small gesture. He didn't want to make a mockery of something such as this, the way the others had. Fred and George had been like two excited children. Kingsley had kissed her so fast it was a wonder his lips had even touched hers at all. And Severus cringed upon recalling Hagrid's sloppy peck. He tried to shut those images out of his mind as he gazed down at her.
He slid an arm under her upper back, and lifted her gently closer to his bent head. Taking a deep breath, he held her chin with his free hand, closed his eyes, and touched his lips to hers.
It was strange. Her lips were so incredibly soft, but they were unmoving… or had been. Suddenly, those sweet lips were moving against his, responding to his tender kiss. He pulled back swiftly, and found himself staring down into Hermione's confused, tawny brown eyes, and her puzzled, hesitant smile.
Severus was sure that every woman in the room gasped, and he heard an ominous thud behind him. He hastily removed his hands from Hermione, and stood to return to his shadowy place in the corner, wanting instead to get out of the room completely. He noticed, after his wistful glance at the door, that Ronald Weasley had fainted dead away, and Harry Potter's jaw had dropped to a precarious degree. If he wasn't so uncomfortable, he would've taken more pleasure in the sight.
Ginny moved over to the side of the sofa on her knees, and put an arm under Hermione's back, the way Severus had.
"Hermione," she breathed, staring down at her friend. "Please forgive me."
Hermione blinked up at her, her brows furrowed. "What's going on?"
"Are you okay, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore asked delicately, staring down at her from behind the sofa.
"I'm fine. Can someone please explain what's happening? All of you look as if you've seen a ghost. I feel fine, I assure you. Better than fine, actually…" Her voice trailed off as her eyes sought out the man who had just been leaning over her. Her eyes rested on Ron, however, and she frowned. "Why is Ronald on the floor?"
"Hermione, you were hit with a curse," Harry explained, moving forward to Ginny's side so he could gaze down at his best friend. "Don't you remember? You and Ginny went to Hogwarts, and Pansy hit you with…"
"Diligo basium," Hermione finished for him breathily, staring off into space as her fuzzy brain recalled the previous events. She sat up, too quickly by the way her head started spinning, and craned her neck around in search of the one who had revived her.
"We all tried to make you wake up," Harry said, flushing in embarrassment. "But only…" He cringed, and shot a dark look at the shadowy corner of the room. "Only Professor Snape was able to do so." He sounded as he'd just taken a swig of poison.
Hermione could just make out Severus standing in the corner, and she squinted at him as she tried to sit up more firmly. "You?" she questioned softly, her hand clutching at the back of the sofa. She didn't sound appalled, only curious. She gazed up at Dumbledore, who was watching her with a bemused expression. "But that would make him…"
"Your true love, yes," Dumbledore murmured, and stroked his beard. He turned to where Hermione's eyes still rested, and surveyed the now extremely discomfited Severus. "I don't think this is what Miss Parkinson expected, when she used that particular curse." He sounded slightly amused, but he was nothing but stern when he said, "You may all leave."
Severus was the first one to get moving, and he had his hand on the doorknob when Dumbledore said, "Not you, Severus." He stood off to the side, trying to duck his hand down low enough that his greasy hair would cover his face as the other order members filed out, casting worried glances at him. Harry and Arthur bent down to get Ron, and together they hoisted them out of the room, but not before Harry gave Severus a rather rude look of warning. Ginny was the final person to leave. The sound of the door closing made Severus flinch.
"This is a very unique situation," Dumbledore offered, back to stroking his beard as he regarded Severus, then Hermione. Severus felt like snorting at that particular understatement, but instead merely crossed his arms over his chest, and kept his eyes on Dumbledore, attempting with all his might to ignore Hermione's blatant stare. He couldn't resist a quick glance from his peripheral, though, and nearly groaned when he saw her gazing at him so intently, with her lips slightly parted.
"May I ask you how you feel about this, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore smiled kindly down at her, and she met his eyes briefly before returning wide eyes to Severus.
"I… well, I still feel a bit disoriented." She bent her head and bit her lower lip before adding shyly, "I don't think the kiss lasted long enough." When she saw Severus stiffen, she said, "I mean, to pull me fully out of the curse. I feel kind of sleepy."
Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling as usual now, and he shocked Severus by saying, "Perhaps you are right, Miss Granger. Perhaps Severus was supposed to draw it out a bit longer."
Severus was sure he balked, but quickly snapped out of it to growl angrily, "I will not!" He frowned when Hermione appeared disappointed over the news. The girl obviously was still in dream land if she expected him to do a repeat performance.
"Severus, I implore you to see reason. Miss Granger needs to be fully aware tomorrow, and if it is you who can restore that awareness, then it must be done." Dumbledore was thankfully not smirking, but Severus was still outraged.
"I will not kiss her again!" he exclaimed, placing his hand on the doorknob once more.
"Was it… unpleasant, then?" Hermione spoke, her voice shy. She brought her knees up to her chest on the sofa, and hugged them tightly as she stared at the floor.
"It was inappropriate," Severus barked.
"Necessary," Dumbledore ascertained, and he joined Severus near the door. Lowering his voice, he said, "Severus, you've always been intelligent. Think about what this could lead to."
If he meant the deflowering of Miss Granger, Severus was not amused.
"Please, Professor Snape." Hermione was suddenly staring intently at him again, and that along with her plea did something strange to his insides. What if Dumbledore was right? What if the stupid curse Hermione had been hit with could bring him something more? Something he could enjoy after Voldemort was gone…
"This is madness," Severus grumbled as he stalked toward the sofa. He grabbed Hermione's hands, and tugged her roughly from the cushions, so that she landed right up against his body. Ignoring how good she felt against him, he grabbed the nape of her neck and held her in place as his lips descended. He intended to make her realize he was no prince saving some sleeping beauty as he kissed her roughly, but her arms encircled him and pulled him closer, and he could've sworn he heard a soft moan escape her throat.
He heard the door click and jerked away from Hermione, only to realize that Dumbledore had left quietly while they'd been kissing. He made to follow, but Hermione grabbed his arm and pulled him back toward her, and this time, her hand curled around the nape of his neck while she leaned up on her tiptoes to snog him senseless. His hands clamped onto her waist, and he pushed her back to stare down at her, infuriated.
"You will not take such liberties with me, Miss Granger," he roared, and at the sight of her heaving breasts and bruised lips, he couldn't help but to cover her mouth with his once more, as she grabbed hold of his shoulders desperately.
She was the one to pull back this time, but it was only to find the buttons of his collar, and she began promptly loosening them. "It's Hermione," she breathed against his lips, then nibbled his lower lip into her mouth. He groaned and shoved his hands into her curls, intending to plunder her mouth, but she had finally undone a good amount of his buttons, and her lips moved down his jaw to his neck, where she began kissing fervently.
Severus groaned and tugged on her hair so that she was practically leaning back over his arm. He nibbled on her neck then, not really knowing what the hell had gotten into him, only that he needed her. He felt her lower body moving restlessly against him, and one of her shapely legs came up to curl around his hip. He released her hair and grabbed hold of her bum, lifting her so that both of her legs came to clench around his hips.
"Professor!" she squeaked, as he lurched toward the sofa.
As he laid her down upon it, and her hair fanned out once more, he was reminded of when he'd first placed his lips on hers. Then, she had been unresponsive, and now, she was panting, her eyes and hands begging him for more.
"It's Severus," he mumbled against her lips, before capturing them again.