Sleeping Beauty, If Beauty Was A Brooding Sorcerer
A large wooden door shuddered as someone pushed against it from the other side. After one final shove, the door came unstuck and creaked open.
"This place is a bit worse for wear," observed Petunia Potsdam.
Hieronymous Grabiner strode into the room, looking at the dusty and long forgotten antiques littering the space.
"Quite," he agreed with his colleague. "The architecture dates back to Star Swirl the Bearded."
Hieronymous flicked his wrist, casting a spell. He peered closely at each of the antiques in turn. "Fascinating," he said absently, running his hand over an intricate stained glass window as he passed it. "I've never seen actual, intact works from this wizarding era. This castle has been hidden away for some time, shielded from disturbances from the outside world."
"Yes, it's quite exciting. I'm glad Marie-Élise thought of us first," Petunia said fondly, thinking of her dear friend and fellow head-master. "The avoidance runes must have been amazingly strong to last up until last week. Lucky thing a wizard noticed it coming into view before someone non-magic wandered in," she said, circling the tower room.
Petunia removed a blanket covering some aged furniture. Wrinkling her nose as a cloud of dust rose, she settled her gaze upon an aged and threadbare upholstered chair. With a small "tsk" she adjusted her glasses and snapped her fingers. A ripple coursed through the dull fabric, slowly transforming it into a vibrant green. The wood, too, began to shine, until the chair looked brand new.
"So," Petunia asked, inspecting a bed, "how are you and Mrs. Grabiner getting on?"
"She's a talented and studious young woman," he said, speaking in a distracted fashion as he continued his work, "who happens to be my wife. Temporarily," he added. Something in the corner caught his attention, glowing brightly in response to his detection spell. He pulled back the cloth drape from the enchanted object, revealing a simple looking spinning wheel. "I'm her professor and she is my student. Please try and reign in your imagination, Petunia."
Placing a hand on his forehead, Hieronymous shook his head, blinking several times. His stare intent, he reached out his hand.
"Who's imagining? I'm just asking-" Petunia stopped short as she saw Hieronymous collapse from the corner of her eye.
"Hieronymous?!" she called, rushing over.
He made no response.
Petunia laid a hand surrounded in blinding green light upon his cheek. Hieronymous did not stir.
The headmaster chanted, illuminating his form in green light. A small bead of sweat appeared on her brow, as she chanted on. Finally, she let the glow slip away in defeat.
Petunia looked at the spinning wheel Hieronymous had been examining, her eyes lingering on the sharp spindle.
A small trickle of blood flowed from Hieronymous' index finger.
Lina Grabiner walked briskly into Iris Academy. She hadn't expected to see the great hall again so soon. Her summer vacation was only half over, but she had received a message that her husband and professor, Hieronymous Grabiner, had been seriously injured.
Professor Petunia Potsdam met Lina in the great hall.
"Thank you for coming, dear heart," Professor Potsdam said solemnly.
"What happened? Is he alright? The driver wouldn't tell me anything," Lina replied.
"It's alright, poppet, he's not in any danger," Professor Potsdam said, letting Lina draw a sigh of relief. "I'm afraid he's in a deep, magical sleep. We were investigating a very old castle ruin in France, near Marseille. Most unfortunately, we underestimated some of the enchantments left inside, and, well, until he awakens, we can't remove him from the castle."
"A magical sleep...? You can wake him up, can't you?" Lina asked with a worried frown.
"Not with... conventional magic, no. You see, old magic, very old magic, is about emotions and ritual. Royalty often employed these sorts of charms... but, you don't need a history lesson about fairies. The important thing you need to understand, is that, it's imperative we wake Hieronymous up and bring him home, right?"
"Definitely!" Lina replied.
"And you're ready to help, of course?" Professor Potsdam asked.
"Absolutely!" Lina nodded.
"Good, good!" Professor Potsdam replied, clasping Lina's hands, "You have to kiss him."
"Passionately. You see, very old magic-" Professor Potsdam began.
"No!" exclaimed Lina.
"Now, now... no need to get so worked up, it's only a kiss," Professor Potsdam said matter-of-fact.
"I don't know..." Lina frowned.
"Poor Hieronymous," Professor Potsdam said dramatically, "trapped! Frozen in time, forever in sleep's cold embrace-"
"OKAY, OKAY!" shouted Lina. "Goddammit anyway..." she muttered stomping out of the room.
"Lina? Where are you going, dear one?" called Professor Potsdam.
From the distance she heard Lina shout back, "TO GET A TIC-TAC!"
After brushing her teeth, using liberal amounts of Listerine, and devouring a handful of Tic-Tacs, Lina was feeling fresher than an Andes Mint, but no less nervous. She ran her fingers restlessly back through her hair for the umpteenth time as she rejoined her headmaster in the great hall.
Lina came to a screeching halt at the sight of Professor Potsdam. Normally dressed in the most spectacular and brightly colored outfits Lina had seen outside of a Disney film, the headmaster was wearing floppy, oversized, brown swashbuckler boots. To say they'd seen better days would have been putting it mildly. Next to her pink robe and sparkling glasses, they looked, to Lina, out of place. Only slightly less out of place, Lina would have said, if she could have formed a sentence at that moment, than finding a hippo in a tutu doing ballet in the great hall. But, she thought, who knew. The day was young, and the way it had been going so far, she might find a hippo yet.
Professor Potsdam pursed her lips as she glanced down at her unusual footwear.
"I know, you needn't say anything, my sugar cube. Seven league boots. They're..." she looked back at her feet and suppressed a sigh, "...utilitarian. Here you are, slip these over your shoes." The professor produced another pair of floppy boots from a bag tied to her belt, a bag much smaller than the boots themselves, "Follow me. Take fifteen steps exactly."
Lina slipped into the tall pair of boots, wiggling her toes in them, before looking up at Professor Potsdam. As the professor extended her leg to take a step, Lina watched in fascination as her body seemed to elongate like it were made of rubber. As soon as her outstretched foot met the ground she was gone.
Eyes wide in surprise, Lina tentatively lifted her own foot to take a step forward. Upon her first step, she lurched forward awkwardly. Suddenly she felt the spray of the ocean against her face. The smell of salt filling her nose, she looked around, seeing nothing but the ocean. The vast blue expanse seemed to go on for miles. Beneath her, she spied a school of fish swimming just beneath the blue water's surface. Lina paused, reaching down to touch them, feeling the cold ocean against her fingertips.
"Don't stand still too long! You might fall in," Lina heard the professor call, standing a short ways ahead of her upon the water.
Lina went to call after her but Professor Potsdam turned and went on her way.
Lina took a deep breath then, moving her left foot forward. She felt her sense of the world lurch again. When her foot met the water again, she was standing over another portion of the ocean.
Dark clouds hung low in the sky. Lina saw rain hitting the now green, foamy waters, as the ocean storm moved closer to her. Determined to not be caught in the storm she took her third step from there, then her fourth, and then her fifth. The sky, becoming brighter and brighter with each step, transitioned from the late night of New Hampshire to the early morning of France. Lina felt the warm morning sun's rays upon her face as she took her last step forward into the French country.
Lina had barely taken in the view of the beach before she heard Professor Potsdam snap her fingers beside her, teleporting them both into a chilly, aged foyer of gray stone walls.
Lina bent down, removing the large, brown, leather boots covering her own black, ballet flats. Professor Potsdam removed hers as well, depositing both pairs gently back in the tiny bag on her belt.
Mary Poppins, eat your heart out, Lina thought, watching the bag swallow up the giant shoes.
"Why do they call them seven league boots exactly? I don't know how long a 'league' is, but I think we've traveled more than seven of them," Lina said.
"The name is purely traditional. Originally, they could only take you seven leagues, or twenty one miles if you rather. But, magic progressed a bit over time," Professor Potsdam said, leading her cheerfully to a door at the top of a stone staircase.
"Now, I'll be waiting just out here if you need me," Professor Potsdam said.
"Are you sure you can't cast some kind of spell to wake him up?" Lina asked, grasping at straws.
"I tried, but it's such old magic. No, I'm afraid it has to be... love's first kiss!" Professor Potsdam barely suppressed a girlish giggle.
Lina wanted to scream in frustration. "We're not that serious!"
"Oh well," Professor Potsdam said dismissively, "you're married, maybe that will count?"
"Maybe? Hang on a minute, are you guessing?!"
"I never guess. I make astute estimations," she continued, speaking quickly, leaving no room for interruption, "And I can say with utter certainty that a kiss is the key. I can also say that, if this doesn't work, he could be asleep for a very long time... perhaps a hundred years... or much more. So! No pressure though, go on, in you get," Professor Potsdam shooed Lina through the door with a smile and closed it behind her.
"She is enjoying this far too much," grumbled Lina.
Lina looked around the room of the castle. There was a window letting in sun light and a four poster bed across the room with white cloth draping all around it.
Casting her eyes to the heavens, silently asking what she had done to make the universe pick on her, she walked to the bed, pulling aside the drapery.
"What... PROFESSOR! Did you put white roses around him?!"
"Can't hear you dear, thick door," Professor Potsdam replied.
Liar! Lina thought. She shook her head, this was just... over the top!
Lina brushed some roses off the side of the bed, taking care not to touch the thorns, and sat down huffily.
No wonder Hieronymous is always so cross with her! Lina wondered how much of this nonsense he dealt with on a regular basis.
Hieronymous lay still on the bed, his eyes closed. He was dressed in a black suit over a purple dress shirt, laying on the embroidered gold and silver fabric of the bed cover. Lina assumed these were what his casual clothes looked like, when he wasn't dressed in teacher's robes. He looked very attractive in a suit.
Feeling a new rush of embarrassment, Lina said, "I want to point out, in case you can hear me, that I am not trying to take advantage of you. Professor Potsdam tells me that I have to... kiss you, to break this spell. So, if you're going to kill someone, please, kill her. And if possible, I'd like to be present."
Lina paused, rubbing her sweating palms on her skirt.
"I-I'll try to do it quickly."
After a bit of adjusting, she knelt beside him, tossed her hair back over a shoulder, and leaned down. Lina brushed her lips on his for a fraction of a second and watched his eyes. There was no reaction.
"Nothing happened!" she called to the door.
"Try harder, my little butterfly! It has to be passionate!" she shouted the last word with gusto.
"Professor!" Lina hollered, mortified at the many ways her direction could be taken. "We are still talking about kissing, aren't we?!" Huh, of all the ways I imagined this morning going... this... this was definitly not one of them.
"Of course!" Professor Potsdam shouted back, "Now, less talking, more kissing."
Lina glared daggers at the door.
Sighing, she turned back to the dark haired man laying next to her.
What if she kissed him all out... and he woke up critiquing it. She could hear him now, "Ugh! Ten demerits for sloppy kissing" or "You are without doubt the worst kisser" or even "For god's sake, please don't inflict your kissing on the world again".
She balled up her fist and glared at him.
"And how am I supposed to know how to kiss someone?!" she said accusingly. "If you hate it, don't complain to me about it afterward!"
I'm yelling at an unconscious man. Lina sighed and rubbed her temples. I've lost it.
"I'm sorry," Lina said gently, "This isn't your fault. I'm being selfish. You could be asleep forever if I don't wake you up." She looked at his face, adding softly, "I don't want that."
Lina knocked all of the roses off the bed and onto the floor.
"There," she said. "This isn't a big deal. It's just a kiss."
She gently placed her hand on his cheek, tilting him closer.
"Wake up, Hieronymous," she whispered.
Lina softly pressed her lips against Hieronymous'. His lips felt soft and warm. Lina could smell his aftershave. She placed a hand behind his head, her fingers interweaving through his dark locks, deepening the kiss.
She started to feel lighter than air and she felt him stir.
Breaking the kiss, she leaned back and smiled shyly at him.
He looked back at her sleepily at first, then to her complete surprise, he returned her smile.
"Mm," he said sleepily. "This dream again."
Lina let out a shocked yelp as he rolled her over onto her back and kissed her. Passionately, as she recalled Professor Potsdam exclaiming.