Disclaimer: JK Rowling is the awesomest awesome to ever awesome. I am not. Enjoy.
Severus Snape very rarely spent his free time not working. Not because he enjoyed it, though he did, but because it gave him a convenient excuse to avoid people. Not that he was anti-social per se, but he simply did not get on with society. It was a bit like church and state. Either did well enough left alone, but the combination of the two tended to result in trouble, chaos, and, in extreme cases, fire being set to people.
This was rapidly approaching extreme.
"Severus, old chap!" said Lockhard merrily as he strolled into Severus' classroom. "You weren't at the party!"
Severus sneered without thinking. Lockhart had that effect on him. "I am working," he said, in case Lockhart hadn't noticed the large cauldron over which Severus was watching. "It's very important that I add the final ingredient just before it starts to boil—"
"Pah, that can wait!" interrupted Lockhart. He made a dismissive wave that knocked him off balance. Severus realized that the man was drunk. "You've got lots of time for work!"
"The difference between your time and mine, Lockhart, is that mine is important. Yours is merely inconvenient."
Lockhart nodded, obviously not listening. "Parties are important!" he insisted. "Come with me."
Severus was about to respond nastily, but stopped himself upon hearing the pleading in Lockhart's voice. He looked up from his potion and, for the first time since Lockhart had entered Severus' dungeon, regarded him with an attentive eye. His cheeks were red, possibly from drink, and he seemed to find his feet very interesting. If Severus didn't know better, he would swear that Lockhart…
"Lockhart, you're inebriated. Go back to your own rooms and leave mine alone."
Lockhart was apparently still sober enough to look offended. "I am not ineb... inerbrirated... iniabra... drunk! I'm as sober as I never was!"
"Indeed. So I won't need to lead you back. Good night, Lockhart. Go home."
As Lockhart stumbled out, Severus' potion began to boil over. "Damn you, Lockhart!" exclaimed Severus.
Severus' favorite breakfast consisted of a cinnamon roll, bacon, and eggs, with the addition of, or so his plate would suggest, owl feathers.
He looked up from his meal. He was vaguely aware that Lockhart was chattering to the students about Valentine's Day, but Severus was focused on the owl in front of him. It dropped a pink envelope into his eggs and waited for a snack. When it became obvious that Severus wasn't sharing, the owl gave an offended hoot and flew off.
Severus stared at the valentine. That's what it had to be; nothing else could be so pink. It was more than merely pink; it seemed to radiate some sort of internal pinkness beyond its color. In fact, the shade didn't look too much unlike the pink that decorated Lockhart.
Almost frightened, he opened it. It smelled faintly of lavender, he noticed with disgust. It read,
I've been unable to tell you aloud, but you've mastered more than potions. You are the master of my heart. Perhaps one day I will have the courage to tell you who I am, but in the meantime, please trust that my love is true and my heart is pure.
Your Secret Admirer
The signature had more curves and curls than a tangled Slinky. Indeed, it seemed that more effort had been put into the signature than the letter itself.
So his instinct the previous night had been correct. Lockhart... fancied him. This was very difficult for Severus to even contemplate, not least for the fact that it required him to use the word "fancy." Severus did not use words like "fancy." He used words like, "ensnare" and "bewitch" and "Lockhart, I will have your skull as a salad bowl."
This had to be dealt with.
Later that day, he was standing outside Professor Dumbledore's office, with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth and a face that suggested that it was not helping him to feel the least bit jolly.
"Dumbledore, the man fancies me! Fire him!"
"Do calm down, Severus. Have a piece of candy."
Severus growled and snatched a yellow piece of something from the bowl on Dumbledore's desk.
"Now, Severus," said the Headmaster, "what gives you the idea that Gilderoy has feelings for you?"
"Last night. He came into my classroom and asked me to come to that damned Valentine's Day party of his." It was, Severus realized, probably not the most effective argument he'd ever come up with.
"He asked all of us to the party, Severus. He probably missed your R.S.V.P." the Headmaster said.
"Well, aside from that, he sent me a valentine! Look!" He handed over the letter, which still smelled of lavender.
"How can you tell it is from him? It doesn't give a name."
Severus' face tried to express many different levels of frustration. "It just is! Can you think of anyone else whose signature even closely resembles that?"
Dumbledore shrugged amiably. "Perhaps a student?"
The conversation, which had gone downhill from the beginning, became vertical. Eventually Severus had to leave before he cursed something. Or punched something. Whichever came first.
Very well. Dumbledore was not about to do anything about Lockhart. It had been an outside chance anyway, as there wasn't any rule that he knew of that strictly forbade teacher relationships.
This meant that he had to convince Lockhart that he was not interested, and that he never would be. Shouldn't be too hard. How stupid could one man be?
I hate you. Die.
Severus S. Snape
Severus looked over his response to Lockhart's valentine, and removed the word "Dear." Then he simply through the whole letter in the fire of the staffroom. With his luck, Lockhart would think that Severus was simply playing hard-to-get, while he was really trying to play impossible-to-get-because-I-like-women-and-hate-you.
As he struggled with the proper way to express his hatred towards the man, Lockhart, in a flourish of pink. For that matter, Lockhart was a flourish of pink; if Severus put out all the fires, he suspected, Lockhart would probably still glow.
"Severus, old chap!" said Lockhart. Severus did not know why he was called an old chap, but did not like it. "I hear someone got a valentine this morning."
"It's Valentine's Day, Lockhart, I'm certain many people did. Now go away, I'm working."
"On Potions, eh? I can help!" he said proudly, as if trying to impress. "I've quite the hand with potions myself, you know."
Lockhart wasn't listening. "Why don't you let me take a look at that? I'll give you a few tips!" Before Severus could move to stop him, Lockhart snatched the paper on which Severus had been writing his new draft of hatred. "'Lockhart,'" he read, "'There are not yet words to describe the depth of my feelings for you, yet I still feel compelled to press on...' Severus! I had no idea!"
"I was not finished," Severus insisted. "The next line was going to be, 'I loathe you entirely,' but since you're here, I have a more direct link. Lockhart, I loathe you entirely. I know you sent me that bloody valentine, and I assure you, not only do I feel the exact opposite, but I would have to like you more in order to hate you. Burn. In. Hell."
Lockhart smiled and grinned in what he apparently thought was a roguish manner. "Oh, Severus, don't give me that! I can see why you're shy, since I am the five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award, but really, there's no need." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "To be honest, Severus, I had a bit of a crush on your myself. You're very smart, you know, I like that in a potential match."
Severus lost what little patience he had. "YOU BLITHERING IMBECILE!" he shouted. "I DO NOT LIKE YOU! I DO NOT LIKE MEN! I AM SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO WOMEN!" Professors Vector and Sinistra turned to look at him. He snapped his head in their direction. "You heard me!"
"Ah, still in denial, Severus? When's the last time you were even with a woman?"
Severus opened his mouth to retort, then found that he had no suitable response. Instead he settled for, "None of your damn business." He found that his eye was twitching and he couldn't uncurl his fist. He vaguely wondered how much trouble he'd get into for murdering the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Probably more than it was worth.
Suddenly, as Lockhart was trying to charm his way into Severus' bed, the rational part of Severus' mind that had been largely unused in the past few minutes spoke up. He can't accept that he was wrong, it said, so if you tell him you're not inclined to like men, he won't believe it. But what if there's another man?
Deciding that further thought on the subject would only get him into trouble, he hissed, "Lockhart, shut up and come with me. I don't want to discuss this in front of them." He motioned to the women, who were still staring at him.
"Quite right, Severus," said Lockhart with a wink. Severus resisted the urge to punch him.
They quickly walked out into the hallway, which was empty. Lockhart gave Severus an expectant look. "What is it that you wanted to tell me away from prying ears?" he asked in a voice that was apparently supposed to be sexy, with a strong emphasis on supposed to.
"Oh, Lock—Gilderoy," said Severus, wanting to bite his own tongue off, "I can lie to you no longer. You have seen through my mask of blind, unrelenting hatred, into the soft... erm... softness within.Though you have... have... bewitched my mind and ensnared my senses, I fear that I cannot... act upon these feelings." Really sell it now, he thought. "My heart belongs to another, and I must remain loyal to him."
Lockhart looked crestfallen, which was something to see in a man that was almost entirely crest. Then he perked up. "Ah, well, nothing ventured, eh? Can I at least ask the name of the man who beat me to your heart?"
Severus quickly cycled through a list of men he knew that were approximately his age and had never been in the employ of the Dark Lord.
It was a short list.
Dumbledore ambled toward the staffroom, trying to avoid thinking about recent events. If he were completely honest with himself, he'd know that he was teasing Severus about Lockhart. It was a welcome distraction, at any rate.
As he turned the corner, he saw the two professors talking about something. And neither was bleeding. Perhaps they'd made friends. He continued towards them, and Severus said, apparently responding to Lockhart, "Erm... his name is Remus. Remus Lupin."
Hmm, thought Dumbledore, Remus Lupin. I haven't heard from him in some time. I wonder how he's doing...