Severely Deluded

A/N: New year, new story. I hope you enjoy both. Also, just so you know, this is sort-of Snape/Hermione, in case that sort of thing squicks you, but there isn't any action to speak of – if it was a more traditional pairing, I'd have rated it PG. But you can judge for yourself.

Scene 1

One ordinary day at breakfast, Hermione had a terrible realization.

She was in love with Snape.

Maybe "in love" wasn't the proper phrase, Hermione immediately corrected herself. "Infatuated"? "Crushing on"?

I'm not helping my case, she thought, and set down her goblet of pumpkin juice, which for some reason she no longer fancied. Perhaps its color was a shade off today, the taste not quite right. Perhaps she was the hapless victim of a Love Potion. That thought made Hermione smile.

She produced her wand and conjured a small gleaming flask, complete with cork stopper.

"Showoff," Ron muttered into his eggs and bacon. Harry, on her other side, had his head on his Charms text and was snoring lightly.

"Honestly, Ron, you should know how to do that by now," Hermione said, neatly filling the flask with the contents of her goblet. "Or at least by the next test."

"I hope you're not planning on taking that to Potions," Ron said, watching Hermione knock in the cork. "Snape won't be too chuffed."

"No, I expect not," Hermione said, tucking it into her bag. Ron, well versed in spotting hopeless cases, recognized another and returned his attention to his eggs.

Hermione waited until the end of class to approach Snape. She shooed Ron and Harry out the door, then marched up to Snape's desk bearing her flask of pumpkin juice. Snape looked up at her approach and put his quill down, looking bad-tempered.

"I sincerely hope that is not your potion, Miss Granger."

"It's my pumpkin juice from breakfast," she said. "I suspect it has Love Potion in it, sir."

"Fallen madly in love with someone this morning, have you?" Snape said, a nasty glint in his eye. "You are aware that --"

"Love Potions are illegal at Hogwarts, I know," Hermione said. "But when has that ever stopped --"

"Your two cohorts are incapable of producing a working Love Potion, as is every other student in this school," Snape said. "Except perhaps yourself."
"Thank you, sir."

"When you aren't wasting your time plotting with Potter and Weasley, that is."

"I never plot on class time, sir." Hermione kept her eyes lowered, knowing Snape would not believe her if she did not look him in the eye, but she was in no emotional state to defend her mind and its contents against him.

Snape snorted. "Let me have a look."

She handed him the flask. He opened it, smelled the contents, touched a drop of it to his tongue.

"Finish your pumpkin juice, Miss Granger," said Snape, shoving the flask back at her. "There's nothing wrong with it except the house-elves have started using last year's pumpkins."

Hermione accepted it without comment.

Snape said, "May I ask --"

"No," Hermione said immediately, blushing.

"Let me finish, Miss Granger," Snape said, folding his hands and leaning back. "Why did you suspect Love Potion?"

"Because – I can't possibly be in love with him," said Hermione. "It's completely illogical."

"Have you never, in all your reading, come across a French Muggle by the name of Pascal?"

"No, sir."

"Love has its own reason of which reason knows nothing," Snape said. "I suggest you learn how to tell the difference between magically induced love and the regular sort."

Hermione recognized her dismissal and walked away. Halfway across the classroom, the conjured flask disappeared, leaving Hermione with pumpkin juice all down her front.

"I'm astonished, Miss Granger," said Snape. "From the way Minerva always brags about you, I would have expected it to last until the next full moon."

"It lasted an hour and a half, sir," Hermione snapped, waving her wand to remove the stains.

"Not enough lateral motion," Snape said. "Come here and I'll do it right."

To Hermione's annoyance, he did.

"Thank you," she said, knowing it sounded sulky.

"There are several useful books in the library on Cleaning Charms, which you also seem to have missed," Snape said, with a reprise of the nasty glint.

"I'll be sure to look them up just as soon as I've finished your six-foot essay, sir," Hermione said, injecting as much venom as she dared into the last word. This time, she made it out of the classroom unstained.

Once out in the corridor, Hermione decided it would be best to stop by the bathroom and wash her hands before lunch so as to remove any residue of potion ingredients. Her heart was beating fast, no doubt as a result of having accidentally inhaled some of the powdered Diricawl dung, and her face, as far as she could tell in the cracked, grimy and mildewed mirror, was still an unflattering shade of red from hanging over her cauldron for close to an hour. Probably also responsible was the unusual warmth of the dungeons. Perhaps Snape had at last unbent enough to begin heating the dungeons, though no one else seemed to have noticed anything.

On the topic of Snape, Hermione was forced to admit that he had won their recent skirmish. However, she had no intention of letting him win the battle. She knew that her mind would not so far betray her as to be freely attracted to Snape, and she intended to pin the blame on a potion even, and especially, if it meant reading Pascal and cleaning up her Cleaning Charms.

A/N: I think it was Pascal, anyway. It could have been Descartes. Anyway, I apologize to whoever it was for the bad translation. And if you think it really was Descartes, let me know.