Title: Keep Your Hands Off My Pumpkin!
Author: Amethyst
Author E-mail: Category: Valentine's Day fluff (a genre of it's own, I say)
Keywords: Harry, Hermione, Valentine's Day, pumpkin
Rating: PG
Spoilers: For all five books, I suppose.
Summary: What better way to spend Valentine's Day than as a pumpkin, eh? Yes, I'm sure Hermione would agree.
Disclaimer:This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. In other words, don't sue me.
Author's Note: Forgive me if it's a bit rushed or complete carp - I was a bit rushed, and I didn't have time to get it betaed. But it's fluff – who cares about typos in fluff? Oh, and, as usual, this was written for fanfict00bs, on livejournal under the same name.

Keep Your Hands Off My Pumpkin!

"God, I hate Valentine's Day!" Hermione cried, sitting down beside Harry at breakfast. This wasn't exactly news to Harry. Four out of the six years he'd known Hermione, she'd woken up cranky on Valentine's Day – granted, two of those times were because he or Ron had done something stupid the night before to piss her off, but, still, he knew she hated Valentine's Day. What surprised him was how vocal she was about it this year.

"Good morning to you, too, Hermione," he said, wishing the pile of Valentines that he'd been sent wasn't quite so high. Hermione only got a few Valentines each year, usually from Neville and Colin Creevey, and once one from Ron with a flower that she turned out to be severely allergic to. Really, it was no wonder she hated the holiday. Even Millicent Bulstrode wouldn't appreciate that kind of attention.

Harry didn't like Valentine's Day much either, when it came down to it. It was the day when all the girls in Hogwarts came together to show him just how much they really cared – about his fame, money, Quidditch skills, or whatever it was that interested them so much. It was more annoying than anything. On top of having to reject them all due to absolutely no time for dating between defeating dark lords, he had to deal with resentment from both his best friends. Harry was used to it from Ron – he'd always envied his fame, even though he would have loved nothing more than to hand all the attention over to him. But Hermione…she was usually the one person that understood that it was something Harry didn't want and had never asked for. On Valentine's Day, however, it seemed to hurt her somehow, and he hated feeling as though she was in pain because of him, even if it was not something he'd intended.

She gave a hefty sigh and reached for the pitcher of pumpkin juice. "I'm sorry, Harry," she said. "I shouldn't take out my anger at my giggling roommates on you."

"Giggling?" he asked, confused. Giggling didn't seem like much of a thing to be angry about.

"Yes, giggling," Hermione said, buttering her toast with more force than was necessary. "Every Valentine's Day it's the same – I wake up, and there they are, giggling over the Valentines they're sending and talking about who they think will send them Valentines this year – for months, they scheme and plot to get boys to do it, as if attention from boys is some prize to be won! They have no dignity – covering their face in powder and goo and spending a ridiculous amount of time on their hair and dressing like…like…prostitutes just so they can say they had the most Valentines!"

Harry could only blink at her. An angry Hermione was a frightening thing, especially on a day like today, when her ire could be directed at his entire gender on a moment's notice.

"Well, don't just stare at me like that!" she huffed. "You don't actually like girls like that, do you? Who cover their faces but show off all the rest of their skin just to get a few lewd looks – do you actually find those girls attractive?"

Harry didn't know much about girls, but he knew enough to know that saying yes would be tantamount to a death sentence at the moment.

"Of course not. Girls like you are much prettier."

"What's that supposed to mean, girls like me?" she snapped. "Girls that don't care about how they look, is that what you're implying?"

"No," he said slowly, mentally searching for something to salvage the situation. Aha, there the light bulb went. "I'm implying that girls like you don't need makeup to be pretty. You just are."

Hermione blushed, but continued to look at him suspiciously. "Do you really think I'm pretty, or are you just saying that to make me feel better?"

"Of course I really think you're pretty," he said, and he did mean it. "You know what I'm like with girls. You think I would have had the sense to tell you that if it hadn't been staring me in the face?"

Hermione smiled. "No, I suppose you wouldn't have. You would have ended up telling me boys wouldn't want girls getting makeup all over them or something."

"Exactly," he said, nodding.

She glanced surreptitiously at the stack of cards accumulating by his plate. "Have you received any Valentines from girls you like?"

Her question confused Harry. She'd never shown any interest in his Valentines or whatever appreciation thereof he might have had in the past. "Um, well, I haven't really looked at them yet," he answered. "But I doubt it."

I'd hoped to leave it at that, but she wasn't satisfied. "Why not?"

Harry shrugged, avoiding her eyes. "There's no one I really like that way."

That wasn't the whole truth. That was a blatant lie, actually. Harry did like a girl, and he liked her more than any girl he'd ever liked before. Sometimes he even thought he was in love with her – it wasn't a hard idea to accept. She was, after all, intelligent, clever, beautiful, determined, loyal, warm, kind, and by far the best friend he'd ever had.

Yes, Hermione. He was completely, undeniably smitten with Hermione.

And if he had any say in the matter, she would never know a thing about it.

Harry glanced over at her. The sad, hurt look had returned to her eyes, presumably thanks to something he'd said or done. He looked back at the conversation and couldn't find what might have hurt her feelings…unless…she was upset that he didn't like anyone that way, and therefore implied that he didn't like her that way – did she want him to like her that way? No, that was preposterous, Hermione didn't think of him like that…did she?

"You should look through them anyway, Harry," she insisted. "There might be one that catches your eye…you might as well give it a chance…"

Harry nodded warily, noting the silent plea in her expression that he agree with her. Feeling her eyes upon him as he did so, he slowly began to sort through the large stack of cards, privately thinking eating breakfast would be a much more productive use of breakfast time.

At least they were easy to sort through. His evaluating system was simple – anything pink, glittered, scented, covered in hearts (or lip imprints), or otherwise completely tacky was discarded immediately. That left only two normal ones – a card in a plain envelope with nothing but his name on it, and a tightly rolled scroll with a crimson ribbon around it.

Harry glanced over at Hermione. She was still watching and clearly would not give up on whatever it was she was up to anytime soon.

Resigned, he opened the envelope. Pink and glittered. He tossed it to the side. Now the scroll – he had to admit, it intrigued him. At the very least, it was unique, which made whoever had written it different than the other girls…so maybe she would treat him differently than the other girls…and maybe she could help him get over Hermione…maybe he wouldn't be doomed to unrequited love for the rest of his life…

He slipped the ribbon off and unrolled the scroll.

Dear Harry,

I'm not sure exactly what I want to say to you, but I know that I want to say something to you this Valentine's Day. Something to let you know that I think about you more than I should, and that I've grown to think of you as more than just a boy, more than just a friend. Does that make sense?

I admire your courage, and the strength of your heart, and your ability to overcome all the darkness in your life. Your smile warms my heart and don't worry too much about your hair. It's adorable, really.

Don't get the wrong idea. I know there's more to you than bravery and heroics. I love your insecurities as well, and I don't mind when you brood. You need to brood now and then, I know. And I don't care that you have no idea what you're doing when it comes to girls. I wouldn't mind teaching you.

What I mean to say is that I like you, Harry – all of you. It scares me how much. I can't tell you to your face. If you didn't feel the same way, I'm not sure I could stand seeing it in your eyes.

I just wanted you to know that someone genuinely cares about you, because you deserve that. Maybe someday you'll feel the same way about me.

Love,

Somebody

Harry set the scroll down, dazed. Such sincerity was something he'd never encountered before in a Valentine, and whoever had written it seemed like someone he could see himself with. She seemed understanding, patient, warm, intelligent – so many of the things that he loved about Hermione.

Glancing over at her, Harry found Hermione watching him. She smiled. "Have you found one you liked?"

"Yeah, I guess I have."

"Well, who sent it?" she questioned.

"Dunno," Harry said. "It wasn't signed."

"That's odd. Not much point sending a Valentine if you're not going to be identified with it. Maybe you're supposed to guess who it is – does the handwriting look familiar?"

Harry squinted at it. "Sort of, but all girls' handwriting looks the same to me…anyway, I don't think she meant for me to figure it out. She said she was too scared to tell me straight out…"

"Oh, she probably says that – but deep down, I'm sure she hopes you'll figure it out," Hermione said knowingly. Harry attempted to take in her expression in a sidelong glance. There was something fishy in the way she was acting today…

"Are you going to reply to that one, then?" she asked him.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "And how am I supposed to do that? I don't know who to reply to!"

"Whom," Hermione corrected, "And I'm sure Hedwig knows who sent it."

"Why would Hedwig know?"

"Because she delivered that one," Hermione said, looking smug. "It's lucky one of us here pays attention to their surroundings."

"Oh." Harry looked down at the scroll, pondering the idea. The girl seemed great, really…but he knew, much as he tried to deny it, that she would not be enough to make him forget Hermione for one second…and he would spend every moment with her comparing her to Hermione…and she would never measure up.

"I don't know if it would be a good idea," Harry finally said, tearing his eyes away from the scroll. "I'll think about it."

Hermione nodded, looking depressed again. Harry sighed. This Valentine's Day sadness had to stop – he'd cheer her up, somehow. Maybe he'd send her a secret Valentine…but, no, that wouldn't work. She'd surely figure out it was him, and once she did, she'd be disappointed that it wasn't someone else and it would surely cause tension between them…

Perhaps he'd skive off and go buy her chocolates or something…girls liked chocolates…and flowers! Flowers would certainly make her happy…

Would she want flowers and chocolates from him, though?

Frowning, Harry glanced at Hermione. She was staring discontentedly at her heart-shaped toast. Perhaps she just needed a good, strong Cheering Charm…

Harry's eyes widened. Yes, that was it! A Cheering Charm! Surely that would cheer her up, and it would be easy – he would simply make an excuse to stay behind when she went to class, and then he would follow her and cast the charm. Harry allowed a self-satisfied smile to form on his face. His plan was pure genius.

"Harry, we'd better hurry," Hermione said, breaking into his thoughts. "We've got Transfiguration this morning – don't want to be late."

Harry blinked. "Right, Transfiguration…you know what, you go on without me, I need to run to the loo before class."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Thanks for sharing. All right, then. I'll head on to class – see you in a bit," she said, squeezing his shoulder, before she picked up her bag and left. Yes, his plan would go perfectly.

Once Hermione had left the Great Hall, Harry quickly shoved down his last bite of toast and grabbed his back, hurrying after her. He'd have to follow along at a safe distance so that she wouldn't hear him.

Lightly, he crept after her until he found her waiting outside McGonagall's classroom. He ducked behind a statue – perfect. He'd cast the spell, and a minute or two later Harry would meet her and find her perfectly happy with the world.

Quietly he pulled out his wand, whispered the words, and watched as –

As Hermione unceremoniously turned into a pumpkin.

Oh god, what have I done?

Harry rushed over to his now very orange friend, but not before Draco Malfoy came sauntering down the hallway with his usual impeccable timing and picked up Harry's precious pumpkin. Harry groaned.

"What's this? A failed transfiguration project? What did you do, botch a spell on the Mudblood's cat?"

Harry was about to murder. Bad enough that he'd just turned his best friend into a pumpkin – he definitely didn't need to deal with obnoxious Slytherin brats…

"Don't even start with me, Malfoy, I'm warning you, and don't call her that. Hand over the pumpkin now and no one gets hurt."

Draco, predictably, laughed. "Oh, so it is the cat – wonder what would happen if I smashed it?"

Harry gulped. Must get my pumpkin back NOW!

"Do it and I'll make sure you're at the business end of Hermione's wand," Harry threatened, all the while keeping his eyes trained on the pumpkin in Malfoy's hands. Something about the situation – besides Malfoy inadvertently threatening to kill his friend – made him extremely angry…strange, being jealous over a pumpkin…

"Now why would I want to give it back when I could cause you and your pathetic friend so much pain?"

Harry took a step toward Draco, and then another step – luckily for Harry, Malfoy didn't back away, which fit into his plan nicely.

"What, you going to fight me for it, Potter?"

Harry offered a smirk of his own and raised his wand. "Petrificus totalus."

And Harry caught Hermione as his rival hit the floor with a thud. "Keep your hands off my pumpkin," Harry said in a very smug tone as he carried Hermione down the hallway.

Now what was he to do? He'd rescued Hermione from the clutches of a rather stupid, antagonistic git, but she was still a pumpkin, which meant he still had a lot of work to do.

Naturally, the last thing he wanted to do was admit to anyone – teachers especially – that he'd turned Hermione into a pumpkin trying to cast a charm on her that he probably shouldn't have been casting without consent (but his intentions were in the right place…he thought that should count for something). He also didn't want to explain to McGonagall and their entire Transfiguration class why Hermione wasn't there – or why he had a pumpkin with him.

Perhaps he would spend a little time trying to figure this out on his own. Surely Hermione would forgive him for his mistake if he could manage to undo it in a timely fashion…wouldn't she? No, she probably wouldn't, but at the present, it was better than the alternative.

He would go to the library, under the Invisibility Cloak, and attempt to find some literature that dealt with his problem. There was an entire section on magical mistakes – surely this couldn't be too uncommon, turning friends into pumpkins while casting Cheering Charms – perhaps he'd done the wrong wand movement or put an accent on the wrong syllable…

With those thoughts in mind, Harry rushed up to Gryffindor Tower to hide his orange friend in a safe place and grab the Cloak. He'd have this cracked in no time – it would be a breeze, a piece of cake, a game of Quidditch against Hufflepuff, a – well, something extremely easy, to get to the point.

Harry stowed Hermione away in his bedside cabinet and, invisible, ran down to the library. Since classes had begun by then, the library was completely deserted, and Madame Pince was nowhere to be seen – probably lurking about in a far corner of the library petting her books, knowing her.

Harry darted to the section he desperately needed at the moment and began to look through titles. Unfortunately, the section was quite large. After looking through most of the books on over-zealous Cheering Charms, pumpkin-related transfiguration spells, and anything concerning turning people into vegetables, Harry was about to give up – but then he spotted his salvation. So You Turned Your Friend Into a Pumpkin.

Harry grabbed the book eagerly and flipped to the first page.

So you turned you friend into a pumpkin – what do you do now? A solution is available. Just browse through the following questions and find the one you can say "yes" to.

Did you spill pumpkin juice in a Shrinking Potion? Nope. … Did you try to cast a Hyper-Hive Jinx with food in your mouth? No, thanks, I'm not Ron. … He was nearing the end of the list and rapidly losing hope… Did you by any chance try to cast a Cheering Charm on a member of the opposite sex on Valentine's Day? Jackpot. Turn to page 527.

Harry flipped to the page. What he found made his head spin.

The Cheering Charm can have very strange side-effects, varying with the emotions of the caster for the castee. On Valentine's Day, the spell can have a very particular effect if the caster happens to harbor a secret attraction to the person being cheered and does so without the castee's consent.

When this circumstance occurs, the castee is turned into a pumpkin. Unfortunately, there is only one known way to reverse this effect. The caster must confess his or her feelings to the person affected, even though he or she is in pumpkin form, and kiss the shell of the pumpkin. Unless this is done before Valentine's Day ends, the afflicted will remain a pumpkin forever.

Harry put the book back on the shelf, his heart in his throat. So that was that. He had to tell her to save her. But what if he lost her? You'll lose her anyway, nitwit – unless you fancy carrying a pumpkin around for the rest of your life. Indeed, he knew he had no choice – but he was terrified. What if, no matter how hard they tried to salvage things once she knew, their friendship eventually fell apart? How could he go on without her?

It was with a heavy sense of mingled determination and despair that Harry returned to his dormitory. Nervously, he removed Hermione from the cabinet and settled on his bed with his pumpkin of a best friend in his lap. What, exactly, should he say? He wasn't quite sure what he really felt for her. Did he love her? Or did he just fancy her? How was he supposed to know these things without Hermione around to explain them?

Harry sighed. There was nothing to do but start talking and hope he said the right thing.

"Hermione…I…well, I don't know where to begin, but I fancy you. I know that much. Doesn't take an idiot to know when he thinks a girl is pretty, does it? There's more to it than that, though. I might…I might be in love with you. Love's never made much sense to me. I don't have any idea how to tell…but it would make sense, wouldn't it? You're my best friend, and we've been through everything together since we came to Hogwarts. You know me better than anyone else does, and I know you're the one person I can always count on to be there for me, no matter what idiotic thing I've done, no matter how annoyed you are with me or I am with you…and that's nice, knowing you'll stick around."

Harry gulped. "And when I think of the future, I can't think of one for me that doesn't include you. I can't imagine living without you…I don't know if I could. …Okay, so maybe I do love you. There. I've said it, and it's true, and…well, here goes nothing."

Tentatively, he raised the pumpkin and pressed his lips to the orange shell, noting how extremely bizarre it was to be kissing a pumpkin.

Instantly and with a slight popping sound, the pumpkin became Hermione again, sitting in his lap.

Harry anxiously met her eyes. Hers were a bit watery, slightly angry, and slightly dreamy, which confused him more than anything else in the world could.

She sniffled. "Oh, Harry, you daft git, don't you know better than to use a Cheering Charm on Valentine's Day? Didn't you pay any attention in class?"

Harry shrugged helplessly. "I just wanted to cheer you up…and actually, I was a bit preoccupied that day – don't you remember? That was that day third year when you fell asleep and forgot to go to Charms. I was worried about you that day…"

Hermione's face softened. "Well, I'm sort of glad you cast the charm, Harry…because…you remember that Valentine this morning?"

Harry nodded, still perplexed but beginning to suspect that Hermione had something to do with that Valentine…

"Well, I wrote it, and if I'd known – oh, Harry, I could hear everything you said – if I'd had any idea –"

Harry blinked. Hermione…had sent the Valentine…well, no wonder it had reminded him of her.

Oh god – I love her and she at least fancies me and we both know and she's not hexing me…

"Harry? Would you…say something?"

Harry almost laughed. "What's left to say?"

Hermione smiled, winding her arms around his neck. There was a dangerous little gleam in her eye that Harry had long ago learned to be wary of. "You're right," she said, and her voice dropped to a low murmur as she leaned closer. "Ten points to Gryffindor, Mr. Potter."

As Hermione pressed her lips to his, Harry decided that the gleam in her eye was a good thing after all, as were many other previously dangerous things – like Cheering Charms, and Hermione's tongue, and Valentine's Day.

Yes, Harry definitely liked Valentine's Day now, and, as far as he could tell, Hermione did, too.

The End

A/N: So, sorry if this is littered with typos and otherwise completely horrible. I finished it at 2:30 in the morning and it's quite unbetaed – sue me, I've had a lot on my plate. But if you did notice any annoying typos and such, feel free to point them out so I can fix them.

Oh, and a quick source to cite – I totally stole the "Keep your hands off my pumpkin" bit from Charmed. …Actually, I got most of the idea for this fic from that episode. shrug What? It was funny.