Disclaimer: Don't own, JKR does. No infringement intended, no money being made.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Not all pledges of love bring happiness.

A Valentine's Surprise

by Auror Borealis

The frenzy that swept Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry every February 14th exceeded that of even Christmas or Halloween. Students strolled arm in arm into the Great Hall at breakfast, eagerly awaiting the flurry of owls bearing red and pink envelopes for those lucky enough to have someone, or even several aspiring someones; there were girls who received the wretched things by the dozen.

Professor Dumbledore appeared at breakfast wearing red robes with trimmed with white sleeves, on which little red hearts appeared and disappeared. The usual nasty little cupids appeared, shooting their arrows and strewing the hall with red roses. The smell from the crushed blossoms filled the hall, sending Hermione Granger's stomach into revolt. She steeled herself against the dizziness that assailed her, although breathing deeply had not proved a good remedy. She settled for pushing her plate out of the way, and laying her head upon the table until the fainting feeling passed.

"My plans for the day, Harry?" Ron Weasley's theatrically loud voice carried easily to Hermione, some way down the table, as she was sure it was meant to. It grieved her to have to remove herself from her particular friends at the Gryffindor table, as she was forced to distance herself from them in every aspect of her life, it seemed. But none of them could accept the feelings that had grown inside her over the last year; not one of them could be tolerant of the fact that she had somehow fallen in love with Professor Snape.

"My plans?" Ron repeated. "I guess I'll be going to see Madam Pomfrey for some of her Unrequited Love Potion. Maybe fall and break my leg on the way up the stairs, if I'm lucky. Anything to get out of Potions, so I don't have to look at Lover Boy's ugly, greasy face." The hatred in his tone still hurt, even though Hermione had heard it all before, too many times to count.

There was a stir at the Slytherin table, creating a welcome distraction. A Lady in Red had sashayed into the hall, her crimson cloak complete with a hood that concealed her face – until she reached Draco Malfoy. The hood fell back as she was pulled into his lap, and he began to nibble Pansy Parkinson's ear – "eww, at breakfast!" Hermione heard Ginny exclaim. The sight was too much for Hermione as well; she succumbed to the swoon that had been threatening for the last several minutes.

Hermione was vaguely aware of being swept up into strong arms, which plucked her off of the floor as though she weighed nothing at all. The next thing she knew, she was on a bed in the hospital wing. She hoped Ron hadn't really meant to come up here; she had no desire to deal with him at the moment. She had other things on her mind.

Madam Pomfrey stood beside the bed, shaking her head sadly. The disappointment on her face was unbearable, but it was nothing to the look on the face of Professor Severus Snape. He had been the one to carry her up here, she realized. And now, since he was present at this extremely inauspicious time, there was nothing she could do to stop him from learning her secret. Not that it was possible to keep it secret for much longer anyway, she thought bitterly.

It was so unfair, she raged silently. It had only been the once. He had refused any further personal contact with her, telling her angrily that it could never happen again. They must pretend it had never happened at all. Well, so much for that, she thought.

Madam Pomfrey went on, oblivious to the tension between Snape and Hermione. "Let me guess, Miss Granger. He declared his undying love, eternal devotion, that sort of thing? Boys will say anything, my dear, anything, to get what they want." She shook her head again, then turned to Snape.

"Would you mind staying with her a few minutes, Professor? I'm afraid the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall will have to be told." Hermione flinched, but Madam Pomfrey was firm. "I'm sorry, Miss Granger, truly I am. But there's no help for it. I have to inform them."

She swept out of the hospital wing. Snape's face had grown paler with every word Madam Pomfrey had uttered. Hermione could not bear to watch the dawning horror on his face as Pomfrey's words sank in. She looked down at the bedcovers, trembling.

"Happy Valentine's day, sir." She buried her face in her hands and wept for the wreckage of her life.

The End