Hermione woke up feeling exhausted, her head was aching and her eyes felt like they had sand in them. She was so miserable that it took her a few seconds to realize she was the only one in the room. The other girls were already headed down for breakfast! Just how late was she?

Getting dressed as fast as she could, Hermione raced down to the Great Hall, only slowing down to catch her breath before walking to her place next to Ginny. The enchanted ceiling was filled with large, fluffy, white clouds and Hermione hoped it would snow.

" Hermione, where were you?" Ginny asked, her concern was evident in her voice.

" I just overslept, thats all. " Hermione said, trying to dismiss the subject.

" You? Over sleep?" Ron raised an eyebrow skeptically. " Are you alright? Are you sure you're not sick?

" I'm fine! " She insisted, her temper flaring as her head throbbed. Why couldnt the just leave her alone, let her think?

" Umm, Hermione " Ginny started cautiously. " What's that on your finger? "

That snapped Hermione out of herown jumbled up thoughts. Automatically, she hid her hand under her robes. When she looked up, all three of them were staring at her. Confusion and concern were written all over their faces.

" That is- I mean-" Hermione started. " It's nothing!"

" Hermione, you know you can talk to us. " Harry said, turning back to his breakfast.

" It looked like a ring to me. " Ginny said, slyly, knowing exactly the reaction that comment would get.

" A ring?" Ron's eyebrows furrowed, forming a scrunched up V.

" I said it's nothing! " Hermione insisted, her voice getting louder.

People at the table next to them were starting to stare. She felt her cheeks getting hot, she knew they had to be bright pink. It was difficult to think with her head aching an d people looking at her like she was crazy. With her cheeks still burning, Hermione stalked off, she was done talking to them. She couldn't explain the ring or why she was wearing it when she didnt even know the answer herself.

She headed for her only safe haven in this school. The Library. The warm air and smell of books greeted her as she stepped through the double doors. She just wished her head would stop throbbing. She felt too warm, flushed, even here she couldn't escape it.

Not sure what she was looking for, not thinking clearly, Hermione started down the nearest row of books. She ran her fingers over the leather bound spines, some titles jumping out at her in gold lettering. Most she had already read. She started to walk around the end of one huge mahogany bookcase, when she saw a familiar, darkly clad figure.

At the other end of the small aisle between the bookshelves, Professor Snape stood, seemingly engrossed in a heavy book, bound in black leather. Hermione almost turned around, she may have been feeling strange ( she would NOT admit to being sick), but she still didn't want to be near him and his cold attitude. But she wouldn't let him affect her. She continued down the row as if he wasnt there.

" Good morning, Miss Granger. " Snape's quiet voice filled the space between them.

Hermione stopped, her hand frozen in place on the spine of a light tan book, it's title no longer important. Had he really just spoken to her? And in such a casual way? No sneer, no cold, condescending attitude she was used to. She even consider that maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. But she couldn't not answer him, even as confused as she was.

" G-Good morning, Professor. " She managed to get out, her voice wavering slightly.

Hermione realized she was using the bookcase for support now. For some reason her head felt oddly detached. Like it was floating off her shoulders. The room seemed to tilt, the floor looming up to meet her. A heavy fog seemed to fill her mind. Nothing looked right snd she couldn't make her arms work to push herself back up, they were wobbly and weak.

A wall of black filled her vision, moving closer. She felt a hand, wonderfully cool against her forehead, her cheeks. Somewhere in her head she knew it should bother her, his touching her, but she couldn't summon the energy to protest.

In a moment, she was weightless, air rushed past her face. After that one instant of buoyancy, Hermione felt herself being held tightly against something warm and solid. Her cheek rested lightly against it, even as the world tilted again and colors flew by. He shouldn't be carrying her, she knew, but she didnt have time to consider it as she sunk unwillingly into darkness.