A/N: Hello! It's been a while since I've written anything, so I am pretty rusty. This fic is not properly beta'ed, just read over by me and a few of my friends, so please, if you see anything wrong don't hesitate to tell me! I hope you enjoy.
I don't stop crying because I've managed to run out of tears. I can sense them constantly pushing at the bottom of my eyes, and my heart feels like it was sucked up by Ronald Weasley's lips while he was inexpertly fishing for Lavender's tonsils. They don't quit out of anger either, though I feel like I could blast off part of the castle wall and chew it to gravel, I am that enraged.
I stop crying because my famed brain finally kicks in, and it is screaming, 'What the hell are you doing?'
And truthfully Brain, I am not sure.
I'm sitting here sobbing over a silly boy, and while Ron is usually a good friend of mine, I know that when it comes to maturity and intelligence he is a bit…lacking. And instead of acting like the mature and intelligent adult I know I can be, I'm treating the infidelity of my unrequited crush as if Voldemort personally blew up my cat.
Not to mention attacking him like the biggest jealous cow in the history of Wizarding Britain. I attacked one of my two best friends whom I wasn't and now will probably never date in front of my other best friend with a flock of birds. A move mental enough to be a plot device from an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
The shame is debilitating. I rather doubt I have any friends at this point. I wouldn't be friends with a crazy freak like me.
I know that the others in the school think of me as a walking, talking book with ridiculous hair, and I guess I started to see myself like that as well. I would never have imagined that I would react so poorly to slight emotional trauma. I mean, what would I do if I were in a real relationship with a man I loved and I caught him cheating on me? Based off my recent behaviour, there is a good chance I'd become a bloody murderer.
This thought is so disconcerting that I decide right then and there that I will never allow my emotions to get the better of me when it comes to the opposite sex. And first on the agenda for this decision was finding a way to get rid of my ridiculous infatuation with that prat Ronald.
I cast a mild cleansing spell on my face to get rid of the tear tracks and snot, and exit the dusty classroom I had been hiding in. If I hurried, I would have just enough time to search the library for ways to tackle my dilemma before curfew.
I would deal with this like with anything else: with research and planning and possibly some colour-coded charts.
At breakfast the next morning Harry approaches me as if I am a feral Hippogriff, which would be amusing if I wasn't so surprised that he was approaching me at all.
"Hey, Hermione, how're you?" he says slowly, obviously testing the waters.
"I'm fine, Harry." And really, I am. Before he came down I had been having a rather bad morning, since apparently wizards think they are too good for self-help books and so my library search last night was a total bust, and I had to sleep in the Common Room to avoid the graphic blow-by-blow storytelling that Lavender was giving Parvati on the joys of Ron's tongue slipperiness or some such rot.
But Harry is still talking to me. I could almost cry from joy.
"Good, that's…good." Harry took a deep breath, as if he were about to dive into the lake. "Look, about Ron-"
I cut him off with a noise that I'm afraid to say sounded like an angry cat. I am in no way prepared for this conversation. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I don't want to talk about him, nor do I want to talk to him. I know we weren't dating or anything, but my feelings are still rather hurt. About my reaction last night, though-"
From where I'm sitting I can see the exact moment Ron enters the room, Lavender's arm already attached to his waist like a creeping vine. His eyes meet mine with a glare that could set my curly hair on fire, and I can feel my face losing blood. Harry, oblivious to Ron's entrance, goes, "Yeah?"
Oh Merlin, I can see the marks where the canaries pecked his face and arms. I feel like dirt. I furiously whisper to Harry, "Just tell him if you can that I am very, very sorry for attacking him, and I really shouldn't have done that!" before exiting the hall like I'm being chased by Death Eaters.
There are times for Gryffindor courage, and then there are times for strategic retreats to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom for a good cry before Charms.
I scour the library four more times before I finally give up on finding anything useful there; feeling rather betrayed that it let me down in my time of need.
I also try and fail to ask Ginny for advice. I get five words in before I give up because it is just too awkward to talk to her about her brother like that. I even ponder asking Luna her thoughts, but I really am not in the mood to hear about how the key to emotional stability is getting rid of the mumpties in my socks or whatever other Quibbler nonsense.
I have a terrible feeling that the right person to ask about this would be Lavender, but I'll be damned if I do that. She has taken to glaring and whispering to Parvati whenever she sees me, probably because I mauled her boyfriend. Living with them becomes more hellish than usual.
Tonight I decided to take another crack at that Gryffindor courage stuff. I would like to stay in my room and pet my cat and read an improving book, and I will not be run off by gossipy cows.
Just as I settle down with a copy of Magical Melodies: The Spell of Song the door bangs open, and the two aforementioned cows come clomping in. Luckily I thought to pull my curtain closed earlier, and I hope to go unnoticed.
Apparently not. After some fervent whispering that I can't make out, Lavender says in an unnecessarily loud voice, "Oh, I wish Won-Won could come up here to our rooms! Don't you think that sounds fun, Parvati? It'd be like a slumber party!"
Parvati, to her credit, replies only with a rather bored, "Sure." I can still feel my hands curl into claws, though. I am in danger of ripping a page.
Lavender giggles and goes on. "It would be great fun! It's awful that the Founders were such prudes, sneaking around in empty classrooms is just not going to cut it for much longer…." Suddenly my curtains are ripped back, and that blonde menace is looking down at me with the most stomach-curdling smug look I've seen since Lucius Malfoy.
"What do you think, Hermione? Know any ways around the girls-only wards in those little books of yours?"
I can't think of anything cleverly cutting to say, I just upend Crookshanks from my lap and stalk to the door. I can hear their tittering even over the sound of it slamming.
I make it down to the Common Room before I realize I have no idea what to do now. Harry and Ginny (and Ron, I suppose) are at Quidditch practice, and for once I don't wish to head to the library. Being surrounded by all that knowledge but not a single book to help me is just too stressful for me at the moment.
I decide to go to the Prefects' Bathroom to try and take a long, calming bath until practice is over and Lavender can reattach herself to her parasite host and leave me be. I get there before I notice that sadly I left my book back in the dorm in my fit of pique, and swimming and meditating for two hours sounds dreadfully dull.
Luckily there is a whole stack of Witch Weekly magazines left in here to keep me company. Not exactly scintillating stuff, but it will do.
It's as I'm looking through the letters to the Editor about the boundless stupidity of the male sex, surrounded by warm water and luridly green bubbles that smell of mint, that I become aware that I am holding the answer to all my problems in my hand.
The only witches to write in to this disturbingly cutesy magazine were my fellow deranged emotional sufferers, and it was the writers' jobs to answer all their questions. Surely I can find something that could apply to getting over some teenage toe rag without causing further bodily harm.
I flip through six periodicals, all full of fashion tips and questionable articles of such quality that I would hesitate to line an owl cage with them before I come across the title 'True Love Found, or Rebound?'
It isn't the article itself that catches my interest, because it's just some rubbish speculating about Celestina Warbeck and her new beau. The real highlight is a small paragraph at the bottom of the page with the headline 'What's Wrong with Rebounds?'
' "I don't see what the big deal is," comments Junior Editor Hailey Harp. "I always find the easiest way to get over a bad break up is to pick up a rebound boy-toy. Whether it becomes a quick and easy fling or something more lasting depends on what the wizard is like, but I think you girls will agree with me that getting over your old man with someone exciting and new is probably a much-needed ego boost after what you've gone through. You're the one in control of your feelings, and you can do whatever you feel like!" '
I could feel that this is exactly what I was searching for. The girl power hoo-rah vibe really spoke to me and my bruised heart. The only problem is I didn't have an interest in anyone besides Ron, so who would I pick as my new crush?
Oh, what did it matter? I have been labeled the smartest witch of my age, I am positive I could easily teach myself to like someone suitable.
The next morning at breakfast I avidly search the Great Hall for a candidate for my affections. I had spent a good amount of time last night checking through the remaining editions of Witch Weekly and drawing up guidelines for my 'rebound boy-toy'.
So far I had this list in a special journal, which I charmed to be for my eyes only:
Someone I won't like too much and who won't like me back.
I had thought about it long and hard last night, and had figured it was for the best if I didn't actually pursue my new crush. Not only would Ron probably think I actually did rebound and pick up some bloke out of pathetic need or to spite him, I also didn't want to deal with the possibility of me liking this new person too much. My level of emotional maturity is depressingly not high enough for an actual boyfriend.
This meant I had to be discerning about who to pick for my target. It would be bad if they noticed my sudden interest and decided to pick me up. Or worse, ran away screaming at the thought of being seen as cute by Hermione 'Shrieking Rules Harpy' Granger (thank you, Fred and George).
Someone I can have lustful thoughts about.
If I was going to force myself to be infatuated with someone as a learning experience on feelings, I plan on having some fun with it, and it could be another training exercise in exploring my burgeoning sexuality. I refuse to add 'prudish' to my list of rude monikers.
I also used to fantasize about Ron and me…but the less said about his kissing abilities, the better. And he appears to get so handsy! I dodged a jinx there, I think.
Someone who can't let me down.
This was a bit odd to expect of some random boy, but was very important to me. So far in my life all my crushes have let me down in some way, or have managed to hurt my feelings rather badly. Gilderoy Lockhart turned out to be a useless fraud. A boy I liked over the summer holidays told me he wasn't into bossy beavers. Viktor Krum could also be offputtingly handsy, and Ron…well.
Looking back, my track record with the opposite sex is rather shite. Seventeen and one date to my name. How does Ginny do it?
I need to find someone whom I know doesn't have the power to tromp on these feelings I'm trying to cultivate.
So. Those were the guidelines, pretty short and concise. Should be easy to find someone to fit all three, right?
I try scanning the Hall again, hoping my hormones would perk up and pick somebody already. My eyes pause a few times on the other tables' wares, trying to gauge if they could set fire to my loins, but no luck there. So much for being a slave to my carnal desires.
The Gryffindor boys are out of the question. The ones that weren't two or more years younger than I were either like annoying little brothers or found me intimidating. The only upperclassman who didn't look to feel that way was Cormac McLaggen, and I'd rather snog Peeves before that arsehole.
The Ravenclaw boys seem to be no good either, since most of their House hate my intellectually-superior guts and will probably be the quickest to notice any undue attention directed their way. And all the possibly interesting Hufflepuff boys are taken and I would feel terrible looking at another girl's fellow in that way.
Another problem with picking anyone from those three Houses is Ginny is likely to notice and try her hand at matchmaker. She has an uncanny knack for this kind of thing, and the only person who has ever found 'Hermione-with-a-crush' subtle was the King Dunderhead himself, Ronald Weasley.
And then Slytherin House…no, just no. They do have the prettiest boys, but I will not lust after a wizard who thinks I'm dirty and am no better than a dog to be put down. It is too disturbing to contemplate.
So. Absolutely bloody no one! My ingenious plan dies an ignoble death not even twelve hours in.
Harry finally comes down to breakfast right as I conjure a bluebell flame (Without speaking! My practice is paying off) to destroy the evidence. Better safe than sorry.
"Uh…Hermione? What are you doing?"
"Nothing, Harry," I try to say nonchalantly as possible. Harry with a mystery to solve is worse than a crup with a bone. "Just destroying some Arithmancy work that I completely botched."
Just as I start to lower my wand to the notebook, Harry grabs my wrist and leans in to whisper, "I don't think you should do that here if you don't want to get detention. Snape is looking right at you."
I look up just in time to catch the tail end of the glare he is sending my way, the flame on the tip of my wand sputtering out as our eyes meet and my body shivers uncontrollably.
It seems the hormones have finally chosen, and they have picked Professor Snape.
I shoo Harry off to sit with Ron, claiming homework. I need to see right away if the professor fits into the guidelines.
'Someone I won't like too much and who won't like me back.' That won't be a problem, definitely not. And the thought of him liking the Insufferable Know-It-All is just too ridiculous. Another plus is absolutely no one would guess that I'm paying so much attention to Professor Snape because I'm trying to trick myself into developing an infatuation. At most they might think I finally decided he was no good and needed to be watched (Harry) or figure it's some teacher's pet thing (everyone else).
'Someone I can have lustful thoughts about.' This may be a bit harder. I look up again at the Head table. Professor Snape looks to be staring in faint disgust at the amount of food Professor Slughorn has piled on his plate next to him, and then turns away when Professor McGonagall puts a hand on his arm. My eyes closely follow the movement of his thin lips as he starts to smirk at whatever she says to him.
That little smirk sends another thrill through me. It seems now that the idea has been planted, my body is very ready to see him as a sexual prospect. Who would've guessed?
And then #3, 'Someone who can't let me down.' Weirdly enough, despite how mean he can be, I don't think this will ever be an issue. I have always respected Professor Snape, even after he has made me cry multiple times. My regard has only grown over the years as I found out he was such a masterful spy and brilliant Defence teacher, the best I personally think we've had so far.
I certainly know he's no joke like Lockhart, and after five and a half years of mockery I've been able to grow a much thicker skin around him. He's also brave, intelligent, and very interesting.
I can feel a smirk of my own forming as I write SEVERUS SNAPE in my journal and circle it a few times, then draw in some little hearts with a laugh.
My ingenious plan is back on the rails.
And personally, I think it is going to work out brilliantly.
Thanks for reading, please R&R. Constructive criticism is most definitely welcomed, and I plan to have a second chapter up soon.