A Way to say Goodbye...

Silence… A great adjective, when referring to Hogwarts' 'dungeons'.

It was curious to see how the happy, chattering students would become silent and scared as they walked deeper and deeper into the school's dungeons. One could almost consider the presence of Dementors around the place, causing such strange behaviours, but everyone knew that was not the reason why.

No, the 'Dementor' in question was of a different kind… Professor Severus Snape, Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a man who showed no pleasure in teaching… well, he didn't show pleasure in anything, always scowling or sneering while he made nasty comments to his students, handing out detentions just because he could and taking points from three out of four houses… Of course the Head of Slytherin wouldn't take points from his own house, although all the other Heads of House did so, when necessary.

From day one, Professor Snape showed his students how to behave in his class… He taught you to fear him more than certain poisonous ingredients, he made you feel like a stupid and brainless twit, he made you close yourself in a shell, for, if your mouth opened, there would be points lost and probable detention.

After seven years of coming down to the dungeons, for Potions class, Hermione Granger still felt surprise to see the change in her colleagues. They were seventeen years old! Did they have to look so terrified that they looked as if, any moment now, they would piss on their pants?

She took her place at her usual worktable and began preparing her cauldron and ingredients. Soon enough, Professor Snape entered the room, as he always did, robes billowing behind him, like giant black wings, extremely dark hair framing his pale face, obsidian eyes capable of making you whimper in fear, protuberant nose and pursed lips in an eternal scowl.

Once more, Hermione thought if the man knew what it felt like to genuinely smile. Not just smirk at Harry, when he gave him detention, but actually smile, laugh, even.

With a precise wave of his wand, the potion's instructions appeared on the blackboard and saying nothing but 'Work', Professor Snape sat at his desk, starting to mark a pile of essays. By the amount of red ink being used, Hermione felt sorry for the recipients of said essays. The professor usually ruined her perfect essays with scathing comments about her intellect and choice of words, but never, ever had he written that she was incorrect in her line of thought… Although, he had never said the opposite, either.

A soft smile gracing her lips, Hermione continued grinding some beetle's wings to a fine powder, while her cauldron bubbled quietly over the flames.

While many of her colleagues feared the potions teacher and his classroom, she loved it. The scent of potions lingering in the air, inviting you to guess the ingredients used to make it, the fumes from the cauldrons floating high in the air until they vanished, the precision of movements and quantities required to brew… the teacher…

No, she wasn't mad, but she actually respected the man who gave so much of himself, both to his potions and to protect the world from evil… meaning, Voldemort. He had dedicated most of his life as a spy for Dumbledore, and now that Harry had defeated Lord Voldemort, at last, no one had remembered to show their appreciation to the ex-Death Eater. It was sad and revolting, really.

Just like her potion, Hermione's seventh year was coming to an and. NEWT's had been finished the previous week and today was the last school day. The next day, there would be the parting ball and all of the seventh years would go back to the real world.

It's not that Hogwarts wasn't real, but, in there, they all felt so protected, so cared for, so special…and now, they would have to become adults… A difficult transition, but not an impossible one.

With extra care, Hermione labelled the vial with her perfect light blue potion and, picking up a small package from her bag, she went to her teacher's desk, placing the vial on the wooden container. Professor Snape didn't even look at her or acknowledge her, but then, she hadn't expected him to do so. Taking a deep breath, she gained her courage, the main quality of her house.

"Professor Snape?" she called quietly, so that only he could hear.

"Yes, Miss Granger? What is it, that needs to interrupt my work?" he replied in a bored yet cutting tone voice, his eyes never leaving the essays he kept on slashing with red ink.

"Well sir, I just wanted to say thank you for teaching me the art of potion making, for the last seven years. Thank you for enduring my know-it-all attitude, and last, but not least, thank you for the hard work you made as a spy for the Order of the Phoenix…" she said quickly, so that he couldn't stop her, but there was no danger of that happening. Professor Snape's mouth was slightly parted and his eyes wide open in shock, but he never raised his face to look at her, so, Hermione continued her rehearsed speech. "Also, I wanted to give you this… It's not a bribe for good grades and it's not a show of pity. It's just something I wanted you to have, and I think you'll enjoy it. Goodbye, Professor Snape."

Still unable to speak, the professor watched as his student carefully placed a green package on top of his desk and then exited the classroom. No one seemed to have noticed the exchange, so he quickly schooled his features to cold indifference and carried on with his marking, although his eyes kept on wandering to his 'gift' and his mind to Miss Granger's act.

Why had she given him a present? He, the bat of the dungeons… the greasy git! And she had thanked him… What for? For making her life, and that of her friends, a living hell?

Well, in fact, she had been right in thanking him. It had been extremely hard having to teach a class full of dunderheads, except for one Miss Know-it-all, who liked to show off her excessive knowledge. Couldn't she see she was embarrassing her colleagues and herself, for, every time she opened her mouth, he snapped at her and made her look ridicule?

Fine, in his own thoughts he could admit the girl would have a brilliant future ahead of her, she had great ideas that could come true in several educational fields, but sometimes he hated her. He hated her because she was just like he had been at her age and, unlike him, she would be able to follow her dreams and ambitions, without having to worry about a possible war or when the next summons from the Dark Lord would be.

He had never expected to teach potions, or to come back to Hogwarts, but after confessing his sins to Dumbledore, it had been the only solution, and now, eighteen years later, here he was, hating his job, finally free of the Dark Mark, being patronized by his almost ex-student, the annoying Miss Hermione Granger.

As soon as the other students finished their potions and left the room, Severus Snape immediately ripped the green paper, finding a small black velvet box, as well as a piece of parchment.

'Esteemed Professor Snape,

Do not think this is an act out of pity or just to humiliate you. No, that's not my intention… I just wanted to tell you the truth that other people don't seem to want to acknowledge: you are a hero, in your own way.

Yes, you were a Death Eater, probably because you chose to be one of them. Yes, you have a huge dark side about you, but you control it perfectly… most of the time. What matters is that you repented of your wrong choices and searched for Headmaster Dumbledore's help. In the end, it was you who helped us all, Wizards and Muggles alike, to vanquish Lord Voldemort, after almost twenty years of spying.

I know you didn't receive a medal for your dangerous work for the light, and I know that you probably didn't want one, because that would mean little for you, after having ruined most of your life with a war that wasn't yours to fight. Still, I felt that it wasn't fair to leave your work unacknowledged.

Don't even think about commenting on my house's qualities or on SPEW. You're not my newest charitable case, so just drop that thought…

With Headmaster Dumbledore's help, I had a little chat with Minister Fudge, and after a little… let's say persuasion… he realised his mistake.

No one needs to know the embarrassment it is, for you, to receive a medal. Only Headmaster Dumbledore and I know about it, and won't tell anyone, we both promise, although our word might not mean much to you…

When you're one of those awful classes (I believe they're all awful for you, with no exceptions), just think about the reward you received for your continued courage and service for the light. If you survived twenty years of intrigues with the dark and the light, surely you can live through 120 minutes of class without Avada Kedavra-ing a student (no matter if he's worst than Neville Longbottom).

Once again, thank you for being a good Potions Teacher, despite the scathing comments, and thank you for saving my life more times than I can count, throughout the years.

Respectfully, Hermione Granger (a.k.a. 'Silly girl' or 'Little chit')'

For the first time, in many years, a true and honest laugh escaped from Severus Snape's throat and his lips stretched in an amused smile. His eyes wrinkled and his cheeks were cramping slightly, unused to work into such facial expression.

The girl had succeeded in surprising him… Never had he expected something of the kind from her and it showed that at least she had the presence of mind to analyse the war, beyond Potter killing the Dark Lord.

It was surprising to see how well she appeared to know him, despite the fact that they had never spent more than necessary time in the presence of the other. She had guessed all of his thoughts and joked about them… Unbelievable.

Placing the letter carefully on his desk, Professor Snape picked up the velvet box and carefully opened it, apprehensive that some prank would jump out of it. Fortunately, only the golden glimmer of a medal met his eyes, shining brightly against the black cushion, his name engraved on the back of the medal, and on the front, two wands crossed and the words: Order of Merlin, First Class.

How the girl had 'persuaded' Fudge to give him a medal, he had no idea, but it was an honour to receive this sign of respect and appreciation. Slowly, he closed the box and placed it in his robe's pocket, enjoying the knowledge of the precious object he possessed.

The Great Hall was gorgeous, as it always was on festive days. Professor Flitwick really was talented in decoration…

There were candles floating right over their heads, giving a warm glow o the old stone walls; the sky on the enchanted ceiling was clear of clouds, the stars and the moon shining brightly, there were several round tables scattered around the room for the students to rest from their dancing activities. Each stone column was decorated with white lilies and ivy, and the main decoration, as always, were the students, wearing their best ceremony robes, in a variety of different colours.

After having spent the last few hours with roles in her hair, Hermione's mass of brown bushy hair was now falling down her back in large defined waves that made her look more carefree and much more feminine than usual. Ginny had helped her put on some light make up and after putting on her cream strapless dress as well as a pair of high-heeled sandals, Hermione was ready for her last ball at Hogwarts, but not for her last night there. There was so much she would miss about this magical place…

The day had been spent with friends, taking pictures everywhere in and out of the castle's walls, making sure every single place would be forever included in their lives. And now, the night had come and the beginning of their real lives had come.

As soon as the music started, Hermione made sure to drag each of her male friends to the dance floor, for one last dance, and just as she finished dancing with Harry, Headmaster Dumbledore approached them.

"Mr. Potter, may I take your position for this next dance?" the old Headmaster asked, his blue eyes twinkling wildly.

Harry smiled brightly, placing Hermione's young hand in Dumbledore's old one and stepped away as the couple started dancing.

"My dear Miss Granger, your present provoked quite a change in our usual sulky Potions Master…" he chuckled. "I've caught him smiling by himself at least five times in the last twelve hours."

"I just hope he hasn't gone mad with the present… Why else would he smile?" she teased and the Headmaster chuckled. "I'm happy he liked it. He deserved it…"

"Yes, he did, and I'm afraid it's time to set him free from his cage…" the old man sighed sadly. "I've robed too much time of his life. He still has at least a hundred years to live and I want him to live them happily. Well, as happily as he can allow himself to be…"

"Are you dismissing him?" Hermione gasped in shock.

"I believe I'll allow him to explain it to you…" Headmaster Dumbledore chuckled, placing her hand in another, bigger one, belonging to the man who had just appeared by her side… Severus Snape. "Enjoy your dance."

Still in shock, Hermione allowed the Potions Professor to lead her on the dance floor with fluid and graceful movements.

"Good evening, Professor." She blushed, not daring to look in his eyes, preferring to count the buttons on his frock coat.

"Miss Granger, I believe my face is slightly higher than my chest." He said in his dangerous classroom tone of voice and she quickly obeyed, only to see the amusement in his obsidian eyes and on his twitching lips. "I suppose I must thank you for your gift… It was unexpected."

"That was the point, sir." She smiled back, as they kept on dancing around the Great Hall.

"I believe the Headmaster was mentioning my demission, yes?" he enquired in a gentle tone that Hermione had never heard before, in his voice.

"Yes, he was. Were you dismissed, sir?"

"Yes, I was dismissed from my position, but I'm required to stay teaching Potions for three more years…" he revealed with humour at her surprised face. "The Headmaster believes that a certain know-it-all Gryffindor would like to come back to Hogwarts after finishing her studies to become a Potions Mistress, in three years time."

Hermione just looked shocked and happy at the same time, her feet faltering on their dance steps, but with his strong hold on her hand and waist, she kept her balance and regained the ability to dance properly.

"I would love to, but, what about you… sir?"

"At that time, I will take the DADA position." He replied with a small smile. He was clearly happy.

"But, don't you hate teaching?" Hermione asked, with a teasing smile.

"A former student of mine gave me a luck charm to help me endure the dunderheads that fill my classroom. I believe I shall be fine." He joked, spinning them among the other dancing couples. "What do you think?"

"I'll return to Hogwarts in three years, sir, and I'm sure I still have a lot to learn from you." Hermione replied brightly, a huge smile lightening up her face.

"I'm sure you have, Hermione… Good luck on your post-Hogwarts life and congratulations on your graduation." He said in his usual serious tone of voice, as the music ended. Professor Snape bowed slightly and prepared to walk away, but Hermione held his arm and, standing on her tiptoes, placed a sweet kiss on his cheek.

"Thank you, Severus." She whispered and watched him walk away, trying to hide the slight blush that covered his face with his long hair.

Only then did she notice…

Silence… The whole hall was in silence after witnessing Hermione Granger kissing Snape, the greasy git.

'Oh, who cares?' she chuckled, walking back to her group of disgusted friends, to spend the rest of a wonderful night… not her last one at Hogwarts.

She would return in three years… Soon.

The End

This is my first attempt at SS/HG Fanfiction. I've been writing DM/GW Fanfiction for a while now, and I usually get a lot of feedback, but this couple is so much harder to write.

I've been introduced to this couple only a few months ago and already I read more fics than I can count. I'm totally addicted.

Recently I've planned a new Fanfiction (with SS/HG couple), I've already written the main ideas for each chapter and all, but I won't post it until I finish it, so, it will take a while.

Well, I hope this first attempt isn't my first failure at Fanfiction and I'll see you all soon.

Love, Silverbutterfly.