And here's what you've all been waiting for. I assume.

Hermione was distracted.

She was well aware that this was not a new sentiment for her, but it was rather distressing when she was fidgeting with her school robes before her graduation ceremony. She stood in line with her peers, wondering what they had to be nervous about. They didn't have possibly life-threatening plots dealing with a rather confusing (and unreadable) Potions Master later.

The doors to the Great Hall opened and Hermione stood resolutely facing them. Inhaling deeply, she marched in line to meet her fate.

Severus was distracted.

He stood in front of his seat with the rest of the professors as the graduating students walked past them in a line. He couldn't help but search through the crowd for a particular bushy head of brown hair, and noticed she looked rather more nervous than accomplished like most of her peers. "It was probably a much closer call for the rest of them," he thought, seeing Gregory Goyle marching in the line. Severus mentally shook himself. How on earth the useless lump had made it, he was unsure, but he inclined his head towards the young man as he met his gaze. He made sure to hide his amusement that it was quite obvious his fellow Slytherin wasn't quite sure how he'd done it either.

When the procession had found their seats on the other side of the room, Dumbledore stood to give a speech. Severus couldn't be bothered to listen to it, having heard it plenty of times already in his teaching career. "I'm old," he thought suddenly, and sat up straight. "I'm old and should not let such opportunities as I've ignored the past few months go," he thought resolutely. That was it. Severus was going to do what he'd known he wanted to do for a few months now.

Belatedly he realized it was the end of the ceremony, and jumped up when he noticed that Professor Flitwick next to him had already stood to move to the front of the room.

Hermione nervously marched in line, sure that the grin on her face was beyond silly looking. She waited her turn to shake the hands of all her professors and be congratulated. Many of them told her she would be sure to be very successful, a couple told her to contact them if she needed references, and one even begged her to come on as a professor. She giggled anxiously and found herself standing in front of Professor Snape.

She breathed deeply again, and held out her hand. He grasped it in his, and she was reminded of the prior incident when he'd practically held her hand.

The Slytherin gave her a questioning look, but she merely inclined her head. Fighting a blush, Hermione allowed herself the luxury of the corner of her mouth twitching up into a mischievous smirk, and moved down the line.

It took all of Severus's self-control to not immediately read the note that Miss Granger had slipped into his hand. He let his hand fall to his side and carefully placed the parchment into his pocket, while grasping Justin Finch-Fletchley's hand with his free one. He nodded jerkily, even more desperate for the ridiculous tradition to be over.

As soon as the line had passed by and it was obvious that the professors and students milling about were simply chatting, Severus moved to a secluded corner of the room and reached into his pocket. With slightly trembling fingers, he opened the note.

"I believe we have unfinished business to attend to. Potions classroom, as soon as you can get away.


With a polite inclination of his head towards the headmaster, Severus fled.

Hermione twisted her hands in her lap, leaning against one of the tables. She had no idea how this would turn out. She hoped she would at least make it out alive, and dared not be optimistic enough to hope she would still have all of her limbs once the encounter was over.

When she heard footsteps rapidly approaching, she straightened herself and made sure that her skirt was twisted the right way and no bits of hair were doing anything too unruly.

The door opened and he stepped in. She immediately couldn't breath quite right, and took an unconscious step forward.

Severus moved into the room with a purpose and stood in front of the girl, far enough away to be comfortable but close enough to properly see her. He took in her appearance greedily, from the slightly frizzy curls to the ink stained fingers. She seemed to have lost all powers of speech and her cheeks held a faint blush.

Black eyes met her deep brown ones, unable to interpret what was going on behind them.

Finally, when he was unsure himself what should happen next, Severus held up the crumpled bit of parchment. Hermione opened her mouth but seemed incapable of speech. She cleared her throat and took a hesitant step forward. The space between them was now somewhere between intimate and uncomfortably close; Severus wasn't quite sure which yet.

Sighing with frustration at her sudden cowardess, Hermione tried to give him a reassuring smile. She was sure it probably looked very pained and uneasy.

Finally, after a long silence, she held up three fingers. "I'm of age," she said. The dark haired man before her raised an eyebrow questioningly when she lowered one of the fingers.

Lowering another, she said, "I'm no longer a student." He nodded, crossing his arms over his chest as he wondered what on earth she was getting at.

Finally, breathlessly, she put down the last one. When he looked properly bewildered, she said, "You aren't drunk."

She examined his face to see the emotions flitting across it: confusion, comprehension, and finally determination.

He took another step forward and leaned in until his face was barely an inch away from hers. Severus raised a hand and placed it lightly on the side of her face, causing her breathing to become increasingly unsteady. Smirking slightly, he closed the distance and placed his lips lightly against hers.

At first neither of them moved beyond that. Finally coming back to her senses slightly, Hermione pressed her lips more urgently against his, her hands coming to rest against his chest. He brought his other hand around her waist to rest on her lower back, pulling her firmly against him.

Months of tension and wondering and hoping suddenly manifested in a need to be as close as possible. One of Hermione's hands made its way up to grasp his neck, effectively making sure he didn't back away. Faintly, Severus thought she had nothing to worry about.

He parted her lips and allowed himself to explore, their tongues touching fervently with a previously withheld desire. A small noise escaped the back of Hermione's throat. Severus took that as encouragement and smiled against the kiss.

A few minutes later, the seemingly mismatched couple parted, both gasping slightly for breath.

Hermione seemed to compose herself slightly, enough to say, "That was..."

Severus smirked when she seemed lost for words, and she giggled slightly hysterically. Not wanting to allow her to get too far away, he stepped forward and held her against him. He indulged himself the pleasure of stroking her disorderly hair and sighed contently. He wasn't sure he'd been this open in a while, but it felt rather... nice. He was quite sure he'd be annoyed with himself later, but he at least could let himself enjoy it for now.

"So," she said, stepping back slightly but holding his hand in hers and examining it in favor of meeting his eyes. His other hand reached up and grasped her chin. Forcing her eyes upward, she met his and saw that he was smiling. A genuine smile.

If she weren't so happy, Hermione was quite positive she would be terrified.

"So," he agreed, examining her face. Unused to such attention, she blushed and strained to keep her head up.

"I'm rather sure this wasn't just... just some silly, schoolgirl crush," the Gryffindor blurted, turning an even brighter shade of red. He raised an eyebrow and she felt the urge to continue. "What I mean is, I honestly like you. Besides the fact that you're an unreasonable git to my friends, enjoy torturing any student who isn't a Slytherin, and are generally an all around bastard..." she trailed off and slapped a hand to her mouth.

"If you hadn't said that," he asserted, holding her gaze steadily, "I would have told you that it was a 'silly schoolgirl crush.' As it is..." he trailed off, his eyes dropping to her lips. Hermione was surprised to find herself shivering at the implication. With a smirk, he said, "Are you sure you're prepared to deal with the pigheaded, sarcastic, and quite possibly evil head of Slytherin?"

She realized that his tone held a hint of amusement, and smiled. "Only if you're prepared to deal with a know-it-all, equally stubborn, honorable-to-a-fault Gryffindor?" she answered defiantly.

Smirking still, Severus looked playfully thoughtful for a moment. Sighing dramatically, he pulled her close to him again and lowered his lips to nearly touching hers. "I suppose," he whispered, his breath teasing her and causing shivers to run up and down her spine, "that we'll just have to see."

Placing his lips against hers yet again, Severus decided he was quite sure he could learn to deal with her Gryffindor qualities.

Hermione, already very aware of how completely Slytherin he was, absolutely agreed.