A/N Graduation and what happens next?

Reminder: JK owns it all and I make no monies from this.

Chapt 19

HGGSSHGSSHGSS

Severus sat on a large white rock at the Black Lake for her to appear. One month passed since he last walked with her and looked forward to her company.

He watched her walk past and jumped off the rock and caught up to walk beside her.

"How have you been Apprentice Granger? I've missed our walks."

Hermione smiled. "No worries Mr. Smith and it's nice to have you back."

They walked in silence for a while. The grapevine was fast and heard that Katy broke up with him. "Mr. Smith NEWTS are next week. One week after that graduation and the beginning of your life. What are your plans now?"

"I'm not sure of the profession yet Apprentice Granger. It's a toss between Charms and Potions. Charms is a two year apprenticeship versus a four year one for Potions."

She stopped and looked to him. "And what difference would that make? Professor Slughorn brags about your uncanny ability in the art of Potions."

"Having a career is not important if you find the right person to share your life with. Potions will take up too much of my time. Several Masters have approached me but I know their reputation. Better off in Charms as I do not care for how they treat male apprentices."

Hermione decided not to remark on that his words as she heard whispers of the apprentices of potions and what happened under tutleidge of their masters and could not fault his decision."

They began to walk again. "Have you found the right person to share your life with Mr. Smith? Except for Miss Kaitland I know of no other witches according to the grapevine. And there I go passing my boundary as Staff. I only want you to be happy considering you have lost your parents and most of your life in hiding."

"I have found the one that I want. She is around me every day except for weekends and does not know what I feel for her. She does not realize I exist."

"I'm not much for advice Mr. Smith but you should tell her. It is a simple as that and good luck to you."

They stopped in front of the castle doors. "Good luck to you and feel free to Owl me after you graduate. This is my last walk for I will be busy preparing you and your fellow students for NEWTs."

He watched her walk through the doors and began to plan. His reputation as the Dueling Champion would help him.

HGSSHGSSHGSS

He played the part of the worried Seventh year and joined study groups in preparation for the week of NEWTS.

Charms ended and he waited for the class to end and approached Hermione. "May I have a word with you Apprentice Granger?"

"Of course Mr. Smith. What do you need?"

"Dinner with you Apprentice Granger if I surpass your NEWT scores. A friendly wager of course."

Hermione looked to him realizing his words from the week before of a witch unavailable on the weekends. She treaded carefully to not hurt his feelings. "Mr. Smith I can't do that because I am staff."

Severus observed her flustered week. He triggered something and realized it was from the conversation at the lake. "I would be a graduate and a wizard in my own right so it is not against the rules. It is not a date but dinner only. You've the highest score in Hogwarts history for I looked it up. You've helped me here and wish to present a challenge. Gryffindor's like challenges and you are of that House."

Hermione smiled at the challenge sure her score was secure. He held high grades in all his subjects but felt he could not surpass her scores. It was an academic and felt comfortable. "Go for it Mr. Smith and good luck. I accept only if I pay for my own meal."

She watched the young man leave. Despite his Sorting into Ravenclaw he was not the normal student of that house. He was Ravenclaw no doubt about it but there was more too him. She sighed remembering she thought about that not too long ago. Looking up the rules before presenting her with his challenge had a Slytherin feel to it.

HGSSHGSS

Hermione left Hogwarts the next day as it was Saturday and a free day for her. Making sure the gates were secure behind here she thought of her destination and arrived at the dirt road at the village entrance and waited. Soon Secrof appeared. "Welcome back Hermione the Brave."

"I'm not that Secrof. Please call me Hermione."

"Of course but the others of the village will greet you in those terms. You have been written into the village tomes with that name." Taking her arm and lead her down the road. "Why are you here? It is not one of those breaks for Arthur told us the schedule of the school."

Hermione chuckled sadly. "I know you will think I am crazy but I think Ozlo is back at Hogwarts. I've been thinking he is re-incarnated in his last persona. Did Ozlo visit you?"

Secrof looked to the young witch cursing at the lie he was about to tell her. "My son did not arrive with us. I cannot tell you how the majiks affected him when we were released."

Demra joined her at the entrance to catching the last bit. "Ozlo is no more Hermione. We sensed his soul released to the Veil." It was the truth in her eyes.

She sighed. "Just coincidence then. "I'll take my leave of you."

Demra spoke. "Stay the weekend with us."

She really wanted to leave but protocol with the new village kicked in. "I'll stay but I don't need another Feast."

Her stay was pleasant and stayed with Secrof and Demra, learning of the plans to re-introduce their people to Wizarding society.

"Tell us of this student you think is Ozlo? He reminds you of Severus Snape?" Demra asked sipping her mead.

"His name is Stephen Smith. He is a transfer student and muggle born. Voldemort killed his parents and went into hiding and I've given him counsel off and on because I know what he went through. I can't put my finger on why though. Probably because I am still mourning."

Hermione stood up. "Thank you for your hospitality and I hope you don't mention it Arthur. I'm not supposed to be here."

They watched the young witch move up the stairs and continued to drink their mead.

HGSSHGSSHGSS

The week of NEWTS were hectic with Hermione and Filius giving pep talks to the Seventh years of the House of Ravenclaw. The tests progressed and soon they were over.

One week later Minerva stood in front of the winged pedestal looking over the students. "For the Seventh years this is your last night as students at Hogwarts. Tomorrow is your graduation and Dance and wish all of you the best in your future endeavors. Eat up!"

HGSSHGSSHGSS

The Graduation ceremony took place on the grounds of Hogwarts with Minerva standing on the raised podium. "Welcome all to this year's graduating class of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each and every one of you have been taught the skills that you need to be a successful wizard or witch in our society. How you use them depends on you as you enter into the next phase of your life." Pausing at the polite scattered clapping before continuing.

"Before we begin I want to tell you of two students who have scored the highest NEWT scores in the history of this school, something that has never happened in the history of Hogwarts. Hermione Granger took her NEWTs early so she could become an apprentice scoring two points over the previous record which was held by Professor Snape for over twenty years. Well done Apprentice Granger."

Minerva let the clapping go on for a moment. "The other student is Mr. Stephen Smith who transferred in to us after the Holiday break. He scored ten points over Apprentice Granger score."

Shouts of "Stephen!" Sounded out eliciting a rare smile from the Headmistress.

The ceremony commenced with Hermione stood beside Filius shaking the hands of students as they moved by before receiving their diploma from Minerva.

Then Mr. Smith was there smiling to her and shook her hand before moving to the next professor. She focused on the next student and thought nothing of the wager they made.

HGSSHGSSHGSS

Severus sat next to John bored as the opening of the Graduation Ball began. He waited for only one announcement and smirked to himself when the Staff/Student dance was announced. He left enough hints to his fellow Seventh year students not to approach her.

After the announcement of Staff dance he waited a moment to make sure none approached her and walked up to the Head Table. "May I have this dance Apprentice Granger?"

Hermione smiled to Stephen and walked around the table and took his offered hand and led her out to the dance floor. "I began to wonder what I did to scare everyone off but suspect it was you."

The music began and he led here around the dance floor. "Being the Dueling champion and a word dropped here in there helped. I wanted to make sure that I danced with you so I could thank you for your help. I'll miss the walks around the lake."

Hermione smiled. "I enjoyed the walks as well Mr. Smith and I wish you luck in your future endeavors. Speaking of future endeavors we had a wager and you won. I think your new record will hold for decades if not centuries. Staff will be released in two weeks so Owl me then and we'll meet for dinner."

Hermione enjoyed the dance as he led her around the floor recognizing his skill at dance and soon the dance ended. He bowed to her before leading her back to the table. "I'll Owl you as agreed."

Severus walked back to his table and sat next to John waiting for the inevitable comment. "Was the dance worth scaring off the competition Stephen?"

Stephen snorted. "There is no competition. I wanted to thank her for her advice when I first arrived here. Remember when I turned tables on the hex the Slytherin tried to send my way? She warned me of that House despite her status of Staff being I am muggle-born and did not know of the Houses when I arrived here."

John eyed Katy across the room. "Luck to you and you have my address. Contact me when you get settled. I'm off to dance with Katy. Thanks for not being upset when I decided to ask her to go out with me."

Severus chuckled. "No problem for I was not her ideal wizard. Let me know when the date is because I bet you'll be married to her within a year."

John chuckled out and replied. "No bet Stephen." Moving from the table to make his way to Katy to ask her for a dance and hopefully something more as the night went on.

Severus watched his friend dance with Katy reflecting on his time as a student. Close friends and acceptance this time around. He looked over to Hermione and found that she was watching him. Did she suspect something? He waved to her and chuckled at her startled response before looking to another area of the hall.

He thought of their dance together and remembered her searing kiss and her words before he left to confront the rogue Dementors.

"A knight needs to be kissed by a maiden before going to battle to remember what he fights for."

HGSSHGSSHGSS

She met with him two weeks later in muggle London for the completion of their wager.

Gryffindor she was and a bit of Slytherin in her as well with the selection of restaurant and he understood that she did not want to draw notice to herself.

The first meeting was awkward with the dinner eaten in silence with her hesitation at his offer to escort her back to her home. After a pause she allowed him to Apparate her to the house of her parents.

He got her to agree to Friday night once a week while school was out and pleased when she began to hold his hand when they went for a walk around the parks of London after dinner as she loosened up as she held his hand versus his arm as the weeks went on. They talked of academia and especially potions. He knew that she was interested in him and did not want to hide his secret no longer.

They met at Brandon Tandori in Branbdon, Suffolk an acclaimed restaurant well away from any magical influence and enjoyed an excellent meal. The checks were presented and Hermione spoke to the waitress to slit the bill. He placed the money down on the table and growled out. "This will cover the bill and more."

She allowed him to lead her out of the restaurant fuming that he paid for the ticket. It insinuated that he wanted something more.

"We need to talk and I paid the bill. So what as there is not a magical village around here for a hundred kilometers? No one will find out that I paid." Grabbing her unexpectedly and Apparated her to Brandon County Park before releasing her knowing she was angry.

"You've broke our agreement Stephen!" She yelled out.

"I did Hermione because I am not Stephen." He growled out.

Her wand was fast and he held up his hands in submission when he found it pointed to him. "For such an irritating Know It All you are quick to judge without listening. I told you that enough times when you were in my class. You improved a little as my Apprentice. Not much mind you considering your inane argument of the benefits of Yew wood, ridiculous despite your spouting of muggle benefit."

She paused at his words lowering her wand when his words registered knowing that no one knew of that discussion. "Severus Snape is that you?" She whispered out in shock.

"If you can hold off hexing me and put your wand away I will explain." He replied eying her wand and watched her think for a moment before lowering it.

Severus moved to her and sat her on a bench close to them sitting beside her and held her hand. "The deception was necessary Hermione for there is no way to return me back to my normal self. You told me that you have always felt pulled to me. I denied your words until everything played out and the last bit of Ozlo's soul left me. Demra did not lie to you for Ozlo is indeed in the Veil now."

Hermione listened to his story and after a while he finished expecting angry words from her and insteadthere was silence and watched her think about his story.

Encouraged her silence and pulled her closer to him. "I hope you don't mind dating a younger wizard and then marry me when the time comes for we are wrapped around one another. While a student all I could think about was you. Katy was unplanned and I was forced on a stupid student dare."

He leaned closer and whispered in her ear. "When we met at begin of term I made you scream out in terror. I hope to make you smile in the days that come if you accept me."

She looked to him in indecision before wrapping her arms around him and pulled him to her and kissed him.

She broke the kiss and smiled to him. "I'm smiling now and I hope to do so in the future in the future Severus."

AN That's it and hope you enjoy it. I might write a sequel named Hermione's Smile. As for Brandon Suffolk I did live there from 1995-2001 and actually went to Brandon Tandoori many times. Man they were five stars then and pleased they have a five star review now. Awesome Indian food! Brandon is a nice place to visit close to Elveden Centre Parcs for my Brit friends and well worth a visit.

I encourage you to go to the Flintnapper's pub or walk about the High Street. If you find Rought Avenue that was where I lived when stationed while in US Air Force.

Mare