Epilogue:~ Two Years Later
"Congratulations, Neville. Luna," Hermione said happily, embracing first Neville then Luna, as Severus, Lucius Malfoy and his wife stood by, waiting to offer their own well-wishes to the newlyweds. Others waited as well.
Luna wore a shifting rainbow-pastel colored bridal gown and veil. It could make a person quite dizzy with its hypnotic concentric circles. Her choce of dress wasn't surprising to Hermione. She'd expected the Ravenclaw to do something completely different. Albus had to be prompted to continue the ceremony because he'd been mesmerized by the gown. But it had been a lovely wedding, held on Luna's father's property, right before the most lovely maze Neville had produced. It was an actual four level castle, complete with turrets and an underground dungeon featuring fungi covering the stone walls.
The name of the company was "A Mazing Adventures." Severus, who was the first investor and a consultant had a difficult time swallowing that one down. Neville found another enthusiastic investor in Lucius Malfoy, who served as maze tester on a number of occasions.
They had a total of ten mazes sprawling across the landscape, and the challenges were changed on Sunday evenings. There were simple, advanced and nearly impossible mazes to traverse. There were children's mazes, and competitive mazes that could be run in teams. Not only did the players have to face challenges but each other. All of the mazes were self-configuring, and often a player who reached safe ground would purposely fire into the maze itself, hoping to take out the competition.
Needless to say, the operation was a rousing success, with everyone making oodles of Galleons. The need for excitement and challenge in the wizarding world had been far greater than anyone anticipated. A few competitors sprang up, but Neville's A Mazing Adventures was the original and people flocked there by the droves to be challenged.
There was also a small onsite medical ward and certified healer on the premises to handle any unfortunate occurrences, of which there were many. But everyone signed a waiver when they made their reservations. It could take months before a party could play even with the variety of mazes.
Hagrid also made a bit of money serving as an emissary to the intelligent magical monsters to get them on board, his personal coup de grace being when he managed to sign on a talking dragon, named Fleetwing. The Hungarian Ridgeback took his place in the maze enthusiastically, complete with treasure trove, eager to singe some robes make wizards and witches piss themselves and above all, fire the Red Flare of Failure, which gave him bonuses.
Hermione and Severus had indeed started their own apothecary shop that was doing quite nicely. It was located in Knockturn Alley, and Hermione hardened accordingly in the process of working in the shop day to day. Now, every low life and deadbeat witch and wizard hurried out of the line of fire when the little witch stalked through the alley unaccompanied and ready to blast any potential assailant to Kingdom Come and Go.
Harry Potter married Ginny Weasley and followed in his father's footsteps although he was still in the Quidditch minor leagues.
Hermione and Severus attended the Meeting of the Masters, and had to help the four young apprentices in the ensuing melee that resulted when they demanded to be tested, the witch and wizard mounting the stage and adding their wands to the four young wizards' drawn weapons. Sanity returned and one by one they demonstrated their brewing abilities ala Snape and challenged any Master present to replicate the act. Just as it happened with Snape, it happened with them, no Master willing to risk blowing himself up. All four became fully-fledged Potions masters. When they presented their own apprentices years later, it was with dignity and without display, the oath binding them all to ethical behavior. Talent and potential became the primary qualifications of an acceptable apprentice. Slowly, the field began to change for the better.
Severus walked up to Neville and extended his hand.
"Congratulations, Neville," the pale wizard said as they shook hands firmly, then he nodded at Luna.
"Mrs. Longbottom," he purred.
"Thank you, Severus," Luna replied with a soft smile. "I only hope we'll be as happy as you and Hermione."
Snape gave her a smirk, then proudly looked down at his wife's rounded belly.
"If you're half as happy as we are, Luna, then you will be happy indeed," he replied softly, meeting Hermione's eyes.
She smiled at him, bringing one hand to the slight curve and caressing it gently.
Snape covered her hand gently. love evident in his dark eyes.
"Quite happy, indeed," he reiterated.
A/N: And that's the end of "A Turn for the Better." Hope you enjoyed. **