Chapter 92 ~ Epilogue
The friends parted ways for a time, each settling into the next phase of their lives. Ron joined George working at the joke shop. Susan started her catering business, handing out small samples of both her regular food and "food novelties" along with business cards on street corners. She used to have Ron helping her, but he'd eat more samples than he handed out, so she had to fire him and paid younger wizards and witches to promote her goods. Presently, word got around and she soon had quite the following.
Ginny returned to Hogwarts and did very well in her last year, although she missed Harry and everyone very much. She saw Harry during holidays and some weekends. When she graduated, she went to the Ministry of Magic to train to be an Auror, like Harry.
Snape and Hermione worked together happily at Boleskine house, and produced several marketable potions, the most popular being "Liquid Wood," a potion that gave the user a strong, long-lasting erection. It had a fresh minty taste, too. It was well researched by Hermione and Severus. Lucius was more than pleased at the residuals coming in. They more than covered his expenditures for being Snape's patron.
Ron's Transfiguration research made its rounds as well, and he was pressed to write a book outlining his transformation. He did so. It had a simple title:
"O is for Orangutan: Transformation Made Easy."
It fairly flew off the shelves.
Molly was delighted.
"We have an author in the family!" she gushed as she examined the book. On the cover was Ron in his Animagus form, grinning horribly with his big orangutan teeth.
"My, that picture is just awful, Ron," she said, making a face.
"I think it looks just like him," George replied as Ron grinned cheesily.
They all visited Boleskine house often. There was plenty of room and they always had a wonderful time. Sometimes Ben Weatherstaff would join them, enjoying a few Firewhiskys, smoking his pipe and regaling them with stories from the good old days.
One night, Ron informed them that he was going to start giving personal transformation lessons. Then, he asked Hermione to be his first customer.
"What?" she said indignantly. "You're going to CHARGE me?"
"Well, yeah. I have to make money," he replied.
Snape smirked. Hermione might burst into animal form right then and there, she was so pissed off.
"Ronald Weasley. Honestly, you have to be the most thoughtless—"
"Hermione, I promise you, I'll be able to help you. Really I will. No one makes you go wild as I do, unless it's Snape," Ron told her. "I bet your Animagus form is something like—like a Harpy."
"A WHAT?" Hermione screeched at him in a harpy-like fashion as everyone laughed.
Ron got up and walked to Snape's books, reading the titles. He found a book on magical creatures and pulled it out. He sat down next to Snape, and opened the book, Hermione glaring at him.
Ginny leaned into Harry giggling and red-faced, a little high on Firewhisky, while Susan watched Ron, just shaking her head. He was really pushing it.
Ron leafed through the pages, then stopped, pointing at a picture.
"See," he said to Snape showing him the illustration of a screeching Harpy. It had a woman's face, brown, bushy-curly hair, wings instead of arms, feather covered human breasts and legs, and huge taloned feet. It did resemble Hermione a little.
"Hm. I can see a resemblance," Snape agreed before being knocked in the head by a throw pillow thrown by Hermione.
"Yep. A Harpy-like disposition, to be sure," Ron said, nodding sagely before also being hit by a flying pillow.
"I'm not a Harpy!" Hermione screeched again, then stormed out of the room.
"I'd better go after her," Snape said, rising and following her.
"Ron, you're just awful," she said to him as he plopped down beside her with the book, showing her the Harpy.
"Admit it, Susan. It does look like Hermione."
"Hermione!" Snape called, walking down the entrance hall. He heard the door leading outside close and ran to it, opening it quickly. Hermione was standing outside, looking up into the night.
"Hey. We were just joking around," Snape said, catching her by her shoulders.
"I know, Severus. I'm not really mad about the Harpy jokes. But, I've read Ron's book and have tried to find my form, but I can't seem to do it. You and Ron did it on your own. That's how I want to do it."
"There's nothing wrong with getting a little help when you need it, Hermione. You can't do everything by yourself. Haven't you learned that by now? Ron can probably help you. You should be his first customer. I'll pay for it."
"I don't know, Severus."
"Just try it for a couple of weeks, Hermione. You might learn something."
Hermione stood there. Ugh. Actually learning something from Ronald Weasley. Gods, it was as if the whole world had turned upside down. But, and she hated to admit it, he was considered something of an authority and many of the reviews said his methods worked.
"Oh, all right," Hermione said. "I'll try it."
So, Hermione spent the next three weeks basically being tormented by Ron, who found a number of creative ways to piss her off, even bombarding her with whip cream pies.
"You've got to just let it out, Hermione!" he yelled as she chased him around the Burrow with her wand drawn.
"I'll let it out all right!" she yelled back at him, casting a stunner and missing by miles.
She always came home in a foul mood those evenings, raging that she was going to quit. Snape always calmed her down, saying she shouldn't give up, especially after all the hell Ron put her through. And she grudgingly would return, time after time.
One evening, Hermione returned from an evening with Ron. Snape was down in the lab, brewing when she walked in. He turned, surprised she wasn't ranting about how stupid Ron was. He looked at her.
"I've found it," she said softly. "It finally worked. And, I'm not a Harpy."
Snape wiped his hands hastily on a cloth and covered his cauldron, lowering the heat on it.
"So, what are you?"
"Come outside and I'll show you."
Snape followed her up the stairs, wondering what she was. They both walked outside and Hermione turned to face him.
"It's a nice form, but I have to admit, rather ordinary, considering I'm in Gryffindor. I wanted to be something—something more exotic," she said, looking a bit sad.
"Show me," Severus said softly.
Hermione transformed and Snape's eyes widened as he looked down on a perfectly gorgeous lioness.
"What are you talking about, Hermione? You're absolutely beautiful," he breathed kneeling a bit and caressing her head as she looked at him with her golden eyes. She made a little noise in the back of her throat. Snape stood up and ran his hand down her back and over her flank, his eyes glittering now.
"Besides," he said in a low voice. "We're anatomically compatible. For Animagi, it doesn't get much better than that."
Hermione looked up at him shocked, her eyes widening. She hadn't even thought about that. Severus' lower half was all lion.
"Let's break that body in, shall we?" Snape hissed, then transformed into a gryffin.
Hermione snarled at him playfully and bolted across the grounds.
"Squaw-awww—awww," the gryffin sang before streaking after her.
The sex was just as good in animal form as it was in human form.
Five years later, Snape was free of his patronage. He saved enough money to open a shop with Susan, and of course Hermione. Susan and Ron had married, as did Harry and Ginny. Snape and Hermione were engaged, but wanted to establish their business first. It was quite a shop, with three separate sections.
Snape had an apothecary shop, which opened on Hermione's part, which was a custom spells shop, and then there was Susan's portion, a restaurant where customers could have a bite to eat while waiting to pick up orders. Snape and Hermione's part of the shop was simply called "Custom Spells and Potions." Both of them liked the simplicity of the name and it nicely said what they were offering.
Susan's restaurant, however, was called "The Magical Maw" courtesy of Ron. Everyone thought it was perfectly awful, except for Susan. But the name had moxy, and everyone remembered it. It was a very popular shop. Susan had to hire help and every employee had to take a magical oath not to reveal the ingredients she used in her food. Her recipes were also patented. Snape introduced her to Bartleby, who took care of everything.
A magical partition had to be put up to separate Susan's shop from the smells of Snape's shop. Even though Hermione's spell shop was between them, the scent of boiled cabbages and rotten eggs still carried, and it wasn't conducive to eating. Hermione created one that just felt like a little ripple when passed through, and immediately, the smell of good food was the only scent that could be discerned, unless you were walking to Snape's shop, of course. A little sign that read: "All Smells Stop Here" rested near the partition.
Two years later, Hermione and Snape married on the grounds of Boleskine, friends and relatives in attendance. Hagrid blubbered all the way through the ceremony, and Minerva smiled, thrilled for Severus. It seemed this time around, he got what he truly deserved.
Ron watched as Snape and Hermione kissed, then said, "That's it. We're all done in, now. At least Snape held out the longest."
Harry laughed as both Ginny and Susan elbowed them. Both witches had rounded bellies and were due in a couple of months.
As Snape walked Hermione down the aisle, arm and arm, he said softly, "Two legs or four?"
He was talking about the honeymoon night.
Hermione gave him a naughty smile, then crooked one hand into an imaginary claw and scratched at him playfully.
"Rowr," she said, with a wink.
Snape couldn't be more pleased.
Yes, time had looped for Severus Snape, thrown him back, stolen his memories, and made him have to start his life over again. At the time, it seemed like a disadvantage. But given a choice of the events, he much preferred this outcome than the other he had read about. He had lived a pain-filled life. Alone and despised, he was a dark soldier, the manipulated protector of a Light that didn't seem destined to ever shine on him.
But a fateful accident caused those misaligned scales to readjust themselves, and what others might consider misfortune became his greatest fortune of all.
This time around, Severus Snape had friends, opportunity and success. More than that, he was given love and learned how to love deeply and fervently in return.
He had lost everything he was, but if this were misfortune, so be it. He'd become everything he could be.
As he looked at his wife Hermione, beaming at up him, her brown eyes filled with love and expectancy, Snape had no regrets.
No regrets at all.
"Hey, it's open!"
"I don't like those glyphs. There's something nasty down there, I'm sure of it. The last group never came back from this site."
Several wizards stood around the open hole at the base of the pyramid, staring down into the dark tunnel. One knelt and shined a flashlight in it. It was a tunnel that yawned into blackness on a slope.
"It's a slide. Don't care for what's on the end of it. Couldn't pay me to go down there."
A figure strode into the midst of the wizards. They pushed back their hats and looked at him.
"That's why they pay me the big Galleons," Blaise Zabini said with a wicked smile before he pulled out a huge flashlight and leapt into the hole. "Tallyhooooo!"
"That wizard is off his nutter. One day he's going to jump into something he can't climb out of!" one wizard claimed
The others just shook their heads.
Blaise placed a slowing spell on himself to bring his descent down to a crawl. Good thing, too. There were sharp stone protuberances in this tunnel that would have sliced him to pieces from his nads up. He carefully blasted them away as he descended, then brought himself to a stop at the tunnel's end. He carefully shined the flashlight down, looking at the floor. There was no floor, but a pit with stakes. On those stakes were shredded clothing and bodies.
"Well, we know what happened to the last group," he said to himself.
He shined the light around. He was in a large chamber. A stone pedestal rested in the center of the room with a small stone bottle on top of it. There were hieroglyphs on the walls of old gods and men. The profiles of the etchings weren't exactly level to the stone. Blaise's brown eyes rested on them, and he grinned slightly before Apparating directly to the pedestal. No doubt the floor leading to it was booby-trapped. He saw the holes in the wall. Something nasty would probably shoot out of them if triggered.
Blaise put down his flashlight, pointing it upward so the room was dimly illuminated. Taking a deep breath, he blasted the floor then cast a Protego spell around himself. He'd been right, a barrage of sharp stone arrows rained down on him from all sides. He would have looked like a bloody porcupine. The barrage stopped, but Blaise waited.
Sure enough, another rain of stone arrows rained down on him.
Blaise waited for more than an hour encased in the spell. Some protections were timed, just in case there were survivors. Finally he turned to the bottle, studying it. He didn't see any triggers but he reinforced the Protego spell and lifted the bottle.
A huge stone dropped and shattered above him, pieces sliding down and forming a rubble wall about 2 feet high around him. That would have crushed him and the bottle into a pancake.
Well, he had what he came for. Actually, he was just supposed to clear the way, but he was a bit of a show-off. It looked good on his resume. Everything he did, was for that resume. Now it was time to get out of here. As he removed the spell, picked up his flashlight and began to climb over the rubble, he heard a number of groans.
He looked at the walls. The images were pulling themselves out of their stone casings. They weren't hieroglyphs. They were mummies. About fifty of them all total.
Blaise smiled manically, sat the flashlight on the floor and pulled out another wand, so he had two grasped in his hands. Slowly he spun as the creatures shuffled closer.
"Come and get some, boys!" he breathed, then started blasting.
A/N: And that is the end of "A Looping of the Scales." I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading. ***