Thanks to everyone for reviewing and for sticking around this long. Wtihout further ado, here is the next and last chapter of the series. Please enjoy!
It was a very good thing that they were already at St Mungo's seeing how both Snape and Harry required urgent medical attention. Due to the mangled state of Snape's right foot, it had taken him a while to go and get help, especially since it was still very early. But eventually, he had managed to flag someone down and after that, it had only been a matter of minutes before both he and Harry had been recovered and placed in a room together. An Auror had arrived shortly after to collect Rookwood's dead body.
As soon as Harry has been removed from the lab, he had finally and thankfully blacked out. When he next opened his eyes, he could only make out blurry shapes and colours. Instinctively, he moved to grab his glasses but winced when he was met with incredible pain as he tried to do so. This caused the memories of earlier that morning to come flooding back to him and he gasped in both pain and worry.
"Dad?" he asked, still trying to get a better view of his surroundings.
"I'm here," Snape replied and Harry relaxed considerably. "Here, hold still for a moment." Harry did as he was told and felt how Snape placed his glasses on his nose.
"Thanks," Harry said. He then turned his head to get a better look at Snape who was sitting in the bed next to his. His left arm had been completely bandaged and his right foot was in a cast of sorts.
"A cast?" Harry pointed out. "What happened to skele-gro?"
Snape growled. "Whatever else Rookwood had done in that lab, he had also released some sort of mist that made sure that I can't benefit from any curative potions for a while," he replied angrily. "It's not permanent but it will be at least a week before I can be released from this cast."
"I'm sorry you got hurt," Harry said.
"You should see the other guy," Snape deadpanned, eliciting a chuckle from Harry.
"I'll bet," he replied. "But Severus, what the bloody hell took you so long?"
"Language," Snape chided softly. Harry simply scoffed in response.
"After tending to Draco's wounds, I took him home to make sure that his mother was alright again. I didn't want to leave him in a dangerous situation, of course."
"Right," Harry responded.
"When I got the message, I was right in the middle of talking to Narcissa, trying to get her to take a mixture of a calming and a sleeping draught. I never imagined the possible urgency of the message. I am… truly sorry."
Harry frowned as he witnessed the tortured look on Snape's face. "It's alright," he said finally. "At least it wasn't because you were getting busy with Maya or something."
Snape snorted. "I would punish you for that cheeky statement, but I think you've been punished enough for a while."
Harry tried to sit upright but Snape quickly placed a hand on his shoulder. "None of that," he said. "The damage to your body is quite extensive. It will take a while for you to heal."
"Did I breath in that mist as well?" Harry asked, frowning.
"No," Snape replied. "I cast a bubblehead charm on you. But there's only so much that magic can do. You should know better than anyone that some injuries can't possibly heal overnight."
Harry groaned. "I can't do a single thing like this," he said, trying in vain to move his fingers. "I'll get bored."
"It's a good thing that you have me for company," Snape pointed out.
"Great," Harry sulked. "I'm imprisoned in a hospital bed and as a bonus, the snarky bat of the dungeons is here to keep me company."
"Don't make me suffocate you with a pillow," Snape warned. "It would be quite easy to do so right now."
"If you're going to do it, do it now," Harry whined. "I'm not looking forward to staying here all cooped up."
"You don't even know how long you're supposed to stay here," Snape pointed out.
"With an overprotective dad like you, I can only imagine," Harry sighed. "And I'm supposed to brew something to help Narcissa out. How am I supposed to do that when I can't even hold a stirrer?"
"You're not," Snape said easily. "It will just have to wait. Now, to pass the time I thought I would read to you."
"You have got to be kidding me!" Harry exclaimed, but he couldn't help a smile from forming.
"Oh, I'm quite serious," Snape said. "What do you want to hear? 'Tales of Beedle the Bard' or 'Hogwarts, a History?"
"I have gone seven years without reading that book, despite Hermione's insistence," Harry chuckled. "And now it seems rather pointless and just as boring."
"The children's book it is," Snape said, rolling his eyes. Harry relaxed into his cushions and looked at Snape expectantly. The man opened the book with a sigh and began to read. "There was once a kindly old wizard who used his magic generously and wisely…"
Exactly one week later, Harry found himself in lab eight. Since lab seven had pretty much been reduced to rubble, he was given that lab to complete his experimentation. It was a good thing that the tears of Mnemosyne had been delivered after the battle and were therefore not in need of replacement. Harry had only been allowed to leave yesterday but was very much eager to. Snape – though he had still been wearing a cast – had been allowed to walk around after only one day of being hospitalised, much to Harry's dismay.
It was good to be brewing again. His hopes for helping Malfoy were still high. It had been telling that Draco hadn't even come to visit Harry while he was in the hospital. It probably had everything to do with his mother. Ron and Hermione had come to visit him, Hermione playing the role of overbearing mother hen while Ron kept cracking jokes like how Harry might've grown a bit taller after all of this. Luna had been by as well, of course, but she had been much more gentle and careful around him than his two friends had been. It was good to know that – even after graduation – Harry was still able to count on his friends. He had no doubt that this would always be the case.
Carefully, Harry added three of the tears to his potion and watched how waves were suddenly created in the concoction as it swirled around a very still centre.
"Interesting effect," Lovegood said as he watched Harry work. He was there, still upholding his end of the bargain. "In my humble opinion, this should definitely do the trick. I don't think the staff will even be required."
"You don't?" Harry asked incredulously.
"This potion should do fine by itself," Lovegood said. "After all, we mustn't forget to brew without the use of rare artefacts such as this one. It's admirable that you wish to help your friend but just imagine; if this works, many more people would benefit from this draught. And if other potioneers would be able to replicate the potion – which would be nigh impossible if you plan to use the staff in the recipe – soon we might find ourselves equipped to deal with dementia easily. And stemming from that, other mental illnesses might be considered to become curable as well."
"That makes sense," Harry had to admit. "But if it doesn't work –"
"If it doesn't work, you can always brew the whole thing again and use the staff after all," Lovegood said. "But I urge you to try the potion without it first."
Harry smiled at the man who had procured the tears for him in the first place and had spent a great deal of his time to help Harry achieve the current result. The least he could do was grant him this request. "Of course," he finally said. "Would you mind if I go to my friend right now to test it? I realize that it's still the middle of the day…"
Lovegood chuckled. "Harry," he said, "these last few months you have worked two days worth of hours every day. I'm sure I can allow you to leave a tad earlier than usual in return. If you would kindly let me know the final result, though, I would be most appreciative."
"Of course," Harry said. He bottled two vials of the potion to be sure – you could never know when one might break – and made his way to the floo. He still had a bit of a limp, which was only natural if you considered what had happened to his knees. Even with magic, he was bound to feel some discomfort after only a week.
When he finally arrived at the corridor of hearths, he chose an available one, tossed in some floo powder and called out "Malfoy Manor!"
The floo flared and Harry got inside, gritting his teeth as he stumbled through the network. When he finally arrived at his destination, he stumbled forward and was only barely able to keep himself upright by clinging to a table that stood nearby.
"Harry," said a voice as Harry righted himself, noticing a slight tremble in his legs. Perhaps taking the floo had been a bit overconfident. Well, he still didn't fully understand how to apparate, after all.
"Hi Draco," Harry replied as he shakily tried to catch his breath. "Sorry to stop by unannounced."
"Sit down for a moment, will you?" Draco said, sliding a chair out from under the table for Harry to sit in. "I heard what happened. I'm sorry that I couldn't come to visit. Mother –"
"You don't need to apologize," Harry said uneasily. "I understand. It's why I'm here, actually."
Draco frowned. "What do you mean?"
"My being in the hospital sort of caused a delay in my plans but I think I did it," Harry said."
"Did what?" Draco asked. His tone betrayed his hopefulness but Harry imagined that Draco wanted to hear the words for himself.
"I believe I've managed to brew a cure for your mother. Chief Lovegood helped me and he too thinks that the potion should be potent enough."
"You're serious, aren't you?" Draco asked as he sat down as well.
"Dead serious," Harry replied. "If you want, we could test it right now."
"Please," Draco said hoarsely. "If you think this will work, let's try it out this instant."
"Where is she?" Harry asked.
"Sleeping," Draco replied. "If you would follow me, I'll guide you to her room."
The two walked in complete silence as they both hoped that the potion would work. Harry had made more complicated potions than this one before but for some reason, he was even more anxious for the result of this particular potion than he had been for the cure to the dissolving sweats. And he knew that it meant the world to the boy walking beside him.
Several years ago, it would have been unthinkable for Draco to put all his trust in a potion of Harry's creation. Harry shuddered to think what would have happened to the blonde if they had never become friends in the first place. Would Snape have tried to come up with this potion? Would Draco have even told his Godfather of his troubles in the first place or would he have locked himself and his mother away, waiting for the day that one of them had enough?
Harry shook himself out of those grim thoughts and followed Draco into Narcissa's bedroom. She slept on the right side of a very large bed that stood centred against the wall across from the door. It seemed much too big for only one person and Harry felt strange knowing that Lucius had slept in the very same bed not all too long ago.
"Mother," Draco said softly as he approached the bed. Narcissa didn't stir and Harry kept standing in the doorway. He didn't want to spook the woman when she woke.
"Mother," Draco urged again, a bit louder this time.
"Daddy?" Narcissa said groggily. "Five more minutes."
Draco sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He glanced at Harry and inclined his head to signal for him to come closer. Harry took the potion out of his pocket and walked over.
"It's time to wake up," Draco urged, trying to sound stern.
Narcissa rubbed her eyes and stared blearily at Harry. "Daddy, who is that?"
"My friend," Draco replied soothingly. "He's here to help you."
Narcissa glared suspiciously at Harry who was starting to feel an upcoming ache in his knees from walking and standing so much. Draco seemed to notice Harry's discomfort since he summoned a chair for him.
"I want you to behave yourself, okay?" Draco told Narcissa. "I'll buy you a present if you do. Can you do this for me?"
Tears glistened in Draco's eyes as he looked pleadingly at his mother. She smiled and grabbed his hand. "Okay," she said. "I'll be good."
Harry cleared his throat and showed Narcissa the potion that was periwinkle in colour. "I need you to drink this for me, okay?" he asked. "It's not going to taste very good but it will help you."
Narcissa glanced at Draco again who nodded encouragingly and took the potion with both hands.
"It's pretty," she said.
Draco smiled as he wiped away a tear. "Just like you are," he said softly.
Narcissa giggled girlishly at that. She removed the stopper from the vial and scrunched up her nose when she smelled the sour damp that came from the potion.
"Do I have to drink all of it?" she whined.
"To the last drop," Harry said importantly. "But I know that you can do it. I have faith in you." He smiled and nodded towards the vial.
"Okay," Narcissa said. She pinched her nose and downed the potion, though it took her several gulps to get it all down. Afterwards, she handed Harry the vial back which he pocketed automatically.
"Close your eyes," Harry told her. "You're going to start feeling sleepy."
"But I just woke up," Narcissa protested, stifling a yawn.
"You only need to sleep a little while longer," Harry told her soothingly. "When you wake up again, everything will be better."
"Okay," Narcissa said, already laying her head back down. She curled up as Draco tucked in the blankets around her.
"Good night, daddy," Narcissa sighed. Instantly after, she was sound asleep.
With a trembling hand, Draco summoned a second chair and sat down next to Harry. "I really hope this works," he said listlessly. "I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't."
Harry put a hand on Draco's shoulder, squeezing it gently. "If it doesn't work, I'll try again," he said earnestly. "I'll keep trying until I get it right. I promise you that."
Draco eyed him wearily, with the utmost respect flickering in his eyes. "How I was ever able to be such a git to you is beyond me," he said. "You must be the best person I have ever met."
"I'm stubborn, that's what I am," Harry chuckled. "That's usually not a good thing, either. Ask Severus."
"Yeah," Draco replied plainly.
They sat together in comfortable silence for a very long time as Narcissa slept. She stirred every now and then but didn't wake.
"How are you feeling?" Draco asked after a long time. "I've noticed that you're not exactly in the best of health, yourself."
Harry rolled his right shoulder experimentally as he worked out some kinks. "I think I'd rather have another encounter with Voldemort than with Rookwood. That man was insane!"
"He always seemed to be pretty grounded," Draco said. "You know… back in the day."
"That's what Severus said," Harry scoffed. "But when you start torturing people with medieval devices, then singing some crooked lullaby to them as they cry in agony, you're pretty mental in my books."
Draco frowned. "I didn't know what he did exactly," he admitted. "Will you make a full recovery?"
"I will," Harry said. "I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love magic. The problem is that when the lunatics get their hands on it, it can be very devastating."
"You're going over this pretty lightly," Draco pointed out.
"I'm used to my fair share of pain," Harry said with a wry chuckle. "That said, last week was one of the worst days of my life, even if the pain didn't really last all that long. I guess I went too long without running into trouble."
Draco chuckled and was about to reply when Narcissa suddenly sat up, her eyes wide open as she stared at Draco in shock.
None of the three people present spoke for the first moment but when the silence became too uncomfortable, Draco reluctantly said: "Mum?"
A few tears dropped from Narcissa's eyes as she regarded Draco, her lip trembling. "D-Draco," she said. "I'm so sorry, child. I'm so, so sorry." Draco gasped as he heard his name on his mother's lips again.
Narcissa's tears now flowed freely as she buried her face into her hands, her shoulders trembling as she tried to contain herself. Draco sat next to her in the bed and draped his arm around her shoulders. Harry saw that he was trying to stay strong but he was not really succeeding.
"It's alright, mother," he said, a careful happiness evident in his voice. "You're back now."
He glanced up at Harry and when he saw the boy watching carefully he mouthed the words 'thank you.'
Harry smiled, nodded and silently retreated from the room, leaving mother and son to grieve the time they had lost with each other.
When the skele-gro would finally work on Snape again, he was able to get rid of the cast he had to wear. Already, he was complaining about its itchiness to which Harry could only roll his eyes. If he could trade his aching joints for a very localised itch, he would do it in a heartbeat.
When the cast was indeed removed, there was only one last thing for Harry and Snape to do. They had once again been summoned to the guild pyramid to attend another meeting.
"I suppose that saving the world again might have changed their views of your skills," Snape told Harry as he started climbing the stairs. Harry groaned as he too dragged himself upwards.
"What is it with old societies and their terribly impractical meeting places?" he complained. "Honestly, would it kill them to install an elevator? Or better yet, to relocate to a nice air conditioned office building?"
Snape laughed as he offered Harry his arm in assistance. Harry gratefully took it, leaning heavily on Snape for the rest of the way.
"I'll bring it up in the next guild meeting," Snape said. "Perhaps it is time for some changes."
When they finally stumbled into the meeting space, everyone was already sitting in their rightful seats. Harry could see that the staff of Caduceus was back on the wall as if it was never taken in the first place. Snape didn't take his seat. Instead, he allowed Harry to sit there, knowing that the boy was still healing. None of the other masters objected.
"Welcome back, Harry Potter," Lovegood said authoritatively. "It is not usually that we gather twice in the same year for the same person. But we have all agreed that you provide enough cause for an exception."
Snape snorted as if to say that that was nothing new but Harry ignored him, entwining his fingers and listening politely.
"As we are all aware, you have been quite busy since last we all met," Lovegood continued. "Not only have you shown astounding promise as a brewer while maintaining the hospital stocks, but you also managed to brew a cure to a disease that – until recently – seemed to be undefeatable. And you did so without any outside assistance."
Harry was about to object when he saw Snape shake his head out of the corner of his eye.
"Esteemed colleagues," Lovegood continued, now facing the other Masters. "After the onslaught that was 'the dissolving sweats' happened, I have joined Mr Potter's research to try and find a cure to a more common and often forgotten disease, namely dementia."
The masters started whispering to each other when Lovegood raised his hand to demand silence. "I was able to get some first-hand experience with Mr Potter's process. And though he may be somewhat chaotic at times –" Lovegood winked at Harry as he said this, " – He is also fiercely committed to every task he receives or gives himself. Had he not been interrupted by the unfortunate appearance of a certain Death Eater, he would have no doubt completed the cure sooner."
"Master Lovegood?" one of the Masters interrupted. "Are you implying that he managed to create a cure? For dementia, I mean."
"Only a few days ago," Lovegood said. "But yes. Yes indeed. The potion has been tested and the test-subject has been reported to have made a full recovery. We shall have to wait to see the long-term effects but it all seems very promising, much as our apprentice himself."
Snape put a hand on Harry's shoulder and when Harry looked up at him, he could see the man smiling.
"I propose another vote," Lovegood finally said. "And I believe we needn't wait for Mr Potter to leave the room. He is still recovering from his injuries for one and I do believe that we can share the results immediately this time."
Lovegood glared around the room as if he dared anyone to disagree with him. When no one did, he smiled and nodded. "All those in favour of granting Harry Potter the title of Potions Master?"
Lovegood raised his hand high in the air and was immediately followed by eleven others. Harry gaped with open mouth at the fast response. Since Snape wasn't allowed to vote, that meant that everyone had voted in his favour. Everyone! Snape squeezed his shoulder in excitement and Harry swallowed thickly.
"Then it appears we have reached an accord," Lovegood said. "Congratulations, Master Potter. "I am certain that we may keep expecting great things from you."
"Thank you," Harry said breathlessly. "Thank you all for this honour. I – I don't know what to say."
Lovegood and several others chuckled.
"Eloquent as always, Mr Potter," Snape teased from behind him. Harry looked at his father to see his eyes shining with pride. Harry had never seen the man smile brighter. "Well done, my son," he said. "You deserve this."
Harry quickly wiped his eyes and grinned. He had done it. He had finally done it. Now, there was only one more step he had to take.
He had long since decided just what it was that he wanted to do. That was why he stopped Professor Slughorn as they reached the bottom of those awful stairs.
"Well done, Harry," Slughorn said in obvious delight as he clapped Harry on the shoulder. "Well done, indeed. Your mother would be proud."
"She is," Harry agreed. "But I was wondering about something."
"Do tell, Harry," Slughorn said eagerly. "Anything I can help with, I will."
"Well, I was wondering if you were still planning on teaching next year?" Harry asked. "If you don't mind my saying, it appears to me that you're rather tired of all of this."
Slughorn sighed, stroking his chin in thought. "While I do love to teach, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the students who seem keen on… thinking outside of the box, so to speak," he admitted. "Your Ms Lovegood is a fine example of that. But with Severus on the defence post, I fear that the job might go to someone who is simply not qualified if I went back into retirement. Just look at what happened with Defence Against the Dark Arts for all those years."
Harry nodded in understanding. "I hear what you're saying sir," he said. "But how would you feel about me as the next teacher?"
"You?" Slughorn asked, a smile broadening on his face as his eyes began to shine. He clapped his hands together. "My boy, that would be a fabulous idea. If you're serious about this, I would happily recommend you to Albus."
Harry winked cheekily at Slughorn. "I'm very serious," he said. "Though I can only hope to be as good a teacher as you are, sir."
Slughorn snorted. "I may be easy to flatter but even I see you being blatantly modest." He sighed happily. "Yes, you I could happily allow to take my position. But only you."
Harry was checking himself in the mirror, trying to see the back of his robes as Snape was trying to button them for him.
"Would you stop squirming so much?" Snape chided. "You're going to wrinkle them."
"I just don't get it," Harry sighed. "My robes are exactly the same as yours and yet they don't…"
Snape smirked. "They don't what?"
"You know," Harry said, making a wavy movement with his hand. "They don't billow!"
Snape chuckled as he walked around Harry, eyeing him critically. "You know," he said. "I will let you in on my secret as long as you promise not to tell a single soul."
Harry grinned as he watched Snape from the mirror. "You have my word," he said solemnly.
"You see," Snape said softly, "everyone thinks that I must use a spell on my robes for them to get like that. But they're wrong. What I truly use –" With an exaggerated flourish, Snape produced a small vial from his robes. "- Is this!"
"A potion!" Harry smacked himself on the forehead. "I should have known."
"Use this one on your robes," Snape said. "A few drops should suffice. And if you really like it, I can give you the recipe later. Just don't be surprised if the students start referring to you as a bat."
"Brilliant," Harry said in awe. "I'll make good use of it."
"I'm sure you will," Snape said. "Now be off. You can't be late for your first class."
Harry winked at him. "Only by a minute," he said cheekily.
The door to the potions lab opened with a bang as Harry Potter – the new Potions Professor – stormed into the classroom. Taking long, hasty strides, he kept walking – his robes billowing behind him - until he reached the front of the class, then allowed his cold and foreboding glare to pierce every student's gaze, calling them to attention without a word.
"There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class," he said icily, his voice booming through the otherwise quiet classroom. "As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few –" he stopped his gaze at an entirely random Gryffindor, "- Who possess, the predisposition…"
It suddenly became far too much. Harry started laughing, waving his hand in a dismissive gesture as he casually hopped onto his desk. "I can't do this," he told his new students, chuckling all the while. Some of the first-years shared an awkward grin between them.
"Let's try a different approach, shall we? I'm Harry Potter and that over there is my owl Hedwig," he said pointing at the snowy owl who sat on a perch in the corner. "If she tells you you're doing something wrong, you'd best listen. She's usually right. Now, which one of you knows where to look if you needed a bezoar?"
I can't believe that the series has come to an end at last yet here we are. It's only fitting that I say a few things.
First, I want to thank my beta and friend for all of his hard work. On the site he is known as Pagemaster4TW and on the discord channel as Sneaky_Prawn. He has gone far beyond what a regular beta would do. He's been here for me since the beginning of TPM and has helped not only by reading the chapters beforehand and unearthing the mistakes but also by engaging in hour-long brainstorming sessions with me. without him, TPM would probably be 20 chapters less long. Thank you Sneaks! I know we didn't always see eye to eye but you really made a difference.
Secondly, I want to thank all of the people who have read the trilogy from start to finish. Especially those who have patiently waited for me to upload time and time again. A special thanks to those who reviewed and to FallingToast/FallingBread who has even made fanart for the series.
If I might ask you one last time to send me a review to tell me how you felt about TPM but also which of the three stories you liked best. I am very eager to find out.
I will not be gone for long. Soon, I'll start on a new mentor story. I hope to see you all there to join me on a new journey. Expect the first chapter of 'The Subterfuge' on Friday.
Thank you all!