"Your last staff meeting, Potter," Snape drawled from his chair, the hated cane banished to lean on the coffee table. The irascible spy had never recovered fully from the attack that had exposed his activities, though Harry knew he had tried several different Healers in an attempt to heal the lingering damage to his legs. Magic could only do so much to heal a person.
"You're on the ball as always, Severus," Harry nodded agreeably, and took his seat. He had been instructed to use the staff's first names this year, and nothing annoyed Snape more than to have Harry use his first name. Their relationship had changed somewhat over the year, though not necessarily for the better. Their arguments were legendary, and Harry had proven himself to have quite the sharp wit when it came to verbal battle, a skill that he had honed on Snape.
The meeting convened, and Harry sat and listened carefully to the adults that had done so much to shape his life. They argued over the usual schedules and number of visits to Hogsmede, as they did with every meeting. They reminded Harry of Ron and Hermione, who still bickered comfortably with each other, and probably would until they died.
"Lastly, there will be a new staff member joining us," Dumbledore stroked his beard as they all recovered from the vicious round of comments directed from Snape to Professor Binns, "She will take Harry's place in teaching the first and second years Defence Against the Dark Arts, now that Harry has received his credentials."
"And what will you be doing, dear?" Poppy asked comfortably, smiling at him. She'd nagged him quite a bit this year over his eating and sleeping habits. They'd come to a truce in the end, and Harry now slept for a minimum of four hours a night, and took seconds at dinner. The visions were gone and the nightmares were getting better, but Harry had trained his body to manage with only a little sleep, a habit that was hard to give up.
"I've been offered a double apprenticeship with Gringotts and St Mungo's," Harry smiled at her, "The Healers want me to try and master my empathic talents a little more, and the Goblins want to ensure I'm not going to disgrace them in any curse breaking I might do."
He'd been surprised at the offer, which had come from representatives of both institutions at a meeting only a few weeks ago. Ron had been all for it, as it meant that Harry would be able to move in properly with him, sharing the flat that he and Hermione had rented in London. Harry had to admit that he was looking forward to living with Ron full time. Harry had taken to popping from the castle to Ron's side and back again as the action didn't take much effort on his behalf and it wasn't like he'd get caught in commuter traffic on the way to work.
"Ever the student, Potter," Snape sneered, "I guess the old saying is true - those who can't do, those who can, teach."
"You know best, Severus," Harry smiled sweetly, his voice as meek as he could make it. Snape glared at him and for a moment Harry thought the man would hex him right there in the staff meeting. McGonagall was snickering into her sleeve, and so were Poppy and Pomona. Filius wasn't so restrained, laughing outright with Hagrid, who tipped Harry a friendly wink.
"And on that note," the Headmaster twinkled at them all and got up, ending Harry's last staff meeting as the schools apprentice.
"Are you sure you want to try this, Harry?" Head Healer Holmes asked as they walked down the hall, "This particular patient has been here many times and tried many different treatments. He refuses to accept our diagnosis."
"I'm sure," Harry nodded. He spotted Poppy pacing outside the private room and smiled at her, accepting her hug enthusiastically and squeezing her in a friendly manner. She'd patched him up too many times as a student to be standoffish, and as an adult she'd tutored him a little for the Healers badge that he now wore on his robes. He had another six months with the Goblins, and then he'd be looking for a full time job that would let him use the skills he'd learnt. Ron was being secretive about that particular issue, and Harry was content to wait patiently for what ever Ron was planning to unfold. He'd learnt to trust Ron implicitly, a trust that rewarded with some very pleasurable surprises.
To the surprise of those that didn't know him well, Ron had graduated from Auror training at the top of his class, beating out even Hermione. Harry had never doubted that Ron would do well, the redheads drive to succeed was greater than a lot of people realised. Two years from graduation, Ron was one of the top field operatives, and there were rumours that he'd be asked to fill the top slot in the international Auror department when the current incumbent retired in two months.
"Oh Harry, you're our last hope," Poppy held his hands anxiously, "He refuses to give in and accept the inevitable. I should have insisted he go to St Mungo's the moment you rescued him."
"The stubborn bugger wouldn't have gone, Poppy," Harry had heard this before, and nothing he or anyone else could say seemed to assuage her guilt, "I'll do my best for you."
She kissed his cheek and stood aside as a nurse and an orderly filed into the room, followed by Harry and Holmes. Severus Snape lay on the single bed inside, already in the thin robe that the hospital provided, and glaring at everyone. He co-operated reluctantly with their examination, hissing in pain when they tested the range of movement of both legs, which had steadily deteriorated over the last five years. He now needed the support of two canes to walk and found staying on his feet unassisted to brew a potion very difficult. Harry stood back at the end of the examination and nodded to Holmes, certain he could alleviate some of this damage, if not all. What Holmes had never really understood was that healing to Harry was about people, not illness, injuries, spells and potions. Harry made a personal connection with every patient he saw, no matter what their illness was, or how long he spent with them.
Snape was a special case, his impact on Harry's childhood had been enormous and had even helped shape Harry into who he was today. That would only assist Harry in his efforts now. He nodded to the nurse, who poured a measure of potion into a glass and handed it to her glaring patient.
"What's this?" Snape eyed it distrustfully and Harry rolled his eyes.
"A potion. Drink it," he snapped back, knowing that any sign of gentleness or compassion would be viewed with extreme suspicion, if not outright hostility. Snape's glare didn't diminish, but the man drank what he was given, shuddering at the taste and handing the glass back before reclining on his pillows. After a moment his eyes drooped a little and he fixed Harry with an indignant stare.
"Poppy always gives me pumpkin juice," he complained and Harry smiled. The relaxant was kicking in. He stretched himself out, and retrieved a goblet of pumpkin juice from the school itself, moving to assist Snape to drink it. The familiar goblet reassured his professor better than words would, and the retrieval was a sort of 'warm up' for the effort he was about to undertake.
"Heggerty is leaving," Snape announced once the juice was gone, a slight slur to his normally precise diction, "That werewolf is returning to the school."
"He's not a werewolf," Harry said mildly, running his wand over Snape's chest, "He's a night wolf."
"Your spell," Snape mumbled, "Doesn't change the fact that he's a wolf."
"Well, no," Harry agreed, pleased with the results of his spell, "I can't take the werewolf out without killing him, so I altered his curse so he would change into a normal wolf. The change is at his command and a lot less painful."
"But only at night," Snape reminded him of his failure, and Harry acknowledged it with a nod. He hadn't been able to alter the curse completely, and to try could have been fatal to Moony. The night wolf spell was something that other Healers with sufficient training could cast, though it took a lot of magical energy. For the first time, there was a way for werewolves to manage their condition with Snape's potion until Harry's spell could make them safe for the public. The curse could never be lifted, but with the night wolf spell, they would be able to hold a job free of the stigma and safe from legislation that had once ruined their lives.
Harry sent a sleep spell at his former Potion Master and then moved to stand beside his legs. He gathered his energy and focussed it into his hands before sending himself into the twisted tissue and fragile bones that hid beneath the surprisingly hairy and knobbly knees. He worked slowly and meticulously, aware of Holmes on the peripheral, monitoring both Harry and the patient he laboured over.
The magic released itself with a rush and Harry staggered back, the orderly catching him, as was his job. He let the man hold him up for a moment while he got his breath back and then straightened, thanking him with a smile and softly spoken word. They'd never been able to teach Harry to hold a part of himself in reserve when he was healing in this manner, he'd had to explain time and again that it wasn't the way his magic worked, so the hospital had learned to have someone on hand to catch him when he stumbled.
"Perfect," Holmes nodded as the diagnostic spell faded, "The damage is gone as if it never was. Well done Potter."
The Headmaster looked up as the castle whispered in his ear and smiled. The usual sea of bright young faces were smiling back at him, and he reached over to take his partners hand, knowing that what the castle had picked up was something the other man would want to hear. This sort of magic was a lot easier after more than a hundred years together - they barely had to speak to know each other's thoughts now. It creeped the staff out sometimes.
"Drew! Drew! Look over there!" the Ravenclaw first year was nudging her tablemate enthusiastically, pointing not quite subtly at the head table. The staff were arrayed along it as usual. Harry had been sad to see so few people that had taught him still in service to the school. Snape had been Headmaster and took Harry on as Charms Master when Flitwick's successor retired. Ron had taken the place of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at the same time, and they shared quarters in the school. When Snape retired, Harry had been his recommendation for successor, something that had surprised the former Boy Who Lived no end.
"What is it, Teresa?" Drew asked, withdrawing his gaze from the food that had appeared in front of him after the Sorting. There had been a larger than usual intake this year, and the House tables had been expanded as a result. This was a good sign, as it meant that the Wizarding world was flourishing after nearly six decades of rival Dark Lords and Evil Wizards.
"Look, that's Ronald Weasley!" Teresa bounced in her seat and the Headmaster felt his partner's hand squeeze his in surprise. He chuckled and was shushed indignantly. As their life together had progressed, Ron's deeds had come to rival those of Harry, and the vital loving man that sat beside him never tired of the recognition that came with that. He was welcome to it - Harry avoided the spotlight like the plague, and always had done. He was looking forward to their retirement in ten years time, when the two of them could once more devote their time and energy solely to each other as they travelled in their bus.
"Who?" Drew looked along the staff table while Teresa rolled her eyes in disbelief. He stroked Ron's fingers lightly, waiting to hear what the girl would say to describe his life's mate. Harry could come up with a thousand books filled with words to describe Ron, most of which his friend would dismiss as 'mush'. Ron was always accusing Harry of being the mushy one, and only allowed him free reign in bed.
"Sitting next to the Headmaster," Teresa directed, "And he's only the greatest Auror of our time. He led the international squads for years, and it was him who defeated Styr at Stonehenge. He set up the cross species auror squads and pioneered the civilian consultancy system that we use today. He's really wicked!"
"Yes he is," Harry smiled at his beloved, and Ron grinned back.
The End, The End!
There ain't no more...
That's all she wrote...
There's no encore!
But the good news is I'm half way through my next idea! See ya later!