Potions master is the title given to the Potions Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They are in charge of teaching their subject to the students of Hogwarts in a classroom in the Dungeons, and they own an office, described as a "water closet", nearby. Horace Slughorn held the post from at least 1920 until his retirement in 1981, when Severus Snape took his place. However, Slughorn returned in 1996 when Snape became the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, though Slughorn took Galatea Merrythought's old office while Snape kept the one in the dungeons.
Professor Horace Slughorn
Around 1920, a wizard named Horace Slughorn, who had previously studied at the school as a Slytherin, arrived at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was employed as Potions master. The Headmaster, and Slughorn's employer, was Professor Armando Dippet, who gave him the Potions master's office in the dungeons, though Slughorn hated it and described it as a "water-closet." At some point, he was also made Head of Slytherin House.
Slughorn was described as a good teacher, but chose favourites out of the classes that he taught, sometimes for their ambition or their brains, sometimes for their charm or their talent, and he had an uncanny knack for choosing those who would go on to become outstanding in their various fields. Horace formed a club named the "Slug Club", of which his favourites were members with himself at the centre, making introductions, forging useful contacts between members, and always reaping some kind of benefit in return. Among them were Tom Riddle, Gwenog Jones, Ambrosius Flume, Dirk Cresswell, Lucius Malfoy and, one of his absolute favourites, Lily Evans.
Professor Severus Snape
In the school year of 1981, Professor Slughorn decided he had had enough and resigned from both of his positions at the school. In his place, Albus Dumbledore, the new Headmaster, hired Severus Snape, one of Slughorn's ex-pupils. Snape became both Potions master and Head of Slytherin House, and took ownership of his predecessor's office and the Potions Classroom.
Professor Snape was a ruthless disciplinarian, with little patience for foolishness, yet effective in his job and well respected by other professors. His deep understanding of potion brewing, as shown by his expert concoction of Wolfsbane Potion in 1993, transformed the knowledge of potions from mere chemistry to an art. But in 1996, Snape was granted his original, fervent and oft-repeated wish and was made Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, leaving the position of Potions master vacant.
Professor Horace Slughorn's return
Before the winter term of 1996, Albus Dumbledore, with the help of Harry Potter, persuaded Slughorn to come out of retirement and return to the school, while Professor Snape became Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. However, Slughorn insisted that his salary be increased, and that he be given the office that once belonged to Galatea Merrythought, instead of the one in the dungeons, which Snape continued to use as his own. Slughorn was quick to reform the Slug Club with new members, including Melinda Bobbin, Flora and Hestia Carrow, Blaise Zabini, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Cormac McLaggen and, of course, Harry Potter, who he viewed as the "crown jewel" of his career as a "collector".
Slughorn was described as a much more accommodating and popular teacher than his predecessor, Severus Snape, and in consequence many students performed better under his tutelage. During the first lesson of the year he awarded Felix Felicis, also known as "Liquid Luck", to the brewer of the best Draught of Living Death . The potion went to Harry Potter, whom Slughorn thought had inherited his mother's talent but who, in fact, had copied notes written in Severus Snape's copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Through the year, Slughorn endeavoured to forge ties with Harry, though Harry only really wanted his memory of telling Tom Riddle about Horcruxes, which Slughorn later gave him. At the end of the year, the Battle of the Astronomy Tower took place and Albus Dumbledore was murdered by Professor Snape, who thereafter fled the school. Given these traumatic circumstances, the distraught Slughorn was made Head of Slytherin House.
Professor Slughorn stayed at Hogwarts under the tenure of Severus Snape as Headmaster and, like the rest of the teachers, attempted to protect the students from Snape and the Carrows. When the Dark Lord invaded the castle with his army, it was initially believed that Slughorn had fled in cowardice; but as it transpired, he had gone to Hogsmeade to round up reinforcements. He returned to the castle at the head of a vast number of residents and shopkeepers from the village, along with friends and family of the students and staff already fighting. Slughorn engaged the Dark Lord head on, with Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt, proving himself a masterful duellist, able to hold his own against even the most dangerous dark wizard of all time.
It is likely that Slughorn continued as both Potions master and Head of Slytherin House and taught his skills with potions to the next generation of Hogwarts students.
Classroom and office
The Potions master's classroom is a cold, creepy dungeon, which is beneath the main castle and the basement. It is described as much colder than up in the castle and has pickled animals in glass jars lined up along the walls, as well as having some desks and a fireplace. The Potions master's office is also in the dungeons. The shadowy walls were lined with shelves of large glass jars filled with slimy, revolting things, such as bits of animals and plants, floating in potions of varying colours - much like the Potions Classroom. When Horace Slughorn returned to teach, he refused to use this office - which he described as a "water closet" - and took an office which had once belonged to Galatea Merrythought. This spacious office includes a fireplace with two large sofas surrounding it, a round dinner table large enough to seat ten people, and access to a private balcony, as well as two doors connecting the office to the rest of the Castle.
As Potions master, the incumbent is called upon to teach Potions Class to all years, from first to seventh, since Potions is a required subject for all students in their first five years, and a considerable number, including any potential Aurors, take it for the final two. The potions the professor teaches are taken from textbooks, including Magical Drafts and Potions, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, and Advanced Potion-Making. They teach specific potion recipes and methods, and often write the ingredients and methods on a blackboard before instructing the class to follow said recipe.
Students in their first year are taught the Boil-Cure Potion, called the "Cure for Boils" by Professor Horace Slughorn. This potion consists of dried Nettles, snake fangs, stewed horned slugs, porcupine quills and Flobberworm Mucus. Unless the cauldron is taken off the fire before adding the porcupine quills, the cauldron will melt and create boils instead of curing them. This happened once in 1991, and Severus Snape, the Potions master at the time, was not pleased at all. Also, the Wiggenweld Potion is studied for the first time; it is made from Asphodel root, shredded Dittany and Wiggentree bark, all of which are collected as a homework assignment.
The Potions master teaches the Swelling Solution to his second year students, whose lessons took place on a Thursday in 1992. The Swelling Solution, as the name implies, causes whatever it touches to swell up in size, and one of the Swelling Solution's ingredients is puffer-fish eyes. In 1992, Draco Malfoy kept flicking some of these eyes at Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, who used a Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Firework to cause a distraction and steal ingredients (for a Polyjuice Potion) from Severus Snape's storeroom; this incident led Snape to make the daunting threat to expel the one who threw the firework, since, despite a lack of evidence, he knew at once it was Harry. The Wiggenweld Potion is, once again, concocted and revised.
Students in their third year are taught by the Potions master how to create the Antidote to Uncommon Poisons, a potion that cures Doxy venom and other uncommon poisons. Its ingredients include Fire Seeds, Powdered Graphorn Horn, Billywig stings and Chizpurfle Carapaces. Students are required to collect the ingredients for homework and mix them together in the next lesson. Also taught is the Girding Potion, a potion that gives the consumer extra endurance and which is made from Dragonfly thoraxes, Flying Seahorses, fairy wings and Doxy eggs. Wiggenweld is revised once again.´Students also learn to brew the Shrinking Solotion.
The Potions master teaches his fourth year students the Wit-Sharpening Potion, which presumably allows the drinker to think more clearly. It is comprised of armadillo bile, cut ginger roots and ground scarab beetles. In 1994, Severus Snape taught his students to make this potion shortly after the second task of the Triwizard Tournament. While working, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger discussed an article by Rita Skeeter that had recently been published in Witch Weekly. Snape found the trio reading the magazine, and, much to their humiliation, read it aloud to the entire class (the article falsely accused Hermione of toying with the hearts of both Viktor Krum and Harry).
The Strengthening Solution, a potion that presumably increases the drinker's strength, is taught by the Potions master to his fifth year students. It requires two lessons to complete and includes Salamander blood and powdered Griffin claw. Also, to prepare for the Ordinary Wizarding Level, the Draught of Peace is brewed during the first lesson of the year, as its concoction is a frequent task in the examination.
Sixth years who have passed their O.W.L. with an E grade or better (O only for Professor Snape) may continue Potions, in order to take their N.E.W.T. in the subject. This is a pre-requisite for any Auror candidate, and so, in 1996, Harry Potter was much saddened to discover that, having received an E grade on his O.W.L., he was ineligible for the N.E.W.T. class. However, Professor Slughorn was willing to teach students with an E at O.W.L., and so Harry was able to continue on his chosen path. The Potions master takes the students' sixth year to prepare for the N.E.W.T. exam which takes place the next year. The potions observed include the Draught of Living Death, Elixir to Induce Euphoria and the Shrinking Solution. They also revise the Boil-Cure Potion, Wit-Sharpening Potion and Draught of Peace.
As the N.E.W.T.s take place at the end of the year, the Potions master likely makes his seventh years revise the most complex potions in the school syllabus. It was mentioned by Professor Slughorn that, by the end of the year, seventh year students are expected to be capable of brewing Polyjuice Potion, Amortentia, Veritaserum and Felix Felicis, all of which are stated at different times to be challenges considerably beyond the skill of the average witch or wizard. Hermione, as chronicled, concocted a viable Polyjuice Potion as a second year, one of her many remarkable feats.
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- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Heard in flashback(s))
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