The hardships of a Slytherin mind

30. june 2014 at 19:05 | Thalia Contostavlos
A little story about Severus Snape and is mind. No real plot, though hopefully still enjoyable.
Warnings: none
Disclaimer: I don't own anything .... booohooo :(

......Severus brought his hand up to his forehead in an unconscious reaction to the fifth years strolling into his classroom. The noisy dunderheads had the immaculate ability to make his head hurt more than a three-minute Cruciatus, he had it tested.
......He saw Potter enter the room and suppressed a wince. The idiotic boy was a nuisance and Severus was honestly tired of having to deal with his insolence. He tore his eyes away from the carbon copy of his school rival and looked at the old-fashioned clock on the wall. Two minutes before he had to start the lesson.
......He leaned back in his chair, noticing absentmindedly the way it wavered unsteadily due to one of its leg being a bit shorter than the others and making a mental note to fix it later, then set upon observing the class. He stared down the Weasley boy, who dropped his Potions book in his haste to sit down, the sound echoing loudly in the stone-walled room. He quickly shifted his focus to Draco, who threw a cocky smirk his way suggesting he was well prepared for the class, and tapping his left leg against the leg of his desk which implied he was nervous about something. An upcoming test maybe? Or a relationship trouble? He dismissed such useless thoughts from his mind, his eyes settling on Longbottom, who blushed furiously. Nothing new there. The insecure boy, while not being an utter idiot, was always so rattled in Potions class, he even forgot his own name, quite literally on one occasion.
......Severus' eyes then shifted to Crabbe, who fidgeted almost unnoticeably in his chair, meaning he forgot to do his homework. Again. He had to talk to the boy after class, the overweight Slytherin was as unfurnished in his head as he let on and if he didn't at least try to complete the assignments, Severus would be forced to fail him.
......He took a quick look at the clock. Twenty seconds. He stood up slowly, scowling at Zabini and Parkinson who tumbled through the doorway breathlessly. Severus raised his left eyebrow at the Italian's dishevelled appearance. Another look. Five seconds. Everyone was seated now and Severus sighed internally at the fact that he couldn't deduct any points for tardiness today.
......Finally the clock's hand moved to its awaited position. "We start today with our weekly quiz, close all your notebooks," he looked at Finnigan's hand inching towards his Potions book, "and your textbooks, Mr. Finnigan."
......The boy snatched his hand back quickly wincing slightly at the move. Severus smirked, it seemed the young Gryffindor had fallen asleep in an uncomfortable position yesterday evening, most likely revising for the DADA test that was planned for the fifth years' afternoon class, resulting in a crick in his neck.
......Severus again inspected his students, deciding who to ask first. He had planned a particularly challenging potion for today, so he needed to revise all its crucial aspects to prevent as many accidents as he possibly could. On the other hand, he didn't want to deny himself the pleasure of taking away some points.
......"Longbottom," he spoke, pronouncing the name slowly and clearly just like he's been taught by his pureblooded mother, "what are the ingredients necessary to brew a Blood Replenishing Potion successfully?"
......The boy took in a shuddering breath, wheezing a bit. He must've caught a bit of a cold yesterday, while strolling though the snowy Hogsmeade without a proper winter attire. "I think, that is, I believe, beetle eyes ... eh ..."
......Severus nodded encouragingly, at least he hoped it came across as an encouragement and not an amused resentment, lately he seemed to confuse the two expressions.
......Longbottom continued: "Erumpent exploding fluid, ah ... dried Billywig wings ... "
......Severus raised his left eyebrow at the wrong answer. Why did the students always make the same mistake? The Billywig wings were never used dried in any potions because the lack of fluids rendered them useless, as opposed to the Billywig stings, which had to be dried so they wouldn't react too violently with the Potion's base. He took pity on the bumbling idiot: "Do you think that's all or do you simply not remember any more?"
......The Gryffindor looked at his closed Potions book. "I don't remember, sir."
......Severus nodded, satisfied. "Very well, who will be able to tell us the complete list, while I take away ten points for Longbottom's ignorance?"
......One hand shot up before he could even finish the sentence, Granger unsurprisingly, while a couple of students grumbled something about unfairness under their noses. He took note of those students very carefully, Weasley, Finnigan, Potter and Patil. He would have to come up with four difficult questions, what a shame. Granger's hand was still waving furiously above her head.
......Severus gave in: "Well, Miss Granger?"
......"The ingredients are Arnica montana leaves, beetle eyes, dried Billywig stings," she looked pointedly at Longbottom, "Ephedra root, Erumpent exploding fluid, powdered Garahorn, Lobalug venum and Mandrake root."
......Severus nodded, secretly pleased that at least someone chose to read and actually remember something from his assignment. He didn't let it show though, so Granger's pleased smile quickly disappeared at his usual scowl.
......"Mr. Weasley, tell us what we use the leaf of Arnica montana for in the Blood Replenishing Potion?"
......The red headed student's face underwent a rather violent change of colour from its normal pink to a ghostly white and Severus was reminded of one of the Dark Lord's victims from three days ago. The poor bugger had blanched in a very similar way, when he realized the serpent-like monster was going to kill both him and his wife and is going to immensely enjoy it. Severus hated the analogy between You-Know-Who and himself his traitorous brain supplied and promptly got rid of it.
......The Weasley spawn didn't notice his hesitation, most likely because it was gone in a matter of half of a second, and stuttered out: "Well it's a plant, right?"
......Severus looked at the clock, hoping to find the lesson was almost over. No such luck, only five minutes gone. He turned back to the ginger. "Are you asking me or telling me?"
......"Telling you?"
......He nodded. "You haven't answered my question, Mr. Weasley."
......"I'm sorry, what was the question?"
......Severus ground his teeth, he hated repeating himself. If people actually paid attention the first time around, his life would be hell of a lot easier. "I asked you what do we use the leaf of Arnica montana for in the Blood Replenishing Potion."
......Was that a flicker of recognition he detected in the boy's eyes? "It's used so that the Potion doesn't cause the patient any harm, right?"
......Good grief, he was correct! The manner in which the question was answered was indubitably lacking but the content was accurate. "Again, are you asking me or telling me?"
......"Telling you."
......"Well, miracles do happen. Mr. Weasley is correct for once despite his complete lack of proper speech pattern. The Arnica leaf is used as an anti-inflammatory substance preventing the recipient of the Blood Replenishing Potion to refuse the artificial blood it provides."
......He shifted his eyes over to Draco. "Mr. Malfoy, in what way does the potion provide the artificial blood?"
......His godson smirked. "It reacts with the patient's healing magic and creates the blood right there in the bloodstream. It then acquires the patient's DNA after a while."
......Severus nodded contentedly, not daring to ask the exact period after which the blood attains said DNA, the cocky blond most likely didn't know that. On the other hand, it was a good question.
......"Miss Patil, what is the exact period the artificial blood attains the patient's DNA?"
......"Five minutes."
......She said it with such a certainty that had she been right, Severus might've believed she actually knew the answer. He smirked, when the girl's eyebrow twitched, not so sure of herself after all. "Wrong answer," he turned to Finnigan, "what about you, Mr. Finnigan, will you give us the correct answer?"
......"Eh, ten minutes?"
......Well, he got the number right. "No, Mr. Finnigan, ten hours. Do pay attention the next time I give you a reading assignment."
......When everyone looked properly chastised at the glare he sent their way, Severus decided to finally confront the Potter's brat: "How much blood does one replenish with a single standard vial, Mr. Potter?"
......"Almost half a litre? I mean, four hundred millilitres."
......Had Severus been any lesser man, or a Hufflepuff, he would've gaped. The idiotic child had actually answered correctly and without any help from the Granger girl this time, he made sure of that. Was it actually possible the brat had read the assignment? For the first time this year? He narrowed his eyes at the boy.
......"Was that a lucky guess, Potter, or has Miss Granger managed to persuade you to do your homework for once?"
......He heard a snicker from somewhere to his right, just as Potter's expression turned outraged. "She didn't have to persuade me to anything," he spat out, "sir," he added as an afterthought. This is exactly what he hated. The lack of respect, the insolence, the cheek, the mocking smirk threatening to break out and the indignant twitch of his green eyes.
......Severus was briefly assaulted by the images of his childhood friend with the exact same green eyes, before he shoved them deep behind his Occlumency shields. "Fifteen points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Mr. Potter."
......He jerked his right arm to slide his wand from his leather arm holder into his hand and then waved the beautifully carved piece of dark woo at the blackboard behind him. The instructions he had written on it half an hour ago appeared and the students let out a sigh of relief. Instructions meant no more questions.
......He stared at them. "What are you waiting for, a written invitation? Take the ingredients you need and start brewing, I don't have all day."
......The children scrambled to the store room and Severus went to sit behind his desk, picking up his quill and twirling it around for a bit. He went over the potion instructions in his head again, noting all the crucial parts and possible mistakes. He was tore out of his thoughts by a crash from inside the store room and he winced, dropping the quill. From the sound of it, he lost yet another vial of beetle eyes, their unmistakeable crunch giving away the ingredient. Perhaps he should organize the vials in a different way, leaving the most vulnerable shelf right next to the door, where the beetle eyes were, unoccupied. He stared at the dunderheads as the filed out of the small room, looking for the culprit. It wasn't hard to recognize the guilty expression on Goyle's face and Severus brought his hand to massage his forehead again. Bloody waste.
......The students lit up the fire under their cauldrons, following the instructions of a small flame and Severus leaned forward on his forearms. So far so good. Now let's not let anyone pour the Erumpent exploding fluid in their cauldron until the base was boiling.
......The exploding fluids were inside the cauldrons without incident and Severus let himself refocuse his attention a bit. He remembered his conversation with Dumbledore, or Albus as he insisted to be called, this morning. His mentor was in a particularly sentimental mood as Severus declined yet another Lemon Drop.
......"You never take one, my dear boy," he had said, "don't you want to indulge an old man?"
......Severus had shaken his head then. The Headmaster always offered, trying to suss out whether Severus was feeling alright, and Severus always declined despite his hand twitching slightly in the direction of the yellow candy on few occasions, indicating he was fine. "You know I don't care for anything sweet, Headmaster."
......"Albus, dear boy. I am starting to feel you like me reminding you."
......The Potions Master sipped his black tea, analyzing his mentor's sentence. Was he hoping for a confirmation? Denial? He decided not to risk either. "Merely a sign of respect, Albus."
......The Headmaster smiled sadly, meaning he was indeed hoping for a different reaction. "How are you, my child? You seemed rather rattled three nights ago."
......Severus shrugged, internally battling the confusion he felt at the sudden change of topic, not deeming the question with an answer. He wasn't doing well. Hell, he wasn't even doing passably. Despite that, he wasn't rattled. He had seen innocent people die far too many times for it to really rattle him. He chose not to voice his thought though in case the Headmaster took them as a confirmation of his suspicions.
......Dumbedore continued: "You might thing it doesn't affect you in any way, but I know you are not as cold-hearted as you want everyone to believe. This whole business must worry you."
......Severus snickered, not amused. "This whole business? You mean the spying you asked me to do?"
......Albus merely looked at him, his eyes twinkling pitifully. Severus realized what he had said. He might've just as well admitted he didn't like what he was doing and that he was indeed rattled.
......Severus finished his tea in one scalding gulp, grateful for the distracting pain it brought. "I'm fine," he lied, knowing full well his mentor would see right through him at this point.
......His thoughts were interrupted by the chime of his inner clock, signalling the beginning of the first crucial phase. The students were about to add the crushed beetle eyes, then stir their potions five times clockwise, before adding the Ephedra root all in quick succession. It was most challenging for the idiots' coordination, let alone timing. He got up from behind his desk to observe closely.
......He saw it before in even happened, Longbottom's hand hovering over his cauldron, itching to drop the Ephedra root in despite it not being properly stirred.
......"Longbottom!" he snapped at the boy, muscles tense in preparation for action. "Don't you dare drop that root inside, you imbecile. Or do you want it to explode?"
......The bloody Gryffindor shivered but put the root away. Severus eased a bit. "Read the instructions again and then proceed. Granger keep an eye on him if you want a passing grade for this lesson."
......The girl huffed but went over to her friend in order to help the incompetent nincompoop. Severus turned around and frowned at a quietly snickering Draco, silently warning him to behave. His godson got the message loud and clear and went back to his brewing but not before throwing a queer look at a frowning Potter. Severus stopped in his tracks. He knew that look. He saw it hundreds of times on his students. It was the exact same look he saw the Weasley girl give Potter over lunch or dinner. It was the exact same look he saw Parkinson throwing at Draco, when she thought the blond wasn't looking.
......Severus sighed as he went over to his desk and closed his eyes, systematically sorting through his thoughts, keeping those he might find a use for and getting rid of those he could never possibly need in the future, making sure to include Draco's wanton look in the second category. When his brain was nothing but an organised system again, he took a deep breath and then slowly let it out as he opened his eyes and rubbed his forehead again. No wonder his head hurt. Having a Slytherin mind was tiring.

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