I decided to write a little more for this, since it was so much fun. Updates will not be regular, but I have quite a few ideas for it now. This chapter, in specific, isn't for Cho fans. Nothing against her, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
For once, Severus was quite satisfied with his sixth year class. Harry Potter had managed to make his day very interesting indeed. A paper bag had proven to be very versatile; you could do so many things with it that are actually appropriate for Defence Against the Dark Arts classes.
Should he try to test the seventh years? It was an unconventional exercise, but when had Severus ever stuck to the traditional way of doing things? As a Potions Master, which he still was despite his occupation, innovation was not only expected, but necessary. And the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to know how others would approach the situation.
His next class was made up of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, always a hardworking, studious mix. They were not quite as clever as his Slytherins, or even as daring as the Gryffindors, but they were bound to have some interesting solutions. The Hufflepuffs shouldn't fail as they have six years of magical education to back them up, some of them even more than that. And the Ravenclaws were capable of practical applications of magic, despite the fact that if most of their work, and even joy, resided in research.
When his class began to enter the room, Severus was quite surprised to find himself looking forward to teaching the class. As they entered, Severus amused himself by trying to guess how each of them might react to the idea and attempt to fight their way out. He was unusually pleased that everyone was on time and he could start teaching promptly and without any interruptions, even though this meant that he couldn't give out any punishments.
Bracing himself for the reaction, Severus conjured a large paper bag in the front of the room. The looks of surprise and befuddlement on some of their faces were actually quite notable. Ignoring the looks and hoping to quell the muttering before it even began, Severus started to speak, "I am sure that you're all wondering what's going on, perhaps even doubting my judgment. There is, however, an explanation."
Pausing slightly to fix his students with an intimidating glare and to observe their reaction, Severus continued, "How many of you have ever heard the expression, 'You couldn't fight your way out of a paper bag?'" There were scattered gasps of surprised and recognition as well as some nods. "The purpose of our following classes will be to prove the validity of this statement, providing that you can prove yourselves worthy today."
Severus examined the class, searching for an appropriate victim. He didn't really want to make an example of the students that he could tolerate and tossing the worst one of the lot into the bag wouldn't be all that satisfying. It should be a Ravenclaw, really, he thought, but which one?
Suddenly, Severus had his answer. Cho Chang and Marietta Edgecombe were holding a whispered conversation and, judging by the Witch Weekly they were attempting to hide under the desk, it had nothing to do with his class. Since Edgecombe had suffered enough last year, Severus decided on Chang. (Though he had to admit that Hermione Granger did have her sly moments.)
"Miss Chang!" She looked up, rather frightened. "You shall be our first volunteer." He gestured for her to come to the front of the room.
She stuttered out a few refusals and stayed in her seat. Edgecombe stood up for her, saying, "She's really not the best choice for this. Defence is hardly her specialty."
"And that is precisely why she must do this. How will she ever learn otherwise?" Severus interrupted the girl. Chang reluctantly stood up and walked to the front of the room shakily. "If Harry Potter can manage it, surely this class can as well." As he had intended, this motivated the girl to move faster and slightly more confidently. It also set off renewed whisperings. A quick spell later, Chang was being levitated to the top and then gently lowered inside. This time, Severus decided to keep the top open.
Cho looked curiously at the sides of the bag. A dull grayish brown, there was a rough texture to them that was confirmed by her touching one side of the bag. Assuming that the task would be easy, Cho ran through a list of possible spells in her head, intending to get the task completed quickly.
Diffindo proved to be of no use, verbal or nonverbal. Other cutting and blasting spells were of no use either. Cho exhausted herself trying these spells over and over again for quite a long period of time. Finally giving in to distress, Cho plopped down and propped herself up against the bag, her cheek getting quite scratched by the coarse material.
Of course Harry could do it; he's amazing, Cho thought. He can teach people older than himself quite a lot, myself included. He's brave and noble and never gives up. He must have done this quickly and easily, no effort involved, she decided.
Unfortunately, this brought about another train of thought, this time one about Cedric Diggory. Cedric would have known what to do! He had been so smart and resourceful, not to mention handsome! Cho stifled a small sob, but could not stop thinking about him.
I never had enough time with him! He was always doing something: preparing for the tournament, or practicing Quidditch, despite the lack of games. Cho stared at the inside of the bag, tears forming in her eyes. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not—
Cho burst into tears. She actually surprised herself as she hadn't cried in months. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to stifle her sobs, but it was not use.
Cho cried. She cried in a large paper bag, leaning on one of the "walls." She cried about Cedric. She cried about loosing Harry. She cried about what had happened to Marietta, who was still her best friend. She cried about not being made Head Girl. She cried about not having a boyfriend despite being in her seventh and final year. She even cried about her lowest average, an A in Defence.
Crying may be good for the soul, but Cho was thoroughly abusing the privilege. Outside, the class realized with shock that their classmate had been reduced to tears. She vaguely registered the whispering and Snape assigning busy work.
Unbeknownst to Cho, her tears were slowly but steadily weakening the bag. Since she was too exhausted—both physically and mentally—she did not move her head even once. The bag was not only weakened enough to be broken with a spell, but was so soaked that it was actually breaking on its own.
The breakthrough came as a surprise to Cho and everyone who witnessed her head suddenly popping out of the side of the bag. She gasped, eyes widening and, quick as a flash, disappeared back into the bag. Whispering broke out again and Snape was making no effort to stop it. Cho was quite mortified and hoped that no one had gotten a good look at her.
She wiped her face of its tears and cast a few quick glamours. When she felt ready to emerge, she found the trail of tears below the hole and ripped it open. Ducking down, she easily exited the bag.
Instead of the congratulations that she expected, there was even more mutterings. When she sat down, Snape said, "Well… that was rather pitiful. It that is any indication of the competence of the entire class, I am sorely disappointed. I think that we are much better off simply learning out of books." The responding groan was cut off by the signal to end the class.