Author's Note: Inspired by Artemis Arcturus's experience of studying while going through vocabulary drills. The definitions in the story are those that were on the back of the cards. If they don't make sense, I'm blaming the cards. We came up with this scenario to try to assist in memorization. If you can remember something insane to go with whatever you're trying to learn, it usually works. Happy reading, everyone. Also, let's just say that this is before Sixth Year, but after Sirius Black has died. (Pretty sure there were other classes after that incident anyways, so Snape is still Potions Professor.)
*WARNING: A "definition" may offend certain members of a religious faith. If you are easily offended, then skip the third section of the story. No offense is meant nor intended.*
Please keep flames to yourself! If constructive criticism, then that is acceptable. If your only intent is to bash my story, doing it in a review is not the place for it. If you feel you absolutely must complain about it for some reason, PM me. Thank you. ~ RK
Snape Teaches Vocabulary
Severus Snape sat at his desk in the front of the potions classroom, waiting with a twistedly gleeful face as his students filed into the room, their surprise clearly showing as they realized that there were dictionaries on their desks rather than the familiar brewing equipment. He waited until everyone had hesitantly taken their seats before he rose like smoke out of his chair and began to speak. "As you may have noticed, I have decided to alter the lesson plan for today." All of the students were silent, but exchanged worried glances. The brighter ones in the room were staring at the large book on their desks, slowly starting to make the connection.
"I've thought on why it is that almost all of you are too moronic to understand the simple instructions in your potions books. While in the Great Hall last night, I believe the answer struck me." He paused for a dash of dramatic effect. "You all do not know what words mean! Then, I realized that you could not possibly be able to brew anything acceptable if you do not understand what the words in the instructions are telling you to do. Therefore, today, we are going to have a little…vocabulary lesson."
The whole class erupted into one unanimous groan, which was probably the only time the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses were in complete agreement on anything! "Quiet," drawled Snape. The groan died off slowly. "On your dictionaries is your first exam. You may use your books for this. The task is to find the words that match the definition. You all have the entire class in which to accomplish this. Once it is finished, I will dismiss you. Hopefully, there is a genius among you that can get you all out of this room early. The first to submit their answers to me on their parchment will be awarded points to their house."
Snape couldn't help but grin when he noticed that every student stared at the wild-haired Hermione Granger of Gryffindor, whose hand was practically twitching in her excitement of the challenge. "Begin," he ordered.
He heard everyone open their books and pages began to flutter furiously.
Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley stared at the piece of parchment on top of their dictionary. "Two questions," muttered Ron. "Should be easy."
"Have you read them, yet?" whispered Neville from beside them, his nervousness evident on his expression as he slowly flipped a page in his dictionary.
Harry looked down at the sheet and read aloud to Ron. "Definition One: 'Something that brings about a change in something else.' What kind of definition is that?"
Ron grimaced at Harry. "Real clear there, isn't he?" Harry shook his head. Ron flipped another page and muttered, "Stupid git."
Meanwhile, Hermione Granger was flipping frantically as she was trying to think of the word. She thought she was getting somewhere when she saw Seamus's hand raise. "No way!" she gasped. It was not possible that the student that blew everything up figured it out.
"What, Mr. Finnegan?"
"Do you think we can use a thesaurus, sir?" asked the boy in his heavy accent.
Snape stared stoically at Seamus. "Absolutely not."
Hermione tried to hide a smile by looking down at her dictionary. "Is there something amusing, Miss Granger?"
Her head flung up again. "No, sir. I was simply distracted by another definition that I thought was funny."
"Perhaps your efforts would be of better use focused on your assignment, as I'm sure the entire class is hoping you will rescue them from this agony I'm putting you all through."
A voice piped up from the Gryffindor area. "I rather like this class, professor."
"Ten points from Gryffindor for lying!" snapped Snape.
It was nearing the end of the class by the time Hermione Granger shouted, "Of course! How stupid of me!" before she scribbled a word down on her parchment. Ron tried to lean over to see the answer, but Hermione slumped over her answer with a glare in his direction. However, it did not prevent someone else from seeing the answer from the other side.
"Are you serious, Granger?" said the blonde-haired Slytherin boy. "There's no way the first word is 'catalyst!' Honestly thought you could not be any—"
"Actually," interrupted Snape, "it is 'catalyst.'" He looked at Hermione. "Five points to Gryffindor." Hermione beamed with pride. Ron and Harry groaned. Draco Malfoy simply glared at her before he flung himself at his dictionary, fully intending to beat her on the next one.
"Okay, Ron," said Harry, smacking the open dictionary. "We have to focus!" He looked at the parchment. "Definition two: 'Universal, broad and comprehensive.' That's even worse than the first one!"
"Could be anything, really."
"Well, start looking, Ron. We have to at least narrow it down!"
Ron's face suddenly brightened. "I just got an idea, Harry!"
Harry stared at Ron. "We're wasting time."
"You start at your end, and I'll start at mine. We'll cover more of the thing that way." Harry sighed and didn't feel like arguing, so he started all the way at the beginning with the letter A. He noticed out of the corner of his vision that Snape had now taken to pacing the rows of desks, a dictionary clutched in his hands. Out of the other corner he saw Ron scratch in something on their parchment. "Ron, no!" Harry whispered urgently, right as Snape approached.
"Mr. Weasley thinks he has found the answer," announced Snape. Harry's head flopped onto his side of the open dictionary. Snape leaned over and looked at what was spelled in Ron's awful handwriting. Suddenly, the room resounded with a loud crack! "To anyone else that thinks the word is 'worldwide,' look what will happen to you." Snape smacked Ron in the head with the dictionary again as he directed his words at the redhead. "Maybe abuse by the words themselves will drill it into your amazingly thick skull!"
From down the way, there was another voice, "I had no idea that definition went with 'catholic.'" It was Pansy Parkinson. "I would have said 'catholic' was something like, 'A religious doctrinal belief that has been the cause of several vicious, bloody and all around pointless crusades to the holy land of Jerusalem, the persecution of women by proclaiming them witches, and the most publicized cases of sexual abuse of minors, particularly boys.' That's my definition of catholic. This definition doesn't make sense at all!"
Snape whirled around magnificently and faced Pansy Parkinson, at whom everyone else was staring. "I know it doesn't much make sense, but that is the law of language, isn't it?" He took up her parchment to be sure she'd written the word on it.
"Wait, that's right?" Harry asked.
"Ten points to Slytherin."
"Hang on, professor!" protested Harry.
"Class dismissed! We will continue this language lesson next time so leave the dictionaries here." Everyone began standing up to leave. "I would advise you to visit the library and peruse the dictionary there. If you are all as dismal as you were today there will be harsh consequences."
People were hurriedly leaving the room, but Harry stared at Snape as though the professor had gone insane. "Wait! Hang on, professor!" Ron grabbed hold of Harry's arm and began dragging him out of the room.
"Come on, mate, before he kills you or something."
Harry rounded on Ron. "But didn't you hear? When Hermione got it right she only got five points! And then one of the stupid snakes gets it right and they get ten! How is that fair, Ron?"
Draco and Pansy hurried past them on their way down the corridor. "Yeah, Pottie, couldn't help noticing that you and Weezlebee couldn't figure any of them out!"
Ron actually had it by that point. "Shut it, Malfoy!" He looked at Harry, who looked like he wanted to torture Draco with his eyeballs. "It's alright, Harry. We'll get him next time." Harry grumbled something under his breath. "Maybe we should go to the library."
Harry snorted. "Yeah, Ron. I'm sure Hermione's already there."
The next potions class had arrived and everyone was filing in again, looking just as miserable as the first time they discovered the dictionaries on the desks. The only exception to this was Harry Potter. He looked angry.
Snape looked up from his place at his desk to find everyone quietly staring at the books like they were evil. Then, a hand rose forcefully in the air. It was Harry Potter, who glared at him as though he could kill with his eyes. Snape was not impressed. "Mr. Potter?"
"Professor, I want to know why you weren't fair and gave Hermione only five points for getting an answer right, and then gave out ten to Parkinson when she got the other one right."
Snape smiled a cruel smile at Harry. He had planned to give another small exam today, but chose instead to launch right into a verbal one. "Are you trying to be your typical contumacious self, Mr. Potter?"
Snape knew who the brighter ones in the class were again by which students began to leaf through the dictionary at the unfamiliar word. Harry, meanwhile, simply stared at him. "What?"
"Rebellious, Potter! It means rebellious!"
Ron rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Professor Snape, why not just say 'rebellious?'"
Snape strode quickly over to Ron, snatching up a Gryffindor student's dictionary as he passed a desk and thwacked the redhead on the back of his skull, earning a pained yelp for his efforts. He towered over Ron as he responded. "Because 'rebellious' has no class to it, you dunderhead!" He thwacked Ron on the head again, who afterwards tried to cover his skull with his arms. "The only way you will ever have a serious advantage over any witch or wizard is to confuse them with elaborate language!" He walked to the front of the classroom again. "As it is, I am, as many would put it, dumbing down my own extensive vocabulary so that you moronic juvenile conjurers can understand me!"
Everyone stared at him.
"Close your books! I'm going to quiz you." He opened the dictionary. "Let's see just how many of you actually studied." He flipped open to a random page towards the beginning of the book and stuck his finger randomly on a word. "Define 'cosset' and then use it in a sentence."
"That's some sort of garment, isn't it?" asked Neville. "Worn by members of the clergy?"
"You're thinking of cassock, Neville," whispered Hermione.
"Oh, bollocks!" he moaned.
There was a sigh and then a quiet answer. "It means 'to pamper.'"
Snape looked at the student in surprise. "Yes, Mr. Potter. 'To pamper.' Which is something I'm sure your filthy relatives do to you often." Before Harry could respond to that, Snape turned to someone else. "Mr. Malfoy, use 'cosset' in a sentence.
Draco cleared his throat. "Saint Potter spent most of his youth enjoying the benefits of being cosseted by his family."
"Good! Ten points to Slytherin," said Snape as he flipped a few pages then stopped his finger on another word. Before Harry could protest his lack of earned points, Snape said, "The next word is 'craven.'" No one said anything. "It's an adjective." Then a hand rose. "Miss Parkinson."
"Craven. Spineless, lacking courage."
"Good, now in a sentence."
Pansy turned towards the Gryffindors with a smug expression. "Neville Longbottom is a craven human being who does not deserve to be in Gryffindor, a house known for its bravery, which Neville obviously does not possess." All of the Slytherins laughed while Neville looked as though he were trying to disappear in his seat. The Gryffindors were outraged and were protesting all at once, and thus not understandable.
Snape paid them no attention. "Good. Another ten points to Slytherin." He found the next word. "Cupidity. Mr. Malfoy."
"It means 'greed,'" announced Draco.
"Maybe you should call on another house, Professor Snape!" shouted an angry Seamus Finnegan.
"Very well. Finnegan, use the word 'cupidity' in a sentence."
Seamus was about to panic. So he said the first thing that came to his mind. "Uh…Ron Weasley suffers a serious case of cupidity every time he thinks of how much money Harry Potter has that he wants."
Ron spun in his seat to face Seamus. "Hey! You tosspot!"
"Ten points to Gryffindor for the insult to Mr. Weasley." All of the Gryffindors began to smile, only to have them disappear instantly when Snape continued. "And ten points from Gryffindor for Mr. Weasley's name-calling."
Snape flipped some more and stabbed his finger at a word. He looked up, "Mr. Goyle."
"Oh no," mumbled the boy.
"What does 'declivity' mean?"
Goyle looked up at Snape with an expression of hopelessness. "I have no idea, professor."
Draco spoke up, "That's because he can't read! Everyone knows that!"
"Alright, Mr. Malfoy," Snape said, "Declivity."
"Um…" Draco stalled. He felt Pansy poke him in the arm. He looked down and saw that she'd written the definition on a piece of parchment. It read, 'downward slope.' "Uh…Potter's self-esteem hit an all time declivity when his dog died." He looked directly at Harry as he spoke, relishing in the tears in the Gryffindor's green eyes. Hermione's hand shot into the air. Snape ignored it.
"While the idea is essentially there, I do not believe that it was correctly used."
Hermione, not wanting to be ignored this time, shouted, "Well, a declivity in Slytherin's House Points is to be expected with illiterate people like Goyle in that House!" All of the Gryffindors cheered.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for slander against another House!" shouted Snape.
"But it was used right, professor!" protested Harry.
Snape stormed towards Harry. "Correctly, Potter! It was used correctly would be the correct way to phrase that remark! Another ten points from Gryffindor for stupidity!"
He viciously flipped through pages and then jabbed another word. "Deleterious!"
"Sounds like a spell," Ron said to Harry.
"Yeah, like Obliviate or worse," agreed Harry.
Crabbe raised his hand. When Snape nodded at him, he asked, "What's it mean?"
Snape read from the dictionary. "It means, 'subtly or unexpectedly harmful.'"
"Yeah, definitely a curse," Ron said to Harry, who nodded.
Malfoy jumped to his feet suddenly with his wand drawn. "Granger!" he shouted. He didn't even wait for her to look. "Deleterious!" A chaotic jet of sparks flew from Draco's wand and hit Hermione in the chest. Instantly, she leaned forward and vomited. Calmly, she used her wand to vanish it, then glared at the smugly smiling Draco.
"Thirty points to Slytherin for inventing a new spell," said Snape in a voice that gave away how impressed he was. The Slytherins around Draco began slapping him on the back roughly, while all the Gryffindors around Hermione began to rub her back comfortingly. "If anyone uses it, however," Snape continued in an authoritative tone, "I will make sure that all of you serve detention until the end of your Seventh Year!"
The class was quiet again for a while as Snape was searching for a new word. Suddenly, Neville's voice was heard in horror. "I've been using the word 'dissemble' wrong for years!"
"What's it mean, then?" asked Seamus. "It doesn't mean 'to take something apart?' Oh, wait, that's disassemble, isn't it?"
Neville slid the dictionary over towards Seamus, "Apparently dissemble means 'to present a false appearance.' I suppose if you think Polyjuice Potion, you'll be fine."
"While that's all amusing, Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Finnegan, the last word is 'imprecation,'" said Snape from the front of the classroom.
"It means 'a curse,' sir."
As in the beginning of class, Snape looked at Harry in surprise. "Yes, it does. Mr. Potter, use imprecation."
"Use it, sir?"
"In a sentence!"
"Oh! Um…" Then, Harry threw his arms up. "Why deny it?" he asked no one. Before Snape could tell him that that sentence did not contain the word, Harry kept speaking. "My whole life is one huge imprecation?"
Snape stared at Harry for a moment. In fact, the entire class stared at Harry. "Is that a question, Potter?"
"No, sir," said Harry miserably. "It's a complete fact."
There was silence for a moment in the potions classroom as everyone stared at Harry. After a few minutes, Snape spoke, but in a much more subdued tone. "Ten points for admitting your life is cursed, Potter."
"And for the veiled acknowledgment that you make everyone else's detestable…just for being anywhere near you." After a short pause, Snape closed the dictionary. "Class dismissed."
Everyone began to file out of the room. When Harry got up and left the room with Ron, Hermione, and Neville, he saw Draco leaning against the wall opposite the door. "Making everyone else's life detestable, Potter?" Draco's eyebrows rose as he looked at the other three Gryffindors. "That's almost a talent." Harry lunged towards Draco, but his three friends held him back. "As for me," continued Draco as he strolled right up to Harry's face, "I never have that problem." Then, the blonde turned and began to walk towards his common room.
Harry was growling like some sort of feral animal as Hermione and Ron dragged him away from Draco. Neville lingered a step behind. Then, he turned to watch Draco walking away. With a determination he now knew he had since his experience at the Department of Mysteries, he raised his wand and whispered, "Deleterious!" By the time the spell reached Draco and he had started violently vomiting and looking around for his attacker, there was no sign of anyone in the corridor but himself.
Hope everyone enjoyed it. Leave a review or constructive criticism, but again keep your flames to yourself. A review is no place for them. Thanks! - RK