Snape didn't so much as acknowledge that Ron Weasley had said something. Knowing Snape, that was practically equivalent to a "well done." Instead, he straightened, and began to speak.
"Today, class, your assignment will be in the form of experiential learning. That is to say, your grade will be as dependent upon your further reflection - in the form of a forty inch essay, as on your accomplishments in class." Snape smirked slightly at the audible groans from the back of the room.
"Death, or simulated death, is not the objective. Instead, it is capture. I will leave it as an exercise for my pupils as to why that would be necessary in time of war. You may put that in your essay, if you like - lay out those further objectives and the means to complete current objectives while leaving plenty of room to accomplish latter goals." Snape said, "You should all be familiar with at least a few spells to capture someone..."
"This will be a solo mission - any cooperation, intentional or otherwise, will be penalized harshly." Snape continued. Some of the students were beginning to look around uneasily. "For the rest of the class, you will be allowed to cast spells throughout Hogwarts, as therein lies your quarry. Do not abuse this, or you will regret it." Knowing Snape, that meant cauldrons. Still, he hadn't said what constituted abuse, so presumably any DADA spell used on a classmate was still defensible. More precisely, Snape undoubtedly meant "hexing Filch, portraits or ghosts, or, especially underclassmen"
"Any questions?" Snape asked. And waited, and waited some more. "Fools." he growled, "Is not one of you going to ask what your quarry is?"
People shuffled their feet, and finally, Neville Longbottom said, "Sir, what is our quarry?"
"Twenty points from Gryffindor for being slower than a snail, and another twenty for letting the cat catch your tongue." Snape smirked. He doesn't like Gryffindors, Harry thought, repeating the words to himself for good measure. That didn't stop his nails from digging into the palms of his hands, but it at least meant they weren't drawing blood.
"Your Quarry is cats. There will, of course, be a sliding scale of difficulty, which will affect your grade. Catch an easy cat, and you will get easy points. If you return it to this classroom. Catch more difficult quarries, and your grade will rise." Snape smirked, and said, "Happy Hunting." Harry found himself annoyed, and annoyed at himself for being annoyed - the words, not pointed at him, reminded him of "Harry Hunting."
As students whispered among themselves - only the most courageous setting off first thing, they all turned towards the door. Well, Harry didn't. He saw Snape fold in on himself, as he sat on the edge of the dais - looking almost crumpled. Probably wants a chance to sleep Harry thought. He's actually not following us out.
Troubled, Harry emerged from the classroom, one of the last people out. Crookshanks, was Harry's first thought - that bright orange beast of a furball had to be good for points. Of course, the trouble was finding him. Even if he was up in Hermione's room, that'd be tricky to ascend to.
[a/n: Predators don't die old. Snape always has a point, even if it often takes him a while to get there.
A reviewer asked: "What's Snape's answer to 'how do you end a battle'?" He's got hundreds, and they're all tuned to greater objectives.
Snape thinks it goes without saying that if you kill a cat, you get negative points. I hope he's right.