Neville started to say, "Some of this fluxweed has mildered, and other stalks of it have been dissolved, eaten away from the inside." Neville spoke with all the authority of an expert Herbologist. Harry nodded along, vaguely familiar with the concepts because Aunt Petunia had always liked a fresh bouquet of roses every day. "This bit over here is dried..." Neville paused, a confused look on his face, and then he strode over to Malfoy, "Hey! Wait a minute - what were you doing with these herbs?"
Malfoy looked at the intensely curious Gryffindor-wall, and smirked, "Nothing in particular. But do you think Potter, or Granger or Weasley would have caught both?"
Neville shook his head, "I love them, of course, but they aren't necessarily the most detailed people ever."
Malfoy continued smirking, "You'd do better to look to Slytherin for that, it's true. Now, do you know what having poor quality fluxweed does to a Pepper Up potion?"
Neville looked startled, "Um, no! I just know how to find the right ingredients."
Malfoy flipped a heavy book out of thin air, "Read up. Tell the class before the end." Malfoy looked at the rest of the class, "Can anyone tell me why Pepper Up might be useful in combat?"
Potter raised his hand, and said slowly, "If you're pinned down, and can't sleep, you may need to stay awake. A larger plan may be stretching your personnel resources too think."
Malfoy smirked and said crudely, "Or maybe you stayed up the night before finding some relief from your ... nerves."
Granger sent a glare at Malfoy (even though he really wasn't even talking about particularly male impulses...), although the comment garnered a few chuckles.
"Today, we're going to run a clinic on ingredient preparation. There's not a person in this room that won't benefit, even if you already know the terms." Malfoy said firmly.
"Including yourself?" Ron asked, and for a wonder, he wasn't confrontational.
"Of course." Malfoy said, "Much of this is muscle memory. You need to be able to get a quarter inch cut even when you're half-maimed, dazed, or blinded."
They got to work. It was a much better introduction to Potioneering than Snape generally gave. To the point that Harry was belatedly diagnosing problems with some of his potions that year...
"Take note, ladies and gentlemen," Draco Malfoy said grandly, "Over the course of three hours, Neville Longbottom has relearned how to dice, chop and slice." Draco grandly looked down at the wooden board, "Why, I'd be hard pressed to say that i could do better myself." Neville just blushed beet red behind him. "As far as I'm concerned, keep him away from the cauldron and chopping!"
[a/n: Snape, like many bright people, forgets to tell children the basics. He's so badass the students haven't bothered to complain (and his Slytherins just learn from his 'special books', and count themselves lucky)
Leave a review?]