Snape shook his head, surging up from behind his desk, pivoting to the right - his robes billowing behind as if they'd forgotten he was prone to sudden movements. "I despise the idea of lost causes, and I suspect I always will."
Harry studied Snape, who had turned and was padding to the other side of his office.
"Longbottom doesn't need to have the practical skills of Potion-making, so much as he needs the theoretical side. If he is to have a career in Herbology, understanding Potions will be an essential skill in his repertoire."
"Why's that?" Harry asked.
"Some plants are used straight, like dittany, but most plants are processed. Potion-making is one form of processing - one can pulverize a plant, or marinate it, or a dozen other processes that modify the plant's general properties. One of the chief of which is removing poisonous properties. If Longbottom has managed to understand Potions, he will be, soon, capable of breeding more vivacious, more effective ingredients."
Harry looked at Snape, and wondered why Slytherins always seemed so eager to pull motives back to selfishness. "And Ginny?"
Snape shrugged, facing Harry again, "Natural talent has a way of showing through. The youngest Weasley is a Seeker after all..."
Harry couldn't help but think about Draco Malfoy, who had a consistent talent for potions. "What does being a seeker have to do with it?" A part of him was curious - but a deeper part of him was exulting to find something to rub in Hermione's nose about how good Quiddich was for school.
"In a dozen years, and more, of teaching, and seven straight of being a student, I have not once played Quiddich." Snape began, "However, I do understand that catching the snitch is less about 'spotting' it, and more about having the timing and foresight to spot where it is going to be." Snape put his hands on his desk, leaning over it, and said in a low voice, "Although I've also been told that one is supposed to catch said snitch with ones hands and not one's mouth."
Harry bit back a smile, responding instead with a "Yes sir." he hoped he sounded chastened enough.
"Potions work in the same way - anticipation and timing." Snape continued.
"Does that mean I-" Harry started.
Snape's voice softened, sounding more like nearly solid magma than the obsidian of his eyes. "Lily always had that talent."
"And you, sir?" Harry asked, feeling suddenly entirely too bold.
"Never," Snape smiled, "It's not a requirement, for being a Potions Master. I was always jealous of her talent, though." Snape looked off at one of the jars, his expression somehow wistful.
Harry shook his head, sadly, wishing he'd gotten a chance to meet his Mum. Well, really, he wished for a lot of things. But, knowing he had this strange 'talent' made him want to hit the books on Potions. "Was that why, sir, you've always yelled at me in Potions? Because I have a talent I didn't know about?"
Snape looked at Harry, and responded in a clipped voice, "Had you applied yourself, even once, you'd have noticed the difference. No, it is certainly not the only reason I yelled at you in Potions. My reasons for critiquing you are myriad."
[a/n: Well? You like it? I think it mostly makes sense.
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