Disclaimer: All characters in this story belong the enormous, squishy frontal lobes of JK Rowling. I’m just borrowing them, and I receive no profit for their use.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to the persons who posted the OWL grading scale on TPMM. I’m eternally grateful!
It had been an exercise in self-restraint to save the best for last. After hours of plodding through the mountain of parchment invading his office, the Hogwart's Potions Master came to his favorite part of the start of term paperwork: the sixth year roster.
Now, finally, finally, after five years of melted cauldrons, mangled ingredients, and the full range of explosive alchemical catastrophes, Snape would be allowed to cull the herd. This particular group of students held an unusual amount of anticipation, as there were a certain batch of Gryffindors he'd been yearning to be done with since the night they had first sat down under the Sorting Hat.
Of course the best part was that he could deny the whims of poor, spoiled Potter and Dumbledore couldn't do a damn thing about it. Snape's refusal to accept anything below an 'Outstanding' was well-known, and he had no doubt that the OWL scores would make his excuses for him.
With an odd sense of ceremony, Snape pulled a raven feather quill and a well of blood red ink from his desk drawer. Unfortunately, he couldn't slay his more bothersome students in the flesh. It just wasn't worth the prison time. However, he'd soon discovered that to do so on paper was a rather satisfying substitute, and the blood-hued ink lent itself quite handily to the illusion. One slash of the quill could kill some hapless idiot's academic career, and he was the man holding the scythe.
Snape's hand positively tingled with sadistic rapture. Weapon of choice at the ready, Snape seized the Slytherin/Gryffidor OWL results from the pile.
Brown, Lavender – Poor.
Scratch. Thanks to Ms. Brown, the Confiscation Drawer now resembled a shrine to Witch Weekly. It was a wonder the vacuum between her ears hadn't negatively affected the local weather phenomena.
Bulstrode, Millicent – Outstanding.
She might have the collective grace of the Gorgon sisters, but Millicent Bulstrode had a level of cunning to make old man Salazar proud. She knew exactly how far to push before ambition became suspicion, and that subtlety would serve her well, both in life and the Potions dungeon.
Crabbe, Vincent – Dreadful.
Scratch. And then, there was the downside of tradition. Snape had often wondered what the Crabbe family would do for a living without the pureblood need for toadies. Something involving heavy lifting no doubt.
Finnigan, Seamus - Acceptable.
Scratch. Let Finnigan engage his free time by continuing his pathetic quest to turn water into rum. With any luck, the Irish imbecile might actually shut up about it.
Goyle, Gregory – Troll.
Scratch. Quite possibly the much-famed Missing Link. Snape made a mental note to research primate evolution.
Granger, Hermione – Outstanding.
Snape was loathe to admit it, but that damn Gryffindor upstart was the most competent student he’d had in years. Provided she could keep from raising her hand every twelve seconds, her senior project would, at the very least, have entertainment value. No doubt society would marvel at her altruistic endeavors towards the creation of house elf suppositories.
Had Snape possessed any less dignity, he might have been compelled to dance about the dungeons in a permanent state of manic glee. (The mental image was in itself tempting). With a one mighty slice, the walking disaster known as Neville Longbottom had been slain. The pseudo-blood had pooled into a furrow etched so deeply into the parchment that it had seeped onto the other side, staining the desk underneath. Instead of the vanishing the spot, Snape decided to keep it on display for the remainder of the day; a hunter's trophy for a masterful kill.
Malfoy, Draco – Exceeds Expectations.
The quill hovered for a moment...
Scratch. Never before was there a Slytherin whose nose was in greater danger of turning brown from an excess of sycophantic point mongering. Had Lucius' boy actually applied himself, he could have easily managed an Outstanding. But, like his father before him, Draco was far too caught up interhouse politics to spend any time in serious study. Malfoy the Younger played the game of intrigue well, but such a lack of focus would be detrimental, possibly even dangerous, in an advanced laboratory environment.
At any rate, if Snape was going to hold to the “O” or higher rule for Dumbledore’s Darlings, it would look suspicious is he didn’t hold his Slytherin’s to the same standard. Damn Dumbledore, that meddling old goat…
Parkinson, Pansy - Poor.
Scratch. For someone sorted into Slytherin, Ms. Parkinson was incredibly devoid of anything resembling intelligence. The only real ambition she seemed to possess was the hormonal urge to bed Malfoy.
Patil, Parvati – Acceptable.
Scratch. Anyone who willingly chose to be a disciple of Sybill Trelawney deserved to have their IQ points revoked.
Potter, Harry ...
The blessed moment had arrived.
To Hell with 'reparo'. That trophy was going to be immortalized.
Thomas, Dean - Outstanding.
Snape's left brow lifted in surprise. He'd been fully prepared to oust Thomas with the rest of the lions, but this was interesting. Without Finnigan to egg him on, the Muggle-born might have talent worth exploring. If he didn't, well... Snape smirked. The quill would be ready and waiting.
Weasley, Ronald – Poor
Scratch. Can’t leave Potter without his errand boy to keep him company…
~ FIN ~
Note: According to the theory on the Harry Potter Lexicon, there are forty students in each year: five girls and five boys in each of the four houses. However, JKR has only written at any length about the thirteen I have listed. To embellish the list for the sake of numbers was a bit too much gilding the lily for my artistic tastes. I apologize to any sticklers for cannon that I might have offended along the way. ^_~