Snape looked at Neville Longbottom, and then his gaze wandered over the rest of the class. When he at last uttered a word, it sounded like the creaking of a door. "I'll speak first to glory, for those of you who haven't known relations grieving tears over the fallen. You'll find no glory in war, stepping on another child's entrails, or by deceit or cunning killing someone stronger than you. No, at the end of the day, war gives you just broken bodies and broken minds. You'd think it was just the dead, their bloating bodies stinking as they inflate with rot. No, no one who's been through war survives unscathed. There's no one who drapes themselves in conspicuous glory and smiles. War is real, children, and in real war, people die. Your friends, your enemies, people you never knew. Imagine that - with one breath, killing a nameless someone. You didn't even have the common decency to learn their name." The derision in his tone, the venom, dripped and sizzled like acid - and yet, Harry realized that it was more turned towards himself than truly at any of their peers. Harry felt, deep in his heart, that Snape had never been one to turn to killing for glory... which meant that his anger-turned-inward was about something else entirely.
"Oh, the thrill of battle? A brief surge of happiness?" Snape's frosted laughter poured out of him. "Sure, you'll find those in abundance. Some even get addicted to those things - we call them Aurors."
Nobody laughed at Snape's dry wit, and after a moment, he continued, his voice like crisp autumn leaves rustling on the ground, "As to vengeance? Take a moment and think first. When the wails of your womenfolk pull at your heartstrings, stop. " It almost seemed like the classroom wasn't breathing. In fact, judging by a few changing complexions, some really weren't. "Are you so cruel as to do to another family what has been done to yours? Vengeance never saved anything. It just destroys. A corrosive force, that eats away at people. Avoid it, if you can." Snape's lip lifted in a brief sneer. "I can see you out there, you know. The Hufflepuffs in particular - tutting to yourself about how you'd never be so stupid!" Snape strode over to them, and a few shrunk back, which made Harry feel suddenly uncomfortable - although he made a mental note of who they were. "Bones, get up here." Snape snapped, despite only being a few feet from her.
"Yes sir." she said, walking up to him.
"Face your house." Snape said, and Harry realized that the entirety of their years' Hufflepuffs were together. So much for unity, Harry thought wryly, a work in progress. Snape brought the business end of his wand up to Bones's neck. "If I killed her right now, what would you do?" Hufflepuffs shuffled their feet uneasily, and Harry saw that by pulling the niece of the MLE department head, he'd neatly removed the "Go To The Ministry" option.
"We'd make you pay." Ernie said, his characteristic grin completely wiped off his face.
[a/n: got at least another one of these to go. Leave a review!]