"Miss Granger, do you still hold that all crimes ought to be prosecuted with a fair trial?" Snape said, and Harry's brow furrowed, slightly unsure where Snape was headed with this line.
"I do, sir." Hermione responded crisply.
"Then you'll concede that war crimes cannot be prosecuted in the midst of a battle, or a full-scale war?"
"I will indeed, sir."
"Then I shall tell you, as I've told others, that there can be no justice on the battlefield. There are some that will tell you you fight for Right, or Justice or Good. They're all liars."
"Even you, Miss Granger, will tell me that the ending of the last war went poorly, will you not? Were not notable and significant figures denied trials of any stripe?"
"Yes, of course, sir." Hermione said crisply. She was responding as if she was a buck private and her sergeant was talking with her. But Snape? Snape was arguing, and Harry wanted to hiss at her, tell her to watch her words, choose them with care.
"Then you'll agree that we can do better." Snape said, smiling cruely, "Provided the sensible side wins, of course."
"You, Miss Granger, probably think that you're fighting for Justice, or Righteousness, or even Self-righteousness, in some sort of self-aggrandizing fashion." Snape said crisply. Along one of the walls, some Slytherins snickered.
"But, is it not more accurate to say that you're fighting for survival?" Snape said smoothly, his drawl pronounced.
"You could say that sir." Hermione Granger said, squaring her shoulders, "Of course, I'd say it's unjust to deny anyone magical schooling."
"Yes, and were you to argue that before the Wizengamot, rather than taking up wands, you might have a point, and sway many to your side." Snape drawled.
"As it is, I ask that you, and everyone else around here dash any hopes that they might fight for Truth, Justice, or Righteousness." Snape's tarry eyes met everyone in the room, slowly. "War makes monsters of us all. I'm not the only one who's killed some mother's only child. Ask your parents, your uncles, your aunts. Yes, even the Muggleborn. Do." Snape paused, and then sliced into the meat, "You simply cannot be as you are now, in war. You must think of the Other as monsters, as foul and loathsome beasts - as the Enemy. That changes you. I cannot predict which of you will commit war crimes, some in the heat of the moment, and others with cold and callous cruelty. But your youth will not save you."
"Which leaves us at fighting for survival." Snape said, "Both sides will tell you that is what they are trying for, and both sides are to some degree right. Oh, some might be fighting for power, on the sole strength of their ambition - but not most."
Snape paused, and looked the class over, "If you think you'll be fighting for survival, then it only makes sense to choose the sensible choice." Harry's eyes had gone wide at this, and he swiftly started looking at the floor, until he couldn't take it anymore and was looking (glaring) at Snape's traitorous face. That sneaky, two-timing Slytherin Snake! He'd laid into Hermione on purpose, using her muggleborn status to make his point for him. That purebloods and half-bloods didn't need to fight to save girls like her. "Leave the Justice until after the war. First peace, and then justice." Snape snorted, "Really, there's no other way." No way, Harry thought, he nearly just said that everyone should join Voldemort. And... Harry's gaze raked the room, seeing mostly approval from the purebloods (the ones that weren't counted blood traitors at any rate), and mostly... pacificity from the others. Well, Harry thought, at least Snape was covert enough that the entire school doesn't think he's a Death Eater. Just... the pureblood supremacists.
Harry Potter knew that Snape had to do this, it was important for his cover (and may be important for other things, Harry thought somberly). But, in truth, Harry hated it. It felt... wrong, to lie about something so basic. The basic right of people to live their lives as they wanted. A frisson of understanding wracked Harry's body, a full body shiver. Snape wanted his freedom, didn't he? He'd be the last person to truly believe something like this... So...why had he joined the Death Eaters?
[a/n: Harry's asking questions. Bet me if he's getting answers. Also, Hermione needs to learn when she's being baited into logical traps.
Also, just to make it explicit: Snape is a double agent. Harry's aware. Snape has orders from Voldemort, the contents of which Harry is not aware.
Fourth piece today. Leave a review?]