Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 128

"Perhaps the best, the least selfish thing to fight for is someone else. Be it your lover, your child, your parents." Severus Snape said, his voice marginally warmer, like an icy lake just starting to melt. "And yet that will not absolve you from your crimes, from the murders you commit."

Children were looking understandably nervous at this, shuffling around - still spellbound, but - questioning. Harry Potter wanted to smirk - for wasn't that a teacher's real job? To make people question their foundations, to build and build again until they are sound?

"Nor can protection tell you which side to serve, as surely there are people on the other side who also are merely in it to prevent certain people's deaths." Snape sneered, "Unless you are truly callous, cruel or deluded, you cannot say that one person's life is worth less or more than another."

"How much is a life worth, Professor?" Harry asked, not even sure why he was asking the question, nor precisely sure what the question was. However, Harry, unlike Hermione, had learned to trust his instincts. He tried to look as impassively curious as Snape, even as said Snape cast him a withering glare.

"I suppose that depends..." Snape said, stalking closer, "You can always measure the worth of a slave, can you not? Free Market, what someone is willing to pay?"

"Or you could measure them based on their contributions. Patents, their pay from the Ministry." That was Zach Smith, unwisely speaking up, as if this was truly a discussion, rather than a lecture.

"Indeed." Snape said. "That draws us far from the topic at hand, however."

Snape looked at Neville, who met his gaze stoutly. "You wanted to know what war is? War is the closest thing to Gehenna that you'll ever meet. War is where people lose their souls, their conscience, even their abilities. War will crush you, if you let it - and sometimes even without. Your parents aren't the only people who haven't emerged from the last war." Snape's mouth curved into a smirk that was a brutal parody of a smile. "Try letting a firework loose in Hogsmeade sometime... but be ready to run, as you'll have half a dozen hexes before you can say Expelliarmus." Snape said coldly, "War isn't something you leave behind, not really. Some people bury it - others, like Moody, build it into themselves." If Harry had to bet, that was what Snape had done - he was too smooth to actually seem on edge, but there was this quicksilver alertness to him, that never seemed to go away.

[a/n: Alright, that's it for the speech. Reviews?]