Harry Potter found himself pausing over the question, thinking it over. Not that he intended to answer, regardless of his reasoning. Harry Potter recognized that purr in Snape's tone - it was the tone of 'you've got no cover, and I'm coming to get you.' Definitely not the time to answer the question, not when Snape was likely to jump down the other person's throat.
"To lock up the evildoers," Bones said stoutly, responding to Snape's curt nod.
Snape purred back at her, "And what will you do if they refuse?"
"Why? We'll fight, of course."
"Will you bleed? Your enemies aren't shrinking violets, you know."
"If necessary, yes."
Snape turned to the rest of the class, saying, "This is war. Take a look around, find your best friend, or your closest analogue if you haven't one. Can you tell me what you'd do if you heard their screams in your ear as they thrashed and soiled themselves before dying?"
The whole room rustled with clothing, Harry among them. The room was perfectly silent - even Vince and Greg had been quieted by loyal Slytherins, before they were so foolish as to say a word.
"It takes a strong person, a faithful and trusting person, to put faith in the rule of law in times of war. That if you let the person who hurt you, who hurt your friends, out of your sight - that something won't happen." Snape paused, meeting a Ravenclaw's eye, "It's happened before."
Neville raised his hand, and as Snape nodded at him, said, "Is the point of war to kill the other side?"
"A very, very good question." Snape said as his lips turned upward, just a bit, into that devilish smirk of his. "But no," Snape said, drawing out the no until it was four distinct syllables. "Tell me, does anyone here want to murder one of their classmates?"
Slowly, and then like a wave, students started to shake their heads no. Some were confident, Harry saw - others looked wide-eyed, like the very idea was foreign to them, and rejected. And a few (mostly Slytherins) seemed like their answer was likely to change, depending on circumstances.
Snape's mouth curled into a crude semblance of a smile, his lips tight against one another, "I don't believe you. You are at an age where you are fools - blind or nearsighted. A missed date, a cruel word, a pointed jest. All an incitement towards giving your passion free rein."
"But no, war is not about killing the other side. I can assure you there are thousands of ways to murder your fellows. In fact, list them, as many as you can, for your first homework assignment."
It was clear, despite the short lecture, that class was dismissed. A mousy Ravenclaw suddenly stood up, and asked impulsively, "Sir, you mentioned War - what side are you exactly on?"
Snape suddenly looked smug, and stepped toward her, as all eyes were trained on him. "Finally, a question with a bit of sense. One point to Ravenclaw. I am on your side," Snape said, meeting each and every person's eye in the room, "Up until precisely 3:15 in the afternoon on May the 15th, when I hope to retire to a sunny European villa in comfort and relative peace."
A few of the Slytherins looked confused, and Ron looked sharply over at Hermione. Draco Malfoy just smirked. "Of course," Snape continued as an afterthought, "I don't actually own a sunny villa. I suppose I shall just have to borrow one - with word or with deed." Snape at the last word looked down at Malfoy, whose smug smirk had entirely fallen off his face.
"Class dismissed." Snape said, and as people fled the classroom, Harry sat quietly, starting to organize his books to leave, when Snape caught his eye with a level gaze. Harry pretended to spill his books (sending them flying) and with a muffled, hopefully inaudible curse, waved Hermione and Ron ahead.
Snape's wand cracked a few different spells, the last of which closed the door before he turned to Harry, saying quickly, "If Malfoy does decide to join, give him his head. He knows what he's doing." Snape smirked, "Or, at least, he will."
Snape vanished quickly out a sidedoor before Harry was done picking up his books, leaving Harry to hope that whatever wards Snape had snapped on the door wouldn't be painful to exit from the inside.
Later that day, Harry heard about the seventh year unfortunate enough to try entering Snape's classroom first. Singed hair and lost eyebrows were only the half of it.
[a/n: Snape has... plans. Rather a lot of plans.
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