Snape's jet eyes searched the class, nodding slightly as he finished. "As you have no doubt deduced during this exercise, it is almost unspeakably easy to murder someone, whether by use of magic, or simply dropping a mallet on someone's head." Snape looked at a few Hufflepuffs, Bones among them, who looked like they wanted to say something about the nature of the assignment, "All questions about morality will be relegated to office hours. Although I will note that nearly every person here has a friend, and if you do decide to go on a murderous rampage, you really ought to watch your back." The slight twitch of Snape's lips meant that he wasn't excluding himself from the vengeance-seekers (was it justice, considering he was a teacher? or merely a course-correction considering he'd assigned them the ridiculous assignment in the first place?), and Harry Potter slotted that alongside Snape's comment from last class about being on your side (the class as a collective whole, Harry now supposed.)
"There's really no need to start a war about it." Snape knit his long fingers together, one atop the next, as he asked, "What is war for?"
Hermione Granger raised her hand, and Harry Potter suppressed a smile. He knew better than to answer the question, but he also figured Hermione had a decent answer. "War is for when talking - politics - has failed."
"Close, but not quite," Snape said firmly, "War is politics by other means. Can anyone elucidate what I mean?"
Hermione, for once, kept her hand down, her teeth working over her lower lip. One of the Ravenclaws raised his hand, "If your arguments aren't persuasive, you can attempt to pound the other person's face in. Or, if magical, you can hex their mouth shut."
"And that works only so long as...?" Snape purred.
"So long as you're stronger than the other guy." Harry Potter responded. The Death Eaters thought they could win by being terrorists, and so they were pretty firm about their strategy.
Snape nodded acknowledgement, wending his way through knots of students as he addressed Potter directly, "So, in this class, am I going to teach you to be stronger than the other guy?"
"No, sir." Harry Potter said crisply, "I can assume the other guy has double my talent, and quadruple my experience."
"So, class," Snape said, turning away from Harry Potter, "What am I going to teach you?"
Gregory Goyle spoke up - his voice sounded like he was speaking through marbles, he spoke so slowly with a voice of stone, "Will you teach us Dark Arts, sir?"
"No, I will not, Mister Goyle. The Dark Arts are unreliable at best, and always alluring - even addictive. Not a single one of you here today could reliably cast one. Harry Potter might manage one. On a really bad day, for the rest of us." Snape's laughter was cold, and Harry's heart sunk as he was mentioned - and then began to burn, with a rage that he hadn't let himself feel for months. It almost, well, felt good. Why couldn't Snape just leave him Alone!
Harry Potter had known, as a first year, that Snape's glare could turn people to stone (even the Weasley twins). He directed a glare at Snape that he hoped would set him on fire.
"The point of this class, ladies and lords, is to teach you to survive. Nothing more. Potter's right when he says you won't be good enough to be a champion, a hero, or whatever nonsense Gryffindor House believes itself capable of." Snape looked over the class, and brightened (only in his eyes) to see that even the Gryffindors were taking him seriously (Brown, in particular, looked daunted). "Try to survive, if you can. I find, if you manage that alone, everything else will take care of itself."
"Now, as this class will be about survival during this war, I'll ask you to determine fields and realms of study. Create a curriculum, if you will. If you are particularly thoughtful or fortunate, I may heed your suggestions." Snape gave them all one last look, and despite the fact that there was still a good hour to his class, he said, "Class dismissed."
Harry Potter didn't move, his eyes burning into Snape's expressionless gaze. Distantly, he realized that Hermione and Ron were looking uneasily at him (and he had enough presence of mind to hope that they were the only ones). Almost as if pro forma, Snape said laconically, "Potter, stay after class." Acknowledging the inevitable, one might say - because it would have taken four horsemen to drag Harry Potter out of the classroom at that moment.
[a/n: Mildly more mature Harry still has blindspots. And sores that Snape happens to know exactly how to grind salt into.
From last chapter: Did you notice that Draco really didn't do his homework? Just scrawled some stuff that he had memorized? Granger does put more work in.
Leave a review - I'm personally a little less satisfied with this chapter than the last one...]