A/N: A very old piece that I finally decided to post. To some extent a WiP. Con crit always appreciated. Flames accepted and lovingly cherished.

I own nothing. I make six dollars a week teaching music to ten-year-olds. Sue me. I dare you.

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A Victory in Dark Times
Mandy M.

Lunch, like all meals, was a solemn affair at Hogwarts that year. There was minimal chatter, even less laughter. The moment of excitement after the punch line of a good joke was followed by guilt and an uncomfortable pause. Even the school's legendary pranksters were subdued. In the absence of the usual rumble of the student body, the scrape of Dumbledore's chair across the stone floor bounced around the room, until all attention was focused up at the staff table…

((I would like to make one brief announcement before we all head back to class.))

"What do you think that was all about?" Peter asked from behind his bed.

"Something bad happened, Peter," Remus said. "They just don't want to tell us what."

Sirius looked to James. "Owl your father. I bet he knows. They tell the Minister everything, don't they?"

((We all know that these are dark times.))

"No." James shook his head. "We don't have enough time. You heard what Dumbledore said. Let's just go to class."

"Come on," Remus pleaded. "I miss enough without skipping."

Sirius and Peter grabbed their bags and followed Remus out, but James held back for just a moment. His eyes fell on the stationary beside his bed.

((Some of you may be aware that there was talk of closing Hogwarts. I, however, feel that the school should not close until such time as the students and faculty are in danger—and the board of governors agrees. We will remain open so long as it is safe to do so.))

While students stole nervous glances and whispered uneasily, their professors tried to carry on as usual. McGonagall would not lose control of her class.

"Please turn in your books to page 173."

There was a bang over the whisper of pages. The door burst in.

((I ask that you be considerate of those whose families are in danger, and those who are dealing with loss.))

Miss Sprout, the herbology apprentice, stood in the threshold. "Professor."

All the students were still, carefully watching the two staff members, except for James, who quietly continued flipping pages one at a time.

157, 158, 159…

"Yes?"

((Though we must not ignore what is going on outside our walls, please remember that while you are within them you are here to learn. When we allow our purpose to be lost, we are lost with it. The enemy has won.))

"Professor, the school has just been notified that last night several Ministry officials were attacked in their homes." Sprout took a deep breath before she continued. "The Minister was killed."

All eyes turned to James. His shoulders tensed, but there was no other sign that he had even heard what Sprout said.

163, 164, 165…

((We are lost with it. The enemy has won.))

He stopped. His hand hovered over page 171.

Then he got up, and leaving his book open on the desk and his bag by the chair, he walked past Sprout and out of the classroom.

When he was halfway to the door, Peter began to pack his things. Three quarters of the way, and Remus gently pushed in his chair. It wasn't until James was in the hall that Sirius made a move to follow, but he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.

"Black," Professor McGonagall said, "please sit down and open your book to page 173."

((The enemy has won.))

~end