The calm was desperately unsettling. Inside Hogwarts lessons continued as normal, but the classes were unusually quiet, glancing towards the doors every few seconds with worried faces, trying to concentrate on the tasks in hand while outside the battle was raging. The war had begun in scores of different places simultaneously, and confusion abounded as the Ministry fought to deal with the ensuing chaos.
No one seemed to know exactly what was happening beyond the thick, protective walls. Information (and misinformation) ran like wildfire, as students and staff alike drank up the latest rumours concerning everyone on the outside. The reigning atmosphere was one of fear. The teachers ploughed on with their lessons, knowing that little knowledge was being absorbed, but all agreeing with Albus that sticking to the timetable was best way to fill the agonising seconds as they waited for news. And waited And waited.
The third-year potions class were in no fit state to brew so much as a pot of tea, Severus could tell as soon as he walked in the laboratory that morning. No matter, if he had learned one skill through his many years of spying, teaching and Death Eating, it was flexibility.
"Turn to page 46 of your textbook," he ordered, flicking his wand to conjure a set of questions about the chapter. He stared at the wan children in front of him, none of whom had moved. Sighing, he drawled;
"Did someone cast a temporary deafness charm?" Still they refused to move. Eventually, a hand ventured nervously into the air.
"Please, Sir?" began the blonde Ravenclaw girl at the front bench.
"Yes, Miss Withenshawe?" It took a great effort, but he managed to reduce the level of sarcasm in his voice. A bit.
"We're all a bit worried about the explosions and…the other stuff. I mean, Derek's father…"
Snape had been expecting this, but it still took a lot of energy to do it. He calmly walked around the desk and perched informally on the front of it, trying to make eye contact with every person in the room.
"I understand that current events are more important than a few pages of text in a schoolbook. I understand that your families are out there, and that you are worried for them. However, there are a number of things which you must be mature enough to understand.
"Today may signal the end of this war, or it may be just the beginning. A time may come when the other staff and I will be required to actively participate in combat situations; or even, Merlin forbid, you yourselves. I know each person in this room well enough now to rest assured that in that eventuality, you will shoulder your duties and do what must be done to safeguard the future of our world, despite your youth – or perhaps, because of it.
"But until that day comes, we are all charged with a vital responsibility. To carry on. To live our lives without giving in to the fear which the Death Eaters use to destroy us. Each time we are knocked down, we pick ourselves up and carry on. Heroes are not born exclusively on the battlefield, but in every place and at every moment when a witch or wizard takes a stand against those who threaten them. Do you understand what I am saying?"
Twenty rapt faces nodded, still pale and worried, but sitting slightly taller in their seats. Here and there, a hint of determination shone from the wide eyes, and lips were drawn together in firm lines.
"The people you care about are doing their part right now. Until we have a better idea of what is happening out there, I will ask you now to do yours." Snape stood from his perch on the table and strode to the far end of the room. "Now, page 46, please."
There was a shuffling of bags and rustling of paper as the class took out their books. It was a quiet, insignificant little victory in the grand scheme of things, Severus thought, but he gained comfort as he glanced at the youngsters' bowed heads all around him - a small group of people were taking their stand.
A/N: I know that your average terrorist does not read Harry Potter fanfiction, but writing this at my desk in my office in the chaos of Central London today, there are a few things which I need to say.
London has been surviving bombing, war, plague, flood, fire, invasion and violence since before the Romans arrived. There is absolutely nothing which can be thrown at us which we have not experienced before. We are used to it. You may leave scratches on the surface, but the organism will heal, and it will go on as normal.
So bring it on. We are ready for you.
A's second N: Now that was unusually serious for me, I know, so please excuse me. Back to fun cheesy romance stories tomorrow. Because I WILL carry on as normal.
I feel much better for having written this. Thank you for reading, my dears, I appreciate it x