This is basically a result of me wondering what Hufflepuff and Slytherin students would have been doing/thinking before the battle of Hogwarts. So…enjoy.

Spoilers: Deathly Hallows

Disclaimer: A few of them are mine, but the rest and the setting are not…

The Great Hall erupted noisily, and Cole rose from his seat at the Slytherin table and made his way over to the Hufflepuff table. "Emma," he said.

"Cole," she said, turning to look at him. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled, but it was a sad sort of smile, understandable given the circumstances. "So," she said after a moment, "What are you going to do?"

"I'm leaving," Cole said, without hesitation. There was no need for hesitation; the options seemed pretty clear.

Emma nodded. "I'm not," she told him.

Cole looked at her surprised. "What?" he asked.

"I'm not," she repeated, "I'm staying. I'm fighting."

Cole looked at her. "It's crazy," he said, "you know that. We're teenagers, not even out of school, and these are full grown wizards."

"I know," she told him, "but I can't leave."

"Yes, you can," he protested, "McGonagall just said—"

She shook her head. "That's not what I meant," she said, "these are my friends. This school has been my home for the last six years. I can't just walk away."

"These are my friends too," Cole pointed out, "But, Em, this is practically a death sentence. These are death eaters we're talking about."

"Maybe," she said noncommittally, "And I don't want to fight, if there were a way to avoid this I'd be all for that, but we are passed that. There is going to be a fight, and I can't walk away from that."

"Em," Cole started. The internal conflict he was struggling with showed clearly on his face.

"I'm not asking you to stay Cole," she told him, "I'm not judging you for leaving. I know that you're right and it's the smart thing to do, but I can't do it."

"But what about the future? What about everything we'd talked about doing once we left school?" Cole asked, "We are going to change the world."

"I know, and I still want to," Emma said, "But if someone doesn't save the world today, there's not going to be one for us to change tomorrow." Cole looked at her, and she could see fear reflected in his eyes, she felt it to.

He knew now that he wasn't going to convince her to leave. If he were honest with himself, he had known that from the start. Once Emma made up her mind to do something, she stuck to that decision. Her conviction and devotion were part of what he loved about her. "You don't have to be a hero," he said quietly.

Emma gave him a small smile. "I'm no hero," Emma told him, "and I'm not trying to be, but I know I can help. So that's what I'll do, I'll help, and maybe if enough of us work together, we can win this thing."

Cole looked at her. "I love you, Em," he told her.

"I know," she told him, "And I love you too." She leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. "You should probably go," she said gesturing towards the now empty Slytherin table.

He looked over his shoulder. "Okay," he said taking a deep breath, "I'll see you later okay?"

"Of course," Emma replied with a smile, and her voice was steady.

Cole gave her one last kiss then walked over to join the last few Slytherin students on their way out of the Great Hall. Emma turned away; she couldn't bring herself to watch.

"He's leaving?" a familiar voice asked, and Emma realized that her friend and fellow Hufflepuff Rachel had watched the whole exchange.

"Can you blame him?" Emma asked.

"No," Rachel agreed, "I've got to admit that leaving sounds pretty nice right now. Get far away from here, curl up under the blankets, and make the real world go away."

"It sounds nice," Emma said with a nod, "but I don't think we could run far enough to escape this."

"I know," Rachel said, "This is going to decide it isn't it? This is the battle who decides who wins? I mean Potter's here and You-Know-Who is here…"

"It's going to be big," Emma agreed.

"You think we can win?" Rachel asked.

"I've got to believe we can," Emma said.

"I would say we have a very good chance Ms. Turner, especially if we all work together," Professor Flitwick had come up behind them without either girl noticing, "Would you and Ms. Jones be so kind as to join us in setting some protective charms around the castle?"

"Of course, Professor," Emma said as she and Rachel jumped to their feet, and joined the group of students already clustered around Professor Flitwick.

"Very good," he said in his squeaky voice, "Now lets begin."

Emma glanced at her watch. It was five minutes to midnight, and she realized for the first time how terrified she was. She understood now that it didn't matter how much you learned in class, nothing was ever going to prepare you for a situation like this. So she stood in an alcove by a window on one of the upper floors of the castle preparing to fill the half-sentry/half-defender role she had been assigned.

"Emma," a voice called from behind her.

She turned, sure her ears must be playing tricks on her. "Cole," she said surprised, "you're here. You came back."

"Yeah," he said as he reached her alcove, "I disapperated out of Hogsmede, but I couldn't stop thinking about what you said. So I figured I ought to improve our odds, and I started trying to round up some more people to join the fight. I figured the Order of the Phoenix would be here already, but there are a lot of families, especially families with longstanding ties to Slytherin, who were never part of the Order but who weren't Death Eaters either."

"Did you find some?" Emma asked.

"I found a few," he said, "but then they knew other people, and I think there were about fifty in all."

"Cole, that's incredible," she said, throwing her arms around him.

"Yeah," Cole said, "You know we get a rotten reputation form those guys out there in the cloaks and masks, but really some Slytherins are pretty great."

Emma smiled at him. "I've known that all along."

At that moment, Emma's watch beeped marking the stroke of midnight, and as she turned to the window, she saw the flashes of light that marked the start of the battle.

"Alright," Cole said, taking her hand in his, "Here we go. Let's save the world."

"Here we go," Emma repeated quietly, "here we go."

Thanks for reading… Go Hufflepuff!