Chapter Eighteen: A Hard Lesson to Learn

Harry tossed and turned for the umpteenth time that night. He glanced over at the clock and groaned softly as he noticed the clock only read 3:40. Huffing he threw the blankets off of himself. Getting out of bed, he slipped on his slippers and pulled on a robe to protect himself from the night chill. Deciding to go down to the kitchen for a glass of milk, Harry focused on stepping carefully, worried that Severus would wake up to the creaking of the old wooden slabs. He took his time going down the staircase and cringed every single time one of the steps creaked under his weight.

Making his way into the kitchen, he quietly took a glass from the cabinet and then grabbed the milk from the refrigerator. He flinched at the bright light of the refrigerator and quickly closed it again.

"What is young Master Potter doing out of bed at this time of night?" Vix questioned from behind him causing Harry to jump and spill part of his milk. Vix waved her hand, cleaning up the mess.

Harry refilled the glass of milk again and sat down on the bar stool. "I can't sleep, Vix. What are you doing up at this time?"

"Does young master need a sleeping potion? I's can wake up Master Snape for you?" At Harry's hurried shake of his head, Vix answered Harry's question, "I was alerted when your bedroom door opened, young Master Potter."

Harry sighed deeply, "Can you please stop calling me that?"

Vix shook her head, "No, young master, I's cannot." She watched him as he gulped down the glass of milk. "Is young master going to head back to bed now?"

Rubbing the chill out of his arms, Harry watched as Vix made his glass disappear. He shook his head, "Not yet, Vix."

Vix studied him curiously, "Then what is young master going to do?"

Harry sighed and looked out the kitchen window. A walk would definitely help. Harry turned his attention back to Vix. What would the chances be that she wouldn't wake Severus up if I went out? "I could really use a short walk to be honest."

Vix wildly shook her head, "Oh no no no, young Master Potter! You know there is a curfew. If you step one toe out that door I would be forced to wake up the Master. Do I's make myself clear?"

Harry grumbled under his breath. She wasn't up my arse like this last time we were home. I bet Snape told her to keep a close eye on me. "Fine, I won't go for a walk." Getting off the bar stool, Harry headed for the living room. He grabbed the Daily Prophet off the coffee table and flopped on the couch.

When he woke up at six, Severus found Harry fast asleep on the couch, the Daily Prophet laid open on his stomach. Severus frowned softly, wondering why the boy wasn't upstairs in his bed. He tried not to wake him though as he picked the Daily Prophet up and laid it back on the coffee table. He then went into the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee and had Vix bring him the new Daily Prophet. Once ready, he returned to the living room and sat down to read.

A couple hours later he noticed Harry stirring on the couch. Looking over the Daily Prophet, Severus watched as the boy yawned and stretched, finally waking up. "Good morning," Severus greeted him quietly.

Harry jumped at the sound of his voice and looked around himself. He hadn't realized that he had fallen asleep on the couch last night. "Mornin'," Harry muttered back.

Severus smirked and folded the Daily Prophet up, tossing it onto the coffee table. "Why did you sleep on the couch last night? Could you not sleep?"

Harry sat up and shook his head, "I came down for a glass of milk and realized I still wasn't going to be able to sleep so I came in here to read. I didn't mean to fall asleep here though."

Severus nodded in understanding, "You could have woken me up. I would have given you a sleeping potion."

Harry stretched out his tired muscles as he shook his head no. "I'm not going to wake you just because I cannot sleep, sir."

"In the future though, you may." Severus studied the boy for a few moments before instructing him, "Go freshen up and get ready for the day. When you come back down we will eat breakfast. Professor McGonagall will be showing up around lunch time to bring your first week's assignments." At Harry's nod of understanding, Severus waved him off.

Grumbling quietly as he stood from the couch, Harry stretched again and headed for the upstairs loo. He took a quick shower and threw on a comfy set of clothes, knowing full-well that he would probably be stuck inside all day. Looking in the mirror, he ran his fingers through his wet hair one more time before shaking the mop and brushing his teeth. Once completely ready for the day, he descended the stairs and stopped at the doorway to the living room. "I'm ready if you are, sir."

Looking up from his potions journal, Severus marked his page and joined Harry in the dining room for breakfast. The food appeared on the table as soon as they sat down.

Pouring himself a glass of chocolate milk, Harry watched as Severus quietly brewed himself a cup of black tea. "Why don't you ever use sugar or cream?"

Startled, Severus quickly looked up at him and leveled him with a disgusted look. "First of all, sugar and cream are unhealthy."

Harry frowned as he started to pile food onto his plate. "Sugar isn't that unhealthy so long as you don't use it obsessively." He paused and looked up at his guardian with curious eyes, "Right?"

Severus couldn't help but feel pleased that the boy was asking him if his current beliefs on sugar was correct. He added a scoop of scrambled eggs to his plate as he answered the boy, "You are correct. For most people sugar is not that unhealthy so long as they do not use it too much. Too much of anything can be unhealthy, to be honest." He paused, watching Harry as he buttered a piece of toast. "However, sugar is something I try to stay away from. You see, my father was diabetic. Even when his sugar levels were low he would eat fruits that contained higher sugar levels (he stuck to natural sugars). Wizards make antidotes for that kind of thing but since my father could not have sugar, I grew up not having any sugar. Therefore, sugar is not something my body craves or even something that I desire to have. Do you understand?"

Harry nodded his head, "Yeah, I get it. It's just like if someone never had coffee, they wouldn't necessarily have a craving for coffee. Right?"

Severus' lips twitched into a small smile, "Correct." They fell into a comfortable silence as they finished their breakfast, both lost in their own heads but, at the same time, enjoying the other's company.

No sooner did the dishes disappear from the table Minerva stepped out of the fireplace.

Hearing the floo system start up and spit someone out, Severus hurried to the living room and greeted his coworker. "Good morning, Minerva. Thank you for bringing his assignments." He held out his hand, waiting for her to hand him the stack of parchments.

Giving him the parchments, Minerva smiled and looked over his shoulder at the teenager standing in the doorway, "You're welcome. I will bring next week's assignments this coming Monday, Harry."

Turning to look at his ward, Severus held the stack out to him and waited for the boy to take them off his hands.

Holding the heavy stack, Harry grimaced as he thought about all the work he had to do. He forced a respectful smile as he looked back up at his Transfiguration professor, "Thank you, Professor."

Minerva nodded her head in his direction before saying, "I hope everything is going smoothly here," she stated as she glanced between her lion and her coworker.

Harry quickly nodded his head, "It is, ma'am."

Minerva gave a small smile, "That's good to hear." Turning to look at Severus, she asked, "May I have a word?"

Severus inclined his head and gave Harry a pointed look and said through legilimency, If I catch you eavesdropping I will not wait for her to leave before I take away your ability to sit. Am I completely clear?

The dangerous look in his guardian's onyx eyes made Harry to look away. He couldn't stare into those eyes at the moment, it made him feel too uncomfortable. However, the threat of being spanked in front of his Head of House made him feel extremely annoyed. Clenching his teeth, Harry glared at the floor and answered back, Crystal.

Severus narrowed his eyes at the teenager, Wipe that look off your face before I wipe it off for you, Harry James. Once Harry stopped glaring at him, he said to his ward out loud, "I want you to look over your assignments. Later we will create a schedule so that you can get into a routine for these two weeks." Glancing to Minerva, he started leading the way to the dining room, saying over his shoulder to his ward, "When I return I expect to find your head in those assignments."

Grumbling under his breath, Harry watched as his Head of House disappeared into the dining room with his guardian. He huffed and did as he was told.

In the dining room, Severus set up a silencing spell around them, not fully trusting that the boy would not test his luck. Once that was done, he turned to Minerva and asked, "What can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to give you an update about the happenings at the castle." She paused before continuing, "Albus convinced Alastor to come in and take over your classes until you return."

Severus couldn't help but feel relieved at that, "Good. I was not feeling confident with knowing that Horace was teaching my lessons."

Minerva smirked, "No one was confident with that decision, Severus." She glanced toward the door, "Did you figure out why he fought Mr. Weasley?"

Sitting at the table, Severus gestured for her to take a seat as well. Once she was seated, Severus answered her, "Honestly, I feel like that fight was just waiting to happen. Mr. Weasley started the fight verbally and Harry jumped him. He was punished though and we discussed his anger issues. From now on, when he becomes angry, he will go for a run around the castle to cool off."

Minerva nodded, "That is good to hear. You will be pleased to know that Mr. Weasley did not get off with just a firm talking to. The boy is grounded for two weeks. Mr. Weasley placed him under the Fundati spell."

Severus nodded, pleased to hear that his boy wasn't the only one facing consequences. "I tend to not use that spell when I ground Harry because I want to see if he would actually listen to the rules of his grounding or if he would test them. However, for the Weasleys, since they are not constantly with the boy, the spell works for them."

Minerva nodded, "It's less work for me. I don't actually have to do anything about his punishment - the spell will take care of it all." Looking at the clock on the wall, Minerva let out a small sigh before standing from the table. "Well, I need to get back to the castle. Good luck with everything here. I will be back next Monday with his second week's assignments."

Severus walked her to the fireplace and once she disappeared in the green flames, he turned and stared at his ward as the boy looked through the parchments. Walking over, Severus sat down on the couch beside him and picked up the parchments Harry wasn't holding anymore. "How many do you have?"

Harry sighed and looked up from them, "It really annoyed me that you said you wouldn't wait for her to leave before you'd. . . You know."

Severus simply stared at him before saying, "I already told you that I was going to start being stricter."

Harry glared at him, "But you can't do that!" His glare immediately fell off his face as a shiver ran up his spine. He couldn't keep eye contact with his guardian's dangerous onyx eyes. He stayed silent, not trusting himself to speak.

Severus couldn't help but feel proud that he could wipe the defiance off Harry's face by just giving him a dangerous look. He kept his voice stern as he replied, "I can and I will. I am not afraid to embarrass you if you embarrass me. Eavesdropping is an issue for you - it's like the curiosity is too much for you to handle. Your curiosity is what usually gets you in trouble, Harry." Once Harry remained silent, Severus asked his question again, "How many assignments do you have?"

Harry kept his eyes on his lap and grumbled, "Ten."

Severus nodded, thinking it over in his head. "Today I want you to complete your Defense assignments since you already started yesterday. Tomorrow you will complete your Potions assignments. Friday you will complete your Arithmancy assignments. Saturday you will complete your Transfiguration assignments and Sunday I want you to complete your Ancient Runes assignments. Do you think that would be manageable?" He eyed the boy closely, curious as to what he was thinking.

Harry fidgeted a little on the couch and shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, I guess. It just won't. . ."

Severus frowned, "It won't, what?"

Sighing, Harry pulled out the parchments for DADA. "Nothing. Don't worry about it."

Severus' frown deepened, "No, Harry. Talk to me."

Huffing slightly, Harry finally looked up at him and said, "It just won't leave a lot of time for anything else."

Severus took the pile of assignments and flipped through them. Once he finished, he studied the boy, "What do you need time for? You are, after all, grounded - it's not like I am going to let you run around the town. I will not make you do homework every second of every day, Harry. You will have plenty of breaks to relax your brain and for us to spend quality time together." He took a breath before saying, "Your assignments are very important and you need to make sure that you complete them correctly."

After a few moments of thinking it over, Harry finally nodded his head in acceptance, "Alright." He went silent again before changing the subject, "How long am I going to be grounded?"

Severus sat all the assignments except the DADA ones on the coffee table. "When you were first grounded I told you that it depended on your behavior."

Harry's face fell, knowing full-well what that meant. "So, because of the fight, it probably won't end for a while?"

Severus eyed him closely before saying, "Ask me again when we return to the castle."

Taking that as a sign of hope, Harry immediately felt a little lighter inside. "Can we do something together before lunch or do you want me to start my assignments?"

Severus glanced at the stack of parchments and then at his ward. "Would you like to play a game of chess?" At Harry's nod, Severus accio'd his marble chess board and set it up. They played a couple games of chess (Severus winning every single one) before Vix showed up, informing them that lunch was ready.

They ate in a comfortable silence and, when the plates disappeared, Severus stirred his cup of tea and informed his ward, "I want you to bring your Defense assignments to the table and work on them. I am going to run over to Mrs. Kleins and check on her. I expect to find you hard at work when I return."

Harry nodded, knowing better than to argue. Plus, he knows the assignments need completed so why not work on them now?

Severus stood from his chair and accio'd Harry's Defense Against the Dark Arts assignments and textbook. He watched as they floated and stopped in front of the boy, "I will be back." As he walked toward the front door, Severus called over his shoulder, "Behave yourself."

Hearing the front door close, Harry let out a soft sigh and opened up his textbook, eager to get the second assignment of this class completed.

Roughly twenty minutes into working on his assignment, Harry began to feel restless and he kept looking toward the basement door. Deep down he knew better than to go down there but his curiosity was beginning to feel overwhelming.

He weighed the chances of his guardian returning during the quick time that he will be down there and it didn't take long for him to decide to go down to cure his curiosity. He made the trip down the creaky staircase quickly, his heart thundering in his chest. Just a quick look and then I'll run back up - he'll never know. He got to the bottom step and scanned the dark, musky room. Seeing a potion simmering on the other side of the room, Harry cautiously made his way over to it. Careful not to touch the potion (because he didn't know what it was), Harry peered into the cauldron and scrunched his nose in disgust. The potion smelled like something was decomposing. That's disgusting - I pity whoever will be drinking that shit. Looking away from the mucus-looking potion, Harry noticed an open journal next to the cauldron.

Still not touching anything, Harry leaned over the journal and read the title: Invenire Horcrux

Harry frowned and looked over the ingredients - snake tongue, blood of a goblin, three unicorn hairs . . . Harry skimmed over the rest of the ingredients, his disgust growing. How in Merlin's name did he get blood from a goblin? What the hell is a horcrux?

A popping sound behind him caused Harry to jump and spin to look behind him. Seeing Vix, Harry felt his insides squirm. "I can explain, Vix."

With her little hands on her hips, Vix tapped her left foot impatiently. "Young Master knows the Master does not want you down here."

Harry nodded, inching his way toward the staircase. After finding that potion, being in this creepy room made him feel uncomfortable. "I know, I'm sorry! Are you going to tell him?"

Vix followed him up the stairs and back into the dining room. She locked the basement door behind her. "I should. I's not allowed to lie to the Master."

Harry wrung his hands and paced back and forth, "It's not a lie if you just keep quiet, Vix - everyone knows that!"

"Young Master broke a rule," Vix explained seriously.

Harry sighed and flopped on his abandoned chair, looking at his assignment. He felt sick to his stomach, Why am I so stupid? "I know! Can't we just keep it between us?"

Just as Vix was about to answer, Severus entered the dining room and looked at them suspiciously, "Keep what between you?"

With his heart hammering away in his chest, Harry threw a pitiful look toward the house elf and said, "Nothing."

Severus narrowed his eyes at his ward and turned his onyx eyes on his elf, "Vix?"

Panicked, Vix let out a high-pitched squeak and disappeared.

Severus frowned deeply and leveled Harry with a stern look. "What was that about?"

Dropping his eyes, Harry swallowed to fix his dry throat. Not knowing what else to do, Harry shrugged his shoulders.

Annoyed, Severus left the dining room and yelled in a dangerous voice, "Vix!"

Hearing the familiar popping sound of the house elf appearing, Harry squirmed in his seat and mentally beat himself up, not having faith that the elf would keep his secret.

In the living room, Severus leveled the elf with a dangerous look, daring her to disobey him. "You are my house elf. When you are asked a question you are to answer quickly and honestly. When you are told to do something, you are to do it quickly!"

Nervous, Vix played with the hem of her baby blue dress and kept her eyes down. "I's knows, Master Snape."

Taking a threatening step toward her, Severus watched as she stumbled back, fear evident in her big blue eyes. Severus sighed, forcing himself to take calming breath. He had never hurt his house elf before and he wasn't about to start now. "I do not like secrets, Vix."

Vix nodded, wringing her hands and looking anywhere but at him. "Vix knows, Master Snape."

Quickly growing impatient, Severus demanded, "Then tell me what is supposed to be kept between yourself and my ward. Now, Vix!"

Vix flinched at his yell but put on a brave face. Deep down she knew she wouldn't be the one in trouble. Looking up into his onyx eyes, Vix finally admitted to her master, "I's found the young master in your lab." She flinched again as she watched the anger glint in his eyes. "I's sorry, Master Snape. I's should have told you right away but the young master was afraid of getting in trouble. Vix won't keep secrets from the Master again. I's so sorry!" Big tears started falling from her blue eyes and her shoulders began to tremble and shake.

Severus forced himself to breathe and use a gentle voice with his elf, "You are not in trouble, Vix. However, I told you that you were his nanny - you need to keep him safe from himself and tell me when he misbehaves." Watching her continue to cry, Severus let out a tired sigh and waved her off, "You are dismissed." As soon as she popped away, Severus began pacing back and forth, forcing himself to calm down before dealing with the brat at the table.

Harry quickly began getting more nervous at the silence in the living room. He's literally going to kill me. As much as he wanted to run, he knew running would only make his situation worse. Nervous, Harry stood from his seat and entered the living room. He watched his guardian pace back and forth and forced himself to speak, "I went into your potions lab." He immediately felt frozen as his guardian spun and pierced him with a glare. "I'm really sorry. I. . . I should have told you when you asked." I was just scared shitless.

Severus could feel his blood boiling in his veins. "You know what makes me the most angry?" Seeing Harry drop his eyes, Severus moved closer and snapped, "Instead of taking responsibility for your actions you put the weight on Vix." When Harry didn't say anything, Severus reached out and gripped his chin firmly. He forced the boy to look up at him as he said through clenched teeth, "Go put your nose against the wall. Now!"

Knowing his guardian needed time to cool down, Harry tried to hurry past him and jumped as he felt his guardian's iron hand across his backside. He forced himself to not whimper as he touched his nose to the wall.

Severus grabbed a chair and placed it a few feet behind the boy. He sat down, staring at the boy, and tried to focus on his breathing. He was given one restriction and he couldn't even follow that! It's like my rules are a complete game to him! He shook his head, feeling lost at what to do about the boy in front of him. He fingered his belt around his waist and let out a tired sigh, He could have gotten hurt down there! He could have been de-aged or poisoned or even killed! It's like his life doesn't matter. Did he think restricting him from the lab was a joke? What am I going to do with him?

Harry fidgeted but made sure to keep his nose touching the wall. He could feel his guardian's eyes on him and that made him feel uncomfortable.

"What am I going to do with you? Do you ever take my rules seriously?" Severus wondered out loud. He noticed Harry about to turn around and he snapped dangerously, "Keep your nose on that wall, Harry James!"

Quickly returning his nose to the wall, Harry found his voice and answered his guardian's question, "I take your rules seriously. I just. . . You know I get curious!"

Fire flashed in Severus' onyx eyes, "So it is my fault that you cannot follow a simple direction?"

Sighing, Harry's shoulders slumped in defeat. "No, sir."

"What is it going to take for you to stop fighting my rules? Do you need a taste of my belt against your bare backside?" Severus snarled, glaring dangerously at the boy.

Harry felt his breath hitch in his throat at the thought of being punished with a belt. "N-no sir."

Severus shook his head, "I don't know, Harry. Obviously my punishments are not strong enough for you." He watched as the boy's shoulders started to shake, hinting that the boy had started to cry. Severus continued speaking, forcing himself to not give in, "I have tried everything else, this is the only punishment I have not given you yet. I'm at a loss of what to do with you, Harry James. . ." Making himself stay firm, Severus stayed seated and instructed the boy, "Turn around."

Sniffling, Harry nervously turned. "I shouldn't have gone down there."

Severus nodded, "You're right, you should not have. However, you did. You went against my direct orders." He paused to take a calming breath. "Why do you think I told you that you were not allowed to go down there?" Seeing Harry dropping his eyes, Severus snapped, "Look at me when I am speaking to you, Harry James."

Snapping his eyes up, Harry forced himself to be brave. "I thought you just didn't want me to."

Severus nodded, "But why?"

Harry sighed, fidgeting a little. He forced himself to not look away, "Because it's dangerous, sir."

Severus nodded, "Exactly. Anything could have happened when you were down there! You could have been poisoned, de-aged or even killed! Do you understand that?"

Harry felt sick to his stomach, "De-aged?"

Severus stood from his seated position, "You have no idea what kind of potions are down there, Harry James! I create new potions - they could potentially have any side-effect!"

As hard as it was, Harry forced himself to keep eye contact. "I know you brewed the horcrux potion. . ." He flinched at the dangerous look in his guardian's eyes.

Taking a step closer to the boy, Severus snapped, "But you do not know what that potion is! You do NOT know the side-effects of that potion! You do not know how dangerous it is!" Taking a step away, Severus closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Quickly wiping away a tear from his cheek, Harry sniffed and looked away. "I'm sorry!"

Snapping his head up to level the boy with a stern look, Severus nodded in agreement. "If you are not sorry now, you will be." He ignored the look of fear as he unbuckled his belt. Moving to stand behind the couch, Severus instructed him, "Remove your trousers and come here."

Harry fumbled with his trouser button, his fingers shaking. He could feel sweat beading on the back of his neck and he felt nauseous.

Severus wondered if he should give the boy a few minutes to compose himself but he also remembered the first time he himself experienced the belt and he knew that the wait time would only make the boy more nervous (at least it did for him). He stood there, waiting patiently for the boy to finally remove his trousers. He watched as Harry slowly folded them and laid them on the coffee stand. His onyx eyes locked with the boy's emerald ones. He tried to give the boy reassurance through looking at him but Severus didn't think he succeeded. "Come and lay yourself over the back of the couch."

Harry froze and felt hot tears welling up in his eyes, "You're not going to hold me?"

Severus felt strings tug at his heart and it took all he could to not give in. He shook his head, "I would not be able to properly duel out the punishment with you across my lap, Harry." He paused, watching as Harry nodded in understanding and a couple tears leaked from his eyes. Severus sighed softly, hiding the belt behind his back. "It's not going to kill you, Ha-... Son." He watched as Harry snapped his head up to look at him. Severus tried to make himself look less terrifying as he patted the couch, "Come on now. Let's get this over with quickly." He paused, watching as Harry bravely wiped the tears from his cheeks and walked toward him. He couldn't help but feel proud of his bravery, "I promise to hold you after it is over."

Harry nodded, trusting that his guardian would keep his word. Burying his fear, Harry uncomfortably bent himself over the back of the couch. His heart felt as if it were going to beat right out of his chest.

Severus sighed softly, hating that it came down to this. He looked from his belt to the boy and back again, second guessing himself. Forcing himself to not go back, Severus silently put a few charms on the belt. One charm to keep it from marking or bruising the boy. A second charm to lighten the sting (not too much but enough to make it bearable). And a third charm to keep himself from swinging too hard. Finally ready, Severus gently pulled the boy's boxers down and laid the leather against the boy's backside. He watched the boy physically shiver as he asked, "Why are you about to be punished?"

Harry closed his eyes and focused on his breathing. He tried not to let his voice hitch as he answered him, "Because I put myself in danger by going into your lab after you specifically told me not to."

Surprised at how good of an answer that was, Severus nodded. "Good. You will be getting sixteen." At Harry's fidgety nod, Severus pulled back and muttered, "Brace yourself." With that, he brought the first crack down against the pale bottom. He watched as Harry jumped and tried to stand up. Placing his hand on the boy's back, Severus instructed, "Be still, Harry. Fifteen more to go."

Hearing that, Harry relaxed himself back over the couch and bit his lip.

Nodding to himself, Severus pulled back and rained three quick swishes. He forced himself to not give in at the sound of the boy's tears. He took a quick break, allowing the boy to catch his breath. Gently, Severus rubbed a couple circles on the boy's back. "You're doing very well, Harry. You have twelve more. You can do this, take a deep breath." He watched as the boy regained control of his breathing and then Severus started again. This time, he brought the belt down four times in a row before taking another quick break to let the boy breathe. Again, Severus rubbed circles on the boy's back. He watched as Harry's shoulders shook from his tears. "Eight more, Harry." Noticing the boy wasn't going to calm down, Severus tried to finish the punishment quickly. He landed five quick swishes before stopping for the boy to breathe. "Three more, Harry. You're almost done."

Harry shook his head and tried to stand. He found his movements stopped by his guardian's strong hand against his back. "Please stop!" He choked on his snot and didn't bother trying to stop his tears from falling.

Forcing himself to not give in, Severus finished quickly, landing the last three quick and swift. Dropping the belt, Severus helped the boy stand and transfigured his clothes into silk pajamas.

Harry allowed his guardian to lead him to the couch. As hard as he tried, he couldn't get his tears under control.

Sitting down, Severus gently pulled the boy down on his lap and held him close. Rubbing circles on the boy's back, Severus allowed the boy to hide his face against his chest as he sobbed. He could feel his shirt soaking from the tears. "Alright, Harry, shh, it's alright. It's all over. All is forgiven, s-son." Saying the word son felt so good but made him feel so nervous at the same time. Technically the boy wasn't his son but calling him it felt right, much to Severus' confusion.

Hearing that, Harry sobbed harder. "I'm a rotten s-s-son! Why w-would you want me?"

Severus sighed softly and continued his rythm of rubbing the circles on his back. "You are not rotten, Harry. You made a mistake and were punished for it. All is forgiven."

Trying to get his tears under control, Harry closed his eyes and hid his face further in his guardian's robes. "I'm so sorry," he mumbled.

Severus remained silent, having already told the boy he was forgiven twice. He held the teen close and allowed him to cry it out. He knew the punishment hadn't hurt as badly as it would have if he hadn't put those charms on it but he also knew that the punishment still would have stung like the dickens. He remained patient, calmly rubbing circles into the boy's back. After about ten minutes Severus felt the boy's breathing go even, indicating that he had fallen asleep. Sighing softly, Severus inched his way out from under the boy and let him sleep on the couch as he went to set wards up around his potions lab.