I'm hoping that this chapter makes up for the weeks/months of me not updating due to being pregnant and then having a new born :) If longer, more detailed chapters like this is something that you are into please let me know and if you prefer shorter more to the point chapters let me know that too. And if there was something in this chapter that you loved...or hated...I would love to hear about that too. Just please do it kindly. I'm sensitive when it comes to my writing sometimes. Enjoy!

Harry splashed the cold water on his face for the fourth time. It had helped a little, his cheeks were no longer red only slightly chapped. His eyes were still swollen though. He knew that if he saw any of his friends their wouldn't be a doubt in their mind that he had been crying.

The realization of his situation only made his annoyance with his guardian grow. If the man would have just listened and let him explain none of this would have happened. Actually if Snape would have just told him that he was leaving the castle the whole day would have played out differently.

Harry splashed another handful of cold water on his face despite the fact that he knew it would not make a difference.

His brain worked quickly as he tried to formulate a plan. He guessed that it was around four in the afternoon. Dinner was still two hours away. By then he would look fine, normal. He almost considered going down to Hagrid's. The only thing that stopped him was the thought of how mad Snape would be if he went without asking him. He was angry at his guardian but he wasn't mental. Snape would belt him for sure if he got caught leaving the castle, even if it was just to visit Hagrid.

His mind instantly went to the back staircase. It was empty when the castle was at its busiest. Harry was sure that no one would be using it now. It led straight to the Owlery, a location that was also likely to be deserted. At the most a first year or two may be up there but Harry wasn't especially worried about them. They all gawked at him all the time regardless. If it wasn't his scar that caused it, it was the fact that his parent for all intents and purposes was their most feared Professor. Harry had gotten used to the constant wide-eyed gaping and rubbernecking that they did when they spotted him.

Pushing his glasses back onto his face, Harry made his way out of the bathroom and down the hall that led to the back staircase. He had to pass by Snape's door and he made a face as he did.

If he didn't think that it would cause Snape to seek him out he would skip dinner just to make the man feel bad; just to make him worry.

Harry took the steps two at a time. Despite the fact that he was sure that they would be unoccupied he didn't want to dawdle and test fate.

He pushed open the large door to the Owlery. Instantly he spotted the redhead sitting on the large wooden beam, looking out over the grounds.

Before Harry could turn, catch the door, and walk out the heavy oak slammed loudly behind him causing his friend to jump from the surprise of it.

She turned her head and locked eyes with him.

Having been raised with multiple siblings, and brothers at that, she immediately noticed the redness around his eyes, the dryness of the skin on his cheeks. He had been crying and crying hard, she was certain of it.

"Hey," she said softly. "You okay?"

A year ago she would have been a nervous wreck talking to him. Her palms would have been sweating. She would have been stuttering and stumbling over her words, and that would have only been if she could talk to him at all.

She had learned a lot in the past year though. About boys in general and specifically about him. Like Hermione had said, if she wanted him to see her as more than just Ron's little sister than she had to act like more.

Sometimes it amazed her how much she still had to learn considering she had grown up in a house full of boys. Brothers were different though. The list of things she had learned from them was miles long but not always useful for the kind of relationship that she wished for with Harry.

Harry nodded as he stayed where he stood.

"Do you want me to leave?" She asked. She didn't want to go but she would for him. The Owlery at this time of day was unofficially hers. It had started last year and she had spent countless hours alone thinking up there. Sometimes it was the only quiet time she could find in her whole loud, chaotic life. Had it been anyone else that had walked in she likely would have asked them to leave her alone but she couldn't do that to Harry. Not under normal circumstances and certainly not when he looked like he did.

"You want to sit?" She asked when he didn't make any attempt to move. For a second she thought that he looked like he was going to say no. For a second she was certain that he was going to shake his head, turn around and leave.

Instead he shrugged and then nodded before approaching her.

She watched as he sat down gingerly next to her. It was a little too cautious for her liking. If she didn't know better she would have assumed why but she couldn't imagine that her assumption would be right. Just because her mother went that route didn't mean that Snape did. Still, if there was one Professor that she could see doing that it would be him. She had heard stories about him discipling the Slytherins but she had always suspected that they were just rumors. Still, in her opinion it was the biggest perk of being in Gryffindor. Although McGonagall had the authority to do the same Fred and George had told her that the head of their house hadn't done so in more than twenty years. These days she couldn't picture McGonagall doing that at all.

She almost asked him once more if he was okay but after thinking about it for a moment she decided to change her approach. "It's pretty up here isn't it? I love sitting up here and looking at the grounds. It's so high up that it almost makes you feel like nothing can touch you."

"Yeah," Harry agreed after a moment. He was pleased that she hadn't questioned why his eyes were red and if she had noticed that he winced when he sat she didn't mention it.

The two sat in silence for several long moments before Ginny cleared her throat. "If you don't want to talk about it I understand but I hope that you are okay." She paused for a moment before deciding that she wouldn't just assume that he knew what she meant. "And if you want to talk about it, we can. I mean I wouldn't tell anyone or anything like that." As the last syllable left her lips she instantly regretted her words. She was sure that he had no interest in talking to her about whatever was bothering him and her bringing it up again was probably just annoying.

"I got in a fight with Snape," Harry replied shocking the young redhead.

Ginny was quiet. She wanted to be sure that he didn't want to add anymore to his words before she interjected.

"What was it about?" She finally questioned.

She hoped that she wasn't coming on too strong. The last thing she wanted was to scare him off.

"His crazy rules," Harry replied. "Him treating me like a first year."

"How so?"

Harry's teeth chewed gently on the inside of his right cheek. He had always quite liked the youngest Weasley despite Ron's constant insistent muttering of how "mental" he claimed that she was.

He trusted her.

Not enough to disclose all the inner workings of his relationship with Snape - that was just far too embarrassing, not to mention private - but enough to talk to her about some things. He knew that she wouldn't tell Ron, or anyone else. He couldn't explain how he knew, he just did.

"He has all these rules for everything," Harry explained. "I'm lucky I'm allowed to walk around the castle without him by my side. I went to Hogsmeade with Sirius today and Snape is mad about it."

Ginny's small nose crinkled with confusion. It was one of the traits that she hated most about herself. Charlie and Fred always poked fun at the look her face took on when she confused but try as she might she couldn't stop herself from doing it. It was as natural as breathing. "He said that you could go but then got angry when you did?" She asked trying to understand.

"No," Harry admitted. "I didn't ask him. He wasn't in the castle to ask. I just went."

Ginny sucked in her breath.

Harry hadn't just broken a Snape rule; he had broken a Hogwarts rule. Aside from Hogsmeade weekends and approved trips home students couldn't just leave Hogwarts. She tried to imagine how her mum would react if she just left Hogwarts because she wanted to. She liked to imagine that she would excuse such behavior but she knew that was laughable. Her wooden spoon would come out of its resting spot in the kitchen drawer in record time. Fred and George often took advantage of various secret passages to leave school grounds but they never got caught and they knew what they were up against if they did. Ginny knew her brothers well enough that she was confident that if they ever were caught they would be angry at themselves for slipping up and putting themselves in that predicament rather than at their mum for punishing them.

"That's kind of a major rule," she pointed out. She took extra care to make sure that her voice was kind and not condescending.

"I guess," Harry agreed in a hesitant tone. "But he didn't even really let me explain." Harry paused for a moment as he thought about the statement he had just made. It was true that Snape didn't really let him explain but did he really have anything to explain? He supposed that he could have told Snape that he had wanted to spend time with his guardian and he was hurt to find him gone. "He just went mental on me," Harry continued. "He goes mental on me all the time for the stupidest things."

Now Harry knew that was a lie. As angry as he was at Snape he had to admit that the man rarely went mental these days without allowing him ample time to explain himself. Sometimes even forcing him to explain when he didn't want to in order to try and avoid going mental. Despite his anger and annoyance, Harry couldn't help but feel horrible that he was lying about the man.

"That's awful," Ginny concluded. She had plenty of experience with a parent going mental. Luckily in her case she was rarely on the receiving end but life with her brothers made her a spectator often enough. Their mum always let them explain. In fact she demanded an explanation. Ginny couldn't imagine not being permitted to do so. "Is it too late to go back with your relatives? I'm sure that if you explained all of this to Dumbledore he could help you." She paused momentarily. She had heard passing whispers about Harry's relatives. She didn't know much about it but from what she did know she gathered that it wasn't good. It was one of the downfalls of being the youngest in her family, she was constantly protected from hurtful truths. "Or you could even live with Sirius. I mean if things are that bad and you are this unhappy surely you can't stay with Snape. Dumbledore wouldn't allow it and neither would my parents. I know that you could live with us if you wanted to."

A feeling of dread filled Harry's body. He hadn't meant to make Snape sound so horrible. The last thing he needed was Mrs. Weasley getting involved. He was sure that if she even got the slightest idea that he wasn't happy she wouldn't sleep until she and Mr. Weasley were his guardians. Despite the fact that Harry was sure that he would be happy living at the Burrow it wouldn't be the same. It didn't matter how upset he was with his guardian he certainly didn't want to lose the man. He couldn't imagine anything worse.

"My relatives don't care about me," Harry replied shocking himself with his honesty. Very few people in his life actually knew the truth about them. "They never did."

Harry's words instantly made his mind wander back to his life with his aunt and uncle. They would never have cared if he went somewhere without permission. They would have been more angry that he came back instead of disappearing forever.

"Snape isn't really a bad guardian," Harry continued. "I mean I don't want to find a new one. I just wish he wasn't so strict."

Ginny couldn't help the small giggle that escaped her lips even though she instantly felt guilty for it. "Harry you are talking about Professor Snape, you knew that he was strict long before he became your guardian."

When Harry didn't reply she cleared her throat softly and continued. "All parents are strict. I guess it's because they love us and want the best for us. My mum would have lost her mind if she was your parent and you left the castle for Hogsmeade without permission." She couldn't believe what she was about to say but she needed Harry to understand. She had her suspicions as to what had happened between Harry and the Potions Professor and she felt the need for Harry to know that he wasn't alone. She ignored the fact that she could feel her face growing warm and forced herself to continue, "I would even go as far as to say that she would have worn you out with her wooden spoon."

Harry felt his skin tingle as his heartbeat sped up. He had known that Mrs. Weasley was strict. He also knew that she didn't put up with nonsense. He had never really thought about her parenting tactics being on par with Snape's though.

Before she could die of shame and before things grew too awkward she opened her mouth once more. "I know you didn't ask for my advice and I'm sorry if it's none of my business but I think that you should set things right with Snape. Maybe he was unfair in not letting you explain things but you did break a pretty major rule and he was probably more worried than anything. People aren't perfect, not even parents." She paused for a moment before hastily adding. "You can tell me to shut it if you want to."

"I don't want to tell you to shut it," Harry replied with a small grin. "I'm not upset with you. I'm just really angry with him."

"Tell him that," Ginny said as if it were the easiest thing in the world. "It'll make you feel better. Will probably make him feel better too."

Harry was silent as he thought her words over. He knew that she was right. In reality he couldn't stay angry with Snape forever. Eventually he would have to be around the man and talk to him again. Still, it wasn't going to be easy.

"You are really good at this you know," Harry finally said. "Talking and listening."

Ginny beamed. "Thank you. I'm here anytime you need me."

Harry stood in the hallway outside of the entrance to Snape's quarters. He was leaning back against the wall, enjoying the coolness that the cold stone walls were bringing to his back. Usually he hated the draftness of this particular hallway. It wasn't just the fact that it always made him shiver he also disliked the symbolism of it leading to Snape's residence. Today however his entire body felt like it was ready to burn up and the coldness of the walls was a relief.

Any moment now Snape would walk out to go to dinner and Harry planned on being there when he did. He had no plan as to what he was going to say to the man or how he was going to say it. He only hoped that when he saw his guardian the right words would magically come to mind.

His talk with Ginny had made him remember a lot of things. Snape could be too strict. He could be annoying. He could be downright impossible at times. However, he was still a million times more than his relatives had ever been to him. Snape cared about him. He cared whether he lived or died. He cared whether he ate his vegetables or not. He cared if he got enough sleep and if his clothes fit. He cared about every last little thing in his life. And when he got angry it was usually for a relatively good reason, even if Harry hated to admit that to himself. Even harder to admit to himself was the fact like he likely did deserve the walloping he had gotten. Truthfully if Snape would have strapped him he probably would have deserved that too.

Harry rested his head on the castle wall. He was sure that he had been standing outside of the door for ages now. He didn't know why he hadn't just knocked or even just walked in as he normally did. He couldn't bring himself to do it though. He was feeling like a huge arse and he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do to fix it.

He knew that he was being foolish and that he should just go into Snape's quarters. He couldn't help but feel nervous about it though. What if Dumbledore or someone else was in there with Snape? What if his guardian was still mad and decided he needed a few more whacks with the paddle or worse the strap? Harry's bum had just started to stop smarting from earlier. He shuddered at the very thought of going back over his guardian's knee so soon.

Suddenly an idea appeared to him. He stood up straight, his body no longer touching the wall and quickly snapped his fingers as he had seen Snape do a hundred times. He waited for a moment hoping for Minka or Kermy to appear before he snapped once more, harder this time. When nothing happened he tried a different approach.

"Minka," he said in a whisper. He was too afraid that if he spoke any louder Snape would hear him. He couldn't imagine that his lingering in the hall trying to summons his favorite house elf could help his current situation any.

When the two foot elf didn't appear from the thin air Harry swallowed hard and tried once more slightly louder. "Minka," he said in a desperate tone.

Not a second later she was bowing at his feet. "Master Harry?"

"Just Harry," he replied with a small smile. He felt like he was forever reminding her that she didn't have to call him Master. "Um I just had a question."

She nodded eagerly. "Yes of course. I shall do my best to answer you quickly and correctly."

"Er thanks," Harry replied. "I...uh, is...um...is." Harry sighed at himself. He felt like an absolute dolt stumbling over his words. "Is Snape in there?" Harry forced the words out in a rushed fashion as he motioned towards Snape's door.

"He is not," Minka replied. "Master Snape had a meeting with Professor Lupin and then he proceeded to the Great Hall for dinner. Do you need Minka to fetch him for you?"

Harry quickly shook his head. "No," he quickly responded. "No thank you. I was just wondering is all. Could - uh...could you not tell him that I asked you? Unless he asks you if I did I mean but he won't. Could you just not say anything about me?"

"Of course not Master Harry," Minka promised sincerely. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No," Harry shook his head. "No thank you." He quickly modified his response. He noted that his including the thank you was likely Snape's doing. He could practically see the man giving him a stern look of reminder when he hadn't said it.

Minka bowed deeply before vanishing in a puff of smoke.

For the second time that day Harry found himself chewing on the inside of his cheek. He couldn't stand in the hallway until Snape came back and he had absolutely no desire to go to dinner. He had barely eaten all day but he wasn't hungry at all. He was sure that if he didn't talk to his guardian that he would never eat again.

Slowly he took the four steps forward required for his hand to reach Snape's doorknob. Before he could stop himself he quickly turned it and stepped into his guardian's parlor closing the door tightly behind him. He couldn't remember ever being quite so nervous about being in Snape's parlor alone. Then again, he had never been such a dolt towards the man either.

He wasn't even completely sure that he wasn't still angry with Snape. He still felt angry but it was mixed with other emotions now. Regret, anxiousness, and sadness to name a few. As cross as he was with Snape he couldn't help but worry that the man wouldn't want to talk, wouldn't want to forgive him. The mere thought of it was enough to make Harry's stomach churn.

He walked across the parlor and sat down in the armchair that Snape favored. He recalled that in the past when he had messed up he had wanted to be close to Snape even if it only meant sitting where he sat. This time was so different though. The last time had been when he had acted out in class in front of Fudge. He had been sure that his guardian was going to murder him but Snape had hardly punished him at all. Harry was sure that it had something to do with the complete mess of a state that the man had found him in. This time he had already been punished and he wasn't completely convinced that Snape wouldn't punish him more. He knew that he was allowed to be angry with his parental figure but he was sure that he wasn't allowed to act the way he had as a result of it. No matter how mad he was.

Using only his feet to assist him Harry pushed his trainers off before bringing his knees up to his chest. He was determined that he wouldn't cry. He didn't care that he felt like absolute rubbish. The damage was done and now he just had to try and correct it the best he could. Sitting in Snape's chair crying like a baby wasn't going to help and as far as Harry was concerned he was getting far too old to act in such a way.

It suddenly occurred to him that he hadn't seen Ron or Hermione in hours and now he was missing dinner. He could practically hear their conversation. Hermione's concerned whispers over where he was while Ron shoved another helping of mashed potatoes in his mouth. He would be worried too but he wouldn't be nearly as vocal about it as Hermione would be. He hoped that Ginny told them that he was okay but didn't give them any other details. He didn't want them to worry but he also didn't want them to come looking for him or to have the details of what his day had consisted of. Harry was sure that eventually he would confide in them that he had gone to see Sirius and ended up in Hogsmeade without Snape's permission but he wanted to do so on his own terms and not until after he knew how things stood with his guardian.

Harry debated calling Minka once more and telling her that he changed his mind and wanted her to go get Snape. He quickly decided against it though. He actually wasn't sure if he wanted Snape to show up. He was torn between hoping that the man would walk in any moment and hoping that it would take him days to return.

Snape's eyes scanned the Great Hall. He was hopeful that perhaps his initial assessment had been incorrect. Perhaps for some reason, unknown to him, his child had decided to sit somewhere other than with his friends.

His eyes began to narrow as they reached the end of the Gryffindor table without locating Harry.

There were many things that Snape was prepared to handle in raising Harry. He could handle misbehavior. He could handle disobedience. He could even handle the boy's cheeky attitude. However he could not and would not handle this. He would not stand for the boy to sulk and miss meals as a result of it.

When Harry had left him hours earlier the child had asked to go back to his dormitory. Snape was well aware that the teenager had done nothing of the sort. Rather than find him and insist that he rest, Snape allowed Harry to do as he pleased so long as he did not go where he was not allowed. After all, Snape was certain that the boy's pride was hurting quite a bit. So long as the childish moping was done away from him, he did not mind it.

Skipping meals, in Snape's opinion, was taking the self pity way too far. He hardly did everything that he did for the boy so that Harry could starve himself.

As it stood dinner was nearly over. Even if the boy came rushing through the doors now he would never have enough time to eat a proper meal.

Snape felt his blood boil at the very thought of Harry's immaturity. He had expressed to the boy numerous times how important it was to eat three balanced meals a day. He did not care if his child wallowed in his own sulking for the rest of his days as long as he took proper care of himself while he did so.

A moment later Snape was on his feet, the last few bites of his own meal long forgotten. He would not put up with such insolent disregard for his words.

He marched through the Great Hall well aware of the worried looks he received from both Weasley and Granger. The youngest Weasley looked concerned as well. Snape huffed softly at this discovery. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it. If she had shown interest in the past, Snape had never noticed it.

With a wave of his right hand the doors flew open for him and Snape walked out in the main foyer.

He considered going right up to the Fat Lady and demanding that he be allowed to enter the Gryffindor Tower. He knew that his demand would not be denied. He also knew that given the current state of his and Harry's relationship barging into his dormitory may not be the best plan of action.

He descended down the staircase that led to the dungeons and past that his chambers. He would send Minka to retrieve his child.

His initial plans hours earlier had been to allow Harry time to calm himself. He hoped that when the teenager was ready he would come to him on his own, ready to talk. That plan had changed drastically however, Snape was certain that he was acting accordingly.

Snape hurried down the staircase and a moment later waved his right hand once more now causing the door to his chambers to open on their own accord.

He was seconds away from snapping his fingers and summoning Minka when he spotted Harry in his armchair.

Snape's eyes widened at the sight of his child. "May I ask why on earth you were not at dinner?"

"You weren't here so I was just waiting," Harry quickly explained. He had made no attempt to move so much as a muscle.

"At no point did it occur to you that I was likely upstairs eating supper?"

"Well yeah," Harry admitted. This wasn't going correctly at all. Snape seemed like he was still angry. Harry was tempted to tell the man that he changed his mind. That he just wanted to go to his dormitory.

"Yet you do not see the issue with your missing a meal?" Snape questioned. He was working hard at keeping his tone at a normal level. He hardly wanted to yell at the boy. It was in his experience that doing so never worked well with Harry. "After all the times that I have expressed to you the importance of not doing so you chose to ignore my words?"

Harry shrugged softly at a complete loss for an explanation. He knew that his doing so would only annoy Snape more but he didn't know what else to do. This wasn't going as he had planned. He had never once thought about what his guardian would think of his missing dinner. It was yet another way that Snape showed how much he cared for and loved him. The man was always reminding him how important it was to be sure he ate every meal. Under normal circumstances Harry appreciated the man's concern. At the moment though he would have liked if Snape never cared if he ate again.

For the second time that day Snape closed his eyes and slowly counted backwards from ten. He had had more than enough for one day. He swore to himself that he would get through to his child no matter what it took to do so.

With a flick of his wrist a plate of food appeared on the kitchen table. It consisted of bangers and mash with a large side of peas. There was also a large glass of pumpkin juice.

"To the table with you," Snape said in a no-nonsense tone.

When Harry didn't jump right to his feet. Snape's eyes narrowed.

"Dinner," the man commanded.

"I want to talk to you," Harry said in a brittle voice.

Snape fixed his child with a stern look. "You will do as I have said and eat your supper. When you have finished we shall talk."

Harry slowly pulled himself up from the armchair. He knew the look on his guardian's face and he knew that he would be stupid to try to argue with it.

Snape watched with approval as Harry stood and made his way to the kitchen table. As his son walked past him he landed a firm smack on the boy's backside. It certainly wasn't the hardest smack he had ever doled out to Harry nor the lightest. He sincerely hoped it alone would express the gravity of his missing meals and was pleased when the boy let out a small yelp in response to it. Although he was certain that Harry's reaction was due to shock rather than pain Snape still found himself feeling satisfied that his point was made.

Harry sat down at the table fighting hard to keep his tears at bay. Snape had hardly touched him and he knew it. The smack hadn't hurt in the least. The words and feelings behind it had though. That single light smack had spoken a dozen words, none of which were making Harry feel like anything but a complete and total prat.

He picked up his fork as to not upset his guardian anymore but he couldn't bring himself to eat. The lump in his throat was growing by the moment and Harry was sure that if he tried to swallow even a bite of food he would choke to death.

Harry swallowed hard in an attempt to shrink the lump or better yet make it vanish completely but it was no use. He blinked at a rapid pace but the few tears that had somehow made their way to the surface managed to escape regardless.

"If I live to be two hundred I promise you Harry I will never understand the dramatics that you insist upon," Snape affirmed. He sighed softly to himself before waving his hand to set a heating charm on the child's food. Dinner could wait for now.

"I'm not dramatic," Harry managed through his tears.

Snape resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he sat down in his armchair. "I have set your supper with a heating charm. If you wish to speak to me before you eat you may do so."

Harry could hardly believe his ears. He had not expected that. He had expected Snape to insist that he stop being emotional and eat.

"I'm sorry about earlier," Harry offered the words as he struggled to make his tears stop.

"If those are the only words that you wish to say to me than you may eat your dinner, go up to your dormitory and go to bed."

The words pained Snape to say. He knew that Harry was hurting. He had been long before the light smack and scolding he had just earned. Yet despite that Snape could not allow his child to mutter a quick apology and have all be forgiven. Harry was far too old for such things. Snape wasn't about to let his behavior earlier off so easily no matter how much he wanted to do so.

Snape was met with a sniffle but no verbal answer. "I am certain that you understood my instructions," Snape went on. He paused for a moment softening despite his desire not to. "If you have something of substance to say you may walk over here and do so otherwise you will eat in silence and excuse yourself for bed where unlike earlier you will go this time."

A year ago Harry would have been baffled as to how Snape knew that he hadn't gone to his dormitory earlier but these days it didn't even faze him.

Harry sat in silence as he weighed his options. He didn't want to go to bed. He was sure that doing so would only make the situation more than a million times worse. He had come down here with the intent to talk to his guardian and he wanted to do so but he wasn't sure how. His right hand placed his fork on the plate before brushing the tears from his face. "I don't know where to start," Harry admitted.

"I often find that the beginning is an excellent place," Snape mused from his armchair. He made no attempt to turn around and face his child. Harry was going to have to come to him.

"Okay," Harry agreed. He opened his mouth once more to continue but before he could Snape spoke.

"I will not have you speaking to the back of my head. As I said only moments ago if you wish to discuss the atrocious attitude that you displayed earlier you will walk over here and speak to me face to face." Once again Snape found himself feeling cruel. Harry was struggling and he knew it. He was sure that most parents would be at the table beside the boy, cuddling him and comforting him until he felt better about the way in which he had behaved. Snape however, was not most parents.

Snape could not help the small grin that danced on his lips as he heard the kitchen chair move across the wood floor. Perhaps not being like most parents worked for him and for his Harry just fine.

A moment later Harry was across the room, sitting on the couch now facing Snape. His tears had stopped but his face looked as though they could fall again at any moment.

"Thank you for respecting me enough to speak to my face," Snape said causing Harry to look guilty at his actions only seconds earlier. "Now you may continue with what you were about to say."

Harry hadn't looked at what he was doing as disrespect but not that Snape pointed it out it did make sense to him. He supposed that if he wanted Snape to treat him like more of an adult than he should probably make the attempt to act like one. Still, he couldn't help the words that tumbled out of his mouth. "You didn't have to smack me."

"Nor did you have to act carelessly enough to have the audacity to attempt to skip dinner," Snape countered in a stern tone.

"I didn't do it on purpose," Harry pointed out. "I wasn't thinking."

"It seems to me that you did not do a great deal of thinking at all today."

Harry was silent as he mulled over Snape's words. He absolutely hated this feeling. He hated that Snape was cross with him. He wanted the Snape that was kind to him. The Snape that would allow himself to be hugged and cuddled even if only for a few moments. He wanted that Snape more than anything at the moment and he knew what he had to do to get him. He had to be honest - about everything.

"I was upset with you," Harry admitted. "Mad at you even."

Confusion swept over Snape's face at his son's words. He was about to ask what exactly he had done when Harry continued.

"I came down here this morning looking for you...to see if you wanted to do something today and you were gone. You didn't even tell me, you just left a note."

"The note was left as a means to communicate with you," Snape reminded the teenager. "And although I sympathize with your feelings they are hardly an excuse to leave this castle and lie to your godfather."

"I know," Harry replied. "I only lied to Sirius because I didn't want you to get mad at him."

"I beg your pardon?" Snape asked in an appalled tone. Surely he had heard the boy wrong. His words made absolutely no sense.

"If I would have told Sirius that you didn't know he wouldn't have made me come back," Harry explained. He hated that he was being so honest about his godfather. When Snape had said earlier that Sirius didn't enforce the rules he had hit the nail on the head. Harry knew that but he hated to admit it. He was sure that it wouldn't help him in spending any more time with Sirius but he couldn't lie and keep it from Snape either. "Sirius wouldn't have gotten mad or yelled or anything. He would have just let me stay and then if I got caught he either would have had to tell you that he knew and you would have gotten mad or he would have lied and if you found out you would have gotten mad."

"It sounds to me as though the best solution would have been to follow the rules and stay in the castle," Snape mused.

Harry nodded softly. "Yes Sir."

It occured to Harry that despite the fact that Snape had only been a parent for a year his parenting skills were pretty advanced. It often amazed him that the man could make his misbehavior seem so stupid in so little time and with so few words.

Harry's top front teeth chewed down softly on his lower lip. He still wasn't completely convinced that he wasn't in for more punishment. Snape had never done so in the past but than again until today he had never been made to stand in a corner either.

"Aside from your utter disrespect for the rules the attitude and cheek that you displayed when we returned to Hogwarts was unacceptable at best," Snape said sternly. Although his son had already been punished Snape refused to talk gently to him about his wrongdoings. As he was convinced that doing so would send the wrong message completely.

"I am sorry about that," Harry replied sincerely. "I really am. I hate that I acted like that...that I treated you like that."

Snape made a soft humming noise at Harry's words which his son did not know how to take.

Harry had to know what his fate was. His stomach was flipping over itself. As much as he hated himself for the words that were about to come out of his mouth he couldn't stop them either.

"I uh I understand if you think I should be punished more," Harry said his face growing warm as he did so. "I hope that you don't think I should be," he quickly added hoping his words could somehow persuade Snape. "But I understand."

Snape resisted the urge to smile softly at the boy's words and instead forced his face to remain sullen. "While punishing you further would certainly be justified in this situation I do not feel as though doing so is necessary."

Harry let out a slow sigh of relief. "I really am sorry," he offered once more."

"As I have told you in the past it would be wise to work on behaving better and therefore having little to be apologetic for," Snape advised. He watched as Harry nodded in reply. His child still looked forlorn. Although twenty minutes prior it would have been unacceptable, Snape supposed that at this point he had been stern enough and Harry was certainly contrite. He raised his hand and crooked his finger at his son.

Unlike when he was sure he was about to get an up close and personal view of the floor Harry wasted no time standing and approaching his guardian.

The moment that the boy was close enough Snape reached out and pulled the child into a tight hug. Harry's arms instantly wrapped around the man's neck, his face finding a spot against his chest.

"I sincerely hope that you realize that although my rules may be an annoyance to you they are only set in place to keep you safe," Snape said softly. "I certainly do not make rules in order to try and make you miserable."

"I know," Harry muttered. This is what he had been longing for. The feeling of comfort that only Snape could bring him.

"I take my job as your guardian quite seriously and I intend to make certain that you not only live to be an adult but an adult that is a contributing member of society. I will not have any son of mine speaking to people as you did today nor will I allow you to grow up to be someone who thinks that being dishonest is acceptable."

To anyone else Snape's words would have sounded like a stern scolding but to Harry they were a reminder of how fortunate he was to have Snape on his side.

"I love and care for you very much Harry James," Snape continued. "And unfortunately for you that means that I will do whatever it takes to see to it that you are raised properly. Even if that means paddling your disobedient backside until you need a cushioning charm to sit."

Harry felt his face grow warm once more but he nodded into Snape's chest regardless. He hated that a single threat from the man could cause such shame to overcome him but he adored how he was feeling at the moment in Snape's arms. "I love you too," Harry finally replied. "A lot."

Snape smiled softly at the boy's words as he gave him a tight squeeze. "If you have said everything that you wish to say and if you are feeling better you may go eat your dinner. Afterwards you can go up to your dormitory. I am sure your friends think you are chopped into pieces and in a cauldron at the moment and I would hate for them to be forced to go to sleep with such visions."

Harry couldn't help the small chuckle that escaped his lips as he released his grip on his guardian. He loved that Snape could poke fun at himself sometimes.

"Go on then," Snape instructed, "eat your dinner."

Harry nodded in reply before turning and walking towards the table. Before he could get out of his guardian's reach a light smack hit his bum.

"And no more skipping meals," Snape reminded him with a raised eyebrow as Harry turned back to look at him. "I will not have you going hungry."

Harry grinned with a nod. "No more. I promise."

Snape nodded his approval as Harry set off for the table once more. He smiled softly to himself as he heard the kitchen chair move across the floor and then Harry's fork clinking against the plate.

They would be just fine, he was certain of it.