A/N: This might be a bit off in the timeline with regard to when McGonagall returns and Dumbledore is away. For that reason, let's call it A/U.

Hermione pounded frantically on Snape's office doors, tears streaming down her face, her breathing labored from running all the way to the dungeons.

There was no answer.

She cried out in dismay and tried the handle. Of course it was locked and heavily warded. She despaired only a moment before gathering her magic. Methodically, she began dismantling his wards—not in an effort to breach his office, but in hopes that doing so would trigger an alarm and bring the Potions master to her.

She couldn't have been more relieved when the door flew open and she found herself at the point of Snape's wand.

"Professor!" she cried, grabbing his sleeve. "Come. We have to hurry!"

She tugged at him, but the man did not budge.

"What is the meaning of this, Miss Granger?"

Had she not been so scared for Harry, she might have been intimidated by the incensed and intimidating man. Instead, she just felt desperate and impatient.

"It's Harry, sir. Harry Potter. Umbridge, she's… whipping him, sir." Hermione dashed at her tears. "One hundred lashes."

Snape's face paled. "Where?"

"Outside the Great Hall."

Snape took off at a run, Hermione following in his wake.

The corridor outside the Great Hall was clogged with students. The only sounds were that of Umbridge crooning something about children deserving to be punished, the sick wet thwump of leather flaying flesh, Harry's tortured shouts, and the sympathetic sobbing of some of the watching students.

Snape quickly pushed his way through the throng toward the raised dais where Harry Potter kneeled, his wrists chained to a post above his head, his naked back covered in angry red welts and blood. A three-tongued leather whip hung magically in the air, waiting to make its next strike.

"Enough!" Snape shouted, positioning himself between Harry Potter's injured body and the demented Umbridge witch. "I demand that you stop this at once!"

The righteous headmistress merely looked at him and simpered.

"Professor Snape," she said with a sadistic purr in her voice and an evil grin on her toad-like face. "It is the privilege of the Headmistress of Hogwarts to determine the punishment of its students."

"Be that as it may," Snape said through thin lips, cataloguing the collectively held breath of the students surrounding them and the labored breathing of Harry Potter behind him, "corporal punishment was outlawed over a century ago, and whipping farther back than that."

Umbridge twitched as if relieving herself of an irksome fly. "Rules can be changed."

"Indeed they can. However, at present, it is still illegal to lash a student," Snape replied through gritted teeth.

Umbridge thrust out her chest in a show of power that fell short on her diminutive frame. "I have the support of the Minister of Magic. Now stand aside so that I may finish disciplining this student."

Snape didn't move, using his impressive height to tower over the smaller witch. "The Minister does not have the final say at this school, any more than you do. That power remains with the Board of Governors," Snape informed the vile woman, his wand hand twitching with the desire to curse the witch into next week. Voldemort had missed out by not recruiting this witch.

"Stand aside, Snape, or I will be forced to relieve you of your duties at this school," Umbridge said, no longer the picture of false civility she had been attempting to portray.

"You may do as you choose, so long as it does not involve abusing the students," Snape said, his voice a menacing whisper of unspoken threats.

At that moment, a breeze fluttered through the entrance corridor, the school's large wooden doors creaking shut. A series of murmurs ran through the watching crowd, and a moment later, Professor McGonagall, newly returned from St. Mungo's, made her way through the hoard of students. Her eagle eyes took in the scene before her and, with a look of utter disdain, she cried, "What is the meaning of this?"

Professor Snape made eye contact with Professor McGonagall, assuring himself that the formidable Scottish witch had control of the situation. He nodded his thanks to her and stepped to the platform where Potter practically hung by his wrists, his body shaking and covered in blood, tears, and sweat.

With a flick of his wand, Snape released Potter's wrists. Potter groaned and Snape briskly rubbed his upper arms to work feeling back into the boy's limbs. He could hear McGonagall and Umbridge arguing not far away.

Snape bent over the teen to speak into his ear. "I am going to pick you up, Potter. I will cast a cushioning charm on your back, but even so, I am sure it won't be pleasant for you. Wrap your arms around my neck now, child, so I can get you away from here."

Potter raised his tear-stained face and looked at Snape, dragging a forearm across his runny nose. Then he reached up to do as Snape had instructed.

"Make way, make way!" Ronald Weasley yelled, clearing a path through the gathered crowd.

"You'll be okay now, Harry," Hermione Granger said, jogging alongside them.

Snape said nothing, merely carried Potter in his arms as the boy rested his face against Snape's shoulder.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Granger asked.

"Send Dumbledore an owl," Snape said curtly. "Let him know what has happened here."

"Aren't you going to take Harry to the hospital wing?" Weasley asked.

"No," Snape said. "My quarters are far safer. I am capable of treating his wounds, and if I need assistance, I will summon Madam Pomfrey." Under his breath, Snape muttered, "I do not trust Umbridge and I refuse to let her anywhere near Mr. Potter again."

Once inside his quarters, Snape carried Harry directly to his large bathroom. He set the boy on his feet and held Harry by the elbows to steady him.

"Can you stand?" Snape asked.

"Yeah," Harry said as his body trembled.

"I am going to prepare a bath for you and retrieve some potions," Snape said, waving his wand at the taps of the bath. They opened immediately and began spewing warm, clean water into the large basin.

Harry nodded and wrapped his arms around his unclothed torso, the motion stretching the abused flesh on his back and causing him to gasp in pain.

"Try to stay still. I'll be right back," Snape said.

When he returned, Potter had calmed some. He was shaking less, at least.

"This is the strongest pain potion I brew," Snape said, handing over a small vial of teal-colored smoking liquid. "Drink it all. It should take effect almost immediately."

Harry did as he was bidden and, a moment later, he let out a relieved sigh. "Thanks, Professor."

Snape nodded. "These next two are healing potions," he said, handing over two more vials, which Harry promptly drained. Then Snape added a large vial of mint green liquid to the bath water.

"I am going to remove your shoes and socks, and help you into the bath," Snape informed the boy as he knelt down to untie said footwear. "Put your hands on my shoulders if you feel like you might fall."

Harry did fine until Snape lifted a foot to remove a sock, at which point, Potter's hands landed firmly on Snape's shoulders. Snape grabbed the teen's hips and held him steady until Potter regained his balance. Then he finished removing socks and shoes.

"What about my trousers?" Potter asked.

"As they are stuck to you at present, it would be best to leave them on for now. Once the water has loosened them from your abraded skin, I will help you remove them."

Harry nodded and drew in a deep breath.

"In you go," Snape said, keeping a firm grip on the teen's elbow as Harry stepped over the lip of the tub.

"The water has a mild astringent in it, as well as soothing herbs. It will, unfortunately, sting a bit when you first settle in."

Harry nodded again, a look of concentration crossing his features. "I don't know how to sit down," he admitted.

"Try kneeling first," Snape suggested.

Harry did so, going to his knees in the tub and hissing as the water rushed over his lashed thighs.

"Deep breaths, Mr. Potter," Snape advised. "The discomfort will pass soon."

Harry's eyes welled with tears as he forced himself to lean back, submerging his injured buttocks and back in the warm water.

Snape waited until the pain passed before handing him a flannel and a bar of mild soap.

"You will need to soak for about twenty minutes," Snape advised as Harry used the flannel to wipe his face. "Then I will be able to begin healing your wounds."

Harry placed the back of his head against the edge of the tub and closed his eyes.

Snape waited a moment before his curiosity got the better of him. "What, pray tell, was your misdeed?"

Eyes still closed, Harry muttered, "I conjured a fully formed Patronus during my Defense OWL at the request of the examiner."

Snape raised an eyebrow. "And how, precisely, did that offend our illustrious headmistress?" Snape inquired, his fists clenching in fury.

"She hadn't taught us to use defensive magic, much less conjure Patronuses, so clearly I had done it to spite her, or something like that," Harry said bitterly.

"I see," Snape said through clenched teeth.

"At least one of us does," Harry muttered.

"Rest, Potter. I will prepare my study so that I can treat your injuries."

He set Harry's wand on the edge of the bath. "Do you know the spell to heat the water if you'd like it warmer?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said. "Thanks."

"I'll be back to check on you in a few minutes. We should be able to remove the rest of your clothing at that time."

As Snape left the bathroom, he contemplated how best to position the boy for the treatment that lay ahead. He decided on a long-neck bottle-shaped, padded table with a cut out for Harry's face. That would allow the teen to lie on his stomach, with the neck of the bottle supporting his chest, yet still allow the boy's arms to hang freely down from his sides, thus preventing the skin on his back from bunching up as it would if he rested his arms on the table. As the boy would have to be naked due to the wounds on his buttocks and thighs, he placed a warming charm on the pad of the table and stoked the fire with his wand to raise the temperature of the room.

That settled, he fetched the boy a glass of water and returned to the bathroom, only to find Harry making sounds of distress.

"What's wrong?"

"I tried to take off my trousers," Harry said, breathing heavily as tears ran down his cheeks.

"Silly child," Snape admonished, setting the glass of water on the rim of the tub. "If they are no longer stuck to you, I can banish them with my wand."

"Oh," Harry replied.


"Go ahead," Harry said.

With a flick of his wand, Potter's trousers and pants disappeared.

Harry sighed. "That's much better, thanks."

"You have fifteen more minutes left to soak. Call me if you need anything. Otherwise, I will be back when it is time for you to get out of the bath.

Harry drank the glass of water, then leaned back gingerly against the tub, the cushioning charm Snape had used on him providing some protection against the hard porcelain. He waved his wand to raise the water temperature a few degrees and then went back to contemplating his situation. The pain had significantly diminished, so long as he stayed perfectly still. Any movement caused the discomfort to flare fiercely, if briefly.

How had Snape known? And why had he helped him? Harry would have thought that Snape of all people would have reveled in Umbridge's barbaric form of punishment, that he would have enjoyed seeing Harry in pain. But the man had stepped in to stop Umbridge, and had not only taken Harry to his quarters instead of the hospital wing to protect him from the evil witch, he had carried him. In his arms.

Thinking back on it, Harry realized that Snape hadn't been wearing his customary black teaching robes. Instead, he'd been dressed in a white button-down shirt and black trousers. Harry wouldn't have noticed except that after Snape had set him on his feet, he saw that Snape's white shirt was covered in blood—Harry's blood.

It didn't make any sense. It would have been easier for the man just to levitate him. Harry shook his head, immediately regretting the movement as it pulled at the damaged skin on his back. Snape hated him. But then again, it wasn't the first time Snape had protected him. Taking a deep breath, he tried not to think about it. Instead, he focused on relaxing and enjoying the pain-free moments and the feel of the soothing water against his skin. He didn't want to think about how painful the treatment to his wounds would likely be.

"It's time," Snape said as he stepped into the room.

Harry's hands jerked as at his sides, probably debating whether to cover himself or not. Snape concentrated on the boy's face, hoping to alleviate the awkwardness of the situation.

Rolling the sleeves up on the shirt he'd changed into—the other one had been streaked with Harry's blood—Snape reached into the tub to take Harry's elbow. "Get up slowly. You may hold onto me for balance."

Harry pushed to his feet with a grimace and a cry of pain. Snape held him steady as Harry stepped over the lip of the tub. Once Harry was standing outside the bath, Snape handed him a towel, which the boy began to wrap around his waist.

Snape grabbed his wrist to stop him. "You may dry and cover your front as you see fit. But nothing can touch your backside. It needs to remain sterile. I will cast a drying charm on it."

Harry turned away from Snape and patted down his front before positioning the towel to shield his lower half.

"Do you need to use the loo before we get started?"

"No, sir."

"This way then," Snape said, leading Harry to his study.

Snape guided him to the strangely shaped table. "You'll need to lie on your stomach so I can assess your injuries. You can rest your forehead here," Snape said, pointing to the rim of the oval cut-out near the top of the bottle-neck portion of the table.

"That's an odd table," Harry observed.

"It is so your arms can hang freely at your sides," Snape said.

"All right." Harry winced in pain as he made his way onto the table's padded surface.

"Make yourself as comfortable as you can," Snape instructed.

Harry wiggled a bit then settled in with a shiver.

"I can't give you a blanket but I can cast a warming charm on you," Snape said, and did so.

Harry relaxed a bit. "How bad is it?" he asked.

"Bad enough," Snape commented, seething inside at what that despicable witch had done to the boy.

"Will it hurt when you heal it?" Harry asked.

Snape considered his answer, but he wouldn't lie to the boy. "Unfortunately, yes."

Harry sucked in a breath and clenched his fists in preparation.

"I can give you a sedative if you like. It will make you unaware of the pain."

Harry inadvertently flexed his shoulder and then hissed in pain. "Yes, please."

"Let me go and retrieve it," Snape said. He returned less than a minute later, a clear vial of potion in his hand.

Harry pushed painfully up onto his elbows and reached for the vial. He drank it in one long swallow, handed the vial back to Snape, and laid his head back down, his arms hanging freely at his sides.

"I will wait to begin until the potion has taken effect," Snape said. He spent the next few minutes preparing the tools and salves he'd need to heal the numerous welts that decorated Harry's back, buttocks, and thighs.


The voice was muffled and a bit slow, likely from the effects of the potion.

"Why what?"

"Why are you helping me?" Harry asked.

Snape clenched his jaw, again surveying the damage that Umbridge had done. If Harry had been his son, he'd have hexed the witch all the way to Ireland and left her hanging by her entrails. And therein lay the rub.

"You should have been mine," Snape growled.

Lost in his own bitter recollections, it took a moment for him to realize that the teen hadn't responded, having succumbed to the sedative effects of the potion. It was just as well.

Calming himself, Snape rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath. Then he began healing each individual cut and welt on Potter's body, one by bloody one.

Harry awoke, stiff and disoriented. He was lying on his stomach. He never slept on his stomach. Attempting to roll to his side, he cried out in pain, promptly remembering where he was and why. Groaning, he settled back onto his front. The pain was much better than it had been, but it was far from gone. His skin felt hot and tight and he doubted he'd be able to sit normally for a while, much less wear clothes without special charms on them.

The clock atop Snape's mantel read 3 am. He realized pretty quickly that his bladder was what had awoken him. Assessing his situation, he found that he was covered in a simple sheet and that the makeshift bed had been placed near the fire, presumably to keep him warm in the chilly dungeons. Pushing himself to his hands and knees to avoid having to roll onto his injured skin, he stepped onto the floor and carefully stood up straight. His back throbbed and stung, and he wondered how much more healing he would need. As he didn't see his clothes anywhere, he wrapped the sheet around himself and headed for the WC.

Business taken care of, he chanced a look in Snape's small kitchen. There he found a pitcher of water and a spread of sandwiches, crackers, cheese, and fruit under a preservation spell. He hadn't eaten since lunch the day before and he was starving. He hoped that Snape had left the foodstuffs for him. He poured himself a large glass of water and drank thirstily. Then he filled a plate with food.

Harry had just raised a cracker with cheese to his mouth when something niggled at the edge of his senses. He turned his head, seeking its source.

"Professor!" Harry exclaimed, nearly dropping the plate he was holding.

Snape stood like a tall dark demon in the archway of the barely lit chambers, backlit only by the fire in the sitting room, his front in shadow. A wave of Snape's wand raised the light level in the kitchen, enabling Harry to see the man more clearly.

"I'm sorry if I woke you. I had to use the loo," Harry said, lowering the cracker with cheese back to the plate. "Is it all right if I eat something? I don't mean to steal your food. I assumed you left it for me since I missed dinner."

"You assumed correctly," Snape said, still hovering in the doorway. A moment later, he stepped into the room and poured himself a glass of water. "How are you feeling?"

"Sore," Harry admitted. "My back feels hot and tight. But it's a lot better than it was."

"May I see?"

Harry turned around and dropped the sheet from his back, balling it up and holding it against his chest. He felt a bit awkward standing there with his arse hanging out in front of his professor, even if the man had seen it already.

Harry jumped and sucked in a sharp breath when he felt Snape's finger run along a painful ridge on his back, and another on his upper thigh.

"Don't move," Snape instructed. "I'll be right back."

Harry stood still, the cool dungeon air on his back raising goose-pimples on his arms.

"They are healing," Snape said as he came back into the kitchen, "but I don't like the looks of some of them. You are at high risk for infection at present. I will give you a stronger antibiotic potion with breakfast, but for now, I have a gel I am going to place on the ones that look the most inflamed. It should help immediately but the temperature may be a bit shocking."

Harry heard Snape unscrewing the lid of a jar.


"Yes," Harry replied and held his breath. He jumped at the feeling of ice on his skin.

A large hand settled on Harry's bare shoulder, keeping him in place, as the fingers of Snape's other hand spread gel across his various wounds. It cooled Harry's heated flesh and left a soothing sensation behind. Yet each new welt Snape coated with salve caused Harry to jerk in reaction, as he never knew when or where the shock of ice would touch him next. Five welts on his back, two on his arse, and three on his thighs later, Snape used a stabilizing spell to set the gel and then Harry was allowed to rewrap himself in the sheet.

Turning around to face Snape, Harry said, "Thank you, sir. For everything. You didn't have to help me. You didn't even have to stop Umbridge. I appreciate that you did."

Snape merely nodded. "Do you need something for sleep?"

"It's too late," Harry said. "If I take anything now, I won't be able to get up in time for my exams."

Snape raised an eyebrow and spoke in a menacing voice. "Neither you nor I will be leaving these dungeons until Umbridge has been removed from Hogwarts."

"Sir?" Harry asked.

"I don't trust that witch, and I trust her even less around you," Snape spat.

"What about my OWLs?" Harry asked.

"Arrangements can be made for you to take them at a later date if necessary. Don't fret about that now. Let us see what the morning brings. If all goes as I hope, Dumbledore will be reinstated as Headmaster by end of day tomorrow."

"Do you really think so?" Harry asked.

Snape shrugged. "If the other teachers and I have anything to say about it, he will be."

Harry could only hope. He couldn't possibly hate anyone more than he hated Umbridge.

"Mr. Potter, there is something else I need to ask you."

At the look Snape was giving him, Harry felt his stomach drop. Whatever the professor wanted to ask, it couldn't be good. "Wh… what is it, sir?"

"The scar on the back of your hand," Snape said, his eyes as hard as his voice.

Harry instinctively curled his right hand into a fist, hiding it in the sheets.

"If that is what I think it is…" Snape began, his lip curling.

Harry knew there was no way he could get out of this one, not that he needed to. Snape had already seen the worst. "Umbridge," he said. "She used a blood quill on me during detention."

Snape cursed loudly.

"She used it on other students, too," Harry added quickly.

"Did she then," Snape said, his teeth barred.

Harry swallowed.

"Between that and the whipping, we might have enough evidence to have her thrown into Azkaban, and good riddance!"

Harry agreed wholeheartedly, but still watched his professor warily. It took a moment for the man to calm himself. When he did, his gaze focused once again on Harry.

"Any fever? Chills? Body aches? Sweating? Nausea?"

"No, sir," Harry said, reaching for a sandwich from the plate of food.

"All right, then. I plan to try and get a few more hours of sleep. I suggest you eat your fill and then do the same." Snape paused a moment longer, and then said, "Goodnight, Mr. Potter."

"Night, sir," Harry responded.

It was mid-morning by the time Harry woke next. Snape had left a note for him that he'd be out for a while and that Harry was not to answer the door or leave Snape's quarters under any circumstances, unless Dumbledore himself Flooed through to escort him somewhere. He instructed Harry to call upon the house-elves if he needed food, clothing, or anything else. If he needed Snape, he could request a house-elf to fetch Snape for him.

Harry found breakfast foods on the kitchen table under a warming spell, a flagon of pumpkin juice, and three potions to take with his meal. Even though he was feeling significantly better, he still couldn't tolerate sitting down, so he ate standing up. Then he browsed Snape's bookshelves until he found a small section of fiction on the bottom shelf. He chose a murder mystery and wiggled around on the sofa until he found the least painful position, which turned out to be on his side, wedged in with pillows.

It was nearly an hour before Snape stepped through the Floo. Harry looked up, finding the man looking supremely smug.

"Umbridge has been arrested," he reported. "Even Fudge couldn't excuse the illegal means she used to punish the students."

"Excellent," Harry breathed.

"Furthermore, you have been excused from your exams until you are fully healed and pain-free, at which time, arrangements will be made for you to take your remaining OWLs."

Harry sighed with relief. He had no idea how he would have managed to sit in a chair for hours on end in his current condition.

"Lastly, I'd be remiss if I did not report that Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger have been beside themselves with worry for you."

Harry smiled. It was good to have friends. "Should I return to Gryffindor tower then?"

"Not yet," Snape said. "A few issues still need to be resolved. Once they are, you will most likely be sent to the hospital wing until you are fully recovered."


Snape raised a brow. "You'd rather stay here in the dungeons?" he asked sarcastically.

"Well, sir, you haven't been so bad."

Snape snorted. "Don't confuse your temporary reprieve with a permanent change in my personality."

"I won't," Harry said around a laugh.

"Have you had lunch?" Snape inquired.

"Not yet."

"Very well, I will order us something from the kitchens and then I need to check your back again."

Harry carefully maneuvered himself off the sofa and unwound the sheet he was wearing, holding it to his front to leave his backside exposed.

"It looks significantly better than it did early this morning," Snape commented.

Harry hissed in pain when Snape touched one of the lashes.

"You still have a couple of welts that are inflamed. I will need to apply the cooling salve to them, but this should be the last application. Once all of your wounds have sealed, I will give you a scar cream that will reduce the appearance of any lasting marks."

Harry held his breath as Snape applied the balm over one wound on his back and one on his buttocks. When Snape finished, Harry wrapped the sheet back around himself.

"Can I wear clothes yet?" Harry asked. It was a bit awkward hanging out in Snape's quarters wrapped only in a bed sheet.

Snape smirked and flicked his wand. The sheet transformed into an open-back hospital gown.

"Er," Harry stammered, feeling cool air against his arse. "That doesn't entirely solve the problem," he said, blushing slightly.

Snape laughed and left the room. He returned shortly with a plaid dressing gown, which he handed to Harry. Surprisingly, it was red and gold; an odd choice for a Slytherin. Harry slipped it on. It was warm and comfortable and looked brand new.

"You may keep it," Snape informed him. "It was a gift and, as you might imagine, the colors are not to my liking."

Harry debated asking who it was from but refrained. "Thank you, sir."

Lunch arrived shortly thereafter. Snape ate sitting down, but Harry elected to stand. It should have been awkward, but Snape busied himself with a potions periodical while he ate, eliminating the need for clumsy conversation.

Snape rose to his feet when he finished. "I have some work to do. You may continue reading your book. Either Professor McGonagall or myself will fetch you when it is safe for you to leave my quarters."

Harry nodded, and as Snape took his leave, Harry suddenly realized that he might not get another chance to ask the question that had been on his mind since the evening before.

"Professor," Harry called.

Snape stopped with his hand on the door handle, turning back to Harry.

"I wanted to thank you, for everything."

"I believe you have already done so," Snape replied.

"Yes, well," Harry stammered. Then he forced himself to get to the point. "I also wanted to ask you about something you said, last night, right before I…"

Snape's face instantly closed off and a muscle in his cheek twitched—a sure sign of the man's irritation.

Gathering his courage, Harry pushed onward. "You said, 'You should have been mine.' What did you mean by that?"

Snape gritted his teeth and glanced away.

Guessing Snape was going to blow him off, Harry blurted, "Did you have a relationship with my mother?"

Snape's eyes hardened further. Harry swallowed.

"Your mother and I were best friends before Hogwarts. She was sorted into Gryffindor; I was not. She was pretty and popular; I was not. She had many friends," Snape ground out.

Harry didn't need Snape to say that he, Snape, had not. And based on what Harry had seen in the man's Pensieve, his time at Hogwarts had not been easy. Given the events of the past twenty-four hours, Harry was more grateful than ever that he'd sought Snape out after the Pensieve incident to apologize to the man for invading his privacy.

Snape's fists were clenched, his lips a thin line. "Our friendship suffered in our fifth year and came to an end in our seventh year when she chose your father and I…" Snape trailed off, gripping his left forearm, looking both pained and angry.

Not sure what else to say, Harry said, "I'm sorry, sir." He was surprised to find that he meant it. "I wish I looked more like my mother so I wouldn't have to be a constant reminder to you of my father." And how he bullied you. And how he stole my mother from you. But he didn't dare say those things aloud.

Snape looked a bit startled at the sentiment.

"Yes, well," Snape said, clearing his throat. "I must go brew your scar salve."

"Doesn't the hospital wing have some?" Harry asked.

"Yes, but not one that will heal both your back and the scar on your hand."

"Will it work on this too?" Harry asked, pushing the hair off his forehead to reveal the lightning bolt scar.

"I'm afraid not, Mr. Potter. There is nothing I can brew that will remove a cursed scar."

Harry sighed in disappointment, but he wasn't surprised. If the scar could have been removed, it likely already would have been.

After Snape took his leave, Harry reflected on the conversation they'd had.

You should have been mine.

What would it have been like to have been raised by Snape of all people? His first instinct was to shudder at the thought, but maybe Snape would have been a different man under such different circumstances. Would he have been less bitter and jaded if he hadn't been bullied throughout school? Would his mother have had a calming influence on him if he had been her husband? Would Harry even have been the boy-who-lived if Snape had been his father?

Obviously Snape could be kind if he chose to be. That much was clear after the last twenty-four hours. It still shocked him that Snape had saved him, once again, and hadn't been cruel or demeaning about what had happened. He wondered if a part of Snape felt responsible for Harry because of his former friendship with Harry's mother.

Sighing, Harry lay back down on the sofa on his side and picked up the murder mystery, vowing to try a bit harder in Potions and be a bit more grateful and a bit less antagonistic to the usually taciturn man. It was the least he could do after all Snape had done for him. And, surely, it was what Harry would have done if he had been Snape's after all.