1. This is definitely not my usual style: I wrote it for Kat's challenge on the Harry Potter Discipline yahoogroups list, which specified a spanking/corporal punishment story "where Harry and Snape are either father/son or guardian/ward." Harry had to be punished by Snape; no girls were to be spanked in the story.
2. These punishments - even the more severe versions - all used to happen in real life before corporal punishment was finally outlawed in Great Britain in 1998. EDIT: As Whitehound points out, though, corporal punishment, especially of the type described, had already been pretty rare in British schools since the 1960s. More to the point, if Wizarding legislation follows Muggle law, corporal punishment would have been outlawed in Wizarding schools by 1998 anyway. There's a reason I've labelled it AU.
3. BIG FAT WARNING: This story contains pretty graphic descriptions of caning on the bare bottom. I mean, seriously graphic. I know, I know, I need help. ;) Just please be warned.
4. I took a few liberties with Harry's character to meet the challenge requirements. Let it be known that I don't see him quite like this. Remember, this is the guy who took Voldemort's Cruciatus and came back for more. This is why I don't do much Snape mentors Harry, etc. - he gets too wimpy for my liking. I hope not too sick-making, though.
5. I'm a Ron fan. So sue me.
"Ever been caned before, Harry?" Ron asked as they stood, backs to the wall, hands on heads, in the corridor outside Snape's office.
Harry shook his head, white-faced. It wasn't strictly a lie. At his primary school, they had been somewhat progressive. But he had heard, of course, of the awful punishments meted out at boarding school. And Wizarding schools, he had found out, were no exception. It couldn't be as bad as the beatings he'd had to put up with at the Dursleys', he thought, but he wouldn't mention that to Ron. He couldn't stand the thought of the other boy knowing, and looking down on him..
"Fred and George have, loads of times." Ron prattled on cheerfully, though Harry noticed his voice shook a bit. "This must be some kind of a record, though – only my second week at school." He took a deep breath and continued. "They say it's not so bad – hurts like blazes, of course, but at least it…" He tailed off, looking closely into Harry's face. "You all right, mate? You're looking a bit sick."
Harry was feeling sick, and the wait wasn't helping. He just wanted it to be over with. His heart was pounding in his chest. Be a Gryffindor, he thought to himself angrily. "I'm all right," he said shortly.
"I'm sorry, mate," Ron said softly.
Harry turned his head to face his friend. "Whatever for?"
"Getting you into trouble. If I hadn't started this whole thing with teasing Hermione and that, you wouldn't be getting punished. Neither would I, come to that."
"Oh, grow up," Harry snapped, a bit more rudely than he'd intended – the wait was making him nervous. "I decided to go after that troll too, you know – nobody made me. What were we supposed to so, leave her to die?"
"Wonder how she's doing with McGonagall," Ron wondered aloud. "Do they cane girls on the bare like boys or…"
"Ron, do us a favour and belt up, will you," Harry burst out, unable to stop himself.
The door opened and Harry jumped. He couldn't help it. Then the silky voice of the Potions Master sounded, making him shiver. "Come in."
The two boys looked at one another. Since he hadn't specified, they both stepped into the dungeon.
The room held a chill that hadn't been there, not even in the corridor outside. The tall, dark professor stood sternly before his desk, eyes hooded, his face bearing a faint expression of distaste. Harry's body was now solid ice. It was an effort to put one foot in front of the other. That look of distaste was sickeningly reminiscent of the way the Dursleys looked at him, the look that said "Worthless, good-for-nothing freak." But Ron nudged him, and his arm was warm. He managed to take a faltering step forward. Furious with himself, he tried to control his trembling. I'm not a baby! he thought, clamping down on his emotions.
Impassive-faced, Snape Accio'ed the Punishment Book from where it lay on the oak desk, flipping it open. "Harry James Potter and Ronald Bilius Weasley – first years both, first students to be punished this year! That's got your time at Hogwarts off to a good start – Six of the best, each, with the junior cane. Accio!"
Into Snape's extended hand flew a bamboo cane, about a metre long and a centimeter thick. Harry felt Ron flinch beside him, and watched the professor flex its length with mounting horror. He was really going to do this, was going to beat them slowly and deliberately. His beatings at the Dursleys' had been a quick rain of blows with the Smeltings Stick, awful and debilitatingly painful, yes, but fast, and never preceded by this chilling anticipation, which was eating away at his nerves. How Ron, who by his own admission had never been beaten before, could be so calm, was beyond him.
"You'll sign the punishment book when your caning is over," Snape instructed. Then his businesslike tone gave way to a smouldering whisper of barely suppressed rage. "Just couldn't wait to start breaking school rules, could you? You," he turned to Ron, "will regret taking your older brothers as an example, I promise you. And as for you, Potter," Harry flinched and actually took a step back at the rage in the master's eyes, "I should have expected it from you. If you think your fame makes you immune to consequences, you are sadly mistaken. And in arrogance you seem to take after…" The Professor cut himself off, and Harry wondered who he was supposed to take after. He didn't have time to ponder it. Snape was looking at them both, calculatingly. "Mr. Weasley," he snapped. "Trousers and pants down and over the desk."
Harry's knees went weak. He had hoped to go first and get it over with. The tremor in his frame was so pronounced that Ron noticed it. The blue eyes flickered over to him and Harry heard his friend saying, "Sir, if it's all right with you, Harry can—"
"Now it's eight strokes." The professor glared warningly. "One more word out of you and it will be a dozen. Do you think school rules are made for your convenience, Mr. Weasley?"
Ron's mouth dropped open, then snapped shut. With an alacrity Harry envied him, he marched over to the desk, fumbled with his clothing beneath his robes, then bent over the desk. He reached behind him and pulled up his robe to reveal his bare buttocks, his trousers and pants bunched around his knees. Harry's eyes were riveted to the sight of the redhead's fair-skinned, almost translucent cheeks, muscular but fleshy. Robes out of the way, Ron reached out and gripped the opposite side of the desk. Harry couldn't help thinking that Fred and George must have given him plenty of details.
The Potions Master's gaze flickered to Harry. His eyes were unreadable. "Stand in the corner and watch," he snapped out. Harry, determined to get hold of himself, and somewhat buoyed by Ron's show of courage, managed to get to the corner with reasonable speed. Snape's eyes were on him all the while, and Harry was sure that he had made Ron go first because he knew the watching and waiting would be almost as bad as the beating itself.
Then it was over and Snape was striding towards Ron in a swirl of black robes. "Time to disabuse you of your romantic notions, Mr. Weasley," he said crisply. He tapped the cane against Ron's bottom once. Harry noticed that Ron's bum muscles tensed up. But Snape was already standing back. He raised the cane high into the air – Harry got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he saw the angle of the professor's shoulder. Then Snape swung, and the cane arced down so fast it whined as it cut through the air. It buried itself into the smooth white flesh of Ron's bottom, and a second later he heard a sickening CRACK.
Ron jerked and grunted. As the cane left his bottom, Harry could see a horrible-looking double weal, purple and raised, forming across the twin globes. He was astonished that Ron had not cried out – probably for his benefit, he thought a little guiltily.
"Gryffindor stoicism? Give it up, Mr. Weasley," Snape advised. "Don't pretend it isn't painful, because we both know a punishment must be painful in order to do any good."
The only sound in the room was Ron's harsh breathing. Snape raised the cane and brought it down again. It practically sang as it cut through the air.
Harry watched Ron arch his back with the impact and drum his feet on the floor with the effort not to cry out. The double weal was joined by another, slightly lower down. The redhead's entire bottom was starting to bruise around the ridged, eerily white wheals.
"I hope you are thinking of the consequences of flouting school rules." CRACK! The latest stroke had fallen just below the second. Ron's body was rocking from side to side now, obviously trying to come to terms with the terrible pain.
Snape raised his arm, panting too with the exertion. He aimed the cane to fall a little bit below the last stroke. His aim was excellent.
The red head jerked up. "Mmnnh!"
"Got your attention, boy? Not so cocky now, eh?"
Ron seemed to be putting all his energy into not crying out; his bottom was almost doing a dance as he shifted from foot to foot in his agony. His grip on the desk was white-knuckled. Harry was shaking so hard he thought he would fall. He didn't want to be hurt like this. Worse, he didn't want to see Ron hurt like this. Ron had a loving family, they didn't beat him, he, Harry, was the one who got beaten—
He saw Snape change the angle of the cane. The center of Ron's bottom was ridged with tramline wheals, black and blue and purple and hugely swollen. Now Snape pulled back and swung the cane upwards, to cut into the soft underside of the cheeks. CRACKKK!
The lash of the cane made Ron jump a foot into the air. "Ah!" he yelled, and broke into harsh sobs. WHACK! Snape immediately followed up - CRACKKK – with a second cut to the exact same whipped area, which drew a shriek, then more sobbing. Harry could see a trickle of blood wending its way down Ron's left thigh.
"This would have been your punishment, Mr. Weasley," Snape said silkily through the sobs, "but thanks to your tongue, you will be getting two more of the best. A little reminder that Gryffindors do not own the world, if you will." With that, he raised the cane high and whipped it down diagonally over the raw, weeping caned flesh.
But Ron seemed to have better control over himself now; he groaned with his mouth shut. But both his feet left the floor as he writhed in pain, and one of his hands came loose from the desk and fisted to pound hard on the table. As he twisted to the side, Harry saw his face now, contorted with pain, teeth gritted, scarlet and tearstained. The torchlight glistened off the puddle Ron's tears had left on the desk.
Snape crossed to Ron's other side, so that the last weal would form a perfect X shape with the penultimate. He took a deep breath and smashed the cane into Ron's bottom in the most vicious stroke yet. WHACKKK!
"Nnnngah!" Harry saw his friend groan, pounding both fists on the desk now in his incredible pain. The formerly smooth, white bottom was now rough, black and blue and purple, and swollen to what looked like twice its normal size. He could almost see the heat radiating off it. Fluid wept from the welts, and now that Ron tried to move, Harry could see that the skin was broken in several places.
"You may rise."
Trickles of blood made their way down Ron's thighs as he slowly and painfully got his elbows under him and pushed off from the desk. A tiny grunt escaped him as he stood, his robes falling into place to cover the damage.
"You'll sign the punishment book later. Potter!"
Harry jumped. Slowly he stepped forward, while Ron still stood in front of the desk. "Go and stand in the corner, Weasley," Snape ordered.
As Ron turned away from Snape and walked towards Harry's corner, he caught Harry's eye. Incredibly, tear-swollen face and all, he grinned at Harry, then winked, giving him a surreptitious thumbs-up.
Harry was sure Snape could hear his heart thundering in his ears as he approached him. The sneer on the teacher's face somehow twisted his heart. Snape looked him up and down, and Harry had the strange feeling of being judged and found wanting. He lifted his chin defiantly; it was all he had, all he knew how to do.
"Last of the Potter line," Snape said musingly, and there was something in his voice that Harry couldn't quite place. "Well, go on, boy, you saw your friend!"
Hands trembling, Harry fumbled with his clothing as he had seen Ron do. He could see his friend's eyes looking encouragingly at him across the room, but he felt all thumbs as he finally got his pants down and bent over the desk as he had seen Ron do. The desk was a little high for him, though, so to get comfortable, he had to shift so that his feet ended up hanging off the floor.
"Come on, come on," snapped that cold, disapproving voice.
I can't believe this is happening, Harry thought as he reached back and pulled up his robes. Even watching Ron beaten had had an air of the surreal. The air felt cold against his exposed buttocks and thighs. Remembering what Ron had done, he reached across the desk and gripped the opposite edge tightly. Again he had to stretch just to reach it.
"I hope, Mr. Potter," Snape was saying, "that this punishment cures you of your arrogance."
There was nothing to say to that; at least, Ron hadn't said anything, so he kept quiet. But then he felt the dreaded tap of the cane on his bottom, and flinched. He could have sworn he heard an amused chuckle. "Believe me, Potter, when this hits you, you'll know it."
Then the cane sang through the air.
He never heard the sound; but his bottom was hit by a cold impact – it hurt so much that it actually felt cold for a fraction of a second. Then his behind exploded into flame. "Ah!" he gasped. As Ron had done, he tried to breathe through the pain. It throbbed, it stung, it was flame leaping through his body…
Then that singing sound again, and the impact. This time he heard the CRACK, and the awful pain made him moan. This was nothing like the Smeltings Stick – those beatings had been harder, but had not been delivered with such surgical precision. But he'd got through the beatings at home – he could get through this. Imagine you're back at the Dursleys' – that's it…
"Well, Potter? Still think yourself above the rules?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Snape draw the cane back. WHACKKK! "Uh!" His buttocks were solid balls of fire. He knew he was crying, but he couldn't register much of anything. It couldn't hurt more than this… it couldn't…
WHACK! He jerked up off the desk and cried out as Snape gave him the same stroke to the underside of the buttocks that had undone his friend. All he was aware of was the burning pain in his agonized flesh. As Ron had done, he twisted and kicked his legs with the pain. Don't lose it, he urged himself with what rational thought he had left. Imagine it's the Dursleys… imagine…
WHACK! Harry cried, kicked and writhed as his buttocks pulsed with hot pain. He grunted, but refused to beg for mercy or cry out again.
But his silence only seemed to infuriate Snape. "Hubris will be the death of you as it was for…" Snape broke off, and Harry couldn't be bothered to ask who Hubris was; he heard the master take a deep breath as he raised the cane high into the air in preparation for an especially cruel stroke. WHACKKK!
"Nnh!" Oh, it hurt, it HURT! But with only a grunt, he managed to sustain his resolve against the extra-hard, punishing cut of the cane against his flaming, red-raw buttocks. Panting and gasping with the pain, he heard Snape hiss, "Still think you're better than everyone else? You need to know your real worth, boy…"
With those words, he was catapulted back to Number Four, Privet Drive.
"Worthless freak… boy… we should never have taken you in… worthless freak mother… freak father…"
The words mingled with the pain and time stopped.
Ron's arse didn't half bloody well hurt. More than hurt, it was flaming agony, and he had to get his hands on a healing paste pretty quick or he wouldn't be able to sit down again for a month! The agony in his throbbing, flaming arse meant he couldn't ignore it even for a moment. He would still have gone after that troll, but he didn't mind admitting that if there was a way that would have saved Hermione without reducing his poor old bum to its current tender and burning state, he would definitely take it next time.
But he'd gladly take the same eight strokes over again if it meant Harry would be let off.
He'd wanted to suggest it to Snape, but been afraid he'd add more strokes for 'insolence' or something. With the greasy git, who knew?
The way poor old Harry walked up to the desk, as though he was going to his own execution. He, Ron, had tried to smile at him, and he'd tried not to scare Harry, he really had, but there's a limit to what you can do when your arse is roasting over a flame that makes Charlie's dragons look positively tame by comparison.
His eyes widened as Harry's bum and legs were revealed. Of course he'd seen him before in the shower, but it was the first time he'd appreciated how stick-like Harry's legs really were, much less muscled than Ron's. And how small his bum was. For God's sake, Snape, go easier on him than you did on me, he prayed.
But it wasn't to be. He flinched as he saw the first stroke raise the tramline wheals he'd so often seen on Fred and George's more muscular, husky rear ends. They seemed so out of place on Harry's small frame. Harry's gasp tore at his heart. "Let me take some of it for him!" he wanted to shout, and only held back for fear that he would cause Harry to be hurt worse.
But the greasy git was relentless. He pasted Harry stroke after stroke, and Ron flinched as he saw Harry writhing in pain, and crying. Snape was lecturing: "Hubris will be the death of you as it was for…" Who was Hubris? But then the cane buried itself deep into Harry's bottom again, and Ron moaned; the whimper Harry let out knifed into him, chilling him to his fingertips. Oh, please go easy on him, Snape, Ron begged inwardly. But the teacher was still lecturing. "Still think you're better than everyone else? You need to know your real worth, boy…"
And then something strange happened.
Harry went stiff as a board, and his face lost all expression.
Ron's arse stopped hurting, or maybe he just forgot the pain as he stared, hoping he was imagining it. But Snape had seen it too. The potions master lowered the cane, but Ron was already hobbling out of the corner, trousers still down – he pulled them up, wincing as the rough material chafed his raw, caned flesh, but not caring – and ran to his friend. "Harry?" he said, trying to turn his face towards him, finding it rigid. He put an arm around him, shaking him in alarm. "Harry!"
"Potter," Snape said, laying the cane down on the desk and taking Harry's frighteningly stiff shoulder. "Potter!" he snapped.
Ron looked up at Snape, less angry in that moment than hoping that the adult could help. "Professor…"
Snape reached out and manhandled Harry off the desk. Ron reached out, trying to help. But his rigid form was harder to handle than he had imagined, and Harry nearly slipped out of his grasp. Snale grabbed his waist and Ron grabbed Harry's clothing, only to inadvertently pull Harry's robe over his head, and it caught on his shirt, leaving Harry's back bare.
He saw Snape's gaze on Harry's back too, the eyes shuttered, unreadable.
Harry's back was covered with half-healed welts. The bony torso was completely mottled with bruises – from what he could see, bruises on top of bruises, and now he looked, the welts were in various stages of healing.
White-hot rage threatened to overwhelm the teenage boy. "Harry's bloody relatives.." Ron whispered. Then he looked to Snape for help.
For a moment, Snape looked stunned. Then he sprang into action. Lifting Harry bodily, he sat on the floor with him in his lap. He had frozen in a bent-over position, which meant it was well-adapted to sitting. "Mr. Potter – Harry – has obviously been abused at home," Snape rapped out to Ron…
As he explained things to the gaping Gryffindor boy, Severus felt like kicking himself. The signs had been there, he could have seen them had he bothered to look, but nooo – he had imagined that the boy's wilfulness was James Potter's genes, not the instinctive mistrust of adults and authority figures that comes with abuse. And now… now he was stuck asking for help from a Weasley, to salvage this poor boy's mind. "I believe that something I said has triggered what is known as a flashback – reliving a past trauma. I am going to use Legilimency to get into his mind and restore him. However, I believe this would be more effective with someone the boy already trusts. Do you consent to help?"
"Of course," said the boy, eyes wide. Gryffindor fools rush in, he thought.
He joined their three hands in a circle and plunged into Potter's mind.
Severus found himself in a Muggle living room, very middle-class, very conventional. But most unconventional was the sight of Harry lying on the floor, a gigantic walrus-like man beating him on the back with a thick stick while a baby elephant of a boy held him down by the simple expedient of sitting on his legs. Harry wasn't screaming, but he wasn't unconscious either. He was sobbing, dry-eyed, as the big man spewed forth a tirade. Severus was willing to bet that this, more than the blows, was what had caused the trauma. He forced himself to listen.
"…time you learned a few home truths, boy! You're just a good-for-nothing, useless freak who should have died in that car accident like your freak parents! Causing trouble to decent people who saddled themselves with you instead of throwing you into an orphanage…"
Severus gasped. He might loathe James Potter, but there was no excuse to tell a boy that about his parents! This was definitely the cause of the trauma. And here he had been thinking that the boy had lived a pampered and coddled existence, idolized as a little prince. Time to take action.
He supposed he had better put young Weasley out of his misery; he had jumped, monkey-like, onto the big man's back, hitting at him to leave Harry alone; when that had failed, he had tried to pry him out of the boy's grasp, and when that had failed, he had simply laid himself on top of Harry to take the blows instead of him, only to look surprised; Snape knew he had found that he could not feel them. Commendable, really, if foolhardy. "That won't work," he rapped out to Weasley. "He is trapped in this memory, and the only way out is for us to reach him."
"How do we do that? Sir," Weasley panted as he climbed off his friend.
"He must become aware of us." Lying on the floor, Snape patted Harry's cheek "Potter? Harry. Harry!"
"Harry, it's us, it's me, Ron, and Sn—Professor Snape, we're going to get you out of here. Come on," Weasley said in a voice that made Snape raise an eyebrow. He hadn't thought a tone that gentle could come out of anyone from the Weasley family.
"Harry, you must wake. Come out of your mind," Snape urged. Nothing.
"Harry? Come on, mate, this is just a memory!"
"Wait," said Snape. He felt like an idiot for having let the Gryffindor take the lead. "This is not working. We must strike at the root of what is causing the flashback." Before the idiot Weasley could distract him or say something inane again, he leaned in close to Harry. "Harry," he said. "I knew your mother. She was an angel. There was nobody who was not fond of her. Do not let anyone poison your memory of her with lies."
The memory-figures paused in their beating. Weasley looked at him, stunned. Severus felt compelled to go on. "You are not a freak, and you are not worthless. Your father…" He choked on the words, but forced himself to find something good about the bastard, "died for you and your mother. He loved you." Well, that was true enough, even if he was never sure whether insufferable James had died to assuage his own sense of heroism rather than out of real affection for others, of which he privately thought James Potter incapable…
He noticed that the suburban room was wavering: a good sign which meant that the panic-grip was fading. Weasley had taken up the challenge. He had Potter's hand tightly clasped in both of his, and was saying with a warmth Severus would not have believed he had in him: "Don't ever believe that git, Harry! Freak indeed! You're the last bloke in the world who'd ever deserve to be treated like that. You're amazing, and not because you're Harry bloody Potter, either. I've liked you since the first day I met you. You're modest, and you're generous, and you're fun to be around, and you came right down to get Hermione and you never thought of saving your own skin, either. I – I've never had a friend like you, and I want to kill that bastard for what he did…" In other circumstances, Snape would be giving the boy a spanking for his potty mouth, but he couldn't fault the results – the living-room faded away completely, leaving them in a dark-brown limbo as soft and dark as the inside of closed eyelids. But still the boy remained trapped in his mind. What might bring him out of it?
Severus caught sight of the boy's hand in Weasley's and had a brainwave. "Out of the way, Weasley," he said, not unkindly, and scooped Potter – Harry – into his arms. He was astonished at how cold the child was. He pulled him into his chest, rubbing his back and rocking him gently. How could he ever have thought this boy was like James Potter? His arrogant father had never suffered a day in his life, and he certainly hadn't been haunted by demons telling him he was unworthy.
"You're so thin." Weasley had knelt at Harry's head and was stroking his hair. "Never thought it was because they didn't feed you. I'd never let anything happen to you, mate, why didn't you tell me?"
"There is nothing to be ashamed of," Snape murmured to the warm bundle in his arms. He would wager that James had never earned such naked affection from an equal, either. He stroked the poor little boy's hair. He knew what it was like to be lonely and persecuted, after all. "Po—Harry, you are not unworthy. You are a good boy. You are loyal. You are brave. You are loved. And you are not a freak!"
With these words, the limbo solidified into the familiar shape of his office. He was still sitting on the floor, Harry slumped in his arms, no longer rigid, but dead to the world. "Sleeping," Severus said shortly to reassure the frantic Weasley.
But he was hard to comfort. "You sure he's all right?…Sir."
"Legilimens." To appease the boy, Severus reached into his mind and showed him Potter's state of consciousness: cradled like a babe in his mother's arms, feeling safe, warm and loved. A smile spread across the Weasley's face.
"Thank you, sir."
Severus rose, Harry still in his arms. The boy shifted slightly and murmured contentedly in his sleep. Time enough to deal with his horrible relatives later; for now there were more pressing matters to take care of. He would have to watch the boy closely, make sure he was all right.
He turned to the boy's friend, who had risen with him and still held Potter's free hand in a death grip, murmuring gentle words he had probably learnt from his mother. Dunderhead like the rest of his family, but his heart seemed in the right place, Severus admitted grudgingly, seeing how protective he was of young Harry. "Weasley, sign the Punishment Book for both of you and follow me to the Hospital Wing. I shall have to get Madam Pomfrey to do some healing on Potter's back."
"What about our bums, sir?" Cheeky brat!
Severus grinned ferally. He would bet his last Galleon that Granger was even now brewing a potion to ease the sting in her own caned bottom, and would be making the boys some as well, but Weasley had no way of knowing that. "You wish, Weasley. You wish."