A/N: I finally got back to writing more of this one, along with my other two. I apologize for the long wait but this is my more serious story in most ways and I don't like to try to push the muse. When it flows, great. If it doesn't, then I have to wait. To all who have asked, rest assured that I do have a goal in mind with this story and an end to reach and therefore will not be giving this story up. There may be long periods of no updates, but I do have every intention of adding more when possible and finishing it. Thanks to all my readers for their patience and encouragement. It means a great deal to me. Enjoy the latest chapter featuring our three favorite boys.

Chapter 12 - Choose your Weapon

Harry propped his chin in his hand and absently looked around with a sigh

Harry propped his chin in his hand and absently looked around with a sigh.

"Daydreaming will not get the work done, Mr. Potter."

Thinking he was very aware of that fact, Harry stayed quiet only sending a look over at his professor.

A quiet snicker was heard from the other occupant of the table and Harry only just barely resisted the urge to kick Draco under the table. The only thing holding him back was the fact his dislike for examining the meeting place of two of the walls in Snape's sitting room marginally outweighed his dislike for the blond twit. Yesterday when Harry had given vent to his frustration and thrown an eraser at Draco's smirking face, Snape had promptly marched the dark haired boy to the corner and ordered him to stay there until he could behave.

Turning back to his work. . .and why they had work over the holidays was beyond Harry. . .the boy sighed again. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, but to look around Snape's quarters one would never know it. Not so much as a sprig of holly could be seen, let alone a tree.

The Potions Master had made it quite clear that if his young charges had an urge for seasonal decorations they could visit the great hall. There was no need in Snape's mind to drag bits and baubles and half dead greenery into his chambers when the rest of the castle, particularly the main hall and the huge dining hall, were covered with trees and such.

It wasn't that Harry had ever truly celebrated Christmas. He had just in the back of his mind hoped being away from the Dursley's might mean something different. Surely if Draco wanted a tree or something Snape would do it. After all, Harry thought to himself, whatever the other boy wanted, he usually got.

With that thought in mind, Harry decided nothing ventured, nothing gained. He leaned a bit closer to Draco and whispered. "Hey, Malfoy."

"I'm not helping you with lessons, Potter," Draco hissed back.

Harry scowled. "I don't want you to. I was just wondering if you liked Christmas."

Draco looked at Harry as though he'd lost his mind. "Of course I do. Why would you wonder that?"

"Well, do you have a tree at home or anything like that?" Harry pressed.

The other boy frowned and looked back at his books in an effort to avoid meeting Harry's gaze. He really didn't want to think about home. Granted he would have been either confined to his room for certain functions or expected to attend a few parties, but he would have been at home. Not stuck here with Potter. "Yes," he snapped at last, "we have a tree. A huge one up to the ceiling. Now shut up and let me work."

Harry regarded Draco for a moment, but refused to let things go. "Wouldn't it be sorta fun to have one here?"

"No," Draco answered shortly. "Besides, Uncle Sev already said the ones in the Great Hall were enough."

"Indeed he did," came a voice from behind the boys. Snape stood looking down at them, arms crossed. "What part of 'we are not decorating in here' did you not grasp, Potter? And for that matter, you seem to have forgotten that I said work quietly and get your lessons done before lunch if you planned to go outside this afternoon."

Dropping his eyes, Harry sullenly nodded. "Fine, I'll do the work. But I don't see why we can't. . ."

He got no further before a hand was placed under his chin and he was forced to look up into dark eyes which had an arched eyebrow above them. "Because these are MY rooms," Snape stated firmly. "And because I said so. Now either lose the attitude or lose your free time. Your choice."

As Harry looked into Snape's eyes, he swallowed and gave a small nod. Once his chin was released, the boy returned to his work. He still thought it unfair, but he wasn't going to argue any further.

s s s s s s s s s s

Something cold and wet hit Harry in the back as he was standing near the lake. He whirled to see Malfoy sneering at him. Harry glared at the other boy who had obviously just pelted him with a snowball. "What do you want, Malfoy?" The entire Hogwarts grounds and he has to follow me! Harry thought to himself.

Draco approached. "Still upset that you can't have a tree, Potter?" he asked with a slight smirk. The blond boy was still thinking about his normal Christmas' at home and since it was Harry's fault that had been brought up again, it was only right that the dark haired boy suffer for it. At least that was fair in Draco's eyes.

Harry turned away from the words and from Draco. "Shut up and leave me alone, Malfoy."

"Aw, does the wittle baby still believe in Father Christmas? Think without a tree he won't have anywhere to pile your presents?"

"I said shut up, Malfoy." Harry's hand reached for his wand.

Draco didn't miss the movement and his own wand was drawn and ready. "Just try it, Potter."

Instead of reacting with a hex, Harry scooped up a handful of snow and flung it at the other boy.

The one action was all it took. Suddenly wands were forgotten as two young boys dismissed the idea of being wizards for that of simply being eleven year old boys. Draco charged Harry and they both went sprawling in the snow. Punches were thrown, snow shoved into each face, and angry yells carried in the clear air as Harry and Draco proceeded to tussle.

Snape had heard the sounds as he walked the snow covered grounds. Narrowing his eyes, he beheld a dark shape on the ground near the lake and immediately started that way, arriving as Draco struggling on top of Harry attempting to pin the other boy face down in the snow. "Draco! That's enough!"

The sharp voice did not penetrate the boy's mind but the feeling of being pulled off his victim and lifted into the air registered. As did the swat to his backside that was much sharper than Snape's tone. Draco yelped and glared up at his godfather. "HE started it!"

But Snape was already busy with the other young combatant and didn't answer as he pulled Harry from the ground.

Harry experienced an equally hard smack to his own bottom. The sting caused a matching yelp to that of Draco.

Black eyes regarded the two soaking wet and scowling boys. "We will discuss this fully inside," the Potions Master stated. "For now I don't want a word out of either of you. Now march!"

Harry and Draco exchanged a quick look and then they both did exactly what they were told, scampering for the castle and relative safety. At least until Snape caught up with them.

s s s s s s s s s s

Severus Snape glared at the two first years standing nervously before him. Each boy had on soft pajamas and a warm dressing gown, not to mention socks and slippers. The dark hair and blond hair were both still slightly damp and not the neatest, but at least both his young charges had had the experience of a hot bath to ward off any chill and were now dressed snuggly. And ready to face the consequences of their earlier actions.

The dark gaze had Harry shifting a bit and he studied the floor more than the man seated in front of him. Snape had been angry, that much was abundantly clear in the tight lipped expression he had had once they were back in the dungeons. The Potions Master had ordered Draco into the smaller bathroom adjoining his bedroom and sent Harry to soak in the tub in the bigger hall bath. While Harry was now toasty warm due to a combination bath and warming charms on his pajamas, the boy couldn't help but worry that at least he, though probably not the sainted Malfoy, might be warmed in other ways. Snape had that look in his eyes. And Harry would absolutely die if the Potions Master decided to punish him in a more physical way with Malfoy there.

"Which of you would like to explain to me the reason for the fight?" Snape couldn't help but almost smile as both boys jumped at his voice.

Draco looked at Harry and then at Snape. "I told you outside. It was his fault!"

"I didn't ask whose fault it was, Draco. I am fairly certain that each of you would blame the other. I asked what the reason for the fight was," the Potions Master responded.

"H. . .how do you know it was a fight, sir?" Harry hated the way his voice quivered.

Snape arched an eyebrow. "Because, Mr. Potter, I am not an idiot."

"Well it could have been just sort of playing around. Like after a snowball fight," Harry was trying to give excuses.

"Hardly," came the dry reply. "Snowball fights do not involve punching. And the yells were not those of two friends playing but rather two angry boys out for blood."

"We didn't draw blood," Harry protested.

Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. "Potter, if you are going to continue to try to sidetrack me with feeble excuses, then you may wait in the corner while I speak to Draco."

Harry scowled but got quiet.

"I will ask again," the dark eyes went from one boy to the other, "what started the fight?"

"He pulled his wand on me," Draco answered, giving Harry a slightly victorious little smile.

"I did not!" Harry protested.

"Yes, you did!"

"Did not!"


Both boys fell silent at the last voice entering the dispute.

"Potter, did you make any effort whatsoever to pull your wand?" Snape questioned.

"Well. . ." Harry bit his lip. "yes, but he. . ."

Snape leaned forward and glared at the boy. "How many times has it been said that students do not draw wands on each other?? It is one of the rules here, Mr. Potter. And need I remind you that you are not above rules?!"

Harry swallowed. He sure didn't want a 'reminder' but he couldn't help but feel angry that Snape wasn't even fully hearing his side. Having Malfoy right there with that little grin of his only made Harry want to punch him again. He tried once more. "But Malfoy was teasing me."

"Teasing you?? So instead of just walking away, you decided to pull out your wand and hex him?!"

"I didn't do it, okay!!" Harry had had enough. "I didn't really use it!! He had his all the way out, not me! Yell at him!!"

Snape rose from the chair in one smooth motion, turned Harry to the side, and delivered two resounding smacks to his bottom. "I may or may not do the yelling here. You however, do NOT yell at me. Is that understood?"

Harry yelped and one hand went back as protection automatically. He nodded and turned his face away from Snape.

"One more outburst and you will regret it, Mr. Potter," the older wizard warned. Then turning his attention to Draco, Snape looked down on his godson. "Did you pull your wand as well, Draco?"

"Only after he did it first! I had to defend myself," the blond boy argued.

"And Mr. Potter had his wand fully out and pointed at you?"

Draco bit his lip and then quickly forced himself to stop the nervous little gesture. He was not going to look worried in front of Potter! "Well, not exactly."

"Then tell me exactly what did happen," the professor ordered.

"He. . ." Draco's head and voice both dropped, "had his hand near it."

The black eyes narrowed. "Near it? So he did not have it out and ready, yet you pulled yours out completely? Is that correct?"

Draco gave the barest of nods.

Snape growled softly and paced to the far side of the sitting room and then stood there a moment before turning back and viewing the two boys who were now exchanging looks. As the Potions Master returned to this chair and took a seat, he commented, "So, Draco, you were teasing Potter. Something you have been warned about, am I correct?" The audible gulp was answer enough for Snape and he went on. "Potter, you made it seem as though you would use your wand, but did not actually take it out. Draco, you however took yours out. And then?"

"Then I hit him with a snowball," Harry put in quietly.

Shaking his head, Snape looked at the duo. "And then you carried it into a full fight I assume?" Two heads nodded in response.

"I told you both that you would be spending the holidays together and that I would not tolerate anything like this, didn't I?" Again two nods gave silent answers, but this time Snape wanted more. "I did not hear any response."

"Yes, Uncle Sev," Draco nearly whispered. He was well aware of the tone in his godfather's voice and where this was all leading. When Snape started demanding a response the best thing to do was give a respectful one and hope he could sit by the next day.

"Yes, sir," Harry said quietly.

Satisfied that each of his charges knew they were in trouble, Snape directed, "Draco, go to the corner. Potter, take off your dressing gown."

Two sets of eyes locked onto the Potions Master face.

"Yes, you are both going to be spanked," Snape confirm their fears. "Now do as you are told."

"Uncle Sev, not. . ."

"Now, Draco. I trust you are aware of what will happen if I have to tell you again."

Draco gave Harry a last look and then headed to the corner. He wasn't about to make it worse, but then again he wasn't going to act like a baby in front of Potter either!

Harry waited until Draco moved away and then untied the belt of his dressing gown, trying not to let his fingers tremble. There was no way he could meet Snape's eye and so he kept his gaze on the floor. This couldn't be happening again, he told himself over and over, but when Snape reached out and took his arm and guided Harry face down over a firm lap, the little boy knew it was indeed happening.

Snape settled Harry into position and then tugged his pajama pants down, ignoring the little shiver that went through the boy as his bottom was bared. "You were warned about how I expected you to behave during the holidays and you broke the rules," he stated, making Harry aware of the reason for his punishment. Then the Potions Master's hand came down firmly on the small backside.

Unable to help himself, Harry yelped at the sting of the first swat. Even being smacked with his dressing gown on had at least offered a bit of protection. He wasn't aware that those had only been warning swats as well and this was a full fledged spanking. All Harry knew or cared about was that it hurt! And the longer it went on, the more it hurt, until after about eight solid spanks tears were slipping out of his eyes and he was squirming over Snape's knee.

Again and again the strong hand landed on the upturned bottom, delivering a stinging message that Harry had misbehaved. As the child began to wiggle more, Snape readjusted his hold around the skinny waist, noting how thin the little boy was. That didn't stop him from thoroughly warming the little behind though and after a full dozen swats had been administered, Snape spoke. "I trust that there will be no more fights with Mr. Malfoy?" A harder smack impacted Harry's undercurve.

"Ow! N. . .no sir." He cried as his bottom burned.

"And you will NOT draw your wand or even make it appear that you are going to." Two more sharp spanks landed one on each side of the small bottom, directly on the sensitive crease where bottom and thigh join.

Harry sobbed and his hands clung to Snape's robes. "I w. . .won't! Oh please!!"

"You had best remember this lesson, because if we have cause to repeat it, it will be with something other than my hand." A final two spanks seared the red bottom, one on the sit spot and one to the center of both cheeks.

Crying hard, harder than he had wanted to given that Draco was there listening, Harry felt his pants returned to normal and then found himself righted and sitting on Snape's lap. He never thought to question the arms that went around him, but instead leaned into the embrace, crying against the Potions Master's chest.

"Alright now, it's over," Snape stated as he rubbed Harry's back. "Calm down, Harry. Take deep breaths."

Harry found himself obeying and after a few sobs gave a quivery hiccup and managed to stop most of the tears.

'Harry??' Draco couldn't believe his ears and heedless of the rules, the blond boy turned around. He had listened from his position in the corner to the punishment, which had sounded like a pretty good one, and worried what his fate would be if Snape was being this hard on Potter and he hadn't even really pulled out his wand. However it was not the concern for his impending chastisement that caused the young Slytherin to look over his shoulder. What he saw hit him as hard as the words. There sat Potter. In Snape's lap. Being held. Being comforted. Being. . .Draco whirled back to face the corner, hands clenched into fists and blinking rapidly.

Snape gave the dark haired young wizard a final pat on the shoulder, knowing that he still had Draco to deal with, and eased the sore little boy to his feet. "Go and trade places with Draco," he directed.

Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, Harry quietly responded, "Yes, sir," and proceeded toward the corner.

"Draco, come here," the Potions Master called.

Jaw set and eyes bright, the blond boy walked past Harry without a word, refusing to even give him a glance. Draco took off his dressing gown and placed it on the couch before going to his godfather's side. Silently he bent over Snape's lap and waited.

Quirking an eyebrow at the action but pleased to see his godson taking responsibility for his actions without a fuss, Snape pulled down Draco's pajama pants, leaving his bottom bare for a sound spanking. The deserved punishment was not long in coming and the firm hand was applied to every inch of the small backside.

Draco fought hard not to show how much he was hurting. He didn't want to make a sound but once he began squirming the whimpers came rapidly and then dissolved into yelps and tears.

"You will not fight with Mr. Potter," the Potions Master stated as he smacked Draco's sit spot. "And you never. . .draw your wand. . .on a fellow student. . .with the intent. . .to harm them." Each phrase was punctuated by a solid spank to the most tender area where bottom and thigh met; two to the left crease and two to the right, with a final resounding smack spanning the base of both now reddened mounds.

Sobbing as his lower bottom was ignited, Draco nodded frantically. "I. . .I w. . .won't!! Prom. . .ise!!"

Trusting that he had made his point, Snape eased Draco's pants back up and lifted the boy into his arms for a hug. It was a total shock to find hands pushing him away and with a sob, Draco yelled, "No!" and bolted from the room.

Snape watched in confusion as his godson ran to the bedroom Draco and Harry shared. A multitude of thoughts went through the Potions Master's head. Draco usually relished a hug after being punished, so why this? Was it because of Harry being there? Holding back a sigh, Snape stood up and went to the corner. Placing a hand on Harry's shoulder, he commented, "You may leave the corner but remain in the sitting room until I return."

Harry nodded, looking up at his professor and wondering what was going on. He still couldn't actually believe that Draco had gotten a spanking equal to if not worse than Harry's. As Snape left the room, Harry made his way over to the couch and curled up on his side, pondering the events of the day.

s s s s s s s s s s

Closing the door behind him, Snape made his way over to the bed and sat down on the edge of it. He had no doubt that the boy's bottom was sore and stinging at the moment, but the reaction was disproportionate to the punishment. In a quiet voice, Snape spoke, "Draco, what's wrong? You act as if you've never been over my knee before."

"G. . .Go'way," the blond boy sobbed, his face still pressed into the pillow.

"I am going nowhere. Now lift your head before you suffocate," Snape ordered.

Draco's only response was to cling tighter to the pillow.

With a sigh, Severus pried the boy's arms loose and forced his chin up a bit. "Talk to me, Draco. What's wrong? And do not think for an instant I will buy the answer of nothing."

"You. . .you called him H. . .Harry!" Draco managed to blurt out before yanking free of Snape's grasp and attempting to hide in the pillow once more.

Snape looked at the child. "And that is the reason for all this?" he questioned, his brow furrowed as he attempted to grasp why in Merlin's name that had Draco reacting this way.

This time the young Slytherin's temper slipped and he rolled to his side to look up at his godfather. "Yes!!"

Arching an eyebrow, Snape responded automatically. "Do not yell at me, Draco."

Tears filled the grey eyes again and slipped down the young boy's cheeks at the rebuke. "Just go away then. Go back to. . .Harry!"

"Draco, stop this. You are behaving like a jealous two year. . ." Snape stopped short as the real meaning behind the words hit him. He shook his head and with a sigh pulled his godson into his arms. "Oh, Dragon."

The slim arms wrapped around the Potions Master and Draco began to cry harder as he realized that his godfather understood now. It was as if the action made it safe to talk about his feelings now. "You never call anyone else by their given name. Not even other Slytherin's," he sobbed. "Only me!"

"And so you thought he was taking your place. Just as you thought that he would ruin any time we had together during the holidays," Snape commented, rubbing Draco's back. "You little dunderhead. As if anyone could replace you." The last was spoken quietly and the affection for the child in his arms was clear in the dark haired wizard's voice.

Draco sniffled and nodded, still holding tightly to Snape.

"Listen to me, Dragon," Snape spoke in a firm yet gentle voice. "I do not normally call students by their given names, true. But this is a special case and since you are both staying with me, it makes sense that at times I do call him Harry." Snape was not about to go into the connection with Harry. "It does not signify that you mean any less to me. That will never happen."

"You promise?" Draco looked up at the Potions Master. "No matter what?"

"Regardless of what you might do, or of how hard I have to punish you, you will forever be my little Dragon. There could never be another like you," Snape responded sincerely. Then smoothing back Draco's hair, he added, "Thank Merlin."

"Hey!" Draco protested at the slight tease, but he hugged his godfather tightly before leaning back, feeling more reassured.

With a smile Snape returned the hug and then asked, "Are you ready to return to the other room now?"

After thinking about it for a moment the blond young wizard sighed and nodded. "I guess so. But he better not say anything!"

"I seriously doubt that he will."

Draco gave another nod and slid off his godfather's lap and together they made their way back to the sitting room.

Harry sat up with a slight wince and looked at Draco and Snape as they entered, but he stayed quiet.

"I believe the two of you have something that needs to be said to each other," the Potions Master commented as he took a seat in his chair.

Barely holding back similar groans, the boys regarded each other. Not a word was said but as green eyes met grey it was nearly as if a silent countdown had occurred. Two young voices blurted out "Sorry," at the same time.

Suppressing a smile, Snape nodded. "Very good. Now since you two are in no condition to attend dinner in the great hall this evening, we will eat here." He ignored the frowns that statement got. "I meant your state of dress." The dark head nodded to the pajamas that Harry and Draco wore. Of course the man was well aware that both boys were also sore.

Mercer the house elf was called and the food brought. The trio dined together and then went about the nightly routine they had developed of reading and talking, conversation gradually returning to what passed for normal with them.

s s s s s s s s s s

The lights twinkled like small stars in the dark of the room as he crept closer, drawn toward the sight. He knew he technically shouldn't be here but it was safer than any other time. The snoring drifting down the stairs had let him know that. As he reached the tree, Harry sighed and gave a small smile. While none of the presents beneath the branches were his, they couldn't stop him from looking at the tree itself. Even his uncle wasn't cruel enough to do anything like put his eyes out to avoid that.

And for Harry just the tree was a present because he could stare at it and the lights and become lost in the glow. In the world of his mind. The world where he had a real family, one who had a Christmas tree that they all sat around and looked at and enjoyed together. A world in which he didn't have to sneak out in the middle of the night just to dream about things because his dreams would be real. A place where he was loved and cared for.

As he laid down on the floor on his back and stared up at the sparkling lights, his eyes focused on one and he let himself start imagining again. The dazzling light shimmered and a face came into view. Harry blinked and sat up abruptly. Snape! Why?? Why now?! He wanted to yell. He had gone weeks without another dream, without a sign of their link, and now this. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. It never had when he was really at his relatives and lying under the Christmas tree.

The dark eyes seemed to bore into his own and Harry felt even his thoughts weren't hidden. It's just a dream, he told himself and then fought himself awake.

Sitting up in his bed, Harry looked over at where Draco was asleep in the other bed. Why had he dreamed that? he wondered. Was it because Christmas trees had been mentioned today? And why had Snape been there? It wasn't like the other dreams where Harry was in danger and Snape rescued him. This was a good dream. With a deep sigh, the boy flopped over in his bed, curling up on his side and trying to get back to sleep, a sleep without any dreams hopefully.

s s s s s s s s s

In the other room, Snape leaned back against the headboard, fingers idly tapping together as he mulled over what he had seen. The tree had seemed to captivate the younger version of Potter that had been in the dream. Something so simple and seemingly foolish. Yet Severus knew now why the boy had asked about the tree earlier in the day. He had seen the pile of presents in the dream. Not a one of them bore Harry's name. A tree was all the child had to represent Christmas.

The bitter, cynical part of him scoffed at such an idea. Surely the dream was twisted somehow. After all, one's mind could manipulate dreams. But the other part of him knew that was not the case. The dream coupled with the memories of what Potter had said regarding his relatives when he and Snape discussed Harry not going home for Christmas all added up. Unfortunately. Perhaps the Boy-Who-Lived was not a spoiled brat after all.