Three very dejected young men were making their way up the stairs toward Gryffindor tower.
"James, come on, wait up!" Sirius called to the boy who was leading the way. James made no acknowledgement of hearing the call except for walking even faster. Sirius, who had been trailing the group and looking the most dejected, took the last few steps of the stairs two at a time. He rushed passed Peter, reached forward and took a hold of James' shoulder just as he reached the hallway in front of the portrait. James shrugged off the hand angrily and moved toward the portrait.
"Come on, James. I said I was sorry!"
James finally stopped moving and spun around. "You just don't get it, do you? Sorry?! You think 'sorry' makes this all better?!"
"It was just a joke." Sirius said weakly
"No! It was NOT a joke. Jokes do not try and get people killed!! Jokes do not risk revealing secrets that could get all your best mates expelled and possibly arrested!!"
"Dumbledore doesn't know…"
"Dumbledore knows everything."
"I told him everything, Sirius. The game is up. You have ruined it for all of us. Dumbledore knows we are unregistered animagi and everything that happened tonight."
"Then why didn't he hand us over to the ministry to have our wands broken?"
"Because, Sirius, Dumbledore is one of the most merciful men on the planet and he happens to believe that it is better for everyone, for us to finish our education here than to be locked in Azkaban!"
Sirius was now looking at James with total disbelief. He had honestly not thought about any of this…their secret being discovered or Severus actually being attacked by Remus. What if James hadn't have stepped in? Sirius paled at the realization. Peter was simply standing in stunned silence.
"How could you?" James said in almost a whisper "He could have died, Sirius. We would have killed him. And Remus…Remus would never have gotten over the guilt." James turned his back and started toward the portrait but he paused and turned back. "You know, Sirius, we all have liked playing around and giving the Slytherins a hard time, but we all knew there was a limit. No TRUE Gryffindor would risk another's life for a lark. I don't care who they are! You make me ashamed, Sirius! I am ashamed to be your friend." James moved through the portrait and shut it hard behind him.
"James, No! Wait! James!!" Sirius ran forward almost getting hit with the shutting portrait. He spun around and slammed his fist into the wall causing him to cry out in pain. He put his forehead against the cool stone and let the tears of pain and frustration come as he cradled his injured hand. Peter quietly slipped through the portrait and left the distraught boy alone.
The next morning was Saturday so James and Peter were still in the dorm room when Sirius finally arrived. Remus would still be a little while recovering from his transformation, so except for the two friends, the room was empty.
Sirius walked in very slowly, anxiously trying to judge James' mood. "Sirius! Where have you been?" Asked Peter but James just rolled over on his stomach and continued to read, or pretend to read, Quidditch weekly.
"Peter, get lost for a while, would ya? Oh, and make sure nobody comes up here. I need to talk to James for a bit." Peter clearly looked disappointed to miss whatever confrontation was going to occur. He got up slowly and headed for the door. Sirius followed him to the door and shut and locked it behind him. He then turned and leaned against it, not really sure what to do next. He wished that James would at least look at him. To his surprise, just then James did turn on his side and look at him.
"What do you want, Sirius?" He said in a gentler voice than the previous night but Sirius could still here the sharp edge of anger.
"I..I went home, last night?"
"Home? To your parents?" James said truly surprised.
"No, to your home. I wanted…I needed to talk to your Dad. I went to Dumbledore and he let me use the floo in his office. I told your Dad everything."
"hmph" snorted James. "I hope he tanned your hide!"
"Well, no…I mean, yes, but…he didn't…."
"He didn't even punish you?" James was incredulous.
"Well, he did, but not for the joke on Snivil….I mean Severus."
"What for, then?" James was curious despite of himself and he sat up and focused his attention on Sirius.
"Well, I…after what you said, I sort of…"
"What?" James narrowed his eyes.
"I punched the wall, really hard, and broke my hand."
"I know, I know…it was really stupid. Believe me, your Dad sent that message home quite clearly."
"Are you alright?" James swung his legs over the edge of the bed unable to hide his concern for his friend.
"Yeah..no, I'm fine." Said Sirius holding up his hand and making a fist and then stretching out his fingers several times to make sure everything was working properly. Your mom is a good healer.
"Yeah, she is." Said James "..but Dad didn't punish you for the rest of what you did last night?"
Sirius suddenly looked very uncomfortable. "No...I told him everything, and I..I told him what you had said." James looked a little uncomfortable that his father would know how he had responded to his friend.
"What did he do?"
"Well, I was pretty upset, James! I can't lose…I mean…you are my best friend." Sirius voice broke a little as he said this and paused and swallowed hard, trying to hold on to his composure. "I was a bit distraught, so at first your Mum and Dad comforted me. Then your Dad took me upstairs and…um…gave me a spanking with his hand for punching the wall and harming myself. Then he stopped, and I begged him to spank me for last night..but he said he wouldn't."
James was astounded by this story. He couldn't fathom for the life of him why his father wouldn't help Sirius with his guilt and impart the lesson of his life on his backside.
"He..uh…went and got this." Sirius held up the Mahogany brush that James was only too familiar with. "And he told me I had to give it to you. He said you needed to do it." At these last words, Sirius blushed a bright shade of red but he kept his eyes on James. James could see in them fear but also need.
They looked at each other in silence for a moment. James had never played this role before but somehow it did seem right. And, by golly, that boy deserved it! Finally, James nodded and held out his hand. Sirius blushed again as he stepped forward and placed the dreaded brush into James' waiting hand. James took the brush and tapped it absent-mindedly on his thigh as he planned out how this should go. Sirius was becoming more and more uncomfortable each moment as he waited for his sentence to be carried out. His started chewing on his lower lip and shifting his weight nervously from foot to foot.
When James finally spoke, it was in a voice so full of authority that Sirius almost didn't recognize it. "Alright, Sirius, as I see it, you have three spankings coming." Sirius' head shot up and he looked at James wide eyed. "One for doing something that would reveal our secret that we had sworn not to reveal to anyone. One for pulling a prank on Severus that could have resulted in his death, and one for almost making Remus a murderer. So, you will be spanked now, after which you will spend half and hour in the corner thinking about your behavior. The same will happen tomorrow night and then Tuesday night."
"James…" Said Sirius now truly worried that he would never sit again.
"What? Do you think that is too much?" Said James, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Do you think that you should just get a few little taps on the bottom and everything will be good as new?"
Sirius dropped his head again in shame. No, he deserved all that James was prepared to give him and more. He knew it. "No, James"
"No, indeed. I intend to make VERY sure that you never, ever, think about doing something like this again and that you will always stop and consider the ramifications of the jokes you play." James leveled a look at Sirius that made him squirm. "Do you have anything else to say." Sirius just shook his head and swallowed hard. "Alright then, trousers and pants down and bend over my lap."
Sirius had never thought he would hear those words coming from his best friend. James was just a little too good at this, he thought ruefully as he started undoing his trousers. Sirius pushed them down quickly, along with his pants, and almost threw himself over James lap. He wanted to get this over as quickly as possible. James seemed to be in agreement because as soon as Sirius was over his lap he brought the brush down, hard!"
Sirius yelped at the first swat as it took him by surprise. So much for thinking that James might go easier on him than Mr. Potter would have!
Swat, Swat, Swat, Swat….
Soon the swats were coming down hard and Sirius was having trouble keeping still. His bottom was still slightly sore from the spanking he had gotten the night before and each swat felt like a brand on his quickly heating flesh.
"Ahhhh…James! I'm sorry!" he cried as his legs kicked out again of their own accord.
"I hope you truly are sorry, Sirius! I am going to make sure that you never forget just how sorry you are." James seemed to keep swatting forever. Sirius started pounding the bed where his torso was resting with his fists trying to fight the tears that were threatening to break through. James paused and rested the brush against Sirius' now bright red bottom.
"Sirius, what you did last night was inexcusable. Your thoughtless could have gotten us all expelled, our wands broken, or worse. Do you understand what that means? Do you understand what our lives would have been like if Dumbledore wasn't willing to keep our secret?!"
James hiked up his right knee and lowered his left fully exposing the tender underside of Sirius' bottom. Sirius groaned at the adjustment knowing exactly what was coming.
James started spanking again, alternating between each side of Sirius' bottom in the exact same spot. Sirius was in agony. "YEAHHHHH…." He cried, letting the tears come as he bucked violently over James' lap. "James, please…NO!!"
James applied five more stinging swats to each side and then he put down the brush. Sirius was sobbing into the blankets. James slowly helped him to sit up and wrapped his arms around his friend. Sirius sobbed even harder as the relief of knowing that James still cared about him flooded through him. Slowly, he began to calm down. "Alright, young man," said James "half an hour in the corner. Let's go."
Sirius groaned but stood up slowly. He began to reach for his trousers but James reached out for his hands. "Nope! They stay down."
"James.." Sirius said in a pleading whine.
"Sirius!" James replied in a voice that brooked no argument "Corner, now. Let's go!" He landed a firm swat that had Sirius dashing for the corner as fast as he could, considering his trousers were around his ankles.
"Half an hour, Sirius. Think about what would have happened if our secret had really gotten out!"
Sirius just groaned again and rested his head against the corner. He could feel his bottom throbbing with each beat of his heart. This was going to be a very long few days!!