Severus Snape strode dangerously along the corridor that led to his

dungeon. His robes were bellowing with unusual vigor, and he gave his

head an occasional, vicious snap to flick the hair from his eyes.

Potter was waiting for him in the classroom. He'd deliberately kept

the boy waiting twenty minutes; enough time, Snape thought, for him to

have worked up a fine nervous tension.

He flung the door open with a resounding clash-the boy leapt,

startled. His face was slightly swollen, eyes red. He was, no doubt,

morning the loss of his wretched godfather. He was clad in his

pajamas, as he had been when Snape had fired called him from his dorm

room at ten o'clock. He had wanted to transact this business in

private, and anyway, had the idea that Potter would not be asleep.

"Why are we here, Mr. Potter?"

Harry jerked with shock. He hadn't had much sleep since Sirius… A tear

slowly ran down his cheek and he wiped it, impatient.

"Last week. We're here because of last week."

Snape nodded. Potter looked awful. On closer inspection, he had dark

circles under his eyes and he looked as though his hands were shaking

a little. Blasted brat. He was holding his grief over Black inside and

it was eating at him. Snape couldn't have cared less, naturally; he

was only worried about what Lily would have thought had he let her son

suffer this way.

"That's correct. Not only did you disobey and sneak out of the

castle, you endangered yourself and your friends, you sought out a

dangerous criminal' he held up a hand to silence Harry's protests '

you stunned me when I came to help you, and almost got yourself killed

by a werewolf. Is that all?"

Harry pulled himself up to his full height and snapped " Sirius wasn't.."

"Did you know that at the time? You were going to kill him, were you not?"

Harry nodded. Tired, so tired. He wanted to sleep but he couldn't.

When he tried to sleep, he saw the Dementors, crowded about Sirius,

sucking his soul.

"I see. Professor Dumbledore and I had words about this tonight. I

have finally convinced him that his detentions and house points simply

aren't enough for you. A more personal touch is required for our Mr.

Potter. It would seem the Boy Who Lived is too special even for

something as basic as COMMON BLOODY SENSE." He yelled the last few

words, pleased that Potter looked suitably afraid.

"Your parents died for you, boy. You seem determined to throw that

gift away. Lily Evans was the finest witch I ever knew. You might not care whether her sacrifice was in vain, but I do."

The conversation had taken a painful turn. Harry felt more tears

building and shoved them down. His insides were twisting and jerking.

"What are you going to do?"

Snape smiled a singularly unpleasant smile. "I believe' he said

silkily 'steps should be made to see that the punishment fits the

crime." He clamped a hard hand around Potter's bicep, and drug him

outside.

Harry was barely aware they were moving until the cold air of the

outside hit his face. He allowed Snape to drag him along, muttering

about idiot children, until, to his shock, they stood right in front

of the Whomping Willow.

Snape threw the stone and disabled the thing handily. It stopped it's

menacing whirling and the Potion's Master grabbed a low branch. "Pick

one."

As though in a dream, Harry picked a branch and handed it to the

teacher. Snape examined it quickly, nodded to himself, and began

dragging Harry back to the school. He was more awake this time, and

wondered why Snape would ask a student he didn't like to help him

harvest Potion's ingredients, and especially, what Potion requires a

willow branch. A sudden thought, ridiculous and yet strangely

compelling, popped into his head. Harry shoved it away and simply

concentrated on keeping up.

Back in the classroom, Snape set to work peeling the branch,

carefully stripping the bark as well as the leaves and twigs. He had

every intention of teaching the boy a lesson, but he didn't want to

scar him or draw blood. Harry watched him with dull, unseeing eyes.

Obviously had no idea what was going to happen, at least this time.

Spoiled brat had never been punished properly in his life, that much

was certain, or else he would never have dared pull such a stupid,

reckless stunt. Just thinking about it made Snape's blood boil anew.

He summoned his chair and sat down in it, holding the willow switch in

his hand.

"Come here, Potter." Harry didn't like the looks of this a bit. He

shuffled over, uncertain. Surely Snape would not…He couldn't

possibly….Dumbledore would never let him…

"Pull down your trousers and lie over my knee."

Harry paled at once. Snape had to admit that it was nearly funny,

watching the boy comprehend what was going to happen. "You can't.."

"No? Dumbledore seems to think I can. Would you argue with Albus Dumbledore?"

Harry seemed frozen in place. He wanted to move, to protest, but his

body wouldn't obey. Instead, traitorously, it hooked his thumbs into

the waistband of his sleep pants and jerked them to his knees. He had

never been smacked before, didn't know where Snape wanted him.

Snape guided him over his lap, careful not to hurt him. He even took

Potter's glasses and carefully folded them and put them on the desk

behind him, not wanting him to thrash so hard they flew off his face.

He put one arm around the boy's waist and used the other to tug his

shorts to his knees along with his sleep pants.

This provoked a reaction. Potter squeaked, unable to conscience being

half nude before his teacher. "Please, professor-- "

Snape ignored him and raised the switch. It slid through the air with

a soft 'swisssh', and a second later it struck Harry right where he

sat. An instant later, he stiffened, cried out. "Oww!"

Harry was shocked. It didn't just hurt. It bloody well HURT! He

couldn't help it. He cried out each time the switch fell, because it

felt like a very thin line of fire was being burned onto his backside

at every stroke.

"What are you being spanked for, Potter?"

Harry squirmed. "Because I stunned you ahhhh, it hurts!"

Snape had to smile a little, times change but the reaction of a child

under a switch was not one of those things. He raised the switch

and began a new set of stripes, these being slighter more to the center than the first.

Harry sucked in air and Snape steeled himself for the barrage of howls and

screams to follow. Instead, the boy seemed to be holding his breathe,

an act of direct defiance, and Snape decided to quell by it making his

blows quicker and harder.

"It's going to hurt more, because we aren't half done. What else did you do?"

Harry was struggling to not sob. "I tried to f-find Sirius. I went to

Hogsmeade (owwww!) I went after Lupin even though I knew it was (ouch,

please!) dangerous. I almost got Ron and 'Mione hurt, and I snuck out,

even though (yowww!) we were suppose to be inside."

Snape slowed a little. "That's right. You were thoughtless and rude

and thoroughly naughty, and I intend to make sure you think twice

before you ever do anything like it again." He raised the switch and

gave Harry the hardest set yet, right on the crease between bottom and

thigh where he sat down. He was gratified by the result.

"OWWW, NOOOO, STOP! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'll never do it

agai-ahhhhhhhh! Pleeeeaasse, no more, it huurrrrts! Oww, not there,

pleeeease, not theeeere! I have a test tomorroooWWW!"

Snape felt a grim sense of rightness with his actions, watching as

the Boy Who Was Going to Live With a Very Sore Behind For A Few Days

protest. Not so arrogant now, was he?

After a moment, Snape did stop, setting the switch aside. The boy

continued to writhe, kicking, for a full minute before he realized the

blaze in his behind was not being added to anymore.

Snape let him cry it out without saying anything.

The sobs didn't abate-if anything, they increased. After a reluctant

moment, Snape put his hand on Harry's back and began to pat.

"Alright, Mr. Potter. Calm down before you make yourself sick, won't you?"

Harry simply couldn't stop. The dam that he had erected around all his feelings had smashed open, and now weeks worth of terror and worry were gushing out of him. He put his head down and bawled harder than he could ever remember crying.

Snape was disturbed. This wasn't about the spanking, not anymore. He let the boy cry for another minute and, sighing, righted the brat, pulling his sleep pants up and setting him on his feet. Harry hugged himself, still crying as though his heart would break.

Snape shook his head, feeling concern despite himself. He grabbed the boy's puny little arm and drug him, unresisting, to his office. The fire sprang to life at once, and Snape pushed the crying child down gently on the couch, then sat beside him.

"Professor, I'm s-s-orry. I'll stop, I will, I--" Harry was torn between a desire to not seem like a bigger baby than he already did and an equal desire to let some of the agony and fear of the past few weeks drain away. He tried to stop the tears, he really did, but all he did was make himself sob harder from shame and embarrassment.

"That's quite alright, Potter. Tell me, though, why so much fuss? "

"I don't know, I n-n-never cry like this." Harry buried his face in the crook of his arm and waited for the taunting to begin.

Snape cursed to himself. Damnable child, all he'd meant to do was whip him, out of respect to Lily's memory, and then have done with it. The boy would have a sore bum to remind him to behave, and Snape could quiet the green eyed ghost that stared at him with such sad eyes. Lily….. He swallowed hard. It always surprised hi, his grief for her, still fresh and strong after all these years. It stayed buried for months, years, and then something would remind him and it was as though he had lost her only yesterday. Lily…

He attributed what he did next to his suddenly raw grief for her, the only woman he'd ever loved. He scooted to the very edge of the couch and put his arms hesitantly about the boy, who shrank back like he'd been burned. Snape blinked in shock--most children in that position would have thrown themselves wailing into the nearest adult arms for comfort.

"Potter, stop this nonsense at once. Now, boy!"

That did the trick. Harry's tears stopped as though he had turned off a faucet, which was itself irregular. Snape had been working with children for too long not to find it even more unsettling.

"What in the world has come over you?"

"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to cry like that, it won't happen again."

Snape took in the boy's dull tone and strangely glazed eyes and made a snap decision.

"Potter, you have exactly five seconds to tell me the meaning of this, all of it. Otherwise, I'll get the veritaserum from the Potions store and we'll do it that way. Again, and for the last time: What is the meaning of all this?"