AU - One shot. Sequel to "Finding a Family", "Losing a Book", "Adding One More". You are strongly encouraged to read those first. In this, Draco and Harry each react jealously to the other's relationship with Snape. Warning: mention of corporal punishment.
Sharing a Family
Draco's punishment time of three weeks went by very quickly. Much to everyone's astonishment, within the first week and a half, reasonably cordial relations were established. While they didn't extend to a general thaw beyond the confines of Snape's quarters, Snape was pleased to see that, at least during these evening sessions, all four children interacted quite well. He unbent enough to allow Weasley and Malfoy to spend time playing Wizard Chess after they had put in some work on their respective essays, but he was more than a little stunned the first time he found Granger and Malfoy studying together for an exam.
Even after his detention was over, Draco still took to dropping by his godfather's quarters every so often when the Gryffindors were there. Not every night, but frequently enough that Snape knew that he was managing to loosen Lucius' stranglehold on the boy. What he hadn't counted on, however, was a problem that any parent of siblings could have predicted.
The Golden Trio and their Slytherin companion were working on their respective homework while Snape was busy correcting sixth year essays. He was paying no attention to the students' prattle, and so missed the comment that unintentionally set off the subsequent hostilities. While describing the answer to a particularly complex question on their Charms assignment, Harry said, "Yeah, when Professor Snape and I were working on my extra DADA lessons, he said that the Extendo Sanguinis charm can be a lifesaver."
A sharp feeling of jealousy washed over Draco at this reminder that Harry got extra tutelage from Snape, and he deliberately snickered.
Harry frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Your Latin pronunciation is appalling, you dunce," Draco sneered. "It's no wonder Uncle Sev keeps you at arms' length. He's probably terrified that someone might think he's responsible for your incompetence."
Hermione and Ron looked up from their own work, sensing a fight in the making.
"What do you mean, he keeps me at arms' length?" Harry demanded. He was pretty sure that whatever Draco meant, it wasn't a compliment.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Oh, you're pathetic, Potter. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that most wards don't call their guardians by a title? I guess Uncle Sev – " he stressed the familiar form of address with a gloating pleasure " – doesn't feel all that close to you."
Now it was Harry who felt the jolt of jealousy. How come that prat Draco got to call Snape "Sev" when it was Harry who was his ward? Wards were even closer than godsons, weren't they? "Maybe not," he spat back, "but at least I don't have to get into trouble before he notices me. He likes spending time with me. He just watches you because he has to."
"Take that back, Potter!" Draco was on his feet, trembling with rage.
Now both boys were standing up, wands at the ready. "Expelliaramus!" Hermione yelled, startling both and instantly capturing Snape's attention.
"What in Merlin's name is going on over here?" he demanded, hurrying over. "Can't you spend one evening together without a battle erupting?"
"Uncle Sev," Draco cut in smarmily, "it's all Potter's fault. He's the one – "
Draco's use of Snape's first name and his own surname wasn't wasted on Harry. "He drew his wand first!" he accused. "Punish him!"
"You sneaky tell-tale!" Draco snarled.
"Enough!" Snape snarled. "Both of you. Into the classroom. Right now. Noses in separate corners."
Both boys turned to expostulate with him, but one look convinced them it was safer to remove themselves. They hurried from the room, still muttering dark threats at each other.
"Five points to Gryffindor for disarming them, Miss Granger," Snape said, exhaling slowly. "Now. What was that about?"
"I don't know, Professor. It just seemed to flare up out of nowhere. One minute they were talking about charms and lessons, and the next – boom!"
Snape turned a cold eye upon the Weasley whelp. He was chuckling softly to himself as he gathered his books in preparation for his departure. "And what about this strikes you as amusing, Mr Weasley?" Snape asked, his voice dangerously quiet.
"I'm sorry, Professor," Ron grinned, "but I honestly never thought I'd see the day when two Hogwarts students fought over you. My brothers would never believe this."
Snape's jaw dropped. "What?"
Hermione was staring at Ron, equally astonished. "What do you mean, Ron?"
"It's obvious. Harry and Draco are jealous of each other. They're fighting over you."
"Are you certain?" Snape couldn't believe he was actually turning to a student, let alone a Weasley, for advice, but the boy seemed convinced and Snape certainly had no other explanation for the sudden conflict.
"Sure," Ron said breezily. "Ginny and the twins and I do the same thing when Charlie comes home for a visit. We fight like mad over him – we each want him to spend time with us. We used to do the same thing over my mum and dad, and it was even worse when we were younger. Draco's an only child, right? And so is Harry for all intents and purposes. So neither has any experience sharing a parent."
Snape looked green. "I am not a parent!"
"Close enough," Ron shrugged.
Hermione nodded. "It's true, Professor. Ron and I have noticed how much happier Harry has been since he started spending time with you. And he's always talking about you and what you say and what you think. It's as if you're his dad."
"And I've heard Draco doing the same thing," Ron added. "Used to be, the only thing that came out of his mouth was 'my father this' and 'my father that', but now he's started quoting you instead of his git of a father." At Snape's automatic glare, he colored. "Sorry."
Snape frowned. What in Merlin's name was he supposed to do about this? "How do your parents handle this?" he asked them, his voice uncharacteristically plaintive.
Hermione looked apologetic. "I'm in the same situation as Draco, Professor. I'm an only child, so I've never had to learn to share my folks."
"I never really thought about it," Ron said slowly. "I guess they just remind us that we have to take turns and stuff. And if we get really annoying, then they send us to our rooms, so we don't get any time with them. After that happens enough, you learn to share."
The professor suppressed a sigh. Here was more childish angst that he had to deal with because the parties who should have were idiots or bastards or both. Marvelous. "Thank you," he said formally. "I'm sorry that your time here was cut short."
"That's all right, Professor. We don't just come for the biscuits, you know," Hermione replied politely. Ron looked as if he weren't in complete agreement with the latter statement but was too polite to say so. "Thank you for your hospitality."
The two Gryffindors headed back to their tower, while Snape went to confront the two miscreants.
Both were fidgeting in opposite corners of the classroom, obviously highly indignant at being treated in such a childish way. "Come here," he ordered. He was still trying to decide how he would handle the situation. He doubted sweet reason would work on either, and he could hardly swat one and not the other. Then it occurred to him that the two boys had created a reasonably good relationship when they were stuck in the Infirmary together. What had prompted their camaraderie then? Ah yes, a mutual enemy. Hmmm. That might work.
He waited until both boys had sulkily seated themselves on adjacent stools facing him. Now they were studiously ignoring each other and him. He slammed a hand down on his desk, and both boys jumped and shied away, eyes wide with alarm. "Just what did you think you were doing?" he demanded furiously. "Brawling in my quarters?"
"I was just defending myself!" Harry protested. "You said I could do that!"
"Liar!" Draco snapped. "You were the one who tried to –"
"I did not! It was you –"
"Silence!" Once again his voice rang off the walls and both boys cowered back in their seats. "This is beyond outrageous," Snape said, dropping his voice to a deadly whisper and noticing with satisfaction that both boys had paled. "It appears you find incurring my displeasure insufficient to overcome the enjoyment of arguing with each other." Both boys looked like they wanted to dispute his words, but for once they were too scared to do so. "I will be happy to demonstrate the folly of that line of thinking if necessary." The two fidgeted nervously on their chairs.
"No, sir," Harry practically whispered.
"No, Uncle Sev," Draco agreed.
Mistake. As soon as his hated adversary used the familiar term – and knowing Draco, he probably did it deliberately – Harry's temper reignited. "Shut up!" he yelled at Draco, then turning to Snape demanded, "Why can he call you 'Uncle Sev', but I have to call you 'Professor Snape'?"
Draco smirked and replied before Snape could. "Because he's only taking care of you because Dumbledork ordered him to."
Snape started to scold Draco for his discourtesy towards the Headmaster, but before he could even speak, Harry's eyes had filled with fury, and the bottles on the nearby shelves started to rattle. Snape's eyes darted to them as he recognized the prelude to a disastrous outburst of accidental magic. If those bottles exploded, the three of them could be seriously injured, by the ingredients themselves if not the flying glass. He needed to do something immediately.
"GET UP." He didn't give them time to obey. He snatched them by the scruff of their necks and jerked until both were dancing on their tiptoes, trying not to strangle, then thrust them away from him to regain their footing. Once again, their mutual antipathy had vanished in the face of his rage, and the potion bottles were silent and still. Snape accio'd their wands, then quite deliberately transfigured a quill into a long pointer. Draco got it first and went ashen.
"Bend over the desk." Now Potter was looking at him with utter horror as well. "Now."
Both boys stumbled over to his desk but hesitated. "Bend over."
Petrified, cringing at the thought of what was about to happen, they obeyed. They were huddling against each other now, shoulder to shoulder – no longer adversaries but abrupt allies against the brutal adult. "P-please don 't…" Snape wasn't even sure from which boy the whimper had come.
"It appears my methods have been too gentle for you," he told them coldly, tapping each backside with the stick as if checking his aim. "You both come from households where severe forms of discipline are used. Obviously you ignore anything else."
Harry was shaking his head frantically, tears flying. Draco's head was down on the desk but he was whispering "No, no."
"Yes, yes," Snape mimicked back. Merlin, he could be a right bastard! "I tried different approaches, but did you listen? No. Did you obey? No."
"We're sorry," one said softly, voice thick with tears.
"We didn't mean it," said the other, equally tearful.
Snape hid a smile. He returned the stick to its original form. "Turn around," he ordered, his voice still like ice.
Not sure whether they had earned a reprieve or merely a stay of execution, the boys hesitantly turned to face him. "I do not intend to repeat myself, so you will listen." Both boys nodded so hard he feared for their necks. "If I ever have to go to this extreme again in order to gain your attention, I will not be happy. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir!" they spoke as one.
"I will not have my quarters treated like some disreputable tavern and disgraced with brawls."
"You will not do me the inexpressible disrespect of assuming that I am the Headmaster's lapdog," he snarled, genuinely furious at last. The boys exchanged a confused glance. "Do you really think I can be ordered to accept someone into my home, my life, my family?" he demanded angrily. Draco looked as if someone had just slapped him. Harry, by contrast, wore an expression more akin to Christmas morning. "I adopted Harry as my ward because I wanted to, Draco, and my reasons are none of your business. But know this: I am not a puppet – of either the Dark or the Light. I choose my path. I choose my actions. And if you ever again presume otherwise, Draco, you will regret it!" His godson gulped and nodded. It was obvious he had never thought of it in those terms.
"And as for you," he turned on Harry. The boy lost his grin and hunched closer to Draco. "Draco is my godson. You will respect that. He was here first and while that does not give him primacy, it does mean that he too is a part of my life. If you do not honor that, you will be punished." Harry nodded hastily.
"I will not say this again: if either of you attempt to make me choose between you, you will not enjoy the result. I will not be manipulated. If I can withstand the machinations of the Dark Lord and Albus Dumbledore, I highly doubt that I will be bested by two underage brats." They winced. "Do you understand?"
"I assume that both of you wish to continue your relationship with me?" He paused, raising an eyebrow. This time the boys didn't bother to look at each other. Both instantly nodded. Snape kept his expression stern and remote, hiding the warm glow in his chest. "Then this nonsense will stop. At once. You are squabbling like a pair of dogs over a rubber bone. I am not a rubber bone!" he shouted at them, leaning forward until he was practically nose to nose with them. The boys flinched back, but they were already pressed back against the desk and it prevented their further retreat.
"I will not be made a mockery of," Snape continued, rising to his not inconsiderable height and glaring down his nose at the cringing children. He wondered if the two realized they were actually clutching hands. "Draco!" The blond twitched as if he had received an electric shock. "You are well acquainted with Wizard society. How do you think it makes me look for my ward and godson to be at daggers drawn? Always engaging in petty disputes and public brawls?"
Draco swallowed hard. "It – it makes you look w-weak, Unc- Professor," he admitted unhappily.
"Do you think I appreciate being made to look weak?" Snape thundered.
"No, sir!" they squeaked.
"Harry – you know my reputation among the other Houses. How do the other students regard my inability to control the actions of my own godson and ward? What do they think of the fact that the two of you are constantly misbehaving and getting into trouble for fighting with each other and calling each other rude names?"
Harry stared at the ground. "They think it's funny," he mumbled.
"And does that make you feel good?" Snape purred. "To know that you're eroding the respect of the entire student body for me? That you're making me look foolish and weak and pathetic?"
Both boys were pale and trembling. They had never contemplated their actions in this light, and remorse was now joining the terror that they felt.
"But obviously, you would want to punish me in this way, to make me the butt of student jokes, to disgrace me in Wizarding society. After all, haven't I treated the both of you badly? Haven't I scolded you and beaten you? Haven't I cursed you and hurt you?" Now both boys had tears of shame running down their cheeks. "Of course you should try to get your revenge on me," Snape purred. "I have obviously been the cruelest person in your lives. I deserve punishment for the ways I've tortured you."
As he'd expected, Harry broke first. Sobbing, the boy hurled himself at Snape and caught him about the waist. " 'M sorry! I'm sorry! You've been great! I'm sorry!" he wept.
Draco, competitive as ever, even when wholly distraught, was mere seconds behind Potter. Realizing that Snape hadn't batted Harry to one side, as Lucius would have done in similar circumstances, he too flung himself at his godfather and grabbed his waist in a death grip. "I'm sorry too! Please don't be mad!"
Snape didn't respond. He merely stood there, cold and remote.
"We're sorry," the blond boy whimpered. "You've been the only one who really cares. Please don't stop."
Harry nodded, burying his head in Snape's robes. "It's true. My relatives are awful and Malfoy's father is just as bad. We need you. Don't send us away."
Snape sighed happily. Merlin, he was good. Slytherin cunning always won out. He let his hands drop to the boys' shoulders and he gave them a reassuring squeeze. But only for a moment.
Then he gently disengaged them and, seating himself on a nearby chair, he pulled them over to stand before him. "I'm not through with you yet," he said, but his voice was significantly less harsh than it had been.
They hiccupped and sniffled, but watched him obediently. He accio'd handkerchiefs for each and waited patiently while they mopped themselves up. He tried hard not to think about the state of his robe.
Snape caught each of them under the chin and looked at each in turn. "I care about you both," he said quietly. "I will never send you away. I will never abandon you. I will never beat you like your relatives. But I will guide you. I will teach you. I will punish you when you deserve it. And you will obey me. You will treat me and each other with respect. There are too many forces out there who wish to harm us – individually and collectively. We cannot have this nonsensical fighting amongst ourselves. You will have to learn to share me. I suspect it will not be easy, and there will be hurt feelings – and possibly sore bottoms – before you learn the best way forward. But you will both need to make the commitment to try. Will you do that?"
He locked eyes with each boy in turn, and first Harry and then Draco nodded solemnly. He shrank from what he had to do next, but he knew it was important. Bracing himself mentally, he dropped his hold on their chins and held his arms out. Instantly, he was knocked back by the impact of two young bodies against his own.
This time, he didn't end the embrace quickly, but at long last he pressed his lips against the top of each head – one messy and the other neatly coiffed – and cleared his throat.
"Now," he announced in stern tones. "As for your disgraceful behavior today." The boys exchanged a worried look.
"We're really sorry!" Harry said quickly. "We'll never do it again."
"Never," Draco agreed. "And we're very very remorseful!"
"Yeah!" Harry echoed.
Snape blinked. It was like listening to the Weasley twins. "Be that as it may, you will still be punished."
"Aww," Harry's shoulders drooped.
"Aww," Draco groaned.
"I will expect you here next Saturday, cleaning and inventorying my stockroom."
"But Uncle Sev!" Draco gasped, eyes wide. "There's a Quidditch match next Saturday!"
"And you have detention," Snape replied calmly. "If the two of you can bring yourselves to work together, the work should take you until lunchtime, leaving you plenty of time to attend the match. On the other hand, if you try to work independently, let alone squabble and argue, you will likely be here until curfew. It is your choice."
He watched as the boys exchanged a long look, then Harry offered cautiously, "It's not that big a deal, Draco. I've cleaned lots of things. I bet we'll get it done even before lunch."
Draco bit back the snide comment he was going to make about Harry's suitability as a house elf. "Okay, well, maybe you could – y'know – sort of figure out what we need to do and then we'll do it." It was as close as he could come to acknowledging that he'd let Potter be in charge.
"And –" Snape began ominously. Both boys tensed. Harry couldn't stop himself from looking around for the stick. Draco caught the movement and quickly said, "That was a really good bluff before, Uncle Sev. I thought for sure you were going to thrash us."
Snape was pleased by Draco's oblique move to reassure Harry. "Now that you know I will never punish you in such a fashion, it has lost its efficacy, but yes, it did work well this time, didn't it?"
Harry relaxed visibly. "Guess you'll have to come up with something else next time," he said cheekily.
Snape lifted an eyebrow. "I'm sure I will."
"Not that there'll be a next time," Draco said swiftly, elbowing Harry.
"Ow! No, of course not," the Gryffindor hastily concurred.
"Before I was so rudely interrupted," Snape said forbiddingly, "I was about to point out we are not done yet."
Harry gulped. What now? He wouldn't be surprised if Snape decided to smack them both, but he had really hoped they might get off with only the detention.
Draco forced himself not to tremble. Uncle Sev had already said he'd never whip him the way Lucius did, so what did he have to fear, really? He just wished the bats fluttering around his stomach would settle down.
Snape regarded the two boys with an amused gleam in his eye. They really were awfully young and gullible. He might enjoy this whole mentoring thing after all. "Our tea and biscuits await."