Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He felt better than he had expected he would. Draco was actually kind of fun to talk to, once he'd gotten enough ice cream and fudge sauce inside him. He had a snarky sense of humor that Harry enjoyed but that neither Ron nor Hermione really appreciated. He was a lot like Snape, actually, except for the part about refusing to put himself in any danger. Draco made no bones about wanting to avoid pain in any form, hence both his secret disaffection for Voldemort and his outward obedience to Lucius' schemes.
When the two boys were stuck in the infirmary together, they'd actually had quite a few interesting chats. Discovering that they both had suffered numerous injuries at the hands of the very people who were supposed to care for them the most, had more or less opened the conversational floodgates. Draco still held pureblood beliefs that Harry found disgusting. Harry still intended to defeat Voldemort, which Draco considered insanely suicidal. But other than that, there were plenty of topics on which they agreed. The awfulness of Snape's punishments being an obvious one.
That thought reminded Harry of where he was going, and he groaned aloud. He was under no illusion that the next thirty minutes would be pleasant. He just wondered how hellish they would actually be. Knowing Snape… He sighed and forced his dragging footsteps onwards.
"Enter." Snape laid down his quill and looked at the boy who had just slipped into the room. His eyebrow rose fractionally.
"Look, before you say anything, just hear me out, okay?" the boy said rapidly. "What I'm about to say is going to sound ridiculous, but I'm serious. I don't want to tell you why and I don't want to talk about it either, all right?"
Snape inclined his head in agreement.
"Okay," Draco took a deep breath then released it in a rush. "I don't think you should hit Potter. He already apologized to me and he's kind of having a bad day, so maybe you should really scare him, but actually go kind of easy on him. Just whatever you do, don't tell him I said so."
"Is that all?" Snape inquired calmly.
"Yes. Um…can I go?" Draco asked awkwardly.
At the door, Draco paused and looked back, a worried look on his face. "Uncle Sev, is it Slytherin to…" he trailed off, looking uncomfortable.
"Yes, Draco. It is very Slytherin to keep others guessing by acting unexpectedly. Ten points."
His godson grinned and vanished.
Four minutes later, Potter appeared. "Um, Professor, can I come in?"
Potter looked confused. "May you what?"
Snape rolled his eyes. "Get in here, Potter."
Harry reluctantly edged his way forward. "I – I came to apologize."
Snape just looked at him. Harry swallowed hard. "And – and for my punishment for punching Malfoy."
"Explain your behavior."
Harry dropped his gaze. What was the point of going into details? Snape must know about the summer plans – it wasn't like the Headmaster wouldn't consult him before talking to Harry – so if he complained about them, he'd just sound like a whinging baby. Of course, if he didn't explain, it would look like he'd deliberately punched Draco.
He decided to compromise. "I – I was upset, and I just lost my temper. It wasn't anything Draco said or did. I didn't even know I was going to punch him before I did it. I'm really sorry." He hung his head.
"I see. And what was so calamitous that it drove all rational thought from your head?"
Eyes still downcast, Harry shrugged one shoulder. "Doesn't matter. Shouldn't have behaved that way."
"You are correct. How do you hope to reach adulthood, let alone defeat the Dark Lord, if you cannot even control your own temper? How does your action towards Draco differ from that of your uncle, lashing out at you whenever he had a bad day at work?"
The rebuke struck Harry like a blow. He hadn't thought of it in that light, but his taking his frustration out on Draco was exactly like what Uncle Vernon used to do – and would soon be doing again. That was it. The tears began to flow.
"Regardless of how you are feeling, it is never acceptable to strike out blindly," Snape scolded. "Don't you remember what it feels like to be the recipient of such violence? The bewilderment, hurt, anger? How could you cause someone else to feel that way?"
Harry couldn't suppress his sobs. He was turning into his uncle, the one thing he'd always sworn he'd never become.
"When you became upset, why did you not use your Occlumency lessons to calm yourself before you reached the point where you lost complete control?"
Harry stared at him, shocked through his tears. It had never occurred to him to use Occlumency in such a manner.
"Potter," the professor snapped impatiently, "did you never think that the Dark Lord will taunt you? That he too will try to upset you? That he will say dreadful things in the hopes of making you lose control and thus lose your focus and ability to fight or defend yourself? What do you think mind control is all about?"
"I – I didn't…" Great, now Harry felt both guilty and stupid.
"If you are this inept, you obviously require additional tutelage," Snape frowned. "You will now have an extra Occlumency lesson on Saturdays, and I better not hear any complaints about your lack of free time. In addition, you will spend an extra thirty minutes before bedtime meditating and clearing your mind of excessive emotion. That means," he said pointedly, "that until further notice, your bedtime is moved up half an hour. Perhaps if you get more sleep you will be able to demonstrate greater emotional control than a cranky two year old."
Harry longed to protest that none of the other Gryffindors even had a bedtime, but as upset as he was, he really wasn't suicidal.
"Furthermore, I expect a three foot essay on the dangers of an abused child becoming an abuser himself, along with ways to avoid falling into that trap." Harry nodded resignedly. With final exams coming up, he needed another essay like he needed a hole in the head, but he couldn't really argue that this wasn't an appropriate punishment. Besides, it might actually prove helpful.
"And you will of course apologize to Mr Malfoy."
"Yes, sir." Harry gulped. Here it came. Now that the preliminaries had been attended to, it was time for the painful part of the evening.
But Snape wasn't moving from his seat at the desk.
Harry waited a minute, confused.
"Was there something else, Mr Potter?"
"What – what about the rest of my punishment?" Harry managed to stammer.
"Aren't you going to, erm, you know?"
"Ah, yes. Thank you for reminding me. Come here."
Harry took a deep breath and stepped over to Snape's chair, waiting for the professor to push his chair back and haul Harry across his knee.
"Here." The Potions Master handed him a piece of parchment.
Blankly, Harry took it. "What's this, sir?"
"An ever refreshing parchment. It will erase itself once you have completed 100 lines upon it so that you can start again. I expect 100 lines of 'I will learn to control my temper, my emotions, and my mind' every week for the next ten weeks."
"That's a thousand lines!" Harry gasped in shock.
"But – but – Every week for the next ten weeks? That will take me right through the end of the summer holidays!"
Harry stared at the man. Was he being deliberately dim? "Sir, I won't be able to do this over the summer."
"Then you can expect a spanking for not completing your punishment, Mr Potter," Snape said severely. "Perhaps I was in error to think that you already understood the seriousness of your behavior and therefore did not require corporal chastisement."
Harry blinked, trying to decipher the professor's statement. His eyes grew wide as he realized the import of the words. "You're not going to whack me?!"
Snape forced back his snickers. It really had been fun to mess with the brat's mind like that. But now he needed to explain things.
"Harry," he said, his use of the boy's first name causing emerald eyes to fly to meet his own. "I will only 'whack' you if I think you have not appreciated the consequences of your actions. I do it to get your attention as well as to dissuade you from continuing with inappropriate behavior. I believed that in this case, you are already well-aware that you were in the wrong and that such actions must not happen again. Was my assessment incorrect?"
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and shook his head, his eyes bright with unshed tears. "I – I do understand. I really do," he promised. Then another thought struck him, and the tears threatened to spill out. "But I can't do the lines. Uncle Vernon won't let me have a quill and parchment. I can try to hide them or use Muggle pen and paper, but –"
"Harry, do you really think I would allow you to go back to the Dursleys? I had assumed you would spend the summer with me."
Now Harry was really crying. "The Headmaster won't let me. He said –"
"I have already spoken to the Headmaster this evening, Mr Potter," Snape said, his voice deliberately sharp. "And I have made it clear that where my ward is concerned, I make the decisions, not him. So you can stop trying to weasel out of your punishment. You will be doing 100 lines a week, or you will find sitting down acutely painful. Do you understand?"
The snarl at the end of the words was masterfully delivered, but the accompanying glare went unnoticed by its intended recipient. Harry flung himself at Snape, his arms twining so tightly around the professor's neck that Snape had to fight for air. Out of sheer self-defense (or so he told himself), his arms went around the boy's sobbing form.
"Shh. All right, all right. That's enough," Snape soothed as Harry wept into his robes, hoping to calm the little fiend quickly. He wasn't being caring, dammit, it was just that prolonged emotional outbursts made his head hurt.
Harry clung tighter, shoulders shaking. Great. More snot. And this time on the shoulder of his robes. Even more attractive.
After several more minutes of Harry's heart-wrenching sobs, Snape began to wonder if he shouldn't have simply swatted the boy. At least he composed himself reasonably quickly after a spanking.
"Harry, you'll make yourself sick. Calm down or I'm going to have to get you a potion," Snape finally said, tapping the boy's rear to get his attention. The threat of a potion had the desired effect. Harry's tears subsided into hiccups.
Snape stifled a sigh and hoisted the boy onto his lap, letting him lean against him. Harry was really much too old for this sort of thing, though Merlin knew he didn't get any affection when he was younger. He handed Harry a handkerchief and waited patiently as the brat mopped his face and honked his nose. "Really, Potter," Snape said once it was clear that the boy could actually focus on what was being said to him, "what part of 'you must learn to control your emotions' was unclear to you?"
"S-sorry, Pr'fes'r," Harry mumbled, but he didn't sound particularly apologetic. His green eyes gleamed beneath his fringe. "So I really get to stay with you for the summer?" he asked.
"Yes," Snape said forbiddingly. "And you had best resign yourself to a great deal of studying. No more of this doing your assignments on the Hogwarts Express or expecting to copy Miss Granger's notes on the reading material. You will complete your schoolwork, obey your assigned bedtime, and adhere to my rules. You will also assist me in my laboratory, as that may help your dismal performance in Potions, and complete any additional homework I see fit to assign."
"You're going to make me read ahead? That's so unfair! No one else has to do extra," Harry whined. Only the delight in his eyes gave away the game.
"Do you imagine I will allow my ward to remain a mediocre student?" Snape retorted testily. "If I cannot get you to assimilate the knowledge in here –" he tapped Harry's forehead "- then I shall attempt to motivate you from here –" he administered a light swat to Harry's bum. "And I shall have the whole summer to do it, Mr Potter, so be warned."
"You probably won't let me fly even a little bit," Harry complained, but he watched Snape very, very carefully through his fringe.
"You're right. No flying," Snape agreed, hiding his smirk as Harry's eyes grew wide with horror. "…Unless you have behaved yourself and completed your daily assignment and eaten all your meals properly, including the vegetables."
"Well, I guess I'll have to do the lines then," Harry muttered as sulkily as he could manage.
"You may do the first hundred tonight," Snape ordered. "The essay can wait until after exams are finished, but you will be sure to apologize to Mr Malfoy before lunchtime tomorrow."
Snape eyed the boy assessingly. Harry was doing his best to hide the beaming smile that threatened to burst out any second, but it was clear he would soon lose the battle. On the other hand, his eyes were red from weeping and his cheeks were splotched with tears. Under the circumstances, it was probably the best time to send him back to his dorm. Anyone who saw the boy would assume Snape had thoroughly punished him for striking Draco, thus preserving the Potion Master's fearsome reputation.
"You will go straight to your dormitory, Mr Potter, and complete the first set of lines before bed. No dawdling in the common room or exchanging gossip with your little friends. Do I make myself clear?" He had the boy up and moving to the door before he knew what was going on.
Harry stopped dead. "No biscuits?" he asked, shocked.
Snape opened the door. "On top of all that ice cream, Mr Potter? Do you want to end up as rotund as your cousin? Now be off with you." And he turned the open-mouthed child around and gave him a brisk swat that sent him scampering on his way.
Harry hurried out of the dungeons, his mind in a whirl. How could Snape know about the ice cream? Had Draco told him? But that was impossible! But if he knew about the ice cream, then what else did he know about? And was that why Harry had escaped a walloping?
But all that was almost irrelevant. The one, all-encompassing, blissful thought Harry had was that he wasn't going to have to go back to the Dursleys. Snape could have threatened to smack him every day of the summer holidays and twice on Tuesdays, and he would still have preferred to go with him. But instead, Harry was going to be able to eat and study and fly and be a normal kid. Snape might, just might, even allow Harry to have a real birthday cake. Harry grinned. This was going to be one heck of a summer.
Thanks to all who requested sequels to "Finding a Family"! Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. :)