Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters.
Disclaimer, part deux: This story will contain one scene of mild corporal punishment of a minor as well as references to child abuse. I'll put warnings above any chapter where this occurs so you can skip it if you're sensitive to that sort of thing.
Harry Potter sat on the swings at a small park a few blocks from his house. It was the first day of his summer holiday. He would be eleven soon and, come September, he would be leaving for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was excited at the thought of going to the school, but a little nervous about leaving home. He couldn't decide if he wanted the summer to go past quickly or slowly. If today were any indication, it would be slow. The first morning of the hols, and he was already bored. He kicked at the ground with his foot before kicking off and starting to swing. The swings had always been one of his favorite pastimes; it was almost like flying.
So lost in his own thoughts was he that he didn't realize he wasn't alone on the little playground until he heard a familiarly unpleasant voice call out, "Look, it's Fairy Potter!"
Harry immediately recognized the voice as belonging to one Scott Andrews. Scott lived a few houses down from Harry and his dad and was in Harry's class in school. He was, quite possibly, the most unlikable person Harry had ever met. He had refused to call Harry anything but "Fairy" since their first day of school when Harry had stupidly told his teacher all about being a wizard. The teacher had been delighted by the story, praising his vivid "imagination". Even the other children seemed fascinated by his stories, all of them except Scott, who immediately saddled Harry with the hated nickname and, ever since, appeared obviously impressed by his own wit every time he dragged out the boring epithet.
"Leave me alone, Scott," Harry said in his best warning tone. He knew it was a pointless request. This meeting would end in only one way: with Harry running away. If he managed to escape, he would lock himself in his house where Scott couldn't reach him. If he did not, Scott would punch him. That was the kind of boy Scott was; punching people was his favorite activity, and Harry was one of his favorite targets.
Escaping muggle school and Scott Andrews was another reason Harry was looking forward to Hogwarts. He was not so naive as to think there would be no bullies there. His father and Sirius had told him all their stories about Snivellus Snape, after all, but he was quite sure he could avoid them more easily there, where everyone would already know him and where he had built-in friends. It wasn't that Harry didn't have any friends at the muggle school, but it wasn't the same with muggles as it was with his magical friends. For one thing, he could never invite them over to his house to play, so eventually they all seemed to get miffed and stop inviting him round to their houses.
"Why would I want to leave you alone when I could have a spot of fun?" Scott asked, punching his right hand into his left as he advanced on Harry menacingly. Harry quickly hopped off the swing and took off at a full run, but today was not a lucky day. He was nearly home, nearly to safety, when Scott slammed into his back, knocking him to the ground. Harry's glasses went flying off his face and hit the ground with an ominous tinkling sound. Scott turned him over and punched him in the stomach. "You should know better than to run from me, Fairy Potter. It just makes it that much worse when you do." Harry struggled to get away, but it was no use. Scott was bigger and stronger and held him down easily.
Harry felt a familiar prickle of panic course through him as tears sprang to his eyes. "Are you going to blub, you little fairy?"Scott asked, giving Harry a slap across the face. "Go ahead and cry for me." Harry willed himself not to, but it was no use. As the taunts and blows continued, he felt his body betray him as he gasped and the tears came. That was what Scott had been looking for. With a final slap across his face, Scott let him up. "Get out of here, you crybaby fairy, and don't let me catch you on my swings again."
Harry reached for his glasses and was unsurprised to find one of the lenses was gone. His dad would easily fix it, but it enraged him all the same. He ran toward home, slamming the door behind him when he arrived. Harry's dad, James, and James's best mate and Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, were in the living room playing Wizard's Chess. They both looked up when they heard the door slam and were both quickly on their feet when they took in Harry's appearance. His tears were still falling, but now they were tears of rage rather than fear and panic.
"Harry, what's happened?" James asked, his voice full of concern. Harry tried to speak, but found that he was still too upset. He wordlessly showed his father his glasses. "Was it Scott Andrews again?" James asked quietly. Harry could only nod. James sighed and then said, "Come on, let's get you cleaned up." He half dragged, half carried Harry up the stairs to the bathroom, where he washed Harry's face and, with a single word, mended his glasses. "Would you like me to hex him for you?" James asked, after Harry had calmed.
Harry let out a small laugh. "Yes." he said, his voice still thick with tears.
James smiled sadly. "I wish I could."
"I'll do it." Sirius said, suddenly appearing in the doorway. "I don't care."
"No, thank you, Sirius." James said quickly. "I guess I'll go speak to his father."
"You've already done that, Dad! It never changes anything. It just makes it worse for me next time." Harry protested. He was tired and sore, and he wasn't in the mood for any more non-solutions. Adults always seemed to do that, as though they thought talking things out could solve everything. Kids knew better. "Just drop it."
James's face was filled with frustration, but his eyes were soft as he regarded his son. "Very well. I'll stay out of it if that's what you want. Now, why don't you go lie down for a bit. Come down when you're ready, and maybe we'll go flying after lunch." Harry nodded, still too angry to feel any excitement over the prospect of flying. Putting his wand on the edge of the sink, James enveloped Harry in a hug and then walked him to his room.
Harry lay in bed quietly, seething. After about fifteen minutes, he got up to use the loo and was surprised to see his father's wand still sitting on the edge of the sink where James had left it. He picked it up, fully intending to carry it down to his father when a plan dropped abruptly into his brain. Harry smiled a very mischievous smile and sneaked down the stairs and out the back door. Then he went searching for Scott.
He wasn't difficult to find, patrolling the swings with a few of his cronies as though he owned them, occasionally scaring off a younger child and hitting the ones who wouldn't scare at just his words. Harry approached brandishing the wand. "It's Fairy Potter!" Scott said with glee. "I guess you didn't learn your lesson earlier. Well, I guess I'll just have to teach it to you again."
Harry had no idea what to do, but he pointed the wand at Scott as he had seen his father do so many times. "Do something." he whispered to it urgently and a jet of blue light shot out the tip and hit Scott in the face. When the light had cleared, Scott stood before him looking very confused. His features had taken on a distinctly canine quality. His face was covered in fur, his nose replaced by a long snout with a wet black nose on the end. His ears had grown floppy and, between his very hairy legs, Harry could make out a tail. Harry laughed so hard he nearly fell to the ground. Scott's mates' eyes grew wide as they took in the changed image of their friend.
"Christ, Potter!" one of them exclaimed as they all backed away, breaking quickly into runs.
"What did you do?" Scott shouted, the pitch of his voice rising in panic. He began to cry, and suddenly Harry didn't find this funny anymore. He had meant to get even, but he never expected Scott to cry.
"Well," he told himself, "he always makes you cry," but that didn't make the hard knot of guilt that had just settled in Harry's stomach go away. "Put him back how he was," he said to the wand, but nothing happened. "Go on, put him back," he ordered the wand, giving it a shake, but the wand refused to obey. Scott took off running toward home and the gravity of what Harry had done hit him with full force. He had stolen his father's wand, he had done illegal underage magic, and he had exposed magic to the muggles.
He stood in the middle of the playground trying to decide what to do. The best thing would be to go home and confess the whole thing to his father. He would be able to put everything right again, and he might even find it funny, though Harry doubted it, at least not at first. He could sneak back in, put the wand back, and hope no one ever found out, but he didn't think that very likely with Scott Andrews the dog-faced boy running about on the loose. Scott would probably run home and tell his parents the whole thing, and then they would probably march right over to tell his father. Harry hated to think of the disappointed look on his father's face when he found out. There was nothing in the world he hated more than disappointing his father. He put the wand in his back pocket and sat on a swing to think.
James Potter found it difficult to focus on wizard's chess, and Sirius was beating him handily. He hated to think of Harry being bullied and he kept second-guessing his decision to respect his son's wishes and stay out of it. He knew what Harry said was true. The Andrews boy's parents never seemed to do anything to reign him in. He just couldn't understand it; he couldn't imagine letting Harry get away with behaving like that. He knew he was more lenient with Harry than he should be sometimes, but he would never let Harry bully other children. Never. He had learned too much from his own schooldays and the way he and his friends had treated Severus Snape. He still felt a bit guilty about it if he let himself dwell on it too much.
He started when he heard a knock at the door. That could mean only one thing: muggles. Why would muggles be calling? Selling something, probably. He rose and peeked out the window. It was Scott Andrews' parents, and they had something very odd between them. James had to fight back a laugh as he opened the door and realized what the odd thing was. It was Scott, very badly transfigured to resemble a dog. "Scott says your son did this to him." Mr. Andrews said, sounding unsure of himself. James heard a familiar bark-like laugh as Sirius came and stood behind him. James shot him a look and hoped it would be enough to silence him, but Sirius never had been good at controlling his laughter once he got started. James was sure at least a third of their detentions in his school days had been a result of that unlucky personality quirk.
"Come in, and please ignore my very rude friend." James said. The Andrews family came in and sat uncomfortably on the couch, looking around apprehensively at all the very odd decorations. James knew he'd be modifying their memories when this was over, so he just let them wonder at the moving pictures and the seemingly-alive chess board. He made his way up the stairs to find Harry. He was a little surprised Harry hadn't told him about the accidental magic. Usually he told James these things, just in case James had to clean up after him a bit. James had always made very clear to him that he should not be ashamed of doing accidental magic. It happens to all witches and wizards when they're young. He even told Harry a few stories of messes he'd made when he was young.
Harry's door was closed, so James knocked quietly. No answer. Perhaps Harry was asleep. He cracked the door and peeked in, but the room was empty. "Harry," he called. Then louder, "Harry!" No response. Then he realized what had happened. Harry hadn't done this while the Andrews boy was beating him, but had sneaked out and done it after the beating. Well, James couldn't blame him, and he wouldn't have stopped him going out if he had told James where he was going. He'd have a talk with him about making sure to always tell James before leaving the house.
He reached in his robes for his wand and started when he found it wasn't there. He felt around frantically, but his wand was not on him. Where had he left it? Oh, yes, the bathroom. He had put it on the edge of the sink after cleaning Harry up and he forgot to go back and retrieve it. He went quickly to get it, but it was gone. Only then did he realize what Harry had actually done. Harry had stolen his wand, gone looking for the Andrews boy, and done this to him on purpose. James felt his temper rise. He couldn't believe Harry would do this. He never would have thought it of the boy. He knew better than to play around with magic. He knew how dangerous it could be! James felt his face go hot as he fought to control his anger. He'd have to calm down before he could deal with his son. He went downstairs and asked Sirius for a quick word in the kitchen. Still sniggering, Sirius rose and followed him.
"How about your little Pronglet?" Sirius asked with a laugh. "Very impressive. Reminds me of something we would have done." Sirius's smile faded as James explained the whole situation to him in a hushed voice. "Don't worry. We'll put him right and wipe their memories. Shouldn't be too difficult." he said. "Do you think we should inform the Accidental Magical Reversal Squad?"
James shook his head. "I think we can handle this, but I have to go find Harry." James turned to go.
"Of course, go. I'll take care of things here. But Prongs--" James turned back to face him. "Harry's a good kid. Don't forget that."
"I know he is." James said with a sigh. "But I'm still going to kill him."
"Kill him gently." Sirius said as both men exited the kitchen.
James went out the back door and started calling for Harry. He decided to check Harry's familiar haunts and was not the least bit surprised to find Harry in the first place he looked: the swingset. Harry was rocking back and forth, making circles on the ground with his toe. He looked very forlorn, and James felt his anger dissipate. Judging from his body language, Harry clearly knew he was in big trouble. James approached quietly and sat on the swing next to Harry. He spied his wand sticking out of Harry's back pocket. Clearly the time had come for a conversation on wand safety. He waited for Harry to break the silence. "I guess you know what I did," Harry finally said.
"Yes, I do." James stated. "And for the record, you shouldn't keep a wand in your back pocket. Wizards have been known to lose a buttock that way."
Harry reached into his back pocket and retrieved the wand, returning it to James who took it gratefully. He always felt so exposed without it. "Would you care to explain this to me?" James asked.
"I'm sorry!" Harry said, his voice rising with a slight whinge.
"That's not an explanation." James replied lightly.
"I got the idea when I saw you forgot your wand." Harry began. "I didn't know what I was going to do. I was just mad and I wanted to find him and make him pay for what he did to me. I tried to put him right again; I really did, but your wand wouldn't obey me."
"And why didn't you come find me and tell me what had happened?" James asked pointedly.
"I was scared." Harry admitted. "I didn't want you to be angry."
"Harry, you should never be scared to come to me for help. I am always here for you. Always. Actually, I'd probably be less angry if you had come to me."
"So, you are angry?" Harry asked pitifully.
James's heart just about broke at the distress in his son's voice. He was angry, but he knew Harry would be all the more upset if he told him so. He decided to dodge the question and hope the ruse would would be successful. "What you did was serious, Harry."
Harry hung his head and sniffed in response. "Are you going to punish me?" he asked, a tremor of trepidation in his voice.
"Yes. I think you've earned yourself a spanking," James heard himself say. He wasn't sure where that had come from. Until that moment, he hadn't decided for sure what he would do about his son's transgression, but a spanking was definitely one of the possible punishments that had crossed his mind. He hated spanking Harry so much that he kept trying to come up with another idea as he searched, but his mind kept coming back to spanking. As soon as he heard himself say it, he realized that it was the best punishment for the situation, much as he hated it. Harry let out the tiniest of whimpers in response, and James thought he, James, might cry. He had spanked Harry only twice before, and both times he had felt this way. The first time, he actually did cry along with Harry a bit. The second, he came very close to it.
"I'm sorry," Harry said again, sounding very close to tears.
"Harry, come here." James said. Harry rose slowly, hanging his head, and stood in front of James. "Look at me, please." Harry jerked his head up, his glistening emerald eyes - Lily's eyes - meeting James's eyes. James almost lost his nerve then. There had been a couple of times that looking in his son's eyes had caused him to lose his nerve and go too easy on the boy, but he knew this could not be one of those times. He forced all thoughts of leniency and sentimentality out of his head.
He took Harry's hands in his own, gently intertwining their fingers, and began to lecture. "What you did was very dangerous. You could have really hurt that boy. You could have hurt yourself. Magic is not a game, Son. It is only to be used responsibly. Do you understand me?" Harry nodded, a single tear leaking out of his left eye. "Good, now let's go home." James rose from the swing, taking hold of Harry's hand. Harry dragged his feet, sniffling, and James settled into Harry's pace. They'd get home eventually either way. Let the boy delay the inevitable if that was his desire.
Sirius was waiting for them when they got back. "I took care of everything, even the little prat's friends," he informed them both.
"Thank you, Padfoot," James said, feeling an overwhelming gratitude for his friend. Sometimes he didn't know what he would do without Sirius and his other good mate, Remus Lupin. After his wife, Lily, was murdered by Lord Voldemort, he and Harry had stayed at Sirius's place for over a year until James managed to get back on his feet. Even now, his two friends took an active role in helping to raise Harry. Now, Sirius was the Astronomy professor at Hogwarts, and James felt infinitely better about sending his son off to school knowing Sirius would be there to watch out for him and protect him from Snivellus who, James was quite sure, would have no qualms whatsoever about abusing the innocent son of his old enemy.
"Thanks," Harry whispered, followed by, "I'm sorry, Sirius."
Sirius shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Little prat deserved it if you ask me."
"Sirius!" James said sharply.
"Oh, er, but you shouldn't have done it." Sirius quickly backpedaled.
"Harry, go up to your room. I'll be up in a bit." James ordered. Harry exited slowly, still dragging his feet. Both men stood silently until they heard his bedroom door close.
"What are you going to do, mate?" Sirius asked.
"That's between us," James replied, not unkindly. He knew Harry would be embarrassed if anyone, even Sirius, knew about his being spanked.
"Fair enough," Sirius replied. "I don't know how you do it, James. It's hard enough to be strict with the students. I can't imagine having to punish the Pronglet."
"What if he misbehaves in your classes? Are you going to let him get away with it?"
"He won't misbehave in my classes." Sirius replied easily. "And if he does, I'll transfigure him into a very fluffy pink kitten. That'd teach him."
James laughed, imagining Harry as a pink kitten. "If you did that, I'd have to hex you, mate."
"Well, then, let's hope he never misbehaves in my classes." Sirius said with a laugh, "because I'd never let you get away with hexing me."
"Go on, then. Get out of here." James said, clapping Sirius on the shoulder.
Still laughing, Sirius replied, "Don't smack him too hard," before turning on his heel and disappearing with a loud pop.