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A Real Detention

"Where are you going, mate?" asked Ron, upon seeing Harry about to depart the Gryffindor common room at five to six. "I was going to ask if you wanted to play Wizard Chess. You going to, uh, practice some more with Wood for the game in three days?"

Harry shook his head, not really up to discussing his latest screw-up.

"What then?" Ron frowned. "Aw, no! Don't tell me Snape gave you detention again? What the hell's his problem? Did you wrong him in another life or something?"

"Ron . . .it's not like last time. This time . . .I deserved it." Harry admitted.

"What'd you do, look at him wrong?" Ron scoffed.

"No. I . . I called him a miserable bloody damn bat . . .to his face."

Ron's mouth hung open so wide the Hogwarts Express could have passed through. "No freakin' way! You really said that to his face?" He reached out and felt Harry's face and arm.

"Ron? What the heck are you doing?"

"Seeing if it's really you and not your ghost. Because I didn't think anybody called Snape names to his face and lived to tell of it."

"Well, I'm still here."

"Yeah, but for how much longer?" asked Ron gloomily.

"Knock it off, you stupid prat," Harry ordered, cuffing the other lightly. "He's not going to kill me . . .I hope." He glanced at the clock and swore. "Oh, bloody hell! It's 5:58." He could clearly recall the Potion Master's voice, saying furiously, "If you are one minute late, I shall come and drag you there by your ear, Mr. Potter, so do not test me."

He practically bolted out the portrait hole.

"Good luck, Harry. Hope Snape doesn't use you for potion ingredients," Ron called as he darted through the tunnel.

Gee, thanks, Ron. Some friend you are. Well, if I die tonight, least you can say I told you so and throw flowers at my funeral. Harry sped down the corridor, wishing he knew a spell for instantaneous transportation. Or a spell that soothed the savage beast, or in his case, the savage angel.

He reached Snape's office precisely at 6:00, gasping and doubled over from a stitch in his side. But he managed to reach a hand up and knock on the door.


Harry did so, still hunched over slightly and panting.

"Shut the door and sit-what's wrong with you?" Severus demanded, upon catching sight of the boy doubled over. "Are you ill?"

"N-no, sir. Just . . .ran too fast. Didn't want . . .to be late."

Snape frowned. Merlin, what am I going to do with this boy? He's going to kill me before I'm thirty-five if he keeps this up. "Put your hands on your knees and lean forward," he ordered softly, coming over and rubbing slow circles on the boy's back. "Good. Now, take a slow deep breath. Exhale. Again."

Harry obeyed the familiar tone, and gradually the cramping in his side dulled and vanished and his heart rate dropped and his breathing steadied. Snape's hand on his back, rubbing gently, was achingly familiar. How many times had the man done that when he was sick and unable to sleep? And Harry had called him a miserable bloody damn bat. Shame swept through him in a red tide. He really was an ungrateful brat, and he deserved whatever punishment Severus meted out.

Once Severus was satisfied that Harry's breathing had evened out, he pointed to the desk in front of chalkboard and said, "Sit, Mr. Potter."

Harry obeyed, wondering uneasily what was going to happen next.

Severus paced back and forth for a full minute, letting Harry sit and stew, for he knew the waiting was the worst thing when you were about to get punished for some misdeed. He darted a glance out of the corner of his eye at Harry, who was unable to sit still, but squirmed in his chair, looking guilty as hell. Good. He ought to feel sorry for what he said, the impudent brat. Snape let him squirm for another minute before whirling about and striding back to the desk.

He placed both hands upon it and leaned down until he was nearly nose to nose with his disrespectful ward. "So. You think I am a miserable bloody damn bat, do you?"

Harry flushed, staring down at the wood grain. "N-no. I didn't mean it, sir."

"Really? Yet the words came out of your mouth. Why would you say something you didn't mean?"

"Because . . ." Harry licked his lips. He felt like he was confessing a crime to a stern and inflexible judge. " . . .I was angry. First I was angry at you, for . . .for giving me an extra assignment. Then I was mad at Ron and Hermione for their stupid quarreling. Then I was angry at Malfoy for saying he was better than me ‘cause my mum was a Muggleborn. . .then you came and started blaming me for it all and I just . . .lost my temper . . ."

"Malfoy said he was superior to you because Lily was a Muggleborn?" Severus demanded sharply.

"Uh, yeah. Said everyone who's anyone thinks that or some stupid rot like that. I told him to move out of my way and he wouldn't, so I got mad." Cautiously, Harry raised his eyes from the surface of the desk and peered warily at Snape.

"So I heard. From halfway down the Charms corridor. It seems Mr. Malfoy and I will be having a discussion as well." Severus said, frowning severely. Malfoy dared to speak that pureblood racist garbage about Lily? We'll see about that! Slytherin or no, he's not going to get away with badmouthing her, no matter who his father is. "While you might have been provoked, that is still no excuse for your use of foul language. As I started to say before I was so rudely interrupted-" Here he fixed Harry with another of those scintillating raptor glares that made the boy cringe, then continued, "-your mother, were she alive, would be most ashamed at your behavior, young man. Lily detested, above all, those who used foul language and rude names. She once hexed your father for speaking so to me, as a matter of fact."

Harry swallowed hard. Great, Harry. Just great. I'll bet if Mum's looking down at me from heaven, she wishes she had a different son, one who didn't embarrass the hell out of her. "She did?"

Snape nodded curtly. "She cast a hex on him that swelled his tongue up so he couldn't speak a word, insulting or otherwise, for a whole half-a-day. He never insulted me again, or I should say, in her hearing."

Harry winced, and wondered if Snape were going to do that to him.

"However, it is forbidden for a professor to hex a student, and even if it were not, magic should never be used as a punishment." Severus said firmly. "That being so, I shall resort to a more mundane method to punish you for your filthy mouth, young man. Come."

He beckoned Harry off the chair.

Reluctantly, the boy followed, pretty sure he knew what was coming. Once, when he was seven, he had called Dudley a bloody bugger and Aunt Petunia had made him eat dish detergent. It had taken him a day to get the soapy taste out of his mouth.

Severus led him out of the office, through a connecting door into his private potions lab, which was where Severus had treated Harry for various illnesses over the years, unbeknownst to anyone. Harry dragged his feet a little when he saw where Severus was headed-to the stainless steel sink at the back of the lab. Oh, damn. I really hate the way soap tastes.

Severus halted and picked up a brown bottle sitting next to the sink that bore the innocuous label of Mouthwash. He summoned a spoon with a snap of his fingers. Then he turned to Harry, still wearing that awful look of disapproval, and said sternly, "I have used this on only five other students since I first began teaching. All of them thought it was acceptable to swear at me. They only did so once. You are the sixth. I am terribly disappointed that you require me to resort to this, Harry James Potter."

He poured a measure of a reddish syrup onto the spoon.

Harry backed up a little. "I'm sorry."

"No doubt. Now quit stalling, young man. Open."

Harry knew better than to disobey that tone. He shut his eyes and opened his mouth.

Snape popped the spoon in.

Instantly, Harry's mouth was filled with a disgusting combination of soap, lemon juice, and tabasco sauce. He gagged, but Severus held his mouth shut.

"No. You are to keep that there for two minutes, Mr. Potter. One minute for swearing at Malfoy and the other for swearing at me."

Harry found he was unable to speak, the awful stuff coated his entire mouth, his teeth, his tongue, and he could feel his eyes start to water at the acrid bitter horrid taste. Harry whimpered, gazing up at Snape mutely. This was ten times worse than the dish detergent.

Severus kept his hand firmly under the boy's chin, silently gritting his teeth. He hated punishing the boy this way, but he refused to allow Harry to get away with such behavior. Lily had told him to watch over her son, and Severus knew that she hadn't simply meant health wise. She had also meant morally as well. He had never known this to fail, and it was not harmful, though Severus knew Harry would think his mouth was on fire.

Tears welled in the green eyes, but Severus remained firm. "One minute."

Harry tried breathing through his nose, certain his tongue was burnt and he would never be able to taste anything ever again. God, how much longer? I'm sorry . . .I'll never say anything like that again . . . promise! He begged silently with his eyes, but Snape was made of granite, he did not release his grip on Harry's chin.

Then, just when Harry was sure he could not bear the taste any longer, Severus released his chin and said, "Two minutes. Rinse out your mouth." He handed Harry a large cup.

Harry leaned over the sink, retching and spitting, but the disgusting taste would not go away. "Ugh! Can't . . .get rid of it . . ." He gagged.

"Harry. Rinse out your mouth with water, foolish child."

Oh. Right. He fumbled for the tap, but a lean hand interposed itself and turned on the water.

For a moment, Harry was tempted to just stick his whole face under the faucet and drink it like a dog. But then he thought better of it and filled the cup Snape had handed him and swished the water around in his mouth and spat.

It cleared out some of the taste, but not all.

He repeated the process. Then he did it again. And again.

"Enough." Severus ordered after allowing Harry to rinse twelve times. "The taste will linger for awhile, as a reminder. It will be gone by tomorrow morning." He turned off the water and banished the brown bottle back to the cabinet in his office, where it would remain until another student needed a lesson on the proper way to address a teacher.

"I trust we will not have a repeat offense."

"No, sir. Never!" Harry vowed. He was just grateful he hadn't puked up his dinner right there. His tongue still had a lingering aftertaste on it and he grimaced. "What . . .what was in that?"

"It is an old Snape family recipe. My mother invented it."

"Oh. She ever use it on you, sir?"

Severus nodded solemnly. "Once. And never again."

Harry shuddered. "You're mean, sir."

"Yes," Snape agreed, not sounding at all sorry. "But I've cured you of your need to use foul language, so it's worth it. Now for the rest of your detention."

"The rest? But . . .but I thought . . ."

"That was for swearing at me. The rest is for your disrespect of a teacher." Severus led the way back into the office. "Have a seat, Mr. Potter. Madam Pomfrey tells me you just received new glasses today. Therefore you should have no trouble writing the following lines for me, two hundred times." Severus pointed his wand at the board and the chalk magically wrote, in graceful cursive, I will control my temper and not disrespect my teacher.

Another gesture and a quill, ink, and parchment appeared upon Harry's desk.

"You may begin, Mr. Potter. You have one hour."

"Yes, sir."

Harry groaned and picked up his quill. Merlin, how did he get himself into these messes? Well, his detention would do one good thing, he thought glumly as he began to write. It would improve his awful handwriting.

Severus retreated to his desk to mark some papers and for a solid hour there was no sound in the room save for the scratch of quill on parchment.

Harry finished the last word just as the timer on Snape's desk ran out of sand.

"Done, sir." He handed the completed sheet to the Potions Master with a sigh of relief. Then he shook out his hand, which felt sore and achy. His tongue still tasted of that horrid "mouthwash".

Severus took it, examined it critically, then nodded once. "Adequate. Hopefully you will remember this, young man, and not test me again."

"Yes, sir. I'll remember."

"Good. Because if you ever do so again, you will be even sorrier." Then Snape's stern gaze softened. "Come here, incorrigible child." He held out his arms and Harry buried his face in the familiar velvet robes. One lean hand stroked the messy black hair. "There now. All's forgiven, my Harry."

Harry sucked in a breath, willing the sudden tears to go away. He was not a baby, for God's sake, to cry over a punishment. Only it wasn't the punishment he was crying over, he admitted soundlessly. It was relief that his dark angel had forgiven him for his smart mouth. He kept his face pressed against Severus for several more moments, until he had stopped crying. Then he drew away, hastily wiping his eyes on his sleeve.

 "Thank you, sir."

"For what?"

"For forgiving me."

Severus arched an eyebrow.

"You see, whenever I was bad when I was little, Uncle Vernon always said I didn't deserve to be forgiven, because I was an evil little brat, and forgiveness wasn't for the likes of me. So . . .thank you."

"He said what?" Severus growled, and temper glittered in the black eyes. "Why that . . . that . . ."

"Careful, sir," Harry warned, greatly daring. "You wouldn't want to use that mouthwash, now would you?"

Severus glared at him. "Why, you impudent scamp!" He swatted the boy lightly on the bottom. Then he drew the boy into another hug. "Oh, Harry. Of course you deserve to be forgiven. Forgiveness is for everyone, but especially for children. Christ forgave us from the cross, for all the sins of mankind. How then could I do any less?"

"You believe in God then? But Aunt Petunia said all wizards were heathens and devil worshippers."

To his surprise, the Potions Master chuckled. "She would like to think that, but she is wrong. God made wizards too, and of course we believe in Him. Or some version of a deity. We are no different from Muggles in that regard." He patted Harry on the back. "All right, brat. Time for you to go to bed. You have school tomorrow."

Harry made a face. "Oh, joy." Then he turned to go. "Sir?" He paused and looked over his shoulder. "Do I still have to write the alphabet?"

"Yes. Bed, Harry. Now."

Harry sighed. "Okay. Okay. I'm going, Mr. Slavedriver."

"What was that?"

"Nothing. Good night, sir." He darted out the door.

Behind him, he could swear he heard the greasy git of a Potions Master reply, "Good night, son."

But then he shook his head. He must have imagined it. Because it would be a cold day in hell when any man claimed him for his son, worthless impudent whelp that he was.

A/N: Snape may seem a little OOC here, but remember this is AU and he regards Harry as a surrogate son.  And as I said before, this story does feature wizards who believe in God, and Sev is one of them.  This is not against canon, since JKR said herself that her wizards believed in God, which is why they have Christmas and Easter, though religion was not a major component of her stories.  

Also, lest anyone think the 'mouthwash' Severus used on Harry was cruel, it is not a harmful substance, but it DOES taste horrible and stings as if you ate a hot pepper for a bit, but it goes away and leaves nothing more than a memory, Harry was being overdramatic when he thought his tongue was burning.

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