Chapter 2 : Consequences and Realizations
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"Dad, I need to—" he gestured wordlessly at the toilet.
Severus stepped outside of the bathroom and shut the door.
Harry quickly used the facilities and came out.
After Harry had assured him that he had no homework due, they went to bed, and Harry slept on the small sofa next to the bed.
The morning was worse.
Once again Severus shadowed him as he went about his morning routine and breakfast, which they ate in the Snape quarters with Draco. Draco made a point of treating Harry no differently than usual. It helped a little.
Potions and Herbology were the only classes Harry took in the classroom and the greenhouse, since they fit into Snape's class schedule. But with Severus lurking in the back of the greenhouse, Harry could barely concentrate, and all the whispering and snickers from his classmates didn't help either. Harry knew they didn't know exactly what he'd done to earn such a dreadful punishment, but that didn't stop them from speculating.
There were rumors that Snape had caught Harry making out with his girlfriend in the potions lab, that he had blown up the potions lab, that he had failed a subject, that he had thrown a wild party in Snape's apartments, complete with wild sex and drugs, and Snape had caught him.
The rest of Harry's class time was spent with Severus in his classroom, while the Potions Master taught, he sat up front beside his desk, doing the work the other teachers had assigned for that day. He tried his best to ignore the sniggers and sly looks shot his way, but he longed to tell the students to just quit looking at him and mind their own bloody business.
As a seventh year Slytherin passed his desk on his way to the supply cabinet in the back, the tall boy whispered, "Merlin, Snape, you must have really pushed his buttons. What did you do, get caught banging your girlfriend in his bed?"
Harry felt a red flush crawl up his ears. He strangled the impulse to stand up and punch the idiot right in the face. Instead, he counted to ten, and hissed, "Stow it, Berkley. Before you fail another class."
"Watch it, kid. Or else I'll come and pound you when your daddy's not looking."
Before Harry could answer him back, Severus' silky voice interrupted. "Mr. Berkley, is there a reason you're speaking to my son rather than getting your ingredients? Might I remind you, you cannot afford another incomplete or zero in my class?"
"No, sir. Sorry, Professor." Berkley hurried to the back of the room.
Severus whirled upon the rest of the classroom. "Anyone I catch speaking to my son, for any reason, will lose twenty House points. Now get back to work!"
Snape began to walk about the room, glowering and inspecting the students' cauldrons, and Harry returned to his homework. He felt grateful to Severus for sticking up for him. But at the same time, he was still angry at his father for making him endure this humiliating punishment. He felt confused and irritable.
How am I going to get through the rest of the week?
* * * * * *
The following three days were rough. Severus' constant presence caused Harry to be isolated from all of his peers save Draco, Katie, Hermione, and Ron. Ron would speak to him to and from the Great Hall when he accompanied his father for dinner and lunch, asking him questions about this or that homework assignment and telling him the latest Quidditch news. He also, however, asked Snape's permission before he spoke to Harry.
"Ron, for Merlin's sake!" Harry hissed the first time his friend had done that. "It's not like I'm in jail or something! You don't need to ask permission to talk to me."
Ron looked uneasy. Severus was not glowering at him, instead he rolled his eyes and looked rather bored. "It's just, well, I don't want you to get in anymore trouble, mate."
"How can you get me in trouble? All we're doing is talking about homework, not badmouthing our teachers." Harry sighed.
But Ron was still nervous and their conversation was stilted.
Hermione came by to see if Harry needed any help with his Transfiguration, but after she had gone over the wand movements and such, she talked more with his dad, discussing some ancient magic that she had read up on in the library involving temporal spatial gates. Harry didn't know what the hell they were talking about and nearly fell asleep trying to follow it.
It was nice to know that his friends supported him, when they weren't discovering new spells with his genius father, he thought irritably.
Katie was the worst, however. She was still having extra lessons with Severus and usually Harry assisted her with her potion brewing. Said assistance was usually done alone, and during that time Harry took advantage of that fact to kiss and hug his girl. Except that was no longer an option. Not with his father eyeing them like a hawk. The most he could do was hug her hello and goodbye.
He passed her a note when he hugged her. It read:
Miss you lots. Wish I could hold you and kiss you and never let you go.
She read it and smiled at him. "I love you," she whispered. "Next time behave."
He rolled his eyes at her, the gesture so like his father that she giggled. Then she went to work on her potion.
Only Draco was his usual self, treating Harry like normal. They did homework together, and quizzed each other on Herbology and then they played Dragon's Wild with Severus. It had been a long time since they had played the wizard version of poker and it brightened his spirits considerably at first. Until he folded, losing to his smug brother.
He scowled. His unlucky aura was still following him around. "This sucks!" he exploded, and got up to storm out of the kitchen area.
"Harry, come back here!" Severus ordered. "You're not to leave my sight."
"Fine, then you can just come in the bedroom!" Harry snapped. He headed into Severus' bedroom and slammed the door.
"Merlin's bones, Dad. He's acting like a little baby," Draco said disgustedly.
Severus said nothing, merely stalked into the bedroom after his son.
He found Harry sitting on the small settee, looking as if his life had ended.
Severus came to stand in front of him. "If you're quite through throwing a hissy fit, Mr. Snape, we need to talk."
"About what? How much more trouble I'm in?" Harry said sulkily. "You don't understand, Dad. This punishment not only affects me, but my friends. They barely talk to me and everyone else thinks I'm some kind of . . .of loser. And I have no privacy."
"Surely not everyone," Severus said dryly. "I am aware that this is not pleasant for you, but then it's not supposed to be. All actions have consequences and sometimes said consequences affect more than just you. Do you think I enjoy playing nursemaid to you and chaperoning you everywhere? You complain that your privacy is compromised. Well, so is mine."
"Then why don't you just. . .revoke the punishment?" Harry asked hopefully, giving his father his best puppydog stare.
"Because then I would be going back on my word and I refuse to do that. Harry, this is a consequence of your actions. I need you to learn from it."
"Have you? That little snit you threw seven minutes ago says otherwise. You let your temper and emotions get the better of you. That is a dangerous thing, Harry. You have to be in control of yourself at all times if you're to succeed in defeating some of the monsters you'll face, you have the last phase of the tournament to go through and I'd much rather see a live boy on a stretcher at the end of it than a dead hero."
"I'll be careful."
"How? Will you look at a problem from all possible angles before making a decision? Can you make a decision that doesn't involve you just rushing in hell for leather and trusting luck to see you through?"
"Uh . . .my luck's always been good enough before."
"But someday it'll run out, and then you'll be caught flatfooted. And killed. Harry, the last task is always the hardest, and the wizard who becomes champion and walks out alive isn't the one who relies on luck, but on the brains he was born with. You're smart, Harry. There's no excuse for not using your head and thinking things through. I know you think I'm a terrible father for doing this to you, but think about what this punishment has done besides make your life . . .suck." Severus grimaced, he normally did not use slang, but this time he did it to make a point.
Harry thought. "It's well . . .it's made me do my homework more carefully, and read more closely and . . .and . . .stay out of trouble."
"Now, is that such a bad thing? Even if you weren't a champion, Harry, the lesson still is worth it to learn. All through your life you will be faced with choices and I want you to be able to make the right decision, which is not always the easy path.
"Look at what being impulsive got your godfather. Thrown into Azkaban without a trial to rot in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Had he not gone haring off after Pettigrew himself, things might have been different.
"Look at what being impulsive got James Potter. Dead. He might have survived He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's attack if he had sent you and your mother to safety first and instead of opening the door to the house and trying to duel him, he should have booby trapped the door and hid in the house and attacked him as he went by."
"But that's not honorable."
Severus snorted. "No, it's called survival. There is no honor, child, in a fight for your life against a mad sorcerer. Kill or be killed. Sometimes, Harry, courage isn't standing up to an enemy for a few seconds, it's outwitting him and living to fight another day. That's something that you Gryffindors can't seem to comprehend. I want you to live to fight another day, Harry. But you'll have to start thinking instead of reacting. Case in point, you storming out of the kitchen tonight because you lost. What should you have done?"
Harry bit his lip. "Said okay and played another hand."
"Very good! You can make good choices when you want to." He looked at his son. "Shall we try this over?"
They returned to the kitchen. Draco looked up and seemed surprised that Harry wasn't carrying his head under his arm.
"Sorry, dragon," Harry apologized. "Guess I overreacted."
"Typical Gryffindor. Your turn to deal, wisearse." He shoved the cards at Harry.
This time they all stuck it out till the end, but that hand Severus had a Dragon's Wild and so he was the undisputed winner.
Harry managed a smile at his father. "Lucky you, Dad."
"Humph! That wasn't luck, son. That was skill. And a good poker face."
Draco yawned. "I'm feeling beat. Think I'll head to bed. Dad, can I stay here tonight? Sleep on the couch?"
"Because I'm too lazy and tired to walk back to the common room."
"All right. Pillows and blankets are inside the linen closet."
Harry lay awake a long time that night, listening to his father's steady breathing and mulling over what he had said about choices and courage and out-thinking your opponent. For the first time he wasn't angry or resentful over his punishment. As Hermione had said, he had no one to blame except himself for choosing to try the green beer. Katie had also told him that Severus was only strict because he loved Harry and didn't want his son hurt. If he didn't give a damn, he'd let you run wild. He's trying to help you.
Harry had scorned her simple words before, but now he began to see that she too was right. In his own way, Severus was trying to keep him from making major mistakes. Trying to make sure that he came home again. And his father was willing to sacrifice his own privacy and leisure time to do so. This punishment hurts him as much as it does me.
That was a classic line that parents often used on misbehaving children, but Harry had never understood what it really meant until now.
And he resolved to try, really try, to think before he acted from now on. Because he hated it when Severus was disappointed in him, and also because he didn't want to die at fourteen from a stupid decision. He fell asleep soon after that thought crossed his mind.
* * * * *
The next four days were unpleasant, but Harry was determined to get through them without sulking. Severus allowed Harry and his friends to have a study session in his living room for a massive Herbology exam and even gave them some pointers on how to study blocks of information rather than trying to memorize the unit all at once. In addition to that, he drew diagrams of certain plants and properties, saying that it might help them get less confused if they saw connections visually as well as with words. Each of them was very grateful for his help.
The exam was in two days and Harry was driving himself crazy with worry. He had always been an average student in Herbology, but he hoped he could raise his grade this term and get at least an E. The night before the exam, Harry fidgeted and tossed and turned so much that Severus couldn't sleep.
"Harry, why are you so restless," he asked.
"I dunno. Well, I'm kind of nervous."
"About the Herbology exam?"
"Harry, you have no need to be so worried. I quizzed you myself tonight, and you knew all the answers. You'll do fine. Now close your eyes and go to sleep."
But Harry couldn't. "What if I fail?"
"Then you try again."
"What if my bad luck streak returns?"
"Harry, there's no such thing as bad luck, only bad choices." Severus climbed out of bed and fetched a Calming Draft from his personal stores. "Here. Drink this, it'll relax you enough so you can sleep. Otherwise you might turn into Hermione."
"Never!" Harry gasped. He took the vial and downed it. Then he asked, "Dad, will you be hovering over me as I'm taking the exam? Because then I'll be even more nervous."
"No. I'll be in the back of the room, grading papers. No more questions. Sleep."
He took the exam the next morning and found it not all that difficult. He was almost certain he had done well on it. So were all of his friends.
Finally, it was the last night of his punishment. Draco and Harry were sprawled on the couch, Draco was reading a Quidditch book and Harry a crime novel. Severus was reading through a batch of mail. They were all enjoying the quiet and companionship.
Suddenly, Poppy Pomfrey stuck her head through the Floo. "Severus, I need your help in the infirmary. There's been a brawl between our students and Durmstrang—a magical one. There's spell damage, I need your expertise on curse removal and potions."
Severus was on his feet immediately. "Was anyone seriously injured?"
"Cho Chang was hit with a Morpheus Curse and I can't wake her. And Ron Weasley was trying to protect his sister and was hit with Bone Softening Curse and he was shoved down the stairs and has multiple broken bones and lacerations. And he was also hit with a Confusion Charm and doesn't recognize me. He won't let me treat him, he goes hysterical when I try. I was hoping he might do better with you than me. I don't want to have to use magic to immobilize him."
"I'm on my way." Severus said.
Harry and Draco exchanged glances of concern.
"Filthy Durmstrang bums!" Harry growled. "They always have to start something."
"I'll bet Krum was involved," Draco said darkly. "I wonder how it started?"
"The way such things usually start. With a few well-honed insults." Severus said, gathering up several potions and putting them in a padded satchel for easy transportation.
"Dad, can I come with you?" Harry asked.
"You have to go with him, phoenix. You're still in trouble." Draco reminded.
"Not any longer. As of now, your punishment is over." Severus declared. "I want you and Draco to stay here. It's going to be hard enough dealing with a Confused and injured boy without you underfoot."
Harry had waited all week to hear those words, but now he wished them unsaid. "But, Dad! It's Ron, he's my best friend! Maybe I could help."
"Harry, I don't have time to argue with you. Ron is going to be hell to deal with, a strong Confusion Charm tends to make the recipient very volatile and irrational, and the fact that he's injured only makes it more difficult. I need to concentrate upon him and I can't do that if I'm worried about you being hurt. Or you trying to avenge your friend. Understand?"
Harry nodded. "Okay, I'll stay. But please tell me as soon as he's okay."
Then Severus stepped into the Floo.
Harry began to pace, his wand in his hand. "I don't believe this! I'll bet you a merlinna that Krum was the instigator and he was the one who pushed Ron down the stairs. He always said he'd get back at us someday for that fight in The Three Broomsticks."
"You could be right. He's the type and he's never liked us or our friends." Draco agreed.
Harry felt his temper flare. "I want to go and find him and knock his teeth in. Madame Pomfrey never said that he was hurt, did she?"
"No. Harry, what are you thinking?"
"That I need to find a nasty son-of-a-bitch and nail his arse to a wall."
"Harry, you don't even know if he did it."
"It's his style. Ron could die!"
"And beating the spit out of Krum will help him how?"
Harry scowled. "It'll make me feel better." He started for the door to the apartment.
"Hey! Where are you going?"
"To get the truth out of Krum."
"Dad said to stay here."
"I know, but—" Harry began. He walked halfway to the door and stopped dead.
Think before you act.
"Dad knows what he's doing. You need to trust him."
Harry looked back at his brother. He drew in a deep breath. He was at a crossroads. He had two choices—stay and obey his father and trust Severus to know what he was talking about. Or leave and go in search of Krum and maybe risk getting hurt or getting in trouble for dueling and causing Severus to worry.
He remained where he was for five minutes, thinking about what he should do.
Finally he turned about and went back to sit on the couch. "You're right. Krum may be an arsehole, but I don't know for sure that he cast that curse on Ron. And if I get caught in a fistfight or a duel, Dad will kick my arse. It's not worth it."
Draco grinned. "That's using your head, little brother. Guess you can be taught after all."
"Aww, shut up, Draco!" Harry socked his brother playfully in the shoulder. "I just hope Ron is okay."
"He will be. Nobody can break a curse like Dad."
Still, Harry paced and bit his nails, worried and frightened for his friend. He hated waiting.
It was almost midnight before Severus returned. Both Draco and Harry were still awake.
Harry practically leaped off the couch when Severus stepped from the fireplace. "Dad, is Ron okay?"
"He will be in a few days. I managed to remove the curse and help Poppy mend most of the damage."
"Did—did he say if he saw who cast the spell on him?"
"No. He says so many people were casting it was impossible to trace who cast what. Until we gather up all the wands and analyze them. But that's Professors McGonagall and Moody's job. You can go and visit Ron tomorrow."
"See? It's a good thing you didn't go off half-cocked, Harry."
Severus eyed the two. "What do you mean, Draco?"
But it was Harry who answered. "I-I was going to leave and search for Krum. I wanted to . . .to find out if he did it and make him pay. But then . . .I thought about it and figured it wasn't such a good idea. So I stayed here."
Severus smiled at him. "You made the right choice, Harry. I know it wasn't easy. I'm proud of you."
Harry felt a warm glow spread through him.
He had finally earned back Severus' trust. And, more importantly, learned the value of thinking before he acted. Had he gone out of the room tonight, he might have caused even more trouble. He had learned a hard lesson, but it was one that he would not forget in a hurry. It would be a struggle to fight against his impulsiveness, but in the end it would be worth it. From now on, I make my own luck.
"Night, Dad. Good night, Draco." Harry said, and he turned to go into the bedroom. "Thanks." He added over his shoulder. He found that after a week, he didn't mind sleeping on the settee, he had grown used to it. And he didn't want to sleep in Gryffindor Tower without Ron to talk to. He had a lot to talk to him about.
* * * * * *
Harry visited a recovering Ron early the next morning, and discovered that his friend was trying to get up before Madame Pomfrey said he could. He had been arguing with the weary medi-witch for almost half an hour. Harry walked in just as Ron was trying to get up.
"Ah, Mr. Snape! Perhaps you can talk some sense into his stubborn hide!"
Harry walked over to Ron. "Hey. How are you feeling?"
"All right. I just wish I could get out of this bloody bed! But she says that it's too early for me to walk on my own."
Harry leaned on Ron's bedpost and said, "Word of advice, Ron. Don't be so impulsive. Think before you act."
Ron buried his face in his pillow and muttered something like, "Merlin help us all! Two of them!"
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