Duels and Consequences

Harry stiffened. Those were fighting words any way you looked at it. But he managed to hold onto his temper, because he wanted no more trouble between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Since Severus had become his guardian, he had come to see that not all Slytherins were painted with the same brush—in short not all were of the ambitious stab-you-in-the-back variety, or the ones who followed the Dark Path and would soon as hex a Gryffindor as look at one. The professor was brave and he cared about Harry, or at least Harry thought he did, since Snape had saved him that Halloween night and had even praised him in class and allowed him liberties no other Gryffindor, make that no other student, ever had.

Not even Malfoy.

Harry suspected the blond boy was jealous as well as a bully. He knew all about bullies, having lived for the past ten years with one, his cousin Dudley. Harry also knew the only way to get rid of a bully was to walk away or give him a taste of his own medicine. He wouldn't mind trying to give Malfoy a good thrashing, only he wasn't exactly sure if he could take the other boy. Also, dueling was forbidden among students.

"I'm not a chicken, Malfoy," he stated calmly, though his wand was pointed at the other. "Now, for the last time, move!"

"Or what? You'll hex me?" the other sneered, his blue-gray eyes full of mocking superiority. "I'll be t you don't know the first thing about dueling, Potter. I heard you didn't even know magic was real until Hagrid told you!"

His companions, the overlarge Crabbe and Goyle snickered.

"I know that if Professor Snape catches us dueling, he'll make us wish we'd never heard of wands," Harry said, knowing instinctively that was correct.

Malfoy made a so-what gesture. "Maybe he'll make you wish that, you pathetic four-eyed coward. You're a Gryffindor, which is synonymous with dumber than dirt."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "You would know, wouldn't you?"

Draco glared at him. "At least I'm smart enough to stay where I belong. Maybe the reason you're so stupid, Potter, is because of that scar you got when you were a baby. It made you famous but it also knocked all the sense out of your head. Poor dumb Potter! I'll bet your mummy's ashamed of such a stupid son. Oh, I forgot. She went and got herself killed, trying to duel the greatest dark wizard ever. Stupidity must run in your family."

Harry saw red. "You take that back, Malfoy! My mum was not stupid!"

"Sure she was. All Gryffindors are stupid, all they know how to do is play Quidditch and look at themselves in the mirror and suck up to teachers. Like you do. Kiss arse!"

"I am not! And my mother was brilliant!" Harry flared. "Professor Snape and everyone else says so!"

"Guess what, Potty? They lied, because they feel sorry for poor pathetic you who's lost his mum!" Draco pretended to wipe a tear from his eye.

"At least mine died for a good cause. Yours probably would have hid under the bed or begged You-Know-Who on her hands and knees to spare her life!" Harry shot back. If Draco was going to insult Lily, then his mother was fair game.

"You calling my mother a coward, Potter?" growled Malfoy.

"Just telling the truth, is all," Harry replied.

"Eat this, Potty!" spat the irate Slytherin. He fired off a Stinging Hex.

Harry managed to dodge it by sheer luck. Then he recalled a spell he had read about in the library just before Halloween. He was sure he could cast it. "Repello Malfoy!"

Draco was knocked violently backwards as if by a sudden gust of wind. He fetched up against the wall next to Snape's quarters with a light thump, knocking the breath from his body a bit.

Harry glared at him. "Don't ever insult my mum again, Malfoy!"

"Wow! He got you good, Draco!" remarked Goyle somewhat stupidly.

Malfoy forced himself to his feet, red-faced with temper and embarrassment. He couldn't allow himself to be beaten by a Gryffindor, especially one who had been raised Muggle. He would never live it down. Humiliated and furious, he rummaged about in his head for a curse or hex to teach the Potter brat his place. "Don't insult mine, dung for brains!" He pointed his wand and snapped out the incantation to a Bone Breaking Curse that Lucius had taught him that summer.

Harry felt a terrible sharp pain as the bone in his right arm, his wand arm, shattered. He screamed and went to his knees, his vision red and blurry from the agonizing pain.

"Serves you right! Now maybe you'll learn your lesson." Malfoy laughed, then cast another jinx upon his opponent, which caused his nose to start spontaneously bleeding and swell to an enormous size. "This is what happens to stupid Gryffindors who pick fights with Slytherins and go where they're not supposed to."

Harry started to cough and gasp, for he couldn't breathe right with all the blood gushing from his nose. He tried frantically to stem the flood with a sleeve but blood kept spurting out. "Make it stop!" he whimpered, terrified he would bleed to death.

"Beg me, Potter. Say pretty please, like your dear departed mum."

"Go . . .to . . .hell . . .Malfoy," Harry hissed. He would rather die than humble himself before Malfoy that way.

An instant later he was regretting that impulse as he felt lightheaded and about to pass out.

Severus had just settled down with a cup of his favorite Black Dragon tea and some shortbread biscuits, wondering where Potter had gotten to, when he heard the sound of voices raised in anger and thumps. He rose immediately, knowing how hotheaded his Slytherins were, he suspected there was either a fight going on or they were playing indoor Quidditch in the hallway again. Searing under his breath and vowing to teach the little brats to obey school rules if it killed him, Snape strode to the door of his quarters, yanked open the door and stepped into the corridor.

"What, may I ask, is going on out here?" he hissed in his deadliest tone.

He surveyed the situation in two seconds. Draco was standing over Harry, wearing a sneer of satisfaction and Harry . . .Harry was covered in blood. "Say it!" Draco was ordering.

Severus was suddenly transported back some seventeen years ago, to a time when the Marauders had cornered him in the boys' bathroom and almost drowned him by shoving his head in the toilet to "clean him up". He could still recall the horrible fear that he was going to die and hear Black and Pettigrew laughing and jeering. "Wash your hair, Snivellus! It sure does need it, eh, Prongs?"

"Potter! Malfoy!" Snape's voice cracked like a whip. "Dueling in the corridor? Detention and thirty points from Gryffindor . . .and Slytherin!" Snape growled, gritting his teeth through the last words. He hated taking points from his own House, but he could not abide bullies either and Malfoy had been caught redhanded with his wand pointed at Potter.

"Professor Snape!" Malfoy went pale as old cheese. "Sir, I-I can explain . . .! Potter started it! I-I was only defending myself!"

"Silence!" hissed Snape, and the look in his eyes was terrible to see. Malfoy cringed away. "Wand, Mr. Malfoy." He pocketed Draco's wand. "Remain where you are, all of you!" Then he knelt to examine Harry. "Potter, let me see." He gently tilted Harry's head up, pressing a handkerchief to the boy's nose and chanting a simple Blood Halt Charm.

"Didn't start it, sir," Harry mumbled. "Malfoy attacked me . . .called my mum a stupid witch . . ."

Severus felt his temper slip another notch. Malfoy had dared to insult Lily! He reached out to help Harry to his feet, his hand closing accidentally upon the broken arm.

"Ahhh!" Harry screamed, nearly passing out.

Severus immediately released his arm. "Potter, what happened to your arm?"

"Malfoy got him good with a Bone Break Hex," Crabbe said helpfully.

Snape lifted Harry in his arms and gave Draco's two cronies a death glare. "And I suppose you two geniuses just stood there and let them go at it? Maybe placed a few bets?" his tone was corrosive.

"Uh . . .well, you see . . .sir . . ." Crabbe whined, hanging his head.

"What I see, Crabbe and Goyle, is two dunderheads who don't even have enough brains to break up a duel and save a fellow Slytherin's hide. Next time don't stand there like a lump, do something to stop it! Get out of my sight, before you share Malfoy's punishment!"

Crabbe and Goyle hotfooted it to the Slytherin portrait hole. "Sorry, sir! Won't happen again!" babbled Goyle.

Severus shot them a withering glare, utterly disgusted with them and with Malfoy. He was also quite concerned over the small boy in his arms. Harry had buried his face in Snape's robes and was breathing in quick gasps, trying not to cry, for he could feel the bones grating in his broken arm. "Shh, Potter. I'm going to conjure a stretcher and take you to Madam Pomfrey. She'll fix your arm." He murmured. Then he wandlessly summoned a stretcher and placed Harry on it.

Harry whimpered, longing to cling to his professor, but unable to do so. As the stretcher floated behind Snape, he heard the professor ordering Draco to accompany him. Harry winced and allowed himself to drift into a twilight haze, trying to ignore the throbbing in his arm and head.

Severus turned Harry over to Pomfrey, telling the mediwitch that Potter had met with an unfortunate accident.

"Not again, Severus!" Poppy cried. "This is the third time this term! First the troll, then the Quidditch match, and now this!"

Snape nodded curtly, then bent and whispered in Harry's ear, "I'll be back in a bit. Listen to Pomfrey and do as she tells you."

Then he whirled about and caught the Malfoy scion by the collar and dragged him into the hallway for a private chat.

"Professor Snape, it wasn't my fault," Malfoy whined, immediately trying to skew the facts in his favor. He couldn't believe his Head had actually taken thirty points away! And given him detention too! It was simply unheard of. Some of the older Slytherins had assured him that Snape never took points, no matter what his House did in public. But it looked like they had been mistaken . . .or playing him for a gullible fool. Draco gulped. He had never seen Snape so furious, not even the time Longbottom blew up his cauldron and splattered half the class with his mucked up potion. The wizard's black eyes glittered with wrath and his fingers were hard and unforgiving as they closed upon Malfoy's shoulders. Malfoy felt suddenly grateful that Hogwarts no longer allowed corporal punishment, otherwise he was certain he would have been bent over and getting seven of the best from his potions professor right then and there. "Potter started it—"

"Do not lie to me, Malfoy!" Snape cut him off, his eyes flashing black fire. "I know perfectly well who hexed whom and when. It was quite obvious to anyone with eyes in their head and brains between their ears." He shook the boy slightly. "Dueling is forbidden, no matter what the provocation! It is the one offense that will result in expulsion if repeated. Do you wish to be expelled, Malfoy?"

Malfoy shivered. "You . . .you wouldn't . . .my father would—"

"Be forced to abide by the rules of this institution, as I do. Your father may be on the Board of Governors and highly placed in the Ministry, but that does not mean you shall get special privileges, Malfoy, Slytherin or not! You are not above the rules, anymore than Potter is."

"Potter always gets special treatment. He gets to play Quidditch early—" whined Malfoy.

"That never would have happened if he were in Slytherin. Do not worry about Potter, Malfoy. You're only concern should be yourself and how you can earn back the House points you lost. I shall not tolerate another incident like this one. You may have been allowed to lord it over others at home, but such is no longer the case. Lose the attitude, Mr. Malfoy. Bullying others will get you a one way ticket back home on the Hogwarts Express, am I clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Your wand is mine till the weekend, since you clearly cannot be trusted to use it responsibly."

Draco gaped. "But professor—I need it to cast spells!"

"You shall get it back—for class only. You will also serve detention along with Potter for the next three days. It will begin tomorrow night, with a dozen cauldrons that need your exclusive attention. The next night you shall accompany me to the library and work on cleaning the bookshelves and the desks or whatever else Madam Pince needs doing. Now, get back to your common room and go to sleep. I shall be back in a few minutes and Merlin help you, boy, if I find you anywhere but in bed . . ." he trailed off ominously.

Draco scurried off towards the dungeons, his ears smarting from the verbal lashing Snape had given him. He had been warned about Snape's temper, but had never thought he would be on the receiving end of it, especially with his connections.

When Severus entered the infirmary, he found Harry sitting up in one of the infirmary beds, his arm in a sling, wearing the standard blue and white striped hospital pajamas. The boy was still pale, but he looked worlds better than he had when Snape had first seen him lying upon the dungeon floor, all over blood.

Poppy suddenly appeared at his elbow. "Severus, I've mended his arm, but he needs to keep it immobile over night, give the spell a chance to set, and I've given him a Blood Replenisher and a Pain Reliever."

Snape nodded. "What about a Sleeping Draft?"

"Not yet. That was the next thing. Would you be so kind as to inform Minerva where her little lion is? I am sure she is wondering where Mr. Potter is by now. It's almost curfew."

"I shall. Is Potter well enough to leave the Hospital Wing?"

The mediwitch nodded. "Yes." She waved her wand and a familiar twilight colored potion popped up in her hand. "Mr. Potter, take this Sleeping Draft before you retire. It will ensure you get the rest you need. Sleep is the physician of pain."

"Yes, ma'am." Harry took the vial. He would have smiled at the quote, which was an old Roman saying, but he was far too nervous. Looking at Snape's forbidding expression, he knew he was going to be roasted over a slow fire by his guardian.

"Come, boy. I shall escort you back to Gryffindor Tower and speak to Professor McGonagall once I am there," Snape ordered.

Harry slid off the bed. He longed to run over to Snape and lean against him, but he sensed the wizard was not in the mood to be hugged by wayward students. "Yessir." He followed Snape out of the infirmary.

Severus strode along rapidly, his boots tapping out a firm rhythm, breathing deeply. He said nothing for several moments. All at once he halted, turning to face his disobedient ward. Disappointment and anger warred across his face.

Harry dropped his gaze to his shoes.

"Dueling, Potter?"

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry sir."

"No excuses. You know that dueling is expressly forbidden. You've read the Hogwarts rules and regulations, I gave you a copy myself. What possessed you to break them?"

"I . . .Malfoy insulted my mum and I . . .lost my temper, sir. I didn't want to fight him, but he . . ."Harry shook his head, Snape's disappointment cut him sharper than a whip. "I'm sorry. Will I . . .be expelled?" He forced himself to ask that question, then waited, dread curling in his stomach, for his teacher's answer.

Snape let him squirm for a few minutes, continuing to walk towards the stairs leading to Gryffindor Tower. "No. Not this time. I will not report this to the Headmaster. I have taken points and you and Mr. Malfoy shall serve detention with me for the week, both in my lab and in the library. You shall also surrender your wand to me, I will be keeping it until the weekend, since you obviously cannot be trusted to use it properly. You shall get it back only for class." He placed his hands on his hips and sent Harry a stern look. "I trust you know how disappointed your actions have made me?"

"Yes, sir." Harry whispered. He handed his wand over with a pang of regret. He had been so foolish, letting Malfoy goad him into a duel. "I'll try and control myself from now on. It won't happen again."

"It had better not. Or else you will be ending your school days before they have barely begun." Severus sighed. "How are you feeling otherwise?"

"All right." Harry said diffidently, wondering if this had put an end to his friendship with the potions professor. "I should have walked away, I know that, but I . . .just couldn't. Not after what he said about Mum."

Snape's hand closed over his shoulder gently. "When I was your age, I probably wouldn't have either," he conceded. "Do try harder, Potter. That impulsiveness is inherited from your father and it is not a good thing to indulge in. Tell me, who did throw the first hex, you or Malfoy?"

"Malfoy did. He wanted to fight, I tried to defend myself, but . . .I don't know enough magic."

"I see. That is not your fault. You cannot be expected to learn magic overnight, not raised as a Muggle. Malfoy's been around magic and been taught hexes since he could hold a wand."

"I know. He's a bully, like my cousin Dudley."

"Your cousin? What do you mean?"

"Nothing." Harry said quickly. He hadn't meant to let that slip.

"Your cousin bullied you? How?"

Harry avoided the other's probing gaze. But it was too late to take the words back and he knew better than to try and lie. Not to this man. "He . . .used to push me and shove me a lot. Call me freak and loser. You know. The usual things."

The boy's calm acceptance riled the Potions Master. For Snape did know. James Potter and the Marauders had taught him well. "Your aunt and uncle? Did they know about this?"

Harry nodded. "Yes."

"And they did nothing to stop it?"

"No. Uncle Vernon used to laugh sometimes, when Dudley knocked me down and sat on me. They didn't care. Dudley was their prince and I was just . . .their freaky nephew."

"I see." Severus' jaw was clenched. It would seem Potter had not led the posh existence his father had, as Snape had been led to believe given Dumbledore's assurances that the boy was being looked after well, living in a well-to-do Muggle home with everything he needed or wanted. "How long was this going on?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Ever since I can remember."

Snape knew he shouldn't have been surprised. Petunia had always been a narrow-minded harpy. He would have to speak to Dumbledore about it. Something needed to be done. Clearly Minerva had been right and the Dursleys were unfit guardians, the worst kind of Muggles. No magical child should have to put up with them, especially not Lily's son.

He put both hands upon the small boy's shoulders, kneeling down so he could look Harry in the eye. "It won't happen again. I will make certain of it."

Harry shook his head. "No, sir! Don't. I'm not supposed to tell. Uncle Vernon will—"

"—shut his fat face if he knows what's good for him," Severus interjected. "Do not worry, Harry. No harm shall come to you. You have my word."

Harry relaxed a fraction. He trusted the Potions Master. He had saved him twice now, for Harry was certain Severus had intervened when his broom went bonkers at the Quidditch match, though Ron and Hermione still had doubts about him. Hermione had insisted that in order to hex a broom, you had to concentrate and not blink once, and Snape had been looking right at Harry and not blinking.

But Harry also knew the same was required of a wizard casting a countercurse, he'd learned that from reading ahead in The Standard Book of Spells Level Two. He was sure Snape had been countering the Hurling Hex or whatever it was. It made no sense for Snape to want him dead, not after the troll. Not after becoming Harry's unofficial guardian and telling him stories of his mum. Or giving him the precious pocket watch with Lily's picture in it. Those were not the acts of a murderer. Someone else had been behind that jinx, Harry just didn't know who or why yet. Until he did, he would be careful to stick with his friends and Snape.

"Okay, sir. Thank you."

Snape snorted. "Do not thank me yet. I have not done anything to earn it."

"Yes, you have. You saved me twice. Three times if you count this evening."

"Don't make it a habit, Potter," said the professor and he gently mussed the boy's hair. "Seeing the way trouble seems to follow you, I may as well teach you a few defensive spells."

"Really?" Harry's eyes shone. "You'd do that for me?"

"And for myself as well. All of these trips to the Hospital Wing to patch you up grow tiresome," said Snape.

"I'm sorry. I'll try and stay out of trouble." Harry apologized. He didn't want to be a burden.

Severus snorted. The sun would rise in the west the day a Potter didn't attract some kind of trouble. "Learning how to defend oneself is a necessary part of your education. But we'll discuss that later. After you've served your detention." Because I will not have you enduring what I had to in my schooldays. We have too much in common as it is, thought Snape darkly. It was ironic, that he, who had been the target of James Potter, was now protecting Potter's son against bullies. Perhaps it was some kind of cosmic joke.

Harry grimaced. He had almost forgotten that, with the discussion about the Dursleys. He hoped it wouldn't be too awful. Then again, he didn't see how it wouldn't be, since it was supposed to be a punishment. But there was one bright spot. He would be serving part of it in the library, his favorite place, and being useful.

They had reached the portrait hole and Snape bid Harry goodbye before Harry could speak the password to the Fat Lady. "Take the potion Madame Pomfrey gave you and go straight to bed. No studying tonight, you need sleep."

"But what about my homework, sir?"

"I shall speak to McGonagall and she will give you a slip that will allow you to hand in your homework a day late due to your injuries." The professor reassured him.

"Oh. That's good."

"Enough chitchat, Mr. Potter. Do as you're told. I shall see you tomorrow."

"Good night, sir," Harry whispered, then he gave the tall wizard a brief hug. "Thanks for not totally kicking my arse."

"Humph! If you are late for my detention tomorrow night, young man, your backside will be singing a different tune. Sleep well." His arms went round the dark-haired imp and he gave the boy a quick squeeze, he was still not comfortable being so demonstrative, it had been too long since he had reason to give or receive affection. But he could remember spontaneously hugging Lily long ago, and Harry seemed to relish the contact, brief as it was.

Harry leaned into Severus' embrace for a moment longer, then he drew away. He didn't want the professor to think he was a wimp or a baby, but it felt good to be hugged. The Dursleys had never really touched him, unless it was to give him a shove in impatience, or a cuff in anger. Mostly, they had ignored him, unless there was work to be done. So Harry cherished these moments of affection between himself and Snape, especially now after this latest escapade. The hug told Harry that Snape was no longer furious and he was forgiven.

Harry turned and gave the password to the Fat Lady, who swung open wide and allowed the Potions Master and the wayward Gryffindor to pass into the tower.

Startled glances met them and everyone hushed and gaped when they saw the Head of Slytherin come through the portrait hole along with Harry.

Snape ignored the shocked uncomfortable looks and made a left out of the common room and down a short hall to Minerva's quarters.

Harry was bombarded with questions from his Housemates that he didn't feel like answering. He went upstairs to his room, he felt drained and exhausted, the duel plus his injuries had taken more out of him than he thought.

"Harry! What happened to you, mate?" Ron cried after seeing Harry's arm.

"Tell you tomorrow, Ron," he yawned. "I'm too tired now." He quickly changed into pajamas and drank down the potion.

His head had just touched the pillow when he was whisked away to the Land of Nod, where he stayed until the dawn.

A/N: Because this is an AU story, it will not always follow the events in the first book, you'll start seeing a divergeance soon. Hope you liked what occurred so far between Snape, Harry, & Malfoy. Oh, and another thing, in this universe, Severus is no longer Dumbledore's spy at this time and has cut all ties to the Death eaters.

Thanks everyone for reading and reviewing, please continue!

6/6/11-I have recently had a few anon reviewers who seem to think that Snape's punishing both Harry and Draco is unfair. Let me explain why his reasoning is not unfair. Hogwarts is a school with certain rules. One of those rules is that dueling is prohibited FOR ANY REASON between students. This means that whether or not Harry was provoked by Malfoy, whether or not he started it, or was defending himself, he STILL BROKE the rules. Maybe he had a better reason to do so, but the fact remains-the rule was broken. Severus had to give him a detentionand take his wand, because he is the proponant of following the school rules. If he didn't he would be acting like all the other teachers and letting Harry get away with disobeying school policy. That isn't how Snape is. If you'll notice, he was alot harder on Draco when scolding him than he was with Harry. I was a teacher and I know all about following school policy. In about 99% of schools here in America and Britain as well there is a rule forbidding fighting in school. If you break it, for whatever reason, BOTH parties earn themselves a three-day suspension, no matter if you instigated it or not. No arguments, no questions asked. The idea behind this is to discourage fighting on school grounds. Every student knows this . . . it's why most fights occur outside of school and off school property. So please don't insult me by saying I have no idea how to treat children! Harry had plenty of time to walk away from Malfoy. He could have gone into Snape's quarters at any time before wands were drawn and told him what was happening. He could have shouted for the professor as soon as Malfoy refused to move out of his way. This happend right in front of Snape's rooms! He could have ignored Malfoy's taunts. He didn't. He chose to respond to them, thus continuing the altercation. Snape's message to Harry is this-seek the help of an adult before getting into a fight with another student. If you can't walk away, you can fight back, but know that there will be consequences for doing so.

Next: Sev has a talk with Dumbledore regarding Harry and Harry and Draco serve their first night of detention.