Title: Size Queen
by Predatrix
Notes - Dedicated to Lexin for an able job of editing without which the story would have been much worse, and to Bernice for pointing out that I didn't have to create an AU just in order to give Hagrid an upstairs floor.

Many and various creatures had found refuge in Hagrid's cottage, but Professor Snape was a new one on him. Especially pale, panting and shaking.

"D'yeh want to come in, sir?" he asked, rather doubtfully, as he opened the door. Snape hadn't knocked, but he was running, and it was difficult to see where else he could be making for.

"Not really-oh hell!-all right!" said Snape, incoherently.

"Have a seat, sir," said Hagrid, hospitably. Not many people came to visit him, but he was always ready for company when they did.

Snape sank into the vast armchair, and, to Hagrid's surprise, covered himself with a heap of quilts and cushions. Considering that it was Hagrid's chair, it soon looked as if no-one at all was sitting there, particularly when Fang came up, friendly-like as usual, and tried to cuddle up-or sit on Snape, anyway.

Professor Snape didn't say anything, even when Fang drooled on him.

There was a knock on the door.

Madam Cattermole was there. She was the kind, if rather chatty, temporary Herbology teacher. She was on a fortnight's contract while Professor Sprout was recovering from being bitten by a Venus Leg Trap (like a Venus Fly Trap, of course, only much bigger). Hagrid had never thought anyone, still less the terror of the school, could be afraid of her.

"Have you seen Professor Snape?" she asked. "I've just been knitting him these bedsocks."

"Well, he's..."

A desperate coal-black glance pierced him from the chair.

"Now I think about it, he goes into Hogsmeade and does a bit of shopping on Fridays," Hagrid told her.

"Lovely man, isn't he?" she said, with a big smile. "Needs someone to take care of him, a bit. Needs a woman's touch around the home."

What, to polish the things in jars? Hagrid thought doubtfully.

"I haven't quite found the way to his heart yet," she said confidingly, bending to pick up a hairgrip. She never quite got to it, because Fang was there first, gobbling it up.

"What colours does he like? And what sign is he?"

Hagrid, whose hearing was acute, managed to pick up "black," and "Keep Out" in a very faint whisper, from the armchair.

"What was that?" she asked.

Luckily, at this point, Fang got on his hind paws and started looking for more `doggy treats' in Madam Cattermole's hair.

"Well, I'd better be off, then," she said briskly, and left.

Snape didn't say anything, but he made no move to go. He seemed to have gone slightly shivery. "She's been known to wait outside just to see if I come out of somewhere," he said morosely.

Hagrid made a big pot of tea with a little something extra in it, and put it on the table. He poured himself out one huge mugful and put that on the arm of his own chair, then fished out a slightly smaller mug from down the back of the sofa, ran it under the tap, and put it on the table.

Then he sat down and got on. He had plenty to do, as usual. The first task was mending his second-best pair of winter boots. This job was hell on shoe-leather.

After ten minutes, he was hardly aware there was someone else in the room, apart from the little clink-and-trickle of tea being slowly poured out and quickly gulped down. He went on working. More tea gulped down. He went on working. More tea gulped down. Snape had better start watching himself, considering he didn't often drink, or...

"Well, get it over with and laugh at me, then!" said Snape crossly, slurring his words a little.

"Wouldn't think of it, sir," Hagrid said, without looking up.

"Everyone else in this school, except Albus Dumbledore, would love to see me in this sort of predicament. What makes you any better?"

Hagrid worked on, slowly and patiently. "Dunno, sir. It just in't my idea of fun, I s'pose."

Snape sneered at him. "How very noble of you. Or perhaps you just don't have the imagination."

Hagrid peeled off a portion of scuffed leather and replaced it with fresh.

"I just insulted you. Or don't you have the wit to notice that, either?"

"Yeh're not the only creature as lashes out when it's hurt. I'm used to it. And I've got a broad back, so you won't be hurting me, sir." The sole was last; needed a bit of work doing to it. He took a gulp of hot tea to fortify himself for the effort.

Silence.

"It seems as ridiculous to me as it might to anyone else," said Snape, as if to himself. "The problem is using appropriate force. I'm perfectly capable of using poison, or putting a curse on her, but that would be inappropriate. It's weakness, as well: I'm not exactly inarticulate, but every time I try to explain myself, she doesn't hear what I'm trying to say." He took a large gulp of tea. "Even, as a last resort, told her I'm a natural celibate to the point of being a virgin at thirty-nine, can you 'magine that? Perfectly true. Stupid, but true."

Hagrid went on working. He was as startled as anyone else might have been, both by that and by Snape telling him that, but he knew about touchy creatures, and he knew when to keep quiet.

"She said she'd cure me of that. No, thank you," Snape said dryly. "Tried telling her no thank you. No use. She wants to bed me, mother me, and probably marry me, as well as drowning me in oceans of knitwear. I want to find some way of telling her no, short of arsenic."

"Tell her she's not your type?" suggested Hagrid.

"Even if I were in the habit of sleeping with anyone, I know women aren't my preference," said Snape. "I explained that. She says I just haven't met the right woman, and she's it." He sighed heavily. "Give me strength. I tried being incredibly rude, which normally works, and she told me she's a qualified astrologer, whatever that is..."

"Somebody 'oo can see the future in the stars, in't it?" said Hagrid, puzzled. He'd have thought Snape would know what that was.

"I know the definition of the word," said Snape, sharply. "I am having a little difficulty with the concept that anyone, however stupid, can consider it a recognised academic discipline. It appears she has a vanity degree from a small American university. This expensively worthless piece of paper appears to have given her boundless self-confidence and a matchless ability to stick her nose in where it isn't wanted." He sighed. "With every bit of the deep psychological insight this nugatory qualification had apparently given her, she said she knew I had a secret pain in my past and she needed to hold on however hard I might try to push her away. I told her it wasn't my past she was a pain in, and she gave the most godawful roguish laugh and shook her finger at me." He shuddered.

"Dunno what you can tell her, then," said Hagrid doubtfully. He got up and laid the mended boots aside, then reached for another piece of leather and a workboard, and began to cut carefully.

"What's that?" asked Snape, abruptly.

"Jesses for a Detestable Vulture," said Hagrid. "They're not all that detestable," he added fairly, "but if they ever get diarrhoea it's corrosive as hell. Nice birds, though, and they can't help it." The thin little straps didn't take him long. "Those can go out in the mews tomorrow, or next week, which reminds me…"

Hagrid put the cutting-board aside and went to find a large grimoire. Working on dosages for sick beasts was his least favourite part of the evening's work, because he preferred working with his hands, and the handwriting of the witch who'd written the book didn't help.

He'd forgotten Snape was there, and started reading the recipe aloud to himself, when he heard a correction from across the room. "Atrixia leaf, not lotrixa."

He made a careful scrawl on the page.

"Bring it over here," said Snape.

Hagrid obliged. "Budge up, sir. If you sit on the arm and I sit on the seat, we'll be less overbalanced."

Snape muttered, but moved. He wasn't sitting in his normal stiff posture, but relaxing almost on Hagrid's shoulder. Hagrid didn't draw attention to that, and didn't think Snape actually noticed, because his attention was fixed on the book.

"Slipshod," Snape complained. "No time notation. It should actually be ‛stir widdershins at sunset' for this sort of potion."

"Are you sure?" asked Hagrid doubtfully.

"What that hedge-witch has written down would probably kill the bloody things off sooner than stop them having the runs," said Snape.

Hagrid sighed. "I'll try to remember that." He remembered Harry talking about Neville's attempt to tadpole Trevor the Toad. Potion-making was a big responsibility. He sighed.

"Put that book on the fire, it's worse than useless," said Snape. "Well, go on!" he snapped.

Hagrid reminded himself that Snape was used to instant obedience from the children.

"It's the only book with that recipe in I have, sir," he said.

"It can't even safely medicate a couple of moth-eaten old vultures. It's hopeless!" said Snape, as if personally outraged by an offence to his discipline.

"Don't want to put it on the fire in here. Smoke us both out, that will."

"If you promise to put it on the bonfire tomorrow," Snape said, "I will personally bring you another book that isn't liable to decrease the amount of repulsive creatures in the world, although nobody else will thank me for that." As if they ever do, his tone conveyed clearly.

"Well...all right," said Hagrid doubtfully. He wasn't a great reader, and any book Snape considered definitive would probably need years of postgraduate study.

"I'll bring it over before dinner tomorrow," said Snape. "How many sick birds have you got?"

"Just Chirpy, Tweety and Feathers."

He'd never heard Snape laugh before, not wholeheartedly, without a bit of nastiness to it. He'd like to hear that again, he decided. Often.

"`m drunk," announced Snape, looking rather glassily into Hagrid's eyes.

"I'll get you a black coffee," said Hagrid, and tried to get up.

Instead, Snape, who was rather precariously balanced, fell off the arm of the chair into his lap, giggling helplessly. "Can't get up."

Hagrid, struggling with his own inappropriate response to a lapful of wriggling Potions master, didn't have that particular problem. He felt very relieved that Snape seemed to be too drunk to notice.

I ought to stop him, only… only I don't know if anyone's let him be silly. Ever, Hagrid thought. Maybe it's time someone did.

He'd never even seen Snape look undignified before, and certainly not seen him in this position.

Snape kept bouncing on him. On about the third or fourth descent, he discovered Hagrid's erection. Well, Hagrid always had been bad at keeping secrets, and he supposed this one was a large one. Getting larger, given that Snape had frozen in position, in his surprise, and seemed to be resting his hand on it.

Snape gave him the owlish stare of the truly drunk, and said, "Big," solemnly. It seemed to fascinate him, and he kept measuring it with both hands.

Hagrid was rather desperately trying to sort out how much Snape understood about his current situation. He tried to back out of Snape's grip.

Snape collapsed on top of him. "Very big," he continued, licking his lips.

"Sir?" said Hagrid. He didn't feel as if he'd quite got the hang of the conversation.

"Enormous," said Snape happily, wriggling back-and-forth eagerly in Hagrid's lap.

"Calm down, sir!" said Hagrid, a bit hopelessly.

"Can't!" Snape said, and then, very quietly, "…please…"

This did not remind Hagrid of his earlier, and very rare, experiments in sex at all. Quite simply, he'd never felt so needed before by a creature that could talk.

Hagrid said, very softly, "Go on, sir, let yourself 'ave it," and put the full weight of his arm against Snape's back, imagining how that must feel, increasing the pressure.

Snape went rigid. His face twisted. Hagrid had never heard of anyone doing it this way, making such apparent agonies out of such a simple thing as physical pleasure. Then Snape was sobbing for breath, groaning, cock jerking heavily between them.

Hagrid wasn't quite sure, being that this sort of thing didn't happen to him very often, but it seemed to him that Snape was taking quite a few minutes to finish. He rubbed his back, gently, talking nonsense to him, until the final aftershock shivered away.

Snape lay on him, quite limp and very wet.

Hagrid tilted Snape's face into view. Out cold. Either the excitement or I was getting something wrong. He didn't think Snape hadn't enjoyed himself, though. The expression on his face was...blissful, if anyone could even put such a concept together with the Hogwarts Potions master.

I s'pose it makes sense, if he's a virgin, Hagrid thought. I mean, that could have been wanting to come out for several years.

He himself felt protective, tender, rather randy. Well, it had been the first time he'd been approached in years. He'd never had sex (even this one-sided version) with anyone he knew this well, before. He'd only had one serious relationship (with courting) so far in his life, and that had been rather ruined by Madame Maxime's attitude to the species thing. They'd made a cautious attempt to patch things up later, but the affair had dwindled away to nothing once they'd both realised how difficult they found it to talk to each other.

As for humans, they tended to approach him, if at all, out of fascinated curiosity, and once that was satisfied, that was that. Sex with humans wasn't particularly easy because a lot of the things humans did with each other would hurt them if he did them, but he'd had the odd experience, with either sex. And tonight, even if drunkenly and briefly, someone had really wanted him.

He whispered a quick spell to clean them off, although he had to try it twice because the first time he got the middle syllable wrong and merely turned the stains fluorescent purple.

Now, what should he do with an unconscious Snape? Well, Snape would probably be in a bad temper if he woke up drunk, hung-over and in Hagrid's bed. Probably best not to put him to bed here, then. He could perfectly easily just carry Snape back to the school, but if Snape ever heard about it, which he probably would, it would annoy him.

Hagrid was on the Floo network, but a lot of it wouldn't light up for him because it was too small for him to get through. You needed a lot of fireplace to cope comfortably with a half-giant.

He tried, anyway, stepping in with Snape in his arms and asking for Snape's bedroom. As he'd half-suspected, it was too small to have a large fireplace.

Hang on a minute, he thought. I'm fairly sure Snape's private room's off the Potions dungeon, and that has a fairly large fireplace, both for warmth and in case of making big potions. And there's never anyone there if Snape isn't.

That plan worked. As he expected, the Potions dungeon was deserted. Most of the doors led to cupboards, and when he found Snape's bedroom, Hagrid almost mistook that for a cupboard. As he'd thought, the dinky little fireplace would only just take a thin human, and nobody bigger. Fireplace, bed, chair. Absolutely no personal possessions apart from quite a lot of books taking over one wall.

Hagrid took Snape's boots off, and put him to bed fully-clothed. He kissed the unconscious wizard very gently on the cheek, whispered, "Sleep well, sir," and went back to the dungeon to go home.

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The next morning, Hagrid woke up just before sunrise, as usual, and got in an hour or so's work before feeling peckish. Unfortunately, a number of possibly-rare insects were nesting in the big bag of oats in his larder, so he couldn't have porridge as usual. He liked porridge.

He decided he might as well go along and eat with the others. There would certainly be porridge, and although he didn't often take the trouble of going to breakfast properly, he happened to be about, and hungry, at the right time of day.

People looked mildly surprised to see him. There was a space beside Professor McGonagall.

"You don't have any insects in your pockets? Just checking," she said.

He turned out his pockets. "One old Knut, three spider-webs, a matchbox full of sugar lumps and a dog-chew," he said, putting them back when he'd passed inspection.

She moved up cheerfully enough. "I suppose I'm not going to get bitten by any of those, Hagrid. If you swear to me the spider-webs are untenanted."

"What d'yeh take me for?" said Hagrid indignantly. "I wouldn't go carrying spiders around in my pockets. Not for long, anyway. That's crool."

He tucked into his porridge with enjoyment. He never bothered with sugar, for himself; he usually had some around but he kept it for the beasts. Sugar, and creamy milk, did make the porridge more pleasant, though.

While he ate, Hagrid looked about.

Everything was as normal, a normal, pleasant morning, except... No Snape, for once.

Poor sod was probably hung-over, of course.

Nobody seemed to miss him except Madam Cattermole. He could tell that from the way she kept asking people if they'd seen him, and they kept being glad they hadn't.

After breakfast, Hagrid returned to his cottage, where he brewed up an effective hangover cure. This little problem about pure-blooded humans taking his drop of whisky a bit too seriously had happened before, of course, and there were a few useful ingredients he kept lying around. Well, he always had eggs lying around, and if it was a hen's egg it was probably for eating rather than hatching purposes. Raw egg. A dash of spicy sauce just to stop the raw egg getting above itself on the way down. A few herby little odds and ends. Fit for a king, long as the monarch in question happened to be facing the morning a little cross-eyed.

He'd just take it along on the off-chance. Snape had probably recovered enough to be hissing at the students like a rattlesnake, just as usual.

He glanced in at the Potions classroom, in passing, then went to Snape's private rooms and banged on the door.

A muffled voice said, "Stop banging on my head before I kill you." It didn't sound in any condition to do any such thing.

"Open the door, sir, yeh need to drink this."

After a few repetitions-and-variations on this basic conversation, the door unlocked, and Snape dropped his wand beside the bed and groaned.

"Drink the mixture," said Hagrid, keeping it simple.

"No, Hagrid," Snape said wearily. "I'm the Potions master." He paused. He looked rather greenish. "I don't go about drinking other people's mixtures," he said.

Hagrid held the glass to Snape's lips, and tipped it up when Snape opened his mouth to protest again.

Snape swallowed, and looked as if he'd have liked to spit it out again.

There was a pause.

"My god that's vile," said Snape, with quiet, deep feeling. "I knew there was a good reason why I preferred to be on the other side of the cauldron while somebody else drank the results, but since it appears to have disturbed the goblins who were excavating my skull with pick-axes, thank you, Hagrid. Now go away and let me sleep."

"Will I tell the class yeh're ill, sir?"

Snape emitted a deep, put-upon sigh, grabbed for his wand again, and used it to fetch a large bottle of bluish liquid. He poured some into the glass that had held the hangover cure, and drank. Some colour returned to his face, and he looked far less exhausted all of a sudden.

"That's lovely, sir," said Hagrid with deep respect. "Does it work on animals?"

"No, you fool, it's not a tonic," said Snape without heat. "Postpones the tiredness. As for animals, people used it on working horses once, I believe. Shortens the lifespan, in excess."

"Shouldn't be using it on yourself, sir," Hagrid said.

Snape sighed. "No, I shouldn't. But this is the second time I've used it in ten years, so I'm not in any danger."

"If yeh'll be tired after work, don't bother about the potion. For the birds. I mean, they can wait, if yeh need to sleep." No sense in having the birds well and Snape in a state of collapse.

Snape looked at him sharply. "You're a prodigy, Hagrid," he said, in an odd, mocking tone. "I think that you and Dumbledore are the only two people at Hogwarts who'd actually care if I wore myself out, as long as the job got done. Most people would be somewhere along the lines of, ‛oh, that's Professor Snape's corpse in the doorway, don't trip over it, thank god the bastard completed his last potion.'"

"Nonsense," said Hagrid.

"Don't even mention Madam Cattermole," said Snape, with a theatrical shudder.

"Wasn't going to," said Hagrid. "Poppy Pomfrey cares about everyone, and she'd feel hurt."

"Spare me the sentiment," said Snape nastily.

"Some of the kids'd kick your corpse in passin', though," Hagrid said. "If I was you, I'd live jus' to spite 'em."

There was a snort of appreciative laughter from Snape.

Hagrid decided he was right, he did like to hear Snape laugh, however grudgingly.

"Well, entertaining as this digression is, I really have to get up and get on," said Snape, getting up and performing a small magic to make his clothes look less slept-in.

"All right," said Hagrid. "I'd better go and clean up under the vultures. If you don't bury it somewhere, nothing grows there, ever. Then I'll burn that book you hate so much."

He nodded at Snape and headed off in the direction of the birds.

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Hagrid was rather surprised to hear a brisk rap on his door about half-an-hour before sunset. It was Snape, holding a large cauldron, a large book, and a bundle of well-wrapped-up things.

Snape unceremoniously shoved the cauldron at him. "Put that on the fire," he said "I've got the base potion in there, and it needs to be warm-but-not-too-hot for the next stage. He came in and dumped the bundle of ingredients and the book on the table.

Hagrid could hear him swearing under his breath, and apparently looking for a sharp knife, so he pulled his one sharp knife out of the roof-beam. "Sorry," he said, "I don't keep it where it might get anything into trouble."

Snape didn't reply, being too busy opening the ingredients, separating out enough to use, and repacking the excess neatly and efficiently.

"But...those are ordinary things!" protested Hagrid, surprised. Lemon. Ginger. Honey. A lot of the things he would put in to soothe and comfort a creature with an upset tummy anyway.

He got one of Snape's more ferocious glares, for that. Snape not being a dragon, or a basilisk, or a cold-drake, it was quite bearably human, but he looked down, anyway.

"There are only a couple of magical ingredients, Hagrid," Snape said. "Most of it may even be things you've used before. We don't use bat excrement and dragon's blood in everything."

"Just Excoriating Liquid," said Hagrid. "Eat through rubber gloves like anything, that did. Only I developed a coating to put on gloves that seems to neutralise it."

Snape gave him a sharp, interested glance. "Using what?"

Hagrid went to the abandoned, detested grimoire and shook it. A number of loose pieces of paper (containing very large handwriting) fell out. He grabbed one written on the back of a large sheet of purple wrapping-paper, which was what he'd been using for notes that week. "This lot," he said, handing it to Snape.

Snape studied it.

"Hagrid, you must learn to mark your quantities exactly. That said, it's actually a creditable piece of work. I wish I saw more like it."

Hagrid looked at the ground. "I'm 'opeless with writin'" he admitted.

"It looks as if you held the pen in your toes and walked across the paper, yes," said Snape. "However, you actually thought about what you were doing, tested it out, and did original work. Do you have any idea how rare that is in the Potions classroom?"

"`Ow do yeh mean, tested it out?" said Hagrid, surprised, trying to remember exactly what he'd done.

"You've crossed out about fifteen ingredients," said Snape, sounding rather impressed.

"Yeh. Well, I couldn't get it all right," said Hagrid glumly. "I made a lot of the base, and kept puttin' it in little pots and addin' just a little shavin' of something that might have worked."

"You idiot, that's the right approach!" said Snape. "You haven't got a clue how difficult it is to get the children to make a start, have you? They wait, and they wait, and they put on a blank expression and hope I'll give them a clue about what to start with." He gave a rather aggrieved sigh.

"Oh no," said Hagrid, "does that mean I have to get all those rotten little pots out again? I haven't even washed half of them."

"I know what I'm doing with this," said Snape, with a milder glare, "so we can bypass the experimental stage. I was merely pointing out how rare it is to find someone who bothers to experiment when necessary. In the classroom, most children either pretend they've done the experiments when they haven't or just add the ingredients straight into the cauldron. I've just about given up on getting them to experiment, especially considering what happens when Longbottom tries, but that means all of them will leave school with the impression that there isn't a stage before being told what the ingredients are."

He set to work.

Snape knew what he was doing. Hagrid respected that, and found it interesting to watch. Snape had an unexpectedly delicate touch with his hands, a feather-light way of shaving tiny scraps from all the ingredients and flicking exactly the right amount of fruit peel or curls of thin bone or ginger or-cloth, was that?-or raisins into the pot.

"Time to start stirring soon," Snape informed him.

Hagrid looked out of the window. It was indeed nearly sunset. "Which way's widdershins?" he asked doubtfully.

Snape gave him one of those I-do-not-suffer-fools-gladly looks, but showed him, then stalked up to the window to catch the exact moment of sunset, while Hagrid stood ready with a spoon.

"Start!" he shouted.

Hagrid stirred until his arm ached. "Sunset" apparently meant `from the first moment the edge of the sun drops below the horizon until the last trace of sunset fades from the sky'.

"Stop!" Snape shouted.

"Is it done yet?" asked Hagrid.

Snape glared. "Don't rush it, Hagrid," he said, in a tone milder than the glare.

"I only wanted to know if I ought to stir it again, sir," said Hagrid.

"No. Just leave it heating through and go to dinner. Come on, then," said Snape, leading the way to the dining hall.

Hagrid followed him, surprised. He didn't think he remembered so much as one solitary occasion when Snape had chanced to go to dinner with anyone else. Oh, he'd talked to other people over dinner (Hagrid remembered him doing so to Quirrell, for example, in a way that had quite put the man off his food), but he'd always entered the dining hall in silent and intimidating solitude. Hagrid had never seen him turn up to dinner with someone else just because they happened to be doing the same thing when dinner-time came.

Now he thought about it, he didn't often, either. The children came to visit him frequently, but they couldn't sit at the staff tables, and the teachers often didn't drop in on him unless they had a particular reason to.

"Do I smell funny, sir?" he asked Snape, as they dug into a delicious and very warming stew. Snape, too, seemed to be eating properly for once. Often he seemed to sit there just picking at his food, presumably if he was thinking about something.

"Only when you've been handling animal droppings or certain sorts of animal," said Snape, taking another spoonful of stew.

Hagrid sighed deeply.

"If I refused to handle things because of the smell, I couldn't do my job," said Snape.

"You don't smell bad, sir," said Hagrid, with a vast sniff. "Mint, ginger, a few chemical things."

"Both of us are going to smell bloody awful after dosing your vultures, Hagrid. Do you see me complaining?"

"Usually, sir. Thought it was one of yeh interests in life," Hagrid said slyly, trying for and getting that reluctant snort of laughter.

Snape didn't say any more for a while, but Hagrid didn't feel the usual impatience and scorn radiating off him. If he was one of Hagrid's beasts, Hagrid would almost have called him friendly.

After dinner, they went up to the vultures. To Hagrid's surprise, Snape put on protective clothing (since it was Hagrid's spare, Snape looked rather endearingly dwarfed by it) and picked up the other shovel. Hagrid set down the lanterns so that they could see what they were doing.

They worked gloomily but fast. If they weren't fast, Hagrid knew, the shovels would start corroding.

Soon, the earth underneath the vultures was fairly clean, and Hagrid's wheelbarrow was full. The birds were evidently too ill to react much to their visitors.

"`Ang on a minute, sir," said Hagrid. "I'll just go and bury this lot."

As Hagrid came back, he saw an astonishing sight, and almost cried out a warning. Snape was tickling Feathers on her bald head. He was whispering something that sounded like, "there, there, you repulsive creature, you'll be just as disgusting as ever by the morning." Feathers was crooning softly in her throat, not at all the usual noise a Detestable Vulture made.

Hagrid backed away a bit, then came back whistling and making more noise.

Snape was standing by the birds, still and perfectly composed.

"I'll 'old their beaks, you pour it in," said Hagrid. This plan seemed to work. Not that the birds seemed particularly aggressive today, but Hagrid knew his own strength would be up to stopping any little pecks.

Snape was better at measuring, as well, doing it by sight with effortless confidence.

By tacit consent, both of them headed back to Hagrid's cottage once the job was done.

"Which of us smells more revolting?" asked Hagrid.

"Both," said Snape, shortly.

"Well, there in't enough room in the bath for both of us, sir, leastways not if we want to fit the water in as well."

He expected Snape to laugh, but Snape didn't. There was a strange glint in his eyes for a moment, Hagrid thought, but he must have been mistaken because he blinked and then Snape looked perfectly normal.

"I'll go first, since I use less water."

"All right, sir."

Five minutes later, there was no sound of washing from the bathroom.

"Sir?" said Hagrid, knocking on the door.

"Mm?" said Snape, rather woozily. "Good job you knocked. I was almost asleep." He came back out fairly quickly, properly dressed but endearingly pink and smelling deliciously of raspberry-scented bubble-bath.

"Thought I'd used all the bubble-bath up," said Hagrid.

"There was a scraping at the bottom of the bottle. Goes further with me," explained Snape.

"Ooh, you smell lovely, sir," said Hagrid, sniffing deeply.

"Can't say the same for you. Vulture isn't my favourite odour."

"Of course, sir," said Hagrid.

When he came back from his bath, he was surprised to find Snape still there. Snape was making a few notes in the book on the table.

"Sir?" asked Hagrid.

"I always...write up results and practicals so I know exactly what I've done when," said Snape, wearily. He looked about ready to drop.

"Go home, sir," said Hagrid gently. "Yeh must be tired; yeh said yeh'd be tired this morning."

Snape sighed angrily. "Absolutely exhausted, just not sleepy. I hate it when that happens. I've got a potion for insomnia, but I used the last of it a week ago."

"You've got a potion for everything, you 'ave, sir," Hagrid said, teasing. "But you don't need it. Sit down and I'll make yeh a nice cup of tea, relax yeh a bit, then I'll bet you'll feel more like dropping off."

"Most of the time, I forget ordinary people have their own coping strategies that don't involve cauldrons," said Snape quietly.

Hagrid wished he could offer Snape a massage. He'd bet it would quiet him down a bit (worked on horses, anyway) but he wasn't sure of his own motives, so he'd better not.

When handed the tea, Snape asked for a drop of the whisky.

"I don't think that's a good idea, sir," said Hagrid.

"I am reliably informed that I turn into an idiot when I'm drunk, Hagrid," said Snape crossly. "I have been known to dance on tables or pass out, and when I wake up the next morning the evening before is a blur. I do not want to repeat my excesses, but sometimes a small quantity of alcohol can help me relax."

Hagrid sighed, and poured a very little of the whisky into the tea.

This time, Snape sipped it very cautiously.

"Not a bad day, I suppose," he said quietly.

"No," said Hagrid. "At least Tweety, Chirpy and Feathers can go back on a wooden perch tomorrow."

"You have a genius for nomenclature in your own perverse way, Hagrid," Snape said.

Hagrid guessed. "Potions? Understatement?"

"Naming things."

"I suppose I see summat in animals as isn't there," Hagrid said. It wasn't an admission he'd ever have considered making to Snape, but he was good at guessing when something would be used as a weapon against him and when it wouldn't.

"If you were wrong, you'd be a mass of blood and scarring," said Snape thoughtfully, "so you may have a point sometimes. Even that three-headed abomination seems to like you. Even dragons. Even Blast-Ended Screwts. Even…" Snape yawned.

"Put that cup down before you drop it, sir," said Hagrid.

Snape finished his drink at a gulp. "More pleasant than most potions, and I have extensive experience." He yawned again, and put the cup down.

"Rest my eyes a moment," he mumbled, and fell deeply asleep in the chair.

Hagrid sighed. He couldn't, in conscience, leave Professor Snape there. He certainly didn't want his inconvenient guest in his bed. He sighed even harder, at that, because he did want his inconvenient guest in his bed, and that was precisely his problem.

He picked Snape up, expecting him to be absolutely flat out, and was surprised when Snape mumbled something and nuzzled his neck in a way which would have been tempting if Snape had been properly awake at the time.

"Warm," said Snape, and flopped back again.

With some difficulty, and grimly-determined not to knock his guest's flapping elbows and feet against the walls, Hagrid negotiated the stairs. He wouldn't have had this problem a few months back, when it had still been the original one-floor cottage, but he'd got tired of his toes being singed or chewed while he was trying to sleep, and now the beasts had the downstairs and he had the upstairs: well, that was the theory. Hadn't taken him too long to build; lumber wasn't too hard to lop and move, not to a half-giant. Some of the stairs were wobbly, but they worked.

Reaching the bedroom, he deposited Snape very gently upon the bed. Right. Robe off; that was the easy bit. Eventually he managed to figure out how to get rid of the jacket. Then the waistcoat, which was surprisingly colourful for such a staid man. Kingfisher-blue with gold flashes. If Snape had just been wearing a comfortable loose shirt, Hagrid could have left him in it, but no, that would have been too easy. He'd left the man fully-dressed last night, out of a half-ashamed feeling that liberties had been taken, but these clothes looked difficult to sleep in.

Damn. The next problem was buttons. Quantities of quite-unreasonable tiny little buttons on the shirt, for example, and an old-fashioned button-fly to the trousers which would be hell to sleep in comfortably. His fingers were like large sausages by comparison. Damn. He'd have to try magic, and he wasn't necessarily going to get it right. He sighed, and reached for the umbrella.

"Amplexos amove!" he tried, in a whisper. Every button from collar to boots flew into the air, floated, and pinged gently to the floor. He'd have to explain that tomorrow, and hope that Snape didn't take it the wrong way.

Not that Snape looked bothered now. He kept sighing and reaching out. However dozily he was doing that, part of Hagrid appeared to feel determined to misinterpret it. Who would ever have guessed that Severus Snape would ever hold hands with anyone, even asleep?

There was Snape, fast asleep, robes in disarray and trousers and shirt unbuttoned, stretched out on Hagrid's bed. It was a bloody lovely sight, and Hagrid was going to not-lay-a-finger on Snape even if it killed him to not-do-it. Damn. Last thing he needed was more fantasy material. He'd already been looking forward to a bit of time alone, to masturbate and take the pressure off, and he didn't need to think about impossible possibilities any more than he was doing. And as far as not-laying-a-finger went, he was holding Snape's hand. Well, not lay any more fingers, he decided. Certainly not do anything else.

And what sort of pervert was he, thinking about such a thing while Snape was asleep, and fairly chilly, judging by the way he was shivering?

"Cold," murmured Snape.

Hagrid hastily pulled the covers up, but Snape's hand burrowed out, blindly seeking

"Cold," repeated Snape, in that blurred, sleepy voice. He showed no sign of really waking up. He looked oddly small and frail, in a giant's bed, although Hagrid knew he was deceptively strong. Hagrid sighed, and sat on the bed beside him, holding his hand.

Hagrid couldn't even really resent it. Even Snape might have a well-hidden desire for human contact. Very well hidden. But when you thought about it, there were any number of rare beasts that gave the impression they hated people at first, but were quite tame later on. It was just odd that he'd found one that was human, was all.

After twenty minutes, Hagrid tried to ease his hand away, considering the possibility of going to the bathroom to take care of himself in decent privacy. He couldn't exactly do it here, even if his cock liked the thought, and he wasn't going to get any rest if he just sat there like this. Millimetre by millimetre, he eased his hand away, as carefully as from a hatching egg.

Snape's hand moved out from its warm nest again, grabbing him.

Hagrid sighed.

It was a very long night. After a while, his erection subsided. Relieved, he took his hand away from Snape's grip for long enough to undress, or at least drag his boots off and loosen his clothes, and then he crawled into bed, with a sigh of relief.

Snape promptly wrapped himself around Hagrid and clung on obstinately.

Never have thought he likes to cuddle, thought Hagrid doubtfully. Well, it's not as if he gets the chance, most of the time. Probably just reaching for the nearest warm thing. Nice, though.

He was too exhausted to think about it for long.

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The next time he woke up, it was very dark. Late night or early morning. He was still tired, and he'd been expecting to sleep through without being disturbed.

Instead, he was being kissed, with considerable determination. That tongue would practically be down his throat if they'd been human-to-human instead of human-to-half-giant. As it was, there was plenty of slick slippery sucking and quite some degree of lascivious moaning. It had been a long time since anybody had...

He kept having to stop thinking, to appreciate this properly.

His hands wound their way into a great deal of long messy hair, and then his fingers traced the edges of his bedmate's face: wide mouth stretched with the effort of kissing him, an unmistakable nose, and closed eyes.

Was anyone warped enough to do this in their sleep?

No. Wrong question. If anyone was warped enough to do this in their sleep, it was undoubtedly Severus Snape.

The lascivious moaning transformed momentarily into an irritated growl, muffled in his mouth, and he felt strong fingers opening his own clothes.

The growl eased back into pleased moaning, as if his erection was satisfactory. Which it was, and feeling more so. Last time he'd done this with a human male, the man had been rather twitchy about Hagrid's advantage in size, and Hagrid had done his best to be gentle and apologetic. As far as he could tell, for once, Snape positively relished being put at a disadvantage, at least judging by the way he was making helpless noises and writhing against Hagrid's cock as if he couldn't get enough of it.

Hagrid stopped kissing. Snape growled something again.

"Calm down!" Hagrid told him.

Snape kept at him. Oh, god, nearly there…

"I mean, stop, or I'll do it all over you!" gasped Hagrid, too worked-up to think of a polite way to put it. There probably wasn't a polite way to put it, but a heavy tide of pleasure was rising in his balls and something had to give.

He did it all over Snape. People had told him his ejaculate was more copious than the usual, so he was probably half-drowning the poor little bugger, but in all that wetness it was quite possible to feel, or imagine, Snape jerking and gasping and pushing quite as if he was coming as well.

Not that he had long to ponder that, as he was asleep in seconds.

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When he woke up, Hagrid was certain he'd been dreaming. He'd call it a wet dream, except that the bed was clean and dry. Snape was asleep beside him. Very carefully, Hagrid eased the bedclothes up and took a peek. Snape was fully-dressed, clothes spotless, and it looked as though his clothes were unbuttoned rather than buttonless.

Hagrid glanced down at the floor. Definitely no buttons.

Damn. He'd definitely been dreaming, then.

He dozed off again, still wishing it was real.

The next time he woke, there was no-one else in the bed, and the morning sunlight was blazing through the window.

He went down and made himself a sandwich, as he seemed to have slept through breakfast time and there were still insects in his porridge oats.

He was, however, cheered to find that the Detestable Vultures were much improved, and could go back on their normal wooden perch. He chatted gently to them for a while, stroked them under the chins, listened to the little inconsequential vulture-noises they made, and saw that they'd already started preening their beautiful black feathers.

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Next day was Madam Cattermole's day off, as she told Snape loudly at breakfast while handing him a crocheted bookmark, and invited herself to spend the next two lessons (which she'd looked up and found empty on Snape's timetable) going for a walk with him collecting plants and ingredients.

He tried to put her off twice, Hagrid noticed, but she wouldn't listen.

As Snape stood to leave, Madam Cattermole's scarf slid from around her neck and slipped to the floor. It was so neatly-done, Hagrid almost didn't see Snape's wand twitch fractionally. As she bent to retrieve it, Snape glided forward to walk with Hagrid, smoothly keeping pace with him as he left.

Both of them admired the vultures, which in Hagrid's case meant loudly singing their praises and in Snape's case meant being attentive and just a little bit smug-looking, probably about the potion having worked.

"Can I let them out, sir? It wouldn't bother yeh?" Hagrid asked.

"If that's what you normally do, certainly," Snape said, watching intently. "My god, they really are hopeless creatures," he added, watching them stagger out of their cages on ungainly talons. "Looks as if they never use their claws at all."

"They don't, much," said Hagrid. "They eat carrion, so the beak and claws don't have to be that strong."

"So people are terrified of them, but they are completely powerless."

"That's what Crabbe and Goyle thought," said Hagrid, "but they do have a method of self-defence."

Snape arched an eyebrow at him.

"Crabbe and Goyle were hitting a big stick against the bars once when I turned up. I was just about to knock their heads together, when Tweety managed to stick his head out between the bars."

"Pecked them?"

"No. Projectile vomiting," Hagrid said carefully. He'd found a bird book later, and discovered that there was actually a name for what the birds had done, and it was actually a defence mechanism. Along with a lot of stuff he wasn't sure he believed, like vultures being closer-related to storks than to birds-of-prey.

Snape sniggered. "I could almost come to like the things, despite their entire lack of beauty or agility."

"Don't speak too soon, sir," Hagrid told him. "You'll see them being agile, in a bit."

"I doubt it."

A few minutes later they watched the birds scramble-and-flap into flight. The great black wings sailed them efficiently across the sky with very little motion once they'd reached an updraught.

"Really quite...alarmingly graceful, all of a sudden," said Snape thoughtfully.

"Everything's got its own beauty. Every natural thing, anyway," Hagrid added hastily, as he could see the exceptions to that begin to muster in Snape's eyes.

"Perhaps," Snape said.

They both watched silently.

"They haven't got anything for me today. I'm glad about that," said Hagrid, in the end, as the birds made their way back.

"Mm?" asked Snape.

"One of the things they do, is tell other vultures where the carrion is, practic'ly when it drops," Hagrid explained. "They think I'm another vulture, so they'd circle above it if they'd found anything. I'm always glad when there isn't."

Once the birds were mewed up again, it was time for Snape to get to his next lesson.

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After dinner, there was a knock on the door. Hagrid was still trying to sort out the things in his lap so that he could get up and answer it, when Snape opened it with a spell. "Madam Cattermole is sniffing around again," announced Snape. "You don't need to get up and entertain me, I'll read a book or something."

After a while staring at Hagrid's shelves as if he found either the contents or their organisation wanting, Snape picked up a book and settled down in the chair with it, not saying a word except to dissuade Fang from joining him.

Snape still didn't say a thing, but eventually Hagrid noticed that he kept quietly chuckling over the book.

"What are you reading?" asked Hagrid curiously. Severus Snape's sense of humour deserved to be encouraged, after all.

"Petronius Arbiter. I'd forgotten some of the more outrageous bits. I haven't read it for years, and the library's focus is on academic and magical works, not the classics of world literature."

"What's that, then?"

Snape looked up. "Why would you not know?"

"I don't actually read all these books," Hagrid admitted.

"What do you do-buy them by the yard?" Snape asked him.

"I got most of them from the outside shelf at Gissing's. They're five-for-a-Knut if you get damaged books," Hagrid explained. "So I start with picking one or two I want, with cures for animals or something, and then I just pick the nearest three. I can always use pages as cage-liners later."

Snape looked horrified. "Well, at least you left this one whole," he said, grudgingly.

"Wha's it about, sir?" Hagrid asked.

"Gluttons, rogues, whores, cheats, pæderasts and social climbers. Scabrous stories at a tremendous pace."

"I don't even know half those words," Hagrid complained. Getting up for a moment, he came to peer over Snape's shoulder.

"And none of those words are in English," he complained. "You were making it sound nearly interesting. I don't believe you now."

Snape snorted at him. "I'll read one of the stories to you, if you like. While you work."

"All right," said Hagrid, wondering what it was about. He picked up yet another pair of ruined boots, and sat down again.

Snape paged through the book, muttering, as if he was looking for a particular story. Eventually he found it and began to read.

Snape had a beautiful speaking voice. It caught Hagrid's attention and didn't let go, drawing him into the story as he went on with his mending, hands moving slowly and mind totally fixed on what he was hearing. If he hadn't seen the book, he wouldn't have realised it was in a foreign language, because Snape read with unhesitating grace and fluency, never even stopping to consider a word.

It took Hagrid at least two minutes to realise that the story was absolutely disgusting. A teacher, Encolpius, went to a rich man's house to teach his beautiful sixteen-year-old son, and, well, got the hots for the boy. His attempts at seduction were met by `stop it, or I'll tell my father!' All right so far, if very reprehensible. Using thinly-disguised bribery, Encolpius then spent three nights praying quietly to `the gods' (in front of the ostensibly-sleeping boy), and telling `the gods' what beautiful things he would give the boy if he enjoyed his favours, all the way up to a horse, a stunning stallion. Then he got into bed with the boy and had his way with him.

Hagrid, who had been waiting for the author to frustrate the teacher's wicked plan, was shocked.

"That's not the end of the story," said Snape, and went on with it. The story got even more depraved. The next day Encolpius admitted to the boy that he couldn't afford the horse, and the boy started sulking. But that night, the boy cuddled up to him, and admitted coyly that he'd enjoyed it anyway, and they found themselves doing it again, twice. The boy, being very young, was up for a third go, so Encolpius said, `stop it, or I'll tell your father!'

Hagrid laughed in spite of himself. "Why are you telling me this, though?" he asked. "Are you telling me you're…like that teacher? I've heard the gossip about you and Malfoy, but I never believed it."

Snape laughed, as if he found that funny. "I've never had the slightest taste for young boys, although I can actually imagine Malfoy as that sort of boy. I have had to dissuade him quite firmly from trying to seduce me."

"If you're capable of saying no to Malfoy, why does Madam Cattermole bother you so much?" Hagrid asked, curiously.

"Obvious. I can threaten him. I told him, very quietly, that if he laid so much as a finger on me I would arrange for him to splash himself with something in the next Potions lesson that would dissolve that finger, or anything else he'd touched me with. Then I said I was quite capable of making Lucius believe it was a regrettable accident."

"Did he believe you?"

"Not entirely. But the important thing was he wasn't certain I couldn't, and he wasn't certain I wouldn't. There was nothing I could say to Madam Cattermole that she would believe to be a threat."

"Why do you like that story, if you don't fancy boys?" asked Hagrid.

"Apart from the fact that Petronius shares my cynical view of human nature, perhaps I like to look at it from the point of view of the boy in the story," said Snape. "He's given things, and he doesn't have to do anything to deserve them. Doesn't have to be nice, doesn't have to be ‛moral', doesn't have to ask. Somebody creeps into his bed, in the middle of the night, and scratches every sexual itch he has, to the point of utter satiation, and he doesn't even have to admit he wants it."

Something clicked into place in Hagrid's mind. He thought about it. Snape wasn't, or wasn't primarily, talking about the point of the story.

"Might have made Encolpius's life a bit easier, if the boy had been a bit more straightforward about it," he said carefully.

"Sixteen-year-old boys, and certain other persons, are not noted for making anybody's life easier," Snape told him sternly.

"I'm sure the boy didn't want to 'urt Encolpius. Not make him feel 'e was...unwelcome-like. Not make him wake up the next morning wondering if it had been a dream."

"I'm sure the boy would find some way of telling him not to be bloody stupid, if the thought occurred to him that the man was going into agonies about nothing."

"What happens after the story, d'you think?" Hagrid asked.

"In the book, Encolpius goes on and has other adventures. In the modern world, both parties might have turned out slightly less peripatetic."

Hagrid tried to look politely blank.

"`Wandering', for god's sake." Snape added impatiently. "In the modern world, two people who manage to find a mutually-convenient arrangement may continue for as long as suits them both, with moderate discretion. To clarify: even if the boy feels no desire to be publicly acknowledged as Encolpius' catamite..."

"Is that, `mountain lion'?" Hagrid asked doubtfully, feeling fairly sure it wasn't.

Snape glared at him. "Even if," he said firmly, "the boy feels no desire to be publicly acknowledged as Encolpius' lover or whore or occasional tumble or whatever-the-hell-he-is, he might very well find a modicum of affection and physical pleasure acceptable. In private. In bed, particularly. But in public, Encolpius had better curb any tendency he might have to be bad at keeping secrets."

"`Cause the boy has 'is pride, and don't want to be pawed at," said Hagrid. "Well, if yeh ask me, if it's a choice, that's the better of the bargain. Private cuddlin' takes longer than public, and yeh'd get arrested if you tried to do much of it in the dinin' hall, for example."

Snape's mouth quirked up into a smile. "Acceptable," he said, and lowered his eyes to the book.

Hagrid waited a minute or two, but apparently Snape had got what he wanted to say off his chest, so Hagrid got on with his work. It was oddly companionable; apart from the occasional quiet chuckle Snape was quite silent, and Hagrid felt perfectly comfortable getting on with what he was doing without having to Entertain a Guest.

At ten o'clock, Snape got up. Instead of leaving, he started to walk silently upstairs.

Hagrid was fairly sure this wasn't the normal time he went to bed, so that meant it was either residual tiredness from the day before, or Snape wanting some attention.

He waited five minutes, then went upstairs. Snape was lying in bed, with his eyes shut. This time, all the clothes were off, because he could see them neatly laid out on a chair. A thrill shot through him at the thought.

He stripped, hastily, leaving his own clothes on the floor, and got in, trying not to disturb Snape in case he was tired or asleep, and trying to listen to his breathing.

"I'm not asleep, get on with it," said Snape. "And give me some light while you're about it, I want a good look... Light!" he snapped, when Hagrid did not leap to obey.

"I'm not...pretty, sir," said Hagrid, in a shamefaced whisper. "There in't nothin' about me to look at. Not like you."

"Let me be the judge of that," said Snape, pulling the blankets off, then grabbing his wand and calling up light.

Hagrid kept his eyes shut. There was absolute silence for about five minutes.

"Open your eyes," said Snape, gently.

Hagrid kept his eyes shut.

"Open your eyes!" That, with a snap.

Hagrid kept his eyes shut, and clenched his fist on the sheet.

There was an irritable sigh. "Nox!" said Snape, quickly, and they were in darkness.

"I appreciated that view, if not that sacrificial-lamb expression that made it clear you weren't happy with it," said Snape quietly, putting his arms round Hagrid.

"I'm not sure as I can do this, sir," said Hagrid. "I mean, you're so lovely. I thought I could cope wi' you wanting me 'cause you've got no-one to c-compare me with." His voice wobbled, and he felt the horrified realisation that he was about to cry.

He could hear Snape fumbling about with something, then a large hankie was held in front of his nose.

"Blow," said Snape, firmly.

Hagrid blew until his ears rang, and surreptitiously wiped his eyes.

"Didn't remember I 'ad a hankie by the bed," he said.

"It's a pillowcase," said Snape, irritably. "I may be a virgin," he added testily, "but it doesn't mean I've gone through life with my eyes shut. I have even had opportunities, or nearly so. When I was much younger, I approached the point of reaching a tentative understanding with someone."

"He said no?" asked Hagrid.

"He turned into a wolf," said Snape bleakly. "Apart from that, there was Malfoy père (except that I do have a few principles) and Malfoy fils (one of the principles is, no children). Other than that, my rebarbative personality has kept people at a distance." Hagrid wondered whether to ask Snape what that word meant, but decided it made sense in context.

"It weren't Remus's fault, sir, poor little sod."

"How do you-oh, of course, Albus would have told you. He'd have needed your strength if there were an incident. And it might not have been his fault, but it well-and-truly put me off."

"Anyway, all o'them are prettier than me."

"I wasn't discussing physical beauty," said Snape. "That was the pathetically short list of those who have made me an offer. I'm not attracted to you because you're pretty-" he practically spat the word.

"Why then?"

"Because you're…big, I suppose," said Snape quietly.

Hagrid sighed deeply. "It's always that. I 'aven't 'ad many bedmates in my life, and it was always curiosity: what do I do in bed, and above all ‛what does it look like'."

Snape sighed. "I can't really deny I like the cock, I've fantasised about that since I was fourteen…"

"You what?" said Hagrid, truly shocked. "I didn't do anything with you when you was fourteen, sir!"

"I know. Pity, really. Well, you know they called me `sneaky slinky Snape' because I always used to wander about on my own."

"Always felt a bit sorry for yeh," admitted Hagrid.

"Well, I did actually creep up on you once and catch sight of you pissing against a tree," Snape said. "Didn't you notice I developed a tendency to follow you about around that age?"

"Well, yes, but yeh never said it was 'cause of that!" said Hagrid.

"It never occurred to me I could actually talk to you. I just wanted another look," said Snape.

"Yeh're disgusting, sir," said Hagrid. "Anyway, what d'you mean's big, if it in't that?"

"Just…all of you," said Snape, a little helplessly. "Big hands, big muscles, big arms, big pounding heartbeat. As if, after decades of sexual starvation, I could just settle into your arms and all that craving would be touched and covered and filled." He paused. "Idiotic metaphor, isn't it?" Hagrid wasn't entirely sure what a metaphor was, but he understood what Snape wanted, now, and understood Snape felt mildly embarrassed at wanting it. He pulled Snape into his arms, enjoying the way Snape instantly relaxed into the sensation with a moan.

"What's yeh pleasure, sir?"

Snape shuddered. "I like well-deserved respect as much as the next man, but do you think you could possibly refrain from calling me ‛sir' in this position? It has entirely the wrong connotations for me."

"All righ', then," said Hagrid, peaceably. "What's yeh pleasure, Sev?"

He could feel an irritated trembling, as if Snape were about to object to that, too, but then Snape went still. Wants it too much to be that bothered. Good, Hagrid decided.

He felt the brush of lips past his ear. "Fuck me," whispered Snape.

"No," Hagrid said, horrified. "Those others-we just touched. I don't dare penetrate a human, I'd kill them. One of 'em told me that, I can't risk hurting you."

He wasn't sure, but he thought Snape was glaring at him in the darkness. "How long have you been a wizard, Rubeus?" Snape demanded irritably.

"That's something I wouldn't want to get wrong," said Hagrid. "Sometimes it takes me a couple of goes, with a spell, and I don't want to muck about with me bits."

"Luckily, I am perfectly able and confident," said Snape with a touch of hauteur. "Lumos!" he snapped. Light blazed, illuminating Snape as he threw the blankets off and grabbed, fondling and, apparently, measuring.

"Since this is my first time, I'll probably take it down to six; thickness to four," Snape muttered.

"I will get it all back?" asked Hagrid, rather worried.

"Of course," said Snape. "I intend to use more of it later-might be able to take the lot with a bit more experience. Whoever you were with was definitely wrong, now I take a relatively calm look at it. My knowledge is theoretical, of course, but I believe I'm right."

"What?" said Hagrid, doubtfully.

"Somebody once told you you were too big to fuck a human. I don't think you are, but I think I'll need practice."

"All right," said Hagrid.

He expected a snog or a bit of a cuddle first, at least, but Snape surprised him by getting up and going to the bathroom, where he stayed for some time, muttering swear-words and occasionally (apparently) hitting his head against the furniture.

When he reappeared, he looked furious. "You need to redesign that bathroom," he said crossly. "It's entirely too possible to have unfortunate accidents while trying to balance."

"What were you trying to do?" asked Hagrid.

"You don't want to know."

"Try me," asked Hagrid.

"Spells for, ah, internal cleansing and stretching. The only good thing about which is that at least there are spells. Muggles have it even worse. As I said, you didn't want to know. Come here and let me shrink you enough to use," he added, impatiently.

"Unless you sort out your manners, sir-Sev, I mean-you'll see a sight more shrinking than you want," Hagrid told him.

Snape cocked an eyebrow. "Somewhat peremptory? Perhaps I have time for a little foreplay." He slid in beside Hagrid, without asking, and rolled on top of him

"You seemed to like kissing last time," Snape said, and his tongue coaxed rather firmly into Hagrid's mouth. A sucking lick, and he pulled back again. "Oh yes, very nice," he murmured, and Hagrid could feel the beautiful proud curve of those lips. More tongue, going slower this time. He moaned.

"Might I adjust your dimensions?" said Snape, sounding flirtatious rather than arrogant this time, as he pulled the bedclothes off.

Without speaking, Hagrid rolled onto his back and opened his legs.

"That's better," Snape said. "Very much so." He began to stroke and fondle and caress him, putting his full attention onto Hagrid's cock, moving down the bed and gently whispering to it, stroking it. Hagrid sighed, relaxing even more into the attention.

"You going to admire it all night?" asked Hagrid, lazily. "When are you going to start?"

He felt a distinct, odd, tug on himself. Not like a hand, or a tongue, less physical than that, and it certainly didn't feel like anything else.

"I have done. You're nearly ready." Surprised, Hagrid reached down. There was a wand in the delicate fingers. He brushed his own finger down his cock.

"Don't touch yourself yet," said Snape, in what sounded like a fairly preoccupied voice. "It disturbs my work."

Hagrid put his hands above his head.

He was slightly shocked to see how tiny he'd gone when Snape had finished.

Snape interpreted the look on his face without difficulty. "You're only out-of-proportion. The cock only looks small compared to the rest of you."

"S'pose my legs are a bit big," Hagrid agreed.

"Mmm," said Snape, "and these." He began to fondle and squeeze and pull at Hagrid's balls, lifting them and cupping them as if he liked the heft and the texture.

"Nobody's done that before," said Hagrid, a bit shocked.

"Then they're well overdue for a little attention," said Snape. "I like the thought you're inexperienced somewhere." He squeezed and stroked again. "Nobody's ever given you a good feel just there, no-one but me," he murmured.

The fingertips eased delicately upwards to Hagrid's cock. "Big or not, it's beautifully hard. I do like that."

"Lovely fingers," said Hagrid. "So delicate."

"They usually get compared to claws," said Snape, sneering a little.

"There's nothin' wrong wi' claws," said Hagrid, placidly. "Very useful things, are claws."

The fingers gave him a squeeze; presumably for impudence, but it felt good. Both hands stroked him up and down as if they loved his cock whatever size it was. That was a peculiarly liberating feeling, for once. People had either feared it or been fascinated by it, before. No-one had ever given him the impression that if he was just like a normal human male they'd want him too. Well, Snape had certainly been fascinated by the size, but he seemed to like it anyway. He gave it a final affectionate pat, and said, "Now get me ready."

"I'll 'ave to get something," said Hagrid. "I've got some scale-salve downstairs would do."

He was rather impressed when Snape managed to get that on the first try. A wizard usually needed to have a clear visual idea of what he was picking up. He suspected Snape just didn't conceive of making a failed attempt at anything.

After a quick check to make sure it was the right one, and wouldn't react badly with sensitive human skin, Hagrid greased up his hands and rubbed them warm, then introduced a careful finger into Snape, mindful that the activity would probably be quite painful to a virgin.

Snape's arse flexed instantly, welcomingly, and he began to wriggle. "More?" he suggested.

"I thought you hadn't done this before," Hagrid said doubtfully.

"Only with my own fingers," said Snape. "Yours are better. Bigger and warmer." He gasped slightly. "Do that again."

Hagrid paid careful attention. There seemed to be one place, one particular tiny spot, that drove Snape wild when he touched it. He stroked round it in slow circles, then kept a fingertip on it and worked it more directly.

"I'm glad I've prepared your cock," said Snape, between moans. "The good thing about the smaller size is that I can probably actually move while I'm using it. As opposed to just lying there and yelping. I'll be able to wriggle, and get you into place just right."

I'd always realised all that perfectionism would come in handy some day, thought Hagrid, but before I was just thinking about war against an evil wizard, not pleasure.

"I'll lie down on the bed. You do it, Sev. Make sure I'm where you want to put me."

Passivity eased his anxiety; he held his cock out with both hands, offering it.

Snape wetted him down a bit, and finally slid on top.

With four shaking hands working on the problem, they managed to get his cockhead into place, and Hagrid groaned a little. It nearly hurt. Oh, he'd imagined what it might feel like, the pressure of somebody's body around him, but…

He had to get further in, and shoved before he knew what he was doing. That redistributed the pressure from `nearly painful' into `shatteringly pleasurable'. He could feel it all the way down to his balls, and it was practically making his cock sweat.

"Does it hurt?" he asked, through a tickly mouthful of black hair, as Snape tossed his head back restlessly and writhed. They'd started with Snape squatting back on him, but now Snape had lain down on him fully, wriggling.

"No!"

He managed to give Snape another inch, and another, and another, surprised when he'd come to the end of himself far sooner than he'd expected. Then he just let Snape do the work, grinding and wriggling down on him, no doubt ‛getting him into place just right' the way he'd wanted. He didn't seriously worry he was doing it wrong, to his own surprise: he was with somebody who'd have no compunction about letting him know if he was. He could hear plenty of non-verbal noises, none of which seemed to suggest he'd got it wrong.

He let his arm fall, casually, and the weight of it landed heavily on Snape's cock, trapping it between Hagrid's arm and Snape's own belly. There was a sudden intensification of noises. Acting on impulse, he pressed down hard, feeling the sweaty heaviness of his own arm resting against Snape, who went still.

Snape was coming fiercely in another second, cock pulsing-warm as if it was trying to melt into the pressure against Hagrid's wrist. Hagrid could feel it inside Snape, as well: the warmth inside clamping down on him again and again until the space inside his eyes went roaring-red, that little hot-spot inside seeming to quiver as if it was having an orgasm as well. Although, as Hagrid was also coming by that time, he might have been a little confused. Whether he was or not, it was the best he'd ever had in his life.

"Was enjoying that," he mumbled, as Snape pulled off him far too soon, disturbing his pleasant aftershocks.

"Sorry. The size returns to normal after the sex, and I thought it could be disconcerting."

Snape cleaned them both off, crept into Hagrid's arms, and put his hand very gently on Hagrid's softening cock, which was already peacefully reshaping itself. He muttered something that sounded like, "Mine. Big or small. All of it," and fell asleep.

Hagrid smiled, and slept too.

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Hagrid's life fell into what he might consider a companionable routine, even if the companion was slightly...odd.

Every day, Snape would spend some of his spare time at Hagrid's cottage. Talking or silent, doing Potions or helping Hagrid dose animals, or simply reading while Hagrid mended something.

Children visited Hagrid reasonably often, but they always knocked, if the door was shut, probably because they were a bit nervous about any animals that might be there. If that happened when Snape was visiting, he would quietly nip out through the fireplace.

Nearly every night, Snape would walk calmly upstairs at the end of the evening, and arrange himself on the bed.

One evening he didn't visit. Hagrid waited up quite late, but then went to bed.

He was woken out of a sound sleep by a very chilly body sliding into bed with him. "Cold!" he protested, half-asleep, and Snape told him it was his own bloody fault for not leaving the fire on, so that Snape had been put to the trouble of coming in on foot, and to get on with it, he didn't have all night.

The next morning, Snape had taught Hagrid a reliable containment spell to use on the fire, to avoid stray sparks getting out, so that he could keep it on all night.

That set the pattern: on the evenings when Snape didn't visit (Hagrid suspected he had been up late over a potion), Hagrid would be woken out of a sound sleep by a naked and silently-urgent Snape who would coax him into position with eager hands and fall into an extremely deep sleep once he'd had what he wanted. If he was really tired, Hagrid would only be woken up by Snape doing the shrinking spell on his cock. Somehow it was impossible to sleep through that.

For a self-described natural celibate, Snape was awfully eager to make up for lost time. Not that Hagrid minded. When he thought about it, he'd only had sex about five times in his lifetime, so he'd already doubled his average, and he liked it every bit as much.

In the morning, Snape would usually be gone, but once or twice they had breakfast together. Snape taught Hagrid a non-violent spell for removing possibly-rare insects from bags of porridge oats, and then from the old mending pile on the floor where they'd taken refuge. Since when the insects had either left or were infesting something Hagrid hadn't wanted to use yet.

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At the end of the week, Madam Cattermole was gone, and Sprout returned. Hagrid saw Snape greet Sprout with the firm brisk handshake of one who is very definitely grateful, but does not wish to stir up any more unreciprocated feelings in a woman's breast.

Hagrid spent a long morning in the Forest. Somehow it would feel just a little lonely going back to being alone in his cottage. Somehow he didn't feel like going into the dining-hall alone either, so he just went back to the cottage anyway.

He was surprised, when he opened the door, to find Snape crouched over in a chair. Hair all over the place as usual, wonder he can read that book through it...

After making the tea and putting it down on the table, with a large plate of sandwiches, Hagrid sat down.

Snape's arm went to the mug, without his apparently looking, and he lifted and drank. Then he put the mug down, grabbed a sandwich, and looked at Hagrid.

"What kept you?" he snapped, and took a large bite. It was apparently not to his taste, judging by the spluttering and slight eye-watering that followed. Snape managed to choke down the mouthful somehow, following it by plenty of tea.

"And what the hell is that?" Snape asked sharply.

"Sorry, sir. I thought it was nice. Cheese and pickled winceroot. Gives it a bit of bite, like."

Snape said something about the sort of potions he used winceroot in, and that pickling made it worse, and that Hagrid should leave food to the house-elves and not experiment with poisoning.

"Sorry, sir," said Hagrid meekly. He went and got another sandwich and put that in front of Snape, who lifted the top slice very cautiously indeed.

"Just cheese," said Hagrid helpfully.

"It had better be," muttered Snape, and devoured the sandwich efficiently. Hagrid ate his despised cheese-and-winceroot with relish. He couldn't see what Snape was making a fuss about. Nothing wrong with a flavour with a bit of a zing to it. Spiced things up.

Hagrid didn't dare mention Madam Cattermole, or why Snape was still here when not avoiding her. Instead, he picked up a rather dilapidated chew-toy for large carnivores, and started to patch it up and clean out the tooth-marks.

When they'd finished lunch, Snape went and got another pot of tea. Considering how undomestic he always seemed, Hagrid was quite surprised that he knew where everything was. He wondered if Snape had put a sinister Potion-y thing in there, and looked at the mug curiously.

"It's just tea," said Snape. "I don't poison my acquaintances."

"It were just one of those little differences in taste," said Hagrid, hurt. "And I didn't even know you were comin' to lunch, 'cept you invited yourself."

"True enough." They drank. It did indeed seem to be just tea. Hagrid looked about until he found the honey jar. This time, it had ended up on one of the bookshelves, teetering on the heavy edge of a book on The Care and Feeding of Dragons (slightly singed). He dumped a spoonful in, and stirred.

Snape just sipped steadily, and twisted a lock of his hair absent-mindedly in his fingers. It was black, glossy, plentiful hair. Hagrid could never understand why so many people said horrible things about it. Mind you, people said the Malfoys had pretty hair, and he'd always thought they looked a bit like albino ferrets, only less nice.

Hagrid finished his large mug, and Snape his smaller mug, at practically the same moment.

"I have some work to do, with a Potion. Come on if you wish to help," Snape said brusquely, and stepped towards the fireplace.

The Potion proved to be a mild sedative, to Hagrid's relief. He could not only more-or-less understand it, but he could think of a number of applications for it with his beasts. It was also easy to see why Snape had wanted his help: although it was by no means tricky, it did seem to require adding things from different compass-points at the same moment. "Add snow-crystals from the cauldron's North at the same exact moment as adding lighted coals from the cauldron's South-East" was one of the directions. Hagrid kept having to ask Snape which direction was which, but at least he knew he was doing something useful.

It took about four hours to make. The ones he'd dared to make for dosing beasts were less complicated than that. "Potions always this slow?" a curious Hagrid asked Snape.

"Usually much slower. It's not a discipline for those who want to see instant results, which is why Potter is so bad at it despite having a halfway-decent brain."

When they were finished, he had five bottles. "Three for Madam Pomfrey, two for you, does that sound about right for the next few months? Let me know in good time if you need some more."

"Thanks, Sev," Hagrid said. "You sure you don't need some for yourself, though? From what yeh were saying before, yeh need something to help yeh sleep sometimes."

"Being fucked into oblivion seems to serve quite well, so no," said Snape calmly. "I am willing to admit that there are some things in life for which Potions are not necessary."

Hagrid was glad he wasn't drinking tea. He'd have spluttered it all over the place, either at Snape being frankly crude, or at Snape having the idea that there were things for which Potions weren't necessary.

He was glad his beard and hair stood in the way of anyone seeing him blush, although he thought that if Snape made any more comments like that his beard might actually start to blush.

"One might have thought that once-a-night for over a week might be long enough for you to accustom yourself to the concept, Rubeus," said Snape.

"Thought, once you weren't avoiding Madam Cattermole, you didn't mind doing without," Hagrid mumbled. "First thing you said to me, when you got drunk, was you were a natural celibate."

Snape glared at him. "Anyone can make a mistake through lack of empirical data."

"Meanin', you like it when you can get it?" said Hagrid, not sure about what `empirical data' referred to.

"In so many words, yes," Snape hissed, crossly, with a glare that would have set fire to a lesser man than Hagrid.

"That's good, then, so do I," agreed Hagrid. "Come to bed." He stepped through the fireplace and home, not sure whether Snape would follow him.

Except that, of course, Snape hated not to have the last word. He followed Hagrid, eyes emitting sparks, and said something that started out with "I didn't mean now, I've only got half an hour before having to teach the third-year," and ended up with "oh, all right then" as Hagrid began to grope him. Waiting for him to be polite was probably a lost cause before it began, so Hagrid just settled his grip firmly and picked him up.

It's a toss-up whether he complains about lack of dignity or just wriggles, thought Hagrid. He was glad when the latter won, although it didn't win easily, judging by the moment of outraged stillness before Snape bucked in his grip and began to move against him.

Hagrid started to carry him upstairs without difficulty.

"I bet you could do that while you were fucking me," Snape whispered, wriggling, halfway up the stairs.

"Yes. But I'm not going to," said Hagrid. "You can wait until we get upstairs, I hope," he said, just before Snape decided to make things really inconvenient by kissing him breathless. To his own surprise, they managed without knocking themselves out or bashing anything against the walls. Hagrid kicked the door to behind him, and dumped Snape on the bed. He undressed quickly; the normal way which Snape almost never bothered with.

"Come here," said Snape. Hagrid let Snape shrink him a bit. He noticed that he wasn't quite as small as Snape had started out making him.

Snape just dragged his robe up and proved to be wearing nothing-at-all under it. This distracted Hagrid momentarily, since he'd taken his usual admiring glance at Snape going up a flight of stairs earlier, and he was nearly sure the man had been wearing his usual fine selection of concealing clothes under the robe. Exactly when...? Had the little devil been writhing in his arms five minutes ago, on the stairs, trying to give him the impression he was desperate for a fuck while he was casting a relatively tricky spell?

"Don't make me wait," said Snape quietly, so quietly that Hagrid couldn't make out whether that was a concealed threat or a concealed plea.

He had no intention of doing so, anyway. One finger, greased, straight in, and his cock found the way just-about-effortlessly by now, even though he was doing it by feel as Snape was still just about dressed. Never done it this way-suppose it's one of those sophisticated pleasures other people get. The black cloth felt wonderfully sinful and unexpected against him, a strange counterpoint to the intimacy of Snape's inner skin gliding along his cock. He couldn't quite thrust-due to the size difference it was more a matter of Snape moving on him than the other way round-but he could pull mercilessly at Snape until he was crammed as tightly as he could get inside the other man. It had taken him some while to dare to do that, but the ecstatic groans Snape tended to give when he was filled to capacity had no hint of pain. Snape kept squirming happily, rubbing that little hot-spot against Hagrid's stiff prick the way he liked, clench and slide and wriggle and…

"…aaaah," Hagrid sighed happily, flowing effortlessly in. No need to apologise, or wipe up, or do anything else; Snape had given enough hints that he liked the feel of it. Instead, he put both his hands on Snape's cock and balls, and pressed gently, then hard. There was stillness, and a small wet catch of breath. Good. All he had to do was keep still, and Snape would work himself into a frenzy against anything he could find. The cock swelled desperately, curving up into his hand.

"Kiss?" he asked helpfully, murmuring the word against Snape's mouth.

Snape gave him a fast, biting kiss, coming somewhere in the middle of it so it finished slack and wet. As soon as he'd finished and cleaned up, he was away to his lesson.

Hagrid quite liked sex in the daytime, but it could be short on cuddling.

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He was a little sad when Snape did not come to visit him that evening. Had his treat for the day, I suppose, he decided, and after waiting for some time, gave up and went to sleep, not expecting to be woken up.

Hagrid was halfway up Snape's arse, if in a slow, sleepy fashion, before he really woke up.

"Wha-" he managed, mind not at its best in these circumstances.

"Good start," Snape told him, wriggling.

Hagrid filled his hands with thick black hair, and sighed.

"Just a little more thrust, would you, Rubeus?" said Snape, in his most languid drawl.

Hagrid had never been to bed with anyone who'd talk as if they were taking tea with the vicar when they were having sex. It was downright kinky. He dragged at Snape's hips, and obliged without even thinking.

"That's got it," said Snape, panting. "Now do that again."

Hagrid did.

"Harder!"

Hagrid did.

The conversation looped round several times through ‛more' and ‛harder' and `again', until Snape collapsed on him with a sort of continuous moan. Without thinking, Hagrid wrapped both arms round Snape's belly and gripped him hard.

He'd have apologised for being too rough, but Snape seemed to like it, seemed to want more of it.

"I think I'm going to-"

Snape implied, with a sort of wordless snarl and sudden tightening, that he didn't mind a bit.

Hagrid did.

Oh, that felt good. Spine-tingling melting feeling, and all of it gushing from his jerking cock into the welcoming depths of somebody who'd rather have him, have this, than anything.

When he'd finished, he opened his eyes and let his arms fall back loose. Snape was smiling crookedly down at him.

"You didn't come," Hagrid said, doubtfully. He wasn't sure he'd have noticed, but-drawing a finger down Snape's cock-he found him still hard.

"Not so gentle," Snape said, glaring at him. "Don't toy with it."

Hagrid looked at him.

Snape dragged Hagrid's hand down, and pushed it where he wanted it, pressing both his hands on Hagrid's bigger hand as if to say, just press down on it. Well, he did seem to like pressure.

"Hang on, wait for me to slip out," said Hagrid, "then I'll do you."

"Don't stop!" said Snape. "Feels so full, even now. Big and wet and...." He caught his breath and shuddered it out in a long soft sigh, the wetness of his pleasure tickling Hagrid's palm intimately. He certainly takes it a bit easier now he's gettin' it reg'lar... Hagrid thought, remembering the way Snape had practically been wrestling the orgasm out of himself the first time.

Once Snape had finished, he wriggled off and cleaned off with a quick spell, then cuddled up.

"Never woken up fucking you before," said Hagrid. "I usually wake up when you do that spell on my cock. Funny I didn't." That strange non-corporeal feeling tugging at his cock was always difficult to sleep through, although most of the spell wouldn't have woken him up.

He focused his vision with difficulty in the half-light. Snape was wearing exactly the same `got away with it!' expression he'd had at school, whenever he'd managed to walk away from someone without being beaten up because his opponent wasn't quite sure what he'd said was an insult.

"Sev, you could have got hurt," he protested.

Snape gave a huge yawn. "Couldn't wait…wanted the lot, this time," he mumbled, and closed his eyes.

This time, Hagrid got plenty of cuddling, easing gently into sleep. He wondered if Snape liked it as much as he did.

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Hagrid had got rather used to Snape's reliable sexual appetite, over time. He was very startled, one day, to grab him by the bum and give him a quick squeeze, only to be greeted by an icy stare.

"No, thank you!" Snape told him, sharply.

Hagrid took a slightly disbelieving glance at him, but removed his hand from its position.

"What's the matter, then?" he asked.

"Nothing."

Hagrid waited.

"The usual selection of abysmal work, avoidable errors and inane questions."

Hagrid waited.

"And, to put the lid on a completely bloody day, Longbottom appears to have run away from school. Not that I'd mind, but the children keep coming and asking me what I am going to do about it. I really am disappointed in the witless brat. I knew he could barely manage to boil water, but I thought he had enough nerve to stick at it."

"What did yeh do? Sir," Hagrid added hastily, as Snape glared at him.

"Nothing!"

"All righ', sir, but what sort of nothing in particular?" said Hagrid soothingly.

"It was a perfectly ordinary day. A little shouting, perhaps, but even Longbottom normally survives that."

"Did you hit him?"

"No." Snape looked affronted.

"Was there a test, or something?"

"I may possibly have mentioned that tomorrow we were going to do Poisons, and to give the students an incentive it was going to be a practical…"

"And?"

"And they had the choice of dosing either themselves or their familiars with poison, and then using the antidotes they'd made up," Snape muttered, not looking at him.

"Sounds jus' a bit drastic, sir," said Hagrid.

He got the full glare for that. "I have made up enough antidote to stop anybody dying in horrible agony if they fail, of course."

"Did he know that, sir?" asked Hagrid quietly.

"If he'd given a moment's rational thought to the question, he would have known that I cannot afford to let the students come to harm," Snape said.

"People don't do much thinkin', not if they're frightened."

"I find fear an aid to concentration."

"It's a bit tough on all those people that don't," said Hagrid.

"Well, they'll have to learn to cope. This is not a gentle world, not with…the situation as it is."

"I'm afraid I can't let you treat the students like that, sir," said Hagrid.

"What makes you think you've got any say in it?" sneered Snape. "Why would I let an ignorant fool tell me what to do, in my field, in my classroom?"

Hagrid said, "Because I'm right, sir. You know all about all those clever things, and I can hardly read, but my Dad brought me up proper, for all that."

"I had the best education money could buy."

"It's not the same thing, sir. What about the difference between right and wrong? Who taught you that?"

"They tried. I learned what I could get away with, or not," said Snape. "Which is a factual and reliable distinction."

Hagrid pulled Snape into his lap, sparing a thought to wishing that he was doing it for one of those reasons that were actually fun.

Snape struggled, then went still. "So my mother didn't smack me when I was a child, and you want to do it now, that's how this little game goes, isn't it?" he sneered. His eyes glinted. He looked as though he was enjoying the thought.

"No, sir," said Hagrid quietly. "I'd never do that to yeh."

"So you find certain recreational activities morally dubious. How interesting."

"No, I don't. I don't think any the less of yeh if yeh fancy that, but I'm just saying I can't do it. So if you want someone to hit you that much, you'd better find someone else to do it."

"You're strong enough, but you wouldn't go too far. There seems no reason to be troubled by it," said Snape.

Hagrid sighed, deeply. "My Dad, he was a good man. And he brought me up right. But my Mum's family, they're bad people. Very bad. My Dad said, if I ever lashed out, I could go and live wi' them, 'cause he wouldn't want me any more. Being strong's a responsibility, see."

"I doubt your Mum's people were people, Hagrid, but I see your point."

Hagrid just looked at him, hurt.

"If you think I'm going to tiptoe around your abnormality of species because I'm too polite to even guess at it, you've got the wrong man," said Snape.

"Sir, the thought `too polite' in't high on the list of my descriptions of you, at the moment."

"True enough. Now…" Snape tried to struggle to his feet. Hagrid stopped him.

"Hagrid, what are you playing at?" Snape sounded angry. "Unless you've changed your mind, of course?" He was still, distrustful, watchful: if he'd really believed Hagrid had changed his mind, he'd have been wriggling.

"No, I'm not going to wallop your bum for yeh, sir," said Hagrid. "I'm just going to hold you still until you listen. That's what my Dad did to me, though he had to use magic to do it when I got bigger."

"Do you need me to tell you what I am capable of doing if you annoy me?" whispered Snape, sounding very angry indeed.

"I'm sure you can hex me six ways to Sunday without even drawing breath," said Hagrid.

"Is there any reason I shouldn't?"

"You want to listen," said Hagrid. "You feel all tense and nasty and sure I'm stupid, but you think I just might be right. Yeh got to learn, jus' like I learned from my Dad." He spoke very slowly. If he was wrong, he'd be a small grease-spot on the carpet, but if he was right, he'd get away with it. Judging by his reaction to Madam Cattermole, Snape worried, at least a little, about using inappropriate force. If Hagrid could keep him listening rather than hexing, this might be the right way to go.

Snape tried to get up.

"You got responsibilities, sir, no matter how you don't like 'em. It's fair enough to be a bastard to people who can stand up for themselves a bit. Fair enough it makes you feel better to let all them nasty feelin's out. But when you let some poor kid 'oo's shakin' in his boots already think he's got to choose between killin' himself or killin' his pet, that's goin' too far."

"A familiar animal is not a pet. Trevor is hardly cuddly." Snape tried to get up again. But he was arguing, and thinking, rather than hitting out.

"That's just a bit o' prejudice yeh got there, sir. No reason somethin' can't be a pet because it got warts. Or scales, or flames, or 'cause it smells a bit. But wouldn't you say 'avin' to look after a familiar teaches 'em something? What was your first one?"

"Edgar Allan. When I was ten. Never well, tendency to moult. I spent all my spare time dosing it and talking to it. Trying to cheer it up, would you believe? Two years later, when I was finally deluding myself I was getting somewhere with curing it, my father said the family could afford more than a dilapidated bundle of black feathers. He poisoned it and got me a proper owl befitting my status."

"That's horrible, sir!" said Hagrid.

"It's a good lesson. Whatever you have can be taken away. The sooner any child learns that, the better."

"So because your Dad did something rotten to you, you think it should be done to everybody? Harry's Hedwig, Hermione's Crookshanks, all my beasts 'ave to be taken away?" said Hagrid indignantly.

There was a pause.

"Well?" said Hagrid.

"No, of course not," Snape muttered. Hagrid could barely hear him.

"And that child, the one with Edgar Alan or whatever his name was, he's still in you somewhere."

"Ludicrous," said Snape.

"I saw you, with my Feathers. My poor, sick, dirty old bird. You was talking to her, sir. Strokin' her ugly head. I'd say that's the same boy, still wantin' to make things right."

There was a silence.

Snape tried to get up. "I do not wish to be restrained, or subjected to all this drivel!" he snapped.

"Ah. That's what I'd 'ave said to my Dad, if I'd known all the words. Didn't stop him being right more often than not."

"If I promise not to say or do anything horrible to Longbottom ever again, will you let me go?"

"No, sir. That'd be lying. I know you're going to be sarcastic to him, and he's going to hate it, and neither of you can change that."

"What do you want, then, Hagrid?" Snape snapped, with a strong undertone of `get this over with and be quick about it!'.

"I want yeh to learn where to draw the line, sir. I want yeh to think about it."

Snape sighed heavily, and went still.

Time passed. Hagrid was just beginning to think it would be nice to have a cup of tea, when Snape turned to face him, as best he could.

"It's-conceivable-that-my-actions-may-have-been-badly-judged," Snape said, in a quick, irritable mutter. "I-won't-do-it-again."

"All righ', sir," said Hagrid calmly. "My Dad allus used to give me a cuddle after he'd been cross, just to show he was still acceptin' of me, but I'll understand if yeh'd rather sulk." He let go.

Snape scrambled to his feet, rubbing his legs. Hagrid expected him to leave, but he looked at Hagrid for a moment, and then sat back down in his lap. Hagrid took the hint, and cuddled. Snape huffed out a huge sigh, and relaxed all over him, all at once.

"You do have a rather...unique style of reassurance, Rubeus. I doubt I've ever met anyone else who accepts I'm sulky and unpleasant and doesn't particularly mind," Snape said, after a while.

"I've met some moody beasts, in my time. Definitely moody. And beautiful, like you."

"When was the last time you had an eye test?"

"My eyes're fine, Sev. Have to be, with my job."

"I meant-" said Snape.

"I know. Well, I like your looks even if you don't, and you like my looks even if I don't. All evens out in the end. That is, if yeh can cope with the no-hittin' thing," Hagrid said doubtfully.

"It was more something I'd like than something I need," Snape said thoughtfully. "As long as you keep me satisfied in other respects, I see no reason not to continue with our arrangement."

Hagrid stroked his hair.

"To be quite honest," Snape said, "I'm glad you didn't take me up on it. I'd only have started trying to annoy you on purpose, and-while I don't find this easy to admit, it's an occasional relief to know there's one person at Hogwarts who doesn't get angry with me."

"Yeh can always relax wi' me, Sev. Yeh can relax, or snap, or grab, or do anything you feel like, it won't make any difference."

Snape wriggled a bit, pressing his cock against Hagrid.

"We can go upstairs for a bit, if yeh'd like," said Hagrid.

"I would, but..." Snape sighed. He got up and walked towards the door. "You check all the less-frequented places, particularly the Forest, god-help-him if he's there. I'll go and see if the rest of the teaching staff are organised, or as near as they ever get to being so."

He'd never say he was worried, or guilty, or concerned, thought Hagrid, but I bet I won't be up his arse the way he likes until we've found Neville and got back to normal.

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Not that it looked as if they were going to do so soon.

He kept getting increasingly-urgent owl-post from Snape and the others, methodically ticking off places where Neville might have been, but wasn't. Snape had apparently gone through the greenhouse with a fine-toothed comb, "because Longbottom is almost competent in Herbology, and even he cannot be afraid of plants (although considering the Venus Leg Trap, maybe he should be.) However, unless he can hide under a small leaf, he is not there."

The greenhouse and surrounding gardens took the staff nearly the whole day, while Hagrid went up and down the Forbidden Forest, talking to the creatures who'd want to protect a child and those who'd want to eat a child. None of them were so bad they'd lie about it. Even the spiders would probably tell him if they'd eaten Neville. They wouldn't express any regret, but they'd say so.

A day after that, Hagrid tried various places in and around Hogsmeade. Inns, shops, everything. No luck. He got Snape to send an owl to St Mungo's, just in case Neville might be visiting his parents. He wasn't.

Meanwhile, the staff tried all the normal places around Hogwarts, and Hagrid heard about that in the evenings, when they met for dinner. People had tried the kitchens, where they weren't let in, of course, but they were told, "Spinkle is sending her respects, and is telling that there isn't anything in the kitchens that shouldn't." Next they tried Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, and sent her into a fresh flood of tears about the fact that nobody visited her. They had tried the trapdoors and tunnels around the school, and kept disturbing the school ghosts, who tended to go there for a quiet think when they didn't want to talk to anyone. They had tried the Quidditch locker-rooms, and they had tried the owlery, to much indignant hooting and fluttering of wings.

Three days since Neville had gone missing, and they hadn't found a sign.

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Hagrid opened Snape's next communication, expecting to find the usual ‛tried so-and-so, and such-and-such, no result'. Instead, he found a terse note saying:

Possible lead. Meet me in the corridor leading to the kitchen, ten minutes. SS.

"Thought you'd tried the kitchen," he said to Snape, and Sprout, who were waiting for him.

"Earlier this morning," said Snape, "I saw that house-elf, Spinkle, come out of the kitchen, and I just glimpsed something jump off her shoulder and hop away. I didn't manage to catch it, but I think it was a toad."

"But Spinkle said he wasn't in the kitchen," said Sprout.

"Did it?" asked Snape. "All the house-elf said was, there was nothing in the kitchen that shouldn't be. If it thinks it's protecting the boy it could still say that."

This proved to be the case. When asked directly, Spinkle told them Neville was in there, but it took all three of them twenty minutes to talk their way in, helped by the fact they eventually found evidence in the form of Trevor.

As Hagrid bent his head to enter the kitchen, he noticed Snape was hanging back.

"You practically found him, sir," he said, "don't you want to see if you're right?"

"Don't be an idiot, Hagrid," said Snape. "I have tried frightening the wits out of Longbottom many times, and I think I can safely admit it isn't helpful." He lowered his voice. "Why do you think I have been going around practically joined at the hip to Sprout for the last three days?" he whispered. "It certainly isn't her scintillating conversation. McGonagall suggested Sprout was the least likely staff member to frighten him off again, so he can talk to his Head of House later."

"Well, at least this didn't happen when Madam Cattermole was here," said Hagrid.

Snape shuddered.

They couldn't find him at first, not until one of the house-elves pointed him out behind one of the storage bins at the back. In a tumble of blankets, sleeping like a baby.

Everybody except Snape looked touched and relieved.

Sprout bent over and said, "Neville?" softly.

Neville woke up. He looked panic-stricken at first, and there were tears in his eyes.

"You have to come back, Neville," said Sprout very gently. "I promise nothing bad will happen to you."

"Or Trevor?-where's Trevor?" said Neville. Sprout handed over the toad, who appeared to be taking life philosophically, as usual.

Hagrid went forward. "We all want yeh back, Neville," he said, hoping it was the right thing to say. "And there's one of your professors here wants to apologise." Snape glared at him.

"S-sir," said Neville, to Snape. He looked scared to death. "I wasn't really running away for ever, sir. I just thought, once you'd done the poisoning bit, I could come back later."

"Longbottom, if you were actually watching, you would have observed how close an eye I kept on the production of the poisons. I knew the composition, strength and ingredients, and I had a full supply of antidote should any fool manage to ruin their own attempt. Surely even you cannot be stupid enough to think that I would be permitted to harm my students."

"Sorry, sir. I was afraid," said Neville simply. Hagrid wished Snape could understand Neville Longbottom's true courage, which was considerable. He had tried to escape a perceived threat, owned up to what he'd done, and admitted to his own fears and mistakes.

"I suspect I misjudged the degree of the children's attachment to their familiars, as well, since at least three other children appeared to have gone to the sickbay at the time of the lesson."

Neville looked as if he wished he'd thought of that.

"That was idiotic of me. I cannot waste my time seeking out frightened children when I am supposed to be working. I shall have to refrain from using animals in lessons, in order to keep the children's minds and bodies in the classroom where they belong."

"So...you're not going to hurt Trevor?"

"No."

Hagrid watched a smile like a sunrise turn Neville's round face almost beautiful.

"Now go away and stop annoying the house-elves, Longbottom," Snape said curtly.

"Call that an apology, sir?" said Hagrid.

"You were the one who termed what I was about to give an apology, Hagrid." Snape glared at him. "I have admitted that I misjudged my behaviour with the students, and I have implied that it is not about to happen again. I'm sure Longbottom realises that I am no happier to teach him than he is to be taught by me, and that we both have to contain our mutual disappointment for the next few years." Snape sighed. "If he tries as hard as he can not to explode anything vital, and I make some attempt to moderate my sarcasm, it may even be nearly tolerable, but I don't expect miracles," he said, in a lower and wearier voice.

"I-I'll try, sir." Neville stood up straight.

"I think remedial Potions lessons in the evenings might be in order," suggested Snape.

Neville went white.

"Not directly with me," said Snape. "Hagrid, you've just been promoted to part-time lab assistant. I have a basic-level text on Inert Potions somewhere, you'll work from that."

"What's Inert Potions?" asked Hagrid.

"Essentially, those that tend not to explode even if misjudged. Not many practical applications, and very unexciting, but it's something to start with."

Neville said, "I like unexciting, sir." Hagrid did not know much about Neville's family life, but he suspected that Neville was telling the truth.

Hagrid said, "I still might get something wrong."

Snape gave an exasperated sigh. "All right, I'll sit in and do my marking. Quietly. Just in case. Both of you, come to the Potions dungeon at eight pm."

He gave Hagrid a glare that might have incinerated him, if Snape had been a dragon, and walked out.

"Why did he choose you?" said Neville, wonderingly.

"Think it's because I'm slow," said Hagrid. "When you get it wrong, it's because you're hasty and flustered. I do everything careful-like, it's useful with beasts. All he wants you to do is learn not to panic, and it'll be easier with less people there."

"I didn't get you in trouble with him?" asked Neville. "He looked awfully cross."

Cross in't the half of it, thought Hagrid, poor sod hasn't got his leg over for three days, and I bet he's feeling it by now. "Don't worry. I'm not scared of him."

"Don't tell me his heart's in the right place, Hagrid. He hasn't got a heart."

I'm almost sure he does, thought Hagrid, but he'd never even mention it. "Well, he didn't do anything terrible to you now," he said, "and I'm not scared a bit."

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Hagrid had to rush his rounds a bit, to get them done by evening.

One of the thestrals had got into a tainted patch of grass somewhere, and needed a worming draught to clear its system. He knew he had some made up somewhere, and eventually found it in a bottle marked "Dandelion and Burdock, 1984". Maybe he could get someone with clear handwriting to help him with labelling. His own handwriting was dreadful enough that he often left old labels on things and tried to memorise what the current contents were. Not foolproof.

Last, and easiest, were the vultures. They were quiet and peaceful now, with fine glossy plumage, and a charming habit of crooking their necks round and peering at him with their heads almost upside down. He really could not see why people were in the habit of calling them "Detestable."

He let them out, made sure each of them had the right amount of meat lumps to occupy themselves with, tickled and stroked them on the heads, and told them they were beautiful.

Querk, querk? said Feathers. He told her Professor Snape might come along to visit her in a few days if she was good, in case that was what she was asking about, and she squinted at him and fluffed herself up.

By that time, they hadn't got time for a flight, and it was dinner time, so he put them in their cages again and went to dinner.

He sat down beside Snape, who gave him a glare. It's not my fault, he wanted to say, there isn't much room for a person my size to fit anywhere else. After all, it was only the fact that most people didn't want to sit next to Snape that meant that was where the empty space ended up.

Snape was just picking at his food, which didn't do it justice.

"Nice fish pie," Hagrid said, for something to say, and because he thought Snape should eat up.

Snape gave him another look. "This is saumon en croute, carefully prepared with flaky pastry, fresh salmon, and herbs, served with new potatoes in garlic butter and fresh salad, and all you can think of to say is ‛nice fish pie'?" Peasant, his tone conveyed effortlessly, as he gave Hagrid one of those cryptic glances with heavy-lidded eyes that Hagrid rather liked than otherwise.

Hagrid took another large forkful. His eyes closed happily as he let it melt in his mouth. He chewed, then swallowed.

"Yeh might know what to call it, sir, but yeh don't seem to know how to enjoy it."

"I'm not thinking about fish, Hagrid. My evening is going to be filled with supervising Longbottom and marking essays. Forgive me if I can contain my sense of joy," Snape said bitterly.

Hagrid picked up a stray potato that had escaped from his plate, and rolled it back to join the rest of the potato herd, which made his fingers wet. He sucked the warm garlic-butter off his fingers thoughtfully.

"You will refrain from displaying your disgusting table manners in front of me, Hagrid," said Snape very tightly.

Hagrid took a look at him. He was shaking slightly. Hagrid gave him a look, trying to suggest, yes, I wish we were alone, too. Then he said, "I'll try to eat polite-like, if you try to eat up."

"Nobody's tried to feed me up since I was eight, Hagrid," said Snape, crossly.

"Then it's time someone did," Hagrid told him.

Snape arranged a carefully-balanced forkful of pie, potato and mixed salad, and inserted it slowly into his mouth. This time, he seemed to pay a bit of attention to eating, chewing and swallowing slowly. He shut his eyes for a moment and sighed.

"Pleasant," he murmured, "but I don't quite see how it helps."

"Takes your mind off the other thing, for a bit," Hagrid suggested. Snape licked a trace of butter off his lips, which wasn't helping Hagrid take his mind off the other thing.

"Will you shut up?" hissed Snape in an infuriated whisper.

"About Longbottom, sir? S'pose you don't want to be reminded."

It hadn't been what he was talking about, and he was fairly sure Snape knew that.

"It'll be a long evening," Hagrid went on, "better eat up."

Snape constructed another forkful and slowly devoured it. Hagrid knew better than to draw attention to that, but kept up a flow of distracting chatter about how unfair it was that Filch was feeding Mrs Norris bits of fish under the table, because whenever he'd tried that with his pets he'd got thrown out.

Snape gave a snort of laughter, at that, and absent-mindedly started forking up more of his dinner. He took some while to finish his food, but by the time Hagrid had eaten his dinner and two helpings of pudding, Snape had for once cleared his plate, and seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Straight after dinner, he made for the Potions dungeon. Neville was waiting outside the door, looking as if he'd run away again for two pins.

"P'raps he's forgotten," said Neville.

"Won't have done that," said Hagrid, with certainty.

The door swung silently open. Two textbooks were laid out ready on one of the middle tables, but there were no ingredients waiting, just a couple of cauldrons.

Snape was sitting in the corner, hunched over a pile of marking.

"Evenin', sir," said Hagrid, politely.

"Good evening, Hagrid," said Snape, and looked up. For just half a second, the dark eyes staring into Hagrid's seemed to fill with searing heat.

Neville dropped his book-bag.

"Good evening, Mr Longbottom," said Snape, quietly.

"Good evening, s-sir," said Neville.

Snape looked down and got on with what he was doing. Hagrid went and looked over his shoulder. He was interested to notice that Snape had got a spell for that: the ink seemed to stay black for comments, or turn green for praise, or turn red to point up errors, according to what Snape was trying to say. Most of the time it was red, of course. Then he stayed there for a moment: he could almost feel the heat of suppressed feelings beating up at him from Snape's body.

"If you've quite finished peering over my shoulder, Hagrid," Snape said nastily.

"Sorry, sir," Hagrid said, and moved away, starting to read the book slowly and carefully.

Eventually, Neville opened his own copy of the book, as if it might bite him, and glanced at the front page for a few seconds. He trotted to the cupboard at the back of the room.

"That's not the way, lad," Hagrid told him.

"But I haven't even done anything yet," Neville protested.

"If the book in't heavy, yeh could take it with yeh," said Hagrid, "but as it's a big book, yeh'll want to remember which things to get. Less mistakes if yeh take the time to start with, jus' like housetrainin' dragons. How many things does the potion have in it?" he asked gently.

"Er, four... no, five," said Neville hopelessly.

Hagrid checked. "Seven, lad," he said.

Neville spent about half-an-hour reading the page, trotting to the cupboard, stopping dead and thinking about it, and going back to the book. Finally, he seemed to remember, and without hesitation picked out seven things. A bunch of leaves, a sparkly powder in a jar, a small pile of combed-out hair, two feathers, a horned slug, a piece of bone, and an unlabelled bottle.

The potion was unexciting. It wasn't quite a soporific, but it was used for calming beasts or people. Hagrid hadn't known about it himself, but it did look easy.

Hagrid took him through the items slowly. Neville was sure about the leaves. Sprout worked with him in the greenhouse sometimes, although she'd only been known to mention: "He likes plants. Plants are peaceful." Hagrid told him well done, for identifying the species so clearly. He himself could have made a rough guess, but that was all. Neville could distinguish it from the other four plants in the same general family, and point to the small differences that made it clear which it was.

The sparkly powder was properly marked as Rubenzil powder, and the jar had a special horn spoon in it because you weren't supposed to use metal with it. Neville measured two-and-a-half spoonfuls out carefully, and tipped them onto a saucer.

"Next thing, lad?" asked Hagrid.

"Hair," Neville told him. "There was some in there."

"Looks all right to..." said Hagrid.

"Read the notes on what sort of hair to use," said Snape, without looking up.

"Well, I'm not sure," said Hagrid, reading. "It seems to say, it's stronger if you use the hair of what it's being used on."

"It's normally tested by the person brewing it, since nobody has yet come up with a way of making it dangerous and it only has a mild calmative effect," said Snape.

Hagrid cut a few locks of Neville's hair. Neville was looking nervous again.

Next things were the feathers, to impart "lightness"; it was a strong soporific rather than a calmative without them. Hagrid checked them. Wrong. He showed Neville how to select the feathers of the right bird from the tall jars at the back of the cupboard. "These 'ave little 'ooky barbs at the end, and there's a glinty streak across them, like this. Sparrow won't work, yeh got to get summat wi' a bit of lift to it." He was pleased to see Neville was listening. That was the way. No wonder Neville couldn't get anything right if he was busy trembling all lesson long. "Take it slowly, get it right," he said.

"Shut up, Hagrid," muttered Snape from across the room.

The horned slug was all right. Not much you could get wrong with one of those.

The piece of bone had to go back three times, on account of it had to be spine, not leg or wing.

Snape muttered, "Backbone is very useful," under his breath. Hagrid glared at him, then. He didn't think Neville had caught that, though.

The unlabelled bottle was last. "Pour it out into a bowl, lad, and sniff it carefully."

Neville did.

Hagrid sniffed it. "Well, I don't rightly know."

Snape got up. Neville flinched.

Snape sniffed at the liquid. "On the plus side, Longbottom, it's the right colour. However, it's a powerful acid, and should not be used in this potion." He went to the cupboard and got a large ceramic funnel-shaped thing..

Neville looked rather wobbly.

"That was my fault. It doesn't go in that cupboard, and should never be unlabelled," Snape said, and picked the bottle up carefully, funnelling the bowlful back in and sealing it up. After writing an elegant label for it, he went and put it in a cupboard at the back with a large red skull-and-crossbones on it. Then he stalked back to his seat and resumed marking, without uttering another word.

Hagrid said, soothingly, "Nearly done, now." He read through the recipe three times, while Neville built a small fire up.

It was a small and simple Potion, taking barely an hour to put together. Hagrid talked Neville through adding the ingredients in the right proportions and the right order, then watched him as he stirred. "Try it smooth, sort of coax it along, like," he suggested. "Yeh've got a bit of time, try to get into a rhythm. Jus' like bein' friendly to an animal. Or the Monster Book of Monsters. Everythin's got a right way o' touchin' it and a wrong way. Get a feel for it."

He glanced towards the corner to see if he was getting the right idea. Snape sighed heavily, glared at him and crossed his legs. He hadn't been intending to talk about sex, but he could see where it might sound seductive, talking about touching. Either that, or everything looked like sex to the poor bastard by now.

Although he could have done a much better job on the potion, Hagrid let Neville do it. People had always done things for Neville, because it was easier and faster to do it themselves, and Neville had learned the wrong lesson. He'd learned that whenever he did something himself he would get nervy and flustered and explode something. Snape wasn't good about feelings, but at least he seemed to have finally seen that the only way to manage Neville was to let him not explode things for a while.

It seemed to be working. The Potion smelt right, and was thickening to exactly the right degree. However, Neville was sweating a bit.

"What is it, lad?" Hagrid asked.

"Got to...test it," said Neville.

"I won't let anything happen t'you, and nor will Professor Snape," Hagrid told him. "I'm kinder than he is, and he's cleverer than I am, and between the both of us we can get things right more often than not."

Neville nodded shakily, and measured out one spoonful, a child's dose. He put it in his mouth and looked surprised. "It doesn't taste of anything very much."

"Sit down, lad," said Hagrid. "Tell me if you feel any different." He could already see that Neville looked steadier and less pale.

"I feel...relaxed, but not sleepy," said Neville. "Must be the potion, because that was the last thing I was feeling. That means it's the only time I've ever got one right."

"Won't be the last, then," said Hagrid, touching him lightly on the shoulder. "Once you've got the trick of it, it'll work. More often than not, anyway."

Neville trotted up to Professor Snape cautiously. "Thank you for not helping, sir. Er... I mean..." He trailed off.

"I must say, it's actually worth not saying appalling things to you, Longbottom. Just for the peace and quiet. Would you leave now, please? I would like to have a quiet word with Hagrid."

Neville began to look slightly worried again. "He won't hurt you, will he?" he said, in a loud whisper, as Hagrid led him to the door.

"Bark's worse than his bite, that one," said Hagrid. "I'm not scared a bit. What can he do to someone my size?" He was nudging Neville toward the door as he spoke.

"Well... all right. Thank you, Hagrid," said Neville.

The door shut behind him.

Hagrid turned round.

A furious black glare communicated: now!

Hagrid glanced back: yes!

Snape chucked a handful of Floo powder at himself and scrambled into the fireplace in a tangle of dust and impatience.

Hagrid wasn't far behind, but as he hurried up to bed at his cottage he did not find Snape.

"Where are you, Sev?" he called, a little surprised, as he dragged his clothes off and lay down.

"In the bathroom," Snape called back. He walked a little strangely when he came out.

Hagrid reached for the lubricant.

"Put that down!" Snape snapped.

"But I've got to…"

"No foreplay, please. I've done that, with a spell."

"Thought you liked me doing it, with my fingers," Hagrid muttered, a little hurt.

"Yes. But I don't want to waste the way I feel now on just your fingers."

Hagrid made a mental note: likes fingers, loves cock. As if that was news, he thought to himself with a private smile.

"I have another spell to try on you," said Snape.

"Kinky wizard," muttered Hagrid.

Snape arched an eyebrow. "I thought you knew that. Anyway, it's nothing fancy. Just a little reduction-of-weight spell."

"You think I'm too fat, Sev?" He was surprised: he usually had a very clear idea when people were put off by his size, and Snape didn't seem to be.

"Listen more clearly, I said `weight', not `obesity'. There's a story by H.G. Wells about that very question, but I'm not going to hunt it down now. It's just that I wanted to try a different position. You'd be able to get in very deeply if you did it from behind, for example, but I couldn't normally take your weight."

Hagrid nodded. "All right, then."

Aside from a preliminary miscalculation when Hagrid floated up to the ceiling, at which Snape muttered "I knew I shouldn't have mentioned H.G. Wells!", it went fairly smoothly.

"I still feel as light as air, Sev," Hagrid told him, giddy and relaxed as he lay on the bed without making as much of a dent in it as usual.

"In fact, you're as light as a normal human male. Hurry up and give me a good fucking before it wears off, you've only got about half-an-hour." Snape positioned himself on the bed, with a pillow under him.

Hagrid wetted his cock down and obeyed. Mmm. It was quite something, being let to thrust. And he could get in deeper this way round, and Sev did seem to like it, and from the way they were both moving neither of them was going to have any trouble at all in finishing in less than half an hour. Couple of minutes was more like it. He pulled back (with Snape snarling for every inch to go back in), poised himself a moment, and shoved really deep.

Snape gave him a positively indecent groan of relief, and began to wriggle purposefully. Feeling just a little envious of the pillow, Hagrid rubbed a firm thumb up Snape's inner thigh, teased it over his balls and stroked at the root of his cock, which was all he could get to considering how thoroughly Snape was working himself against the pillow.

He tried to think of calming things like taming or mucking-out. It wasn't all that effective. Being able to use his weight (well, for once it wasn't really his weight) was an entirely new pleasure; feeling his nipples and chest hair rub in the sweat on someone's back while looking down was also different.

"Don't wait!" Snape told him, so he just let go of any attempt at calm and went roaring in as he'd never let himself move before. God, he'd had very occasional dreams like this; dreams of being able to have hard, furious, rutting sex with a human who was somehow unbreakable. He'd always woken vaguely ashamed from that sort of dream. He also hadn't gone so far as imagining the person beneath him doing more than just lie there as he-as he-

As he came, hard, he could feel Snape convulsing beneath him, yelling with pleasure.

He was already half-asleep when Snape told him to roll over, that spell wouldn't last all night.

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Ten minutes of deep sleep later, they could get round to the important business of cuddling, so they did.

"Pity we didn't get together earlier," said Hagrid, kissing Snape's hair.

"No, it isn't," said Snape calmly.

"That bad, was it?" said Hagrid.

"No. I needed to do quite a bit of growing up first," said Snape.

"I didn't mean, when you was a kid, sir," said Hagrid.

"I've told you, you can call me by my name, if only in bed," said Snape.

"…Sev, then."

"I didn't mean in terms of the passage of time," said Snape. "A very few years ago, I'd have considered it a form of bestiality." He muttered at Hagrid's blank look. "Did no-one ever buy you a dictionary for Christmas?"

"No, Sev."

"Clearly a mistake to be rectified as soon as possible. Doing it with animals, is what that means."

Hagrid turned round so that Snape could not see the tears in his eyes. There was a pause.

"Oh-for-god's-sake, I didn't mean the matter of being half-human!" Snape said crossly. He put a hand awkwardly on Hagrid's shoulder. "I wasn't even thinking of that. I was trying to pay you a compliment, and it missed."

"What sort o'compliment calls me half animal?"

"I meant, a few years ago, I would not have been ready to consider that there are any forms of human intelligence other than pure raw intellect. I would not have been prepared to admire what you know about animals, or people. I would not have even considered it possible that you might teach me something I did not know. I would have taken pleasure in your body without ever trying to have a conversation with you." He sighed.

Hagrid turned round. "Are you trying to say you like me, Sev?" he asked, doubtfully.

"Oh, forget it!" said Snape, crossly.

"Because if you're trying to tell me you like me, as well as my cock, well, I like yeh, as well as yer bum."

"I was trying to tell you I respect you, but if you have difficulty with words longer than one syllable, ‛like' will have to do," Snape told him, almost smiling, and settled himself on Hagrid's shoulder. "Is there any part of you that isn't covered in hair?" he asked, sneezing.

"Well, you don't have any complaints about my cock, normally."

"If I start resting my head against that neither of us will get any sleep, so I suppose I'll just have to get used to your woolly pelt."

They half-dozed, companionably.

Hagrid said, "Sev?"

"Wha'?" Snape mumbled wearily.

"When I said I like yeh as well as yer bum, I didn't mean to say I'm getting tired of the bum. Luscious little thing as it is," he added, grinning. "I mean, I could spend hours playing with it."

"And probably will. Do shut up, Rubeus. My bottom will still be available to interested parties tomorrow, and so shall I."

Hagrid went to sleep, cuddling him.