I Have Not Forgotten

by Heather Sparrows

1. The Whomping Willow and the Shrieking Shack

"I haven’t fergotten," Hagrid muttered to himself while walking up the path to the Whomping Willow. "If yeh had ter die that miserably in th’ shack, at least we should give yeh a decent funeral! Tha’s th’ least we can do!"

The tree seemed to sense the half-giant’s approach and waved its branches threateningly. Hagrid stopped, remaining at a distance where the whipping branches could not reach him.

"Yeh’ve got ev’ry right ter be angry," he addressed the tree. "Has become ter much, hasn’t it? So much pain from th’ poor Werewolf boy in th’ shack over th’ years, and now a cruel murder and a painful death. Ter much ..."

A few branches of the Whomping Willow swished down as if to grab Hagrid, while others were shaken angrily at the sky. It was as if, in some sense, the tree agreed with the groundskeeper’s words.

"I ask yeh ter let me pass," Hagrid continued. "I won’t add ter th’ pain and grief. I’ll jes’ take away th’ dead man so he can be buried. I wouldn’t trouble yeh if I could get inter th’ shack from th’ village. I tried, but th’ entrance’s closed by a magic I can’t undo."

Instead of calming the tree, however, the groundskeeper’s words seemed to have the opposite effect. A branch whipped past Hagrid’s upper torso, dangerously close. Had it hit him, it would have broken bones.

The half-giant flinched, but he stood his ground, even when the whole tree bowed and slammed its crown into the earth next to him. When it swished up again, a small branch hit the groundskeeper’s arm, whipping through the thick coat and coarse shirt, breaking the skin, creating a bleeding gash. Hagrid hissed in pain, his hand grabbing his arm. But he stood his ground. He knew that Voldemort had upset the order of all living beings in the Forbidden Forest; had taken the blood and life of unicorns; had stolen and never given back; had pressed all sorts of creatures into his service by magic, cheats, and lies. Voldemort had been a human, and the groundskeeper was well aware that he was still alive and standing only because all magical creatures in the forest knew him as a keeper and servant of life and nature – and probably because he was only half-human.

"I’m sorry fer ev’rythin’ as has happened," he said. "They don’t know much, only see their own’s bin hurt ... Yes, he’s a human, but let me take th’ dead man away in peace, I beg of yeh! He belongs with th’ other dead humans!"

With a horrible crash the Whomping Willow slammed down its crown again. The groan of the wood sounded like a roar of anger. Hagrid was hit by more whipping branches and thrown to the ground. He curled up and hid his head with his arms when the branches around him whipped up again. The half-giant waited for the next blow from the irate tree, but it did not fall. So he dared to lift his head and looked up. The Whomping Willow still swayed and trembled, but it did not lash out at him again.

"Thank yeh," Hagrid whispered. He scrambled to his feet, ran up to the tree and squeezed himself into the passage between the Whomping Willow’s roots.

Once he had crawled through the tunnel into the Shrieking Shack, the sweet-metallic smell of blood assaulted him. In the dusty semi-darkness a man lay sprawled on his back on the dirty floorboards, blood in a pool around his head and upper torso.

Against all hope, Hagrid had hoped the dead man would not be Severus Snape, but as he stepped closer, the gaunt features with the prominent nose could not be mistaken. And the man looked dead, definitely, irrevocably dead. His dark eyes stared sightlessly at the cobwebbed beams overhead. The blood had flown from a gaping wound in his neck, but the pool had begun to coagulate.

It’s true, the groundskeeper thought, kneeling down next to the body. And I’m ter late ... He swallowed and wiped his eyes.

"Should’ve tried harder ter speak ter yeh durin’ yer time as a teacher here ... Should’ve shown yeh I was still yer friend. But I wasn’t sure about how ter reach yeh any more ... I’ve bin a coward, and now it’s ter late ... Yeh never gave away anythin’, though. Yeh could be a right bastard, there’s no denyin’ this, but yeh spied and lied fer Dumbledore, and this must’ve bin pretty damn hard! Yeh wouldn’t ‘ve liked it, but Harry told us about what he had seen from yer mem’ries. Anyway, yeh deserved better than finally dyin’ here, all alone. I should’ve spoken ter yeh, seein’ yeh did small things at least as ‘ve bin good, like sendin’ th’ kids ter me fer detention ..."

He crept closer to the dead man and pushed a few strands of hair away from the cold forehead. His fingertips prickled, and hastily he withdrew his hand. As if triggered by touching the wizard’s body, a memory struck him:

"Yeh saved me life once ..."

2. Crooked Alley

It had been a very stupid idea to relieve himself in that crooked little alley. It had been even more stupid to listen at the half open window high in the wall, just because the words "filthy Mudblood" had caught his attention. Hanging upside down in the air, unable to move, to even blink, he had time to regret his foolish curiosity.

The blood sang in his ears, he was suspended in the light of one small candle, at the mercy of three masked and hooded figures in black cloaks. The pain from the last Cruciatus curse ebbed away slowly.

"What were you doing in the alley?" one of the masked figures asked.

Cold voice, so cold ... I never thought ... So it’s true – Death Eaters! Followers of this madman as says only pureblood wizards ’ve got th’ right ter live! Hagrid’s mind gibbered. He was afraid. Terribly afraid. Never had he thought of being stupefied without warning, when a hooded figure had emerged from a door close to the window. And now he was suspended upside down, helpless ...

His interrogator spoke a word which sounded like a command and Hagrid found he could move his tongue and jaws again.

"I told yeh, I wanted ter relieve meself!"

"You have been drinking!" one of the other figures hissed. It was smaller than the first one, and its voice higher – probably a female. Her voice was full of hatred and contempt, merciless.

"You were drunk! A drunken pig! – Crucio!"

Stop it, can’t ... Although he had emptied his bladder not so long ago, he felt a warm, wet rush of urine running up his belly.

The third figure giggled. Somewhere in his pain- and alcohol-befuddled brain, Hagrid registered that he had heard this annoying giggle before ...

"Who are you?" the first Death Eater asked. His emotionless voice frightened Hagrid more than the female’s hatred and the third man’s mad giggle.

"I’m Rubeus Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts School o’ Witchcraft n’ Wizardry."

The giggling stopped abruptly. "Sir!" the short, squat figure hissed.

Hagrid screamed in pain when the next Cruciatus hit him.

"Stop it, please!" he begged. "Please, stop, please!"

"Caught it good and straight!" the short man boasted. "And the big wimp is blubbering!"

"As far as I know, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a long way from London," the tall man interrupted his comrade’s glee. The short man fell silent and recoiled as if slapped.

"So what is your business here, Rubeus Hagrid?"

"Ev’ry few months I come down ter London ter buy some tools ‘n harnesses, maybe some extra goods fer th’ animals yeh don’t get in Hogsmeade," Hagrid babbled. He sobbed when another Cruciatus came.

"You were not, by any chance, trying to listen at the window, eavesdropping in on a private conversation?" the emotionless voice continued its questioning.

"I swear I was –"

"’Liar, liar, pants on fire!’" the giggler intoned. "Incendio!"

Merlin, nooooo ...

Beside himself with fear, he could not even scream when searing flames set his clothing ablaze, singed the hair away from his body, burned his skin.

"Who sent you?" the tall man asked.

Hagrid screamed now; he swivelled in panic from the searing flames, flaying around helplessly and ineffectively to put them out.

"Extingo!" the emotionless voice said.

The flames vanished, and Hagrid gasped. "Alrigh’, I heard somethin’, someone sayin’ somethin’ like ‘filthy Mudblood’, an’ I listened!" He sobbed in pain. "But I swear I didn’t –"

Another Cruciatus made him scream again. A part of his idiot brain registered that they no longer seemed to worry about being overheard ...

The slender, high-voiced Death Eater shot a curse at her short companion now, who howled in pain, but his howls were cut off with a wave of her wand. Although not directed at him, it made Hagrid flinch. He tried to control his sobbing.

Never thought it would hurt so much ...

"Stupid fool! You didn’t do a Muffliato?" the woman hissed at the short man, who recoiled when she passed him and sauntered close to Hagrid. His clothes had burned away to rags, and curious, cruel eyes behind the slits of the mask took him in, lingering on his privates with cold amusement. She muttered another spell, and Hagrid’s whole body went rigid again.

"Such a big, strong animal," she crooned. "And all your strength – useless, because magically you are less than a dwarf. Nevertheless –" She touched a burned place on his upper thigh, and Hagrid could not even flinch – "interesting ..."

There was the sound of approaching footsteps. The female Death Eater turned with the swiftness of a striking snake, wand at the ready. Hagrid could see another hooded figure appear in the small circle of light thrown by the single candle.

"What is it?" the man with the cold voice asked the new arrival sharply.

"A message," the hooded shape said.

No – this can’t be true! I think I know th’ voice ...

The new arrival went around the groundskeeper’s suspended figure, ignoring him completely, and handed a small letter to the cold-voiced man, who opened it, skimmed the contents and let it go up in flames.

If it’s him ... he won’t help me now ... has given hisself over ter ‘em - Nevertheless, Hagrid wanted to cry out to the man, but he was still paralysed. Only a faint gurgle emerged from his throat.

"Another family has displeased the Dark Lord," the leader of the group said. "Come!" He turned and moved away from the candlelight, into the darkness.

"What about him?" the female Death Eater asked, obviously reluctant to abandon the torture of her victim.

"Leave him!" the cold voice ordered. "The Dark Lord has more important work for us to do! We’ll deal with him later."

He vanished, followed by the woman and the short man, leaving the messenger alone with the half-giant.

"Finite incantatem."

Wha -?

Hagrid fell to the floor, gasping. Numbed from pain, he remained lying on the cold stones.

The Death Eater came close, pointing his wand at the groundskeeper.

"No, no please!" Hagrid stammered.


Hagrid felt how his burns stopped hurting, and how his wounds closed.

Another flick of the wand.


Hagrid’s clothing became whole again.

"Now hurry!" the Death Eater said. "Get up! Leave!"

Still numbed, the half-giant scrambled to his feet.

The voice – it’s him!

"Sev’rus –"


Hagrid found himself fairly close to the entrance of Crooked Alley, close to Diagon Alley, shaking his head to clear it. He must definitely have had one or two tankards too many at the Leaky Cauldron, as it happened sometimes ... And more often since young Mr Snape had left Hogwarts ...

Why did he think of the young man now, standing in Crooked Alley? Hagrid shook his head again.

3. The Incident at the Lake

It had been a few years ago. In 1976, to be exact. He had been in the forest, looking after a colony of Tree Rollers, visiting the spiders on his way as well. Approaching the lake, he could see a crowd of students and hear their laughter. It didn’t sound good-natured. For a moment, Hagrid thought of the Chinese Snow Dragons Old Bill Weasley had told him about: their shrill keening before they attacked ... Most probably students were fighting, and it sounded like more than the usual hassle.

"Oi!" Hagrid shouted, running up to the crowd. Noticing him, bystanders on the fringe trickled away from the group, sauntering off, demonstrating that what happened at the centre of the circle was only of marginal interest to them.

Probably some Gryffindors and Slytherins at each other again ... Merlin’s balls! Well, Professer Slughorn doesn’t really care, it seems, and Professer Dumbledore can’t be everywhere ...

"Oi!" he shouted again. Seeing the half-giant approach, more students left as unobtrusively as possible.

Know it’s a thing with animals ‘s well ‘s humans ter pick upon someone as is diff’rent, Hagrid thought. He knew about being different and at the receiving end of pranks. His strength and bulk had not helped him much against boys with stronger magical abilities than his own, so he didn’t take well to bullies.

When he reached the group, most of the bystanders had left, and the very few who had stayed watched the goings-on from a safe distance. A group of five students remained at the centre. Four of them were friends from Gryffindor House. Hagrid had seen them together often. The fifth boy wore the green and silver tie and the sign of Slytherin on his robes. He had been lying on the ground and was just trying to get to his feet, gasping and spitting. There was foam around his mouth. Worried, Hagrid tried to help him up, but the boy shook his head wildly, and Hagrid dropped his hands and took a step back.

"Wha’ happened?" he demanded, looking sharply at each of the four Gryffindors. He knew them well, having found them more than once where they didn’t belong – out after curfew, close to the Forbidden Forest. Well, they were young ... He himself hadn’t known how dangerous the Forbidden Forest was when he had been sixteen ...

There was James Potter, a young man who could be charming and generous to the people he liked. So far, Hagrid had thought him daring, yes, but good-natured. His best friend Sirius Black was a good-looking rogue, and both of them surely were boisterous and full of themselves, as adolescents on the verge of manhood tend to be. As usual, Remus Lupin was standing a bit aside from the others, as if showing his silent disapproval of his comrades’ actions.

It was the fourth of the group - Peter Pettigrew, a short, squat boy - who spoke first.

"It’s just Snape," he said, and seemed to realize a second too late that this might be a wrong answer.

"’Jes’ Snape’?" Hagrid repeated. "What’s tha’ s’posed ter mean?"

Meanwhile the young man in question had grabbed his wand. He got up shakily, still spitting and gasping, looking murderously at the other youngsters. To his dismay, Hagrid noticed what had hampered Snape in getting up. His underpants were hanging round his ankles.

"We just taught him a lesson." Sirius Black looked with a mixture of pity and contempt at Pettigrew, then met Hagrid’s look with an arrogant face, making it obvious that he thought the groundskeeper asked unnecessary questions.

"He called a girl a very bad name," James Potter explained. "We cleaned out his mouth a bit."

"Exactly!" Peter Pettigrew piped up, obviously relieved he now could say something right and support his revered idol. He giggled nervously. "And besides, he cut James with a dark spell! He’s bleeding!"

"Quiet, Pettigrew," Sirius Black said affectionately.

Hagrid looked at James Potter, who indeed had a cut on his cheek. The bleeding had stopped already, though, and it seemed the injury hadn’t prevented him from hexing Snape back.

"Yeh’re alright?"

"Sure," Potter said dismissively.

"It was Dark Magic!" Pettigrew squealed.

Black looked at him angrily, but Hagrid was on the trail now.

"So yeh all bravely fought th’ Dark Magician ter save th’ lady in distress?"

He turned to Lupin.

"Aright, who started the fight?"

Lupin studied the ground at his feet, not daring to look up into Hagrid’s face.

"I was revising the examination questions, I didn’t see ..." he mumbled, his voice trailing off.

"Who started it?" Hagrid repeated, his question this time directed at Snape.

Snape turned aside and spat out more foam. He didn’t answer, but gave the four Gryffindors another dirty look. His breath still came in harsh gasps. He doubled over, gagging and coughing.

"Aright," Hagrid repeated. "Even if he said a bad name and hexed yeh, tha’s no reason ter go at him four on one!" he stated, glaring angrily at all five youngsters.

"Yes, well ..." Lupin said.

James Potter consulted his watch.

"Oh, we must dash. Please excuse us, Hagrid. Quidditch practice." He turned to go.

"Yeah, we’d better be off," Sirius Black agreed. "See you, Hagrid." He followed his friend.

"Bye, Hagrid," Peter Pettigrew said, hurrying after them. Remus Lupin followed, looking neither at the half-giant nor at Snape.

Outraged, Hagrid shook his head.

"Yeh know I’ll have ter report y’ all ter Professer Dumbledore!" he called after them.

James Potter turned around.

"We are really sorry and it won’t happen again, Hagrid," he called back, before continuing on his way.

"Like hell," Hagrid muttered. He was angry. Obviously, they didn’t take him seriously. He couldn’t be sure, but he strongly suspected that Snape – at least this time around - had done nothing to provoke them. Instead, they had provoked him, and Snape had a reputation for being bad-tempered and knowing mean hexes and curses. Well, any animal would fly in your face one day, if poked and prodded long enough ...

"I’ll report yeh –" he muttered.

"Pah! As if Dumbledore cared!"

The young Slytherin coughed and spat out.

"Don’t bother." He coughed again. "Nothing will come of it."

"Yeh’re alright?" Hagrid asked. "I’ve got ter tell Professer Dumbledore and Professer Slughorn –"

Snape had brought his clothing in order and began to gather up his books and papers which had been scattered on the lawn. His coughing and spitting lessened. Thin hands clutching the books close to his chest and his pale, long face pinched, he looked up at the half-giant. The look from dark eyes peering through unkempt strands of black hair was still full of hatred, but this hatred was not directed at Hagrid.

"No, I am not alright," he said in a sarcastic tone. "But it doesn’t matter. I’ll manage. As to your intent to report the incident, I repeat: Don’t bother. No one will care."

"Dumbledore should learn about wha’ happened. As th’ head of Gryffindor House –" Hagrid repeated. Again, the Slytherin boy shook his head wildly.

"Dumbledore will say it was another harmless prank of his precious favourites. It’s a waste of time."

Hagrid felt that behind the boy’s words was more than the unwritten law that a student did not tattle on other students. The young man showed a deep feeling of being less important than others in his teachers’ eyes, and outrage about this. Potter’s and Black’s arrogant behaviour indicated that Snape’s feelings seemed not entirely unfounded, and this made Hagrid sad and uneasy.

"Professer Dumbledore –" he repeated.

The young wizard made a sound between a sigh and a scream and turned as if to leave.

"How often do I have to tell you? He – will – not – care!" he said in an exasperated tone, but Hagrid was not prepared to let the matter go so easily.

"Did they attack yeh?" he asked. "Yeh defended yerself and ev’rythin’ got out of hand?"

The young Slytherin turned back to look up into Hagrid’s face. His lips trembled and his eyes burned into the half-giant’s, before he looked away. He did not answer, but his expression confirmed Hagrid’s suspicions. It also implied "I have my ways and means to deal with them," and the groundskeeper did not like this. He had heard that Snape was unpopular. The young man was looked upon as odd and weird, with an unhealthy interest in the Dark Arts. On the other hand was this no reason to go at him four on one. After all, he was no beast or monster.

They’re young and bold and clever; they come from good famb’lies, they’ve got ev’ry chance in th’ world ter make their way ... Damn it, why do they trample around on others?

Hagrid did not like the Slytherins much, because he knew that some of them regarded him as a lower creature, although they never dared to say so to his face. In his book, they always had been the arrogant ones. ... Nevertheless, he felt sad for the young man from Slytherin and wanted to reach out to him.

"Aright," he said. "Would yeh like a cup o’ tea, though, erefore yeh get back ter school?"

Snape, who again had turned to leave, looked back, surprise and mistrust in his eyes. He sneered.

"I know you dislike me just as almost everybody else does, Hagrid," he said stiffly. "But thank you for the effort anyway."

He stalked off in the direction of the castle.

For a moment, Hagrid was speechless.

Well, tha’s what yeh get fer tryin’ ter be friendly ...

When he found his voice again, he called after Snape: "Tha’s not true!"

The young man half turned.

"Me not likin’ yeh, I mean."

Hagrid felt foolish. It was true, though. He might not harbour warm feelings for the members of the House of Slytherin in general, but he had nothing against young Mr Snape in particular, rather felt sad for him, because the young man was an unpopular loner. Maybe, though, pity was just as bad ...

Snape gave the half-giant an inscrutable look from piercing dark eyes, shrugged and went on his way.

True to his word, Hagrid reported the incident to Professor Dumbledore, also mentioning another incident he remembered, not too long ago, when he had found Mr Snape in the Forbidden Forest, beside himself. It seemed the same four students from Gryffindor had been involved then as well. Professor Dumbledore promised to look into the incident at the lake and speak to Professor Slughorn, and Hagrid, trusting him, left things to his elders and betters.

4. Severus Snape

One afternoon about a week later, answering a knock on his door, Hagrid found Severus Snape on his threshold, looking up at him in a strange mixture of mistrust and a fear to be rejected, all masked by adolescent arrogance.

"I just wanted to say it was – kind of you to – last week - " He broke off, bowed his head, shuffled his feet, and abruptly turned to leave.

Good Merlin! the groundskeeper thought.

How much kindness must Snape have seen in his life so far? Not much, as a guess.

"Hey," he said, "my invitation fer a cup o’ tea still stands."

Snape turned again, once more looking up into the half-giant’s face. Hagrid had a strange feeling, as if something was probing his mind, but then he could be mistaken ...

The young man shrugged his skinny shoulders and nodded. Hagrid stepped aside to admit him to his hut, then busied himself with taking tools and harnesses from a roughly hewn, oversized chair, fetching two mugs and plates together with a tin box of cookies from the cupboard. He put the kettle on.

His visitor looked around the hut, then gazed down at a young fanged deer which had come up to him and pushed itself against his leg to be petted.

"Tha’s Meg," the groundskeeper said. "Found her alone in th’ woods. Merlin knows, her mum must’ve bin killed. Usually, Fanged Deer never leave their young when they’re still tha’ small –" He remembered his duties as a host. "Don’t mind her, I’ll take her away if she bothers yeh. Have a seat."

The young man looked at the Fanged Doe again, then he won Hagrid’s heart by stiffly bowing down and scratching the animal’s ears gingerly with his thin fingers. Little Meg tapered after him when he finally went over to the chair and climbed onto the seat.

Hagrid put tea leaves into the giant teapot and prattled on: "I didn’t think I’d have a visiter terday, otherwise tea ’d bin prepared already. I’d also have tidied up a bit."

"I didn’t plan on coming in anyway," Snape said defiantly. "I can leave if I’m inconveniencing you!"

He’s as shy as a four-eared hare. Almos’ impossible ter spot, let alone catch one. And, Merlin’s beard, do they bite and scratch if yeh get close ‘nough ... Hagrid thought.

"Not at all," he hurried to assure the young wizard. "I’m glad yeh’ve come ter visit. I wouldn’t’ve asked yeh in if yeh’d come at an inconvenient moment."

Snape gave him a slightly distrustful look from behind a curtain of black hair, before he looked around the hut again. Hagrid stood at the stove, waiting for the kettle to boil, watching the young man. Severus was tall, gangly, and very thin. His rather shabby robes seemed to have belonged to someone bulkier. His feet in heavy ankle boots dangled a few inches from the ground. Again, he stroked the Fanged Doe, which had followed him to his chair, more confident this time. His thin fingers were stained with something reddish, the nails clipped short. Hagrid remembered having heard that young Mr Snape was promising at Potions, so probably the stains came from some potions ingredient. All in all, dishevelled and not very clean, the young man reminded Hagrid of a stray mongrel.

The water finally had come to the boil, and the groundskeeper poured it over the tea leaves. He put the pot onto the table.

There was an awkward silence, until, after a few minutes, Hagrid filled the two mugs.

"Sugar? Milk? A cookie?"

His visitor eyed the brew in his mug critically. Hagrid looked into his own mug. A few tea leaves were swimming around. He didn’t mind himself, but maybe Severus did not like it. So he rummaged around for a spoon in the table drawer and handed it to the young man, who occupied himself with fishing out the tea leaves.

"Cookie? Milk? Sugar?" Hagrid repeated.

"No, thanks," Snape said. He took a polite sip from his mug. Hagrid was pleased he had given him the mug with the red dots, matching the teapot, and not the other one which bore the crest of Gryffindor.

"How’s it bin goin’ th’ last week?" the half-giant asked, shooing a sleeping Kneazle from the oversized armchair with the stained and faded rose pattern and sat down as well. The Kneazle jumped from the armchair, scurried under the table and from there jumped up onto Snape’s lap. It put its forepaws on the young man’s chest and sniffed his hair and face before it curled up on his lap, purring contentedly.

Hagrid saw his visitor curl his upper lip when the animal sniffed him, and he advised: "If Moggy’s annoying yeh, jes put her down on th’ groun’."

Snape looked down at the Kneazle with a puzzled expression. The corners of his mouth twitched, and one long stained finger gingerly touched the animal behind one ear.

The Fanged Doe gently nuzzled the sleeve of his robe.

"Now, no beggin’ at th’ table, Meg!" Hagrid admonished.

Abruptly, the young man began to speak, stroking the Fanged Doe’s muzzle.

"It’s true. I insulted Li- a girl," he said. "I was angry and beside myself. I tried to tell her I was sorry later, but she doesn’t want to speak to me any more."

"Hmmmm ..."

Hagrid nodded thoughtfully. Sometimes one of the students might come to him and pour out his heart about such things, but never had he heard such a story from a member of Slytherin. Come to think of it, in all these years as a groundskeeper, he hardly ever had a Slytherin student visit him. He was at a loss about what the young man expected, but he decided it would be the best thing just to let him talk and listen patiently.

He also faintly remembered having seen Snape in the company of a pretty red-haired girl sometimes. At the end of last week, though, he had seen her sitting next to James Potter in a niche in the courtyard. Had their fight been over the girl, and James Potter had overcome his rival by shaming him in front of her and a great part of the other students of their year?

Snape had fallen silent again. He took a sip of his tea.

"Like tha’, is it?" Hagrid finally said to break the silence.

Snape shook his head, strings of dark hair flying.

"We are – were friends," he explained. He took another sip from the mug. "It was not –" He trailed off.

Thoughtfully, Hagrid stirred a few lumps of sugar into his own mug. He cleared his throat to say something sympathetic, when Snape looked up at him through the curtain of his hair, dark eyes narrowed to slits.

"Do you fuck your animals? It’s not true, is it?"

Wha’ the - ?!

Hagrid spilled his tea. He was at a loss for words. In his almost forty years as a groundskeeper at Hogwarts, he had of course heard this rumour about himself, but never ever had someone been so bluntly rude as to mention it to his face. He felt a surge of hot anger flare up. Even if he was "just" a gamekeeper and a half-giant, this did not allow anyone to insult him in his own home.

He slammed his cup down and got up, towering over the young man. Severus flinched at the loud bang and his body went rigid, as if he expected Hagrid to beat him, but he held the half-giant’s gaze. The Fanged Doe jumped away from the table, while the Kneazle hopped onto the back of Severus’s chair.

The young man looked despaired rather than outrageously insolent.

"Sorry, I got it all wrong, he hastily said. "I mean," he went on quickly, "It must provide some difficulties for you to obtain a partner for – for sexual activities." He lowered his eyes.

"Excuse me?" Hagrid finally managed. "What are yeh talkin’ about?"

The Fanged Doe came back and nuzzled Severus’s fingers. Absentmindedly, he stroked her muzzle.

"I – I – that was rude, sorry. I didn’t want it to come out like this, offending you. I’d better go."

The young man got up, avoiding the half-giant’s towering bulk, and made for the door. He looked genuinely crestfallen, which made Hagrid’s anger evaporate.

"Hey," he said. "Wait. I don’t see how this is any of yer bus’ness, but I think yeh’ve got an explanation fer what you’ve said, and I’m ready ter hear it." He sat down again.

Standing at the door, Snape spoke in a very low voice, his face hidden behind strands of hair.

"I – I mean – I knew it wasn’t true, you doing it with animals, I mean. I have also heard you’re seeing someone in Hogsmeade, and I – want to ask you how you find a partner. I can’t find anyone who would want – and I prefer men as well –"

Hagrid took a deep breath. He had concluded from the young wizard’s words that Severus Snape had not come to insult and offend him, but that the young man was just lonely and socially awkward. And now he was seeking, of all people in the world, his, Hagrid’s, advice on how to meet someone – "for sexual activities", as he had put it. He must be despairing.

"Wait a minute," the half-giant said, gulping down some more tea, because he noticed that his throat had become very dry. "I think I’m not th’ right person ter ask ‘bout sech things. Yeh should ask one o’ yer teachers ..."

The young man turned and lifted his head, his dark gaze seeking Hagrid’s eyes.

"I have heard the person you see in Hogsmeade is a man," he stated. "And, frankly, I don’t know anybody else I could or would want to ask."

Hagrid sighed deeply.

"Sit down," he said. The young man did as he was told. The Kneazle jumped into his lap again, and the Fanged Doe once more approached the table, nuzzling Hagrid’s hand now.

Snape absentmindedly stroked the Kneazle.

"Th’ bloke in Hogsmeade left over a year ago," Hagrid said. "And findin’ someone – yeh see, sometimes it jes happens ..." He trailed off.

The young man’s words had reminded him of pleasant things which had not occurred all too often in his life and never for long: a hot mouth sucking him, a hard cock up his arse ... And he felt himself getting hard now.

Merlin’s bollocks!

"... and there are times when yeh’re alone,", he continued quickly. "But then again, when yeh don’t even think of it, there may be somebody else," he added. "At least, tha’s wha’ happened ter me ... I mean, at yer age, I thought no one’d want ter do it with a big oaf like me, but it happened ..."

Here I am, babbling away, spoutin’ nonsense, prob’ly ...

Snape again bowed his head, as if only now realising that he had trespassed on very personal territory. Or he was just embarrassed by Hagrid’s little confession.

"Sorry," he said. "I – I really didn’t want to be nosy and rude. It’s just –" He hesitated. "I – I don’t have anyone I could talk to. I don’t know anyone else who prefers men. This is why I came to you, Hagrid."

Hagrid took a deep breath and shook his head. He could not blame the young man for taking him up on his invitation and then working up the courage to get out what was on his mind. But Snape must be despairing. Hagrid didn’t figure himself as a person of authority to advise students in the matter the young man had just brought up. Besides, Severus Snape could not know what he was doing to Hagrid, sitting there, head bowed, cradling his teacup in his long, thin hands, his face shielded by his stringy hair, only the tip of his big nose being visible, his bony shoulders hunched, feet dangling a few inches from the ground - ugly, vulnerable – and irresistible.

He took another deep breath.

"There’s two houses in Knockturn Alley as offer th’ – services yeh’d need. But yeh’ve got ter wait until yeh’ve come of age an’ finished school – tha’ would be next year, I think?"

The young wizard looked up. His gaze was inquisitive, as if he tried to read the half-giant’s thoughts. For a second, he looked astonished, then he allowed himself a shy smile.

"I’ve also heard you care for creatures nobody else would want anything to do with," he continued, as if he had not heard the groundskeeper’s last sentences.

Hagrid cleared his throat and shook his head.

"What are yeh aiming at?"

The young wizard gave him another inquisitive look from dark eyes. Hagrid shook his head again. He definitely had the feeling someone was scanning his mind, and this someone was Severus Snape.

I’ll be -

"Stop this!" he demanded sharply.

Snape bowed his head as if caught, but rallied quickly. The look he gave the half-giant showed a hint of respect.

"You noticed?"

"Damn well, yes!" Hagrid grumbled. "Don’t yeh do tha’ again! What bis’ness have yeh got ter push yerself inter me mind?!"

"I’m sorry," Snape said. "I just – I was curious - I wanted to know – I know I shouldn’t have – but it’s true. You – you find me – other people say I’m hideous, and you like me!" he blurted out.

Hagrid could not deny that this was the truth. And he was ashamed. Never had he coveted a student before. His mind whimpered about the young man being still underage, and that he would get Severus and himself into trouble for a few moments of passion; he tried to lie to himself that he only wanted to comfort the young man – when all the time he knew that he was completely, utterly lost. He had to act quickly ... Other people would have been able to deny, even ridicule the young wizard’s statement to put him off. But not Hagrid.

"Damn, yes!" he almost shouted at Severus. "And now please go, Mr Snape. Leave."

He could only be intentionally harsh. Snape might have seen the truth in his mind, but that the half-giant was interested in him did not mean that he was not angry about the tricky way the young man had found out.

"Out! Now! You sneakin’ little -"

Slowly, the young wizard slid from the oversized chair and, head bowed, went to the door, where he lingered, studying the floorboards at his feet.

"I’m sorry. I came to you, Hagrid, because – because I thought you would understand," he said in a very low voice. "You’re a half-giant and I’m –" He stopped.

Hagrid knew he should repeat his request that the young wizard leave; he should not let himself be drawn into another discussion, but he could not. Snape’s distress seemed genuine.

"What are yeh?" he asked gruffly.

"I’m a Slytherin and a half-blood. I’m poor, my parents both drink and fight, and if I’d let them, they’d beat the crap out of me! I work at a Muggle pharmacy during the holidays just to be able to buy what I need for school. Around me, everybody is involved with someone in one way or another. Only – I – I am not. I know, it should not affect me that much, but I – I - I know, it’s wrong, I’m on a scholarship, I should not, but I’m alone – always alone!"

Hagrid scratched his head. He was stunned by the young wizard’s outbreak. And yes, he understood the young man’s situation all too well. He had been a lonely sixteen-year-old, too. And, yes, he had felt lonely from time to time since his last lover had left.

Snape’s eyes burned into his for a moment, before he lowered his head again.

"I though you knew how it is to belong nowhere, to be stared at, to hear whispers and giggles behind your back, to be shut out, merely tolerated!"

Damn righ’ ...

Hagrid nodded. He knew these things well enough. Nevertheless ...

"I mean, if yeh’d like me as a friend – " he ventured

Snape gave him a desperate look.

"If you know all this, how do you get along?" he asked. "Tell me how, Hagrid! How do you manage? I need someone more than just a friend –"

"Someone ter do what?" Hagrid heard himself ask, although he already knew the answer. Never had he thought their conversation would take such a turn when he had invited the young wizard to his hut.

" – to hold me maybe, to be my friend, that too, maybe to fuck me, I don’t know!" Snape cried out. "He leaned against the wall and hid his face behind his hands.

Merlin, what should I do, I can’t -

Hagrid tried to reason. "See, beginnin’ with – with sleepin’ tergether, tha’s stroking th’ Kneazle th’ wrong way. Maybe it isn’t what yeh actually want ..."

Oh, fer Merlin’s sake, stop foolin’ yerself, Rubeus!

The young man took his hands away from his face in a sudden decision.

"No one will know," he said. "Show me, Hagrid, please. How can I know this is what I want if you don’t show me? Show me how it is to be with a man. Just once! Please!"

God and Goddess, Merlin, jes anyone ...

"Yeh’re mad!" Hagrid whispered. "D’ yeh know what yeh’re askin’ of me?!"

"No one needs to know," Snape repeated. "Please."

"No," Hagrid whispered. Snape was almost of age – almost. He was beautiful in the half-giant’s eyes, but Hagrid had never looked at a student with such intentions before. Besides, Snape was a Slytherin. What if it all was a bad prank - ?

The young man looked up, and probably he saw the doubt in the half-giant’s face.

"What I said - It’s true, Hagrid."

"But –"

"If it helps," Snape added with a lop-sided smile, before he lowered his head again. "I’m not helpless against you. Keep that in mind. And I want it. I am to blame"

Oh Merlin!

Hagrid knew he should not do it, but he reached out over the table with trembling hands, gently stroking the young man’s fingers. In Snape’s eyes was a mixture of hope and longing. He did not pull away his hands. Nevertheless, he swallowed nervously.

"Will you show me?"

Hagrid took a deep breath. His resolve and caution went out the door.

"I will," he promised. He felt a bit more confident now. "There won’t be any reason ter hex me. If there’s somethin’ yeh don’t like or yeh’re not sure about, jes say so, aright?"

"Yes. "

Gently, carefully, Hagrid caressed the young man’s hair. Snape flinched away at first, but then kept still when Hagrid cupped his face with his huge hands and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, then on his nose.

The young man’s eyelids fluttered under Hagrid’s shy kisses; his lips pressed together when the half-giant tasted his mouth.

"Don’t yeh like this?"

Snape shook his head wordlessly, but pulled Hagrid’s hands to his face.

"Yes," he whispered, when Hagrid caressed his face, then down to his throat. He went rigid at first, but did not protest when Hagrid opened his clothing, stroked his way down Severus’s throat and chest.

"I think - you can kiss there now, if you want."

His breath hitched when Hagrid knelt down and the groundskeeper’s lips and tongue found his nipples. For a while, Hagrid kissed Severus’s chest, before he went lower and trailed his tongue down the flat stomach.

He flinched when Severus brusquely took a step back and opened his trousers, pushed them down.

"Don’t laugh!"

The half-giant looked into the young man’s blazing eyes.

His underpants were down ter his ankles when he had tha’ fight with Potter, Black, ‘n Pettigrew. Did they laugh at what they saw?

Severus pulled up his shirt.

"Well, have a look!" he said in a harsh voice.

Hagrid looked at Severus’s naked body. He was scrawny yes, but who said that scrawny was ugly?

"There’s nothing ter laugh at," he said gently. "Ev’rythin’s as it should be ev’rywhere."

Snape curled his upper lip.

"I know that I am developed normally." His voice held a hint of sarcasm. "my warning hinted more at – that I am not – attractive."

"Nah – yeh’re beautiful," Hagrid said hoarsely.

Again, he felt the young man read his thoughts, and he could not do anything against it.

"Then touch me," Severus said roughly.

Hagrid obeyed, gently caressing the narrow dark hairline leading down to the pubic hair, from which a long, slender cock began to strain upwards, into Hagrid’s hands. He kissed the young man’s stomach.

Tastes bitter n’ sweet at th’ same time ... Jes feelin’ his skin’s so good ...

Snape gasped and bucked upward when a callused thumb found the small slit at the tip of his cock and rubbed over it gently. He spread his legs when Hagrid caressed his arse.

"More," he whispered. "Between – oh –"

Hagrid pressed a finger gently against Severus’s hole.

"More," Snape demanded again, pressing his whole body against the groundskeeper’s bulk.

"Yeh sure?" Hagrid continued gently massaging Severus’s cock and hole. "Me fingers are big –"

"Do it!"

Hagrid shrugged, paused briefly in his ministrations to open the table drawer, rummaging around to find the salve he kept there for small injuries and bruises and opened the jar.

He scooped up a good portion of the salve, continuing to caress Severus’s cock and testicles, while his other hand continued nudging the small entrance to the young man’s body. Severus stiffened, but Hagrid continued to caress his cock, while at the same time massaging the young man’s hole with the salve.

He felt Severus body go rigid again, saw him swallow, his eyes searching Hagrid’s face when he very, very carefully pushed his finger in a bit.

"Listen, we can always stop –" he whispered, but was interrupted by a fierce hiss.

"Get on with it!"

"’S not about showin’ yer courage, ‘s about yeh enjoyin’ this –" Hagrid tried and was interrupted again.

"Get on with it, curse you!"

"Aright, aright," Hagrid mumbled. "But perhaps yeh could lie down on th’ table. It would be easier fer us both, that way."

Snape snorted, but climbed up on the table, lay back and spread his legs.

Hagrid began his ministrations again. It seemed he was doing it right. Severus relaxed and opened his legs a bit more, when Hagrid nudged the entrance with a little more pressure.

Snape bit his lower lip and gave a small moan of pleasure.

"Don’t stop!" he hissed.

Hagrid pushed his finger in a bit more and at the same time intensified his caresses of the young man’s cock. He had given up on his warnings. It was better to go with the flow, to respond to Severus’s needs.

"Shhhh," he whispered. "It’ll feel good soon."

He pushed his finger a good way in. Snape reared up and bit the back of his hand. His body tried to push out the intruder, but Hagrid knew what he was doing. Gently but steadily, he increased his pressure, pushing further into the heat of the young man’s body. And he was not mistaken. Severus closed his eyes and bucked up into the hand stroking his cock. He gasped and steadied himself on the table.

Hagrid found the small nub of the prostate and caressed it. Snape cried out and his bucking became frantic. It took the half-giant a lot of effort to continue his ministrations and to steady the young man a little without hurting him.

A few seconds later, Severus’s eyes closed and he came hard. Afterwards he lay there on the big table, his dark eyes shining, a half-smile on his face. Gently, Hagrid slipped his finger out of the young man’s arse and cradled the half-naked figure in his arms, stroking Severus’s hair.

Merlin, I should never – but ter late. Now I’ve got ter pull through ...

Snape was trembling. For a moment, he hid his face at Hagrid’s chest. The groundskeeper felt the young man’s body become rigid; Snape’s hands clawed at his clothing, his teeth bit into the cloth of the half-giant’s shirt, as if in a cramp.

He didn’t hex me. Maybe t’ was ter much, though ...

He remained calm, though, and continued to stroke the young man’s hair and back. Nevertheless, he was prepared to release Severus immediately, should the young man wish so.

Must be th’ new experience. He’s not accustomed ter bein’ treated with tha’ much attention, and tha’ was very intimate. Can be a bit unsettlin’. Remember I started ter cry after me first time ...

The young man’s trembling ceased, he took a deep, sobbing breath at Hagrid’s chest, then pulled away quickly, fumbling with his clothes.

What’ll happen now? Hagrid thought. The small voice in his brain spoke again, vividly bringing the possible consequences of his actions to his mind. And his own erection was straining and aching

Snape looked up from his buttons. The gaze he gave the half-giant was probing, but not unfriendly.

"It’s different from when I do it to myself," he said, half talking to himself, half to Hagrid. "I thought it would be."

Hagrid could merely nod. He assumed the young man would leave now, having experienced what he wanted; and he was not sure whether he should wish for having Severus out the door as quickly as possible to be able to see to his own needs, or have him stay a while longer, which would be sweet torture ...

And right, Snape made for the door, but lingered there, thoughtfully.

"Thanks for doing it with me," he finally said.

Hagrid cleared his throat and sat down, hoping his erection would be less obvious that way. At a loss for an answer, he stroked the Kneazle which had jumped up into his lap.

There was a moment of silence.

"I bet my mother wanted the same," Severus then continued, "She wanted to try sex. She told me once, she used a love potion on my father, and look what became of it," he added sarcastically. "She herself should have taken a potion to not get pregnant."

Hagrid thought of his own mother who had left him and his father to rejoin her tribe when he had been about two years old. He didn’t remember her, but he remembered very well the love of his father, who had taught him his own love and respect for Nature and all her creations. He found his voice again.

"Yeh’re not bad, Sev’rus."

Snape smirked.

"I didn’t need a love potion after all," he said. "Although, if I had used it on another man, at least there would have been no danger of pregnancy."

Hagrid stared at him.

"Yeh would’ve used a love potion on some’un?"

Severus stared back.

"Alright, scratch this," he said testily. "It was a joke, alright? And not a good one."

"Ummm – yeah," Hagrid murmured.

He knew quite well that one or the other student of an advanced year used a love potion on the object of his or her affection, but these potions were fairly harmless and their effect wore off quickly. They had nothing to do with what a witch or wizard skilled in potions could brew. And frankly, he did not have the slightest doubt that if Severus Snape would use a love potion, it would not be the harmless sort.

The young wizard still stood at the door, shuffling his feet; and there was no sarcasm in his next words:

"If you want – I – I haven’t given you anything back. If I can do something for you - ?"

Oh Merlin!

Hagrid swallowed. He was dizzy. In his wildest fantasies he would never have dreamed about the young man returning his favour.

"This ain’t another joke now, is it?"

"Damn you!" Snape said, opening the door.

"Wait!" Hagrid called after him. "Oh yes, yes, I’d want tha’," he managed. "But – but –" he stammered as shame, guilt, and self-doubt set in, "I’m – I’m not much ter look at, and I’m a half-giant. It’s probably a little late ter think ‘bout sech things now, but yeh really shouldn’t –"

Snape closed the door again. Dark eyes rested thoughtfully on the groundskeeper’s face.

"I know," he said.

So they moved to the bed, and Hagrid finally found release under the young man’s first hesitant and awkward, then more bold ministrations.

When Snape had left in the early evening, Hagrid was positive it had been a one-afternoon stand, so to speak. He wished things to be otherwise, because he liked the young man, his adolescent mixture of shyness and grown-up sarcasm. He had enjoyed to hear Severus say at one point: "’Not much to look at’ is a big, a very big understatement, Hagrid. This is worth of an ancient god of fertility." He had said such a thing, when Hagrid had been afraid to frighten him off by his size. But it would be good if the young wizard wouldn’t come again ...

The next week saw young Mr Snape at his doorstep though, as did the following weeks, and Hagrid found himself unable to send him away. Soon, their being together became a regular institution once a week, and Hagrid silenced the voice of his conscience, enjoying the attention. Severus Snape was a very serious student, examining Hagrid’s bear-like body diligently, studying the mane of coarse hair, the bushy beard, the enormous hairy chest, the massive buttocks and the giant cock. He seemed to marvel at the mass of muscle under their layer of fat, the strength and gentleness of the huge hands, the reactions of Hagrid’s body. On the other hand, the half-giant adored Snape’s gangly, scrawny frame, the long, slender limbs, the tender, almost hairless skin; he found adoring words for the big nose and the stringy mass of hair, the small, firm buttocks, strong hands and nimble tongue. Besides, he admired Severus’s sharp intelligence. If only the young wizard hadn’t been so bitter and sarcastic ... he was unsure about, though, what Severus saw in him. it was not just the sex, he assumed, because Severus asked about herbs and animals; they discussed how certain potions worked. And he seemed to admire and respect Hagrid’s closeness to the nature around him. What was more, after their first afternoon together, he did not invade Hagrid’s thoughts again.

Their weekly bliss (cleverly arranged according to Snape’s study schedule, always on another day of the week, so no one would notice a regularity) lasted a bit more than four months, before they fell out.

Hagrid expressed his worries about the company Snape kept in his house, and Snape told the groundskeeper that this was none of his business. They had never discussed Slytherin and Severus’s life there before, because Severus always had asked about matters concerning the groundskeeper’s realm of expertise. Later on, Hagrid thought he really should have kept his big mouth shut, but Severus’s comrades Avery and Mulciber had hurt the Thestrals in the paddock, setting their wings on fire by a spell.

He had been very upset when Severus arrived this time, carrying a bottle with a healing potion and a jar with ointment. Mortified, Hagrid later recalled that he had not even given Severus the time to ask how the animals were doing. Without even so much as a greeting, he had descended upon the young man.

"Might be int’resting ter yeh that th’ Thestrals will live! Barely! Maybe Canter n’ Cassiopeia won’t be able ter use their wings ever agin, but wha’ does it matter, eh? And yeh hangin’ out wi’ th’ lot as does sech things! Torturin’ helpless animals!"

For a moment, Severus looked sad, then his eyes became cold; his face closed up, and his posture became rigid.

"It was an accident!" he said. "The Ignisempra spell went into the wrong direction when I blocked it!"

"And what bis’ness ’ve yeh got ter try yer dang’rous spells near th’ Thestral paddocks?" Hagrid retorted. "’S not as if animals are things as don’t feel any pain!"

"I am very sorry your animals got hurt," Severus answered sharply. "But when working with new spells, accidents may happen. Would you rather like we had tried the spell in the Great Hall at lunchtime, with all the students present?" he added, venom in his voice.

Hagrid later knew he should have held his temper. After all, Severus was an adolescent, proud and easily hurt, but the arrogance in the young man’s words had made him furious.

He took a step closer. Severus did not flinch and retreat, but he drew his wand.

"I wouldn’t think it beyond yer lot!" Hagrid roared. "What bus’ness have yeh got, Sev’rus, smarming up ter them –?"

He broke off when he saw Snape’s face. Severus had turned as pale as Hagrid had never seen him before, his eyes black coals in a face distorted with fury.

"I am not ‘smarming up’ to them!" he hissed. "In fact, they seek out my company –"

"For what?!" Hagrid roared back, his anger flaring up again, "They’re not yer friends! They’re takin’ advantage of yer talent n’ skills, n‘ yeh know this as well as I do! Why didn’t yeh go ter one o’ them then, ter have yer itch scratched -?"

Even in his blazing anger, Hagrid realised that he had gone way too far. The fury in Severus’s face vanished and was replaced momentarily by a surprised, wounded look, before the young wizard’s features became a cold, hard mask.

"Enough!" he said. "I will not discuss this any further. I had hoped you would understand – but I was wrong. My fault."

He turned around abruptly and left the groundskeeper’s hut, slamming the door behind him, sending Moggy the Kneazle hissing and spitting up a beam under the roof and made the young Fanged Doe attack a messenger owl which was resting perched on the back of the oversized chair.

Later, when he had calmed down the animals, swept up the remnants of the potion bottle he had thrown in frustration at the door after Severus’s departure, and was cleaning up the spilled potion, it dawned on Hagrid that Severus had offered a truce in bringing the potion and the ointment. He felt ashamed that he had flown off the handle. Severus even had apologised, but Hagrid had been too upset to honour the apology, let alone to make up with the young man.

Yer temper ‘n yer big mouth ‘ve gotten yeh inter another fine mess, Rubeus!

It had been his brief relationship with Severus Snape as a student Hagrid had remembered, standing in Crooked Alley. Shaking his head, he wondered why he had gone there at all and why he thought about Severus Snape right now.

Since the incident with the injured Thestrals and their resulting argument, Snape had not spoken to him again. Hagrid had tried to find the young man alone so he would be able to apologise for flying off the handle, but Severus had deliberately avoided him. He never had behaved suspiciously, though, always nodding a brief greeting at the half-giant when the other students did, although he remained aloof and distant, as if they never had been lovers, friends even. Hagrid was mortified.

Severus, Potter, his friends, and most students of their year finished Hogwarts and left. Hagrid, however, could not forget the strange young man.

5. Forgotten?

A few years later, Severus Snape appeared again at Hogwarts as a teacher, in his twenties now; and Hagrid could not remember that he had seen the young man not so very long ago under very unpleasant circumstances in Crooked Alley. He was shocked and sad to see the young wizard so pale and haggard.

There had been rumours of Snape being one of the followers of Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but Dumbledore had cleared his name and offered him a position as a Potions Master at Hogwarts. Hagrid thought he had seen it coming. Severus Snape had been on his way into trouble when he had left Hogwarts. But if Dumbledore had cleared his name and had given him a job as a teacher, things were settled for Hagrid. If Dumbledore trusted someone, who was Hagrid to doubt him, even if others were sceptical?

The Severus Snape who had come back to Hogwarts was no longer the reclusive adolescent Hagrid had known. Dressed completely in black, his tall figure appeared menacing and stern. More than once, Hagrid found himself studying the forbidding features and dark eyes at dinner in the Great Hall, before Snape bent his head over his plate, and his face was obscured by a black curtain of hair. He wondered what was going on in the young man’s head. Severus must have felt the groundskeeper’s gaze rest on him, but he never reacted.

Hagrid assumed that Snape must have heard about the fate of his fellow students: James Potter and his wife Lily (whom Hagrid thought to be the girl Young Snape had spoken about) killed in defence of their little son who had been targeted by Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named; Sirius Black in Azkaban for the murder of Peter Pettigrew and many others – young lives wasted tragically and senselessly, friends turned against each other ... If Snape had ever been a follower of Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Hagrid decided for himself, and he had learned about these incidents, he must still be shocked, horrified, and sad, even if there had been no love lost between him and Potter, Black, or Pettigrew. These incidents must have woken him up. For Hagrid, Snape’s pale, haunted face and thin frame said enough. His heart went out to the young man again.

From the students who occasionally visited him, Hagrid soon learned that Severus Snape, true to his name, was a very strict teacher, a harsh taskmaster, mean even, and he favoured the Slytherins. This didn’t surprise him, so all he said when he heard the complaints of his young friends, was: "D’yeh think yeh’ll learn ‘bout potions from him? Pay attention and do yer homework, jes as in any other teacher’s class."

Remarks on Snape’s looks he countered with: "Professer Snape’s got a lot on his mind. Yeh say he’s ugly? Many people ‘n creatures may not be pretty, but they’ve all got their right ter live," and he did not care whether the young witches and wizards liked his words or not.

Among the teachers the groundskeeper heard one or two say Snape rather belonged in Azkaban than being allowed to teach at Hogwarts, but the senior teachers seemed to share Hagrid’s opinion: If Dumbledore trusted him, Snape might be cold and unreadable and even outright unpleasant, but one of their colleagues nevertheless. Whatever he had been, he surely no longer was, and Hagrid wholeheartedly agreed to this. Besides ... he still felt a lot for the young man. Beneath the cold exterior, he sometimes could sense that Snape was haunted by something ... his memories, a feeling of guilt? Never ever though, did Severus Snape let on in a gesture, a nod, a word towards Hagrid that he and the groundskeeper for a short time had been lovers and friends.

Maybe he’s ashamed of havin’ bin with me now, the half-giant thought. He felt sad, but it had happened to him before, a price you paid when you got yourself involved with humans. Of course Snape also could have long forgotten what Hagrid still kept as a dear memory ...

Then Harry Potter, Lily and James Potter’s son - the Boy Who Lived - came to Hogwarts, and Snape seemed to dislike him deeply. Probably, Hagrid thought, because the boy was the spitting image of his father, and the animosity between Severus and Potter and his friends had been more than an animosity between very different students from different houses. Hagrid himself liked Harry. Maybe he was less brilliant as a student than his parents had been, but he also was less arrogant than James Potter, who, even as a grown-up, had still been irresponsible and reckless at times. Hagrid thought the boy was basically good-natured and decent, and Snape’s treatment of Harry was not fair. Sometimes, he wished he were close enough to Severus Snape to give him a piece of his mind about how he treated Harry and his friends, especially poor Neville Longbottom. As a student, Severus had been industrious, ambitious and intelligent enough to make up for his lack of education without much tutoring, but Hagrid knew well that not all students were Severus Snapes. He assumed that a lot of things the children saw as mean and unfair were meant as tough education by their Potions Master. Be it as it may, Snape held discipline in his classes, and he very strictly ruled Slytherin as Head of House.

On a few very rare occasions, Snape spoke to Hagrid directly, when he needed a rare plant, animal feathers, hair, or scales as potion ingredients. Once or twice, Snape also provided a salve or a potion at the groundskeeper’s request. He always remained abrasive, cold and distant, though, slamming the door into Hagrid’s face, before the half-giant could give him his thanks. Sure, if you knew him better, Severus always had been blessed – or cursed, this depended on how you looked at it – with the gentle temper of an irritable Hippogryff and the sweet, indulgent personality of a hungry Acromantula; nevertheless Hagrid felt that the young man was deeply unhappy, and this made him sad as well.

6. Azkaban

Years passed. Hagrid was put in Azkaban for a short time, because of the machinations of Lucius Malfoy, who saw his son endangered by an aggressive Hippogryff. That Draco Malfoy had provoked the animal did not count with the Ministry. Later, Hagrid did not remember much of his time in prison, except for a constant feeling of fear and despair. Then of all teachers, Severus Snape came to visit.

"Why’ve yeh come?" Hagrid had asked. He thought that he must feel happy about someone thinking of him, but the endless wait for some news, any news, the despair when no news came, and the fear of being left to rot alive in a dank stone cell had dulled every sense of joy and hope in him. Maybe it also was the constant presence of the Dementors, but who could fight Dementors?

Snape looked at him impassively. Then he smirked.

"I’ve been sent by the staff of Hogwarts to say some encouraging words which will lighten your mood. We all hope to have you back soon."

Though the voice was snide and cold, these were the first good words the groundskeeper had heard in a month.

"Thank yeh. It was very – very friendly of yeh ter – ter –" He tried to fight his tears, but in vain, and began to cry.

"Look at me."

Hagrid flinched. When he looked up, the smirk was gone and he met Snape’s impassive, unreadable gaze. Arms crossed, the Potions Master leaned against the cold stone wall.

The guard – a human, not a Dementor, Merlin be thanked - eyed them suspiciously, and Snape gave him a contemptuous look.

"Stop flinching and listen. Try to cast a Patronus without a wand. In your mind. Do you know what your Patronus looks like?"

"Wha -?" Hagrid said, when Snape silenced him with a murderous look. Only then did it dawn on the groundskeeper that Severus had not spoken these words aloud. He also felt as if the cold, heavy fog of despair in his mind had lifted a bit. And he knew the answer to Snape’s question.

"It’s a boar. A big boar," he answered in his thoughts.

"Very well. Think of this boar. Think of his huge bulk, his enormous tusks. Think about how he’ll attack the Dementors, and how they will scatter before him!"

Snape’s voice in his mind was firm and calm.

Hagrid tried to follow the advice, but he was too upset and afraid. This was too much, too soon.

"I can’t –" He began to cry again.

"Stop crying!" Snape hissed in his mind. "Try to concentrate and practise. Think of the big boar."

The strict, clear advice gave Hagrid a little more courage. He tried again. To no avail.

"Maybe I’m ter stupid –"

"Shut up! Keep trying! It may take a while to learn."

"D’ yeh think I can do it?"

"You won’t know if you don’t keep on trying. Concentrate on the boar!"

Again, the groundskeeper felt his spirits lift up and new courage flow through him. He swallowed and tried to concentrate. In his imagination he stood at the edge of a forest, and suddenly an enormous boar with giant tusks stepped out from beneath the trees. It had the silver colour of a Patronus.

If Snape was impressed, he gave no sign.

"See? It works when you don’t waste your energy on snivelling. And now talk to me. Ask me about Hogwarts, the students, whatever. The guard might become suspicious otherwise."

"Why -?"

"Why they sent me? Probably because they thought I do not have enough on my hands already," Snape said with disdain. "The students are doing well, as far as I see. Professor Grubbly-Plank is a very competent teacher."

Hagrid sobbed again.

"Oh, do not worry. Young Mr Malfoy will recover, and the situation will resolve itself, I’m sure. – I must leave again now. The boat does not wait."

"Thank yeh," Hagrid managed. "Thank yeh fer yer visit, Professer Snape!"

"Goodbye, Hagrid."


Hagrid practised to cast his Patronus in his mind, and it helped him, whenever despair and loneliness sought to overwhelm him in his cell.

Thanks to Professor Dumbledore, the matter was finally settled, and Hagrid was released without further charges.

Naturally, he went to Snape’s office in the dungeons one evening to thank him, too, but Snape did not even open the door.

"Stay away from me, Hagrid," the groundskeeper heard in his mind. "Leave me alone."

"But –" Hagrid tried, and was fiercely interrupted.

"Do not make me enforce my request! Good-bye, Hagrid!"

Hagrid left like a beaten dog.

7. Confusion, Doubt, and Regret

For a while, Hagrid was sad and, again, drank more than was good for him. After a while, though, he concentrated on the animals in his care, on his friends among the teaching staff and the students and tried to forget about Severus Snape. Avoiding him was not always possible, however.

More years passed, but Hagrid did not manage to forget the young man as much as he would have wanted. Although both of them avoided the meals in the Great Hall whenever they could, Hagrid saw Snape at staff meetings and tried to read the cold eyes and the impassive face. To no avail.

He had a brief relationship with Madame Maxime, the headmistress of a French school for witches and wizards and a half-giantess, but in the end he found that it was not enough that two people were of the same kind to ensure a stable relationship. They were too different from their upbringing and education.

The short episode had taken his mind a little off Severus Snape, though. He and Maxime were sent to the giants on a mission from Dumbledore, but nothing came of it, except that Hagrid found he had a half-brother. Grawp, a full giant, abandoned by their mother as Hagrid had been. He took him along and tried to care for the giant as much as he could.

Then Snape killed Dumbledore, and Hagrid did no longer know what to think. Even the cold, strict, forbidding man Snape had become had in Hagrid’s mind been far away from being a cold-blooded murderer. Never had he doubted Snape’s loyalty to the Headmaster. Until now. He had overheard Dumbledore and Snape argue – and not much later Dumbledore was dead and Snape gone.

Of course now everybody had always known the former Potions Master was not to be trusted. Strangely, this made Hagrid rethink his doubts. Against all hope, he hoped for Severus Snape, scolding himself a sentimental fool. In the end, he could not bring himself to believe that Snape was evil. Dumbledore hadn’t been very well during his last year – and there was the small chance that Snape had just done what the old wizard had asked him to do, perhaps?

Harry Potter left school to try to find weapons against Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Dumbledore had told him about. The Boy Who Lived had become Undesirable Number One. It had torn Hagrid’s heart apart to see him duel Snape, to see Harry caught in an obsessive hatred for his former teacher. But Severus had alienated the boy right from the start. He had always been good at pushing away people.

Death Eaters came to Hogwarts: Severus Snape returned as Headmaster, and a couple of siblings, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, taught Defence against the Dark Arts and History of Magic. Hagrid’s doubts came back. He kept away from the castle as much as possible, because he would have been unable to look at Severus Snape. Could he have been that mistaken? Well, if Snape had even managed to deceive Dumbledore ... But why, then, had Snape visited him in Azkaban and taught him to cast a Patronus in his mind? He wouldn’t have gained anything from his act of kindness, so why had he done it? How did this fit in with the ruthless, murderous Death Eater?

And then, one evening, a few students knocked on the door to the groundskeeper’s hut, accompanied by Filch. It turned out that they had tried to take away the Sword of Gryffindor from the Headmaster’s office, and as a punishment they had been sent to help Hagrid with his chores – on the Headmaster’s orders.

Well, Hagrid had thought, he could’ve given them over ter th’ Death Eater couple. They’re really nasty, put little kids in chains. Instead he sends them ter me?

And again, the groundskeeper thought about whose side Severus Snape might be on. Soon however he had to flee with his half-brother into the mountains because of his idea to hold a "Support Harry Potter" party – at a very inconvenient time for such an endeavour. He had thought that Harry needed a little support, wherever he was.

Then Harry returned, and Snape fled. Good riddance, many teachers and students said, but what could he have done, if he played a double game, Hagrid asked himself. The school was besieged by Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and, finally, Good triumphed over Evil, when in the final confrontation Harry killed Voldemort.

With a mixture of relief and pain Hagrid learned that his hopes had come true after all: The memories Snape had been able to give Harry showed that he really had worked as a spy for Dumbledore among the Death Eaters all the time – because he had been in love with Harry’s mother – or so Harry said. Finally the young man had realised that on Dumbledore’s orders Snape had protected him all these years. He had only pretended to be Voldemort’s most faithful servant. The irony of it all was that the Dark Lord had had no qualms to kill his most faithful servants if he found it necessary to further his plans.

It was unfair, Hagrid thought. For all his efforts, instead of seeing achieved what he had worked for, Severus Snape was now dead. But Hagrid was the carrier of the dead and the living. He would at least see to it that Severus would rest in peace.

So he intercepted Harry after the final battle and hugged him fiercely.

"Yeh did it, Harry," he simply said. "Yer parents, Professer Dumbledore, yer Godfather, everyone’d be very proud o’ yeh! Even Professer Snape."

Harry looked exhausted, but he gave the half-giant a lopsided smile.

"Snape – Hagrid, who would have thought? He always was such a bastard ..."

"Nah, he wasn’t a pleasant man, but a good one," Hagrid said.

I told yeh so more ‘n once, he thought, but did not say it aloud.

Harry wiped his face.

"I think you are right, Hagrid. I just never thought that my teachers were human beings and might have feelings ... Even Snape."

"I think, we only see this when we become older. - Where’s he?" the groundskeeper asked.

Harry, weary to the death, swayed on his feet.

"The Shrieking Shack – Hagrid, he fought his own battle – bring him to the Great Hall, to lie with the others who died in battle – It’s a strange thought that we never actually were enemies ... I wish I could talk to him, but I fear even now we wouldn’t get along."

"Might very well be, Harry, might very well be. But tha’s because of circumstances as were there before yeh were even born."

Hagrid went on his way. So it came to pass that he went to the Shrieking Shack to collect Severus Snape’s body.

8. Remembered

And now, in the dusty, cobwebbed shack, kneeling next to the body on the blood-soaked floor, pushing a bloodied strand of hair away from the dead man’s face, he finally remembered the incident where Snape had saved him from a group of Death Eaters who had captured and tortured him for eavesdropping in Crooked Alley.

"Yeh made me ferget," Hagrid whispered. "Yeh never wanted me close again after we broke up. But why, why do I remember now? Is it ‘cause yeh’re dead?"

He swallowed.

"Maybe yeh’re better off now, never feelin’ worry n’ pain n’ sadness any more ..."

Tears rolled down into his beard.

"Now, lemme get yeh away from here, ter a place where yeh can rest nicely, aright?"

He hoisted the body up from the blood-smeared floor. A tear fell on Snape’s face – and the half-giant flinched back. The dark eyes, which had been staring sightlessly at the dusty, cobwebbed beams overhead, closed, and the gaping neck wound began to bleed again.

"Merlin help us!"

Not ter late ...

Gently, the half-giant put Snape back on the floor. Frantically, he took a small sachet from his breast pocket, taking out a Bezoar and forcing it down the man’s throat.

Swallow, please, swallow!

When Hagrid took a water flask from his belt and poured water into the man’s mouth, Snape gasped and coughed. Finally he swallowed.

Hagrid now took a small bottle of Dittany from the sachet, putting a few drops on the wound at Severus’s neck. The bleeding stopped and the wound began to close.

"I haven’t fergotten ‘bout the stone ‘n th’ Dittany," Hagrid said. "Yeh gave them ter me a long time ago, remember?"

One afternoon, when they still had been together, Severus had put the bottle and the stone on the table.

"The stone is rare. It’s called a Bezoar. Whenever a man or animal has been poisoned, even if the poison is deadly, the Bezoar will neutralise it. The potion is Dittany, which heals every wound, even a deadly one. I want you to have these."

"But –"

"I want you to have these," the young man had repeated firmly, and so Hagrid no longer refused to accept the gift.

It had been one of the few gifts Hagrid ever got from a lover, and he had kept it for sentimental reasons. From time to time he had taken it out, conjuring up the image of Young Severus, his serious face when he had presented the groundskeeper with the gift.

In all those years, he had never had an opportunity to put the stone or the potion to use, never had seen a reason to do so. Until now.

"Looks as if it still works," Hagrid murmured. "Must’ve bin more than twenty years ago yeh gave it ter me. ‘S a miracle I didn’t break th’ bottle!"

Snape’s bloodied fingers clawed at Hagrid’s coat. His chest heaved when he gasped for air, his whole body strained up in a convulsion. Then his fingers loosened their grip and his head fell back.

"No!" Hagrid screamed. "Sev’rus, no!"

He cradled Snape in his arms and with trembling fingers searched for the man’s pulse.

Snape’s head fell forward, against the half-giant’s chest.

"Tired ..." he murmured.

Hagrid’s heart did a leap.

"Yeh’ve given me a right start there," he said. "I bet yeh’re tired. Come, lemme take yeh up."

"Good ..." Snape whispered, closing his eyes again, but only for a moment. He coughed. His dark eyes searched the half-giant’s face.

"Harry – Potter?" he asked. "Voldemort ...?"

"... ‘s dead! Harry’s well! We won! But yeh shouldn’t talk now. I’ll take yeh ter th’ castle. They’ll be happy ter see yeh’re not dead!"

Snape’s lips twitched. It could be a smile. He put out a trembling hand towards the door and murmured a few words. The door sprang open.

"Wait," Snape whispered when Hagrid wanted to hurry outside. He whispered another spell, and then Hagrid heard him mutter "Incendio!"

"Out – now –" Snape gasped, falling back exhausted into Hagrid’s supporting arms. "Hurry!"

Hagrid did not have to be told twice. He felt the heat in his back, and then an explosion shook the ground, as he stumbled through the deserted village, back to the grounds of Hogwarts.

"Not – to the castle, Hagrid. Not – to – the castle." Snape coughed.

"But yeh’ll be looked after properly there!"


The wounded man became so agitated that Hagrid began to fear for his life again.

"Aright, aright, I’ll take yeh ter me hut! Would tha’ be aright?"

"Yes ..." Snape whispered.

So the groundskeeper ran on and did not stop until he reached his hut and put the injured man on his bed.

"S’ aright, everythin’ s’ aright, Professer. I won’t take yeh ter th’ castle if yeh don’t want ter go there. But wha’ s all this about?" he murmured, more to himself, while he rummaged around in his cupboard to fetch bandages and clean towels.

Snape grimaced with the effort of speaking.

"Listen, Hagrid. If someone asks you: The Death Eaters – burned down the Shrieking Shack. It was – burned to the –ground, and you could not – find any trace of me."

"But Harry told us yeh’ve always bin Dumbledore’s man!" Hagrid was bewildered. "People now say yeh’re a hero! They’ll be glad ter see yeh’re alive!"

The wounded man gave him a lopsided smirk, before he, once more, fell unconscious.

9. Care of a Magical Creature

When Hagrid removed his boots and the blood-soaked robe, coat, and vest, Snape regained consciousness.

"Tell no one – I’m alive," he said. "Tell them – the Shrieking Shack –"

"Yes, yeh said tha’. I’m ter say th’ Death Eaters burned it down, and yer body was in there, but why?" the groundskeeper asked. "I really don’t understand –"

"Do as - I say, Hagrid. Please!"

"Aright, aright, I will, " Hagrid promised. It was important that Severus recovered. Then they would see, he thought, forgetting Snape’s ability to read minds.

"Don’t you just humour me!" Snape said in his mind.

Hagrid flinched a bit. "Aright, aright!" he repeated.

He gave the wounded man some water, and Severus drank thirstily. Hagrid cleaned away the blood from his body as well as he could. Snape’s eyes closed.

"So – tired," he whispered.

"Sleep, Sev’rus," Hagrid murmured and covered him with a blanket. "Rest well."

And please wake up again.

He waited until the wounded man had fully drifted into sleep, then followed his usual early morning routine, preparing a meal, chopping wood.

When he came back inside, Snape was awake. Hagrid breathed a sigh of relief.

Merlin be thanked!

"Yeh’re hungry?" he asked. "I’ve prepared a good broth. That’ll help yeh ter get back on yer feet again in no time! And I’ve left some nourishin’ potion fer a sick Unicorn foal! Maybe what’ll help a Unicorn can’t be bad fer a human, I reckon?"

Snape smirked.

"It will have to do."

The same evening, he sent Hagrid up to the castle to tell his story about the Shrieking Shack which had burned to the ground, leaving no trace of the former teacher’s body to be found.

He’s right, Hagrid thought. Better ter go up there n’ show me face, erefore someone comes ter see me at th’ hut. Tha’ wouldn’t be convenient at all at th’ moment.

"You are upset," Snape remarked, when the groundskeeper returned.

"Ah well, ‘s a bit odd," Hagrid answered. "First, it’s all ‘Fetch Professer Snape’s body, we need ter give him a decent burial’, and when I tell ‘em th’ Shack burned down, it’s ‘Oh well, it can’t be helped, then. I mean, it’s right, yes, but -"

Snape barked a laugh and then began to cough.

"Sic transit gloria mundi."

"I beg yer pardon?"

"’This is how fame changes in the world’," Snape translated. "Thank you, Hagrid, I am – alright."

With a look, he shooed the groundskeeper away from his bedside.

"Ah well." Hagrid shrugged and rummaged around in his wardrobe for a blanket, which he threw on the oversized sofa, which had taken the place of the big armchair. It hit Fang, who had been snoring there.

"Basket!" the groundskeeper commanded, and a very grumpy dog slowly slid from the sofa and curled up where his master had ordered him. "’S this part of why yeh don’t want ‘em ter know yeh’re still alive?"

"I am sure there are – more significant losses to cope with," Snape answered.

Angrily, Hagrid shook out the blanket.

"Tell yeh what," he grumbled, "If yeh’d bin coverin’ me ass fer th’ last seven years and it had bin pretty damn close at times; and I knew yeh’d loved me mum, I would –" He stopped himself, scratching his head in sudden embarrassment.

Snape coughed again, and drank a few sips of water.

"How did I know that Potter - would shoot off his mouth - about this?"

His eyes closed, and he seemed asleep again.

Hagrid watched him for a while. Severus looked – well, like someone who had just escaped death: haggard, pale, deeply exhausted. But the wound in his neck had begun to close, and his scrawny chest rose and fell with regular breaths, so Hagrid tiptoed to the sofa, pulled off his boots and lay down to sleep.

A knock at the door to his hut woke him up the next morning. Fang began to bark.

"Merlin’s balls!"

Thinking of marauding Death Eaters, he grabbed his crossbow and looked out of the window. Outside stood Aberforth Dumbledore.

"Uh – oh!" Hastily, Hagrid grabbed his blanket and intended to throw it over the form of Severus in his bed.

"Don’t you dare! And don’t speak aloud! Who is it?"

"Aberforth from th’ Hog’s Head."

"Alright. Answer the door."

"But –"

"Don’t worry. Now answer, before he kicks in the door!"

"Aright, aright, I’m comin’!" Hagrid called, threw the blanket on his chair and opened the door to a soot- and grime-covered Aberforth.

"Mornin’," Aberforth said gruffly. "Sorry for callin’ upon you this early, but it would be nice if you could give us a hand in Hogsmeade today, Hagrid."

"Ahm, yeah, sure," the half-giant stammered, blocking the entrance to the hut with his bulk. "Sure. I’ll be down when yeh need me."

"Good. As soon as you’re finished here, would be good. ‘Cause not everyone’s as good in doin’ a lifting charm as th’ ladies and gentlemen from th’ castle." Aberforth grumbled.

"Sure," Hagrid repeated and tried to close the door.

"Come to think of it," Aberforth quickly said. "Me throat’s a bit parched. Apparently some duellin’ fuckheads set fire to th’ Shriekin’ Shack. Not that it’s a pity about that bloody eyesore, but we had our hands full to put out th’ fire."

"Yeah," Hagrid agreed, still filling the doorframe. "Tha’s a real pain in th’ butt when they do this, aright. They set fire ter th’ roof ‘o my hut ‘s well th’ night yer brother ... Erm – yeah – I’ll be comin’ down ‘s soon ‘s I’ve looked after th’ animals, Aberforth."

He tried to close the door again, but Aberforth caught it.

"Wait. It’s not that urgent that we wouldn’t have th’ time for a drink. I for my part could do with a glass of your excellent Burnt Berries."

By th’ saggin’ tits of th’ Goddess!

Hagrid had feared this would come, and he was at a loss what to do.

"I – um –"

"Let him come in, for Merlin’s sake!"

"Sure," Hagrid said, stepping back and finally admitting Aberforth to his hut. Fang squeezed out while the innkeeper entered. When the half-giant put his crossbow away and fetched the brandy and two glasses, he shot a nervous glance at the bed. It looked as if someone had slept in it, but there was no trace of Severus. It seemed as if the air above the bed was a bit blurred and rippling as if in great heat, but it was so faint he could also be mistaken. He watched Aberforth from the corner of his eyes, but the innkeeper didn’t seem to notice anything unusual.

"Tea?" he asked his guest, filling the kettle. "Bread n’ cheese?"

"Wouldn’t mind a quick bite," Aberforth agreed. "It’s all a damn mess! At least, Merlin be thanked, people no longer are stomping through my inn to reach th’ castle. That was a bloody nuisance! But we’ve got some damages in Hogsmeade. Apart from th’ Shriekin’ Shack th’ Sweet Shop blew up! The whole street’s covered in those bloomin’ sweets!"

"Ah – um – yeah?" Hagrid occupied himself with the tea. A thought struck him.

Merlin’s beard, what if someone saw us down in Hogsmeade?

"I cast an invisibility charm – and don’t you turn around to the bed now, dammit!"

Aberforth helped himself to a glass of brandy. He changed the subject.

"Aaaaah, that was just what I needed now. Th’ Weasleys all have left for the funeral. Could say Molly and Arthur have lost one son but found another again."

"Yeah – well ..."

"The Tonkses also have arrived to take their daughter and her husband. The poor kid will have to grow up as an orphan now. Sad."

Hagrid poured himself a cup of tea, lacing it generously with brandy.

"Damn sad. He’s with his grandparents now?"

"Yeah. The Tonkses and the Malfoys have even made up, I’ve heard, now as Bellatrix is gone. Guess we’ll be stuck with th’ bodies no one wants, then," Aberforth continued, taking a slice of bread and a chunk of cheese. "Wonder what they’ll do with Voldemort’s body."

Hagrid shrugged. "Dunno. Bury him like th’ others."

Aberforth refilled his glass.

"And Snape. Wasn’t surprised when Young Potter said Snape had been spyin’ on Voldemort for my brother," he continued. "And Albus ordered Snape to kill him! That was me brother for you!"

"I could not let the boy do it ..."

"Well –" Hagrid said again. It occurred to him to spread Snape’s story a bit. "Harry told me he saw Snape die in th’ Shriekin’ Shack. So if we’re ter clean up there, we might find his body – or what’s left of it."

"Well done, Hagrid."

Aberforth drank up and refilled his glass again.

"As far as I’ve seen there isn’t much left of th’ place except the outer walls and heaps of ashes. I doubt there can be found much of a body! – Well, have to go now! See you, Hagrid."

He finished his last glass and went to the door.

"I’ll be down ter Hogsmeade in – let’s say an hour," Hagrid promised.

"That’ll be good, Hagrid. Oh, and –"


"- don’t bring your giant brother, aright?"

Hagrid breathed out deeply when he had closed the door behind the innkeeper. He turned around to the bed. The figure of Snape was visible again. He looked even paler and sicker than the night before.

"To make – the invisibility charm work – and to – do the Legilimens - was a bit harder than I thought," he rasped, gratefully taking the water Hagrid offered him. "I will not – take advantage of your hospitality for too long, Hagrid – but during this time – I will have to ask you – to keep visitors to a minimum."

"I wouldn’t have let him in," Hagrid said, stirring some leftover broth in a pot to heat it up. "But yeh said –"

"It would have – been suspicious."

Snape had a coughing fit, which brought Hagrid to his bedside in a hurry, but Severus waved him off angrily.

"Go and feed – your animals. And then – take yourself down to – the village, as you promised."

"Yeah, I s’pose I’ve got ter go. But –"

Snape gave him a lopsided smirk.

"If you’ll help me - to the toilet and back to the bed, leave some water, the – potion and the broth – you are burning right now on – the stove – close, I think, I – can manage."

And so Hagrid looked after Severus and then after his animals, before he left for Hogsmeade.

When he returned to his hut, Severus was half asleep. Hagrid found that he looked a bit better than in the morning.

He gave the groundskeeper another of his lopsided smirks.

"Back again, I see."

"Oh, yes. Yeh need anythin’, Se- Professer Snape?"

"Your toilet. And thank you, Hagrid, I only – need your assistance up to the – privy door and back to bed."

Hagrid did as he was told. He saw that the broth had vanished, and so had the water and part of the potion. The wound at Snape’s throat had become smaller.

"Should I put some more Dittany on th’ wound?" he asked when he changed the bandages.

"Not – necessary, "Snape answered.

"But –"

"Just let me – rest."

Snape did not need long to fall asleep. The groundskeeper watched the sleeping man for a while.

Yeh see, some people in Hogsmeade said ‘t was well and good yeh’d bin Dumbledore’s man, neverth’less they were glad you’re dead. So maybe yeh’re not tha’ wrong after all if yeh want ter keep hidden ...

10. Some Explanations

During the next week, Snape recovered steadily. He became stronger, his neck wound closed more and more; his breathing became less laborious. To further his healing, he drank the broth Hagrid provided and took the nourishing potion. It seemed to Hagrid that Severus Snape took well to good care, and insofar was no exception to other magical creatures. Also he was no different from some magical creatures which only were tame and patient as long as they were really unwell, and, regaining their health, became fierce and feral again. He waved Hagrid off impatiently when the half-giant tried to help him up or intended to assist him with eating. Hagrid said nothing, because he knew that Snape was actually impatient with himself. Until one evening, when he came back from the Thestral paddock and found the man fully dressed, just putting on his cloak.

"What’re yeh doin’?" Incredulously, Hagrid stared at Snape, who stood, swaying slightly, leaning on one of the bedposts.

"I am leaving. I have taken advantage of your - hospitality for too long already." Snape would have fallen, had the groundskeeper not caught him by the shoulders.

"I b’lieve ‘s still a bit early fer this," Hagrid said, when Snape struggled to his feet again. "Why this hurry all of a sudden? Did somethin’ happen?"

Snape shook his head, lost his balance and fell against the nightstand. His knees gave way, and Hagrid caught him just in time before he would have crashed to the floor.

"Be it as it may, at th’ moment yeh’re goin’ nowhere but ter bed again," the half-giant stated.

Snape’s eyes blazed, but he did not put up much of a fight when the groundskeeper swept him up into his arms and put him down on the bed, making him drink some of the nourishing potion. And looking into these blazing eyes, feeling the warm, bony body in his arms, Hagrid felt something stir in his lower regions ...

By th’ saggin’ tits of th’ Goddess! Not jes’ now!

Hastily, he turned to the table and began to prepare a few rabbits he had brought, from time to time casting a shy glance at the bed. Snape lay as he had left him, his head turned to the window. He looked pale and deadly exhausted again, but his eyes were open, but he did not attempt to get up again.

Hagrid finished with the rabbits and began to cut onions, potatoes and turnips for a stew. When he came back from taking the remains of the rabbits to the Thestrals, his lower regions had calmed down a bit.

Snape seemed to be asleep, at least he had closed his eyes. Hagrid began to cook the meat.

"I’m sorry," Snape said, and Hagrid almost dropped the meat fork. Nevertheless, he took his time with an answer.

First, he turned the meat in the big pot. Then he unwrapped a bone which he gave to Fang, who had followed the preparation of the rabbits the entire time.

"Why’re yeh sorry? Yeh wanted ter leave, but it’s a bit early. Yeh overestimated yer strength a bit, like a Hippogryff foal. It happens. I don’t understand why yeh’re in sech a hurry ter leave – oh well, ‘s none of me bis’ness anyway!" the gamekeeper interrupted himself.

"I’m sorry – I’m not – accustomed to – you deserved more of – an explanation. However –"

"Nah, nah, don’t excite yerself . I understand a little better now why yeh want ’em all ter think yeh’re dead," the groundskeeper answered. "I’ve heard ‘em talk in Hogsmeade, and some people seem ter be unable ter get over th’ fact that yeh weren’t – aren’t – the nicest o’ persons – ummmmm – sorry, shouldn’t’ve said tha’ –"

The corners of Snape’s mouth curled upward for a moment.

"You are – honest, Hagrid," he said. "False niceties – are not your nature. And honesty – deserves honesty."

"But yeh shouldn’t strain yerself ter much –" Hagrid’s protest died away under Snape’s look.

"Let me – try, Hagrid." Snape whispered. "I - always wanted to survive. I knew I - would have to die, because Voldemort - believed that I was the Master of the Elder Wand, and he needed - this wand to win against Potter."

The meat in the pot had begun to smell a little burnt, and Hagrid hastily turned the pieces.

"Well, that hasn’t worked," he remarked. "Harry won, and part of it is yer doin’. Seems yeh’ve protected him from harm more than once."

"I am - glad he - survived," Snape conceded. "I do not – like him, but I am glad he survived."

"Harry said yeh never were th’ Master of that wand, ‘cause Dumbledore agreed ter be killed by yeh, and that doesn’t count, something like tha’."

"Yes," Snape said. "However, as I - never was the Master of the Elder - Wand, I never - saw an actual - reason to - die. So I took some - precautions."


"Against - the snake."

"Ah!" Hagrid enthusiastically waved the big fork he had used to turn the meat.

"Yeh mean like th’ dragon or snake handlers as handle th’ poisonous animals? Yeh take th’ venom in small doses, cause this doesn’t kill yeh, so when yeh’re bitten by an animal, yeh won’t have th’ bad effects."

Snape gave him another crooked smile.

"Something - like this, yes."

Another idea struck Hagrid.

"Yeh didn’t, by chance, also carry Dittany and a Bezoar with yeh?"

Snape’s eyes were serious.

"In fact, I - did. But let me - tell you, Hagrid, that your interference has - sped my healing well - along. I am very - grateful for your - help. Without it, I – I would have -" He did not finish his sentence.

Hagrid swallowed.

"Yeh think yeh would -?" the groundskeeper did not finish his sentence either.

"I – under-estimated – Nagini’s venom. I would – have needed help." Snape grimaced. "A stupid – mistake. Not enough – time and – opportunity for research ..."

Hagrid scratched his head.

"Harry was there. Why didn’t he -?"

"I tried – to tell – him," Snape whispered, "but he – did not – understand – At least he took – my memories -"

"Salazar’s bloody bollocks!" Hagrid exclaimed.

"How – could he – have known?"

Hagrid breathed deeply.

"Anyway – it was a close shave. Th’most important thing is, yeh’re alive, though. But – I don’t understand why yeh want ter be dead fer Harry. After all, yeh fought fer th’ same side!"

"You forget, I - was a - Death Eater," Snape said. "Played the – role of the ever-faithful servant – of the – Dark Lord, when Voldemort – appeared again. I have done – bad things, Hagrid. Or not – prevented them. And there are - still Death Eaters - somewhere, perhaps - regrouping as we - speak."

Hagrid looked puzzled.

"But it’s over! Voldemort’s dead! And yeh tried ter protect th’ students!"

Snape shook his head impatiently.

"I had to – watch lives being destroyed – and I was unable – to help these people! I had to stand by – and literally watch! And Voldemort was - just one wizard who - was prepared to build - a reign of terror. Wizards who - lust for power will - appear again and again. Their ideas - may sound a bit different, but in - the end it is all about absolute - power, and they walk - over the dead bodies of those - who dared to oppose - them or who do - not fit into their - new world. And there - are always people who decide - to follow the wizard they - see as the most - powerful, and - take over his ideas."

Hagrid shook his head. To him it was almost unimaginable, standing there, watching someone die, maybe pleading for help – and not being allowed to help or save the person in order to maybe save others – unthinkable! He was unsure whether he should abhor or admire a person capable of doing this – but the person in question was Severus Snape, and if he loved the wizard, that was part of the package ...

He also thought of Peter Pettigrew, the boy who had adored James Potter and Sirius Black, and had obviously taken over their ideas about how unpopular fellow students should be treated. Later on, he had betrayed his former friends, because he had found a more powerful master to serve.

"I was - one of these followers of the powerful," Snape admitted. "You were – right. They were – false friends, but my decision – was my own. I felt the power, I - was lauded for my knowledge, and I could - frighten people who looked - down on me because my - family was poor and who - laughed at - my ugliness. However – well, at first - it was alright. Someone had displeased the Dark Lord - and was a traitor to - the cause – but – but why kill an - old man, a child, when an - Obliviate would have - sufficed? These things began - to disgust me."

"I think of an eavesdropping half-giant ..." Hagrid murmured.

Snape sniffed. "You should - look after your - meat before it burns."

Hastily, Hagrid turned the meat, and added water and vegetables.

"But why didn’t yeh leave then? T’ wasn’t that easy, I think?"

Snape laughed harshly and began to cough. He sat up, still coughing, and waved away Hagrid, who approached his bed to assist him.

"You do - not just ‘leave’ the – ranks of the Death Eaters," he said. "I tried – to prevent the worst. Yes, I tried, but in the beginning, I also wanted to belong ... Maybe I did not – try hard enough – maybe you only leave a - bunch of violent terrorists - when they burn down - the house of - a person you hold dear. Someone – told me I only – worked up the courage – to leave, because Voldemort targeted – the wrong person. A woman – I wanted for – myself. He said – he said – seeing the wrong in – terrorising people – had nothing to do – with it. He was - disgusted of me."

"Erm ..."

Hagrid scratched his head with the meat fork. He frowned.

"Who said tha’?"

"Never mind!" Snape snapped.

Hagrid shrugged.

"Is it true, then?"


"Well, then – " Hagrid breathed deeply. "In th’ end yeh did th’ right thing in goin’ ter Dumbledore."

"It was too - late!" Snape said bitterly. "I had given Voldemort - half of - Trelawney’s prophecy, yes, I had taken - into account that he would murder - this family, but how could I - not tell him? I was his - servant, Hagrid! I asked him to spare –" He hid his face in his hands.

Hagrid stepped closer to the bed.

"In th’ end," he repeated, "Yeh went ter Dumbledore and told him. So th’ baby could be saved. And later, yeh protected him."

Snape took his hands away from his face.

"Why aren’t you – disgusted of – me?"

Hagrid scratched his head again, then his beard. He took a while in answereing.

"Well, ter be disgusted of yeh – I mean, I could only be tha’ if I was where you’d bin, fell th’ same – an’ act diff’rently – better, wiser. An’ – by th’ womb of th’ Goddess – if I’m honest, I can’t say as I’d done better! - I’ve seen a bit o’ Voldemort – what he did. Take ev’rythin’ as humans might call monsters: An Acromantula, a Werewolf, a Harpy, a Troll – they’re damn nasty, but they only do as is their nature, and they’ll leave yeh alone if yeh leave ‘em alone ‘s well. But Voldemort – he twisted everythin’ aroun’ an’ aroun’ an’ abused it fer his own ends – he made yeh obey ter do his biddin’ – even if yeh didn’t want ter – ter keep yer head clear aroun’ him – I couldn’t’ve done it!"

Snape had listened to Hagrid’s words attentively. He held out a hand.

"Thank you, Hagrid. - By Merlin’s eyes - I swear I did - not want her for myself. Long, long - ago, Hagrid, I told you – about my preferences. You know -"

Hagrid sat down on the edge of the bed. His lower region began to feel funny again, but he tried to ignore it.

"I know tha’, Sev’rus, Professer Snape. Lo’, I jes can say again an’ again tha’ yeh protected th’ son of Lily an’ James Potter. Yeh protected him an’ his friends time ‘n again. An’ yeh sent Ginny, Neville, ‘n Luna ter have detention with me. Yeh did what yeh could. Yeh’re only human!"

"Probably," was the snarky remark. Snape had caught himself again. "Your stew."

Hagrid hurried to his casserole, took a masher and began to wildly mash the contents of the pot.

"But yeh should talk ter Harry," he remarked. "Maybe not jes now, but sometime soon. I’m sure it would be good ter clear matters between yeh."

Snape barked a laugh.

"I showed him - what his father and godfather did, in my - memories in the - pensieve and in detention, making - him work with the detention archives! He had - my old Potions book! I gave him - my memories of how I befriended - his mother and how I - lost her friendship! How I - betrayed his family - and how I tried to - help him! I have - talked to him enough!"

Hagrid knew it was perhaps foolish, but he would have liked Severus Snape and Harry Potter talk to each other for once, perhaps reach a truce and an agreement. And Snape as the older and wiser of the two and Harry’s former teacher should do the first step. So Severus’s refusal angered him. He shook the masher in Snape’s direction.

"’t wasn’t talkin’, actually ..."

"Alright!" Snape hissed. "I still - dislike Potter and I - took good care that he - dislikes me! And even - if I would wish to talk face to - face to him, Hagrid – there are still Death Eaters out there – maybe on the run, maybe - on their way to Azkaban – and I am sure that if they -learned that I survived, they would - not hesitate to finish - what Voldemort begun - with Nagini’s help! Now – is not the – time for – a heart-to-heart with – Potter! Is this - clear enough for you?!"

Hagrid dropped the masher on the table and hung his head.

"Aright, aright, I see yer point. I even see why yeh’ve got ter leave. But – what do yeh want ter do?" He still felt a bit rebellious, though.

"I would like - to take a bath," Snape said.

"Huh?" Hagrid stared at him for a moment, then quickly looked away. His lower region again told him very firmly that he found Severus still very – interesting and – yes, attractive. Still, this change of subject came a bit abruptly for him. On the other hand – no, Professor Snape couldn’t know – Maxime had known, yes, but then she was a half-giantess. With giants, a bath always preceded mating, and if a giantess wished for a bath in the presence of a giant, it was clear they would mate afterwards. But Hagrid doubted that Snape was familiar enough with giants’ customs to know this.

"I would - like to - take a bath," Snape repeated.

"Wha-? Oh, sure, sure, def’nitely, if yeh’re feelin’ well enough," Hagrid stammered, trying to go with the flow, but not daring to look at the man. "Are yeh – are yeh sure yeh’re feeling well enough?"

"I am not - feeling well now. I feel sticky all over - from my own blood - and sweat, despite your - friendly efforts to clean - me up and my own cleaning spells. So - certainly a bath would not - be amiss, thank you," Snape answered sharply.

He said it three times – but he can’t know. Few humans ever knew. Me Dad, sure, I learned ‘bout it from him. But then he lived a few years with a giantess ...

"Sure, ‘f course. I’ll jes’ go ‘n fetch th’ tub, aright?"

He pushed the stew a bit away from the direct flame and went to the back of his hut, where a giant tin bathtub hung on two hooks right next to the privy. Hagrid took it down and shook it out, making centipedes, beetles, and spiders which had taken up residence there all scuttle away in various directions. The tub struck the upper beam of the doorway with a "bonk" when Hagrid carried it inside, and landed on its four claw feet with a "clank", right next to the bed.

"Now where’s th’ stopper?" Hagrid rummaged around in various drawers and on numerous shelves, finally holding up the missed item triumphantly: A big, black rubber stopper. He put it into the tub drain and took two large buckets, filling them at the pump outside. Had he looked in Snape’s direction, he would have seen that the wizard watched him with an amused half-smile playing around his lips.

Hagrid now put a large cauldron on the stove and stoked the fire again to heat the water.

"Just put the – water – into the tub," Snape said. "I will take care - of heating it."

"Oh – aright, sure." Hagrid still did not dare to look at the wizard. It was one thing to wash a helpless man or to assist him in walking to the toilet. However, as much as he tried to convince himself otherwise, not only his lower region insisted that Severus was still – sexually very interesting to him. He occupied himself with fetching water until the giant tub was full enough and tried not to get his hopes up too much.

Snape slowly swung his legs out of bed and drank some more nourishing potion. He seemed no longer weak or unstable when he bent over the tub and murmured a few words. The water began to steam. He pulled up his sleeve and dipped his elbow in.

"That will do," he said, looking up.

Hastily, Hagrid made for the door. His trousers had become uncomfortably tight, and dammit, even Bane the Centaur at one time had been an admirer of –

Not th’ right thing ter think of jes’ now, Rubeus ... Get out erefore yeh’ll do somethin’ wrong ...

"Haven’t fed th’ Thestrals yet," he murmured. "That is, if yeh don’t need any help."

Want ter give him some privacy, he thought, but in fact it was he who needed the privacy. Urgently. Seeing Severus naked now somehow would not do, and he surely just wanted to clean himself in peace ...

"Rubeus," Snape’s voice was full and deep, without its usual sharp edge. The different tone and the use of his first name stopped Hagrid in his tracks. He breathed deeply, but did not dare to turn around and look at Severus.

"You still – feel for me? After all these years?" Snape asked.

Hagrid did not want to turn around, but it wouldn’t be polite to show the man his back while talking to him, so he turned slowly, avoiding Severus’s eyes.

"I – I’m sorry," he stammered. "I didn’t want yeh – ter bother yeh. Jes’ lemme take care o’ th’ Thestrals an’ yeh have yerself a good bath, aright?"

"Look at me, Rubeus," Snape ordered. "Why do you think I sued the mating invitation common between giants?"

"Well, yeah – erm –"

Hagrid finally dared to look at Severus. Snape sat on the edge of the bed, his dark eyes searching the half-giant’s face. So the wizard knew exactly what he was talking about. Hagrid’s offer of leaving to give him some privacy could be part of the ritual of postponement, or lead to a refusal of the mating offer, which was rare, and was indicated by the giant in having to seek his father's an’ mother's advice, even if both parents were long gone. This, though, was out of the question for Hagrid. Snape’s look reminded the groundskeeper of the young man who had visited him for a cup of tea, well, more than twenty years ago. And again, Hagrid was lost.

Gone was the gangly adolescent Hagrid remembered. The grown-up was bony and sinewy, his back scarred, but his ass still small and tight. The sweet taste of the Youth had become bitter and strong.

Severus had never been easy, but now everything that had been innocent about Young Severus was lost. Instead, there was a wild animal to tame, willing and unwilling at the same time, prepared to trust and yet feral; his long arms opening in a welcoming embrace and yet pushing Hagrid away at the same time. For moments, Young Severus Snape was back, exploring, touching, watching, enjoying; and the next instant, there was Severus as he had become, brusque and hard, but also still vulnerable.

"I want you in me." An order, not a request.

Hagrid hesitated. It was what he wanted to do most at the moment, but he never had had intercourse this way with an ordinary-sized human. He knew that wizards could do magic to have intercourse with other magical beings (otherwise he would not have existed), if they wished to do so, however –


And Hagrid obeyed, first preparing Severus, spreading him, then slowly, carefully pushing himself into the tight, hot channel, becoming more daring, finally pounding, letting himself go wild. Severus muttered incantations, cursed, gasped in delight, matching the wild ride at every step of the pace.

Soon, too soon for his taste, Hagrid came. Severus did not fend him off, when he took the wizard into his arms and stroked him to completion. Hagrid had always loved to see the concentrated expression on Snape’s face when he came, and the content, relaxed expression which followed.

They had the bath afterwards. Together. Snape’s head rested on Hagrid’s wide, hairy chest. The gamekeeper’s fingers stroked Severus’s head and back, went deeper, tracing the small buttocks and dipped between the cheeks. Severus hissed with pleasure, spread his legs wider over Hagrid’s enormous body, when the first of the half-giant’s long, thick fingers slipped into him again.

Everything had become very wet when they were finished, but Snape cast a few drying spells, so they could lie together on the bed.

Actually, Hagrid had not wanted to ask, but relaxed from the sex, he had made the remark before he actually knew it:

"Well, I can understand tha’ yeh always had a lot on yer hands when yeh taught here at Hogwarts, but yeh never ever let on tha – tha – yeh still care fer me. I thought yeh had fergotten. Or yeh wanted ter ferget, cause fer yeh it was over."

"I have not - forgotten," Snape answered. "But even if I had had - the time, it would have - been too dangerous. Everybody I - would have shown some sign of – preference towards, would have been a possible - target for the Dark Lord to keep me - in line."

"Yeh must’ve bin very lonely all th’ time," Hagrid remarked. "I mean, th’ Death Eaters weren’t really yer friends, but people at Hogwarts didn’t trust yeh either ... Surely it was good ter have Dumbledore around."

"Oh yes," Snape’s voice was suddenly without any emotion. "It was good to - have Dumbledore around."

Hagrid was a bit astonished about the emotionless repetition of his words. He felt that they had a different opinion of the late Headmaster, just as their opinions about Harry Potter differed. But this couldn’t be helped, could it?

Severus did not look at Hagrid, but stared into the flames behind the stove door. There was one more question on Hagrid’s mind, but he did not dare to ask it now. It was the question whether Severus still thought it too dangerous to be with someone ...

Finally Snape relaxed, cuddled close to Hagrid and stroked his hair and face. The half-giant in turn groomed his lover’s hair with his fingers, and Severus let him do it. Relaxed and pleasantly exhausted, Hagrid eventually fell asleep.

11. The Fanged Doe

He had the feeling at one point during the night that Severus had gotten up and was bent over him, wand in hand, but it might as well have been a dream. In the dream, Snape lowered his wand and shook his head.

The next morning, Hagrid woke up from Fang’s usual slobbery "Good-morning-let-me-out" greeting. Hagrid looked around. He was in his bed. Alone. Severus Snape was gone.

For a horrible moment, Hagrid was under the impression that finding Snape still alive had been a dream. However, staggering to his feet, and letting the dog out, he remembered the figure who had bent over him during the night ... He also remembered that Severus had tried to leave already and had told him that he could not stay. Besides, the bed definitely smelled of sex. And yet, even this made him remember the old giant lore why so few giants and giantesses mated with human witches or wizards: the giants feared to lose their strength and power of life – what if Severus had only slept with him to steal from his energy? But no. What Hagrid had given, he had given freely – and Severus had given back of himself in equal amounts. Nevertheless, Hagrid felt betrayed.

So I didn’t dream it all up, after all ... But dammit, why did he creep away durin’ th’ night like a thief? He could’ve left a message, fer Merlin’s sake! - I’m not tha’ unreasonable after all! Would’ve bin more fair if we had discussed th’ matter like th’ grown-ups we are!

Hagrid wiped his face. Fresh air would be a good thing now. He went outside and washed at the pump. At the edge of the Forbidden Forest he suddenly noticed a luminous shape. He squinted. It was a Fanged Doe. As silently as possible, he approached the spot where the animal was standing. The doe let him come close. It spoke with Snape’s voice.

"Rubeus," it said, "I am aware that I have hurt you, but I had to leave. Please bear with me. There will be a day when I can tell you more."

Hagrid stood motionless, staring at the luminous shape. It stood outlined against the dark trees for a moment longer, then it turned towards the forest and vanished between the trees in a flash. Hagrid hurried after the creature, but it had gone without a trace, as if blown away by a breeze which stirred the trees ...

Tears stung in his eyes. He wiped them away angrily, blew his nose and returned to his hut.

Days passed. More and more, life at Hogwarts went back to normal. Debris was cleared from the castle and the grounds, the castle was repaired, rooms renovated. The students returned, and a memorial event was held for all the wizards and witches, Elves, Centaurs, Goblins, and other magical creatures who had lost their lives in the fight against Voldemort. The students, teachers, people from Hogsmeade, House Elves, Ghosts, Merpeople, and Centaurs had assembled at Dumbledore’s tomb, and Headmistress McGonagall read the long list of the dead. When she read the name "Severus Snape", Hagrid blew his nose so loudly that a lot of people turned around, giving him annoyed or surprised looks. He didn’t care.

Numbed and sad, Hagrid worked so hard, he fell into bed at night and slept like a log. The Aurors had gone over every square meter and made sure that no Death Eater was hiding somewhere, no evil spell in force any more anywhere on the grounds. After they had renewed and reinforced all spells guarding the area, Hagrid had been clearing the grounds from dawn till dusk.

Some of the older, stronger students and those apt at lifting and moving spells were allowed to help the groundskeeper with his work. When he asked for volunteers to help clear up the remaining damages in Hogsmeade a week after Snape had left, he found himself with Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and a very subdued and pale Gregory Goyle.

"We’ll clear th’ groun’ where th’ Shriekin’ Shack’s bin," he told them. "So far, no one’s gotten aroun’ ter workin’ there. Yeh c’n help me carry th’ burned beams away and look what still c’n be used. Put aside what’s still good."

"But what – what if the place is haunted?"Goyle asked.

"Uuuuuuh – you’re afraid?" Ron taunted the big Slytherin. "Because Snape died there? Uuuuuh – the Greasy Git as a ghost is not what I want to meet either. Or are you afraid of finding his blackened bones – uuuuuh?"

It was then that both Goyle and Harry went for Ron, and Hagrid separated them, holding Harry’s and Gregory’s collars in one mighty fist, while holding up Ron with the other.

"I’m taking’ inter account yeh’ve lost one of yer brothers, Ron Weasley, " he said furiously. "But yeh should show a bit more respect fer th’ dead, aright?! Ev’ry dead!"

He released the shaking students. Ron fell to the ground.

They probably never had seen him that angry, Hagrid thought. He didn’t care.

"Jes’ sort out th’ beams," he continued, softening his voice a bit, because he noticed that the three young men were shocked about his outbreak. "Jes’ clear away th’ debris and th’ ashes. No pokin’ around fer bones. Th’ Aurors have gone all over th’ grounds here as well, and had there bin bones ter find, they’d have found ‘em! As fer ghosts – well , there’s a lot of ‘em in th’ castle, so what’re yeh goin’ on about?!"

He stomped off, not caring whether the three students followed him or not.

"He’s in a bad mood, isn’t he?" he heard Goyle ask, but again he did not care. He was in a bad mood indeed, dammit! He told himself that it was stupid to be angry; that Severus had had his reasons to leave. After all, he had told Hagrid from the start he would leave soon. Severus had not made promises, and there had been no reason to hope he would take him completely into his confidence. He had told him a lot already. Nevertheless, Hagrid was angry, hurt, and disappointed.

Weeks passed. Hagrid occupied himself with building a new stable, for which he used some of the wood from the Shrieking Shack which was still good. He cared for his animals; and he spoke a lot with the Magical Creatures in the Forbidden Forest. Not only the Whomping Willow had become very upset first by the Death Eaters running around, then by the Aurors going over the place.

Hagrid sometimes invited Firenze, who still worked as a Divination Professor at the school, for tea, because the calm, quiet presence of the Centaur soothed him, and Firenze, in turn, liked his company.

"You are angry and unhappy," Firenze said one evening, in his calm, detached way.

"What about it?" Hagrid asked gruffly. He would have been worried for Severus’s secret, had he not known that the Centaur was not interested in revealing other people’s secrets.

"You are unhappy and angry because someone you hold dear has left you."

Hagrid shrugged morosely, but then gave a deep sigh.

"You are angry with the person for leaving and angry at yourself for being angry with him," Firenze continued.

"Right," Hagrid answered. "And what’s it ter you?"

The young Centaur’s eyes showed compassion.

"Putting your own wishes, your fears and worries aside – what do you want for the person?"

That was easy to answer, Hagrid thought.

"I want what’s th’ best fer him."

It didn’t change that he was still missing Severus, but it gave him a little comfort.

Months passed. To his amazement, Hagrid found out that Grawp had a girlfriend, Helgarda, a young giantess who had been abducted by the giants supporting Voldemort. She and Grawp had become friends, and apparently more. (Hagrid had to do a lot of appeasing a livid Pomona Sprout, when she found that one of the greenhouses had been smashed and her giant Javanian Night Root she had been culturing for twenty years had vanished. He had been very moved, though, by Grawp shyly handing the plant over to Helgarda, who received it blushing and with grace.) A few days later, Grawp and Helgarda had left for the mountains. Hagrid assumed she would soon speak of taking a bath to her suitor.

Seeing his young half-brother so happy, made Hagrid happy as well. There were also pangs of sadness, however, because he had to say good-bye to the two giants. Sometimes he thought of his talk with Firenze, and his answer to the Centaur’s question always came down to that he wanted the best for Severus. Of course, a not-so-small inner voice spoke up, saying it would be nice to play a part in Snape’s life, and he was still sad that Severus had excluded him again.

Where’s he now? What’s he doin’? Hope he hasn’t run inter some Death Eaters. Is he tryin’ ter do more good where he had done wrong? He’s borne so much all these years – hope he hasn’t broken down now ...

He tried to speak to Severus in his thoughts, but there never was an answer. He thought about sending out his boar Patronus, but where to?

Years passed, and life went on. Harry and his friends had gone through their last exams and left Hogwarts; Harry and Ginny married, then Ron and Hermione. Hagrid was invited to both events; as well as to the celebrations for the birth of James Potter, Rose Weasley, and Lily Potter. He saw Neville Longbottom return to Hogwarts as an assistant teacher for Herbology; he saw a beautiful garden being planted on the spot where the Shrieking Shack had been, but he never received a word from Severus Snape.

Until one spring morning, when he had become almost sure Severus had forgotten him and his promise, or – Merlin beware – was dead for good. It was when he got up and let out Fang that suddenly he saw the Fanged Doe again. Like the first time, it stood at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, right under the trees, a shining apparition.

This time, though, the Patronus approached him after a while.

"Diagon Alley," it said in Snape’s voice. "Corner of Knockturn," then it vanished again behind the trees.

Scratching his head, Hagrid went back in. He was overjoyed to hear from the elusive wizard, and looking forward to seeing him again, however –

"Well, it wouldn’t’ve done no harm if yeh’d bin a little bit more explicit," he grumbled. "What d’yeh mean exactly? Should I drop ev’rythin’ now and hop away ter Diagon Alley, jes’ because I’ve got word from yeh? Yeh haven’t given any date or time, yeh know, and yer Fanged Doe didn’t wait fer an answer. I doubt me boar will make it tha’ far. Should’ve practised more, maybe. Ah, sod it all!"

For a while, Hagrid paced up and down the length of his hut, before he finally resumed his duties, fed and watered his animals, made his round through the forest, and delivered some plants to Professors Sprout and Slughorn at the school.

12. Diagon Alley, Corner of Knockturn

"What is this?"

The old Potions Master frowned at two bales of hay Hagrid had deposited in the lab in the Dungeons. The groundskeeper didn’t like to go there. It still remembered him of the days when he had delivered plants and other ingredients to the former Potions Master ...

"Hagrid? Are you alright, my good man?"


Hagrid slowly came back to the present and found a very worried Horace Slughorn looking up at him.

"You seem a bit – distracted, to say the least. Is something wrong?"

Hagrid forced himself to smile.

"Naaaaah, Professer, all’s well. Why should somethin’ be wrong?"

Slughorn accioed a bottle and two glasses from a shelf high up on the wall.

"Sit down, Hagrid," he ordered, pressing a glass with firewhisky into the half-giant’s hand. "You are far from well."

"What do yeh mean?" Hagrid became uneasy.

"This," the old Potions Master indicated the bales of hay, "is not what I asked you to bring. And as you normally always bring the right things, I guess there must have happened something which has upset you. Which of your animals is ill?"

Hagrid stared at the hay. He remembered giving the Thestrals their lumps of meat, which meant that the two unicorns would be munching the Vicideicis Stalleris he should have brought the Potions Master. They must be two very happy unicorns by now, because the plant was part of the Draught of Happiness, as Slughorn had told him.

Only good it was nothin’ poisonous ...

He jumped up and downed the glass of firewhisky.

"I’m so sorry, Professer Slughorn. I’ll go and collect more Vicideicis Stalleris at once! I think I – I accidentally gave it ter th’ unicorns – but don’t yeh worry, I’ll be back in a jiffy! And I don’t think it’s bad fer th’ unicorns! They’ll be jes’ a little – tipsy."

With these words he hurried away.

"Take your hay with you!" Slughorn called after him.

After the slightly chaotic beginning of the day, Hagrid concentrated more on his daily chores. As he had to go to London anyway this week to run a few errands for some of the teachers and to buy a few things for himself, he decided to go the next morning.

He did not sleep well that night. In fact, he hardly slept at all. Too many questions went around in his head, too many images. How would it be to meet Severus again? What might he have been up to during the past five years? Maybe he would not want boring, uneducated old Hagrid any longer? Maybe he had found another man? Maybe he had a family meanwhile? But why ask him for a meeting then? Wouldn’t a letter have been easier for conveying such news? And why – why did he still stubbornly keep up his hopes for being together with Severus?

Hagrid felt a lump in his throat. He knew that he wished Snape all the luck one could ever wish for. Severus deserved to be happy, and whether this happiness included him, Hagrid, or not, was not important ... He only needed to know for sure where he stood ...

The first rays of sunlight filtered through the shutters of his window and the first birds began to sing. Time to get up, shoo the troubling thoughts away and prepare for the journey. The repaired motorbike would bring him to London right in time for Gringotts to open for business. He left Fang with Madam Rosmerta in Hogsmeade, and took off for London.

As much as he wanted to hurry to the corner of Diagon Alley and Knockturn, Hagrid parked the motorcycle carefully at a safe place and put a few anti-theft spells on it, just for good measure. (Since he had once returned on one occasion to find the front wheel gone, he gave special care to bespelling the different parts.) Then he dutifully carried out his errands: First he went to Gringotts to conduct some business for Professor Flitwick, then he went to Diagon Alley to buy the Pasta Tree for Professor Sprout, and the Fire Java Professor Hooch wanted. Afterwards, he went to Flourish & Blotts to have a look at the Magical Creatures section. From inside the bookshop, he looked over to the corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alley. No sign of Severus ...

Just when Hagrid had come to the conclusion that Severus had wanted him to confirm their meeting by answering his message first – but how? – he ran into Harry, Ginny, little James and Baby Lily Potter. As he had not seen them in a while, he could not very well refuse an invitation for a cup of tea at the Leaky Cauldron, where the Potters would also meet Ron, Hermione, and Rose Weasley.

When the Weasleys arrived, there was a lot to catch up about, although Hagrid soon sought for a good way to excuse himself to get to the corner of Diagon meeting Knockturn Alley. He had decided he would wait for Severus there.

Suddenly they found that little James was no longer in his chair. A frantic search began, from which Hagrid could not very well exclude himself when even pregnant Hermione scurried to inspect the rental rooms, followed by the distraught innkeeper. First they sought on the premises of the Leaky Cauldron, then outside in Diagon Alley.

And just when Hagrid had decided he would start his search for the little boy at the corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alley, asking at shop after shop, he saw James walk into a shop right on the corner. A voluminous witch, loaded with bulky packets, left, the door being held open for her by the owner or a shop assistant.

Hagrid squeezed himself through the crowd as fast as possible. He reached the shop and saw the child sit on the counter, and a tall, thin, hook-nosed, black-haired man, most probably the shopkeeper, talk to him.

Recognising the man, Hagrid stopped in his tracks and his heart missed a beat.

He looks good ... less haunted ... Come ter think of it – I’ve never seen this shop before ... but how can he have a shop here? People will recognise him!

The half-giant looked up at the shop front. Apparently it had been freshly painted, and a new sign over the entrance announced "The Potion Shop".

Must be newly opened. But what on earth is he playing at?

Hagrid thought quickly. The best thing would be to take the boy back to his parents, before they would come here and recognise Severus Snape.

His decision came a bit too late, however. Ginny, who had also asked around in the street, had seen Hagrid, came over to him, and spotted her son in the shop. Just as the half-giant opened the shop door, Ginny squeezed past him, took up her son from the counter and berated him gently for running away. Over her head, Hagrid looked frantically at Snape, shrugging his mighty shoulders, when Ron, his sleeping daughter in his arms, Hermione, and Harry with the pram containing little Lily entered the shop as well.

Snape merely lifted an eyebrow and turned to Ginny.

"Is this your boy?"

Harry seemed to remember his duties as head of the family and spoke up.

"Sorry, Sir, for barging into your shop like this. Our son wandered off on his own."

Hagrid stared at him.

Doesn’t he see whom he’s talking ter?

He looked at Ginny, who was still fussing over little James. Ron was caressing the soft reddish curls of his daughter, gazing around the shop without much interest, and Hermione had vanished into the book corner. No one of the quartet seemed to recognise in the shopkeeper one of their most hated teachers.

Must be a Confundus Charm or something ... But why do I recognise him?

"Diagon Alley is no place for a boy that young to wander around on his own," the shopkeeper said disapprovingly.

"’m big! ‘m not a baby!" James protested.

"Yes you are a big boy already, but you can’t run away like this," Ginny said firmly.


"It’s dangerous," Harry explained.

Hagrid saw a slight smirk of amusement creep around Snape’s mouth at this statement from Harry Potter, of all people.

"I am glad you have found your son," he said. "Just do not let him wander off on his own again."

Midway through James’s enthusiastic question if there were dragons and monsters somewhere around, Lily began to cry, and Harry rocked her pram.

"Shhhhhh, Lily, Lily, Lily, where’s Daddy’s Lily?"

The amused look around Snape’s mouth and eyes intensified, when he bowed down and took a short look into the pram.

"How much are the legs of the Metaphylician Running Beetle?" Hermione asked.

"Five Galleons an ounce."

"Good. I will have an ounce, and the small cauldron over there. May I see it? Oh yes, that’s fine. And this book on exotic plants."

"This will be thirty Galleons altogether."


Ron paid for what his wife had bought, and then the Potters and the Weasleys left. Hagrid stayed, allegedly to buy some chest liniment for Old Fang.

He looked at Severus. Tall and thin, dressed in black as always, his fingers stained from potion ingredients, a few grey hairs in the black strands, his dark eyes piercing as ever. If Hagrid had not realised this before, it now became completely clear to him that he not only found Severus Snape interesting and attractive, he loved the wizard, he truly loved him. And he was damn angry at him, too.

"I’m here," he said. "What d’ yeh want of me, all of a sudden?"

"Thank you for coming," Snape said quietly, "I wonder if you can spare a little time?"

"I’ve got th’ time," Hagrid answered grimly, "Question is if yeh’ve got th’ time ter listen ter what I want ter tell yeh."

Snape locked the shop door and put a "closed" sign in the window.

"We should continue our conversation upstairs," he said. "It will be a bit more comfortable."

The room into which Severus showed him was comfortable indeed, with bookshelves lining the walls, a small fireplace in which a fire sprang up at a pointing of Snape’s wand, a desk cluttered with books and papers – obviously Severus felt at home here.

He closed a door which had been ajar – Hagrid just caught a quick glimpse of a bathtub on clawed feet – then pointed to a leather armchair, big enough to accommodate the half-giant’s bulk. Nevertheless, Hagrid sat down gingerly. Snape took the armchair opposite Hagrid’s.

"Tea? Something to eat?"

"Nah thanks."

Suddenly, Hagrid felt very awkward. His anger had evaporated. Since yesterday morning he had concentrated on arriving at the corner of Diagon Alley meeting Knockturn and seeing Severus Snape there. Now that he actually was sitting opposite the wizard, he felt at a loss what to say, how to express his feelings.

It did not really help that Snape watched him, elbows propped up on the armrests of the overstuffed chair, fingertips put together, dark eyes unreadable, obviously waiting for the half-giant to begin to speak.

Hagrid became aware that he had pushed himself into a corner by announcing that he wanted to give Snape a piece of his mind. He tried to read the expression in the wizard’s eyes, but could only find friendly attention.

He cleared this throat.

"Yeh look good. Hope yeh’re well," he said gruffly.

"Thank you, yes. And I can return the compliment."

"Nice shop," he said gruffly. "Yers?"


Wary as two Fanged Deer erefore they begin ter fight fer a doe ... Well, I guess it’s me as has ter come out o’ th’ thicket, or else we won’t be gettin’ anywhere, Hagrid thought. He contacts me as if ter explain things, and now he’s waitin’ fer me! Damn Slytherin manners!

His anger came back and made it easier to talk, to vent all his questions and emotions.

"I’d never have thought ter find yeh as a shopkeeper! And here! People know yeh. How d’ yeh manage all th’ time as people don’t recognise yeh? Th’ Potters and th’ Weasleys obviously didn’t. And why did I recognise yeh?"

"This is easy," Snape said. "It’s the best way of hiding: being visible and yet invisible. A person of average stature and height, with an ordinary face, neither young nor old. This is what my customers see."

"Seems ter work," Hagrid remarked. "How long have yeh bin here now?"

"Not long. I opened the shop five weeks ago."

Tha’s still a long time ter get settled in ...

"And where have yeh bin all th’ time?! It’s bin not five weeks, but five years. Five bloody years! And not a word."

Snape looked at him, his eyes still unreadable.

"I hesitated to involve you."

It might have been the short answer in the face of Hagrid’s reproach, or the calm attention with which Snape looked at the half-giant. Anyway, it was a spark flying into a keg filled with gunpowder. Hagrid exploded.

"A damned lot o’ good this did ter me! Worried sick I was! Yeh could’ve gotten yerself hurt or killed, fer fuckin’ Merlin’s sake! All th’ not-tellin’ an’ secrets an’ half-tellin an’ not-involvin’ – yeh can take it an’ stuff it where th’ sun don’t ever shine! I’m fed up wi’ this crap! By Salazar’s bloody bollocks, talk sense ter me fer once, Sev’rus Snape!"

He took a deep breath, convinced he now had spoiled everything. Snape would throw him out and exclude him from his life for good ...

Snape remained calm, but for a moment he closed his eyes as if in pain.

"I am sorry, Rubeus," he finally said quietly. "I know I hurt you, and I am sorry. Leaving you was not showing much gratitude for the care and trust you bestowed on me."

"Sev’rus –" Hagrid cleared his throat, surprised that he was still in Snape’s premises, and the wizard had not thrown him out. "I – I didn’t want ter berate yeh, it’s jes’ – I – I wished I could’ve helped yeh ter come ter terms with – with what yeh had ter do and see –" He broke off, only to begin anew. "I mean, maybe I’m not th’ person ter keep things secret – but – yeh’ve seen I can keep a secret – "

"Rubeus," Snape said quietly. "It was my fault. I pushed you aside – your patience with me, your generosity, your trust – You have every right to be cross with me. I am proud and stubborn, and, as much as I would have appreciated your help, I felt I had to face my guilt and shame alone."

Hagrid nodded. He knew from experience that sometimes it was better to be alone for a while to come to terms with certain events. Nevertheless, he also often had been grateful for a talk with a friend.

"Thought as much," he finally managed.

"In the Muggle world," Snape continued, "no one knew I had allegedly died, so I lived for a while as a Muggle. First in the town where Lily Evans and I grew up when we were children ... I visited my parents’ graves, and I managed to sell my house, Spinner’s End. Then I went back to the world of wizards. For a while, I stayed in Godric’s Hollow, hidden under the Noli Me Reminisce charms, again visiting graves ..."

Hagrid nodded again.

"Yeh told me. And in his last year at Hogwarts, Harry ‘s well told me about ‘t was yeh as gave th’ prophecy ter Voldemort, and yeh’ve bin regrettin’ it ever since. Dumbledore had told him."

An expression of pain slid over Snape’s face.

"I tried to live on ... then and now ... I had not been free in a long time, always serving two masters. And after a while I realised that in serving them, I had had a purpose in my life, which now was missing. The faces of the people I had to watch dying, pleading for my help, and me unable to save them, came back to haunt me ... I visited more graves ..." He paused.

"Sev’rus –" Hagrid put a hand on his arm. Snape looked up at him and put his other hand on Hagrid’s.

"Harry also said he never wanted ter have bin in yer shoes," the half-giant added.

"His own shoes were big enough," Snape answered. "I can understand that he has had enough and wants some peace and rest for his family. But not me ..."

"How’s tha’?" Hagrid asked. "Haven’t yeh found a little peace o’ mind at least?"

"I was restless. For a while, I felt unworthy of your friendship, Rubeus, let alone your love. And – damn it, you remember when the Death Eaters caught you in Crooked Alley? There were too many people, Rubeus, whom I saw in a situation like yours and whom, unlike you, I could not save. I – I never wanted to see you like this again – helpless, suffering. And I thought it was safest for you if I kept as much distance from you as possible This is why I went away and refused to involve you in my affairs."

Hagrid blinked. Severus Snape speaking of friendship, of love even in regard to him? He blinked again.

"Bollocks! Yeh could’ve told – I mean, shouldn’t I have a say in th’ matter as well?" he finally managed, but Snape lifted his hand to interrupt him.

"While I lived in the Muggle world, I met an old soldier who had served in their last World War," he continued. "And he told me exactly what I had found too: ‘When the war is over, and you begin to think for yourself, what you did comes back to haunt you. And nobody can take it away. You can only try to live with it.’ And this is what I try to do now."

Hagrid stroked Snape’s hand with his big callused thumb.

"I understand that yeh went ter th’ Muggle world and then came back ter see th’ graves and all. But how come yeh’re livin’ here in wizard London now? How come yeh’ve got a shop? Yeh called fer me. Where do I fit in now? How come yer Noli – whatchamacallit doesn’t work with me?"

There was a look in the dark eyes which with Severus Snape could pass for affection.

"You were always different, Hagrid. Some of my spells do not seem to work so well on you."

Hagrid nodded.

"Yeah, ‘s true. When I found yeh in th’ Shack, I suddenly remembered yeh’d saved me life in Crooked Alley years ago, although yeh put that fergetting spell on me!"

Snape smiled a little.

"I have thought about it. Maybe I wanted too much – to obliviate you, but at the same time to show you that I had not become a complete monster. You are dangerous, Hagrid. Because you feel – so much for me. And I – feel a lot for you. So maybe my feelings for you marred the spell. I cannot afford marred spells."

Hagrid cleared his throat and nervously shuffled his feet. Had he just heard that Severus Snape felt something for him? But on the other hand he affected the force of Snape’s spells? So what now?

"However - there is also a great strength in trust," Snape continued. "And whom should I trust more than someone who never said a bad word against me when everybody else judged me; looked for me when everybody else had left me? This is why I think I can and will no longer exclude you."

Hagrid cleared his throat again.


"I haven’t settled down," Snape said. "I only can find peace in helping to prevent further Voldemorts."

But th’ newly-opened shop?

For a moment, Hagrid was completely puzzled, then something began to dawn on him: The shop was just a cover, a facade.

"Th’ Mi – they know who yeh are? Yeh work - ?" he asked.

Snape smirked now.

"’They’, as you call them, know a man of average stature and height, with an ordinary face, neither young nor old. No one of them could ever describe, least of all recognise me. Only the wizard who employs me knows my true identity."

Hagrid stared into the fire, frowning.

"’tis dang’rous again, then?"

Snape became serious.

"I told you there are still people around who lust for power and terror. I try to help find them. A Muggle writer whose books once were burned in his home country said: ‘Life is always dangerous to live’. So if you choose to stay away from me, I could understand."

"But I want –"

"Think about it carefully, " Snape warned. " Even now you could leave, the shopkeeper of the Potions Shop at the Corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alley would vanish, and no one would even know there had been a shop and a shopkeeper. I could take on another identity. However, as I said, I no longer wish to exclude you. If you stayed with me, this would be very much – appreciated."

And Hagrid knew that this was what he had always wanted: to share Severus Snape’s life, to share dangers with him, to support him. Severus finally had decided to trust him fully, and this was a wonderful gift, the best gift, in fact, Hagrid had ever received.

Snape did not seem too astonished when he was swept into an enthusiastic embrace.

"There’s nothing more ter think about! I want ter be with yeh this time, and dangers be damned!"

"Brave, foolish Gryffindor!" Snape said sternly, but he did not fight the half-giant off when Hagrid kissed him. "You thought I had forgotten you? How could I actually forget you?"

"But –" Hagrid put the wizard back on his feet. "what if – yeh know, sometimes I might be sayin’ things I shouldn’t ‘ve said, yeh know ..." He trailed off, suddenly embarrassed.

Snape folded his arms and frowned at him.

"Did you tell anybody that I am alive? Did you tell anybody you sheltered me in your hut, cared for me when I was ill? Did you give away in the shop that you recognised me?"

"No," Hagrid answered truthfully, looking into Severus’s eyes. He felt the wizard scan his mind, as he had done a long time ago, and see that he had spoken the truth.

"So," Snape stated, "you are absolutely capable of keeping a secret."

"Yeh think so?"

"I’m positive." Snape nodded.

Hagrid took a deep breath. He was firmly resolved to honour the trust Severus put in him.

"So tha’s settled then? Good."

"You are more talented than you think," Snape continued. "Not too many people can call their Patronus wandless. And I’ll teach you many things – Legilimency, Occlumency –"

Hagrid put out a hand.

"Wait, wait, Sev’rus! I mean – yeah, I’d like ter learn all these things – but I’m jes’ a groundskeeper, I don’t have ter much of an education – and maybe – maybe I’m ter stupid ter get ev’rythin’ inter me head? I –"

Snape stopped the half-giant’s protests with a stern kiss.

"Remember? A long time ago you taught me what I wanted to know. Now I will teach you."

Finding new courage, Hagrid answered the kiss.

"I haven’t fergotten, Sev’rus."

The End

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