Le Baiser de la fee

Prologue.

 

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi

Dumbledore had hidden the mirror, as inexpertly as always, making sure his intended victim caught a glimpse against their will. Snape turned his face away, determined not to look, as he walked past into Dumbledore's office, but although he was stronger than most men, there was no one to see, and he knew what would show, it was always one of two options. The usual, cliché, irritating, frustrating, infuriating desperate desire for love or companionship, to which he would sneer or walk away, or, as he finally saw today, the landscape speeding below. England's green and pleasant lands swooping beneath him as he soared above. He took a step closer, and the image shimmered to water, his own face reflected back at him from gently rippling oceans, the surface of the lake, or a sea of unicorn blood. He sneered at his own face and turned away. It told him nothing he didn't already know.

 -oo0oo-

 

Le Baiser de la fee

(accue on the first e)

Prologue.

 

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi

Dumbledore had hidden the mirror, as inexpertly as always, making sure his intended victim caught a glimpse against their will. Snape turned his face away, determined not to look, as he walked past into Dumbledore's office, but although he was stronger than most men, there was no one to see, and he knew what would show, it was always one of two options. The usual, cliché, irritating, frustrating, infuriating desperate desire for love or companionship, to which he would sneer or walk away, or, as he finally saw today, the landscape speeding below. England's green and pleasant lands swooping beneath him as he soared above. He took a step closer, and the image shimmered to water, his own face reflected back at him from gently rippling oceans, the surface of the lake, or a sea of unicorn blood. He sneered at his own face and turned away. It told him nothing he didn't already know.

 

-oo0oo-

Logue. Chapter 1

How would Hogwart's function? All gathered on the grounds outside the old school, everyone was horrified at the ruling. The faculty argued and the children murmured in horror, and the noise level increased until the Ministry Representative used Sonorus to shout over all the noise. The magic dampener would be placed, and Hogwarts would be without magic until such time as Black was turned over to the Aurors that patrolled and stalked around the old building. Dumbledore fought with all of his verbal prowess. Any moment now the students expected him to hurl a hex on the intruders, but with a surprisingly soft fizzing sound, suddenly all the magic was put out like a candle. With such a small gesture, a thousand years of tradition were null and void, and Hogwarts was as dull and ordinary as any muggle school in the country. A weight like lead settled on their hearts and Trelawny fainted dramatically claiming her inner vision now blind.

The noise slowly changed, Snape felt himself at the epicentre of concentric circles of mutters and yelps and tiny horrified gasps. Fingers pointed and hands covered mouths with the stylised motions of a choreographed hand dance. The noises of protest over their loss of magic changed as all eyes turned towards him, and he really didn't need to hear Dumbledore calmly point out: "You've lost your glamourie, Severus."

Snape ducked his head slightly until his hair slid forward, hiding the rising tide of anger and shame and spun on his heel, stalking back towards the castle, the refuge of his dungeons calling cool and secretive.

The children were slower to move out of his path, fascination warring with fear, the attraction of his monstrous abnormality drawing them over the common sense that should have told them to stay away. Their whispers grew steadily louder, "Wings... Professor Snape's got wings..."

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter 2

"Severus, open the door, you can't stay in there forever. Everybody has already seen them, there's no point in trying to hide."

Snape ignored Dumbledore, he didn't care how logical the headmaster was being, Snape was staying in his rooms, doors locked. He unwrapped a box of chocolates and started to pick out liqueur centres, desultorily sucking out the liquids and dropping the chocolates' shells back in the box. The chocolates had been a bribe from one of the students (five points from Ravenclaw for the cheek!), not something he'd choose for himself. He did enjoy the sweetened liqueur though, and Hagrid would eat the shells later, as was their past habit.

Muttered curses reached his ears through the door, and he smirked to himself. No unlocking spell would work so there was no way the old wizard could enter unless Snape wanted to let him in. He could stay holed up down here indefinitely.

A low rumble caught his attention, and he watched in horror as the wall slowly started to buckle, the stones groaning as they were shifted inwards, collapsing and crumbling, until a hole about five foot round appeared.

Hagrid. Of course. Snape hadn't taken Hagrid into account.

"Sorry 'bout that, Sir, we were worried 'bout yeh."

"Thank you, Hagrid." Dumbledore clambered in through the hole, looking flustered and tired, and every one of his many many years. Snape wondered if the old man used little charms to give him vigour and he was feeling their loss or if he was simply feeling the pressure of having his school paralysed.

"The building is dying, Severus," Dumbledore said, sitting down heavily in one of Snape's hard wooden chairs. "I can feel it dying around me."

Severus listened, head cocked, trying to feel what Dumbledore could feel, but this school had been his enemy, something to be conquered, he'd never taken it into his soul like the headmaster had. It didn't flow through his veins, it beat against his brain, but he could hear ... nothing. Silence. The chatter of portraits, part of the background hum of the busy school, was silent, and Snape assumed the pictures were now as still and lifeless as muggle paintings. He wondered if they'd recover.

"This school was built by magic, not just stones and mortar," Dumbledore continued, his voice strained, "It wasn't meant to be stripped of that."

"How long will it last, headmaster?"

"I can't really say. The Ministry refuses to listen to reason. They say the danger represented by Black far outweighs any damage they are doing with this magic dampener."

"They are all idiots."

"Yes," Dumbledore agreed, distracted, and then looked up sharply, "Don't repeat that, Severus. I shouldn't have said that."

Snape laughed sharply, a quick bark of amusement, "You sound like Hagrid, Albus. You must be worried to make a mistake like that."

"I am only human, Severus," and just for a second a glint of the usual amusement was back in the old man's eyes.

"Unlike myself." Snape felt the flicker of humour fade.

"Ah yes," thoughtfully. "Please, come to dinner. It will only get worse if you let them gossip. Let them see you and get used to it. You have nothing to be ashamed of, my boy."

Tracing the patterns in the wood of his desktop with one sharp nail, Snape didn't answer. Facing a hall full of shocked faces, the giggling, the pointed fingers and whispers, he'd spent a life time hiding his affliction, now he was expected to walk out as if there was nothing wrong.

"I cooked, Severus. Surely it's worth coming out to make fun of my cooking," Dumbledore leaned in to offer temptingly.

"You cooked?" That was a surprise.

"A lot of the house elves have left us. Unfortunately it seems they were not as happy here as they had led us to believe. As soon as they were released from their magical bondage they left. Some have remained, of course. Some because they want to, some because they have no where else to go. I must admit to being surprised, I had no idea that they were genuinely unhappy here."

"More power to them," Snape said with a sneer. "I hope they cause havoc for the Ministry. As soon as they leave the grounds they'll have their power back, though, and they'll be trapped by other houses if they are not careful."

"They will have the protection of Hogwarts if they need it, and perhaps we should take Miss Granger's campaign a little more seriously once all this awful business has been sorted out. But, in the meantime, we have to take care of ourselves, and I, under the supervision of a number of students, have cooked. Please, join us."

Snape rose, and noted that even Dumbledore couldn't help but stare, although he looked away quickly, grabbed the box of half eaten chocolates and made his way out of the hole in the wall. Hagrid was waiting, patiently, on the other side, and Snape tried to hand him the box. But Hagrid just stood there, mesmerised, one massive hand partially extended.

"Sir, can I...?"

"No," Snape warned, voice low, thrust the chocolates into the invading hand, and stalked off up the stairs in Dumbledore's wake, listening to Hagrid's footsteps following along behind.

-oo0oo-

Chapter 3

The sound of children shouting, complaints about having to bring their own food from the kitchens, complaints about the food itself, and speculations about the future of the school, echoed around the great hall. It muffled a little as Dumbledore entered the room, but shut off altogether when Snape followed him. All eyes were upon the potions master, following his every move, the silence oppressive. He felt as though someone had cast a huge lumos over his head, sending banners and flags to point to him. 'Look at the freak! Look at the monster!'

Even the teachers at the head table stopped to gawk, openly staring as he strode into the room and glared at them before dropping to his seat. Only Trelawny showed no surprise. She was a master at pretending she already knew what others did not. "I always saw..." She trailed off at his killing glare. Whatever she saw obviously wasn't worth facing his ire.

Hagrid plunked himself down in the chair next to him, abnormally quiet. Usually Hagrid would be chattering to him about his usual inanities, laughing cheerily at Snape's insults, but today he just sat, his hand still partially extended towards Snape's wings, rivetted. "Can yeh actually fly, Professor?" The first words spoken since Snape had entered the room dropped like pebbles into the silence.

Pitching his voice too low for the others to hear, "Of course I can. I simply choose not to."

Dumbledore stood and clapped his hands, trying to distract the students. "Everybody eat up! The third year Hufflepuffs and myself spent a lot of time preparing your dinner tonight, so make sure you eat every scrap! The table that leaves the most food at the end of dinner washes up. And that, my friends, includes the teacher's table."

The meal was absolutely disgusting. Every single dish was desert. Under Dumbledore's supervision, the Hufflepuffs had created a feast that featured a sweet watery stew in which Smarties and lumps of half-dissolved chocolate frogs floated, some kind of salad made predominantly from flower petals and many flavoured jellies, and a layer cake which appeared to be made of layers of everything the other students had made previously, scrapped up, mashed, and served with custard and cream.

Snape picked at some bread, which was yellow and also suspiciously sweet, and tried to tune out the others. So many whispers and quite a few sniggers. The staff and students were quite used to strange, wondrous, or downright weird happenings at Hogwarts, but this revelation was certainly something to gossip about. He knew his own behaviour was adding fuel to the fire as well, that acting shamefaced and guilty was creating even more suspicion, but he could not shake the feeling of having had his whole self identity ripped away, his entire life so unwillingly changed.

 

LEAD INTO SCENE WITH BLACK 

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter Four

Interview scene

 

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter Five

Snape sat exactly where he'd been while being interviewed by the Ministry officials. He drooped forward and let his hair cover his face. The wings felt like a pack of lead on his back, pushing him down.

The floors trembled a little under Hagrid's slow ponderous footsteps, as the half-giant carefully approached and pulled two chairs over to sit down.

"Did they take yer wand away?"

Snape nodded, "No non-human creature may carry a wand." He couldn't keep the edge of despair from his voice.

"Yeh should've said yer half human. They'll still investigate yeh, they keep check of yeh and that, but yeh at least get some rights." Hagrid paused as if hoping for a response, then continued when there wasn't any. "Like, I'm not allowed teh vote or do advanced magic, but yeh can still get an education and do some charms and stuff if yer at least half human. Anyway, are they goin' teh let yeh continue teh teach?"

"They haven't decided yet." Snape could hear the thread of frustration in his own voice.

"But yeh've been teaching all these years, surely they won't stop yeh?"

"They want to know what I am. I can't tell them, and unless they can classify me as non-dangerous with confidence, they don't want to be to blame if I run amok and eat some of the children."

"Oh, surely they know yeh wouldn't do that!"

"I was making a joke, Hagrid. Admittedly, very lame."

"Oh yeah. Ha ha..." Hagrid's attempt to laugh fell as flat as Snape's attempt at humour.

"They just don't want to take any chances on an apparently unknown species. I'm in limbo until they make a decision."

"After all yer years of service..."

"My past works against me, Hagrid."

"Ah yes, I can see that it would."

"They feel that perhaps my inclination towards certain... proclivities in the past, may have been influenced by the possibility of my being a 'dark creature'."

"Yer no more a dark creature than I am, Sevrus."

"True. But look how much you are trusted by those that don't know you, 'half-giant'."

"Yes, there is that." Hagrid spoke matter-of-factly.

"How do you stand it, Hagrid? I've spent my entire life in hiding, trying to avoid this, and yet you always seem content."

"Used to it, I guess. I was born half-giant. I'll die half-giant. I jus think we all make the best with what we're given."

"I have never made the best of things, as you know."

"That's true. Yer more prone to bashing into stone walls 'ead on, Sir."

"No need to Sir me now, Hagrid. I'm no more a sir now than a house elf."

"I like the house elves. 'ard workers, all of them."

"As if they have a choice."

"Well, they've got a choice now. As long as they don't leave the grounds of Hogwarts, they're free of any magical bindings. If they leave, they can get caught by someone and put back inteh service."

"Where are they hiding?"

"Jus round the edges of the Forbidden Forest. The centaurs are protecting them. No one will find 'em without magic."

"When the magic dampener is removed, they'll be recaptured, put back into service."

"They won't mind then, they'll probably come back by theirselves anyway."

"No more free will. I suppose they'll 'make the best of it' then?" Snape looked up and was gratified to see Hagrid drop his eyes and shuffle, embarrassed.

"They're protected here, well treated," Hagrid justified.

"Protected from humans. Well treated compared to what?"

"Yeh can't fight all of the humans, Sevrus. If yeh thought yeh could change the way things were, yeh wouldn'tve spent yer whole life in hiding now, would yeh."

Snape gave Hagrid a sharp look. "No, you're right."

"So what're yeh goin' teh do?"

"I've spent so long avoiding the issue, I've not made any contingency plans. I dare say I'll just have to wait and see what the Ministry decides."

"If they say yeh can't teach any more, what'll yeh do?"

"Again, it depends. I may be remanded to their care for 'study'." Snape kept his voice even, but he had no intention of allowing that to happen. He didn't care to discuss his possibilities with Hagrid though. Bless the man, he couldn't keep a secret no matter how many lives depended on it.

Hagrid sat up a little straighter, looking determined. "If that happens, I'll stop it."

"And how do you propose to do that? As you just said, we can't change the way things are."

"I'm the Magical Creatures teacher 'ere, I'll claim yeh come under my care."

"I'm not one of your 'creatures'!"

"Better'n being of their experiments, Sev. And Dumbledore'll stand up for yeh."

"How many times can he be expected to step in on my behalf before it ceases to have any effect."

"As many times as it takes, Sev, yeh know that. He's even more stubborn than yerself!"

"He's had a lot more practice."

"I've an idea," Hagrid leaned forward, eagerly, till their heads were nearly level, "'ave yeh told 'em what yeh are yet?"

"I don't know what I am, Hagrid. I've been like this for as long as I can remember, and I've always tried to hide it."

"Yeh could say that, perhaps, yer gran were a Harpy. That way yeh've explained the wings, but yeh can claim to be at least three quarters human. That'd get yeh yer rights back!"

"That's actually not such a bad idea, Hagrid," Snape admitted, grudgingly. He was annoyed he hadn't thought of something like that himself.

"It'd explain yer demeanour, too."

Snape's eyes narrowed dangerously, "My what?"

"Yer demeanour. You know, how mean yeh are."

Trying not to laugh in Hagrid's face, "That's not what demeanour means, Hagrid."

"Oh, sorry. I try'n pick these things up from what people say."

"From context."

"Yes, and you know, people say yeh have a sullen demeanour."

"I do."

"So..." Hagrid trailed off. "Anyway, that'd explain it."

"They already asked me what I am, and I've already told them I don't know."

"So now yeh go back and say yeh lied. Not too many folks'd be proud to have a Harpy in their family tree."

"Sitting on a high branch of said tree shitting on people, no doubt."

Hagrid laughed briefly, but heartily, "That's the spirit, Sev!" Then he went on, more thoughtfully, "Er...actually, they do that, though. Yeh gotteh wear a hat when dealing with Harpies. Beautiful plumage though. Very nice people once yeh get past their habit of hurling abuse. It's just a defence mechanism and all."

Snape could feel his shoulders start to shake with surprised laughter, but had a horrible feeling it was a shock reaction, rather than his usual involuntary reactions to Hagrid's earnest attempts to cheer him up. He damped down the reactions and took a deep breath.

"Yeh all right there, Sev?"

"You always could make me smile, Hagrid."

"I don't think I've ever seen yeh smile, Sev, not happy like, less it was at someone else's expense," Hagrid said thoughtfully. "Not fer a long time anyway, not since yeh were a little 'un."

"On the inside."

"Oh... somethin' else yeh hide, then?"

"I dare say so." Snape got up and walked over to the window. Peering out, he could see quite a few students on the grounds. Not many classes could be conducted without magic, and the school had become nothing more than a glorified babysitting service. Many parents had taken their children out of the school, worried about the possibility of having a mass murdering lunatic on the grounds. Some of the children below were peering up at the window and pointed at him. He raised a hand to put an 'obfuscate' charm on the glass before remembering it wouldn't work, and just stepped back instead.

He could just see the trees and the sky at this angle and kept one ear on Hagrid's cautious approach.

"All of yer friends will support yeh, Sev."

"You and Dumbledore."

"Me and Dumbledore. Probably Hooch and Flitwick, too. Neither of them are fully human, as yeh know. Lupin's been there, although I think he feels this is, er, poetic justice after the way yeh've treated him in the past."

"That's not surprising, Hagrid. All things considered." Snape smirked quietly to himself.

"If there's anything I can do for yer..."

"Yes, there is."

Hagrid looked up eagerly, taking a step closer, always absolutely thrilled to be able to help someone. "What can I do for yeh?"

"Put your arms around me."

"Eh? Just...?"

"Just put your arms around me."

Hagrid leaned forward cautiously, as if worried Snape would turn and bite. Snape felt as if he was being treated like Hagrid's other dangerous creatures, he approached with such care. Snape stood still, and kept looking out the window as Hagrid leaned in, making a cautious circle of his arms around Snape's upper body, encompassing the folded wings, until his hands met on the other side, near Snape's right biceps. He stayed still, barely breathing, his face down near Snape's cheek, and patiently waited, his arms barely touched, barely made contact with Snape's shoulders, as if the slightest pressure could crush bone or damage feather, or bruise pale, barely opaque skin.

Standing very still and staring over the grounds, Snape was careful not to move or flinch as Hagrid complied with his request. He waited a long time, but didn't find the answer he was looking for.

"Thank you, Hagrid, that will be all. You may remove your arms now." He moved away as Hagrid stood, stretching his back from the awkward angle of bending down to Snape's height.

"What were that all fer, Sev?" Hagrid asked.

Walking to the door, Snape said, "I just wondered what all the fuss was about." He left the room to see if the Ministry had decided on a course of action.

-oo0oo-

Chapter 6

 

"Apparently, they are having some difficulties," Dumbledore apologised on behalf of the Ministry officials, his words more an attempt to break the silence in the staff room than to actually impart any real information.

"They haven't come to a decision yet?" Snape sat, wings carefully arranged around the back of his chair and sipped at luke warm tea.

Lupin butted in, "They won't come to a final decision this quickly, Severus, they never do. They like to be cautious. As you're something that, to the best of my knowledge, remains unclassified, this will take even longer than usual."

"The Ministry isn't know for moving fast, not when they can inconvenience someone to an even greater extent by taking their own sweet time," Snape refused one of Dumbledore's proffered sweets with a sharp gesture.

"What I want to know," Lupin leaned forward in his chair, expression almost belligerent, is why you give me such a lot of guff over being a werewolf, when you're obviously not human yourself!"

"My opinion of you stands," Snape said coolly. "My current situation does nothing to change my past experiences or outlook."

"But Severus, we're in the same boat here."

"No, we are not. Our situations are nothing alike. You are regarded as a human being living with a condition that may cause you to become a danger to society. You are accorded full writes with some restrictions. My situation is the complete opposite; I am guaranteed no rights at all. If I hadn't stayed hidden it is highly unlikely I would have been allowed to have an education or obtain my current position at Hogwarts."

"I still don’t see why you have to give me such grief over being a werewolf, considering..."

"I could hardly show undue sympathy, could I. Use your brain. You're not stupid, and I should not have to explain things that should be obvious to even-" Snape bit off his words, realising the last thing he needed to do right now was alienate further anyone who could be a possible ally. Lupin was hardly a friend, but he was a fair man, Snape conceded, and could be a possible cohort in any future difficulties. "Besides which, it's a weakness, and an appropriate target in our on going disagreements."

"In other words, you enjoyed haranguing me about it."

"In so many words... yes."

"It's a shame this situation didn't also reveal you as a decent... person."

"You were going to say 'decent human being'."

"It's a turn of phrase. And, to quote you, my opinion stands."

Dumbledore, who had been watching their intercourse with some tentative amusement, raised a hand for them to be silent. "I believe our visitors have finished their deliberations and will be joining us shortly, gentlemen. Perhaps a unified front would be in order at this time."

A short imperious knock signified the arrival of their guests, and Dumbledore waved the door open. The Ministry representative, Mr Wiffle, accompanied by a handful of assistants and Professor McGonagall entered.

Snape stood, shuffling and spreading his wings a little, trying to appear nonchalant. He noted that one of the assistants, a young mousie-haired man who appeared to have only recently outgrown his acne, swallowed nervously as Snape moved and dropped his eyes. Probably religious, Snape thought, and filed the observation away. The religious could be exploited, as he had learned in his youth. Mr Wiffle and the other assistant, a rather sinuous woman who's hair was pulled so tightly into a bun that it stretched her eye brows up into a somewhat permanently surprised expression, looked both irritable and accusatory.

"You," Mr Wiffle pointed at Snape, "were told to hand over your wand."

"As I did." Snape said, shortly.

"This," Wiffle waved a short black wand at Snape, "is no wand! Miss Birch has studied wand magic with Olivander himself, and assures me that this is not a wand!"

"It is nothing but a twig that has been inexpertly painted black!" Miss Birch sounded quite affronted that someone would try to deceive her.

"Yes, that's true," Snape conceded, grinding his teeth, "but it has served me perfectly well as a wand for many years. Wands are, after all, nothing more than twigs with animal parts inserted. I simply skipped the process of inserting a part of a dead animal into it."

"I suppose there is evidence that this has been used in magic, it carries a lot of magical vibration," Miss Birch conceded reluctantly. "But it is certainly not a wand."

Wiffle continued, "Mr Snape," he ignored Snape's wince at the use of 'Mr', "you are obligated to turn over your wand until such time as..."

"That is my wand," Snape ground out. "I have no other."

"But..."

"When I first received notice that I had been accepted to Hogwarts I already knew full well that Olivander was very thorough in his assessments of customers who wished to purchase his wands. I did not wish to have him accidentally uncover my... condition. I simply bypassed the wand-purchasing requirement and painted a stick. I have managed quite well without one, although it has necessitated my specialisation in non-wand type magics and teaching myself certain compensatory skills."

"You can do wandless magic?" Miss Birch attempted to narrow her eyes, unsuccessfully.

"To an extent, yes, although with as much lack of ease as any other wizard. It takes a great deal more effort and focus."

"I'm not sure there's much point in confiscating a stick," waffled Mr Wiffle. "But we must observe protocol." He placed it carefully in a small box and secreted it upon his person.

Miss Birch leaned to whisper, quite loudly, at her boss, "If he can do wandless magic... we need to take that into consideration. He could be even more dangerous than we were previously discussing."

"I ddddon't think he's ddddangerous," the until now silent member of their party spoke up.

"What makes you say that, Dogwood?" the Minister asked.

"I just think," Dogwood quailed a little, "I just think he's not dddddangerous."

Miss Birch sneered, a good impression of Snape himself, "Just because he has done nothing dangerous recently, does not mean that he has not been a threat to the wizarding community in the past, nor that he may not be dangerous again in the future."

Snape met her eyes as she glared at him, fully aware that she was referring to his Death Eater past.

"Bbbbbut, he's an angel."

Even Snape himself was hard pressed not to laugh at the young man's earnest declaration, and he could sympathise with Birch's derisive snort. He was sure even Dumbledore was disguising a chuckle as a sneeze.

"Young Dogwood," Wiffle put on his most pompous voice, "Angels are simply a muggle invention. Muggle artists invented the angel in the form of a human with wings in the 15th century. Prior to that they were disembodied voices. Prior to that they were nothing more than flashing lights and distorted visions, nothing more than severe migraines that caused visual hallucinations. I do believe our subject here is a little more tangible than a migraine!"

"But he's certainly a pain," mumbled Lupin.

"Bbbbut..."

"If you can't be sensible, be quiet, Dogwood." Miss Birch snapped.

"Headmaster Dumbledore," Mr Wiffle smiled pleasantly, "I do thank you for your time and access to the school. We will probably have to do some further investigations, with your permission, but we should have a decision in due course. I hope that we may have your continued co-operation in case we need to do any further examinations?"

"Mine? Of course. But it is Professor Snape that you need ask. Not myself."

"Of course."

Snape noted that Wiffle did not even turn to look at him as he spoke.

"Further, Mr Wiffle, may I assume that the Professor may continue to teach? We simply cannot replace him, we have no one on staff or available who can teach potions. And at this time, while the school is suffering such imposed difficulties, we really do need his competence."

"I don't think he should be allowed to interact with the children until we know..."

"Mr Wiffle, Professor Snape has been interacting with the children for many many years, without incident. I give you my word that he will continue to be the responsible and efficient teacher than he has always been."

Staring at the carpet, Snape fumed a little, he felt humiliated on behalf of Dumbledore for having to beg for Snape's position. But he knew it wasn't the first time the headmaster had put himself in this position. He hoped it didn't happen again anytime soon. He hated this feeling of being beholden to someone, relying on their good will and charity. At least it wasn't the awful burning shame that had come with his big mistake. This he couldn't help.

"As long as there are no difficulties," Wiffle gave Snape a side long glance, "then I see no reason why not."

"And can I ask when the dampener will be removed?"

"We still have reason to believe that Black is being harboured here," Wiffle's eyes flickered again, this time to Lupin. "Until we think the school is save, our investigators and the dampener will have to remain. The Ministry apologies most humbly for the inconvenience and hopes to resolve the situation as soon as possible. The Ministry has no desire to interrupt the students' education any more than necessary." It was a well-rehearsed piece of Ministerial guff.

The Minister and his assistants took their leave then, Dogwood still casting entranced glances at Snape. After they left, Lupin stepped forward and addressed Dumbledore, his voice troubled, "They know. They know he's here. Why haven't they found him yet?"

"Because he's not here anymore," Dumbledore said with a Snape-worthy smirk, eyes twinkling. "I know more about magic than those old duffers," he said of people a hundred or more years younger than himself. "I am not about to let something happen to one of my own."

"One of your group of misfits and misbegottens," Lupin grinned.

"As you say, but I do hope to give the Ministry a little to think about shortly. Now, it has been a very stressful day for our Severus, I'm certain. Perhaps we should all go and get some dinner, then retire. I do believe the Slytherins have prepared dinner for us tonight, Severus, let us go see what your children have created."

"I'm sure it will be... memorable," Snape conceded with a slight moue of distaste, allowing Dumbledore to place a hand on his folded forarm and lead him from the room.

Behind him, he could hear Lupin mutter, "A stick?"

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter 7

I

 

-oo0oo-

 

 

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter 8

 

Soothing. Calming. A moment to gather his sanity and find a centre of calm. A moment to himself, doing nothing for anyone else, not thinking of anyone else. No one else's desires or needs or wants intruding into his psyche. Something that had to be done, but something that was a quiet unassuming pleasure to do. From base to tip, Snape worked his long fingers through his wings. Spreading oil from the tiny glands over each feather, smoothing each pinion into place.

He ignored his audience, just sat on his bed and groomed his wings, studiously shutting out the silent watcher in the doorway. He would talk to no one until each and every feather had been oiled and smoothed, and tiny imperfections combed out. The black feathers shone as he finished with each one, shuffling and shifting them until they lay in a perfect black sheen, an iridescence of greens and blues, shimmers of a rainbow in wing oil.

A bath, a preen, a clean night-shirt, then he'd be almost relaxed enough to sleep, if he could just stop brooding over recent events. He was not overly pleased to have a visitor at this time of the evening, even one who stood and patiently waited to be acknowledged.

"Now that you have pushed down the outer wall, you now feel you have the right to come and go without knocking?"

"Sorry, Sev. Didn't mean teh interrupt yeh. That were interestin' to watch though."

"What did you want," Snape kept his voice soft, he did not want to snap at Hagrid. If he got too upset, he'd be unable to get to sleep for hours.

"I worked out what yeh meant when yeh asked me to put me arms round yeh."

"I meant exactly what I said."

"Mebbe, but yeh didn't get what yeh wanted."

"I got what I asked for."

"What yeh asked for, wasn't what yeh wanted."

Snape stood up, looking for a robe to cover his night-shirt. He could feel the edge of irritation starting, and searched for something to distract him from the irritation of this circular argument with Hagrid. In his earnest honesty contrasting with his desire not to cause offence, Hagrid could talk in circles long beyond Snape's tolerance for double talk.

"Yeh've never been able teh let anyone touch yer, have yer."

"No."

"If they'd got too close, they'd 'ave felt yer wings."

"Yes." Where the hell had he put his robe?

"What 'appens, if someone touches 'em accidentally?"

"Obliviate."

"Oh. What about when yer were little?"

"Do you remember every moment from when you were born?"

"No. No I don't."

"Neither do I."

"So, far as you know, no one's ever touched yeh."

"Not often. It's uncomfortable. I simply cannot allow anyone to get too close to me." Snape realised his robe was back in the bathroom. He didn't want to walk out on Hagrid mid conversation. He hoped Hagrid wasn't bothered by talking to someone wearing nothing but a night-shirt.

"Makes sense. Couldn't let 'em find out what yer were. I guess that's why yeh can be so snippy, too. Yeh'd keep people at a distance that way."

"No. I'm just unpleasant."

Snape gave Hagrid a sideways glare as the other man stifled a small chuckle, trying to make it sound like a cough.

"Anyway, Sev. I was thinking-"

"I wondered what that odd noise was."

"I was thinking," Hagrid repeated, ignoring his comment, "about what yer asked fer. And I reckon I can do better."

"You did perfectly well, Hagrid. As we have already discussed, you did exactly what I asked for."

Hagrid moved over, standing closer, and made a move as if to lay a hand on Snape's shoulder.

Snape turned away sharply, and sat on his bed again. "I am tired, Hagrid. You may leave now. We will see each other in the morning, no doubt, and you can continue your ridiculous observations regarding my inability to make myself understood then."

Dragging one of Snape's heavy old bedroom chairs behind him, Hagrid followed Snape across the room, put the chair by the bed, and plonked himself down so they faced each other. The chair creaked and groaned, staggering a little under the unaccustomed weight, before digging its feet into the carpet for purchase.

"Good night, Hagrid," Snape said firmly. He was starting to feel that Hagrid had been taking far too many liberties lately. Perhaps he'd leaned on Hagrid for support once too often, or Hagrid had misinterpreted Snape's lack of insults as a pretence of friendship. As Hagrid leaned close, black eyes intent, Snape made a note to nip this misapprehension in the bud, before Hagrid decided they were best of friends, comrades in their non-humanness. Snape did not need a support group of freaks and misfits anymore than he'd needed the care and attentions of normal humans when he'd been masquerading as one.

Hagrid leaned over, one hand extended, and very slowly ran a finger down the side of Snape’s face.

Snape jerked away, frowning, "What do you think you are doing?" his voice deceptively soft.

"All creatures need teh be touched, Sev. That’s basic psychology."

"Psychology? Rather a large word for you, don’t you think?" Snape said, leaning back and curling a lip in disdain.

"Now yer jus insultin me cause yer nervous, but yeh don’t have teh be," Hagrid ran his fingers down the other side of Snape’s face, forcing him to lean the other way to avoid it. "Creatures don’t develop right if they don’t get touched." Hagrid continued. "Babies brains don’t develop and we all get problems bein social with each other if we’re cut off like that."

Snape reached out and pushed at Hagrid’s hand, trying to knock it away. "I dare say you read that in Horrible Monsters Monthly Magazine."

"Somethin like that, yes," Hagrid said agreeably, frustrating Snape’s attempts to deflect him with an argument. Squirming to get away from Hagrid’s gentle patting, Snape leaned away from the hand that was trying to stroke his hair, "Well I am not one of your..." and leaned right into the hand that came outside of his peripheral vision and stroked up his arm, moving slowly over his shoulder until the large blunt fingers touched the base of one wing.

"I bet yeh’ve never let anyone touch yeh there," Hagrid murmured, gently rubbing the spot.

Snape stopped his squirming, "Not willingly, no." He held himself very still and focusesed on the worn lapel of Hagrid’s coat. He fought hard against the ingrained habit of pushing someone away and concentrated on the touch, on the warm, and the gentle circular motions Hagrid was making with his fingertips. Snape knew he carried a lot of tension in his shoulders, even more so than the high levels he carried everywhere else. He’d wondered what it would feel like to have the tension addressed in non-magical ways and this was the perfect opportunity to study the phenomena.

Firm fingers slid down over his shoulder blades, rubbed a small circle, then back up and over the base of his wings, pushing with the lie of the feathers, then gently back up to the base of Snape’s skull to repeat the same small, circling motion, a few long black hairs snagging on callused skin. Fingertips moved down again, rubbing the path back down towards the base of Snape’s wings, tangling with the complicated fastenings Snape used on his clothing to accommodate his different body shape. The ribbons detached from the base of his neck so Hagrid’s hands could rub over bare skin. Big hands covered his shoulder blades easily, the same pathway of movement repeated over and over, pushing the night-shirt down and out of the way.

Snape’s hands drifted to rest on Hagrid’s arms and he half closed his eyes to better focus on the unfamiliar sensations, leaning into the touch. Hagrid’s fingertips were warm and dry, but his own skin was becoming slightly moist, a tiny sheen of sweat followed the heated touch, mixing with the wing oil Hagrid was picking up as he rubbed carefully over the freshly preened feathers, so that Hagrid’s hands flowed easier with his petting. The touch was unusual, almost alien, and Snape catalogued the sensation of his muscles twitching in protest before they relaxed, almost unwillingly, under the tender ministrations.

The sound of his own breathing startled him, far too loud, and he jumped up off the bed, pushing at Hagrid to move him back. He grabbed the loose night-shirt to stop it falling further down and walked into the bathroom adjoining. Leaning his face against the cool tiles he waited until muffled sounds from outside indicated Hagrid had left.

 

 

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter 9

 

 

-oo0oo-

Chapter 10

"Yeh don't hardly weigh a thing!" Hagrid firmed his grip around Snape's hips, lifting him up easily. "Go on, fly!"

"No," Snape hung, somewhat limp, and increasingly irritable.

Hagrid lifted him again, up and down, like a proud parent with a small child. "Fly! Go on, just flap yer pretty wings!"

"No. Put me down, you great oaf!" Snape's voice was calm. Like the outgoing tide in front of a tsunami. His light hollow bones and Hagrid's strength meant that he was being lifted with virtually no effort on Hagrid's part, the big hands covered the width of his hips and didn't dig in, but it was nevertheless extremely annoying to be hefted and held aloft like a small child by an overly proud parent.

He hissed in involuntary surprise as Hagrid stopped merely lifting him, and gave him a little heave into the air, and flapped instinctively before he dropped and was caught again.

"There yer go! Yer flapping beautifully!" Hagrid said, beaming broadly, still walking backwards as if he could get Snape to launch like a kite.

"Do that again, and I shall be forced to aaark!" he was gently tossed once more, and flapped vigorously as he dropped the few feet down. "I shall do you a mischief, Hagrid!"

"Heh heh, I'd like teh see yeh try!" Hagrid said cheerfully, taking more careful steps backwards.

"Just because I cannot do magic, does not mean I cannot aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrk stop that!" Snape fluttered and flapped and tried to get enough altitude to get away from his well-meaning friend's attempts to get him airborne. "I cannot take off from a standing start! I am not a fairy! You will cease this attempt to throw me into the aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark I am going to hex you into next week, Hagrid!"

Hagrid was laughing heartily, a suspicious glint of tears in his eyes, "Look at it this way, Professor, it's all good exercise for yer wings! Help yeh develop yeh flight muscles. I dare say yeh've hardly 'ad a chance teh fly in years!"

Snape growled under his breath and cursed his inability to turn Hagrid into an orang-utan and braced himself for yet another well meaning toss. "This is an utterly farcical turn of events," he said coolly, watching Hagrid's utterly fixated expression. "You will regret this, you know."

"I'm sure yeh'll make certain o' that, Sev, but it's about time someone 'ad some fun with yeh. Lighten yeh up a bit. Yeh've kept everyone at bay for so long, now yeh can join the rest of us down here on waaah!" Just as he heaved Snape up into the air once more, his step found nothing behind it, and Hagrid fell backwards, hard, sloshing mud and water upwards in a spray that covered a radius of nearly 10 feet around him, landing deep in a deep cold wet puddle.

Fluttering to the ground with an awkward thud, Snape said, "I told you that you'd regret it."

"Yeh saw that comin', didn't yeh," Hagrid said, clambering to his feet, dripping mud, shaking it from his hands ineffectually. "Yeh could see that I were goin' teh do that, and yeh just let me!"

"Of course." Snape crossed his arms and cocked his head and tried not to smirk too overtly.

"Right," Hagrid took a step towards him, frowning. "So, yeh think that's funny, then."

Snape took a couple of steps backwards. "I think it's fair comeuppance."

"We'll see about that. Let's see what yeh think about gettin' a mud bath yerself!"

Back peddling sharply, "You wouldn't dare!"

"Oh, wouldn't I?" Hagrid advanced quickly, unhurried strides eating up the distance between them, dripping heavily.

Turning, Snape hurried away, trying to keep his retreat dignified, but a glance over his shoulder showed Hagrid had picked up speed, grinning wickedly, an unholy glint in his beetle black eyes. Snape started to run flat out across the grounds, trying to get back towards the castle, but he could hear the thunderous sound of Hagrid's running, his much longer legs closing the distance quickly. A mud bath wouldn't do him any damage, but he did not need one more wounding of his dignity at this time. Besides, he could feel just a hint of updraft as he ran, and, spreading his wings slightly, felt a slight lift. He dropped his upper body and spread a little wider and glided a short distance, still running, although his feet didn't touch the ground.

"Yes! That's the way!" Hagrid shouted, and Snape slowed a little, feet touching the ground again, turning to watch Hagrid beaming at him. Hagrid then turned off the beam and scowled, "I'm comin' teh get yer," and ran towards him again.

Running again, Snape picked up speed, spread his wings and again glided across the grounds, there was not enough lift to get fully airborne, but he could out distance Hagrid at this speed and avoid an undignified mud bath. He swooped carefully sideways and landed awkwardly near the castle doors, running, arms, waving, nearly falling on his face to maintain his balance.

Several small faces peered out, laughing in a mixture of delight at the flight and mockery of his clumsy landing. He glared at them, revealed his teeth in a perfect snarl and they backed off quickly. He did not need magic to terrorise the tiny idiots. They were still afraid of him, afraid of the horrible potions master, and afraid of the unexplained creature he might be.

Hagrid came puffing in behind him a few moments later, lungs going like bellows, "That were brilliant, Sev!" he sung out cheerfully. Snape sniffed scornfully and tucked his robes and wings around himself, closed in and contained. He turned to go down to his dungeons once more, but was scooped up in Hagrid's enthusiasm, "That were bloody brilliant!" and a huge wet hug. He was lifted off the ground and swung around, then put back neatly on his feet.

He stepped back and looked down at himself, "Hagrid, you great idiot! You've absolutely covered me in mud and filth!"

"Yes. That'll learn yeh," Hagrid said cheerfully, and trundled away.

-oo0oo-

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

Snape could hear the footsteps following along behind, he could feel the eyes burning into the back of his head, and he knew that a jaunty grin would proceed a sarcastic comment any moment now.

"Bock bock bock..." Sirius clucked quietly behind him, "So how goes it, you big black chicken?"

Turning suddenly, Snape felt one of his wings connect solidly with Black's head, knocking him flat on his arse. "Oh, sorry, Sirius," said Snape with a smirk, "you know us chickens, awfully clumsy birds."

Sitting up and rubbing his head, Black rejoined pissly, "Oh, go lay an egg."

 Sylphs

 

<