Teaching the Language of Harpies

Bernice

Sequel to Learning the Language of Harpies, beta by Melpemone.

“I love you, yeh know that, Severus?” Hagrid said, full of good will and several pints of mulled mead.

“Yes, yes, you’ve said that before. Now stop. Not in public,” Snape spat, annoyed as he was once against anointed with Hagrid’s affection and spilled wine. But it was too late to stop Hagrid’s words, and although this was not the coming out Snape would have wanted, he was at least pleased to have been prepared for Hagrid’s unavoidable outburst, and had his face schooled to indifference as the rest of the staff at their table looked round with amused disbelief that changed to horror or outrage as Hagrid descended to place an overly affectionate smooch on the top of Snape’s head.

Someone gasped, and someone giggled, and someone spilled a glass of butterbeer that spread over the table and dripped onto everyone’s laps. Hagrid was not the only one who’d imbibed a great deal at their celebratory slap up nosh at Madame Rosmerta’s that evening.

“You… You two?” someone squeaked.

“Yes, Severus has consented teh be my…” Hagrid paused to find a word, “squeeze!”

Snape oofed as Hagrid demonstrated the squeeze.

“Calm down, you great oaf,” he hissed. “I hardly think this is the place for that kind of behaviour!”

Hagrid looked properly chastised and let him go, sniffling a little into his mead.

Snape had to admit, this was probably a new record for him, being able to bring that many happy, celebrating people to an abrupt, uncomfortable silence, in just a few seconds. Even Dumbledore didn’t know where to look, and everyone was happy when someone made excuses about lesson plans to organise, which gave them an opening for ‘quidditch in the morning’, ‘family commitments’, or just ‘mumble mumble’ then everyone shot out the door as if Snape and Hagrid had declared mutual leprosy.

They walked back to Hogwarts together in silence, and Hagrid quietly nursed his hangover all the next day.

-oo0oo-

"Hagrid, if you ever cheat on me, attempt to cheat on me, or even think about cheating on me, I will kill you, do you understand?"

"Yes, Severus," Hagrid said, trying not to grin at the strident man who glared down at where Hagrid was sitting, minding his own business and reading a book. "Did yeh jes' come in teh tell me that?"

"No. Also, I will kill whomsoever you cheat or attempt to cheat with. And that includes that Madame Maxime, should she decide to come sniffing around here. I've already made it known to the Headmaster that she is not to be invited back for any more interschool 'co-operations'." Snape put a disgusted emphasis on the word 'co-operations' as if it was a synonym for adultery, "and I have requested he send a communication to her expressing the same."

"Righto, then. Salt the Earth where they fall 'n' all, I s'pose?"

"Salt the Earth," Snape nodded, a small crack in his anger flitting about his lips.

"I'll keep that in mind then, Sev. I'll make sure that any o' my hundreds of potential suitors know how the wind blows and all that. Save 'em from pinin' away with unrequited longings and such like. S'only fair."

"Indeed." Snape nodded brusquely, a lip twitching in a way that said 'I am sneering in contempt, not trying to hide a laugh', and strutted away, nose in the air.

-oo0oo-

The staffroom door slammed open, bouncing off the wall, but Snape didn't bother to apologise when Professor Flitwick jumped out of his chair, startled. Snape merely nodded politely, "Professor."

Flitwick shuffled sideways, patting down his robes as if looking for something, his eyes darting nervously around the room.

"Severus," he said, nodding. "Yes. Well."

Snape watched him, silent, curious about the usually cheerful professor's odd demeanour.

"I must… yes. Well." And Flitwick circled widely around Snape until he reached the door and shot through, like a spat out cherry pit.

Snape snorted and shouted after the other professor, "You're not my type anyway! You're far too... cheerful!"

-oo0oo-

Snape plonked himself down next to Hooch on the referees' corner and watched the game, trying not to notice Hagrid's waving and yelling from the stands. Hagrid got louder and louder, and out of a desire not to see the stands collapse under Hagrid's enthusiastic jumping, Snape finally nodded a pursed-lip acknowledgement.

Evidently satisfied, Hagrid returned to watching the game and Snape turned his attention to watching for opportunities to take points from the Gryffindor team.

He could feel Madam Hooch sitting very stiffly beside him, her already rock-hard thighs tensing up and pulling away so that she wouldn’t accidentally touch him.

He turned and showed her a questioning eyebrow.

She relented a little, her expression confused. "Gay?"

Snape merely nodded, waiting for her judgment.

She looked back to the game and was quiet for a while, then: "Penalty to Slytherin!" she yelled.

He returned his attention to the sport and arguing with his co-referee.
-oo0oo-

McGonagall slipped her arm onto his and joined Snape on his nightly prowl. Although she preferred the word 'stroll'.

On cat-quiet feet, they prowled the halls, making sure all students were tucked up in bed, safe, sound, out of trouble and out of Snape's potions supplies.

Snape opened with, "You're very quiet tonight, Minerva."

She started to say something, stopped, started again, but remained quiet. Finally, she stopped walking, let go of his arm, and turned to face him.

"Hagrid?" she asked, her voice sounded strained, seeking understanding.

"Hagrid," he replied, not elaborating.

Again, she drew breath as if to continue talking, but then let it out, retook his arm, and they walked on.

-oo0oo-

"Hagrid, I don't know how you can stand it."

"Stand what where, Sirius?" Hagrid said, straightening from harvesting his enormous beetroot crop.

"Stand having that slimy git hanging around you all the time." Sirius wobbled but kept his balance as Hagrid threw the huge beetroot into the basket Sirius carried for him.

"He in't slimy, Sirius, an' I do wish yeh'd stop sayin' things like that. He's lovely when yeh get teh know him."

"He's a horrible, greasy git who'd sooner spit in your eye than say hello."

Hagrid took a deep breath and puffed out his beard sadly, "Sirius, yeh don't know him."

"I've known him since we were eleven."

"No, yeh only know the angry Severus."

"Is there any other kind?"

"If yeh see a snake sunnin' on a rock, and yeh rush over to it and jab it with a stick, yer goin' teh see an angry snake. Yer goin' teh see a snake what hisses at yeh an' tries teh bite yeh."

"Yes, so?"

"So that's all yeh've ever done teh Severus. Yeh rush right over and poke him with a stick, so all yeh get teh see is the angry Severus, hissing an' tryin' teh bite."

"Hagrid, there is no other-"

"I don't do that, yeh see. I walk up all quiet an' calm and talk gentle-like, so I get teh see the nice Severus. The funny Severus, the brave Severus." Hagrid stared dreamily into the middle distance, "The warm, soft, sleek, Severus, all long 'n' lean 'n' lovely."

"You're going to make me lose my lunch, Hagrid."

"To each his own. But don't yeh see? There's more teh Severus than yeh know."

"I don't see it. After all, he talks to you like you're dirt, Hagrid, you deserve better than that!"

"He talks teh me same as he talks teh everyone else."

"He talks to everyone else like they're dirt!"

"He doesn't talk teh me like I'm some simple minded dunderhead, no more'n he does teh anyone else."

"You sound like you're quoting him now, and no one talks to you like-"

"Yer doin' it right now, Sirius," Hagrid said sadly, shaking his big shaggy head. "He never uses smaller words when he talks teh me, or talks to me extra kind like the Headmaster does, bless him, or thinks that I can't take care o' me own decisions."

"Oh," Sirius really couldn't think of anything to say to that, and felt a small flush of embarrassment pink his cheeks as he realised that was exactly what he'd been doing.

"I appreciate yer concern, but I'm big enough and ugly enough teh take care o' myself."

"I suppose you're right. You're old enough to make your own choices. But wouldn't you prefer… someone who loves you?"

"He does. In his own way. Course, he'd rather pull out his own tongue than say it, but I know he does, deep down."

"Wouldn't you prefer someone more pleasant?"

"No, I wouldn't want teh be saddled with someone all nice an' sweet," Hagrid's bright white grin broke through the black of his beard, "How borin' would that be!"

-oo0oo-

"Severus, what happened?" Lupin matched strides with Snape across the grounds.

"Nothing. Mind your own business, Lupin."

"Severus, it's everybody's business if a friend is being abused."

"Abused? Friend? What are you talking about, you addlepated prat?"

"Look at your neck, Severus!" Lupin said, not hiding his distress, "It looks like Ha- like someone tried to rip your throat out!"

"My neck? It's nothing." Snape waived his wand at the huge, purple bruise, and it disappeared quickly. "Just a love bite. But thank you," he ground out the words resentfully, "for pointing it out before any one else saw."

"You're so often covered in bruises, Severus. Last week you had cracked ribs! If Hagrid's knocking you around-"

"Merely a love pat rendered with a little too much enthusiasm, I assure you."

"The week before that you were in the sickbay with a broken pelvis!"

"Ah... a love broken pelvis?" Even Snape looked less than convinced at that, and Lupin just slanted him a look.

"Lupin, it's not that I don't appreciate your concern," every word dripped with the obvious, sneering lie, "but I assure you that am perfectly all right."

"I'm worried about you, Severus. If Hagrid's losing his temper, hurting you."

"He's not! How dare you make that accusation!" Snape turned, fire in his eyes, spit on his lips, his voice sharp and quiet, "You've known him as long as I have, and I'm disgusted you'd make such an insinuation."

"He's a half giant, Severus. We all love Hagrid, you know that, but giants are known for their-"

"As are werewolves, Lupin," Snape said, his voice a low and soft hiss and Lupin knew he'd bailed up a cobra.

Lupin backed down. "The offer is there, Severus. If you ever want to talk to me-"

"I'll pull out my tongue."

-oo0oo-

"Here, I thought I told yeh I were goin' on a diet," Hagrid said, rubbing a hand over his belly.

"I heard you."

"Then what's with all the cake?"

"I like to bake. Don't you like to bake? I know you like to bake."

"Yes, but-"

"Then why are you denigrating my cake?"

"Deney what?"

"If you don't like my cooking, just say so!"

"No, it's not that! I love yer cooking, but I reckon I need teh loose a couple hundred pounds or so. I've been squashin' yeh something awful o' late."

"Nonsense. If you eat the cake, I've made pudding for afters."

"Oh, I love yer puddin', Sev."

Snape looked like he was about to say something Hagrid expected would be rude, but instead he snapped his mouth shut, hummed thoughtfully, and bent to put a Welsh rarebit in the oven.

"I love yeh jus' the way yeh are, too, Sev'rus."

"Quiet you. Eat your supper."

-oo0oo-

“If you get up and defend this issue before the Wizengamut, you know what people will say about you, don’t you?” Lucius was paler than normal, upright as if a string connected him from earth to the top of his head and an unseen puppet master was pulling that string as tight as they could without lifting Lucius from the ground. This had the added benefit of making sure that he was unlikely to accidentally brush against Severus as they walked.

“They’ll say I’m defending the rights of giants to own property in front of the Wizengamut commission into the same,” Snape said reasonably. He was getting calmer, the more Lucius became overwrought.

“They’ll say you’re associating with that… that…”

“With Hagrid?”

“With a creature who is not only not even human, but hardly of our class.”

“Our class, Lucius, or your class?”

“Severus, please. You may not be on the top of the social strata, but you can, and you have, done better than…” he paused to sniff in the direction of Hagrid, who was working his garden, “that.”

“Better?” Snape said, as if musing thoughtfully, a small smirk playing about his lips. “Perhaps ‘better’ is also in the eye of the beholder.”

For his part, Lucius, despite his disgust, at least had the grace to look amused. “Perhaps. Perhaps this is just a little bit of ‘rough trade’, Severus. Very rough trade. A temporary eccentricity. A passing fancy. You’ve been a favourite of the Dark Lord, after all. You were my favourite once upon a time, and I’ve also heard rumours about yourself and Dumbledore.”

Snape refused to rise to Malfoy’s fishing expedition.

“Anyway, Severus, from Dark Lord to Groundskeeper? You’ve followed some odd paths in the past, but this is truly beneath you.”

They were silent for a long time, and Snape watched Hagrid, shirtless in the sun, huge, sweating, and hairy, turning over the rich, loamy earth with an enormous shovel, and thought of the people in his past, and all the ambitions he once had, the alliances he had forged or broken. He remembered how he’d clawed and fought every step up the ladder, trying to make something of himself, gain some foothold on the future, to drag himself out of the muddy mire of his birthright.

“You know, Lucius, of all the Lords I have followed, be they dark and bitter, or light and sweet, not a single one of them has, after I've spent a long day standing in front of a class, ever fetched me a cup of tea and rubbed my aching feet.”

“Oh,” said Lucius, his voice a small surprised puff of air, and he continued after a moment, his voice unutterably sad: “Nor me, either.”

And the two would be followers of a dead Dark Lord stood silently and watched Hagrid yank something horrible and vicious out of the ground, then try to befriend it.

-oo0oo-

Hagrid draped an arm over Snape's shoulders, and made it look very casual. People were watching, and Severus wouldn't want a fuss, would not want any sort of sloppy public display of affection. But Hagrid's intention was less than casual. He wanted Snape to feel protected, secure, supported, loved, and unable to escape.

"SURPRISE!"

The staff jumped out and yelled, blowing whistles and throwing confetti, a huge, multi-coloured 'Happy Fourth Anniversary, Severus and Rubeus' banner, sparkling with fairies, draped from the ceiling.

Hagrid had made sure it wouldn't be a surprise, knowing just how well Snape reacted to surprises (usually someone lost at least an ear), but Snape reacted with the usual sour tenseness so no one knew Hagrid had already given away the secret.

He clasped Snape to his side now, forcing him to follow Hagrid around the room and accept handshakes and congratulations, glasses of champagne, and well wishes, but he knew that with that arm so securely tugging him along, Snape was also being given the perfect excuse to socialise. He couldn't go off to sulk and fester when Hagrid was so obviously hauling him about against his will. He could enjoy himself and blame it on Hagrid.

Thus social convention was served and Snape's dignity preserved. In a somewhat undignified manner.

"Cheers!" yelled Hagrid, picking up a punch bowl as if it was his own glass, and downing the contents. He was planning on having a great time, plenty to eat, plenty to drink, and perhaps a cuddle later. A good anniversary.

They wandered the room, ate tiny sandwiches, drank many different coloured drinks, and Hagrid even managed to whirl Snape around the floor in a quick dance or two, never letting Snape's feet touch the floor, and Snape didn't glower at him, even though everyone laughed.

"Speech!" the others cried, as midnight approached, "Speech!"

"Er. I don't know what teh say," said Hagrid, more than a little tipsy. "Severus?" He gazed blearily down at his friend, "Thank you fer stayin' with me this long, and er, not gettin' too cross about the dung."

Severus regarded him quietly for a long moment, and then said, solemnly:

"I love you, Hagrid."

Hagrid burst into tears.



Notes:
Learning the Language of Harpies was written to prove something about short, repetitive stories (it relied on a leitmotif of Hagrid saying "I love you, Severus", to which the last lines of this sequel refer). I don't remember what it was I was proving, but I probably proved it. That story didn't need a sequel, so I'm putting this down to another lesson on 'don't write unnecessary sequels to completed stories' no matter who asks. I will learn that lesson soon, I hope. I know this is hideously mushy, but hey, it makes a change from all the all nasty rat trap fics I've been writing lately, doesn't it?

The segment where Lupin worries that Snape is being abused is adapted from an abandoned story I was writing for [info]ntamara. I dropped the fic when it was clear that it was not only not working, but it was, in fact, getting quite offensive, but this is a way to include at least a reference to the concept.