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Notes: Snape/Hagrid fluff (or as near as I can get to it) written for Stan. He asked for a story based around an oven mitt; hence the slight craziness of this fic.
A Matter of Convenience
Snape rapped at the rough wooden door impatiently. Snow lashed him in cold flurries--he was irritable, he was short on time, and the bloody half-giant wouldn't open his thrice-damned door.
When the door did open, it was only a crack--and Hagrid's face, as it peeked out, looked flushed and distinctly flustered.
Oh. Snape felt, for the first time in recorded history, embarrassed in front of a fellow staff member. 'I'll... come back later if I'm interrupting something.' This said through surprisingly clenched teeth. Why did he feel irritated all of a sudden? Oh, that's right. Because he'd trudged all the way from the fucking castle and through several tonnes of wet, clinging snow only to be turned away at the fucking door.
'No!' Hagrid exclaimed, looking shocked. 'Er. That's... er. Jus' a moment, Pr'ffessor.'
Suddenly there was a loud flapping sound--as if of wings--from behind the door, and Hagrid let out a muffled curse before slamming the door in Snape's face.
Snape stood, blinking, left staring at gnarled wood again.
Had Hagrid just said fuck?
He didn't quite understand why he felt so nonplussed by that--but, Merlin, it was Hagrid--he didn't say things like 'fuck'.
He wasn't even supposed to know what the word meant.
Well. Although it looked like he might have had a... companion... tonight--
Just before Snape could decide whether to save up his vitriol or give in and humiliate Hagrid mercilessly, the door swung open again and Hagrid stood before him, tall, wide, dressed in what appeared to be a slightly charred, garishly yellow nightgown and a pair of brown wellies.
He also had an oven mitt on one large hand, and his beard appeared to be... dear God, was it smoking?
'Hagrid,' Snape said slowly. 'I thought I told you that I wasn't interested in your cooking. I'm only here for the...'
'... mugwump extract, yeah, Pr'ffessor.'
Snape scowled as he entered the warm hut and shut the door behind him; he didn't like being interrupted. But Hagrid only shuffled hurriedly over to one of the shelves and yanked out a little bottle, almost toppling over the other vials that crowded the shelf.
Why such hurry? Snape's eyes narrowed--but just before Hagrid handed the vial to him, there was that loud flapping sound again.
From Hagrid's bedroom.
Snape's eyebrows shot up to his hairline.
'Er,' said Hagrid, looking terrified. 'Er. Here's yer extract, Pr'fessor. One 'undred percent pure, as promised... got it for a smashin' deal in Knockturn, tha' I did...'
Rubeus Hagrid was babbling. He was also subtly--well, as subtly as a half-giant in a yellow nightgown could manage--trying to manoeuvre Snape towards the door.
Whatever-it-was inside the bedroom screeched.
Snape, planting both feet just before the door's threshold, refused to move.
And almost got run over by the giant.
'Why so eager to get rid of me, Hagrid?' Snape asked innocently--well, as innocently as a Head of Slytherin with an oily voice could manage. 'One would imagine you weren't happy to see me.'
Hagrid looked stricken with guilt and horror. 'O' course not, Pr'fessor. Y'know I'm always invitin' ye, only ye never come...'
'Indeed.' Snape raised an eyebrow. 'And now that I am here, you want to throw me out?'
'N-no! I...' Hagrid looked quite suddenly tongue-tied and miserable--and something in Snape, something familiar and most certainly well-used, twisted with delight.
There also appeared to be, Snape noticed, smoke coming out from under Hagrid's bedroom door. His large nose picked up on it first--but soon little grey slivers of smoke began curling upwards, and then everything, from Hagrid's oven mitt to the singed beard to the charred robe, made sudden and utterly flawless sense.
'You do know, Hagrid,' he found himself saying in a tone just as sharp as it should have been, 'that it is illegal for anyone but a trained dragon-handler to attempt to hatch and raise a dragon?'
The bearded, swarthy face suddenly seemed to pale unnaturally. Hagrid two staggering steps backwards--causing the floor to tremble--and sat down heavily on one of the grotesque chairs by the table. 'It's only her firs' night!' he said pleadingly. 'I only jus' got her egg yes'erday...'
'... from the same dealer you got my mugwump extract from, I gather?'
Hagrid flinched. 'Yeah.'
Snape found himself shaking his head and, inexplicably, taking the chair opposite Hagrid's. 'Are you trying to get arrested, man?'
'Well, yer the one who wants fermented mugwump fr'm a Dark dealer!' Hagrid snapped.
This sudden and uncharacteristic explosion caused Snape to gape--but only for a moment, of course, before he regained his composure.
Hagrid was looking horrified again--his face, if that were possible, appeared to have paled even further. 'Oh, Merlin. I'm sorry, Pr'fessor Snape. I didna mean...'
'Yes, you did,' Snape said tersely, but he found his mouth curling in something that wasn't quite a sneer. 'Surprisingly Slytherin of you, Hagrid. Are you implying that you'll tell the authorities about my... dealings in potions... if I tell the authorities about you?'
'No!' Another loud screech pierced the air--and suddenly Hagrid paused, a fierce protectiveness flashing across his face. 'Well...'
Snape laughed. Hagrid looked up at that, shocked and somewhat indignant--but Snape only nodded, feeling oddly and pleasantly surprised. Perhaps he should have accepted all those dinner invitations after all. Hagrid wasn't as uninteresting as he had imagined. 'So we have an agreement, then. I tell no one about your...', he floundered for a moment, 'adopted child, and you tell no one about my... slightly unconventional Potions ingredients.'
Hagrid's face was slack with surprise--but, Snape noted, he didn't disagree.
The smoke from under the bedroom door was thickening. Snape wondered if there were anything left of Hagrid's bedroom at all. 'How long can you keep her here? Won't she grow?'
'Oh.' Hagrid's face brightened. 'She's jus' a wee one. Her species doesn' grow larger than wha' she is now... Fully grown from birth, she is. This is her nest fer now... I'll set her free in th' Forest when she's old enough to fly, o' course...'
'In the Forest? Won't the Ministry--'
'Dragons 're protected as long as they're in a wildlife reserve, Pr'fessor.' Hagrid's dark eyes glinted with knife-like determination. 'They wouldna touch her there.'
Snape didn't see, actually--what on earth was so pleasant about getting one's arms burned off every night, trying to get the little leather-winged tyrant to sleep? At the rate things were going, Hagrid's hut would be a pile of ash before the month was out.
He didn't say that, of course. He didn't know why, because the cutting remark was on the tip of his tongue--but the screeching had died down, as had the flapping, and Hagrid was walking over to his fireplace and lifting out a kettle of tea.
It was like a different world in here. Warm and close and... singed--well--that was one thing Hagrid's hut did have in common with his dungeons. The stench of exploded potions and charred cauldrons were so familiar to Snape by now that the air here, thickened with dragon-induced smoke, didn't even bother him.
'Why did ye say ye were leavin' before, Pr'fessor?' Hagrid asked as he poured them both cups of what Snape knew, from past experience, to be three parts alcohol and one part tea.
'I thought...' And here Snape suddenly felt uncomfortable again, and he reached into his robe pocket to clutch his little vial of mugwump as though it were a charm against blushing. 'I thought that you had company.'
And why the ruddy hell was he sounding diffident? Snapes don't sound diffident. No Snape, not even his unassuming, Muggle-marrying Uncle Hephaestus, had ever sounded diffident.
Snape managed to dredge up an appropriate sneer.
Hagrid only blinked at him--puzzled--and then realization dawned on his face in comical slow-motion, and he blushed red to the roots of his hair. Even his beard seemed to darken.
'Er,' he stammered, eyes wide. 'That is. I. Er.'
Well. As long as Snape wasn't the diffident one... 'I was right, of course. You're just setting fire to your bedroom, aren't you?'
Hagrid almost sputtered out his tea--but his eyes glinted with a surprising hint of wickedness, and Snape was shocked to feel that stir of curiosity again, that same flash of interest he'd felt when Hagrid had, unexpectedly, tried to blackmail him.
This time, when Hagrid nudged the ridiculously large cup of tea towards him, Snape curled his fingers around it instead of sneering, pushing his chair back, and walking away.
Hagrid's eyes warmed--surprise and pleasure not quite eclipsing the wicked humor there. 'Yer's was the only company I was expectin', Pr'fessor.'
That tea really must have quite the shot of brandy in it. Because suddenly, Snape felt a lot warmer too.
* FIN *