“--and I am right, and you are right and all is right as right can be!” Draco's voice sounds hollow, without the trees to echo off as he leaves the path from Hogsmeade onto Hogwarts' land proper. He pauses, dragging in a lungful of night air, chest burning with it. Ahead lies Snape's tomb, its black marble nearly invisible in the darkness, but it's there, lurking in the shadow of Dumbledore's. He weaves towards them with half-drunken purpose.
Up close the marble of Dumbledore's tomb is perfect, smooth and seamless. By day, he knows, it's blinding white, just as he knows the exact placement and depth of the inscription on Snape's; 'Dumbledore's man.'
“Fucking Potter,” Draco slurs, less from drink and more from spite. “Fucking Dumbledore.” Inebriated genius strikes, and Draco struggles his robes open, yanking down his zipper to fish out his cock.
“Where was I?” He considers, with a sigh of relief and a smile at the susurration of urine against marble. “Ah, yes. And allll is right!” He bellows the second half, voice cracking over the words.
“What do yeh think yer doin'?”
Startled, Draco whips around, piss arcing out. Hagrid's eyes go wide at the sight, and Draco imagines he can see red suffusing the half-giant's cheeks.
“Oh no. Yeh won' defile the headmaster's grave, yeh little brat. I won' stand fer it!”
Draco flinches as Hagrid strides forward, one meaty paw reaching out to grab him by the shoulder and spin him towards the tomb. He finds himself thrown up against stone, cold seeping into his hands and cock where they press exposed against unyielding marble.
“Unhand me you overgrown--”
“Albus Dumbledore was a great man!” Hagrid booms, one hand coming down to smack against Draco's arse.
“Ow! What the-- that hurt you--” Draco splutters, shocked and immediately sore. Hagrid lands another swat, and Draco's insult dissolves to an incoherent cry. Pain spreads quickly across his arse, up his back and down his thighs.
Hollering, he struggles against the hand pinning him down, but it does no good. The blows continue to land, loud despite being muffled by his robes, trousers and pants. They seem to go on forever, until all Draco feels is pain, until he cannot think beyond it and has no choice but to close his eyes and surrender.
Warmed by the rising sun, Draco curls up tighter in bed. Still half-dreaming, his thoughts drift aimlessly. He sniffs, nose tickled by an unfamiliar scent. Unable to place it, Draco opens his eyes a crack.
“Ugh,” he groans, sitting up and pushing the threadbare blanket off quickly. Disgust twists his features as he takes in the dilapidated hut.
Hagrid is stooped before the fire, back to Draco. “I don' suppose yer feelin' too sprightly this morning.”
“I'm fine,” Draco replies before he can think about it.
Hagrid stands, turning, and Draco catches the flash of doubt in his black eyes. The sight of his face brings back last night's memories in a rush and Draco cringes in remembered pain. It's difficult to recall anything afterward, but he has vague impressions of being carried.
“Here, drink tha'. It'll wake yeh up.”
“I'm already more awake than I want to be,” Draco mumbles, but accepts the proffered cup anyway. He sniffs at the tea, touching the worn, tin cup as little as possible. Taking a cautious sip proves to be a mistake, and Draco spits the heavy, dark brew back into the cup.
Sitting at the wood table that dominates the room, Hagrid looks at him.
“I'm sorry fer what I did las' nigh'.”
Draco pretends to sip at the tea, refusing to look over as Hagrid speaks.
“I shouldn' have hit yeh like tha'. I'd had a few drinks myself, but that don' make it right. I'll report myself, but I wanted teh say I'm sorry.”
“Don't bother. McGonagall would never fire you, you know that,” he sneers. But it's not true; Hagrid doesn't know that. Hagrid is stunningly oblivious to his own, inexplicable power, a lesson Draco learned well the previous year. And, the thought slithers in: it had not been horrible. It had been – but here Draco's thought stops, unable to define the clarity he'd felt, with only pain to focus on.
“No professor should hit a studen' like tha'. I'll--”
“Look.” Draco stands, setting the cup on the table. “This doesn't mean I like you or anything, but just let it go.”
Leaving takes him past the pumpkin patch, and Draco's hands itch, remembering the feel of rich earth. How often he had worked the little square of land the previous year he isn't sure. Between the sneering disdain of both the Carrows and McGonagall, he'd served enough detentions with Hagrid to last a lifetime.
He'd grown used to them, though, the detentions. Some weeks, toiling at whatever menial task the half-giant had assigned him, listening to his awkward attempts at conversation, was the only peace Draco found.
The common room is never crowded; there aren't enough of them to fill the space, not with a smaller batch of first years than usual and no one else returning, like he did, to replace the disaster of the previous year. Lingering in a corner of the room, Draco listens to the ebb and flow of conversations. They leave the fire burning low all night, its glow barely touching the rippling shadows of the lake windows. The light plays tricks on him, turning the others' faces into demons one moment, and the manic grins of jesters the next.
Still, he waits them out, remaining seated until the last one has gone to bed. Draco stands, moving closer to the fire and the gilt-framed portrait above it.
“I wish you wouldn't call me that, sir.”
Snape's painted features soften with an ease the real ones never did.
“I know what you are,” he answers, looking away. “You don't need to remind me.”
Portraits can't sigh, but Draco is convinced he hears a soft exhalation. Turning, he rests his back against the wall. The position offers him a view of the whole room, ensuring no late-night wanderers will catch him unawares. That it also spares him watching paint sliding over canvas in a mimicry of life is a point Draco does not allow himself to think about.
“Mother keeps sending sweets.” It's idle chat, but Draco can't bring himself to talk about the way the other students ignore him, or the night, days ago now, when he felt, briefly, whole. Snape already knows the first well enough. And the second... Draco hardly knows what he could have to say about it.
He arrives to find Snape facing the window, though there is nothing visible beyond it except endless night. There's music playing low, a lively song spinning out from an ancient gramophone.
“Sir? I've my report.”
“Marvelous,” Snape drawls. He doesn't turn.
Spying the bottle and glass on the desk, Draco hesitates. In these twice-weekly meetings, Snape is usually wholly attentive. Within reason, when they are held at his demand.
Interrupting with a wave of his hand, Snape signals for Draco to get on with it.
Sitting at the edge of a chair, Draco begins to talk. Who's back-talked to the Carrows, who's helped them, what the thoughts in Slytherin are, whether anyone from the other houses agree; every detail that might assist their cause in any possible way, as required. His own uncertainties Draco keeps to himself.
By the end, Draco's hands are trembling. He has to keep giving the reports, must find something useful for their lord. But Snape hasn't moved, hasn't given any indication that he is listening at all.
Silence doesn't fall when he stops speaking. It is filled instead by the unfaltering music.
'--made him Headsman, for we said, "Who's next to be decapited, cannot cut off another's head, until he's cut his own off,-'
“What is that?” The words slip out before Draco can stop them.
“Morbid,” Snape replies, with the slightest tilt of his head.
'-And I am right, And you are right, And all is right-'
“Sounds a bit cheerful to be morbid.”
“As with so many things, you have to put it in context.”
“Are you drunk, sir?”
“Oh. I'll just—” He moves to get up, but Snape's words stop him.
“It's an Operetta. A kind of musical performance. Here.” Stepping over to the gramophone, Snape lifts the needle and replaces it a moment later. It takes him another try to locate the space between songs, before he stands back and a new tune spills into the room.
'As some day it may happen that a victim must be found, I've got a little list--'
Under Snape's scrutiny, Draco listens carefully.
“It's funny!” he accuses, looking at Snape in surprise.
“Indeed.” And Snape smiles that meager, bitter smile that is all the expression of pleasure Draco has ever seen him give. Between it and the music, Draco cannot help the return smile that spreads across his lips.
Stepping back from the hovel's door, Draco shrugs, knowing Hagrid will take it as agreement. He has done before.
“Well, I guess I can have yeh work with the Thestrals.”
He tries not to look pleased as Hagrid leads him towards the paddock. Winter is drifting in, and the sky has been an unrelenting gray for days. Draco rather likes this time of year, when the heat of Summer is gone and there is a sense of anticipation in the air, as if the earth itself is trembling in expectation of the coming cold.
Unhooking the pail of tools from the fence, he gives a dismissive nod to Hagrid and steps into the enclosure. Tenebrus pushes her way between the others to nuzzle insistently against his hand.
“All right girl,” Draco answers quietly, taking up the curry comb and running it in gentle circles down her neck. It's easy to lose himself in the task. Several minutes go by before he gets the prickling sensation that he's not alone and turns to find Hagrid leaning against the rails watching.
“What?” he snaps, pausing in his task as his fingers tighten around the brush.
“Yer good with 'em.”
“Well you don't have to sound so surprised about it. They're not so different from horses.”
“Groomed a lot of horses, have yeh?”
“Enough,” Draco answers, starting up combing again when Tenebrus gives an impatient snort. “Father never trusts elves to it – says they're too high energy.” He also said that some interaction was needed to remind beasts of who their masters were, but Draco doubts Hagrid would appreciate that lesson.
Hagrid doesn't say anything after that, and when Draco looks up again the half-giant is gone. He takes his time with the grooming, working well past the usual hour of detention until just before dinner.
“Why did you set all my detentions with Hagrid?” Draco asks that night, speaking low so that the pair of students snogging in the corner will not hear him.
“You would have preferred one of the Carrows?”
“I would have preferred you.”
There's a pause before Snape's reply. “I would have had to hurt you.”
Draco closes his eyes, leaning back against the wall. Plenty of words rise up in answer, whole phrases ('maybe you should have,' 'I wouldn't have minded') but he cannot bring himself to say them.
“I prefer Madam Butterfly. It is not the most technically beautiful, perhaps, but we cannot help what speaks to us.” Pulling another record carefully from its sleeve, Snape sets it on the gramophone.
They listen as a song fills the room. The rich swell of the singer's voice seems to seep into Draco's pores, to replace the very air in his breath. He looks at Snape, whose eyes are not closed but do not seem to be focused on anything either. Draco watches the light play across his features and wonders, not for the first time, what the man is thinking.
He never knows what to expect at these unofficial lessons. One week Snape had played The Marriage of Figaro, explaining the story to Draco along with the music. Another week, he stayed nearly silent, mired in thought while a German opera played, so heavy that Draco felt saddened by it without being able to understand a word.
“My father would love this.”
“He would not,” Snape answers, looking up at Draco sharply.
“It is Muggle.”
Closing his mouth, Draco looks at the gramophone incredulously. “But, this is beautiful.”
“Yes.” Sighing, Snape looks suddenly tired.
“How did you find it, sir?” he asks hesitantly.
“A very dear friend introduced me.”
He says no more, and Draco has learned better than to ask.
Draco pauses to study his stitching. It's neater than his earlier work, most of which is in the pile before him, not having held up a year. Picking up the needle and thread, he sets to work mending the next sack.
It's cold outside, snow layering the earth in white. But Hagrid's hut is small enough that the fire and their body heat keep it warm. For long stretches there is little sound save the crackle of the fire and the delicate scrape of Hagrid's whittling. Draco glances over, wondering again what it is Hagrid is carving. But, as before, the figure is hidden in the man's palm.
“He named Tenebrus, yeh know.”
Looking back to his own work quickly, Draco finishes a stitch before replying. “What?”
“Professor Snape. He named Tenebrus.”
“Said it meant 'dark'. Bit of a fancy name if yeh ask me.”
Draco's hands shake. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Jus' makin' conversation.”
“Well I don't want to talk about Snape. Why in Merlin's name would I?”
Hagrid looks at him, his calm regard reminding Draco absurdly of Snape's.
“Thought yeh liked the professor.”
“That doesn't mean I want to talk about him.” Draco stands, slapping his work down on the table.
“Yer jus' like he was, as a studen'. Neither one of yeh knowin' a thing about yerself.”
“My hour of detention is up,” He says coldly, turning to leave.
Flinging open the door, Draco braces himself against the burst of winter air. Prepared to step out into the dark, he's stopped at the door by Hagrid's hand resting lightly against his shoulder. Draco's heart speeds, his mind flashing to that night at the tombs. But this touch is so gentle that he almost has to look, to see Hagrid's huge fingers against his robe, to know that it is the same man.
“Malfoy – Draco – I didn' mean teh upset yeh.”
Hagrid's fingers flex against his shoulder, but remain steadily in place. “Yeh don' have to make – yeh don' have to come jus' when yeh have detention. If yer wantin' teh visi'... yer welcome.”
Turning so fast he almost stumbles over the threshold, Draco frees himself from Hagrid's touch. But it leaves him facing the man, his shoulder growing cold as the rest of him in the winter air.
“I can't--” imagine why you think I would, he means to say, but the words get frozen in his throat, and Draco leaves before he can humiliate himself further.
“Potter is trying to get you an Order of Merlin, posthumously.”
“A goal with little point beyond a balm to his own conscience.”
The common room is brighter than usual tonight, thanks to the glow of a Christmas tree set up in the corner. Still, Draco is able to just make out the blue haze of protection charms that surround Snape's portrait.
“Why did you do it?”
“You know, now, the atrocities that can be committed in hatred--”
Draco knows then that his question has been misunderstood, but does not correct him as Snape is answering one he would never have dared asked. One Snape never would have answered in life.
“But I do not know if you understand the truth of how guilt can crush you, how regret worms it way into you until you feel as dry and exposed as a log left to rot.”
He does not say anything in reply, but Snape continues before he could anyway, his tone urgent.
“Draco, if you have regrets, however small, find some way to make peace with them.”
“--entirely too trite, but it has its moments.”
They have come full circle, it seems. Draco recognizes the music as the same from that first night. He finds himself nodding in agreement. True enough that the songs are funny, but he much prefers the elegant beauty of the other music they have listened to since.
“This one,” Snape says, standing so suddenly that Draco rises as well. “I believe you will like.”
Draco follows him to the gramophone. Changing the record, Snape sets the needle with delicate precision.
'The sun whose rays are all ablaze--'
There is little they have listened to thus far in English and he finds himself stepping closer automatically. 'I mean to rule the Earth as he the sky,' affirms the singer. He has heard better singers, but something in the song pulls at him, making him feel simultaneously free and crushed.
They are close, Draco can feel their robes brushing as Snape moves to stand behind him.
Drawing in a shuddering breath, Draco touches the gramophone stand for support, unwilling to give himself away by grasping it. Tears threaten, welling at the corners of his eyes. It takes all of his focus not to let them fall.
Snape's hand comes to rest just next to his. His other hand caresses Draco's hair, long fingers stroking through the delicate strands.
Closing his eyes, Draco lets himself lean back, trusting his weight against Snape's steady form. He can feel Snape's breath, hot against his throat.
“Draco.” he says softly, in the soundless pause between songs. Draco thinks he hears a hundred portraits, collectively drawing in their nonexistent breath.
The first notes of the next song begin, abruptly loud in the silent room, and Draco finds himself stumbling as Snape steps away.
“It's past curfew,” he says, before Draco has fully regained his footing. “Go back to your dorm.”
Draco stares at him, standing behind his desk across the room as if they had not just been pressed together. “Please sir, I'd like to stay.”
“We cannot always get what we'd like,” Snape answers, not looking at him. “You're dismissed, Draco.”
“I didn't think ye'd be comin' here again.”
“You said I was welcome.” He twists his hands together, trying to get them warm. Winter has set in, and even his heaviest cloak is not enough to keep it out.
“If yer wantin' a chore,” Hagrid says, seating himself. “Ye'll have teh come back. I'm all caught up for what can be done while it's dark out.”
“Actually, I, um. I brought you this.” Freeing the bottle from the inner pocket of his robes, he offers it.
“Ah, tha's right nice of yeh. Thanks.”
The bottle, one of the finest whiskies available, looks tiny in Hagrid's hand. Draco thinks, perhaps, he should have gone with quantity over quality. He doesn't suppose Hagrid will make the connection to the Hippogriff incident from all those years ago, but it is enough to ease his own mind on the matter.
“I'll just be going then.”
“No need teh rush off. Stay an have a drink. It's only righ', seein' as how you brought it.”
“Um. All right.”
Hagrid pours them both a healthy measure of the whisky, pushing Draco's glass across the table. The cup rumbles against the wood, like the sound of thunder before a storm. He expects Hagrid's company to be awkward, without tasks to keep them occupied. But it is strangely comfortable.
“Do you know,” Draco says, pouring his third and Hagrid's ninth glass some time later. “Do you know what that bastard did?” He leans back in the chair, loving the weightless feeling in his limbs, though neither of them is truly drunk.
“Snape! Snape, the bastard.”
“He weren' a bastard – jus' misunderstood.”
“He was,” Draco insists. “He left me – He left me his fucking opera.”
“Opera! Music. Fat lot of good it does me.”
“Tha' were nice of him, teh leave yeh summat.”
He looks up at Hagrid's words, ready to refute them, to explain how not nice it was. In the tiny hut, Hagrid's great bulk looks at if he could hold the whole place down, should it decide to try and blow away. Thought derailed, Draco gets up, moving to stand before Hagrid.
“You wouldn't leave me something so pointless, would you?” he queries, going on before Hagrid can reply. “You'd leave me something useful.” Reaching out, he touches Hagrid's chest.
“Draco, wha' d'yeh think yer doin'?” Hagrid's tone is wary, but he doesn't pull away.
“So solid,” Draco murmurs, feeling the warmth and bulk of Hagrid's chest through his shirt. He leans forward, bringing his mouth close to Hagrid's lips, his hand drifting lower.
“Don't you like me?”
“Yer very pretty, but I think--”
Draco doesn't let him finish, crushing their mouths together instead. Hagrid doesn't kiss back, not until Draco slides into his lap, long legs stretched wide to straddle the half-giant. Then Hagrid's hands come up, bracketing his head and holding him in place as he kisses Draco fiercely.
They both taste of whisky, and Hagrid's beard scratches against Draco's chin, down his neck. He moans softly in appreciation as they separate.
“You should go,” Hagrid says regretfully.
“No! I won't.”
“I can't. Yer a student.” Moving slowly, Hagrid slides his hands down Draco's shoulders, around to rest against his back.
“Please,” he says quietly, trying to recapture Hagrid's lips. “I won't tell anyone... I'll apologize in the morning if you want, but please.”
“I'll hurt yeh.”
“You won't. Well, you could spank me again-- or not.” Draco rushes to add, seeing the look of horror bloom on Hagrid's face. “This is good. This is perfect.”
“I don't want teh hurt yeh.” Hagrid says, fingers stroking lightly down his cheek.
He looks at Hagrid, all kind, dark eyes and untamed beard. His chest feels tight, afraid no answer he can give will be good enough. “Then don't.”
Draco kisses him before Hagrid can object again. Unbuttoning Hagrid's shirt, he curls his fingers into the dark hair beneath. Hagrid sighs, his entire body seeming to swell and release beneath Draco with the breath.
“Yer so soft,” Hagrid whispers, and presses whiskery, wet kisses to Draco's throat. Calloused hands slip beneath Draco's jumper, pushing the fabric up until he has no choice but to stop his own explorations and lift it off.
“I'm not,” he answers, pushing Hagrid's shirt off so that they can press together, skin to skin.
They kiss, touching each other carefully, for long minutes. He can feel the slow throb of Hagrid's cock, pressing hard as his own between them. Draco moves his hips, frotting against Hagrid gently. Hagrid's hands cup his arse, so large they hold him entirely. Fuck, Draco mouths, pushing back into Hagrid's hands. He wants their trousers off, to feel Hagrid inside him – his cock if they could manage it, or just his fingers. But he's afraid to get up, afraid Hagrid will stop them if he does. Already Hagrid will not let him undo the length of rope that serves as his belt, patient hands pushing Draco's away each time he reaches for it.
There is no urgency, though their sighs and kisses build to gasps and moans. If Draco had ever thought to imagine it, he would have imagined Hagrid coming in a great roar. But when it happens, Hagrid is nearly silent. His hold on Draco tightens, pulling Draco to him. Kissing him deeply, his tongue fills Draco's mouth. Trapped in his grasp, feeling Hagrid's groan rumbling through his chest, Draco comes with a cry.
Curled together in the silent aftermath, Hagrid runs his fingers over Draco's hair. It tickles a bit, but Draco is disinclined to pull away. He doesn't even raise his head when Hagrid stands, lifting him easily to move the few steps over to the bed. Laying him down, Hagrid pulls Draco's shoes off, and then his own, before lying down with him. Cocooned within his arms, feeling Hagrid's breathing steady and deep as a great bellows, Draco sleeps.