Snacks and Letters - Part 90

Authors: [info]sionna_raven and [info]valkyriekat
Title: Snacks and Letters - Part 90
Word Count: 3960


Ten minutes later I trot towards the entrance door, leash and collar between my teeth. I can hardly put on the collar myself after I've transformed and it's quite uncomfortable to wear it during transformation. Snape emerges from the dungeon stairs and snarls at two students who torment a salamander. I do my duty as the Headmaster's hound and round them up for him to tell them off.

Snape seems to like that kind of discipline.

He puts the collar around my neck. Good, he remembers to check that it's not too tight. He's obviously not used to holding a leash, much too short and tense. I shake my head and look up to his face. Give me a bit more room and we're not stumbling over eachother's feet.

“Heel.” , he orders me. Sure, whatever you say. You don't pull; I don't pull. Deal?

On the stairs he notices that a short leash doesn't give him more control. That's better. You don't need the leash anyway, I'm not going to run away. Not yet. Sirius wants me to be a good boy. I hope he doesn't intend to leave the strap on for the whole walk. I'm looking forward to stretch my legs.

There's a light snowfall. I like it. It doesn't penetrate my fur. Snape pulls his scarf closer around his neck. I rub my head against him to warm him. He doesn't seem to know what to do, but reluctantly pats my head. Not bad, with a bit of practise he'll be a decent human.

We pass some rocks and I stop for sniffing. Fang has been here recently and some other dog I don't know. I lift my leg. Snape looks consternated. What does he think we're doing? I need to inform the locals that I'm back. Why don't you remove the leash? You could put your hand in your warm pockets and I could do my sniffing.

At the edge of the forest there's a hare. Snape doesn't notice. I stand still, watch and listen. Now Snape has seen it, too.

“No hunting, Padfoot. I've already told Sirius.”

All right, all right, I got the point. No hunting. It's fine with me. I don't hate hares. I don't enjoy killing. I'm not hungry, but I'd like to run, to chase. Run free on the Hogwarts grounds, just for the fun of it.

I do calming signals again, look down, yawn, slightly wagging my tail and then I look at him. Do away with the leash. If you let me go, I'll stay. I can smell Snape's insecurity. He doesn't trust me. He needs the leash to feel safe and in control. I lower my head in resignation. It takes patience to train a man. After all he's been through, he has to learn again to trust his dog. His dog? Snape's dog? I used to be James' dog or was James my boy? He played with me, shared his food and let me run wherever I wanted and I protected him. I'd like to have a human who can look after me. Not that I need looking after, but it's nice to know that someone can, should I need it. I press my nose into Snape's hand. He twitches and growls about slobbering mutts. All right, let's try something more advanced.

There's a stick on the side of the path. I pick it up and carry it a while. We have reached the lake. Snape stops and looks over the glittering surface. He loosens the leash a bit. Just enough for me to move in front and sit. I wag my tail expectantly.

“You want me to unleash you and throw the stick, don't you?” I stand and jump up and down on my front legs, wagging. “Why should I do that? Most likely you'll run after the hare and be gone for hours.”

I stop jumping and sit again. I won't, trust me, trust me.

“Let's see how much you can control yourself. Will you obey my orders, Padfoot?”

I wag my tail. He opens the spring catch and takes the stick. I want to jump again, but I know he won't like that. I wait. My eyes follow every movement of the stick. Throw! Do it! Now! Stop teasing!

“Stay!”, he says and throws the stick. I watch it fly and land behind a bush of gorse. “Fetch!”

I run and fall into a snow-filled ditch beside the path. No reason to halt. I shake the snow off, sneeze and run around the bush sniffing. There are several sticks, but I can find the one smelling of me and Snape. Running back, jump the ditch this time and I sit at Snape's feet, holding the stick, wagging.

Snape takes the stick and I wait again for his order to fetch it. This time it has landed on plain ground. I find it within seconds. When I try to pick it up, it jumps. I bark in joy. I like this game and jump after the stick which flies through the air, makes loops and evades me. Snape is standing on the path making it jump with his wand. I hardly remember when someone played with me like that. James knew the trick, but nobody else did. A few more jumps and I catch it in the air.

Snape walks along the lakeside the lake throwing the stick for me to fetch and I bring it back every time. The stick hits a rock, bounces off and falls on the ice. I hesitate. The ice won't carry my weight. Tapping with a paw I hear it cracking. I look at Snape to do something. He smirks.

“You know as a dog you're a good deal more reasonable than as a man.”

I doubt Sirius would jump into ice-cold water without good reason, but you never know what men consider good reason. Snape seems to agree that a stick is not. He calls me.

“What do you think, Padfoot, enough running for today? Show that you can be a well behaved walking companion.”

Does he still doubt I am? I move to his left side and rub my nose against his thigh. I'm starting to get used to his smell. He smells like Alexi of peppermint, chocolate and pickled toads. What I like most about him is that he's not talking all the time. He says what is necessary and that's all. Some humans talk and talk and talk and say nothing. No wonder that they usually don't get what's going on around them.

Another hare is running in the distance. Snape sees it, too. His hand goes down to my collar. I watch the hare, but I've promised to stay with Snape. The hare is gone. I turn my head and lick at his fingers in my collar. He moves one finger through my fur.

We have reached the edge of Hagrid's garden. It's bare of plants except a few kales. One of the now brown stalks is moving suspiciously. I hear a thin and all too familiar piping. I don't care about Snape's hand on my neck and run. One jump and a squeal! I throw the dead rat over the garden wall.

Snape orders me back. He's angry, grabs my collar and puts the leash back on.

“So much about listening to what I say and obeying orders.”

I pull him over and show him. He must understand. Not hunting; killing rats! No fun, necessity!

He looks at the dead animal and at me. I look at him pleadingly. He returns my look thoughtfully. It reminds me of Remus. No, not exactly like Remus, Snape's eyes show understanding rather than that annoying look of pity.

I walk over to the water barrel at the corner of Hagrid's hut and turn human. I crash the ice and put my head into the water. Get rid of the horrible taste and smell of rat!


While Sirius is demeaning himself with water – though I imagine that rat tasted so very pleasant – I ready myself to knock on Hagrid's door. Then I remember the collar. The chain. I snort and walk over and undo the collar. I hold the chain, and smirk at him. “Hagrid would just love to see me walking you. He actually trusts me with your well-being. Unless he thinks I am driving you mad. I hope he's right on that last count.”

I drop the collar and chain over Sirius' outstretched hands. He's looking at me with a half-smile. That's worse than a glare. He knows it, the bastard, and he keeps smiling and he knocks on Hagrid's door before I get the chance.

“Thanks for the walk,” he says as Hagrid booms “C'min.”

He's sitting at the scrubbed wooden table in colossal work shirt, shelling peas as he so likes to do. His new boarhound is also called Fang, it seems he likes the name. I can't tell the difference but I'm sure Sirius can. Well, even I can see it's a younger and thinner dog. Boarhounds are not the most aesthetically pleasing dogs. I like that this one's nature is the same as the other. As Hagrid beckons us to sit down he puts his head in Sirius' lap and drools.

Your new mate Fang has the same name as his predecessor then?” Sirius asks abruptly. Hagrid waves a huge hand and dabs his streaming eyes with the same spotted handkerchief he has been using for years. At least it's clean.

While Hagrid tells Sirius about where he purchased Fang and that he came from a student, Sirius smiles. Apparently it's one of the Slytherins, Briony Wilkes, that has been causing trouble. Sirius' head creases for a second, then he says, “She got that part right, then. Was it at her suggestion?”

If I agreed to buy my dog food from her.” Hagrid smiles his whiskery smile.

Figures,” Sirius smiles again. I see. If I want that reaction from Sirius I should be ten feet tall and hulking, with an sixteen foot half-brother living in the forest with a nineteen foot giantess.

I muse as my eyes rove as ever over the cabin, seeking automatically the place I'd find certain roots, herbs, the odd unicorn hair and sometimes dropped Knarl quills. Hagrid follows my eye, it seems.

“I remember yeh – gatherin' – roots an' berries an' herbs an' bits o' rare plant and animal stuff. Nickin', you'd call it. Thievin' even. You and young Regulus creepin' about when yeh'd find me not at all. I'm not blamin' yeh. Nah. No more'n I'd blame Harry for knowin' more than he ought. Him- an' Hermione an' Ron of course. What a handful. Now look at them! Aurors and Hermione Head of Department at her age. Bright one. Even brighter than Lily, and that's saying some...”

Something quite unnecessary. Drop Lily Evans. Now.” I just bark at him. My teeth are bared. Hagrid, to my consternation seems surprised but still rather amused. “Thought you might like to...”

I have other things on my mind these days. Switch topics.” I snarl.

“All right. Remember in your Third year I showed yeh the Thestrals?” Hagrid looks weepy.

I can scarcely forget.” One bothersome topic to another.

Could you see them in Third year?” Sirius asks inquisitively, almost accusatory I think.

Yes,” I say through gritted teeth. “If you must know, then I'll tell you in some detail.”

“You tried to pretend not to see them, I remember, Headmaster.” Hagrid is less boisterous and a lot more thoughtful. Thank Salazar.

“I will tell you if I am not interrupted.”

I won't say...” Hagrid begins.

“Now that I have been interrupted, there will be quiet. Fine. I was six years old, playing in a sandbox when I first saw her. Some older kids were bothering me and some younger kids pitched in too. Four on one. I am sure that sounds familiar, but these were Muggle children in my neighbourhood. And old woman feeding the pigeons put a stop to it. I looked at her and remember she seemed to know this had happened before. Whenever I played, she would look out her window and come and stop the other kids calling me names and throwing sand in my face. Calmed the other kids when I levitated things. One day, after about three weeks, I looked up and she was slumped sideways, and she seemed to be trying to lift her arm but couldn't. She looked scared. I went and put my hand on her hand...and she went calm, and th
en just died, right there. I know now it was a stroke. She had known I was magic, and had accepted me. I had known she was a Muggle, and had accepted her.” My stupid sappy side seeps out.

Hagrid had massive tears in his eyes and when I looked up at Sirius he looked very odd. He keeps his mouth shut on the topic. He looks troubled. I think he thinks I must be anti-Muggle simply by virtue of being a Slytherin. Has he not noticed the Weasleys? Hagrid's sobbing makes things easier. Someone to snipe at.

“Pull yourself together, you're too easily swayed. Just like last time.” I stand. “I think it's time to leave. I must get to the office and have some time to think without interruptions.”

I almost say, “and tears” but Hagrid is not wise to turn against us.

Sirius stands too. I notice a pungent smell coming from his hand, what looks like a strip of dried honeycomb. It's the terror treat of cow rumen. Fang takes it eagerly from his hand.

Just an excuse to leave. Sirius is thanking Hagrid for the visit. “See yeh, Headmaster, always welcome y'know,” Hagrid sniffs at me.

You are welcome at the Headmaster's office at any time, Hagrid.” It's the closest I'll come to an apology. Then I remember.

“Could you heal a Salamander for me? It's been burned on the stomach by irresponsible students and looks like it has scale rot too.”

I bring the salamander out of my pocket and place it in Hagrid's outstretched hand. He brings out his other hand, and though I hate shaking the wrong hand, I shake.

Buckbeak out back?” Sirius asks, “I'd love to see him.”

“Beaky! He's right at the pumpkin patch. Don't call him Witherwings. Just Buckbeak.
” I smile slightly as Sirius tears off around the end of the cabin, happier than I've seen him recently, even the bike ride. I'm not going near Hagrid's creatures. The talon may be in the next bangers and mash.


Severus looks less than enthusiastic about meeting Buckbeak. I remember Harry said something about an attack after Dumbledore's death.

I grab the dead rat by the tail and walk over to the pumpkin patch. Buckbeak blinks and jerks his head. Then he makes a clucking sound with his beak and purrs deep down in his throat. I bow slightly and give him the rat which he swallows immediately.

Beaky lowers his head and pecks at my shoulders. I ruffle his feathers.

“All right, old boy, it's all right. You still remember me, do you?”

Buckbeak spreads his wings and bows low inviting me to climb on his back.

“No, not today, Beaky. The headmaster doesn't like spontaneous flights. I live here now and we'll be seeing each other as much as possible. Maybe he gives us permission to fly another day.”

Severus doesn't look like it and Beaky turns his head sideways to muster him carefully with one of his beady eyes..

“Oh c'mon, say hello to each other and make friends. Severus, I assume you know how to introduce yourself to a hippogriff? Once we're done with the formalities, Buckbeak is a very loyal and polite pet.”

Severus reluctantly bows to the hippogriff and Buckbeak returns the greeting. They should get along pretty well from now on, both being quite similar in their need to be treated with respect.

“Are we done with Care of Magical Creatures now?”

“Not quite, scratch him at this spot right above his beak. He really likes that. See, he is clucking his beak.”

Severus rolls his eyes as Buckbeak starts pecking at the buttons of his coat.

We take our leave from Buckbeak a few minutes later. Severus holds up the collar and I obediently turn into Padfoot again. I shake my head as he tries to attach the leash. We don't need it. I walk at his side like a good dog.

Back at the castle I shake off the snow in the middle of the entrance hall and turn human again. The students really enjoy it. Especially as Filch storms in and rants over professors giving a bad example to the students, making his work even harder and all that. I remove the water with a flick of my wand. No need to make such a fuss about it.

“Any plans for the afternoon, Severus?”

“I think you should get on with prepare your lessons. You've got much to do. I'll be meeting Minerva for tea. I'll expect this month's lessons outlined by Thursday, if you want a night out.”

“All right Headmaster, I'll be doing my homework.” I've actually intended to work on that anyway.


After taking the hound for his trip to Hagrid's and Sirius insistence on me overcoming my dislike of Buckbeak. Sirius just climbed on and took flight the moment he met Buckbeak. Dumbledore told me about how he escaped the Dementors I would have let suck his soul dry. Bloody show-off Gryffindor. Always has to do things the grand way. I'd like him to see that beast rearing at him, talons ready to dig deeply and slash – as friendly as a Blast-Ended Skrewt and I hope Sirius remembers Hagrid trying to procure a Manticore in our Second year. It took Professor Kettleburn to sort that out.

My mind is on Minerva now. She said to meet for tea at her office. Stiff wooden chairs and tartan everywhere. Her fire is always well tended, and the ginger newts don't exactly taste terrible. I can deal with her because she always speaks her mind. One of the few.

I drop off my cloak in the dungeon office and pick up the student register and a file of complains about Emil Jugson and Briony Wilkes, all penned by her and other irritated staff members. And about five notes about three other students. One of them is a Flint in Gryffindor. A relative of Sirius and myself, perhaps? I put in a note about the Ravenclaw boys myself, regarding Fawcett and Peakes. It's good to play relativity when to comes to miscreants from other houses.

I keep thinking of the malicious smile the boy torturing the salamander. That isn't something you'd find me doing at that age. Not Sirius, not even James Potter. More of a Pettigrew style. Or the departed Bellatrix.

I am thinking so internally I offshoot Minerva's office door by several yards. I double back, grinding my teeth, and feel humiliated to discover my face has flushed at not paying attention, something I always tell the students.

An impatient foot set an inch hight is tapping at McGonagall's door. I flush even more horribly. One would expect it at fourteen...not now.

Tell me Severus, are you going to walk past again? You're late.”

Four minutes, the world will not expire because I was not here earlier to listen to you vent your spleen,” I come back at her.

That's not the point.” Her words are like knives cutting. Sharp.

Then skip the diatribe.” I'm a bit short with her today.

Minerva considers me. “Do sit, I shall fetch the tea- if it has not gone stone cold.” But she's smiling.

I sit in one of the wooden chairs and feel like I'm sitting on two points. The chair is hard and unforgiving on my bony rear. I shift.

“Would you like a pillow?”

“I'm quite fine, thank you. What is your complaint today? The moon run out of shine?” I refer to her home made Firewhiskey. She rarely touches it. But when she does, she actually lets down her hair for what seems .028 of a minute.

“I won't bother with asinine...” she begins.

“You must bother with asinine comments or you couldn't ever have been Headmistress or Head of Gryffindor.”

..” she tries to stay stern but her lips twitch. She brings out the tartan tin and offers me a ginger newt. One must take a ginger newt. If you don't she summarily ejects you from her office.

“What is the problem this time? You should be telling the Deputy Headmaster, but he's got company at the moment. Sirius. Enjoying books and papers...he's not a complete loss so far. He seems able to adapt.”

Of course he does. Clever, he always was, but never a knowledge for it's own sake Ravenclaw.” Minerva's gaze is misted as she thinks back. She seems to like those days. She always shooed us apart, Sirius and I. Once with a broomstick, another time with a large swishing ruler, and countless times with her wand.

It's Sirius I wish to discuss. You can put down your register and your lists of current offences. They don't mean the same as a simple ride on a motorbike.” She pours out some tea, I can't remember which it is by smell. I take a sip and think of motorbikes. I wince inside but remain inscrutable. She's going to tell me off for overreacting to the motorbike trip, or wax ecstatic over her small part in the adventure.

“You never saw eye to eye. But at breakfast you did more. You didn't watch Sirius at all during breakfast. You showed more than antipathy, you even showed trust in not watching. Much as you may hate to hear it – you welcomed Sirius to the school. You even took part in decorating his office along with that aged elf of his.”

Am I allowed to vomit yet, Minerva?” I can tell my eyes have that glitter they get when either I or those around me should feel fear. She should watch it.

Your point is?” I snap.

“You have a friend. Accept him.”

I've done that! How many owls did he send over the past months!” I snarl it.

“Then congratulations.”

“You try taking the lousy mutt for a walk, see how he tries to convince you foot-long talons are friendly.”

Minerva actually giggles. I glare at her. “Having fun?” I snap.

She comes to her senses. “
Not at all, Headmaster.”

She grips me with her talon-like grip on the shoulder. I still feel like I'm sitting on sharp edges. It just enhances my oh so happy mood.

“I'll just act on my own about the miscreants then.”

“As you must, Severus, as you do anyway.”
She winks, letting go of her pincer grip, and I want to bellow in frustration. Instead I decide to frustrate her.

Thank you for your input Minerva. Always appreciated.” I set down my tepid tea.

“The same.”

I retreat from her office, thinking about Sirius, and Sirius himself bumps into me with an armful of paperwork.


October 2013

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