Written for: snorkackcatcher
Length: 2800 words
Character(s): Hagrid, Albus Severus, background trio/Ginny
Author's Notes: Okay, snorkackcatcher, I tried to surprise you with some of your requests/scenarios! Slightly more of a character study than a plot-driven story, but I hope the result is to your liking anyway. Happy Holidays!
“Don’t forget Hagrid’s invited you to tea next Friday.” — Harry Potter
Albus Severus Potter rolled over in bed with a yawn. Cracking the curtains that hung around his bed, he peered out of the Gryffindor tower window. Seeing a sunny, clear day, he cheered up immensely. It’d be a perfect day for flying, he thought to himself. He was dying to try out the school brooms, and today was his second day of class with Madam Hooch. Maybe today she’d actually let them do more than hover a foot off of the ground!
He scampered out of bed, grinning in excitement, and threw on his school robes. Running to the loo, he hastily brushed his teeth and ran his fingers through his hair. Despite double Potions today with the Hufflepuffs, he was really looking forward to the afternoon. Grabbing his knapsack, he raced down to the Great Hall, hoping to make it to breakfast before the House Elves vanished the last of the morning pastries.
Skidding to a halt at the Gryffindor table, he nodded to the last of his fellow stragglers and hunted for the raspberry jam.
“Oh, hey, there, Albus Severus,” a giant voice boomed from above his head. “Don’ be fergettin’, now, yer to pop by fer some tea this afternoon. I’ve made yer father’s favorite—my famous rock cakes.”
Albus jumped in surprise, barely avoiding dropping his scone jam-first down the front of his robes. Looking up, he saw Hagrid’s beaming face.
“Right,” he squeaked. “See you then.”
As Hagrid walked away, Albus gulped and closed his eyes. Suddenly today didn’t seem quite so full of promise as it had before.
All the way through Potions, Albus found his attention wandering. He really did like the class—he had always loved tinkering with his toy cauldron set at home, much to his father’s surprise, giggling with glee every time he managed to produce a puff of pine-scented smoke or a bowlful of soapy suds. And even though it was only his second week of school, he thought Potions might be his favorite class so far. He loved being able to do something with magic and get immediate results. Transfiguration and Charms were fun and all, but it took too long to get past the beginner stuff.
Still, today he was having a hard time focusing. He kept thinking about this afternoon’s tea with Hagrid. It’s not like he had never spent time with Hagrid before; he had come around for tea a few times at home, and whenever the family went to Hogwarts, they always made time to stop by the aging caretaker’s hut. But Albus had never been alone with the giant before … He knew perfectly well that Hagrid was as gentle as a newborn kitten. And Albus was a Gryffindor—he was brave and courageous, right? The Hat had said so. His father had even become instant friends with Hagrid when he was Albus’s age, and James went down for tea from time to time. He wasn’t sure what had him so preoccupied today, but one thing was for sure; he was most certainly not afraid.
Albus relaxed in spades during the afternoon’s flying class. The school’s brooms weren’t quite what he was used to at home, but they were still pretty decent. He, James, and Lily occasionally got to play beginner’s Quidditch with their parents and cousins, but none of them were allowed to fly more than five feet off the ground without a tandem broom until they were ten. Albus had gotten fairly good at higher elevations over the past year and was really hoping he could get a good feel for the Gryffindor brooms before Quidditch tryouts in two weeks.
Today, Madam Hooch had spent time with each of her students individually to assess their flying experience and sort them into smaller groups based on skill. He had immediately been placed into the top group, which meant that they were allowed to work on more advanced turning and braking techniques. It had been perfect weather, and he was happy to have found a broom that seemed to have a good combination of turning speed and steadiness at higher altitudes. He grinned, thinking that maybe he might just have a chance to make Chaser after all.
But all too soon, class was over, and he had only five minutes to run back up to the dormitory and drop off his bag before he was due at Hagrid’s. Good mood vanishing, he decided to skip going back to his room. Waving his friends on, he trudged down the hill toward Hagrid’s hut.
As warm as the weather was, there was a homey stream of smoke piping out of the chimney. A few chickens pecked around in the dirt near the pumpkin patch, and an aged Crup lounged in the back yard. Albus arrived at the front door and gulped. You’re a Gryffindor, you can do this, he whispered to himself, and raised his hand to knock.
Just then, the door swung open with a crash. “Hello there, Albus Severus,” Hagrid said jovially. “Yer just in time fer tea, ye are.”
“Thanks,” Albus whispered. Eyes wide, he stumbled into Hagrid’s hut, looking behind him wistfully as Hagrid shut the door.
“Now,” Hagrid said, clapping his hands together in excitement. “How d’ye like yer tea? Sugar, milk, lemon?”
“Just milk, please,” Albus said. Sitting down on the chair Hagrid waved him towards, he tucked his legs up underneath him and looked around. Everything here was so big; it made him feel like he was in some sort of reverse dollhouse. The mug Hagrid handed him was more like a soup bowl.
“No need ter stand on ceremony.” Hagrid passed him a plate of rock cakes. “These’uns have raisins in ‘em. Help yerself, I’ll send you home with a sack of ‘em if ye’d like.”
“Thanks,” Albus said, taking the smallest and softest-looking one of the lot. He was glad his dad had forewarned him to dunk it in his tea first before trying to chew it. He busied himself doing just that, holding an end of the cake into his tea mug and waiting for it to soften.
Hagrid looked at him expectantly, so Albus took a tentative bite, then pasted a smile on his face and nodded. “Glad ye like ‘em! Yer dad and that lot used to love ‘em, they did,” he smiled wistfully. “Don’ be shy, now, eat up.”
Albus suppressed a smile and took another small bite before setting the cake down on his saucer.
“So, then! How d’ye like finally being at Hogwarts after all?” Hagrid asked, sitting back in his chair with a slight grunt.
Albus nodded. “It’s fine, I guess.”
“Ye happy to be in Gryffindor, I suppose,” the giant continued, breaking off the end of a rock cake and popping it into his mouth with glee.
“I guess,” Albus repeated, sipping his tea.
Hagrid’s brow furrowed. “Oh, come now, it’s got ter be a bit more excitin’ than that, dunnit? Making new friends, learnin’ all sorts of new things? Or is that brother of yours givin’ ye trouble?”
Albus set his cup down carefully, trying not to slosh any tea out onto the floor. “No, no, James is okay,” he responded. “He’s not bad, that is.”
“Good kid, James,” Hagrid agreed. “He comes ter see me from time t’ time, d’ye know? Looks like yer dad; sometimes I ferget what year it is. Just needs yer Aunt Hermione and yer Uncle Ron right next ter him t’complete the picture, like. More so fer you, I dare say.”
Albus hummed in neutral agreement. It wasn’t the first time since he’d arrived that someone had compared him to his famous father.
“But I spose ye get tired o’ hearin’ that,” Hagrid said, peering down at the young boy. “Must be a bit difficult ter settle in, people confusin’ ye for someone else?”
Albus shrugged, tensing a bit. “Maybe a little.”
“Ah, too bad,” Hagrid said. “Yer father went through enough o’ that when he were a student here.”
“Really?” Albus asked, surprised. He had heard plenty of stories about Hogwarts from both of his parents, but he hadn’t remembered his dad ever mentioning that.
“Oh, sure. Yer granddad Potter were quite the mischief-maker, he was, and so were his friends. Yer dad looks just like ‘im, ye see, so there were quite a lot of folk around here that thought he’d also act just like ‘im,” Hagrid explained. “And o’course, you’d already know that he’s got yer grandmum’s eyes.”
“Yeah, Mum told me once,” Albus said, intrigued. “Said it was part of how I got my name, but that’s about it.”
“Ah, right,” Hagrid settled back. “Well, it really is a story that ought ter come from them, but let me just say that lookin’ like his parents was both a blessin’ and a curse for yer dad when he was here.”
“How?” Albus asked, leaning forward and reaching for his tea.
“Oh, some thought that he’d surely end up just like his dad, maybe gettin’ into a mite too much trouble. But others remembered that yer granddad was a good person, in the end, and so was yer grandmum, and so sometimes some folk thought maybe he got away with a bit too much, and others tried to help ‘im out a bit more. It was a bit harder on him, though, since he didn’t ever really get to know his parents,” Hagrid said with a sniff.
“Yeah,” Albus replied. He’d heard that part of the story, at least. “I didn’t know that people had been mean to him because of it, though.”
“Well, like I said, it’s a story that ought ter come from your mum and dad, but have they ever told you about the people they named you after?” Hagrid asked.
Albus nodded, chewing raptly on a rock cake.
“I mean, surely you’d know all about Albus Dumbledore,” Hagrid continued. “Great man, Dumbledore. But Severus Snape, well, there was one that had us all fooled, see. He turned out to be a goodie after all, but for a long time we all weren’t quite sure what he were up to. Well, he had gone to school with your grandparents, mind, and let’s just say they didn’t always get along. So when yer dad showed up to school, he had a hard time tellin’ the difference between James and Harry. Gave yer dad quite a hard time in school, he did. But as it turned out, he did it fer yer dad’s own good, like, so don’ be holdin’ it against him too much. Ask her dad about it sometime, if ye like.”
“Oh, I will,” Albus said in fascination. All he had ever heard about Severus Snape was that he was a former Hogwarts professor and an incredibly brave man that had given his life in the war. He hadn’t known that he and his dad hadn’t liked each other.
“Now, yer mum didn’t have it quite so hard,” Hagrid laughed. “Sure, she and all yer uncles have the same fiery hair, but since yer mum was a girl and all, she rather stuck out from the family, see.”
Albus nodded. Sometimes his mum got overlooked in the stories of the old days. “Did—did you know her, too?” he asked tentatively.
“Oh, yeah, sure did. That Ginny was somethin’ special, she were,” Hagrid reminisced. “She had quite the little schoolgirl crush on yer dad for ages, but he never noticed.”
Albus giggled. It was hard to think of his mum having a crush on his dad. “That’s silly. Why didn’t he notice her?”
“Well, I think he just thought of her as your uncle Ron’s sister for a while,” Hagrid mused. “But then after a while, she gave up on him, and—”
“She what?” Albus interrupted.
“Oh, yeah. Seems that she thought yer dad would never get around to noticing her, so why waste her time? Better for her to move on, like,” Hagrid said. “She used ter come down here from time to time too, y’know.”
“Wow,” Albus said. “But then what happened?”
“Seems like yer dad started noticing her more once she wasn’t so worried about making a good impression,” Hagrid chuckled. “Once she relaxed and started being herself, he started paying a lot more attention.”
Albus sat back with a smile. His parents had told them all about how they’d met, their courtship, and so forth, but this was a new side to things. He couldn’t wait to tease his dad about it later. “So then what?”
“Then what?” Hagrid asked. “Oh. Well, I don’t rightly know, really. I spose that at some point, yer dad and yer mum decided that they were in love, and that were that, so ter speak.”
“Oh,” Albus said, a bit dejectedly.
“But I tell yer what I do remember,” Hagrid said a bit conspiratorially. “Now, yer dad didn’t come back to school after the war, y’know. But yer mum did, along with yer auntie Hermione. And the two of them had quite the time, they did. Oh, don’t misunderstand, now, yer mum was always sold on yer dad. But there was this one time when the Keeper of the Gryffindor team kissed yer mum after they won the big game against Slytherin. Oh, you should’ve seen the look on yer dad’s face when he thought maybe yer mum fancied another bloke. Red as a beet, he were. Well, that night, yer mum thought he’d gone off home, like, but instead he’d gone down t’the pub, knocked a few too many back. And he showed back up at Hogwarts that night in quite the state, y’see. Hopped on ‘is broom, flew up t’ the Gryffindor tower, right in her open window, and proposed right then ‘n there.”
“Whoa,” Albus said, mouth gaping open. The way his parents told the story, it was all romantic and mushy. His dad had wanted to propose to his mum, so he flew gallantly up to the tower and serenaded her from outside the window, and she fell into his arms and they lived happily ever after. “Dad was … drunk?”
“Oh, maybe not drunk,” Hagrid said loyally. “But from my window right here, I could see that he were flyin’ a bit more wobbly than usual, let’s say.”
Albus couldn’t help it. He broke out in peals of laughter, thinking about the look on James’s face when he told him.
“But don’t you worry. After yer mum slapped him silly, she said yes. Well, you probably could guess that part anyway,” Hagrid finished with a grin.
The two sat and laughed for a minute. “Hagrid,” Albus asked after he calmed himself down, “Mum was a good Quidditch player, wasn’t she?”
“One of the best,” Hagrid exclaimed. “But don’ be tellin’ me that you didn’t know that.”
“Well, I mean, I know she played professionally before I was born,” Albus said. “But here at school, I meant. She was good, right?”
“Absolutely,” Hagrid said with a firm nod. “She were very good. If you ask me,” he leaned forward and whispered, “she could take your dad three out of five games. But don’t you go tellin’ him I said that, or he’ll be up here in a trice t’ argue.”
Albus smiled to himself. “I—I just think that maybe I’d like to be a Chaser. Like Mum,” he explained quietly.
“Well, now! Is that it, is it? Well, young Albus Severus, I think that is a fine idea. A fine idea,” Hagrid repeated, dabbing suspiciously at one eye. “Ye’ve got Potions this term too, right?”
Albus nodded, confused about the sudden change of topic.
“Yer dad could barely keep ‘imself from blowing up the Potions lab when he were a student,” Hagrid said. “But yer mum—now, she had a dab hand, if I remember aright.” Looking down at his young student, he winked and smiled.
Albus looked up at him and grinned widely. Suddenly he had a hard time remembering why he had thought the big man was so scary. No, not scary—intimidating. Yes, that’s it.
“But look, now, it’s gettin’ awful dark out. Off with ye, now,” Hagrid said, standing up. “Off with ye, before ye miss yer dinner.”
“All right,” Albus said. Standing up, he handed Hagrid his giant tea mug. Pausing at the door, he turned around and looked up at his host. “Um, Hagrid?”
“Hmm?” Hagrid asked.
“Um, d’you think I can come back sometime? You know—for tea?” the young boy asked quietly.
“Now you listen to me, Albus Severus,” the giant boomed. “Anytime, ye hear? Anytime ye’d like, yer welcome here, with or without yer brother. I reckon I can dig up another story or two, if yer so inclined.”
Albus smiled and nodded. “Thanks, Hagrid,” he said, taking off toward the castle. After a second, though, he paused and turned around.
“Oh, Hagrid, by the way,” he called, “my friends call me Al.”