Disclaimer: All characters and settings of Harry Potter are the property of J.K. Rowling and her publishers. No money is being made.

~ 1 ~

Before he wakes up in his hut on a bed smelling of wet dog, closer to death than life with Nagini's venom coursing through his veins, Severus had never spared Hagrid a second thought. He'd considered him a mad oaf, a simpleton whose life he valued as little as his own at the end of the war.

Apparently, Hagrid had thought of him differently.

Maybe he is mad indeed, for saving Severus from the Shrieking Shack after the battle and hiding him from everyone – until he'll be ready to face the world, Hagrid says.

What other reason could there be?

~ 2 ~

Slowly, over long weeks, Hagrid coaxes Severus's body to health again, administering salves and potions, feeding and bathing him, big calloused hands touching as gently as any nurse's.

Severus hates every second of it, hates being handled like a helpless infant, too weak to move or even speak in the beginning. It reminds him too much of his mother, faint memories of how she had been before her marriage turned sour and her caresses had been replaced with the belt.

He'd rather be at St Mungo's with impersonal caregivers – or better yet, dead. What is there to live for, anyway?

~ 3 ~

Day by day, when he's awake, Severus watches Hagrid bustle about his hut.

A simpleton he may be, but he knows how to treat hurt creatures. Few days go by without him caring for some animal belonging to Hogwarts or brought with him from the Forbidden Forest, and however frightened they may be, he manages to make each and every one trust him.

Hagrid is good with animals and, loath as Severus is to admit it, he's good with Severus, too. He may resent him, but he feels as safe with Hagrid as any of the beasts he brings home.

~ 4 ~

Almost every day, there comes a point when Severus wonders how Hagrid can stand him. He's never been likeable, and being sick only makes his bad temper worse. But Hagrid is never anything other than kind, never annoyed with Severus's outbursts and insults. His demands to let him die.

When Severus asks, the answer is as simple as he'd considered the man to be: "It's yer nature. No use ter be gettin' upset."

He doesn't know what to make of it, but when Hagrid carefully tucks the covers around him, he closes his eyes with a strange feeling of comfort.

~ 5 ~

Severus is glad to be out of bed for a change, wrapped up in blankets in the big leather armchair, even if he disliked having to be carried.

"Why can't you ask Slughorn?"

Hagrid shakes his head as he watches him chop and slice with hands that are no longer trembling. "He's not half as good as ye."

There's no doubt that Slughorn's skills would suffice to heal Hagrid's pet Jobberknoll, but Severus can't deny feeling flattered that Hagrid asked him instead.

He's been a burden on him for nearly three months – now, for once, it's good to be useful.