Title: Anger Management
Author: Emily Waters
Inspired by: Rettavex, aka BondingFetish (she had the idea, I wrote it up!)
Genre: Humor/Parody, Hurt/Comfort, Romance.
Summary: Harry is sent to take anger management classes. To his shock, he discovers that Severus Snape was sent to take the same classes as well. Can the two war heroes learn to manage their anger? Should they?
The ignominy of his predicament weighed heavily upon him, as Harry James Potter, Auror, Special Investigations was about to walk into the classroom Kingsley had sent him to.
Anger management, Harry thought derisively. Fuck anger management. Fuck Kingsley, too. And fuck Ron, for being the clear-headed and reasonable these days. Fuck everyone. He had no problems with anger. This was the most ridiculous thing ever, but he fully intended to humor Kingsley and get it over with, so he could go back to his job...
He surveyed the classroom from the doorway. A few people, more men than women. Big surprise here, Harry thought, and then, his eyes fixed on the one familiar face in the crowd of strangers.
Well, I'll be fucking damned, Harry thought with a gleeful smile. Severus Snape was here too. At least something was right with the universe. Harry smirked, and made his way to the empty seat next to him.
"Well, well, well, how the mighty have fallen," Harry said, heavy on sarcasm.
Snape's lips curled into a highly unattractive sneer. "Unless you are here to teach the class, Potter, it appears that you have stumbled as well. Or perhaps more than stumbled." There was a definite note of malice in Snape's voice.
"And what if I'm here to teach the class?" Harry challenged.
"In that case, I'll cast the Killing Curse on myself this instant."
"Tempting as it may be to observe something like that, I regret to say, I'm here to learn," Harry muttered.
"Oh. Pity the instructor then."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry asked, bristling instantly.
Severus just snorted under his breath.
"Why are you here anyway?" Harry asked.
The first sign of genuine rage flashed in Snape's eyes. "The board of governors," he intoned venomously, "have said they'll terminate my teaching contract at Hogwarts, unless I learn to teach without bullying or intimidating the students."
"Oh. Imagine that," Harry said with a wide grin. "Can't see where that came from."
"Neither can I," Severus said tiredly. "For the life of me, they expect me to coddle and fuss over those dunderheads like...."
"Like they are human beings?" Harry supplied bitterly.
"Children are human beings!" Harry spat.
"Children, yes. Teenagers, on the other hand..."
Harry leaned back in his chair and grinned in spite of himself, as he remembered his own vendetta with Snape. "So what did you do this time?"
"Mi've-threat-poison-studn't-rat," Severus mumbled.
"I may have threatened to poison a student's rat," Severus said grimly.
"Oh that. Yes, they really don't like it when you do that."
"Fuck you, Potter."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, threatening to poison a student's rat wouldn't get you sent here," Harry said reasonably. "There must be more to this story. What else did you do?"
"Among other things, called a student's father a swine," Severus said with a note of resignation in his voice. "I think that was the last drop."
"Oh. Who's the lucky winner?"
"Nott Senior was a swine though," Harry said thoughtfully.
"Still, apparently it was traumatic for the brat to hear that."
"Tell that to the board of governors," Severus hissed.
"Would you like me to?" Harry surprised himself by offering. "Mind you, it's not like my word carries much weight these days."
"I imagine not," Severus said almost sympathetically, "otherwise you wouldn't be here. What did you do?"
"Lost my temper," Harry said unapologetically.
"Yes, I think I surprised a few people," Harry said and yawned. "But I'm not really losing any sleep over it."
"What did you do?"
"Beat the stuffing out of a prisoner during interrogation," Harry said matter-of-factly. As hard as he'd tried to feel guilty over it, he just couldn't bring himself to give a fuck. The prisoner was bragging about murdering countless Centaurs and house-elves during the final battle, and Harry simply lost it, and ...
"Badly?" Severus asked. There was no accusation in his voice, Harry was startled to realize.
"Hmmm. Controlling your temper is a valuable skill to have," Severus said almost pleasantly. "Taunting and making idle threats is one thing, physical violence on the other hand..."
"Oh, fuck off," Harry muttered. "You were close to punching me after I've snooped into your favorite Pensieve..."
"You had it coming!"
"You were so damn fucking nasty! I thought you were working for Voldemort!"
Just then, their conversation was interrupted by a cheerful exclamation.
"Good morning, class!"
Harry lifted his eyes to look at the instructor. She was blond, blue-eyed, happy, serene. She was young, Harry thought derisively, not a day older than twenty. He himself was twenty-six, but felt much, much older these days. The war had left him feeling that way. What could he learn from someone like her, someone who had never been in a battle, had never seen friends die, had never nearly lost fucking everything?
"My name is Serenity MacRae. I am going to be your instructor for the next few weeks. Today we are going to start with our first exercise. I am going to introduce you to a relaxation technique. Guided imagery is going to be an integral part of this lesson..."
Harry suppressed a yawn and forced himself to focus. Focus, he thought. Focus, pass the class, walk out, tell Kingsley it was helpful. That was his ticket.
~ * ~
Serenity's melodic voice echoed throughout the classroom. "Imagine a safe place, a quiet place. You are untroubled, free of concerns. You are warm. You are safe. You are cared for. What do you see?"
Harry shut his eyes, desperately trying to think of something- anything.
"What do you see?" Serenity asked.
Startled, Harry realized she was talking to him.
"Um... I guess I picture myself in my mother's arms," Harry said politely. "I'm – er... safe and warm."
"That's wonderful," Serenity approved. "Hold on to that image. Tell me more. What do you see next?"
"Next, the Killing Curse got her," Harry said. "Things kind of went downhill from there."
"Oh. Well, that's not going to work. You'll need another image."
Harry swore under his breath. Apparently, this was going to be harder than he'd realized.
Harry shut his eyes, and desperately tried to summon another image of safety and security.
"Um... Ok. Here's another one. I'm in the Headmaster's office. It's kind of peaceful and quiet. It's nice."
"That's great," Serenity approved again. "Tell me more."
"Then Lucius Malfoy walks in.... oh, bloody hell."
"I'll let you think on that for a few minutes, until you come up with a peaceful, warm, untroubled memory," she said gently. Her blue eyes fixed on Severus Snape. "What about you?"
"What about me?" Severus asked.
"Do you have a peaceful, serene memory to hold on to?"
"Yes," Severus said confidently. "I do."
"Tell me about it."
"It's dark. It's a bit cold, but I don't mind. There's a wound in my throat. I don't mind that either. It doesn't hurt anymore. I'm dying. I've done all I could. It's a good moment."
"That's your best, most peaceful moment?" Serenity seemed genuinely troubled.
"I'm afraid so. Don't get me wrong, it was wonderful. Well, at least until Miss Granger rushed in, brought the anti-venom, and healing potions, and – well, then it all hurt like fucking hell again, for about a week."
"Oh. Well, you know, this isn't going to work, if you won't cooperate," Serenity accused.
"I am cooperating!" Severus snapped. "This is my best memory!"
"Fine," Serenity said. "We are going to proceed with the rest of the lesson."
~ * ~
Two days later, they were making progress. Serenity's hypnotic voice continued to ring. "You've made it to the end of your vision quest. You are standing in front of the fire. You see a figure of a man, the wise old man, the archetypal image from the universal consciousness. Sometimes, he assumes a form of someone you know, or sometimes, his face may be unfamiliar. It's all very individual. The image is about to speak words of wisdom into your life. You are about to have an epiphany. What do you see, Harry?"
"Um." Harry gulped.
"Harry?" Serenity probed.
"Er... my wise old man is dead, I think." His eyes tightly shut, immersed in the imagery of the vision quest, Harry was standing in front of the fire, poking the body of the wise old man with a stick. "Yup. He's dead."
"Mine too," Severus said suddenly.
"No fucking way!" Harry muttered. "Try poking him with a stick!"
"Good idea." Silence. "Still dead. Looks like Dumbledore."
"He does, doesn't he? Dammit all. I guess we aren't having any epiphanies today."
~ * ~
A week and a half later, Harry's patience was wearing thin. The Anger Management classes were grating on his nerves. He started snapping at Ginny. Finally, he yelled at her, and broke some coffee mugs in a fit of rage when she yelled back. She packed up and left, dumping the three children on him. Harry shook his head ruefully. He should have known, she was never the maternal type. Thankfully, the children took it all in stride.
It was all Kingsley's fault. The classes were driving him mad. Raving mad. Next to him, Harry could tell that Severus wasn't faring much better. And the old saying must have been true, that misery loves company, because Harry found himself looking forward to seeing Severus every day that he went to class. But that was the only thing about the class that he enjoyed. Everything else absolutely sucked.
~ * ~
Two weeks into the class, things got a little ridiculous.
"You are deeply relaxed," Serenity chanted. "You are aware, with absolute clarity of every part of your body, every part of you has come alive..."
"What now, Potter?" Severus hissed.
"My scar hurts."
"Damn. The Dark Lord is on the move?"
"No, I think it's psychosomatic. The whole thing about every part of us coming alive..."
"What is it?"
"It fucking hurts, that's what! Who the fuck writes these exercises? I didn't bloody want those things coming alive, did anyone think of this? Huh? Why the fuck would I want my Dark Mark, plus the scars from Nagini, Fluffy and Buckbeak to come alive all at once? What possible good would that do?"
"I think she meant like maybe our toes, or eyelids or something," Harry said.
"Well then, she should have said so!"
"I hate her."
"I hate her too."
~ * ~
"Come on," Severus said once the class was over. "Let me buy you a drink."
"You drink?" Harry probably shouldn't have sounded so shocked, but every time he discovered something human about Severus, he found himself surprised.
"When did that start?"
"The year you came to Hogwarts, actually."
"Oh. You are blaming me for your drinking problem now?" Harry felt instantly resentful.
"Not at all," Severus said peacefully. "It's a mere coincidence, I'm sure, that as soon as you arrived to Hogwarts the Dark Lord followed on your heels."
"You were drinking because of Voldemort," Harry said with sympathy.
Five firewhiskys later, relaxation arrived at last.
"This is much better than that guided imagery bunk," Harry said wistfully. "Tell you the truth, that shit is creepy."
"So... you were like – drinking a lot? During the war, I mean?"
"Did Voldemort torture you a lot?" Harry asked, abandoning all common sense.
Severus' lips twisted into a vicious sneer. "I got him back," he said with satisfaction.
"We got him back," Harry pointed out.
"I suppose you did your part," Severus conceded grudgingly.
Harry smiled. Those words, reluctantly spoken, were music to his ears.
"So he did then? Torture you a lot during your meetings? Was it like in the Muggle movies, whips and chains, or just plain Cruciatus?"
"A little bit of this, a little bit of that," Severus said noncommittally.
"Yesh. No wonder you drank. I mean, I'd drink too..."
"Seriously. Torture was my least favorite part of the war. If it were a regular part of my life, I'd be tempted to get blind-drunk after every, ahem, meeting like that."
"Yes," Severus said, heavy on sarcasm. "After."
"Surely, you do not think I was responding to the Dark Lord's summons sober?"
~ * ~
The third week of Anger Management was even worse than the first two.
"It's important to take responsibility for our own emotions," Serenity said. "Deal with them, without passing the blame to others. For the next hour, we will practice making I statements, instead of you statements."
"Huh?" Harry muttered, feeling as if he was teetering on the brink of insanity.
"The you-language is the language of blame," Serenity explained. "The I-language is the language of personal responsibility. Instead of saying, you are making me angry, we will learn say, I feel upset when..."
"She's pissing me off," Harry whispered turning to Severus.
"I heard that," Serenity interjected coolly. "That was blame-language. It makes me disappointed when you use the blame-language, because it leads me to believe you aren't taking the class seriously. See?" she added cheerfully, as Harry shot her a furious look. "Nothing to it. Now try it for yourself. You'll feel much better."
"I will?" Harry asked, but without much hope in his voice.
"All right. What do I need to do?"
"Think of someone you were angry with, and try to express your frustration using the I-language, instead of the you-language. Remember the formula, Harry."
"The formula," Harry muttered, still struggling with this.
"Let me write this down for you."
Serenity came to the blackboard and took a piece of chalk. She then wrote out in a careful script.
I-language/Language of Personal Responsibility: I feel [ EMOTION] when you [ ACTION ] because [ Explanation ]
"Right," Harry said. "Ok, I'll try. I , er... Fuck."
"I know, this is difficult," Serenity empathized. "But very important. Think of someone you were once upset with, and express your feelings using the I-language."
"Huh. Ok. So, - er, Lucius Malfoy, it made me upset, when you'd unleashed the spirit of Tom Riddle in Hogwarts, because – come on, you bigoted, arrogant fuck, I should have knocked your teeth into a permanent smile that year!"
"Not quite there yet," Serenity said, clearly disappointed. "Keep working on it, Harry."
"What about you, Severus? Can you think of someone you were upset with?" Serenity inquired with her usual infuriating gentleness.
Severus gave her a long, guarded look. "Maybe."
"Try it. Express your feelings, using the I-language. Take responsibility for your feelings, without shifting the blame onto the person you are upset with."
"Huh. Right." Severus took a deep breath. "Voldemort - It made me – upset – when you tried to use your goddamned snake to murder me - because - it makes you look like a fucking cowardly disgusting little prick that you are, and I fucking wish you had died at birth!"
Serenity stared at Severus blankly. "You aren't even trying."
Severus smiled. "You are using blame-language."
Harry grinned, as he noticed two red blotches appear on Serenity's cheeks.
~ * ~
"Tell me, what are we doing there?" Harry asked softly.
"What do you mean?"
They were lounging around in a gentleman's club where Severus brought them. It was comfortable. The armchairs were invitingly and hedonistically soft. The scotch was smooth. The smoke from cigars hovered in the air.
"What I mean is, why are you taking the anger management class?"
"To keep my job," Severus said bluntly.
"What the fuck?" Harry spat. "You don't even like teaching! You are the best duelist in Great Britain, and the top Potions Master in the world. What the fuck are you doing, teaching stupid teenagers how to brew stuff?"
"Put that way, I suppose it sounds a bit ridiculous," Severus conceded. "What else could I do though?"
"You could open your own consulting company," Harry said dreamily. "Or if you still want to teach, you could start your own academy. Teach Legilimency and Occlumency."
"Don't get me wrong, your Occlumency lessons with me were nothing short of dismal, but I think you'd be better at it if your students paid you good money, and kissed your arse. You could like, establish a whole ritual of your own, you know. Like Japanese Karate instructors. You gotta bow to them and call them Master, when you walk into the dojo."
"I think I might enjoy that," Severus mused, and a sincere, happy smile graced his lips. "What about you, Harry? You are the greatest wizard of our days. What are you doing, reporting to Kingsley, taking anger management classes to keep a mediocre job?"
"It's not mediocre! I'm working my way up to..."
"To what?" Severus queried softly. "To head the Auror Office?"
"Maybe. I don't know."
"Maybe you need to figure this out. If you could do anything at all, what would you do?"
Harry shut his eyes and smiled dreamily. "Maybe I would teach. I think I'd be a decent DADA instructor."
"Yes, if you ever got your anger under control," Severus said.
Harry jumped to sit up.
Severus smiled at him. "I'm joking, Harry. Joking about the anger part, not the teaching part. Yes, you'd make an excellent teacher."
Harry felt a strange feeling of warmth spread throughout his entire body. He realized that he definitely liked the drunk Severus Snape, liked him a whole fucking lot.
~ * ~
"Today, we are going to do Geshtalt therapy," Serenity sang.
Harry hated her.
He wanted the world to end.
"If I kill her, will you help me dispose of the body?" he asked Severus.
Severus gave him an odd look that clearly said, I'm not answering that.
~ * ~
"So, Potter, how is your lovely wife doing?"
"She's not my wife!" Harry slammed the empty glass on the counter. "Ginny left me," Harry confessed in a soft voice.
"Anger issues," Harry whispered bitterly. "Mine."
"That's ridiculous," Severus said. "Your anger isn't that bad."
"Still, that's the truth."
"Well, fuck her then."
"I can't," Harry said pointedly. "She's gone."
~ * ~
"Talk to the empty chair," Serenity said. "Pretend that the empty chair is a part of you that is angry..."
"I want to hit her with the empty chair," Harry confessed.
Severus reached for his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "Me too, Harry. Me too."
~ * ~
Severus Snape reeking of alcohol smelled nice. That insane thought materialized into action when Harry reached for Severus' face and planted a moist, sloppy kiss, that half-missed the man's mouth, and landed on his cheek.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Severus demanded.
"Kissing you, you sod."
"No, Potter, that's not kissing. If you want to kiss, cover my lips with yours, and have the decency to slip in the tongue."
~ * ~
"Today, we are going to get in touch with our inner children," Serenity informed them. She looked happy. So damned happy all the time, Harry thought. "What does your inner child want? Think about this, and let that image guide you."
"My inner child wants to kill Petunia," Severus whispered bitterly. "Murder her in some horrible way, and hide the body."
"Funny thing," Harry said. "That's what my inner child wants too."
~ * ~
"We almost made it," Severus said. His hand shook slightly, as he poured himself yet another drink. "We can't screw this up now."
"No," Harry agreed. "The daydreams of other possibilities and options are nice, but we need to be rational. It makes sense to finish the course."
"Fuck. I'm drunk." Harry burped.
"Come stay with me tonight."
"Oh. Are you going to plunder my innocence?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Are you going to fuck me?" Harry asked. He didn't have any objections to the idea, he simply wanted to know what to expect.
"Potter, for the love of ... I'd never drunk anyone as fucked as you."
"You know what I mean."
~ * ~
"Today, we are going to fingerpaint." Serenity voice was as sunny as ever. Harry wanted to kill her.
Harry stilled himself. Control, he thought. Control. Don't fuck this up now. Almost there. Almost done with the course.
Kill, kill, kill, kill.
He shuddered when Severus reached for his elbow and grasped it.
"Help me," Severus begged.
Harry glanced down, and shivered. Severus' fingers were blood-red.
Well, at least the fingerpaint pigment will wash off easily enough, Harry thought.
~ * ~
"For the last time, Potter, I will not cast the Avada Kedavra on you."
"You did it for Dumbledore!" Harry said bitterly.
"He was dying of a horrible painful curse!"
"So am I! She's killing me!"
"Just one day left," Severus said quietly. "We'll make it. You can do this, Harry. I -.."
"I have faith in you."
"You really have faith that I won't murder Serenity MacRae?" Harry asked.
"I didn't say that," Severus clarified. "I simply have faith you will survive and endure against all odds, like you always do."
"Oh. Well, thanks."
"I need to drink some more."
"You've drank - god, you should be dead!"
"I need to drink some more."
"If you drink anymore, you'll wake up drunk."
"Surely you do not think I'm walking back into that classroom sober?"
~ * ~
"Today, we are going to make an inventory of our skills," Serenity said.
"I didn't have that many kills in my career," Harry said ruefully.
"Skills, Harry, not kills. I want you to think of the different healthy coping mechanisms that you can use in order to avoid doing the violent, harmful things to other people."
"Well?" Serenity was clearly waiting for an answer of some sort, but Harry drew a blank.
"Drink," Severus supplied helpfully. "We can drink."
"Healthy coping mechanisms," Serenity corrected. "Drinking to cope with anger isn't healthy."
"Begging your pardon, ma'am, but our drinking had kept you alive for the past three weeks, so I wouldn't be bitching about it, if I were you."
"What was that?"
"We can go for a long walk," Harry said diplomatically. "A long walk can help clear one's mind of unhappy thoughts."
"Very good, Harry," Serenity said. "Can you remember of a time when you went for a long walk and it really helped?"
"Yessss," Harry said, pointing his finger at Severus. "I've viewed his memories. Then I realized that something dangerous and dark lived inside me. Then I walked through the Forbidden Forest. It was a long walk. It really helped, er, to clear away the most dangerous, horrible part of me."
"Excellent, Harry," Serenity said approvingly. "You've made excellent progress."
"No, he hasn't," Severus said suddenly. "He's humoring you."
"Severus, shut the fuck up!" Harry hissed, horrified to be betrayed in such a nasty manner.
Severus stood up, and drew his wand.
"You are just jealous," Serenity told Severus, "because your own progress is unsatisfactory..."
"Don't tell me how I feel," Severus said calmly. "That's very manipulative. You are a bad teacher."
"You heard me." The wand pointed at Serenity's throat. "You shouldn't be blabbering about things you know nothing about. What the fuck do you know about anger, Serenity? Shall I tell you what anger is? Anger is helplessness. Anger is grief, turned inwards, and outwards. Anger is the fire that burns everything in its wake, after the best parts of you, the most noble parts of you have been sacrificed to win a war that should have never been. Anger is seeing your world crumble before your eyes. Anger is debts you can never repay, anger is brokenness you can never fix. This kind of anger isn't something you can manage, you idiot child. You can only harness it and use it, because if you do not, someone else will do it for you, to their own ends."
Serenity looked at Harry pleadingly. "Harry, you were making such good progress," she whispered.
"Nah. I was faking it," Harry confessed. "Severus is right, you know. We haven't got a problem with anger. We are soldiers. We became what we are now in order to save the world. If people have a problem with us, they can go fuck themselves. Know what I mean, Serenity?"
She shook her head. "You were – two hours away from finishing the class, and getting your certificate!"
"Oh." Harry yawned. "Yeah, about that." He glanced at Severus. "Shall we go?"
"Yes, but I want to hex her first."
"Nah, let me do it."
"It was my idea!"
"Let's do it together then."
"Right. On the count of three..."
Serenity lifted her arms to cover her face.
"Three! - Aguamenti!"
Two powerful streams of water emerged from the two wands, drenching Serenity head to toe.
"Nicely done, Potter," Severus approved.
Serenity sniffled quietly She looked like a wet cat, with water running down her body in rivulets
"You should look up a good drying spell in a book," Harry advised her sympathetically. "You'll be all right."
~ * ~
The chill autumn air greeted them outside.
"Freedom," Harry whispered. "We are free."
"Free forever," Severus agreed.
"We've earned this."
"Fucking right we did."
Harry smiled. "So, I have an idea. I'll send the kids to stay with Molly and Arthur for a few days. You can come over to my place. We'll drink, tell war stories – and..."
"And what?" Severus queried with undisguised amusement.
"Have angry sex," Harry concluded, grinning.
"Angry sex." Severus smirked. "Why, is there any other kind?"