A/N: Response to the "Cruel and Unusual Pairings" challenge...which I set. What is wrong with me? This is Aberforth/goat. At least it's canon? Ish?

"Aberforth has always had….an affinity for goats," Albus tells Elphias Doge the first time he comes to visit, the summer after Albus's first year at Hogwarts. Albus has come back a different person entirely, all neat robes and long hair and ten Galleon words, and Aberforth hates him.

"I love goats," Aberforth tells Elphias staunchly, standing tall in his grubby robes and bare feet and daring Albus to contradict him.

Elphias giggles and Albus glares, and Aberforth runs outside to play with the goats, running and climbing and knocking heads.

Aberforth feels, sometimes, that he is a goat. Albus is a phoenix, intelligent and talented and respected and distant, so distant, and Aberforth is a goat.

Aberforth never feels entirely at home at Hogwarts. His robes are too clean and soft, and his feet don't feel right in shoes. Albus barely talks to him, tries to convince his classmates that Aberforth is some distant cousin, not his little brother.

Aberforth feels trapped in the stone walls. He's restless during class. He wants to run through the Forbidden Forest and sleep under the stars.

He asks the gamekeeper why Hogwarts doesn't have goats, and the gamekeeper laughs at him.

He's twelve when the thought first comes into his head. He's managed to make friends with a Welsh boy in Ravenclaw, Alun. They're walking around the grounds together when a Slytherin prefect notices Alun's accent.

"Hey, what's it like to shag a sheep?" he shouts in his posh London voice. Alun slugs him and the Slytherin's resulting curse puts him in the hospital wing for a week.

Aberforth isn't Welsh, and goats aren't sheep, and it's a silly, offensive stereotype anyway, but…


He resists for years. He knows it's wrong – it doesn't feel wrong, but everyone says it is. He imagines Albus's face if he knew, and it makes him want to do it even more, but he resists. He doesn't know why, but he resists.

He grows up, he runs with the goats, he feeds them and he throws their dung at enemies, at Albus. He reads Ariana "Grumble the Grubby Goat" until they both can recite it from memory.

He resists – or, maybe, he waits.

Aberforth sees Albus with Gellert, sees Albus with Gellert. It's sick and it's wrong and Aberforth vomits behind the goat shed.

If Albus, the regal, untouchable phoenix, can be with Gellert, can be with Gellert, then Aberforth should be able to be with his goats.

But he still resists. He doesn't know why – maybe it's the thought of Ariana finding out, of what she'd do – but he still resists.

Then Ariana is gone and his mother is gone and Albus as murdered them both. Aberforth is alone with his goats and a broken hand and nothing to live for.

It isn't as good as he imagined it would be, but it helps him forget, at least for a while.

With Ariana gone, he doesn't care what people think about him, what they say. He takes his goats to the Hog's Head with him and he doesn't care what Albus's Order thinks of his Patronus.

He's prosecuted for it, finally, and he still doesn't care. Albus comes and shouts at him, and Rita Skeeter makes a crusade out of it, but he doesn't care.

When he's freed, his goats are waiting for him.

Albus has asked him to explain it to him again and again. Aberforth refuses – wishes he could throw goat dung at him like he did when they were kids; sometimes he thinks sod it and throws goat dung at him anyway.

But he knows the answer.

In the end, the goats never leave. Occasionally one will die, but there will always be goats, and they will always depend on him, and love him, and stay with him. No matter what he does to them.

Instead, he says Albus's words back to him, and wonders if he remembers.

"I've always had an affinity for goats."