Word count: 2,162 words
Prompt: Fresh out of Azkaban for his role as a Snatcher, Scabior catches sight of Hermione while she shops in Diagon Alley, and on a whim approaches her wanting to apologize. To his surprise, she's willing to talk.
Summary: He didn’t expect her to be so kind or forgiving.
Scabior walked along Diagon Alley, his hands shoved in his pockets. He kept his head down as he always did, careful not to draw too much attention. Although he had served five years in Azkaban for his role as a Snatcher, there were people who thought he deserved the kiss. He shuddered, thankful to have escaped such a fate.
Looking around the Alley, he was pleased to see that it was once more full of life. Children and parents ran throughout the streets, likely shopping for the start of term at Hogwarts. The sweet smell of cinnamon and baked goods filled the air. He could see the shoppe that some of the Weasley children had opened during the war had a crowd around it. Scabior wished that he could go in and visit it, but knew that he wouldn’t be welcome.
As he walked along the Alley, he wished that things had ended differently. He wished that he had heeded his mother's warnings not to get involved with the madman who was trying to take over the world. But he hadn’t, and now he had to deal with the repercussions.
Scabior froze in his steps when he spotted someone he recognised. Hermione Granger. She was standing outside of Flourish and Blotts, looking inside. Although he hadn’t seen her since his trial, he knew that it was her. Her face was unforgettable.
On a whim, he decided that he would go talk to her. He had to apologise for everything he had done. He had to try.
Hermione gently bit her lower lip as she stared into her newly-purchased shoppe window. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something was missing from the window display. She shook her head, ready to give up when she heard someone clear their throat behind her.
Turning, she opened her mouth to say hello, freezing when she saw who it was. "Scabior," she whispered. Hermione had knew that he was due to be released from Azkaban this year, but she hadn’t realised that it had already happened. "Can I help you with something?" she asked politely, reminding herself that she wasn’t a scared, little girl anymore. She was a woman who could handle anything this old Snatcher could throw at her.
He shifted on his feet, his face turning slightly red. "I wanted to apologise."
"Apologise?" Out of everything in the world Hermione had expected him to say, that wasn’t it.
He nodded. "I… I'm sorry what I did to you." He paused, clearly struggling with words. "My actions are unforgivable, but I when I saw you standing here, I needed to approach you. I knew what I was doing was wrong, my Mum warned me, but I was so swept up with it all… I finally meant something to someone." He cleared his throat. "But my actions have ruined your life." Scabior's eyes flicked towards her arm, where the word Mudblood had been carved. "I don’t know how to pay for what I've done to you. There's nothing I can do to make something like that right again."
Hermione cleared her throat, stopping his train of thoughts. "I… This really isn't the place to have a serious talk." They had drawn quite a crowd. "Why don’t we go to the Leaky Cauldron?"
Scabior's eyes widened at her words. "The Leaky?"
"Sure, we can get a drink, which I'm sure I'll need it if this is to be an actual conversation." She gave him a warm smile. "Come on, my treat." Truth be told, Hermione was feeling bad that Scabior was getting so many dirty looks. She shot one woman a glare.
"Are you sure you want to?" he asked, his voice tight.
"Of course," Hermione replied, looking at him in confusion. "We don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I just thought it might make you a bit more comfortable."
"People would see," Scabior pointed out, giving her an unclear look.
"So? Let them see," Hermione airily replied. "I don’t care what people think about me, Scabior." She reached out and grasped his arm before pulling him down the alley.
Scabior was shocked into silence as he allowed the small, feisty witch pull him through Diagon Alley. He only meant to apologise to her, but once he approached her, he couldn’t get the words out right. He began to ramble, making a fool of himself. Scabior cursed himself for feeling like a pubescent teen. Granger was a beautiful witch, but she wouldn’t look twice at a wizard like him, especially after what he had done.
But she's still holding onto your arm, his mind teased. Scabior looked down, realising that her hand still gripped his arm tightly.
"Granger, can I call you Granger?" he asked. When she gave him a curt nod, he continued, "You don’t have to buy me a drink. Accepting my apology is all I—"
"Stop," she said, glancing at him from over her shoulder. "This needs to be an actual conversation if you're serious about making amends."
"I am serious," Scabior said quickly. "I just don’t want people to give you a hard time." The last thing he wanted was for people to start harassing her because she was seen with a Snatcher.
"I'm more than capable of taking care of myself," Granger retorted, huffing. "I'm not the same, little girl that you found in the woods. Besides, we're here."
Looking up, Scabior saw the wizarding entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. "Lead the way," he said, silently mourning the loss of her hand on his arm. It had felt nice after all those years of solitude.
Granger stepped inside the establishment and he followed as she led him towards a table in the back. She took a seat and he followed her lead.
Moments later, a young woman came over. She looked at Granger with concern, to which Granger ignored.
"I'll have a Butterbeer," she ordered. She looked to him.
"A Butterbeer," Scabior ordered. When the woman walked away, Scabior let out a small sigh. "I've almost forgotten what Butterbeer tastes like. It's been so long."
"Yes, well, they don’t exactly have Butterbeer in prison."
Scabior looked at her, unable to discern the tone of her voice. Was she teasing him? He couldn’t be sure.
The woman returned with their drinks.
"Thanks, Hannah," Granger said, smiling briefly at her.
"Let me know if you need anything else," Hannah replied.
"So," Granger said, looking at him. "Take a sip."
Scabior gripped his mug tightly. He could smell the sweetness, bringing him back to his youth and days spent at Hogsmeade village. Picking it up, he took a sip. Scabior closed his eyes, cherishing the sweet taste. "Thank you," he said, giving Granger a smile.
"So where do we start?" she asked him.
"Granger, I was hoping you could tell me," Scabior replied, still a bit unbelieving that his afternoon had taken this turn.
"Call me Hermione," she told him, giving him a light smile. "Granger is so formal."
"I have no right to be that informal with you," Scabior said, feeling his cheeks warm. When was the last time a woman had told me to use her first name? Hell, when was the last time anyone had even looked at me without disgust or hatred in their eyes?
"Scabior, I insist." The no-nonsense tone of her voice told him that she meant business.
"Very well, then you should address me by my first name too," Scabior said before realising it. His cheeks burned even more at her questioning look. "It's Darragh."
A soft giggle escaped her lips and Scabior could have sworn he had just fallen in love. He had never heard a sound so light and innocent… yet so full of life.
"Is it really?" she asked. "I never pictured you as a Highland man."
"My Mum is from Ireland. Full name is Darragh Brennan Scabior." Scabior flushed. "I don’t usually tell people."
"Well, Darragh, it's not a bad name," Hermione commented. "Besides, it suits you more than just going by your last name."
"Right." He cleared his throat. "Thanks, so, er, as I was saying in the alley, I am sorry for my actions. I know what I did was terrible, and if I could go back and change it, I would."
"I wouldn’t," Hermione told him calmly.
Hermione studied the wizard before her. She could tell that he was the type that needed a tender hand even though she doubted he'd ever admit it. "Darragh," she said gently, knowing that he needed to hear it. "I would never go back and change what happened to me."
"I've ruined your life."
She could hear the self-hatred in his voice. "No, you didn’t. Darragh, what you did made me stronger. It made me who I am today. The scars will always be there to remind me of what I did… of what I've overcome. I'm proud to have fought for what I thought was right, and even if it had cost me my life, I would never change it."
His bluish-grey eyes were filled with guilt. "I…" He stopped, looking into his mug. "What can I do to make it right?"
Hermione considered him. "Forgive yourself."
Scabior's gaze snapped back to her. "Forgive myself? But I need you to forgive me."
"No," Hermione said gently, shaking her head. "You want my forgiveness, but the one you need is your own."
They were both silent for a few moments. Hermione sipped at her Butterbeer as Scabior digested her words. She hoped that he could indeed forgive himself for what he had done. After what seemed like forever, she watched as he picked up his mug and took a few sips. When he set it down, he looked at her.
"Wise words coming from a witch so young."
"I'm twenty-three!" Hermione protested, a smile on her face. "Besides, they call me the brightest witch of my age, or haven’t you heard?"
"I've heard, I just never believed it," Scabior replied honestly. He took a deep breath, his shoulders sagging forward slightly. "I know I need to forgive myself, but I don’t know if I can just yet."
"Well, in the meantime, you need to move forward. You did your time, Azkaban is behind you."
"It's hard to move forward when the entire wizarding world hates you."
"I'm sure there are friends that you've got somewhere," Hermione protested. "And I don’t hate you." She gave him another smile, knowing that he needed the positivity. "Besides, don’t worry about everyone. You worry about you."
Scabior watched as Hermione ordered them both another round of Butterbeers. Her words made sense, but he knew that it would be difficult. There was a long and winding road ahead of him. But he was serious about moving forward, so he'd have to persevere. "What do you suggest?" he asked after taking a sip of his Butterbeer.
"Find a job, read a book, eat ice cream," Hermione listed as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Do whatever you've always wanted to. Live."
"No one will hire me," he pointed out, feeling dejected once more.
She sighed. "Darragh, how did this turn into me giving you a pep talk?"
Scabior couldn’t help but chuckle. "Sorry, I suppose prison makes one melancholy."
"Indeed it does," Hermione retorted. She looked him up and down before flashing him a smile. "That settles it."
Scabior frowned. Did he miss something? "Settles what?"
"That you'll come work for me."
"What? Hermione, that's… I appreciate the offer, and you've been plenty kind, but I don’t need…" Scabior bit his tongue. He did need it. He didn’t have much money, and now that his Mum was getting older… He shook his head, no more negative thoughts.
"I need someone to come stock shelves. I purchased Flourish and Blotts a few months ago and am still adjusting to running a business. I have two of my friends working with me, but I need someone to keep the back organised and to help me out when I need it. I'm sure that we can work out an agreeable pay rate." Hermione reached across the table and took his hand. "Will you, Darragh?"
As Scabior peered into her large, brown eyes, he knew that he'd never had another chance like this one. "I will," he nodded. "I… Thank you."
"No need to thank me," Hermione replied. "Just please, think about what I said about forgiving yourself. It's the only way you'll truly be able to move on."
"I think once I establish some sort of normalcy again, it may be easier. But I will think about it, Hermione."
As she smiled at him from across the table in the dimly lit corner of the Leaky Cauldron, Scabior decided that he already knew what he'd spend his first paycheck on.
He was going to take Hermione Granger on a date.