treeson (treeson) wrote in hgrarepairs,
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2015 HGRAREPAIRS FEST | Hello, Beautiful | keelhaulrose

Title: Hello, Beautiful
Wordcount: 11,000
Pairing: Hermione/Scabior
Prompt: They're on opposite sides of the war, but they can't help themselves.
Summary: Two little words managed to throw Hermione's already upended life into even further disarray, and the speaker threatens to take over her mind despite the fact that they are enemies.
Author: keelhaulrose
Authror's note: Obviously information on Scabior is a bit lax, so I moulded his character from what I could get from the books/movies (more the movies) and filled in the rest with my own headcannon.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, neither the movies nor the books. This is a work of fanfiction, I make no profits from it.

"Come on, 'Mione, just an hour or two at the club?" the blonde girl asked in a slurred voice.

"No, if I want any chance of going to the festivities tomorrow I need a break from getting pissed every night," Hermione Granger replied with a smile. She was five days in to a week-long trip in Las Vegas, which was due to climax the next day with the blonde's hen do. The blonde was Emma, one of the very few people who knew her prior to her disappearing to Hogwarts, and the only friendship that had survived her years away at the magical school. The fact that their main reason for being in Las Vegas had not occurred yet did not mean that she had waited until that night to enjoy the town, in fact she had spent every other night and most of every day out and about and enjoying herself. As it was it was after midnight, they had spent the past couple hours at one of the bars in their hotel, moving at a much slower pace than they had been the prior couple of nights, and she was ready to take a short break.

"Not for long," Emma protested. "Long enough to find Samantha a bloke?"

"Samantha has had no problem finding her own blokes so far this week," Hermione shot back.

"How about a bloke for yourself?"

"No, thank you," she chuckled.

"When's the last time you had a bloke?"

"I've felt no need to entertain myself with some random man I find in some nightclub in a city that was infamous for bad decisions."

"Everyone has need of one for a night every so often," she pointed out.

"I'm not currently of that need."

"You're no fun," she pouted.

"On the contrary, I've been so much fun the last couple days that if I spend any more time with you there is the possibility either you or I will pass out from sheer exhaustive merriment."

Emma laughed, which was more of a cackle in her slightly inebriated state. "Fine," she sighed dramatically as she stood. "Be a bloody bore."

"I will, thanks."

"Meet for lunch tomorrow?"

"I'm looking forward to it, that is, if you manage to get your arse out of bed while the clock might still consider it lunchtime," Hermione smiled.

"See you," she waved as she walked out the door.

Hermione closed her eyes and rolled her head on her shoulders a few times before she reached up to start pulling pins out of her hair. It took a couple minutes to get everything undone, the heavily-treated brown curls starting to revert back to their frizzy state but still mostly in tact. She went to put the pins back in their proper container when she noticed Emma had left her room key sitting next to a bottle of wine they had been working on earlier. Hermione swore under her breath, it was times like these that she cursed her reluctance to get a cell phone. She placed the card on the small table near the door of the room and went back into the bathroom to wash her face. Just as she was about to press the wet cloth to her cheek she heard a knock on the door. Thinking it was Emma she grabbed the card and opened the door without looking, realizing a moment too late that she should have checked who was there through the peephole before answering. Her body froze in place as shock overtook her, eyes wide and unblinking in her disbelief, and the card fell from her hand to the floor.

"Hello, beautiful."


XXXXXXXXXXX


"Hello, beautiful."

Those two words sent ice and fire through her veins simultaneously. The first time she heard them there had only been the ice shooting through her. They had been caught, she knew the moment he uttered those two words. Still, she had tried to flee, tried to get away, or at least get Harry away. She thought they might have managed it, had a glimmer of hope that their false names would work, when a gasp escaped her and words tumbled from her mouth involuntarily.

"My scarf," she whispered, unable to stop a wave of revulsion coursing through her as she recognized the fabric draped so casually around the man's neck

The man held the scarf up as if to examine it, then without warning grabbed her by the elbow and dragged her away from a protesting Harry and Ron, to the other side of a large, thick tree,where they wouldn't be seen or heard.

He spun her to look at him, a wild, unreadable look in his eyes. "Your scarf, beautiful?" he smiled, leaning close to her and sniffing the air, then using the hand not holding her to lift the bit of fabric to his nose and pointedly inhale. "You stopped wearing your perfume. Pity. It smells so delicious. Now, what was it you said your name was?"

"P-Penelope Clearwater," she said in a shaky voice.

"You ain't Penelope Clearwater," he sneered. "That little swot works at the Ministry, and she sure as 'ell don't look like you, beautiful."

Hermione felt her mouth go completely dry and her body started to tremble.

"Your boyfriends, are they lying, too?" he asked, getting too close for comfort.

"No," she replied with as much bravery as she could muster.

"Really?" he murmured, reaching out and placing a hand on her shoulder, running his thumb up and down her neck. "Because Ginger there says he's a Weasley and they're looking for some very specific members of that family. Maybe 'e is a distant cousin, one they aren't looking for, an' maybe 'e ain't, but the Ministry is offering more than a pretty sickle for one of their lot."

"I know what family you're talking about, and he's just a cousin. He doesn't even know them," she protested.

He leaned close, until his lips were nearly touching her ear. "What are you willing to pay for me to believe that?" he purred. "Those duffers out there listen to me, beautiful. I may be able to vouch for you, but it'll be at a price."

Her eyes widened and her breath became ragged. Was he asking what she thought he was asking? Was he offering a way for them to go free? She was pretty sure she knew his price, and it certainly wasn't gold. Still, their chances of survival were minuscule if they were taken to the Ministry, and she knew it was a price she was willing to pay for their lives. Trembling she turned to look at him.

"Anything," she whispered.

"That's what I thought," he smirked, and without warning he pushed her roughly against the tree and pressed his lips to hers. Instinctively she fought at first, trying to push him away, but he grabbed her wrists and pushed them against the bark of the tree so hard she could feel a scrape open and start to bleed. His mouth was demanding and unyielding, pressing so hard against hers that she had no choice but to open hers to his. She could taste drink and tobacco on his breath as his tongue ran across hers. She expected to be completely repulsed, but somewhere buried under the terror was a hint of something different, of something thrilling. Mustering that feeling forward, and joining it to the knowledge that she what she was doing would save her, Ron, and Harry's lives, she found it in her to kiss back, running her tongue against his and allowing his weight to pin her to the tree. His lips left hers as one of his hands let go of her wrist, wrapped itself in her hair, and pulled, exposing her neck to him. He was rough, kissing hard, sucking, and biting at random as she squirmed and yelped beneath him. His other hand left her other wrist, coming up to tightly squeeze her breast and twist her nipple, and she felt her fingers twist into the fabric of his jacket. A wave of disgust ran through her as she realized there was a fluttering in her abdomen that she usually associated with one of Fred and George's particularly raunchy daydream charms. How could her traitorous body actually be enjoying this?

"Scabby, you've got to come see this," another snatcher said as he came around the tree.

The man (another wave of revulsion flowed through her as she realized she didn't even know his name) growled in frustration. "This better be the most important fucking thing you've ever 'ad to fucking tell me," he hissed against the skin over her collarbone.

"I think it might be Potter."

The man jerked back as if Hermione had burned him, and she knew he could read the look of terror on her face. Without a word he grabbed her elbow and pulled her back to the group.

"Let's see it," he demanded, pushing her hard towards the Snatchers holding Ron, and she felt a strong pair of arms wrap around her, pinning her arms to her sides. Not waiting for someone to show him he strode to Harry and pushed his bangs back. Hermione saw his eyes go wide, though the rest of his expression was unreadable as he turned to look at her.

"Sorry, beautiful," he said. "Seems we got a change of plans."

It was amazing how quickly the man was pushed from her thoughts in the horror that followed. The last she remembered seeing him was when he was hit by a spell from Bellatrix and fell over a banister and out of sight after being choked by a spell tightening her scarf around his neck. By the time Bellatrix was done with her she couldn't think of much other than wanting to die so the pain would end, and when she felt herself lifted up she was sure it was time to cross over and the last thought that she had before letting the blackness overtake her was that she hoped that a miracle would happen for Harry and Ron.


XXXXXXXXX


"Hello, beautiful."

His voice snapped her to consciousness, though her body was in enough pain that she wanted nothing to do but fall back to sleep. Without taking the time to take stock of her situation she sat up and moved as quickly as she could backwards, but she didn't manage to go far before she hit a wall covered in dingy paint. She was sitting on a bed made up with faded blue linens, in a small, dark room lit only by the light of a fire. On the mantle she could just make out the handle of her wand, but it was too far away for her to make a move for it. He sat in a chair not far from the bed, hand stroking his chin as he looked her over, but he made no move towards her. She cautiously started to assess her condition. She was hurting all over, a dull ache with the occasional shooting pain that hit different parts of her body indiscriminately. Something was wrapped around her left forearm, and she looked down to see that he had torn her scarf in half, and wrapped half around the spot on her arm where Bellatrix has carved that cruel word. The other half was still wrapped around his neck, much cleaner than the rest of the ragged clothes he wore. His hair was unkempt, though it had a dyed red streak on one side, and she wasn't sure if the dark circles around his eyes were intentionally done with makeup or dirt he hadn't bothered to wash off. He sat casually, one ankle resting on the opposite leg, dirt-encrusted boot bouncing slowly as he studied her.

"Where am I?" she demanded.

"Safe 'ouse," he replied. "My 'ouse."

"I hardly consider that safe," she shot back.

A smile played across his lips as he let off a single, soft chuckle. "You are the smart one, aren't you, Hermione?" he said, carefully forming her name so it came out sounding almost unnatural, and it hung in the air between them as she tried to fight the feeling of fear that threatened to overtake her.

"You know my name?"

"Only 'eard that Weasley boy calling it about a 'undred times."

"I don't even know yours," she said quickly. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered a police officer visiting her class when she was about nine, telling the students that if they were to ever get abducted that they should try to keep their abductor talking, to try to build rapport. The officer didn't say it, but it wasn't hard to figure out why he we would give that advice. It's harder to kill someone you know and like than someone with whom you have no connection.

"Scabior."

"I'm assuming that's a last name."

"No one's asked the first in years. Scabior's well enough for them."

"I prefer first names. Last sound so formal."

"Nicholas," he said, putting his foot down and leaning towards her.

She let off an involuntary gasp and moved to the side until she was almost falling off the small bed.

"Don't worry, beautiful, I'm not going to 'urt you," he smiled, putting his hands up in submission, leaning back and putting his foot up again.

"You're not?" she asked in surprise.

This time he let off a loud chuckle. "After what it took to get me out of that 'ouse before that crazy bitch killed you? If I wanted you 'urt, I would have left you to that cunt. I didn't go through that, didn't risk my own fucking life, just to 'urt you myself. That would be downright sadistic, and I'd rather you not confuse me for some type of psychopath."

His assurances did little to quell her fear. "Then why am I here?"

"When bloody 'ell broke loose I was sure you'd be killed. You can believe me or not, but my intention was never to get anyone killed. So I got you out."

"That doesn't explain why," she pointed out softly.

He scowled, hands dropping to his knees as his foot stopped bouncing. He looked away from her as he replied softly, "No one deserves what you just went through."

"You get these thoughts for everyone you snatch, do you?" she asked, surprised with her boldness.

"The people I snatch aren't going through what you just..." he started, but she cut him off.

"Some of them are left destitute with no wand, living on the streets while trying to survive. Others are worse off than that, they are going to Azkaban for months!" she nearly shouted. "Do you really think that's much improvement?"

"You're quite fetching when you're angry," he smiled, standing and moving closer to her. "All fire and passion. It really does something for you, beautiful."

"Stop calling me that!"

"Don't like the compliment?"

"Not from you!"

"Why?"

"Because you're a snatcher! You've done horrible things! Merlin knows how many girls you put in the same position you put me in!" she shot back.

"None," he replied coldly. "Snatching is my bread and butter. It'd be poor business for me to go 'round, letting loose everything I caught just to get a ride."

"Then why me?" she was unable to stop herself from asking.

He thought for a long moment. "This," he finally said, flipping the end of the scarf with his fingers. "Been tormenting me for months, it 'as. I thought I 'ad smelled its scent before, and then a few days later, there it is. Wondered for a long time about the woman who left it, even drew myself a picture in my 'ead of 'er. Need to work on my imagination, beautiful, because the woman in my 'ead is not even close to as pretty as you."

"And you thought the way to get me was to offer my freedom for sex?" she asked, incredulously.

"I may be wrong, but most girls aren't exactly turned on by being literally chased down," he sneered. "Though you have 'ave already proved me wrong, since you seemed so willing..."

"I was not!" she protested, face going a brilliant scarlet. "I wanted to save my life, and the lives of..." her eyes went wide as panic swept over her. "Oh, God! Harry! Ron!"

"Relax, beautiful, they're alive. Some 'ouse elf got them out as I was getting you. The elf tried to stop me, an' it nearly got Potter caught, so 'e left without you, and I got you out in the confusion before You-Know-Who showed up."

"How do you know they're alive?"

"I'm not the best bloody snatcher in the country for nothing, beautiful," he said, sitting next to her on the bed. "Trick of the trade. Inconspicuously put a tracking charm on a piece of their clothing the moment you get them. That way if they run, you can catch them. No one else does it, not easy magic, you see, and most of my colleagues are bloody morons out to make a quick buck. I got Potter's glasses. Can't go near 'im, the 'ouse 'e's at is protected, but 'e's in there, or 'is glasses are at least."

"That doesn't mean they're both alive," she pointed out.

"Guess it doesn't, though they both were when that 'ouse elf took them away. Anything could 'appen, I guess."

"I need to get back to them," she said cautiously, studying his face for any reaction. He smiled, but not maliciously.

"You got a little while before you're up for Apparation, beautiful. You had a 'ell of a night." Without warning his hand grabbed her wrist and pulled it to him. She froze in fear about what he was going to do with her, but he just started to unwrap the scarf from her arm. Slowly the word 'mudblood' came into view, and he tossed the blood-soaked scarf in a nearby bin. "At least that stopped bleeding," he muttered, studying it. "I tried pouring dittany on it, but it doesn't seem to have made it go away. Bitch probably cursed the blade. Don't reckon you'll be getting rid of it anytime soon."

"Not my top priority at the moment," she shot back.

"Let me guess. Surviving is your top priority?" he smirked.

"No. Getting rid of You-Know-Who is."

"Noble," he chuckled. "Guess that puts you and I on opposite sides of the fence, beautiful."

"Just figure that out now, have you?" she snapped.

"Might 'ave 'ad an inkling," he murmured, running his finger over the word on her arm.

"Don't touch me," she hissed, pulling her arm back to herself.

He held up both hands. "Just trying to think of some way to get rid of it."

"I don't want to get rid of it," she snapped. "I want to get back to my friends."

"If I thought you'd be able to make the trip without splinching I'd take you," he replied. "Got you out of that manor because you were out cold. Could 'it you on the 'ead, knock you out again, and then I might be able to take you."

"No, thank you," she replied.

"Didn't think so," he said, standing. "Can I get you something? You 'ungry? Thirsty?"

"No," she snapped.

"You 'avent had anything to eat or drink for at least a day."

"You'll forgive me if I don't trust anything you give me," she shot back.

"Come now, love, you're 'urting my feelings."

"That doesn't seem to upset me as much as you think it might."

"You certainly know 'ow to cut a man down. You'll feel better once you get something into you," he pointed out, standing and making his way across the small room. A light came on in the room beyond and she could see a tiny kitchen, clean but depleted-looking. He grabbed something from a cabinet and another thing from the refrigerator before coming back in and taking his place back on the bed. Without a word he held a bag of crisps toward her, opening it in front of her to show her it hadn't been opened yet. Then he did the same with a bottle of water.

"I'd offer to make you tea, beautiful, but I'm sure you'll turn it down," he said, holding the crisps and water to her. She looked at the offerings, completely torn between her distrust for him and her sudden awareness of how hungry and thirsty she was, finally letting the latter take over. She took one small sip of the water and ate the smallest crisp she could find, waiting to see if she felt any ill effects.

The hint of a smile that always seemed to play on his face dropped after a few moments. "I promised I wouldn't 'urt you, beautiful. I may be a great many things, but I ain't a liar."

"And you haven't given me much reason to trust you."

"What can I do to give you reason?"

"Return me to my friends," she replied shortly.

"As soon as you're strong enough to make the trip, I swear I'll return you."

"And why should I trust that? You have so much to lose by letting me go. I know the price on my head. You're a snatcher, you told me your bread and butter was bringing people in, and I promise your biggest payday yet. Why would a snatcher give all that up?"

"Because the moment I do that crazy bitch will pick up where she left off," he shot back, a hint of anger in his voice. "Up until yesterday snatching was only bringing in truants and Mud..." he stopped, looking at her with a scowl, "Muggle-borns. I bring them in, get paid, they lose their wand and either get chucked out on the street or sent to Azkaban for a bit. Been there myself, it's probably not all that bad now that the Dementors are out..."

"You think..." she started with a scoff.

"I know it ain't the best place, but I'll bet my last sickle it's better than feeling like you're being 'unted all the time."

She bit her lip, because she knew that feeling, and remembered her time at Grimmauld Place. Yes, the place was better than a prison, but not by much, and she'd give anything to have the certainty of it back and not worry about landing in the wrong field or being seen by the wrong person.

"Turning people into the Minsitry... that's neither 'ere nor there to me. They ain't being 'urt if they don't resist."

"But you took us to the Malfoy's," she pointed out harshly. "You knew you were turning Harry directly over to You-Know-Who. You knew he would be killed."

"Either 'im or me, love," he sighed. "Travers' been known to torture a Snatcher or two if 'e thinks they might be 'olding information back. Snatchers ain't the most loyal folk, either. I let someone suspected to be 'arry Potter go and they'll be tripping over themselves to be turning me in, and I wouldn't suspect I'd survive once they managed to get the information out of me."

"But that was taking me to die, too."

"If I 'ad known a way to prevent taking you, I would've. That's why I made sure you got out when things went pear shaped. I kind of 'oped they'd leave the rest of you lot to us once they 'ad Potter, and that would give me more time to think. Might 'ave been able to convince them, if your boyfriend wasn't carrying that bleedin' sword."

"He's not my boyfriend," she said automatically, and quickly bit her lip, wishing she could take it back.

"Neither one?" he raised an eyebrow, though a teasing smile came over his face. "Is that why you were so enthusiastic by that tree?"

"As I said, I was willing to do anything to keep Harry, Ron, and I alive and away from the Ministry."

"Is that why you kissed back?" he asked, moving so he was closer to her. "Why you didn't push me away or slap at me when I let go of you?"

"Acting," she said, trying to sound confident, but even she could hear her voice waiver.

"Should be in bloody movies then, beautiful," he smirked, reaching a hand out to touch her face.

She swallowed hard, trying to force her hand to hit him away, to tell him to stop, anything, but she felt his rough thumb slide over her cheek and she couldn't even turn herself away from the touch. Her body betrayed her as she felt her breathing speed up and a flutter flare in her abdomen.

"Still acting, beautiful?" he asked softly, leaning in and dropping his hand to her neck where his thumb pressed into her pulse-point. "Your 'eart is pounding like you've run a mile," he smirked. "Is that because you're afraid... or something else?" he purred, amplifying the feeling in her stomach.

"I hate you," she whispered.

"I wouldn't expect anything different," he chuckled, leaning so close she could feel his breath against her neck.

"You've done horrible things to so many people... I wouldn't have this thing on my arm if it weren't for you and your job."

"True," he murmured as he inhaled, smelling her hair.

"If you were to die tomorrow it would be for the best. Less people would suffer. You are the worst kind of person."

"Who are you trying to convince, beautiful?" he moved so his face was right in front of hers. "Nothing you say will stop me snatching. If I stop now, I die, they'll 'unt me down and kill me. I'm not planning on dying, especially not at their 'ands."

"I hate you," she repeated.

"You've said that already. You keep saying things, but you 'ave yet to tell me to go away. What does that mean, beautiful? That, perhaps, I've managed to light something inside you, like you 'ave me. That deep down, you don't find me as repulsive..."

She cut him off by pressing her lips to his. It was all she could think of to stop him from talking, because she knew what he was saying was the truth, but if he didn't say it, if she didn't hear it, she could still deny it. She could convince herself she was doing what she must to survive. Her body's reactions were completely at odds with what her brain was saying, however, as her nerves became alight in anticipation of his touch. He quickly took over the kiss as he had before, a rough hand holding the back of her head to keep her in place as his lips forced hers to move. His tongue forced itself against hers, and once again her traitorous body gave her away by letting off a stifled moan. His other hand wrapped itself in the front of her shirt and pulled it up as the hand in her hair tightened and pulled her away from him so he could rid her of the fabric. He let go of her hair and made a show of dropping the shirt close enough to her that she could pick it up, then he leaned forward and kissed her jawline.

"Say the word, beautiful," he murmured against her skin as his hands slid behind her and deftly unhooked her bra. "Say it and I'll stop. I said I wouldn't 'urt you, and I mean that."

Say it! her brain ordered. It's one bloody word you've used a million times before in your life. Say the damn word! Stop this! But no matter how much she told herself to stop him, her mouth and her body would not obey. The feeling in her abdomen had intensified to the point where she could feel it throughout her body, screaming for more, screaming for him to touch her, to give her some form of release. She watched him slide the straps of her bra down her arms as if it were happening to someone else as her brain and body warred with each other, but it was a glance up at his face that finally quieted her brain's resistance. He was looking at her in a way that no man had ever looked at her before, a reverence and desire filled his eyes as he took in every inch of her bare skin. In that moment she felt wanted, no, more than wanted, needed by the man in front of her. This was the kind of look she had been hoping Ron would give her. A look at even the hormone-riddled Krum had never managed the couple times she had allowed him to touch her while hidden in alcoves around Hogwarts. The look shot a jolt through her core that ignited an inferno in her, and her brain stopped fighting against what was happening and mentally started calling for him to touch her. How could this man that she hated so much be the one to cause these feelings in her? Touch me, please! her brain begged, but once again her body would not allow her to speak. Touch me...

And touch her he finally did, his hand cupping her breast, his thumb flicking across the nipple and causing it to tighten. He repeated the action on her other breast, a light, gentle touch that seemed so at odds with the aggression behind his earlier touches. A pang of disappointment passed through her chest, the rougher touches had thrilled her, had awakened something in her she wasn't aware was there. Now that he had her he was going to be gentle?

As if he knew what she was thinking his motions changed suddenly. He lunged forward, biting her shoulder hard enough that she wondered if the skin broke, while simultaneously squeezing one of her breasts hard. A loud cry escaped her lips at the combined sensations of pleasure and pain, and she heard him chuckle as he kissed, sucked, and nipped at her neck and alternated between circling her peaks and twisting them hard. He kissed lower, down her chest, and his hands abandoned her breasts to be replaced with his lips. His tongue would flick her peak before he'd suck hard or bite the hardened nub. She became aware of his hand running over the front of her jeans, pressing the fabric against her body and rubbing it between her legs. Without warning he drew away from her and grabbed her waist with both of his hands, lifting her and pulling her down so she was now lying on the bed, chest heaving as she tried to gain control of her breathing. He sat up and slowly, carefully taking his jacket off and setting it on the chair he had been sitting in, then taking his shirt off with a bit more haste, and she took a moment to drink in the sight of him; muscles visible on his torso but not too prominent, a patch of dark hair on his chest, and several tattoos on his arms and one near his neck. She reached out to touch him, ran her fingernails down his chest, feeling the muscles tensing underneath his skin as angry pink marks sprang up as they passed.

"I want to touch you. Let's say we get these off, beautiful," he said, using one hand to unfasten her jeans in what appeared to be a practiced movement, then using both hands to pull the jeans and her knickers down together and toss them off the end of the bed. She had no time to feel apprehensive, the hand that had been rubbing between her legs now came to cup her, a thumb running between her folds until he found her nub with a gasp.

"So wet, beautiful. So responsive. Tell me..." he purred, pressing his thumb hard into her nub, causing her to let off a strangled cry, "... what do you want me to do?"

Her mouth formed the words, but the sound didn't come out. This was her last chance to back out, final chance to deny she wanted it.

"Didn't 'ear that, beautiful," he said, rubbing her clit again. "Say it," he ordered.

"Fuck me!" she cried out. "Please!"

"There's a good girl," he smirked, pushing her legs apart and moving so he was in between them. He slipped his studded belt from his pants, and gave her a half-hearted slap on one of her thighs with it, which sent a new shock of sensation rush through her and settle below her waist. She watched as he pushed his trousers and shorts down enough to free himself, but she didn't have time to analyze him before he positioned himself at her entrance and pushed himself into her in one quick motion. She cried out again as there was a moment of discomfort as his girth stretched her, but he wasn't giving her time to get used to the sensation. He started pounding into her, one hand reaching around her to tightly grab her rear and pull her up to meet each hard thrust until she was able to match the rhythm herself. He went back to kissing her neck, chest, and breasts, occasionally giving her another forceful bite.

It didn't take long for her body to start to coil, and she felt her muscles start to tighten around him. His hand came to her shoulder, holding her in place as he continued to pound roughly into her as her muscles tightened, then released with an earth-shattering orgasm. His hand tightened on her shoulder, she could feel his fingernails digging into her skin, and she saw his face tighten as he pushed as hard and far into her as he could with his own release.

He lowered himself onto his forearms and rested his head against her chest as they both struggled to catch their breath.

"Ruddy 'ell, beautiful, you make a man forget 'imself," he chuckled before pulling himself out of her and pulling his trousers back up. "After that, I want nothing more than to keep 'iding out 'ere, fucking your delicious cunt."

She sat up, biting her lip. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying you're probably healed enough to travel. I should get you back to your friends," he replied, his voice emotionless.

She swallowed, trying to hide the stinging in her chest in that moment. It was over that quickly? Was he not going to acknowledge what had just happened? "Oh. Okay," she managed, quickly getting dressed herself.

"'ave this back, and let's go" he said, tossing her wand to her, then holding out an arm. She took hold, and he Apparated them to a tree overlooking some sand dunes and an ocean beyond.

"They're just in there," he said, nodding toward an apparently empty hill. "Might need to send them one of those animal messages you Order lot send each other. Goodbye, beautiful," he added, turning to leave.

"That's it, then?" she finally found her voice.

"What did you think this was?" he asked, turning around.

"What am I supposed to tell them?"

"The truth," he shrugged. "Or a lie. What's it matter at this point? Not like you're going to make them think any better or worse of me. Opposite sides of the fence, remember? Did you think this was some sort of ruddy fairy tale? We have a passionate experience, and the evil prince is so moved by the princess' beauty and good 'eart that he switches sides? I told you that isn't going to 'appen, beautiful. Even if it did, they'd come looking for me, and you've got enough 'unted folks in one room already."

She bit her lip and crossed her arms. He strode back, reaching out to touch her face again, and she scowled as she let him.

"There's no 'happily ever after' 'ere, beautiful. My side is fighting your side. One day this war is going to end, and one of our sides is going to be the victor. If it's mine and you survive that I may be able to convince them to let me 'ave you, you'll be a worthless little mudblood to them by then, what's it to them if some Snatcher wants to fuck the spirit out of you? Is that what you want? Of course not, you want your side to win, which means either I die, or I'm left to rot in prison. Are you going to risk your reputation to get me out? What 'appened between us is all there will ever be, beautiful. No amount of 'oping or wishing or any of that bullshit is going to change those facts."

He leaned down suddenly to press a shockingly tender kiss to her lips. "If there was any other way, beautiful, trust me, I'd do it. If I thought you'd run away with me right now I'd ask. But we both know it's not going to 'appen, you're too important to Potter and this war for you to leave, and if the Death Eaters ever find out I let you go I'm a dead man. I can't go with you, those boys won't see this as anything but a bad attempt at a trick an' they'll kill me without a second thought. This is what it is. Goodbye is the only choice, beautiful, and so I'm saying it."

He kissed her forehead before walking off, Apparating away a few seconds later without looking back. She listened as the crack echoed a few times and was overtaken by the crash of waves.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

She sunk against the nearby tree, feeling the scrape of bark against the small of her back as she lowered herself to the ground. She stayed there for a while, it might have been minutes, or perhaps hours, watching the waves and trying to process her inexplicable pain at him having left her. It took a Herculean effort to focus enough on a happy memory to conjure a Patronus and send it inside the invisible wards in front of her, and five minutes later Bill appeared out of nowhere.

"Hermione!" he cried, rushing to her and helping her to her feet. "Come on, lets get you into the house."

"Hermione!" Harry and Ron shouted in unison as soon as she was safely inside the wards. Her relief at seeing her friends safe took the rest of the energy from her, and she sunk to the ground again as her knees gave out. Harry and Ron enveloped her from either side, and she could tell they were sobbing onto her shirt, though she was too numb to conjure any tears in return.

"We thought you must be dead," Ron said, squeezing her tightly.

"Or still captured at Malfoy Manor," Harry added. "How did you get away?"

"Wait until we're in the house," Bill ordered sternly. "If what you told me happened to her is true, she needs medical attention now, then she can talk when she's ready. Let's go, Granger," he added, lifting her up into his arms and starting towards a cottage a football field's length away. Once inside he called for Fleur, and Hermione saw Luna and Dean's heads poke around a corner before Bill carried her upstairs and deposited her on a bed in a small room. Harry and Ron stood anxiously to one side, and Hermione wished they would leave her be so she could sleep and forget everything that had happened in the past few hours.

"Hermione," Bill said gently as Fleur hovered in the door, holding a box of medical supplies. "What happened to you at the Manor and after?"

"Bellatrix," she said softly. "Cruciatus and she cut my arm."

She held her forearm out for them to see. Harry and Ron cursed angrily in unison.

"I'll try putting some dittany on that," Bill said, reaching for it, but she jerked the arm away.

"Already have," she snapped. "It didn't work."

"Okay," he said, leaning back and holding up his hands to show he wasn't planning on touching her. "What happened after? Who got you out of the Manor?"

She looked to each of them, and then down at the quilt on the bed. "Greyback," she lied. "He was... upset that it didn't look like they were going to get paid for finding us, and took me as his reward. I managed to get away when he went out hunting."

Bill looked at her with wide eyes, then looked at Harry and Ron. "Out," he ordered.

"But...!" they started to protest in unison.

"Please go," Hermione asked. "Fleur, too."

They hesitated, but left, Fleur handing Bill the box before they closed the door, and she could hear them standing outside the door of the room. Bill waved his wand to prevent them from hearing.

"Did he hurt you?" he asked.

"A little," she admitted.

"I need to see," he said, unspoken apologies thick in his voice.

Looking away from him she slowly removed her shirt to show the marks Scabior had left on her. Glancing down she realized how rough he had gotten with her, her torso littered with love-bites and red welts from bite marks, with several scratches where he had gripped her tightly. A wave of revulsion hit her as she realized that remembering him was starting to stir up a feeling of lust deep inside her.

"Oh, Merlin, Hermione," he breathed, a pained look on his face. He took a deep breath, and wiped the expression from his features as he studied each one closely. "These look bad, but they aren't deep. And it's nowhere near the full moon, so I don't think you'll get any more side effects than I've had. I'm just going to treat them, and the bruises, if I could?"

She nodded, and laid down as he carefully administered ointments to each mark. It was remarkable how comfortable she was with another man she hardly knew touching her. But Bill's touches were gentle, the opposite of Scabior, the opposite of the touch she found herself longing for.

"Is that all?" he asked, finishing the ones on her torso.

"This, too," she said, turning on her side and pulling her jeans down just enough to show where Scabior's fingers had dug into the flesh of her rear.

She heard Bill suck in two hard breaths as if he were trying to control himself. "Did he rape you, Hermione?" he asked, tension thick in his voice.

"No!" she shook her head quickly, not wanting Bill to guess the truth but nearly panicking because her lie was becoming harder to cover up. "No, please, I wasn't... he didn't... it isn't what it looks like..."

"Okay," he cut her off, though from his tone Hermione was sure he didn't believe her and he was only saying it to prevent her from getting hysterical. "If that's it you can put your shirt back on, though I think you need to lie down and rest for a while. I've got to go get some potions to help with the after effects of the curse."

She hastened to comply, pulling her jeans up, pulling her shirt back over her head and down her body as far as it would go, and lying down under the thick quilt.

"Hermione..." he said hesitantly. "While I'm out... Have you heard of what the Muggles call the morning after pill?"

She nodded, stomach knotting as she knew what was about to come.

"Would you... should I pick you up one?"

She hesitated, then nodded again, this time more slowly. She saw Bill's face contort in barely concealed rage, and felt guilty that it was directed at the wrong man, though Greyback deserved it either way.

"Do you want me to keep Harry and Ron out?"

"No," she shook her head. "I think I'll sleep better with them around."

"Okay," he smiled sympathetically before walking out. Harry and Ron came in a minute later, but didn't say anything, probably warned by Bill not to do so. They each carefully took one of her hands, and she let the weight of the day overtake her.


XXXXXXXXXXXXX


"Hello, beautiful."

She barely heard the words over the din of the fighting that was moving into the castle, but it stopped her dead in her tracks either way. Her eyes, which had moments before been brimming with tears over the sight of Harry's body resting limp in Hagrid's arms, went wide and dried immediately. Stopping dead in her tracks she felt a few fighters jostle her as the crowd moved past, and she was left alone behind them. Slowly she scanned the area, and saw him, not six feet to her right, wedged between a stone wall and a fallen pillar. His skin was ashen, and his chest seemed to struggle as it rose and fell, but he managed to smile at her either way.

"Didn't think you'd 'ear me, beautiful," he said in a hoarse voice barely above a whisper.

"I'm surprised I did," she said, moving closer but staying out of his reach.

"Good thing you did. You make for a 'ell of a last view."

"Last view?" she asked, crouching down.

In response he lifted his shirt, showing her a large, deep gash on his side, streams of blood flowing toward the ground underneath him. "I don't think I'm gonna get out of this one, beautiful."

"That... that's nothing," she stammered. "They'll be able to close it up and give you a blood replenishing potion. You'll make it."

"What's the point?" he smiled. "Save my life, so they can chuck me in Azkaban until I finally rot away? I enjoy my freedom too much. I'd rather go right 'ere, if it's all the same to you."

"You said yourself the Ministry paid you for what you did. Even if you were convicted, your sentence would be minimal."

"Quite the optimist, aren't you, beautiful?" he chuckled. "They're gonna throw the book at whoever they can jus' to show they aren't fucking around, and to take some of the well-deserved 'eat off their backs."

"You don't know that for sure," she chastised. "And you won't survive to find out?"

"Can't take back not dying," he shook his head. "Got to commit to it now, or it's going to be a 'arder road to travel later."

"You're being bloody dramatic," she hissed, reaching into her bag and pulling out her essence of dittany. She squeezed a few drops over the wound, which immediately started to close, and a few seconds later the blood stopped flowing as the wound completely closed. "There," she said.. "Now all you need is a blood replenishing potion, and you'll be good as new. I don't happen to have one..."

"You can't save them all, beautiful," his hoarse voice sounded weaker now, and he sounded as though he were fighting to stay awake.

"But I can save you. If I just go inside to..." she was cut off by a loud explosion and the sound of shouts.

His hand found her wrist. "Go in there," he whispered. "Save someone worth saving."

She bit her lip, torn about what she should do.

"'ow about you give me one more kiss, beautiful? 'For the road', as they say?"

She leaned close, until her lips were an inch or two away from his before saying, "No. You want a kiss? Live."

He chuckled, which turned into a cough, as she stood and started toward the battle still raging. "Goodbye, beautiful," she heard him say behind her, though maybe she imagined it.

After the battle was won, after Harry had told her the story, and after most people, injured or not, had cleared out of Hogwarts to go home to rest,mourn, or celebrate, it finally came time for her to leave with Harry and Ron. There were a few Ministry witches and wizards still around, wrapping bodies in sheets and carefully moving them to the Great Hall to await a family member to claim them and take them for burial. Off to one side they were placing unknown bodies, souls who had left the earth with no identification and unknown to even Minerva, who most likely would wind up in a paupers grave on the grounds somewhere. Hermione had scanned these, looking for a familiar boot or telltale sign of tangled brown hair with a red streak, but she didn't see any. Before they left she went to the courtyard, hurrying to the wall and fallen pillar where she had last seen him, but there was only a large pool of blood where he had once been.

"Excuse me," she stopped a wizard who was crossing to the body of a Hufflepuff student a few feet off. "Have you been the one clearing the courtyard?"

"Yes," he replied wearily. "By myself," he added, sounding somewhat hopeful that she'd offer to join him.

"Was... was there a man? Right here," she pointed to the blood stain. "Snatcher, I think. Red streak in his hair."

"No, ma'am," he shook his head. "That spot was empty. I checked around, that much blood means there should be a body nearby, but nothing."

"Thank you," she murmured, and hurried back to Harry and Ron. With one last glance at the spot she left the school grounds, wondering if he'd ever appear to claim that kiss.


XXXXXXXX


"Hello, beautiful."

A half a dozen different emotions ran through her upon seeing him, wearing the same style of clothes she had last seen him in and flashing her a playful smirk. Fear, anger, confusion, excitement, relief... and lust. The latter one consumed her, and it was only the shock of seeing him there that prevented her from throwing herself at him. He didn't seem to want to waste time, however, stepping over the threshold, pushing the door shut, grabbing the back of her head with one of his hands and pulling her to him for a searing kiss. He consumed her, she lost track of everything but the feeling of him pressed against her. She wrapped her hands in his jacket, trying to anchor to him, afraid that he would escape her grasp once again.

He pulled away, and she found her neck craning to follow his lips.

"Miss me, beautiful?" he chuckled. "I came to collect that kiss you owed me."

"It's been six years," she breathed. "Where the hell were you?"

"Two years in Azkaban..." he started.

"What? I didn't hear anything about that!" she gasped.

"Turned myself in two weeks after the war ended, once I felt 'ealthy enough to survive the stay. You were right, put 'em in a bit of a bind. What I did was a form of bounty 'unting, and that is not only legal, it was sanctioned and paid for by the Ministry. Got sent up for taking you lot to the Manor rather than the Ministry, and the Prophet 'ad too much to report on with Death Eater trials to worry about some Snatcher who negotiated 'is sentence and went without a fight."

"And the other four?"

"Searching. For myself at first, 'ad to figure out what to do with my life. When I was working out my sentence with the Ministry they offered to reduce my time if I took a job 'elping the Aurors track fugitives and criminals, though I let them do the actual work of capturing or retrieving them."

"You work with Harry and Ron?" she said, surprised. They had never mentioned it to her, though she realized that they probably would have no reason to mention it other than they were irritated about their co-worker, and there was a good chance they didn't want to make her upset by mentioning Scabior or anything else to do with the night she was tortured. They couldn't possibly know what had happened between her and Scabior that night, as she had never breathed a word of it to anyone.

"We don't do a lot of talking, your boyfriends and I. They usually use another Auror or owls to communicate with me. I see 'em on occasion, but it's all business and then they want me to get the 'ell away from 'em. I don't think they much care for me."

"I can't imagine why," she said, trying to keep a straight face.

"Not long ago I finally felt I had managed to put myself together enough to complete what I really wanted to do, which is find you."

"I wasn't hiding," she pointed out.

"I know. But I 'ad to do a lot of thinking about that, too, beautiful. You're a war 'eroine, you've traveled the world talking about what you went through, writing books, an' campaigning for whatever injustice you can, going on with your life. Thought it would probably be best for you if I left you to your friends an' family an' never collected on that kiss."

"Didn't think to give me a say?"

"Why do you think I'm 'ere? I know what I want, know what decision I would make. You should get the same chance. So..." he paused, ghosting his lips over hers, then nuzzling her neck, where he paused and inhaled. "You're wearing the perfume again," he murmured.

"Someone told me it smelled delicious," she smiled.

"You're distracting," he purred against her skin before kissing her neck. "I meant to ask what it is that you want?"

"Fuck me," she replied. "After that, who knows? But right now I want you to fuck me."

"Your wish is my command, Hermione," he replied before grabbing her waist and lifting her up. He carried her across the room and pushed her onto the bed, covering her body with his as his mouth attacked hers. He pulled the hem of the dress she was wearing upwards so she could wrap her legs around him, brazenly pressing herself against him. When his lips left hers to start kissing and nipping at her neck, she helped him out of his jacket and shirt, then raked her fingernails over his back, a fire starting in her core as his hissed his approval against her skin. He grabbed one strap of her dress, pulling down to her waist while she managed to push the other side down to match. She reached down, unfastening his belt and pushing his trousers down so she could wrap her hand around him and start working him up and down.

"Not for taking your time tonight, are you, beautiful?" he chuckled.

"Six bloody years, and I haven't been able to find anyone who fucked me quite like you can," she groaned as he squeezed her breast.

"Why don't you show me what you've wanted?" he murmured, grabbing her hips again and flipping them so she was on top, straddling him, her hands tightening on his shoulders as she tried to steady herself. Grabbing her wand she touched it to her dress and knickers, vanishing them. He grabbed the wand from her and threw it across the room as she took hold of him and guided him into her.

"Fucking 'ell, I missed this," he groaned before propping himself on his elbow long enough to grab the back of her head and pull her down so he could kiss her again as he thrust into her as hard and as fast as he could manage. His hands alternated between squeezing her breasts and flicking, rubbing, or pulling on her peaks. Her fingers dug into his arms as she tried to steady herself against him, and she knew she wasn't going to last long. As she got closer her lips left his, her head falling back, and he tightly held her hips as her body threatened to fall forward as her orgasm ripped through her.

Without letting her come down he pushed her off him and onto the bed face-down. He moved behind her and pulled her hips up so she was on her hands and knees, and he pushed all the way into her by pulling her back by the waist. Once again he did not give her any time to adjust, pounding into her with such force that she had to brace herself against the headboard to avoid getting driven into it. She was sure her cries could be heard from the hallway, but she couldn't quiet herself, letting off yelps as his hand smacked her rear hard or pulled her hair. As she started to get close once again he grabbed her shoulder and pulled her up so her body was pressed against his. One of his hands went to her throat to hold her in place as the other found her nub and started circling it.

"I want to hear it, beautiful," he purred. "I want to hear you cry my name as you come apart."

And she obeyed, though he was surprised when her cry was of "Nicholas!" as she tightened around him, her hands grabbing his legs and pulling him as far into her as she could. Hearing her call his name brought about his own release, and he held her painfully tight until he was finally finished. They laid together on the bed, trying to catch their breath and think of what they were going to say to each other, but they were saved from making an immediate decision by a knock on the door a couple minutes later.

"Wait!" Hermione hissed as Scabior pulled his trousers back around his waist and slid off the bed to answer the door, but he didn't stop, opening the door wide to see Emma and Stephanie waiting outside.

"Hello, there," he smirked. "Can I 'elp you?"

The two girls were almost comedic in the glances they shot each other. Emma recovered first, muttering, "We, um, I... where's Hermione?"

"Indisposed at the moment."

"No, I'm not," Hermione rushed to the door, securing her robe around her as she moved. "Go back to be..." she started, looking at Scabior, but flushed as she realized what she was about to say. "Just go. I'll be right in."

"Anything for you, beautiful," he smirked and winked at her friends before disappearing back into the room. She watched him go, then bent to pick the card she had dropped earlier from the floor and hold it out to Emma, who was wearing a wicked grin identical to Samantha's.

"Apparently you didn't need help finding a bloke," Emma said with a raise of her eyebrow.

"Not your usual type, either, I noticed," Samantha added. "Though I can't fault you on the choice."

"Shut it," Hermione snapped, shaking her head and wishing her blush would die down.

"We'll leave you to it," Emma smiled. "If we don't see you at lunch tomorrow, we'll know why."

"You're incorrigible," she rolled her eyes and shut the door on her giggling friends. She went back to the bed and collapsed next to Scabior, exhaling loudly.

"You had to do that, didn't you?" she sighed.

"Only 'aving a bit of fun," he replied, placing a hand on the knot of her robe and tugging so it fell open, then rubbing his hand against her stomach.

"Our prior activities weren't enough fun for you?" she looked at him, raising an eyebrow.

"One can never 'ave too much fun in their life," he smiled. "But it can't all be fun and games. I think it's about time you tell me what you want."

She bit her lip as she thought a moment. "What I want," she finally said in a soft voice, "is to spend the night here, with you, having as much fun as we possibly can. Then I want to go to my friend's hen do tomorrow, and come back to a man willing to ravish me for another night before I have to go home the following day. After that you are going to have to make a choice. Because as much fun as this is, up to now it has only been fun, and I'm getting to the point in my life where I want more than just fun. I want someone who will fuck me but also make love to me. I want someone who will be there for me outside of the bedroom. I want someone who will treat me the way I deserve to be treated, and wants to be in it for as long as possible. I cannot make the choice for you on whether or not you want to try to be that man."

He exhaled loudly and ran a hand through his hair. "You're asking a lot, beautiful," he muttered. "If it were just you and I there wouldn't be a question, but you 'ave friends and family, and I don't think for one second that they'll accept it, the Prophet would tear you apart, an' I don't give a damn what they think about me but I wouldn't want to put you through that."

"None of them have to live my life," she replied. "My friends and family would eventually come around to anyone who they saw making me happy, even if it's a hard road. And the Prophet and its readers can sod right off."

He still looked torn.

"I don't need or want an answer right now. Emma's wedding is in three weeks, and I find myself lacking a date. If you come, I'll have my answer, and if you don't... well, I'll have it as well. Having you at the wedding as my date will send a message that I am not ashamed of being seen on your arm."

"I think I could 'ave a reply for you by then," he smiled, moving closer so he could kiss her neck. "Where is this wedding?"

"I would think that one of the most brilliant snatchers in England could find a way to figure it out on his own," she murmured, trying not to moan as he ran his lips along her jawline.

"I do like the chase," he smirked before kissing her again.

XXXXXXXXXXX

The warmth of the tea had long since faded, but Hermione didn't notice as she stared into the muddy brown liquid. Somewhere behind her a chorus was singing a Christmas song over speakers that occasionally cracked and hissed as they protested the extended use. A stack of presents sat in bags by her side, but she paid so little mind that she doubted she would notice if someone had made off with them. In her mind she was back at the tree that Scabior had left her under after their first night together, wondering where the pain inside her had come from. It had been the same thing all over again, one night where there had been a glimmer of something, where she thought there might have been a serious connection, and then he was gone. Only this time she knew where he was. She could go to him, but what was there to say? She had asked for more, he hesitated, and once more he was gone from her life. Wasn't his silence answer enough?

When she had returned from her friend's wedding she thought about going to the Ministry, under the guise of visiting Harry and Ron, hoping that he would be hanging around the Auror office, but that would seem desperate. She had told him that his showing up at the wedding or his absence from it would be her answer. And he hadn't been there. She would admit she didn't take it well, spending most of the day after the wedding sequestered on the balcony of her lonely hotel room, apparently so pitiful looking that someone on the hotel staff had left her a rose on her bed in some bizarre attempt to cheer her up as her as her mother spent most of the day beside her, torn between trying to find out what was wrong with her daughter and being afraid of what the answer might be.

Closing her eyes she shook her head to clear it. She was Hermione Granger, she shouldn't let a man hold her heart hostage like this. Logically he was a bad choice; Harry and Ron would never be able to accept her beau if he had once turned them over to Bellatrix Lestrange, Scabior certainly wasn't someone she would be able to just bring over to her parent's house to introduce on a whim, and Merlin knows she was happier with the papers not hounding her every step, questioning her motives and her sanity for her choice in partner. It was probably for the best that he hadn't shown up for the wedding. Her heart would heal, she would eventually find a man who would satisfy her both in and out of the bedroom. Everyone gets heartbroken once or twice in their lives, she thought. It makes finding that one person you want to spend your life with all that more special and thrilling.

As she finished her tea she tried to push him to the back of her mind, to block him in. He'd always be there, but he didn't have to command her thoughts. With time he would be someone who came to mind in flashes and left just as quickly. Time heals all wounds, right?

"Did you get my rose? Sorry I didn't stay to give it to you in person, didn't think I should do that to your mum's 'eart."

The sudden intrusion took her off guard, but her body jolted as the familiar voice. Quickly her head whipped around as her body fumbled to her feet to face him and look into the familiar brown eyes and lopsided smirk. And for the first time since their first meeting she wasn't sure if she should bolt to him, or away from him.

He took two steps toward her, sweeping up her hand and bringing it to his mouth so he could press a lingering kiss to her fingers.

"Hello, beautiful."
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