(Part 3 of the Seven Deadly Death Eater Tales)
Sloth - laziness: a dislike of work or any kind of physical exertion. Apathy.
Scabior's Point of View
Standing by the corner of a brick building about a block away, he watched as the woman walked out of the entrance of a large Muggle building to his right. She placed her hand over her eyes to guard them from the bright sunlight, even as she turned her head, first to her right, then to her left, as if she was searching for something… someone. The man ducked back behind the corner quickly so she wouldn't see him.
He had been following her for days, carefully hiding down alleys and behind buildings so she wouldn't know he was watching her. Very soon, he would reveal himself to her, but not quite yet.
Would she even recognize him? He pondered that thought. Their brief encounter ten years ago remained vivid and ever lasting in his mind, but he didn't know if she held it in the same regard. He was sure she did, for whatever the reasons he felt a connection to her then, a connection that had not faltered even through years of his imprisonment.
Yes, she undoubtedly remembered him, although for completely different reasons than he remembered her.
She started walking finally, dropping her hand down to her side. Walking his direction, he moved so he was flat against the side of the building so she wouldn't see him. All he could do was to wait. If they weren't in the busiest part of Muggle London, he might reveal himself to her at this moment. Confront her just to gage her reaction.
But no, he knew he had to wait. He'd been waiting for ten years, what was one more day, one more hour, one more lifetime?
He had everything planned precisely and down to the last detail. Carefully, he had even rehearsed what he would say to her. After all, he had a long time to consider the consequences of his actions. It was all so perfect… really, it was. He would finally get what he wanted and he wouldn't even have to work for it. She would do all the work while he reaped all the rewards. Smiling to himself, he watched her walk by and he inhaled deeply. Ah, yes, he remembered her scent. It was embedded in his soul by now… a cross between spices and apples and pure vanilla extract. Something entirely too wholesome and too perfect and too clean for the likes of him.
A man could get lost in her smell alone. The faint remembrance of that smell helped him endure the long years he struggled while in Azkaban, paying for his sins against her and all humanity.
He had to laugh at that last thought.
Now she would pay for her sins as well. For in his humble assessment, her sins were greater than his were. Her sin was the feelings of regret and remorse she heaped upon him every time he thought of her. Those were foreign and painful feelings of which he had never felt before meeting her, and in which he wouldn't feel any longer after he was done with her. Sometimes the pangs of regret were so strong to him that it felt as if they were raining down on him in a heavy deluge. He didn't like that feeling. It wasn't right that he should feel guilt when he was only doing what came natural to him. He couldn't help if innocent people were hurt by it all. He couldn't help if SHE was hurt.
He also couldn't help the pain he felt every time he thought of her, which was almost daily.
Soon, she would pay for causing his once black heart to feel again.
Closing his eyes at night, he would see her withering in pain on the floor. Sitting alone in his little room in the flea-bitten hotel he'd called home for the last few days, he would sometime imagine that he could still hear her screams. She was tortured and abused, nothing but a slip of a girl at the time, and she emitted screams of pure unadulterated agony and pain, and for some odd reason he blamed himself for it.
When had that happened? He couldn't remember one single time of his life before when he had felt empathy for someone. His entire life he affected a perfect mask of apathy and indolence, until SHE came along and ruined everything for him.
Really, everything was her fault, and that was why he was going to do what he was going to do. He hated her. Really, he did. How dare she make him feel badly for something that was his innate right to do? He was only doing his job – his duty – and no one could find fault with that, could they? Well, no more.
Moving from his hiding place, he fell into step behind a gaggle of Muggles, just in time to see her entering the familiar pub that would lead her to Diagon Alley. He hadn't expected her to go there today, but that was fine. It merely meant it was finally time to reveal his plan to her.
Weaving through the crowd, he rather thought it was working out perfectly, more splendid than he first thought possible. Soon, she would be doing his bidding, paying him reparation – penance – instead of the other way around.
She disappeared from his view, but that was fine. He knew where to find her. Waiting five minutes, he finally walked into the pub as well.
"Hello, Tom," Hermione called out to the bartender as she walked to the back of the bar, toward the portal to Diagon Alley. Taking out her wand, she tapped the brick wall with the tip in the familiar pattern and then walked through to the other side, leaving Muggle London to set foot down in Magical London.
For some reason, she looked behind her as soon as she stepped down to the sidewalk. All the hairs had been standing up on her arms and the back of her neck since she started walking this afternoon. She felt as if someone was watching her, or following her, and it wasn't a vague feeling, but a 'real' feeling of apprehension.
This wasn't the first time in the last few days that she had felt like this, either. Glancing back once more, she only saw witches and wizards walking along, minding their own business. None of them gave her a thought or a care.
Continuing her trek, she walked to the little semi-attached building that housed her office, pulled on the door, and stepped over the entrance. This little building was at the mouth of Knockturn Alley, which made it a perfect location for her job.
She threw her purse and jacket on an abandoned chair, and moved to sit behind the desk. Only then did she stop short, gasping. Someone was here. She knew it as well as she knew her own name.
Stepping back over to the chair where she left her purse, therefore her wand (which was in the purse), she pulled it out of its sheath and paused. Then, she turned around slowly - wand in hand.
That was when she saw him. A man was in the far corner of the small office, standing half in the dark, half in the light, filtered from the front window on the door. His face was completely in shadow, but his hands were in the light. She could see they were empty, which was good.
"Who are you?" she asked with a steady voice, hand tightly gripping her wand. She pointed it toward the enigma - her apprehension from earlier giving her pause.
She wasn't afraid, though, oddly enough. She knew she should be, but she wasn't. When the man didn't answer, she repeated the question with more force. "I asked you who you were, and I'd like to know what you're doing here as well."
The man crossed his legs at the ankles, moving his hands into the pockets of his long, leather duster.
"Please keep your hands where I can see them," she quipped.
He took both hands out of his pockets, slowly, then crossed them as well, saying, "Since you said 'please', sweetheart, I'll comply. But I have to tell you that I'm unarmed, if that's what you're worried about."
With agility and grace, he moved his legs slowly, uncrossing his legs even as he pushed himself away from the wall. Yet his face was still partly hidden.
"Step out into the light," she demanded.
"I'm merely here to ask you a question, so if you don't mind, would you put your wand away? Unless, since you are showing me yours, you want me to show you mine."
"Hardly," she said tersely. She wasn't about to bargain with a man hiding in the corner of her law office. "Now answer my question as to who are you, and then kindly step into the light."
"Fine, fine, I will, sweetheart, but if I do, you must put the wand away. Agreed?" He held his hands upward, moving them away from his body. "You see, it's a matter of trust, don't you think? I trust you won't hex an unarmed man, and you need to trust me, too."
He moved completely into the light and then smiled.
That was when she saw his face. Suddenly, her world tilted a bit, harsh memories flooding her brain. That dreadful night… everything she had endured… that evil woman… the thoughts came rushing back in fragmented pictures and she almost dropped her wand in her surprise.
Grasping it tighter, so she wouldn't drop it, she realized that she was gripping it so tightly that it was causing her pain. The pain leveled out the memories. Finding her voice, she asked, "What can I do for you, Mr. Scabior?"
Answering the Question
The little mudblood recognized him. He should have known she would. Well, that was good, very good. It would make everything so much easier, and he liked things to be easier. He hated to work too hard for the things he wanted.
"You remember me, do you?" he asked the obvious, moving closer to her, lowering his hands as he approached.
"Yes, of course I remember you," she said through clenched teeth, her wand hand never wavering. "How could I forget?"
"How indeed?" Needing no further explanation from her, he said, "I was afraid that ten years in prison might have altered my good looks to the point where I'd have to convince you it was me. Good to know that's not the case, sweetheart."
He watched her chest rise and fall as she concentrated on his words. He could tell she was trying to think of what to ask him next. He was sure it was a challenge for her to remain so steady, when the appearance of him probably warped the perfect little life she now had. Judging from her harsh expression, he was going to have to tread carefully to get what he wanted from her.
"Really, you can put your wand down," he repeated. "Mine is in my pocket, right here inside my coat. You can even keep it for me, but just while we talk. I just got it back and I'm somewhat partial to it, don't you know? I'd hate to lose it again." Moving his hand slowly inside his long leather coat, he pulled out his wand and leaned forward to place it on the top of her desk.
While leaning closer, he caught a whiff of her familiar, and intoxicating, scent. The fragrance was what sustained him for ten long years – torturing him – making him unable to forget. For some reason, the heady scent of her, along with the fact that she had grown more beautiful with age, made his blood boil, and not in a good way. What right did she have to smell so good, so clean, and so wholesome? Hadn't she suffered as well?
What right did she have to look more desirable than the fates should allow?
What right did she have to bring up all these emotions in him – familiar yet long dormant – and not at all welcome? He would have preferred that she had cursed him when she first walked in the door, instead of assaulting his every sense with her goodness, beauty and light.
Fucking hell, but this was not going as he planned. Moving slightly, he stepped around her and sat down in the chair right in front of her desk, where she usually sat, he was certain. "Why don't you have a seat, angel? We have some things to discuss, you and I."
Surprising him, she sat down in a chair across the desk, even lowering her wand. "What could you and I possibly have to discuss, Mr. Scabior?'
"Well, let me explain," he began.
All Hermione could think as he droned on and on about 'justice' and 'making things right' was the fact that HE was really here in front of her. Scabior the Snatcher was sitting at her desk, calling her all forms of endearment, confusing the hell out of her. This man was responsible for finding her, Harry and Ron. He was responsible for delivering them to Malfoy Manor during their Horcrux search, and he was responsible, indirectly, for her subsequent torture. He was the reason she was almost tortured to death, almost to madness, by Bellatrix Lestrange.
The last she had heard, he was still serving time in Azkaban, and though dementors no longer guarded the Wizarding prison, the place was still a haunting and harrowing place. She knew this because she often had to visit there for her work.
And as was often the case, the last ten years had altered the man to the extreme.
She remembered him as once wearing clothing that seemed a hodge-podge of colours and designs. Today, he wore simple black trousers, black boots and a black t-shirt. The only thing that looked familiar was his long, leather duster.
The man before her… all in black… was different in other ways. His hair, once worn in long braids and dreadlocks down his back, was shorter now, although it was still long enough for him to pull back from his face. He had some sort of strange mark, perhaps a tattoo, under his left eye, and more around his neck and the exposed portions of his wrists.
She supposed it might be said by some that he was still good-looking; however, all she saw when she looked at him was the horror and pain of her past.
What did he want? He had yet to say, instead, he was talking about mundane things like the weather and the price of tea. She moved forward in the seat, placing her wand next to his on top of the desk. Only then, did she stop him to ask the million-galleon question.
"Stop talking and answer my previous question. What do you want? Why are you here?"
He smiled. The corners of his eyes crinkled, yet Hermione would have been hard pressed to believe his smile was sincere. She waited patiently for his response, still thinking of his smile, his white teeth, his blue eyes, his hands with long, elegant fingers… that moved quickly to the top of the desk as he reached for their wands.
How could she have been so stupid?
Now a sincere smile played upon his face, as he leaned back in her chair behind the desk, crossing his legs, twirling her wand in one hand, tucking his in his coat with the other.
"I want you to help me find someone," he said smoothly, pointing her wand from him to her as he spoke.
She let out an inelegant snort and said, "Wasn't finding people your forte?"