Let's Just finish this, shall we?

Scabior had just finished telling Hermione everything. He needed her to 'capture him' (what a concept), turn him in, and then collect the reward. The most important part of his plan – the part he hadn't yet told her – was that she needed to wait to do these things until the threat to her was over with, after all, if she died at the hands of Waller or his family, all of this would have been in vain. Funny thing, that… but he seemed to have a soft spot for the woman.

Approaching her slowly, he asked, "Seriously, love, what good is 50,000 Galleons to a man in prison?"

"What good is 50,000 Galleons to a dead man?" she asked in return, her wand back in her hand, and pointing right at his chest.

He admired her pluck and agility – how did she get her wand back – and was about to tell her so when there was a loud explosion right outside his door. The blast caused the door to fly off its hinges, splintering wood and debris flying everywhere.

Hermione was knocked into his chest. His arms went instinctively around her, just as he pulled her away from the door. Pushing her down behind the far side of the wardrobe, he stood in front of her, wand at the ready, waiting for the deluge that was about to rain down on them.

The subsequent encounter happened fast and furious. There was an explosion… the door busted opened… Hermione was sent flying into Scabior's chest… he pulled her farther into the room and then placed his body in front of hers. Then, he was suddenly engaged in a fight with James Waller himself. He should have known the man would come after him; after all, they did escape prison together.

With a rush of adrenaline, he shouted for Hermione to leave the room, even as curses and hexes flew around their heads like a sudden summer storm. Hermione ignored his pleas for her to leave, crawled under the bed – to hide, he hoped – only to climb out from the other side. When he saw her standing on the other side of Waller he was momentarily distracted.

That was when the curse hit him. He fell backwards, crumbling to the floor. He saw her striking her wand toward the other man in a swift arc. Even as Scabior himself was falling to the floor, he saw James Waller fall as well, the man not even aware of Hermione's curse hitting him.

The entire skirmish ended almost quickly as it began.

"For fuck's sake!" Scabior hissed, bringing his hands up to his chest. He was in pain, but alive. He wasn't sure the same couldn't be said for the other man. "Why didn't you leave the room when you had a chance?"

Hermione stepped over the other man's body and rushed to him. Kneeling before him on the ground, she started to move the lapels of his jacket, ripping apart his waistcoat, and unbuttoning his shirt. "Be grateful I didn't. If I did, you'd be dead."

He stilled her hands just as she parted his shirt. "What are you doing?" he asked, wincing in pain. "Go any further, and people will think we're dating."

She cocked her head to the side and looked at him with obvious exasperation. "I'm trying to ascertain if you're hurt."

He sat upright, grabbing her hands in his. "I'm fine, I'm fine."

She turned her head to look at the man on the floor. "Is that one of James Waller's family members?"

Grimacing in pain, he released her hands and placed his back against the wooden doors of the wardrobe. "Not exactly. I'm surprised you don't recognize him, but then again, he is lying face down on the floor. That, my sweets, is James Waller himself."

Hermione gasped and turned back to look at the man again. "He escaped from prison?"

Closing one eye for a moment, while he checked his own chest for injuries, he said, "Yes."

She looked back toward Scabior. "Did you know that?"

"Yes," he repeated, standing up with difficulty.

She stood as well. "Why didn't you tell me this? Didn't you think it was important? You went on and on and on about everything else, but didn't tell me the most important part? The man who wanted to harm me escaped from prison! It's not that hard of a sentence to say! Did he escape before or after you?"

Scabior walked over to the man, who was lying on his stomach, and poked him with the toe of his boot. "Well, we sort of escaped together."

"What?" she yelped. "Were you in collusion with the man? Were you helping him in some way?"

He turned to her. "I'm not sure I know what collusion means, and no, I wasn't helping him. He helped me, if you must know. He told me all about his plans to escape… how his family was going to help him, and how he was going to find you and make you pay for your failure to get him out of prison. I thought – why not escape with him? I mean, he already had the means and a way, and I'm nothing if not industrious. If someone else can do all the hard work, and I reap some of the reward, I'm going to go for it."

Hermione pushed him, but he hardly stumbled.

She said, "You're reprehensible!"

"Now that's a word I know," he said, walking toward the doorway. He stuck his head out the door, to look up and down the hall. "Good thing this isn't a respectable hovel. Doesn't appear anyone heard the commotion," he mumbled, coming back into the room. He turned and saw her staring at him.

She spat, "You're nothing but a lazy, no good, liar!"

Pointing his wand toward the broken door, he fixed it in a thrice and then turned back toward the angry woman in front of him. "Listen, love," he began, "I told you the truth in parts. I'm serious when I said that if someone else could do the work for me, and I reap the benefits, that I was going to go for it. James Waller was going to escape from Azkaban, something that hadn't been done in a long time. He was also going to kill you, something that at the time, I admit, I didn't think too much on, because I was concentrating on what I would do once I escaped."

"You're loathsome!" she replied.

He walked to her, stood right in front of her, and said, "What do you know, I know that word, too. Now, may I finish?"

She swept her hand out in front of her, as if to say, 'Go on'.

"The more I talked to the man, while we were still in prison, the more I realized he was a mad. I mean, he had serious anger problems, he did. I also began to think of you a bit more. I might have become obsessed with keeping you safe, but that's another story." Scabior took her wrist in his hand, and though she tried to pull away, he was stronger. Sitting down on the bed, he pulled her down beside him.

"That was when I concocted my part of the plan. I knew once we escaped, we'd have a bounty put on our heads. I knew I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I decided to come to you before Waller approached you, and that I would draw you away from him. And by doing so, I'd protect you from him as well." He looked over at the man on the floor and added, "Little did I know it would be you protecting me from him, but I'm man enough to say thank you."

"You had to known he would try to kill me, right?" she said, some of the anger and fire gone from her voice.

"I counted on it," he admitted. "I didn't know it would happen today, because the last time I saw him, he was merely snooping around your office, just as I was snooping after him. His original plan was to kidnap you from your office, but he said he was going to do it when no one else was around. I thought I had enough time to get you out of your office, so he wouldn't have a chance. Once I had you here, I swear I was going to tell you he had escaped from prison too, and that you were in immediate danger. I thought we would have you turn me in, tell your little Auror friends of the threat to you, and that they would lay in wait for him. After they captured him, you'd be safe, and well on your way to defending me against my new charges. I figured a month or two might go by, in which I'd be detained, sure, but not in Azkaban. I thought Waller would be sent back there, so for my own protection, I thought the Ministry would detain me elsewhere until my new trial. After you got me off, scot-free, I might add, you would then give me my part of the reward money."

She was glaring at him.

"I thought it was a perfect plan," he concluded.

"That was your first mistake," she retorted. "You thought."

In Conclusion

A few weeks later, Scabior was in a holding cell in the Ministry, where he'd been since the day Waller tried to kill Hermione. It wasn't a very comfortable place, but at least it wasn't Azkaban.

After he admitted everything to the woman, she contacted Potter. Potter and the other Aurors came right away. Waller, who unfortunately didn't die, was immediately sent back to prison. To Scabior's surprise, she told Potter and the Aurors that Scabior saved her from the man, which was stretching the truth a bit, but made him admire her even more.

She told them that Scabior came to her office, told her straight away that Waller was out to get her (lie number two, but who was counting?) Then she told Potter that she went willingly to his hotel with him (stretching the truth number three) and that once there, Waller attacked them. The only truth was when she told them that while Scabior and the other man were dueling, she was the one who ended up cursing Waller. Scabior didn't mind that she took the glory for that one.

The day of his hearing, he was shocked that she appeared to defend him. He hadn't seen her since that day, and as they walked toward the courtroom, she refused to even look at him, let alone speak to him.

Therefore, he was stunned even more when she told the panel of judges that he escaped only to warn her of the danger from Waller. Once again, that was slightly stretching of the truth, but he was grateful for that lie, for it helped him tremendously. Hermione pointed out that Scabior only had three months left on his sentence, so for him to escape and face the possibility of more time in prison was a commendable thing. He almost laughed at that little fabrication, but he didn't.

Afterwards, when he was taken back to his cell to await the sentencing, she merely told him she would be in touch. That was five days ago. And here he sat… waiting to hear his fate… waiting to find out if he was going to go back to Azkaban, or if, luckily, he would be set free.

He heard footsteps on the concrete floor. Standing from the small cot where he'd been sitting – and musing – he saw her stop in front of his cell.

"Well, the verdicts been rendered," she replied without emotion.

He found himself swallowing the lump in his throat. "And?' he said, momentarily without words.

"You're going to be set free," she said dispassionately. "The judges decided your sentenced would be commuted. They think you did a good thing, and that you shouldn't be further punished. Congratulations. I'm sure there'll be some papers for you to sign, and then you'll be on your way. Goodbye."

She started to turn away. He snaked his hand between the bars on his cell and grabbed her upper arm. She glanced down at his hand, back into his eyes, and waited. "What?" she said.

He wanted to say thank you, but he couldn't find the words. Odd… he was a man who usually had words tumble out of his mouth with ease, but he couldn't find the right words to express to her his gratitude. Instead, he asked, "What of the reward."

She pulled her arm from his grasp. "They decided to give me the reward for capturing you – just as you suspected they would. I decided to give it to a worthy charity, but don't fear," she smiled, "I did so in your name."

He brought his hand back into the cell and smiled. So be it. He should have expected she'd do something like that. Nodding, he said, "Well, okay then. I guess that was your right."

Turning, he took three steps and plopped back down on the cot. "I guess there's nothing else to say," he responded, although he knew he should say 'thank you' at the very least. Still, the words wouldn't come.

She gave him a curt nod and started to walk away, only to turn back. "While the Ministry rewarded me the bounty on your head, and I in turn donated it to the war orphan fund, they also gave me the reward on Waller's head. It was larger than the one for you."

He sat upright at that. "Imagine that. I didn't even think about that." He found himself smiling. Standing back up, he walked to the bars and stood in front of her. "Congratulations. Which little charity did you give that one to?"

"None," she said quickly. Then she reached inside her bag and drew out a piece of paper, folded in half. She held it out to him. "Here, this is for you. Don't look at until I leave. I think you owe me that much."

He took it, and without looking at it, he placed it in his pocket. He watched her until she was out of sight. She was right, he owed her that much. When she was gone, he removed the slip of paper from his pocket and looked at it. It was check, made out to Scabior, for 60,000 Galleons. He smiled. That little minx. She'd given him the reward for Waller. Well, what do you know?

Epilogue, if you will

He waited in her office all morning, but she had yet to appear. Glancing at the clock on her wall, he wondered where she was. She was usually in her office bright and early, yet here it was, almost noon, and she wasn't here.

Planting his arse down in her chair, he was about to place his feet on her desk when the door to her small office opened. She walked through the door, saw him sitting in her chair, and stopped cold.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, wide eyed. She threw her coat and satchel down on the floor and approached him.

"I just got out of jail," he replied, standing. Walking over toward her, in the middle of her small office, he added, "And I decided to come and tell you a proper thank you. I realized I didn't say that before, and I wanted you to know that I'm sincerely grateful for everything."

She nodded her head a few times and started to walk around him. He blocked her way to her chair. He gripped her arm at the elbow to stop her. He felt his heart lurch as she looked up at him and asked, "Was there something else?" She raised her eyebrows at him and waited.

"Yes," he murmured, "This." He pulled her to him, her breasts crushing into his chest. She was up on her toes, and she let out a little squeak as his lips crashed down on hers. The force of his mouth of hers caused her to open her mouth. That was all he needed. Without hurting her, but with vigor and purpose, he swept his tongue inside her mouth, against her teeth, over her tongue.

This kiss was a solemn vow to her. It was a pledge, a promise, and his way of telling her the things that he couldn't say with words. She kissed him back just as fiercely, her hands coming up around his neck, her mouth against his, and a small moan in the back of her throat.

The kiss went on and on, and when he at last removed his mouth from hers, he looked down at her with hooded eyes. She returned his gaze without flinching. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, and by the way she was breathing, he could tell she was just as swayed by the kiss as he was.

"What do you think you're doing?" she practically whispered.

He smiled. "I thought instead of talking you to death this time, I'd just show you how I feel."

She returned his smile. "I'm glad to know you're not only a man of words, but of actions as well."

He continued to smile at her. "Oh, I'm a man of action alright. Would you like me to show you more?"

She removed her wand from her pocket. Letting go of her arms, he stepped away from her, and lifted his hands. He was about to apologize… plead for forgiveness… tell her he'd leave immediately, when to his utter and complete surprise, she turned from him and pointed her wand at the door. The lock turned, and the blinds closed.

"You were saying, or rather not saying?" she said, a sly smile on her face.

He pulled her to him and said, "I certainly was."

The End