A/N Disclaimer: 1.) You probably shouldn't read this.
2.) If you DO read this, please keep in mind that this is nothing but ridiculousness and the closest that I can feasibly come to fluffy stories. This is a de-stressor fic and is NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AT ALL.
3.) Setting is modern AU in a mystical place in Los Angeles, CA that doesn't exist with some of the characters holding true to their countries of origin and others not so much.
4.) This is mainly for my amusement but you're welcome along for the ride.
A/N Update! (9/6/2017) - For folks that don't follow me on Tumblr, I will be going back through all the chapters of this fic to fix some small inconsistencies and such in preparation for the stretch to finishing it and making everything actually make some sort of sense. For those of you just joining, I hope you enjoy what is here, but you may also choose to revisit it later once the chapters have been updated (your choice). Just wanted to keep everyone in the loop!
"Venti, Hermione, VENTI!"
"Shite. Yes, yes, sorry, venti—VENTI." Hermione grumbled to herself and started over with her hundredth drink order. If anyone had told her that her pursuit of higher learning was going to land her in a minimum wage coffee shop job as a barista making venti, sugar-free vanilla lattes with soy milk or tall, skinny, hazelnut macchiatos she would have asked someone to put her out of her misery a long, long time ago.
"Grande, cinnamon dolce latte, no whip."
"Got it! I got it! I got it!"
She took the cup passed over to her and went to work trying to pretend that the humidity wasn't absolutely destroying her hair. Hermione brewed and poured, pumped and jiggled all sorts of levers – just fuck, she wasn't even sure what some of these did still – and made something that she was fairly certain would be considered a cinnamon dolce latte.
Taking the cup in hand and slipping a tiny biodegradable sleeve around it, she swiped her forearm across her brow and huffed. Hermione squinted at the Sharpie on the cup and blinked out into the late, late, late crowd.
"Uh…Rickle?" She nudged the drink out onto the pickup station and lingered a moment. She'd heard some pretty strange names since she came out to LA but that was certainly—
"You mean Riddle?"
Hermione startled at the obviously annoyed tone directed towards her. It wasn't so much the attitude behind it as it was the rarity of actually being engaged by one of the patrons that entertained the idea of coffee at such a late hour. "P-pardon?"
A tall man with impossibly dark hair that she suspected was a little too blue to be natural stepped forward. His lips were pursed slightly and it made his hollow cheeks that much more gaunt, his cheekbones all perfectly sharp and angular. His skin was light, though not too pale against his most-likely-dyed hair and she noted some interesting looking plugs in the lobes of his ears, black and solid and at least a couple of centimetres in diameter. Hermione's eyes scanned over his person and found that he sported broad shoulders for his lean frame and though he looked tired and rumpled in a perspiration dotted, half buttoned button down with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, he was quite striking.
He scowled at her and her examination of him, bothering with no kind of pleasantries. "Riddle. You mean Riddle."
Hermione watched him take up the fully recyclable coffee cup and turn it in his hand to scowl at the butchered name on it. She blinked at the fat black stone sitting atop a band on his middle finger and her eyes wandered down to the inked lines making up a mess of images peppering his exposed arm. The click of his tongue drew her stare back up to his face and she watched the hollows of his cheeks suck in even more for the barest of seconds in his irritation.
"Bloody arseholes. Every bleedin' time—"
Hermione perked up as if she'd just found a buoy in the middle of the ocean. There were plenty of people from all walks of life and all cultures where she'd… 'moved' to, but this was the first since she'd arrived that she found someone that hailed from her home country.
Perhaps it was the excitement that allowed the words to slip so cheerfully past her lips. "You're English!"
Dark eyes darted to her face still looking quite unamused at both the cock up of his name as well as her. "Yes. And?"
Her excitement deflated a bit like a popped balloon complete with the sputtering. "Ah-well—I—uh. M-me too. English also. I am."
Riddle draped some sort of fuzzy jumper thing he'd been carrying over his other arm over his shoulder instead and brought his cup towards his mouth even as he rose an eyebrow at her ineloquent dialogue. "I've noticed." His tone was dry and tired and he tilted the drink back for a sip—and immediately sneered, swiping a thumb across his lips as if he'd just tasted a literal pile of shit. "I said no whip. The name was clearly wrong but are you really such a daft bint that you can't even understand a 'check' in the box next to 'no whip'?"
"S-sorry, did you just call me a 'daft bint'?" she asked disbelievingly.
Riddle kept doing that scowling thing he'd been doing since he'd been so gracious as to bestow his most royal attention on her. "Yes. And you just so merrily proclaimed that you're a Brit, so I'm sure you know what it means. Unless you're faking that in addition to your apparent inability to read."
Something might have crackled a tad in her head. "Excuse me?"
He sighed and leaned in, lowering his voice in a patronizing manner and exaggerating each word with long syllables and massive facial movements. "Do you need me to translate the picture for you?"
Hermione ran her tongue along the edge of her teeth, fingers digging into the counter until they turned white. The insistent urgings from one of her coworkers and the side eye she'd been receiving from the cashier blurred into the background as she narrowed her gaze on this terribly rude man with his stupidly perfect cheekbones.
You need this job. You NEED this job. You can't afford to lose another one. Things are different. They don't know you here. Your shift's almost over and you can just go…'home' and sleep it off.
She inhaled deeply and tried her best to exhale the bubbling rage that was circulating through her. "Apologies," Hermione grit out and reached for his cup, "I'll make you another—"
Riddle dismissively swatted her reaching hand away. "No need for that—" He leaned closer still and squinted at her name tag. "—Hermione. I'll drink this one. You may want to brush up on your English before your next shift, though. That, or learn sign language or braille so that you at least have some options so you don't botch anything else up."
The something that crackled before now fizzled and popped and completely short circuited in a glorious internal explosion.
It might have been the filter between her brain and her mouth.
"Oh, that won't be necessary my Lordship. Tonight was simply an accident and I happen to already be multilingual, you see?"
Hermione smiled politely and made a grand motioning gesture towards him that made him tilt his head curiously.
Still smiling, she made a shape at her abdomen with her hands, thumbs and index fingers touching in a sort of diamond shape. She then moved to hold one hand out before her, open and flat, palm side up, then took the other and made a 'W' shape with three fingers before dragging them first from fingertips to heel and then from one side of her palm to the other.
"See? American Sign Language? Already a thing."
His narrowed eyes became more squinty and suspicious the wider her smile grew as he obviously had no idea what she'd just said to him. He furrowed his brow deeply and she shifted to look at the clock on the far wall past his fool head. With a thankful sigh at the fact that she had apparently managed to kill enough time to call this dreadful double shift to a close, she produced an even whiter, more dangerous looking flash of teeth.
"Pleasure speaking with you, Rickle. Here's one from home you might recognize," Hermione said airily and flicked up an underhand pair of fingers in his direction. She didn't bother turning around to see his reaction, entirely uninterested in seeing the look on his prattish face, nor did she even pause in her stride at the irate and repeated call of her name by either of her coworkers.
An irksome little voice nag, nag, nagged at her in her head while she divested herself of her coffee and syrup ridden apron.
Flipping off a customer and signing that he is a twat waffle is sure to secure this job you so desperately need.
Hermione groaned inwardly and punched out. She collected her things and snuck out the back door, stealthily avoiding both the angry glares from her fellow employees at her too prompt departure and any possible chance of avoiding the git that had insulted her in the front of the store. If she were to see him again, being off the clock and all, she might not be able to control the more visceral reaction of a right cross to his jaw that – she was pretty sure – would 100% get her fired…as well as 100% get her incarcerated.
She huffed and scoffed at herself, "Because when the boss hears about this, I'm so still going to have a job…ugh."
She would look in the paper in the morning. Right now, she really just wanted to get a bit of shut eye.
With a sag to her shoulders and a shuffle to her step, Hermione trudged down the street to her car where she kept it tucked neatly away from prying eyes as much as she could. Wrenching the big, steel door of the Town Car open, she shimmied into the back seat, stretching out along its length around the assortment of bags and bundles she had to resort to keeping there before catching her toe in the door handle and tugging it shut behind her.
Hermione wriggled around her belongings, checking all the little suction cups to her fold out screens on the windows to make sure nothing was going to come falling on her face in the middle of the night and scare the bejeebus out of her as they always tried their damnedest to do. Fluffing one of her well-worn pillows, she spread a blanket over her legs and kicked around until she was as comfortable as she was going to get cuddling her ratty little stuffed cat plush with its ornery looking squashed face.
"We'll show mum and dad, won't we, Crookshanks? We don't need their help out here…we'll make it just fine on our own." Hermione blinked and sighed at her 'cat', gave it a little kiss on the head and wriggled some more until she thought she might be able to nod off.
At least her bench seats were roomy.