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You have nine (9) unheard messages.

“Hermione? Hermione, sweetheart, it’s Molly—Molly Weasley—oh, I so wish you’d picked up, I found a very nice young man at the farmer’s market who’s agreed to meet you for drinks, he’s apprenticing at a dairy farm, he’s so lovely, really—really just very nice, he always saves me samples of Colby jack—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Hey, ‘Mione, thought I should warn you that Mom’s on a fucking warpath finding you a date for Harry’s wedding, I don’t know why she took your breakup with the asshat so personally, but—I don’t even know, whatever, she came home earlier with, like, four pounds of smoked gouda and certified crazy eyes, so—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Hi, uh—is this Hermione? Hermione Granger? I don’t—am I even doing this right? Do I have to press—no, no, it would have told you, Neville, get it together, get it together—um—hi, Hermione, if you’re even still listening to this—my name is Neville, Neville Longbottom, and I got your number from Molly—uh, Molly Weasley—”

Your message has been deleted.

“I swear to God, Granger, if you don’t find a fucking date for my fucking wedding and I have to fucking rearrange the fucking seating chart for your skank ass again—I don’t care if you’re Harry’s fucking soul-sister, I will put fucking rat poison in your fucking rice pilaf—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Hi, sweetheart, it’s Molly, I just wanted to remind you about the dinner—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Oh, your machine must’ve cut me off—”

Your message has been deleted.

“It’s Molly again—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Hey, ‘Mione, quick reminder that Ron’s banging Daphne Greengrass now and he’ll be, like, Lucius Malfoy levels of smug if you’re stuck sitting at the singles’ table—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Sweetheart, it’s Molly—”

Your message has been deleted.

 


 

Friday

11:45 pm

 

Hermione drains her fourth glass of Chardonnay and frowns mournfully at the tiny blue light blinking at her from the corner of her phone.

It’s mocking her.

And it’s all so—

It’s just so ridiculous.

Because Harry—sweet, sweet Harry, the boy who wears glasses and is kind to animals and hadn’t actually known what Abercrombie & Fitch was until they’d gotten to college—Harry is going to marry the Deep South’s sorority-girl equivalent of Satan’s handmaiden in approximately twenty-four hours, and all anyone seems to care about is whether or not Hermione has found a date for the wedding.

She wants to boycott.

She isn’t even a bridesmaid.

She reaches clumsily for a new bottle of wine—this one has a screw-top, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the taste, but considering the current state of her liver she isn’t sure that’s actually relevant—and sloshes some more into her glass.

This whole situation—

It’s ridiculous.

She is twenty-five years old. She is an adult. She wasted three years of her life dating an enormous red-haired man-child and she has a Master’s degree in what is essentially nothing but bullshit unless she decides to waste another three years of her life getting her fucking doctorate and she doesn’t understand when it happened or what went wrong but it’s like she just—like she just woke up from a coma and suddenly Harry was getting engaged and Ron was sleeping with other people and time had skipped forward half a decade without bothering to warn her because she isn’t ready for this, for any of it, isn’t ready to watch Harry settle down or Ron move on from her, isn’t ready to accept that she made a bunch of very serious life choices that had been right, yes, they had been right and they had been mature and they had been good, yes, but they had also been—

Jarring.

Startling.

She takes a gulp of sour-sweet, sort-of-red wine.

She had been the grown-up for so long—she had been single-handedly responsible for Harry and Ron graduating college, had taught them both how to use a dishwasher and file their taxes and interact with girls who weren’t her; she had proofread their papers, she had vacuumed their dorm rooms, she had disabled the snooze buttons on their alarm clocks—she had been the one who had been over-eager for adulthood, the one who had her future mapped out with color-coded Post-its and crisp ballpoint pens and—

And it’s ridiculous.

It’s ridiculous that she feels like she’s being left behind.

Except—

She resolutely swallows more wine.

Except

Her phone beeps.

She skewers it with a glare.

She knows that her friends, her family, are just concerned in an entirely well-meaning fashion about the possibility of her being forever alone—but she likes being alone, she tells herself, she does, only—only no, no, that’s confusing, and technically incorrect, because she doesn’t really like being alone, doesn’t like the quiet or the shadows or the empty fucking DVR, God, but she—she wants them to leave her alone, yes, that’s absolutely what she wants, so—logical fallacy aside, her best bet is to devise a foolproof plan to shut them up, and then—and then—blissful silence, wonderful loneliness—wait—no, no, not loneliness, that isn’t what she means, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same thing—

She shakes her head, abruptly dizzy.

And her vision is a little blurry, and her balance is a little off, but she thinks she knows what she needs to do, yes, so—so she finds her laptop and she clicks and she types and she squints blearily at the list of incomprehensibly abbreviated city names and God, some of these ads are depressing

That’s her last coherent thought.

 


 

You have twenty (20) unread messages from [UNKNOWN – (310) 636…]

(03:22 am) hi. this is scabior.

(03:24 am) you emailed me a few hours ago

(03:24 am) about my ad?

(03:26 am) sorry

(03:29 am) i would’ve replied sooner but there was this whole THING with my roommate and the guy from pizza hut who wasn’t apparently from pizza hut and had just stolen the real pizza hut guy’s car

(03:34 am) my neighborhoods fucking sketchy, man

(03:35 am) like i have SEEN some shit, let me tell you

(03:36 am) i have been to actual prisons with less drug dealers per square foot than my apartment building has

(03:45 am) im crazy pumped for this wedding btw

(03:46 am) but im not getting anything notarized

(03:46 am) because that’s fucking weird

(03:47 am) you’re paying me in grain alcohol and chocolate lava cake

(03:48 am) pretty sure reneging on that isn’t a matter of grave legal consequence

(03:52 am) plus, my drivers license got suspended like a year ago

(03:53 am) the chick at the dmv said they basically had to invent a new point system for me

(03:55 am) pro tip: being colorblind is not an adequate excuse for running red lights

(04:10 am) so no formalwear you said

(04:11 am) which is totally cool

(04:12 am) hope you like plaid though

(04:20 am) i fucking love plaid

 


 

Saturday

3:30 pm

 

In the hours leading up to Harry’s wedding, there is a very vague, very persistent sense of terrible, nauseating dread permeating Hermione’s subconscious.

Because she had woken up to a pounding headache and a slew of increasingly worrisome texts from someone named Scabior, and it had only taken her a few minutes to parse together what she must have done the night before.

She had—

God.

She had gone on Craigslist.

She had gone on Craigslist to find a date for her best friend’s wedding.

She doesn’t remember reading Scabior’s post in the Personals section. She doesn’t remember drafting an astonishingly lucid response to his completely insane proposal—he was willing to play the part of a socially disappointing, shamelessly dingy, douchebag degenerate boyfriend, and all in exchange for an invitation to dinner. She doesn’t remember looking at the picture he’d attached to the bottom of his ad, doesn’t remember objectively thinking that there was something roguishly charming about his sly smile, his high cheekbones, his messy, too-long black hair—she doesn’t remember snorting out a laugh as she’d envisioned Molly Weasley’s unmitigated horror upon seeing Hermione’s surprise plus-one in ratty jeans and…oh, probably flannel, Scabior definitely seems like the kind of guy who has a closet full of threadbare Dead Kennedys t-shirts and Christmas-colored Kurt Cobain flannels.

The point, though—

The point is that Hermione doesn’t remember.

 


 

You have five (5) unread messages from [SATAN’S HANDMAIDEN – (949) 214…]

(4:25 pm) youre late

(4:29 pm) harrys going to cry if youre not here

(4:34 pm) granger

(4:42 pm) i swear on my daddy’s heirloom plantation bible

(4:42 pm) i will cut you like a fucking sponge cake if youre not sitting in the back of this church in 20 minutes

You have three (3) unread messages from [ASSHAT NUMBER ONE – (714) 388…]

(4:38 pm) where r u

(4:45 pm) srsly mione

(4:52 pm) is this about me bringing daph as my date

You have eight (8) unread messages from [SCABIOR ??? – (310) 636…]

(4:30 pm) hey doll

(4:32 pm) sorry i’m late

(4:33 pm) the pizza hut guy was hiding in the back of my car when i got in

(4:34 pm) tried to shank me with a screwdriver

(4:34 pm) i’m fine don’t worry

(4:35 pm) cant really say the same for my upholstery

(4:37 pm) but i’ll be there in like 3 minutes

 


 

Saturday

4:40 pm

 

Scabior is—

Scabior is—

Scabior is somehow simultaneously everything and nothing that she had been expecting.

He’s tall and slender and unshaven and just generally kind of greasy; he has tan skin, soft lips, and these huge, impossibly dark eyes that twinkle and smolder and make her stomach clench when he first flashes them at her. He’s wearing combat boots and snug plaid pants that have bulky silver zippers in exceedingly strange places—his knees?—and a loose-fitting, white v-neck shirt that she thinks might be turned inside out. On purpose. A matte black hoop is pierced through the corner of one of his eyebrows, and a thin, brown leather cord is wrapped around his right wrist.

He hugs her when he gets out of his car.

He smells like incense and Old Spice.

But his smile is infectious, and his teeth are straight, and his gaze, when it sweeps over her bare legs and her too-tight, too-strapless, too-Pansy turquoise dress—his gaze is obviously, patently, unapologetically appreciative.

Her pulse skips.

Her mouth goes dry.

And then—

“No offense, but you’re way too hot to need to find a fake boyfriend on Craigslist,” he says, jerking his chin at her cleavage. “And if you wanted a legit loser, you could’ve totally just gone to one of those, like, creepy cesspool dive bars in a bowling alley, y’know?”

She blinks.

He continues to stare at her breasts.

The silence stretches on, but it isn’t awkward; no, it’s tense—magnetically, electrically charged—and it’s heavy with expectation, an ellipsis leading dot dot dot to an exclamation point—

“You’re objectifying me,” she finally says. “That’s—impolite.”

“Isn’t that what I’m here for, doll? To be…impolite?”

She furrows her brow.

“I—yes?”

He gives her a slow, slow smile, eyes traveling up from the swells of her breasts with a lazy, lingering sort of edge—and she thinks, wildly, that she can feel him inspecting the fragile wings of her collarbones, can feel him tracing the line of her neck and the hinge of her jaw, can feel him pausing when he reaches her mouth, his smile widening a fraction at one end, shifting into something dirty and deliberate at the sight of her lipstick—glossy, shimmery pale pink, innocent and flirty and, most importantly, seasonally appropriate

“Well, aren’t you precious,” he remarks, tongue darting out to flick at his bottom lip. “Do I need to put a towel down on the front seat before you’ll get in the car?”

She lifts her chin.

“That depends. Do I need to Febreze you before we share an enclosed space?”

He sarcastically salutes her as he slides back in to the driver’s seat.

“It’s Craigslist, doll, you might wanna invest in something a little stronger than Febreze, y’know?”

She doesn’t know.

That’s only half the problem.

 


 

You have one (2) unheard messages.

“Hermione, sweetheart, it’s Molly—Molly Weasley—we’re all just getting a little worried here, it isn’t like you to be late, the ceremony’s almost starting and you’re normally so punctual, it’s one of the things you have in common with Neville, the lovely, lovely young man from the farmer’s market—did he call you, by the way? He’s so shy, poor boy—”

Your message has been deleted.

“Holy shit, ‘Mione, where did you even—like, did you find that guy at, I don’t know, fucking Hot Topic? I mean, he’s cute in like an unwashed Jack Sparrow kind of way, I guess, but Mom’s going to fucking lose her shit, oh my god—”

Your message has been deleted.

 


 

Saturday

5:10 pm

 

They slip into the church just as the opening notes of the Wedding March are being eked out of the pipe organ.

“Huh,” Scabior says, scratching at the scruff along his jaw and looking around their pew. “Thought for sure you’d be a bridesmaid.”

Hermione turns towards the bridal chamber doors just as Daphne Greengrass emerges in all of her pixie-haired, adorably freckled, lavender-gowned glory; Hermione vaguely registers one of the twins—probably Fred, Fred had never liked her—slapping Ron on the back from up by the pulpit.

“Why would you have thought that?” she grits out.

“You kept, like, jiggling your leg on the drive over here—yeah, like that, see, you’re still doing it!”

“That’s not—my best friend is getting married, I’m allowed to be…excited.”

“Excited?” Scabior repeats, sounding dubious. “You’re kinda acting like someone’s about to be executed, though. And I dunno what kinda parties you’re going to, but—”

One of Pansy’s sorority sisters is flat-out gliding down the aisle, her toothpaste-commercial smile fixed prim and proper and perfect—God—and Hermione feels the familiar prickling stir of acute irritation dancing across her nerve-ends.

“No one is about to be executed, Scabior,” she says, firmly. “And I am excited. I’m thrilled. Ecstatic, even. So—that’s that. No executions. Just—excitement. Glee.”

“Right. D’you, uh, need a Valium or something to, y’know, deal with all that…glee?”

Hermione hesitates.

“I left my prescription at home.”

Scabior pats one of his inexplicable knee pockets.

“Must be your lucky day, then, doll,” he says with a wink. “They call me la farmacia whenever I get down to Tijuana.”

The last of the bridesmaids—the teenaged younger Greengrass sister—is now arranging the train of her dress as she situates herself on the bottom step of the dais at the head of the church.

“How special for you,” Hermione replies tartly.

Scabior shoots her a speculative, sidelong glance.

“So…this guy, the guy getting married today—he’s your best friend, you said?”

“Harry. Yes. Since…since forever, practically.”

“That’s cool. And you, uh, aren’t too fond of his fiancée, I take it? And you never said anything to him about that?”

Hermione licks her lips, the muscles in her right calf cramping up as she fights the urge to—God damn it—jiggle her leg.

“No.”

“You’re not gonna elaborate on that, doll?”

She quirks an eyebrow.

“No.”

“Huh.”

“What?”

“You just seem like the kinda girl who needs a reason for everything, y’know?”

Stung—but unable to fully articulate why—Hermione swivels in her seat to look at Scabior just as Pansy enters the church, an intricate lace veil shielding her face, tiny seed pearls sewn into the sheer layer of fabric that’s netted over her shiny blonde hair; Pansy’s dress is a romantic, swirling white princess confection that reminds Hermione—with a pang—of every single silly fairytale fantasy she’d ever had as a little girl.

Dude,” Scabior mutters, yawning widely. “These chicks all look like Barbies. Like—do they melt in the sun?”

Hermione bites down on the inside of her mouth and ignores him.

She’s too busy—

She’s too busy staring at Harry, who is too busy staring at Pansy—and it’s his expression as he does it, as he watches Pansy float down the aisle, towards him and the altar and their life together—it’s his expression, stunned and dazed, enchanted, enthralled, that makes Hermione’s throat tighten around her next breath, chest seizing and stuttering and—God—swelling, too, because Harry deserves this, he does, he deserves to be this happy, this awestruck, he deserves to love someone like he loves Pansy, even if Hermione will never understand how

That’s why,” Hermione says quietly to Scabior, nodding at Harry, at his pleased, private smile and the serious set of his shoulders. “That’s why I’ve never said anything to him about not liking her.”

And Scabior studies her intently for a second, dark eyes hooded and glittering and curious, like she’s said something intriguing, something genuinely surprising

The chorus of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” suddenly blares from the lone front pocket of Scabior’s pants.

Hermione squeezes her eyes shut.

“Oh, my God,” she whispers into the hushed, horrified, disbelieving silence.

 


 

You have six (6) unread messages from [HARRY POTTER - (714) 216…]

(6:02 pm) you’re not hiding are you?

(6:04 pm) pansy didn’t mean what she said

(6:04 pm) to you or to your…date?

(6:05 pm) who is he, btw?

(6:06 pm) he has a really solid handshake

(6:08 pm) arthur says that’s a good sign

You have three (3) unread messages from [SATAN’S HANDMAIDEN – (949) 214…]

(6:05 pm) disregard whatever harry said

(6:05 pm) two words: lye and bleach

(6:06 pm) they will never fucking find your bodies granger

 


 

Saturday

7:15 pm

 

“So—you dated the ginger over there, right?” Scabior asks, salmon flaking off the end of his fork as he waves it around over his plate. “The one with the bridesmaid?”

Hermione puffs out her cheeks and reaches blindly for her double-vodka Red Bull; the cocktail straw drifts from one side of the glass to the other, forcing her to chase it with her mouth.

“Yes. Ron. He’s…usually less obnoxious. Sometimes.”

“He’s a shitty dancer.”

“I somehow doubt that you’re any better.”

“Doll, if you want me to ask you to dance—”

“I don’t.”

“I’m a fucking awesome dancer.”

“Mosh pits don’t count.”

His lips twitch.

“But don’t you want me to cause another scene?”

“I think that the late nineties R&B throwback you treated us all to while Pansy said her vows probably fulfilled your scene-causing obligations for the night.”

Scabior sniffs at the butter dish.

“I can do better.”

Hermione finishes off her drink.

“What’s your deal, anyway?” she asks, not bothering to lower her voice. “You don’t really seem like a totally horrible human being. Just an asshole.”

“I’m not really…” he hedges. “I mean, I’m not, like, the guy who’s gonna harvest your organs black-market style while you sleep, y’know, but I’m also not the guy who, like, regularly dines at establishments with menus that don’t light up, either. So. My deal is kind of…in between?”

A slightly hysterical burst of laughter bubbles up the back of her throat.

“That’s the spectrum for you? Organ harvesting or—or Olive Garden? Really?”

He shrugs.

“What’s your deal?” he shoots back, toying with the rustic wooden handle of his steak knife. “I thought at first that you were just, like, pining for the groom, and you brought a pre-planned disaster to his wedding to fuck it all up—but that’s not it, and you’re too, like, pretty and put-together and…normal to be a closet Craigslist troll with a penchant for chaos, y’know, so—why am I here, doll?”

She glances at the ice cubes melting in the bottom of her glass.

“Ron—the ginger with the bridesmaid—his mother sets me up with these…guys all the time,” Hermione replies dully; her head is swimming, the straining thud of background music and tinkling porcelain plates drowning out the rest of her vodka-soaked senses. “Guys that she thinks I have things in common with. Thinks I’ll get along with.”

“Yeah?”

Yeah,” Hermione breathes out, tone wry. “And these guys—they’re nice, obviously. They’re always nice. And boring. And safe. And—they like to garden, or, or make cheese, or collect stamps. And it’s like—”

He pauses.

“It’s like what?”

“I just want her—them, all of them—to stop assuming that they know what I need,” Hermione says—and the clarity of the realization, the truth of it, it resonates, God, settles something deep inside of her that she hadn’t even known was fitting wrong. “To stop assuming that they know exactly who I am. I don’t even know who I…it’s just—I just—I hate it.”

He doesn’t respond for a while, just drums his fingers along the edge of the rose-colored tablecloth.

“I’m, uh—I’m a Craigslist troll with a penchant for chaos,” he eventually says.

“What?”

“You asked what my deal was. That’s my deal. I—I’m kinda fucked up, y’know, and sometimes it’s fun—nice—to make other people feel the same way.” He smirks a little ruefully. “Sometimes I wanna make the rest of the world match.”

She cocks her head to the side.

“Do you like my dress?”

Utterly unfazed, he winks at her.

“I like what’s under your dress, yeah.”

She hums.

“This isn’t my dress. I didn’t pick it out. I didn’t buy it. I fucking loathe this dress, Scabior.”

He squints at the leather cord he has knotted around his wrist.

“You know what I loathe?”

“What?”

Capitalism.”

“That’s it? Just—capitalism?”

“Well—capitalism doesn’t like to share space with other words, does it?”

She sighs, and then she giggles, and then she looks up at him, chewing nervously on the inside of her mouth—

“Dance with me,” she blurts out.

 


 

You have four (4) unread messages from [ASSHAT NUMBER ONE - (714) 388…]

(8:00 pm) your weird new bf just spilled soda all over me

(8:02 pm) daph doesn’t think it was an accident

(8:05 pm) so

(8:07 pm) he seems like a real fucking asshole ok

You have six (6) unread messages from [GINNY KRUM-WEASEL – (714) 501…]

(8:03 pm) hot topic just poured a fucking huge pretentious crystal goblet of sprite down the back of my asshat brothers pants

(8:03 pm) im fucking screaming

(8:15 pm) i know im already married mione

(8:16 pm) but

(8:17 pm) if you don’t fucking put a ring on it

(8:17 pm) i will for you

 


 

Saturday

8:55 pm

 

“D’you wanna get out of here?” Scabior murmurs into her ear.

And she knows what he’s really asking, of course she does, knows what she’s really agreeing to as she entwines their hands and shyly meets his gaze and gets up on the very tips of her toes to press a soft, lingering kiss to his lips.

She knows.

“Yeah,” she says, honestly. “I do.”

 


 

You have two (2) unheard messages.

“Sweetheart, it’s Molly, we all saw your…new young man—well, it looked like he was kidnapping you, dragging you off to the beach like that, and I think I speak for all of us when I say I’m a bit worried for you—”

Your message has been deleted.

“’Mione, please tell me you’re doing what everyone thinks you’re doing because if you aren’t I am fucking disowning you, the asshat is doing the fucking electric slide with a giant wet spot on his fucking pants and if that doesn’t—I don’t know when you’re getting grandchildren, Mom, shut up, I’m on birth control—if Ron’s humiliation being immortalized by the wedding videographer right now doesn’t make you want to drop to your knees and swallow for fucking Hot Topic—”

Your message has been deleted.

 


 

Saturday

10:30 pm

 

Hermione has never been this girl.

She has never had sex with a stranger—an almost stranger—and she has never drunk vodka straight from the bottle—not even in college—and she has never snuck out of a wedding to do either of the aforementioned things on a public beach next to the harbor, craggy mountains of sharp grey rocks backing up to the stairs they’d climbed down to get there, tangled piles of dry, yellow-green seaweed littering the sand around the tide pools—

She has never been this girl.

Scabior slides two of his fingers into her cunt, carelessly bunching the expensive silk of her dress up and around her hips, and she moans at how good it feels, God, eyelids fluttering at the sensation of his clever, callused thumb sweeping over her clit, again, again

No,” he says, twisting his wrist around and curling one of his fingers slowly, searchingly, an unhurried come-hither motion that makes her grin into his mouth because—because—come, she thinks, dizzy and dazed, he’s going to make me come—“Look at me, Hermione, don’t close your eyes, yeah, look at me—

She has never been this girl.

She spreads her legs, Scabior’s discarded t-shirt warm against her back; his belt buckle clinks and caresses the sensitive skin of her inner thighs as he guides his cock forward, and then he’s pushing, pushing, pushing and she can feel her muscles stretching, the faint ache in her lower abdomen burning a little brighter and a little more urgently—he exhales messily, noisily, desperately, a crease forming between his brows, and he rolls his hips once, twice, alternating between hard thrusts and gentle grinds, and her answering gasp is practically punched out of her, the lightning coil of her orgasm teasing at the base of her spine—

She has never been this girl.

She isn’t this girl.

But—

But

 


 

You have fifteen (15) unread messages from [HARRY POTTER – (714) 216…]

(11:22 pm) we’re leaving for the airport soon

(11:23 pm) ginny says ur on the beach with…scabior?

(11:24 pm) im

(11:24 pm) shit

(11:25 pm) its probably all the champagne but

(11:26 pm) i don’t even know what

(11:26 pm) im trying to say

(11:27 pm) just

(11:28 pm) im really fucking happy right now mione

(11:28 pm) im really fucking happy u came today

(11:28 pm) and im

(11:29 pm) fuck

(11:33 pm) ive gotta go

(11:35 pm) i’ll call u when we get there

(11:36 pm) love u

 


 

Sunday

12:40 am

 

Sand is steadily creeping under the hem of Hermione’s dress, clinging to the backs of her legs, and she can feel the slickness between her thighs soaking through the lace of her underwear, cool and sticky and wet—she doesn’t know what he’d done with the condom, but she suspects that it might be stuffed into one of his strange sideways knee pockets.

“I was supposed to be the one who had it all figured out,” she suddenly says, sifting a handful of sand through her fingertips. “I was—I was never supposed to get lost.”

He nudges her shoulder with his own, vodka bottle wedged between his feet.

Lost, huh?”

She gazes out at the ocean, velvet-dark waves cresting in placid, foaming peaks in the distance.

“Yeah,” she says, mouth quirking up—because she has vodka on her lips and Scabior on her tongue and if there had ever been a time to use the word ‘lost’—God, is it right now. “Lost.”

He moves the vodka to his other side and turns towards her, lifting himself up and swinging his legs over hers so that his knees are bracketing her hips. He then leans down, peering into her eyes, his expression uncharacteristically solemn. All she can think about, though, is how he smells like vanilla frosting and sex and her, like her gardenia-scented moisturizer and her spearmint gum, and it’s pungent, it’s intoxicating, it’s chaos in her stomach and entropy in her veins and this, this is what she hadn’t had with Ron, with anyone, this is what she’d been missing and craving and—

“Did I mention I was in a band back in the day?” Scabior asks, breath hot on her face.

She shakes her head, displacing several more strands of her hair.

“No.”

“Yeah, we were—uh, we were called the Snatchers. Kinda had a decent following in the LA scene, had a, uh, label, actually, for a little while…yeah, we were the Snatchers. Wanna know why, doll?”

“You mean it wasn’t a play on a derogatory euphemism for the female genitalia?”

He barks out a laugh, teeth glinting white in the shadows between their bodies.

“No, but…that’s way more hilarious, I’m gonna have to update our MySpace page,” he muses.

She drops her forehead onto the broad curve of his shoulder.

“How are you even real?” she asks, helplessly.

Anyway,” he drawls, reaching around to drag his hands up and down her back, eliciting a tingling shiver from the nape of her neck, “we were the Snatchers. Mostly because that’s what my nickname was in high school—”

What?”

“Yeah, I—it was a joke, I kinda had a…reputation for, uh, sleeping with other guys’ girlfriends? Snatching them? Get it? It was fucking dumb, I know, but there was a little more to it—”

“More than snatching other guys’ girlfriends? Really?”

Mm,” he replies dryly. “It isn’t all just punk rock and leather jackets, doll.”

“Well, that’s disappointing. Do you have a checking account, too? Are you secretly not an anarchist? How deep does this conspiracy go?”

He scoffs, nose buried in her hair, and she can feel his smile grazing her skin, fluttering and feather-light.

Anyway,” he says again. “Snatching—there was an art to it. It was about…about chasing, you know? About the, uh, thrill of the hunt. And I was good at it.”

“So…”

So,” he says pointedly, “what I’m getting at, here—”

“You’re getting at something? How refreshing.”

He pinches her waist.

“What I’m getting at, doll, is that—I’m good at tracking shit down.”

“Oh?”

He brushes his lips along her cheek.

Oh,” he whispers. “You’re lost. Let me find you.”

She releases a shaky laugh, heart hammering off-key and out-of-rhythm against the cage of her ribs.

“And then what?” she asks thickly. “What happens when you…find me?”

He chuckles—

And then a wave crashes, and a seagull caws, and he steals a quick kiss, his lips pressed hard into hers for a fast, fleeting moment, there and there and then gone—

“You get snatched, Hermione. That’s what happens.”

 


 

You have one (1) unheard message.

“Hey, doll—I’m, like, ten minutes out, the line at the DMV was, like, way out of control and there was this dude-bro punk in a USC sweatshirt who was all like, ‘Fight me, Scabior,’ but, y’know, I didn’t—because I’m guessing you’d send our very own Southern Belle She-Devil to bail my ass out of jail if I got arrested and she’s a fucking menace, Potter’s like the bravest dude I’ve ever met—anyway—uh—yeah, so, I’ll be there soon, I’m wearing a tie like I promised, love you, bye!”

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