Thus the road did wander to the shore Great swells coiled forward then washed back, thrice more Yet, that retreat left silence, vast, unbroken held quick in the pools of thy memory unspoken That windswept mire; devious, bereft! Worn piers of disarray, black shoals, heart's theft. Caught fast in the naught, twixt the needle and eye Spilled forth, still fearful pressed low 'neath the sky
-Susanna B. Aether, Still Lost, Constantia (Verse XII: lines 227 - 239)
Hermione was hanging wedding decorations, and wishing that she weren't.
There were so many other activities that required her time: planning, discussing, preparing mentally and physically for the coming trials. She desperately wanted to get everyone together and go over the items left to them by Dumbledore with an eye for the slightest details — they had only brushed the surface of whatever secrets the Headmaster had wanted them to divine, she was sure of it. She also needed to sit down with Scott and work out some sort of arrangement for their leaving of The Burrow. Input from anyone would be valuable, of course, but she was certain Scott would already have some ideas on the subject.
And they would need to leave; the sooner, the better. She only wished they didn't have to attend the wedding. Not that she wasn't looking forward to such a joyous event, and there was sure to be dancing… but the timing left a great deal to be desired.
As did her decorating companion.
“This is FUCKED.” Scott kicked over a stool with a loud clatter, making Hermione wince. “Look at this crap. Look at it! Look at it now, because nobody is even gonna bother come show time, they'll all walk through here without even noticing all the effort it took to make this room look so shitty—”
“Oh, just stop.” Hermione reprimanded sharply when Scott's voice began to rise. She didn't want to hear yet another blistering tirade about wedding jobs. Harry and Ron were about as unenthused but at least they were less verbose.
“What?” he said, as if he didn't know exactly what the problem was.
“Obviously you're having issues, but we'll have even more if you start shouting.”
“Issues?” Scott mocked. “Yeah, we got issues. Issues, like, these crappy decorations, the fact we haven't had a spare minute to plan anything, the fact that even if we did I'm not sure we could get out of the house without making a scene… Also, I just stepped on this glass thing.” He pointed towards his left foot, beneath which he had broken some sort of bauble. “I'm not wearing shoes. That's an 'issue'. Apparently, I've been scuffing the wood floors. Ask Lil, she'll tell you all about it!”
Hermione sighed and motioned him towards a nearby stool she had used to reach the top of the windowsill. “You're a mess, you know that?” She gripped Scott's ankle and lifted his foot for inspection, wrinkling her nose at the amount of blood already soaked through the cloth of his sock. “Accio glass!”
“Ow. Yes, fine, I'm a mess. Bully for me.”
“I don't think it should be a point of pride. Take that sock off before you smudge anything. And keep your voice down!” Hermione said quickly when Scott opened his mouth for what was sure to be another tirade. “Your sister is going to come looking for you if you don't keep it down.”
“Good, when Lil comes in here I'll staple this to her forehead!” Scott leaned down from his perch and snatched a length of garland off the floor, brandishing it like a weapon.
“You don't have a stapler. If you did, we'd be done already,” Hermione said. Scott was supposed to be attaching the decorations to the wall with a Sticking Charm but just about everything he tried to stick fell back to the floor.
Scott crossed his arms, dropping the garland in the process. “Rub it in, Hermione, you're a real class act. Not all of us got magic shooting out of our tits.”
Hermione coloured. “Shooting out of my—”
“Tits. Yes, those. I'm looking right at them.”
“Ten Galleons. When it comes to boobs, I only take cash bribes.”
Hermione turned her back on him, moving some of her moreprominent features out of his view. “How about we finish this so—”
Scott scoffed, disrupting her. “So Molly can give us some more busywork when she gets back? Come on, Hermione, we aren't doing a goddamn thing around here but running in circles. How much you wanna bet that Ron and Harry are just lying around upstairs while we do our assigned work like a couple of gulls?”
He had a point, but she certainly wasn't going to admit it. “Whatever else there is to do, hopefully we'll be separate,” she rejoined a bit more coldly than she'd intended.
“Awwww… Don't be that way, magi-tits. You're the breast friend I've ever had.”
Hermione gritted her teeth so hard her jaw creaked. Scott had been a handful recently, even by his standards; he'd been short-tempered, moody and occasionally even outright hostile. This latest bout of crudity was just another symptom of whatever snit he was in, and Hermione was tired of it. She hadn't done anything wrong and she was fed up with being treated like she had.
She rounded on him. “What, exactly, is your problem?” She placed her hands on her hips and glowered at him.
“Wow, an open forum. Where do I start? First off, I'm fucking sick of these decorations—”
“No,” Hermione said, cutting him off.
Scott's brow creased in a threatening frown. “No?”
“No. Don't even try to misdirect me. You were in a state before we ever started putting these up.”
Scott's glare intensified. “You think so, huh.”
“I know so. You've been snapping at everyone ever since the Minister left, and I for one have had enough!” She stamped her foot for emphasis, leaning towards him and glaring with all her might.
Unfortunately, while such an action would have impressed upon her other male friends that she was well and truly angry and it was time to be reasonable or back down, Scott was either unable or unwilling to be properly intimidated. Every furious argument with him was an escalating series of barbs, growing more hurtful with elevation.
Hermione liked debating with Scott. He was intelligent, clever, and engaging, and always had something to say on every subject, even (especially) the ones he knew nothing about. Sorting through his slang of wildly varying origins and looking past his frequent use of cutting invectives revealed a stimulating conversationalist. But she did not like fighting with him.
He still didn't seem to understand that.
Scott cast his gaze about the room, his eyes wide with mock chagrin. “Oh no, you've figured everything out. Where's Ron, I need him to shove his tongue in your mouth since you won't shut it.”
Hermione fought hard against the blush but couldn't overcome her body's involuntary response to such a comment. “I must have figured something out if you're already resorting to crudity. You might want to work on that jealousy, it's a touch transparent,” she shot back.
Scott nodded in exaggerated acceptance. “You're right. I've been hanging decorations when what I really wanted to be doing was tonguing Ron. The homoerotic angst has just been hanging over this house like a pall. Tell you what — you go out with Ginny and rug burn your mouth, and me and Ron and Harry will head upstairs for a rousing game of Butts and Weenies.”
She rolled her eyes to prevent herself from flinching at his graphic remarks. “So predictable, it's always the same with you, isn't it! I make a valid point and you head straight for the gutter!”
“You think your point about jealousy was valid? Or… maybe I got the wrong idea? Should I have flipped that around, Hermione, did you mean I couldn't control my throbbing sexual urges for you?” Scott sneered.
The thick scorn in his tone hurt far more than his words. The implication was that he cou