Chapter 17 : Buy Me A Dog Bone
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Buy Me A Dog Bone
The sun hadn’t even risen yet when I awoke. There was a swirling, pounding, altogether awful sensation behind my temples which made me pause a moment as I sat up blearily in bed. Why I had woken up so early? After all, it seemed like we had just been sitting outside Giselle's bedroom door, listening in to the jaw-dropping tales of Jag's granddad. Bahaha. Poor Jag. Him and his fucked-up life. Shooting a glance at the clock, I realized it was only six in the morning—and it was Christmas Eve for fuck’s sake! Really, why was I even awake? Ahhhh! Go on, Rose, embrace the pillow! Embrace it!
But no. Going back to sleep was the last thing I could do right now. With a curse, I rolled out of bed. I had a shopping date with Malfoy. Just fuck. Fuck my life. Fuck Karma!
My trunk sat against one wall of the room. I reluctantly walked over and kneeled in front of it. I mean, I could just skip out on this death-trap... but then again, I couldn't. I had promised Astoria to take her son shopping, and no matter how much I did not want to be in Malfoy's company— no matter how much I wanted to punch his oh-so gorgeous face wearing a pair of iron knuckles— I couldn't let myself go back on my word. Feeling rather despondent, I pulled on a skirt, woolen tights underneath it, and a warm sweater. I also paused for moment in front of the vanity to apply some mascara. Just because I was going with Malfoy didn’t mean that I didn’t want to look nice. I mean, what if I met some totally hot, totally rich Muggle multibillionaire? Unlikely, but it might happen.
I stepped out into the hallway. It was shadowy, with the first rays of oblique sunlight streaming through the tall, arched windows. None of my friends were awake. I could, however, hear voices coming from the kitchen downstairs. Irene and Astoria.
“Hello!” I called blearily, walking into the kitchen. “Could I have some comfort food, please?”
“Morning, Rose,” Irene purred from the counter, her hand curled around another cup of coffee. That lady’s addicted, I tell you. “You’re up early.”
“She and Scor are going Christmas shopping together,” Astoria put in, and the two women shared a beaming look. Oh, god.
“Ohh,” Irene turned to slowly smirk at me. “Iz eet a date?”
My face must’ve answered the question really well, because they both started laughing hysterically. “N-No!” I gave them glares
“It’s fine, Rose,” Irene said with a small laugh. “Go on, have some orange juice.” She gestured at the glass on the counter top. I eyed it warily. My stomach didn’t feel too well. Damn, what if Malfoy thought that I thought that this was a date? That’d be horrific!
“Scorpius isn’t up yet,” Astoria informed me a moment later, after I had forced myself to down some of the OJ. “My son’s such a princess. He doesn’t get up until midday.”
“Oh, um, okay.” I tried to imagine Malfoy dolled-up like a princess and started to giggle-snort. “Does this mean that we’re not going shopping?”
“Oh, no, no,” Astoria winked at me. “I was actually wondering if you could you go wake him up.”
“What?” I yelped. Like, go into his room while he’s lying half naked in his bed? I can’t do that!
“Just bang on his door.” The corner of her mouth twitched. “And could you do it discreetly? I don’t think you would want your friends knowing about this…”
I stared at her.
“Fine.” I grumpily went back up the stairs. I could hear Astoria and Irene’s merry laughter following me. Jesus, they’re playing me like a doll…
I banged on Malfoy’s door. “Oi, Ugly, you awake?”
I banged a bit harder. “Dude, can you get up?”
That’s it. I hammered the door with both of my fists. “GET UP, YOU DUMBASSED SLEEPYHEAD!”
The door opened, revealing a pissed-off Xander. “Rose! What are heck are you doing?”
Oh, it’s Xander’s room. I slapped myself on the head. “Sorry, mate. I thought I was banging on Malfoy’s door.”
She yawned, and then frowned. “I’m not even going to ask. You just ruined my beauty sleep, ignorant child.”
She slammed the door shut in my face.
Oh well. I continued my way two doors to the right. I’ll make it up to her sometime later…but now… Before I could slam my fist into the door, it swung open—revealing a tall, very shirtless Malfoy.
“What do you want, Weasley?”
Half-naked. Again. I threw my hands over my eyes. “You’re burning my eyes out!”
“Oh, shut up,” Malfoy said with a long yawn. “You’ve seen me shirtless way more than it should be normal.”
I lowered my hands and looked at him very determinedly in the face. Face, Rose, focus on his face.
Malfoy leaned against the doorframe, flicking his eyes lazily over my reddening face. “Why are you here, Weasley? And why the hell are you wearing”— he waved his hand up and down—“a skirt?”
Well, that’s a question I wasn’t expecting.
“Why can’t I?” I spluttered. “And why do you care?”
Malfoy folded his sizeable arms. “The last time I saw you in a skirt was that time you went out with Corner.”
That was because Xander had made me. Wait a minute. How does he… I stopped, frowning at him. “You remember that?”
“Yeah. You ruined my date, remember?”
I ruined his date? I did? The nerve of him! “Well, your little girlfriend was being a total bitch to me! And then your other girlfriend pushed me into your fucking changing room! And Liam saw that! You think that I ruined your date? Uh, no, dude, it was the other way around!
“Lynette’s not my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend, whore, whatever!” I snarled at his stony expression. “Put some clothes on and get downstairs right now. We have somewhere to go.”
“You want to go, Weasel?”
“I don’t go back on my promises,” I told him in a clipped tone. “Get downstairs. Your mum’s waiting.”
I turned on my heel and went back down the stairs. Somewhere above, a door slammed. If Malfoy wanted to have a word with his mother, he would go downstairs. And if he went downstairs, he would have to get dressed. And if he was dressed and downstairs, there was no way Astoria would let him stay in the house.
“He’s coming down,” I told Astoria as I walked into the kitchen and plopped myself down in a chair. “Astoria, can’t you make your son wear more than a pair of boxers when he goes to bed? I mean, seriously, I wanted to prick my eyes out when he opened the door.”
Astoria made an amused noise. “Be glad that he was even wearing the boxers.”
What? I looked at her in horror and tried my very hardest not to imagine it.
“Oh, yes,” Astoria said, nodding solemnly. “I remember all the times I went to wake him up, and I whipped the covers off—”
I started to laugh. “Poor you!”
“But that’s not even the worst part. Sometimes, there are other parts of him awake in the morning, if you get my drift—”
I choked and spat out the OJ that I was about to swallow, and in the distance, Malfoy’s voice roared: “MUM, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TELLING HER?”
“Nothing, Scorpius. I just wish you’d wear a pair of trousers to bed—”
“Mum, you really need to shut up!” Malfoy snapped as he entered the kitchen. He was wearing Muggle clothes— jeans and a blue sweatshirt. Thank merciful Jesus.
“I feel really, really, really sorry for you,” I told Astoria.
“Oh, it’s nothing dear. I made the choice when I birthed this idiot.”
“Mum!” snapped Malfoy.
“Do you always have to humiliate me?”
She nodded brusquely. “In front of the ladies? Oh yes, all the time.” Malfoy shot her a glare and lowered his eyes to the floor. She smirked. “Anyhow, Scor, you do know where you’re going, right?”
“Some Muggle shit-house?”
“They’re called malls, sweetheart. And you’re going to need Muggle money.” She reached inside her pocket of her sweater and pulled out a wad of green bills. Then, to my astonishment and delight, she handed it all to me. “There you go, Rose. That should be more than enough.”
“Hey! How come she gets to have it?”
“Because she’s not going to spend it on Armani boxers.”
I raised my eyebrows at Malfoy and resisted the urge to snort. Armani boxers?
“Be back before lunch, alright darlings?”
“Why do I even have to so this in the first place?” Malfoy snarled.
“You two need to learn how to work together,” Astoria sighed. She pushed her son toward the back door. “Be safe, okay? Try not to fight.”
“Like hell I won’t fight. I’ll kill her.” He opened the door and stomped out.
I faced her. “Astoria, he’s right. This is the worst idea ever. We hate each other’s guts!”
She looked down at me with her gentle, pale-gray eyes. “Remember the end of Pride and Prejudice?”
“Nope.” I hastily followed Malfoy out the door.
It was snowing outside. I tucked the money into my jacket pocket and ran after Malfoy, who was already halfway down the trail to the main road. We stopped at a snow-covered sign that read SH PATON T WN: ½ MI E.
“S-Shopaton Town,” I said, my teeth chattering a bit. “That’s where we’re heading.”
“I’m ecstatic. We’re walking for half a mile?”
“Glad you can read.”
“What about a cab?”
“They don’t have those here,” I snapped. “We need to get farther into town.”
And so, that was the end of that. We walked in silence down the road, and other than occasionally sticking out a foot to make the other trip into a snowbank, there was little commotion. Thankfully, we soon got onto the busy main road and I raised my hand awkwardly, hoping to hail a cab. (And of course Malfoy was looking at me like I was mentally retarded or something). But then, after a couple efforts, a cab pulled over and we both bundled into it thankfully. I told the driver our destination (“T-Tha-at h-humongous s-s-shopping m-mall, p-please.”) When the cab started to move, I leaned against the back of the seat and busied myself by staring out the window. The glass was partly frosted over, and the small view I got of the passing buildings and cars were blurred by the flurry of falling snow.
The cab driver let us off right in front of the mall— a sprawling building set smack dab in the middle of town. All the roads and housing developments seemed to point to it. It was big and beautiful, I would give them that. About seven floors as far as I could tell, and all the exterior walls made out of glass and black panel-thingies. Of course, it wasn’t as grand as Harrods, but which girl didn’t get excited at signs that read 80% off? I almost wanted to start doing a happy dance! Yippee!
But there was one problem.
There was something highly undesirable trailing behind me.
“Weasley,” Malfoy said in a low voice, “What is this place? And what are those?”
He was pointing at the escalators.
“Those are escalators, Malfoy. They suck people down to hell.”
“You’re fucking with me, right?”
“Yup!” I smiled brightly. “Unfortunately, hell is not a store or I’d send you shopping there first.” I gestured around at the many shop entrances. The nearest one to us was called BEBE, and boy oh boy, I nearly started salivating when I saw the cute red leather coat that the mannequin in the shop window had on. “So, hey, Malfoy, listen. I’m gonna look around a bit, so you go off and do your thing, okay?” I didn’t miss the startled look he gave me. “What? You think I wanna stick around with you?”
“How am I supposed to know what store sells what?” his voice was irritated, and—if I wasn’t mistaken— a little panicked. I smirked at him.
“Are you saying that you need my help?”
He snarled at me like a wounded bear. “No!”
I shrugged at him, smiled, and started to turn away. “Okay, then! Bye-bye! Remember, don’t get lost! And if a sketchy stranger comes up to you and tries to offer you a lollipop, don’t take it.”
“Oh, and beware of the escalators. I daresay your mum won’t be too happy if her darling little poo-poo got sucked down to hell—”
“Weasley! I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to do here!” He glanced around at the swarms of holiday shoppers with a sneer on his face. “I can’t believe I’m here, in a Muggle shopping depot. It smells like sewage.”
“It smells perfectly fine,” I snapped. “You’re probably smelling yourself. And as for what you’re supposed to do here”—I waved my hand around sarcastically— “see the stores? You’re supposed to shop, dumbshit. Your mum wants you to buy presents for my friends, because we’re living in the same house for the holidays and it’s only goddamn civil that you do so.”
“I don’t see why. They’re not buying me presents.”
“That’s ‘cos no one likes you.”
“Fine, then. I’ll get them socks.”
“No, you won’t!” I jabbed a finger at the shop entrance we were standing next to. “You’re getting them proper presents!”
“Not from there, I’m not,” he snapped in disgust, looking at BEBE’s display window. “That place sells stuff for girls.” Then he shoved his hands in his pockets and stalked off deeper into the mall.
“Two of my friends are girls, you know,” I muttered. With an irritated sigh, I followed him.
When it became obvious that Malfoy did not know the difference between Jimmy Choo and a supermarket, I dragging him into a generic department store, pointed stuff out and tossed them into the cart systematically, whether he wanted to buy them or not. But in the end, he ended up finding some, er, creative items.
“Jag’s not going to like that,” I said, pointing at the butt pillow he was holding.
“I’ve seen Nyx smacking him on the ass with a rolling pin. Don’t tell me that he doesn’t need one.”
He had a point, so I let it go. For Xander, he bought a hunk of Duct Tape—“So she can tape her mouth shut.” —for Zelda he picked out a piece of wooden, painted-in-pink wall décor that read ‘BITCH PLEASE!’ in cursive, and last but not least, he found an X-Large baby bib for Al.
“He’s gonna punch you,” I said to Malfoy.
Malfoy held up the bib. “But look at it, Weasley! It has a duckling on the front.”
“He’s still gonna punch you.”
Afterwards, we ended up wandering the third floor ten times in a circle, not knowing where to go. Well, I thought we were the ones lost, but it was when I noticed that we were circling around Victoria’s Secret for about the millionth time that I realized that Malfoy had ulterior motives in mind.
“Look!” I finally exploded in front of a violently pink cellphone-charm display booth. “I AM NOT GOING AROUND VICTORIA’S SECRET AGAIN! I AM NOT!”
His eyes glittered in amusement. “You mean the place with all the half-naked ladies?”
“YES, THE HALF-NAKED LADIES!”
“Because I don’t have any interest in looking at boobs, godammit!”
The guy who manned the booth was giving us scandalized looks, probably because his customers were all eight year old school kids.
Malfoy smirked. “So what? I’m male. I need to look at half-naked ladies to stay sane.”
“Pervert!” I spat loudly. “With that mentality, the only half-naked ladies you’re going to get are the strippers! You’re not ever going to find a decent girl in your whole life!”
“Weasley,” Malfoy said with great interest, “Are you calling yourself a stripper?”
I stammered, taken-back. “W-what? No, why are you saying that?”
“Well, the time we showered together, you were half-naked…”
“I WAS WEARING A BRA. AND PANTS. AND WE DIDN’T SHOWER TOGETHER.”
“We showered in the same shower. That’s called SHOWERING TOGETHER.”
“But ‘showering together’ implies a different meaning, you piece of dumbshit! It’s like ‘sleeping together’ doesn’t mean that you just sleep together—”
“Excuse me!” the manager of the cell phone charm booth said to us severely, “Could you please go somewhere else? This conversation is extremely off-putting to my customers!”
The little eight years were giving us big, doleful looks.
“What’re they talking about, Jenny?” one eight year old boy asked his friend.
“I don’t know, Manny,” the girl answered. Then her eyes widened. “I—I think they’re talking about putting a pencil in a pencil pouch!”
Malfoy bent double and roared with laughter. Mortified, I grabbed him by the elbow and dragged him away. Safely hidden behind a pillar, I let him crack up as much as he wanted.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! DID YOU SEE THEIR FACES? HAHAHAHAH—”
We had stopped in front of a stuffed-animal shop called Stuff It! and I turned on him, saying irritably, “You did that on purpose! They were just little kids!”
“—did you see the guy—hahahahaha—” he bent over double, unable to stop laughing.
It occurred to me at that split second that I had never really heard Malfoy laugh before. I mean, he’s snickered and smirked and given little snotty ‘ha ha ha’s before, but I’ve never heard him really laugh—and I suddenly I realized that I’d never seen Malfoy happy before, either.
I turned away, so he wouldn’t see me grinning. It was pretty funny. If Malfoy had been someone that I’d actually liked, like Lysander or Lorcan, I would have burst out laughing and shared the hilarity. But this was Malfoy. I couldn’t let myself enjoy something that he did. A part of me was still shocked from hearing his laugh. His laugh was deep and delighting, and I actually began to feel giddy. I had pause for a moment to completely wipe the smile off my face.
“That was good,” he said, finally regaining some composure. “You’re so clueless, Weasley. The way I was playing you back there, I was sure that guy thought we were having some serious shower shagging sessions. And I don’t even want to know what those little brats thought.”
“You probably scarred them for life,” I shot back critically. It took an inhumane effort to keep the corners of my mouth from twitching.
“Yup. So now that the fun’s over, I want to get out of this damn place. So hurry up and tell me what you want.”
“Excuse me?” I thought I heard him wrong.
“Tell me what you want! Or I’m buying dog treats.”
“Wait,” I realized. “Your mum asked you to buy something for me?”
“Commanded, more like. She told me that I had to buy something proper, since according to her, I’ve been being ‘a proper ass’ to you lately.”
“She’s got that right,” I nodded.
He narrowed his eyes at me. “I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to.”
“Well, if you’re getting me a dog bone, then forget it.”
He leaned against the back of a bench, hands in his pockets. His eyes were icy as they always were and calculating, watching my expression.
“W-What?” I blinked and averted my eyes from his piercing gaze. I hated it when he stared at me, it made my stomach go all funky. “You’re getting me a dog bone, aren’t you?”
“That depends,” he drawled. “It you don’t decide within the next five minutes, then dog bone it is.”
I wanted to grin, but I forcefully withheld it. “Fine, then. I want a dog bone.”
Malfoy deadpanned at me. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Why not?” I turned my grin into a full-out smirk. “You said you’d get me a dog bone.”
“And get all my privileges taken away?” His voice was flat. “Tell me what you want. I’ll buy it and my mum will be happy with both of us. That’s why you’re here, right? To make my mum happy?” He looked into my eyes, daring me to say something.
A weird jolt went off in my stomach. Like I said, I couldn’t stand it when Malfoy looked at me so intensely like that. I think it was his eyes. They were a deep, bluish gray, the color of a summer storm, and they somehow magically racked up a storm inside me. I stared down at my sneakers, studying them intensely. “So… uh… you’ll get me anything? How about a diamond necklace?”
“Get real, Weasley. I’m not spending more than ten pounds.”
I glanced up at him. “So a new racing broom is out of the question?”
“Weasley,” Malfoy snapped.
“Aw, shucks. And here I really needed a new one.” I was joking, but I don’t think Malfoy got that. I glanced around the mall for inspiration of some kind. Several girls our age were staring at us and giggling. I ignored them. A dude wearing opaque glasses and an ugly brown sweater was staring at us. Okay, weird. He was standing near the entrance of the department store we had just exited and was looking right at us. Something about him was vaguely familiar. He looked like a hobo, since he was wearing patched clothes and a deerstalker. My eyes wandered past him and landed on the Stuff It! store. In a snap, I knew exactly what I wanted for Christmas. “Get me a stuffed animal!” I said in an excited voice (I think it came out more as a squeal, oops) and jabbed a finger at the numerous colors of teddies in the display window.
“A teddy bear?” he stared at them, looking totally revolted. “You still play with those?”
“Oh, come on,” I tugged at his sleeve, and made him follow me into the store.
It was stuffed animal galore. There were six feet-tall teddy bears price marked at 300 quid, giraffes taller than Malfoy, and rows and rows of the cutest, most adorable plush animals I had ever seen! A festively-dressed lady in red and green appeared before us. “Hi, kids! What would you like today?”
“I’m looking for something for her,” Malfoy jabbed a finger toward me.
“And I’m looking for something for him,” I said, jabbing a finger toward him.
Malfoy looked at me in surprise. “You are?”
I shrugged. “Might as well. I want to stay in your mum’s good books.”
“Would you like to take a look at the Heart-to-Heart bears for your special someone? You can personalize them with little notes on the stomach!”
“NO!” I yelped in mortification, just as the same time as Malfoy said, “I’ll take them.”
“What?” I spluttered, whipping my head around to look at him. “Those are couple bears!
He shrugged dismissively. “I don’t care. We can write notes to each other, and I know exactly what I’m going to write to you.”
The bears turned out to be in green and red. Perfect. I took the red one and Malfoy took the green one. The lady gave us sheets of paper where we could write the personalized notes. “A machine will sew your messages on the bears’ stomachs, and they will be delivered to your house first thing Christmas morning, so please provide your address, also.”
I stared at the piece of paper in front of me. What could I write? What did I want to say to Malfoy?
No, too pessimistic and Astoria might get pissed at me.
I hate you. Die.
No, that wouldn’t work either.
I was joking about your pectorals. They’re actually quite nice.
Then, I thought of the perfect one-liner. With tongue-in-cheek, I wrote: WHATEVER HAPPENS, I’LL ALWAYS HATE YOU. LOVE, ROSE.
“What’re you writing?” Malfoy said, leaning over my shoulder.
I slapped a hand down on my paper. “Stop peeking! You don’t get to know until tomorrow!”
I saw the woman smiling at us, and I felt mortified. Were we acting like a couple? Oh god no. I have to tone down our banter. Stiffly, I handed her my paper, and she gave me a sheet to fill out my address.
“What’s our address, Malfoy?”
“How should I know?” he replied irritably. “It’s your friend’s house!”
At that moment, the bell twinkled and another customer came into the shop. It was the hobo dude with the opaque glasses. My stomach flipped upside-down. I had recognized him. I shoved the paper across to Malfoy. “Listen, you fill it out.”
“Just do it,” I persisted. Grumbling, he bent down over it, and as he did so, I whispered, “The guy who just entered. Do you see him?
Malfoy cast a look over his shoulder. “The hobo bloke with the white glasses? Yeah, so?”
“He’s stalking me!”
He smirked. “Don’t be stupid. Nobody would stalk you.”
I gritted my teeth together. “You bastard, can’t you just listen to me? He’s following me around, I know it! He was at Harrods yesterday when I went shopping with the girls! He’s stalking us!”
“You’re imagining things, Weasley,” Malfoy muttered, and I watched as he filled in the address of the Jagneaux mansion. So he did know it.
“Listen to me,” I said angrily. I glanced over my shoulder again and saw the flash of the opaque glasses. “He’s staring at us! Let’s leave already!”
“Like I said, you’re imagining things—”
Then, the bloke reached inside his tatty coat and pulled out a camera. He pointed it at us, and my heart jumped to my throat.
“YOU THERE! STOP TAKING PICTURES!”
The guy shoved the camera inside his coat and bolted toward the shop entrance.
I grabbed Malfoy’s sleeve. “After him!”
We ran out of the shop and looked right and left, but he had vanished. Apparated?
Malfoy’s face was flushed. He went and kicked a stone pot that held some sort of exotic plant. “Goddammit! He obviously works for a tabloid! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!”
He punctuated each shit with a kick.
“Let’s go after him!” I shouted, waving my hands toward down the mall. “I don’t want our pictures to be on the front of Witch Weekly!”
With obvious effort, Malfoy seemed to calm himself down. “He’s gone, Weasley.”
“NO, HE’S NOT! LET’S RUN AFTER HIM!”
“There’s nothing we can do!” he snarled. “He’s probably Apparated somewhere else by this time!”
“You fucking prick! I told you he was following us!” I said, shoving him in the chest. “And you didn’t fucking believe me! If you had body-tackled the guy before he had pulled out the camera—”
“Why didn’t you body-tackle him first?” Malfoy shoved me right back. “It’s your fault he got away!”
“But I can’t body-tackle a guy like that!”
“Why not? You’ve tackled me plenty of times!”
“He looked dirty and diseased! You think I was gonna touch that? Ugh! My parents are the ones who got stalked on a regular basis, not me! Why is this even happening? I don’t understand why he was following us! Who even told him that we were here?”
“You said he was following you at Harrods, he must’ve heard you and my mum talking!” Malfoy kicked the potted plant again, this time with more venom. “Fuck this! We’re the kids of the two biggest haters in all of Wizarding history, and we’ve been spotted together Christmas shopping! Can’t you imagine the cover story? It’ll be the perfect gossip to cap the year off with!”
I tried to think through this rationally. “The picture he took… You were bent over. I don’t think he got your face. He might come back to get a better shot.”
“So, what do we do? Just wait?”
“Yeah. Stand there and look pretty. You manage that, can’t you?”
Malfoy grumbled and leaned against a pillar, while I kept a lookout like a hawk. Then, a few minutes later… I nudged Malfoy and nodded my head toward the right. There he was, snapping photos of us. He wasn’t even trying to hide himself.
“You take the right, I’ll take the left,” Malfoy muttered. I nodded. All of a sudden, we darted out toward the man. Seeing us too late, he froze, not unlike a bird caught in front of a broomstick, then he attempted to scamper away — but it was too late, we had cornered him against the side of a jewelry store.
“Hello, Miss Weasley, Mr. Malfoy,” the bloke said, giving us a smarmy grin. “You have made me the happiest reporter in all of England.”
“Who the hell are you?” Malfoy spoke sharply. “And who gave you the right to take photos of us? Once I tell my father—”
“I’m sure your father would love to see these photos,” the man said, leering at him. “Imagine his face, when he opens the Daily Prophet and BAM! The blaring headline: SCORPIUS AND ROSE! CAUGHT ON A DATE—”
“WE’RE NOT ON A DATE, YOU FUCKING DUMBASS! YOU THINK THAT I, ROSE WEASLEY, WOULD GO ON A DATE WITH SCORPIUS MALFOY?”
I was trying my hardest not to let spit fly from my mouth. It wasn’t working.
“You were flirting inside a stuffed-animal shop,” Patrick Gallows said in a sleek, slimy voice. “Who wouldn’t call that a date?”
“Weasley, no!” Malfoy grabbed on my hand before I could backhand him across the face. “You can’t hit them! Or they’ll have a case against you!”
“Goddammit, Malfoy! Let go of me! He has our pictures!”
The surrounding shoppers were starting to look at us now. Some were even pointing and whispering. Oh, God. I couldn’t have anybody recognizing us. Who knew if there were witches or wizards in the crowd?
With some effort, I managed to lower my voice just a tiny bit. “Listen, lardass,” I seethed, giving the reporter my best and bitchiest death glare, “if you value your life and every sorry piece of shit in it, I suggest you give me that film.”
“You can’t force me to do anything,” Gallows said all haughtily, as if he was the King of England and not a sorry prick wearing tattered clothes and a deerstalker.
“So you’re not going to give me those pictures?” I said in a low, deadly voice.
“You won’t, eh?” Anger sizzled inside me like a bottle of shaken firewhiskey. Merlin… I just wanted that guy to feel—fucking— pain! THEN I’M GOING TO STICK MY FOOT UP YOUR ASS SO HARD, IT’LL COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!”
“Bloody hell, Weasley!”
“Let go of me!” Why the fuck is Malfoy restraining me? “I NEED TO KICK HIS ASS!”
“No! He’s going to file a suit at Wizengamot, you idiot!”
“Toodles, kids!” The hobo reporter called, and to my chagrin, I realized that he was no longer cornered. He had inched away to freedom when we had been arguing. “My name is Patrick Gallows and I will be the most richly paid sonofabitch since Rita Skeeter! See ya!”
“HE’S GETTING AWAY!” I shrieked, ripping my hand out of Malfoy’s grip. “We’re splitting up. I’ll go after him, you take the long way and head him off on the other side!”
Without waiting for Malfoy’s affirmative, I tore after the little shitass, running in the direction that I’d seen him go. I sprinted past a snazzy store with obnoxiously loud music that had bright, pop-up posters advertising teen clothing—and they had plenty of nicely-posed, shirtless male models as far as I could tell from a single fleeting glance—then I rounded the corner as I had seen Gallows do, and—
I collided hard with something that seemed like a huge, gray pole. I was rebounded backward and fell square on my rump—and then, a steel box landed right on my gut, knocking the breath out of me.
“This is why I hate it when little people bump into me. You okay there, sugarbun?”
The gray pole turned out to be a very tall, very slender, handsome young man wearing a gray business suit. He was blinking at me solicitously.
“I thought you were a pole,” I gasped, shoving the steel box off my lap. It was his briefcase, I realized.
“A pole?” laughed the young man. “That’s fantastic! But, I’m very sorry to disappoint you. I’m not quite that large.”
I didn’t know whether to take that in the wrong way or not. I shook my head, disgusted with myself. Malfoy’s dirty mind was rubbing off on me. I stood up shakily and handed the briefcase to him. “I’m sorry about that, Mister. I was chasing after someone and—”
“Well, I can see that,” the man said, giving me a smile. “Are you okay? No ribs broken? No butt bone fractures?”
“Uh, I’m fine, thanks. Listen, Mister, I—”
Now that stars weren’t dancing in front of my eyes anymore from the collision, I could properly study his face. And something about his keen expression made me stop in my tracks.
Originally I had thought that he was an ordinary Muggle businessman, since he was certainly dressed like one. He was wearing a crisp, gray pinstriped suit (designer, if Xander’s training was anything to go by), shiny black shoes and a vibrant, red tie. But looking at the bloke’s face, it was obvious that he was quite young, possibly in his early twenties. He had golden-bronzed skin—Italian or Greek, I thought— and dark, windswept hair parted to the left. His eyes were a beautiful hazel… and was he wearing eyeliner? It seemed as if he was. No, he wasn’t. His lashes were so thick it looked as if he was.
“Hey, you,” the man said. He was examining me with an equal intensity. “You’re Ron Weasley’s daughter, correct?”
He’s a wizard! I felt something erupt in the pit of my stomach. “Yeah, I’m Rose. So, you’re a wizard? Listen, I need to find this reporter guy. He took pictures of me and my… um… acquaintance and—”
“You mean Mr. Malfoy?” the man said, his dark eyes twinkling as they alighted on my flabbergasted expression. “Oh, yes, don’t think that I didn’t recognize him! You don’t need to cover it up, hun—”
“I’m not covering anything up!” I snapped angrily. Oh, great, the guy thinks we’re dating! THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD? I looked around frantically for any sign of Gallows. “Listen Mister, I don’t know who you are, but I really need to go—”
“The name’s Adrian DeRegis. Could I possibly treat you to breakfast?”
DeRegis? Where have I heard that name before? I stared, trying to place him. I swear I had heard his name before! But where? And why breakfast? “Um, no, sorry, I can’t. I—uh—have something important to do. I need to find someone. So, um, I’ll talk to you later, Mr. DeRegis—“
The dark-haired man grabbed my upper arm before I could run off. “Whoa, kiddo! You don’t need to worry about Patrick Gallows! I’ve already taken care of him!”
I whipped my head back to look at him in shock. “What? How—”
—did he know?
With handsome dark eyes twinkling, he opened his fist and showed me a roll of crushed film. “See? All evidence of you and Scorpius Malfoy is destroyed.”
I was speechless for a long moment. Then I stammered, “H-How?”
The handsome man shrugged. “Patrick and I never had a good relationship. We both took up photojournalism after Hogwarts, but he failed so hard at it he had shit coming out of his pants. Since he couldn’t do anything on his own, the little bastard tried to steal my photos, and I was forced to beat him up a couple of times. Then he stole my photos again. I beat him up. He stole my photos. I beat him up. It was a never-ending cycle, you see. And imagine how surprised I was when I happened to see the little rat tearing through the mall, holding a camera! Him holding a camera never means anything good, so naturally, I didn’t hesitate. I stopped him, banged him on the head with a mallet, and took the film.
It took me a moment to register his words. “Wait a minute…you…” I was in shock. This guy… he… “You’re a photographer, too?”
The man looked at me, a devilish Cheshire-cat smile spreading across his face. “Why, yes.”
“Are you a j-journalist?” My tongue tripped over itself. I was talking with another one! He could ruin my life!
“No, no, no,” the man said with a sudden laugh. “Don’t you worry about that, honeycakes. I’m not about to publish an exposé on you two, like dear Patrick was planning.”
My breathing normalized somewhat, though I still found the whole idea of the two of them (both photographers!) being here, at the mall, at the same time too much of a coincidence. “A-Are you…” I looked at the man’s face, and nearly bit back my question. He was so handsome. I didn’t want to piss him off by saying the wrong thing! “Were you following us, too? Like Gallows?”
“You mean, was I stalking you?”
“Um.” I flushed and looked away. Way to go, Rose. Way to accuse the hot guy of stalking you when he obviously wasn’t!
“Yeah, I was. Sorry about that.” The photographer ran a hand through his chocolaty brown hair and smiled apologetically at my stunned expression. “I have a business proposition for you and Blondie, and I would love it if we could discuss it over a breakfast table.”
And so begins the actual plot. Adrian-the photograper- is going to be one of the most important characters in this story. (I honestly think I've brought him in a little too late.) As always, please review (THE BOX IS RIGHT THERE! C'MON!) and tell me your thoughts on the chapter!
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