Seeing as Malfoy didn’t seem to want to let me go any time soon, I decided it would be best to try to keep up. I ducked my head and sprinted behind him.
Dodging between witches and wizards and around the occasional stall, I only wanted to keep my arm from ripping off, and I stopped trying to figure out where we were going. “LET GOOOO MALFOY!!” I screamed.
Laughing, he shouted back, “JUST LOOSEN UP AND HAVE SOME FUN RED!!”
Finally he stopped in a dark, deserted alley, shoved me between some crates, and dove in after me. I don’t think I properly understood the term “awkward” until I found Scorpius Malfoy sitting nearly in my lap. That was NOT going to work, and I needed answers pronto.
“Alright, mate,” I demanded, “You tell me what just happened and I won’t hex you into oblivion.”
“Shhhhh!” He shifted to give me a little more space, blew his hair out of his eyes, and tried to glare at me, “Fine. I put some of your uncle’s stinkbombs in Roake’s and Donnelly’s trunks. Then I found out that Roake’s dad caught me, and he’s scarier than mine! Obviously, I was running away.”
“I should have known it was bad news when you and James started getting along,” I grumbled, “So why did I have to come with you?”
“Seeing as I knocked you down, I thought I should at least not leave you for them to find. Believe it or not Red, but I’m really not such a bad bloke,” he attempted a pitiful look in my direction, but he wasn’t particularly convincing.
“And why should I worry about being found by Roake and Donnelly?”
He shot me a devilish grin. “Because I left a note saying they were from you, of course!”
“Malfoy, you conniving, nasty little toad!” So typical. I’ve come to believe that his favorite game is “See how many pranks I can get Rose in trouble for” and it frustrates me to no end! I sighed. I thought when James graduated and Scorpius lost his usual partner in crime, we’d be free of his shenanigans. Apparently I was mistaken.
“Come on Red, I told you to shut up, I’m serious!”
“Why? What’s so bad about a stack of crates? Ooooh, they might have charms to jump up and attack us!” I mocked. I stood up to check out our surroundings. Dark buildings with boarded windows stretched up all around me. The grey paint was peeling off cold bricks and I could barely make out some sort of indiscernible grim in the street.
The street opposite the one we had come from seemed more populated, so I figured we must have gotten off the main road to run in circles around Diagon Alley. But for some reason I had a bad feeling about it. I tried to look closer, and then it hit me. “SCORPIUS HYPERION MALFOY!” I whispered as angrily as I could. “That’s Knockturn Alley!”
“Why did you think I wanted you to shut up? And you sound like my mother.” He was back to glaring at me again. “Don’t get so worked up. I know where we are. I’m trying to get us out of here but I can’t think with you screeching in my ear like that!”
“I wouldn’t even be in this mess if it wasn’t for you! So don’t go off at me for being upset!”
Just then, we heard a noise at the far end of the alley. I dropped to the ground as quietly as I could while Malfoy peered around the corner of a crate to see who it was.
“Mother of Merlin! It’s Roake and he’s coming this way!” He ducked back behind the crate with me.
“Scorpius, I know you’re in here. And I know your little Gryffindor girlfriend is in here too!” he added. “So you better come out if you know what’s good for her…” He let the threat hang, waiting for a response.
“I am NOT your girlfriend,” I fumed in Malfoy’s ear. “And if you think otherwise, you can just deal with Roake yourself.”
“Relax, sweetheart,” he smirked at me, knowing how much I’d hate it, “I’m going to surrender.”
“You’re going to do WHAT?!” But before I could finish, he stood up.
“Aye, Roake-o! What’s the problem, mate?” He waved his hand at me where I was still crouching behind the crate, motioning for me to take it. I did, not sure what he was planning, but certain I didn’t want to be left behind.
“You’re the problem, Malfoy!” He growled, “You think you can get away with everything, but not this time! I’m gonna make sure you learn your lesson!”
I shuddered. We were cornered, and he sounded like he wanted to get violent. Jasper Roake had several centimeters on me even, and was built like a rhinoceros to boot. Malfoy, however, didn’t seem to take this into consideration.
“Sorry, mate, I haven’t the foggiest what you’re talking about!”
“Then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about! Why don’t you step out of there and own up to it like a man?”
Malfoy’s grip tightened. “I suppose I’ll have to… Dad!”
Roake whipped around to try to find Draco (who wasn’t actually there), and the distraction gave Scorpius all the time he needed to make an escape. He leapt out from behind the crates, hauling me along with him.
“Come on, Red, RUN!”
I didn’t have to be told twice. In the six years I’d known him, Scorpius had made a nasty habit of literally dragging me around. Though I suppose in comparison to dealing with his victims, I’d rather run. I dashed after him as he pulled me along, until we reached Knockturn Alley. I hesitated, knowing my mother would kill me if she ever found me here, but when compared with confronting Roake, she would be more rational than he.
We raced past storefronts that looked little better than the dank alley we had just come from, and my skin was crawling with the feeling of something evil lurking about. I didn’t have time to look around before I was pulled into one dark passage after another, and finally into the light of Diagon Alley.
Scorpius finally dropped my hand and looked over my shoulder, scanning the crowd for our pursuer. Finding no one on our tail, he hunched over, panting. “Rose… I think we’ve…” he wheezed, “Lost him.”
I wasn’t in any better condition than him, but I somehow found the energy to shoot him my most furious glare. “Why... do you always…. have to bring me into these things? You’re always getting me into… more trouble than I need.” I was still gasping for air myself.
Apparently feeling better, he straightened and grinned at me. “But have I ever left you to fend for yourself?”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a good answer for that. He had, in truth, always talked his way out of whatever mischief he involved me with. I couldn’t hold that against him. “No…” I stood up and looked him square in the eye, “But you can only be lucky so long.”
“Are you saying your lack of suspension from Hogwarts isn’t due to my dashing good looks and witty charm?”
“Yes. You’ve gotten lucky and someday it’s going to run out.”
At that moment, Draco Malfoy spotted his son and sauntered over to us. The grin slid off Scorpius’ face as he approached.
“Scorpius, where have you been?” he droned, sounding as if he really didn’t care to hear the answer, “I specifically told you to stay in that quidditch shop you’re always on about.” Having dealt with his apparently unruly offspring, Draco turned his attention to me. “Now Ms. Weasley, what are you doing with my son?”
Before I could think of a reasonable answer, Scorpius jumped in. “We were just looking around, Dad. You know, getting ready for school and all that.”
“Very well. Your mother will be wondering where we are. I’m going home, you’d best walk Ms. Weasley to wherever she’s headed and be on your way too. And don’t get into any mischief!” He gave me a suspicious look, as if I was the one at the root of his son’s pranking problem. I rolled my eyes at this but said nothing.
“Yes sir!” replied Scorpius eagerly, the picture of innocence.
After Draco left, we walked in comfortable silence as we neared the pub. As we reached the door, I heard a snarling voice coming from behind us. “You know, Donnelly was afraid to come after you because he’s afraid of your father. I guess he chickened out too soon! Where’s your daddy now, huh Malfoy?” Roake sneered, “Guess you can’t go running back to him like a little girl anymore, can you?”
“I take offense to that!” I interjected.
“Come on Malfoy, control your girlfriend!” Before I could correct him, he added, “Or someone else might have to do it for you,” He smirked at me and I unconsciously took a step back.
“I’m not his girlfriend!” This guy was seriously giving me the creeps. I’d run into Roake tons of times before, but while he was always a bully, he had never been this aggressive. I, however, was not going to let myself be intimidated by his antics. By this time, several others around us were looking our way and whispering nervously. I figured if worst came to worst, one of them would surely break up a fight, right?
“Stay out of this, Rose,” the look in his eyes warned me that Scorpius was serious this time. “Go inside.”
Why was he trying to play the hero? He knew I wasn’t afraid to defend myself. Whatever he was up to, I didn’t like it. I crossed my arms and stayed put.
“Merlin, you’re stubborn!” Choosing to ignore me, he turned instead to Roake and asked, “Aren’t you getting a little too worked up? It was just a couple stinkbombs…”
“I don’t care if it was my own bloody pants! Keep your girly little fingers out of my trunk! You think you’re clever, but somebody needs to teach you a lesson, and it looks like it’s going to have to be me.”
His vicious smirk terrified me as he took another menacing step forward. The way he looked at me made my skin crawl. I tried not to let it show, but found myself taking another involuntary step back.
“What’s wrong Roie? Afraid of me?” he leered, “Just wait ‘til I’m through with you.”
Without thinking, my hand curled into a fist and landed square on his nose. Blood ran down his face immediately, giving him and even more sinister look.
“Fiesty, aren’t we?” he grinned menacingly, “I like ‘em that way.”
Scorpius leapt at Roake and wrapped his arms around his thick neck. Forgetting me, Roake slammed into the wall of the Leaky Cauldron sideways, dislodging Scorpius’ hold. Now furious, Roake seized Scorpius’ left arm with one hand and flipped him onto the pavement. With the other, he grabbed my wrist and squeezed it ‘til I thought my fingers would fall off. “What are you going to do now, Weasley?” he sneered. “Looks like you’re all out of options. You’ll be much better off without this scum anyway…”
How could I get rid of him without magic? I thought back to the muggle defense classes Mum made me go to when I was younger. She’d said something about needing to know how to get out of a tight spot and I went along with it fairly begrudgingly, but this seemed about as good of opportunity to use it as any. Whipping my arm in a tight circle, I broke the hold Roake had on my wrist. Before he could realize what happened, I jerked my knee up to deliver a painful blow between his knees.
I stood as tall as I could over his bent form. “You’re nothing but a bully, and you don’t scare me,” I informed him.
Turning back to Scorpius, I saw that he had picked himself up into a sitting position. His jacket was rumpled and muddy, and one sleeve was ripped from his run-in with the wall. I walked over and reached out my hand. “Payback for earlier,” I told him, pulling him to his feet.
“Thanks, Red,” he smiled sheepishly. “I’m going home before I embarrass myself further. See you in a couple days!”