19. The Chamber of Secrets
A/N: All I own is Lexie and Max, everything and everyone else belongs to J.K. Rowling. Here begins Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The Chamber of Secrets
Lexie’s summer so far had not been a good one. Immediately upon returning home, her foster father had taken her into his study in order to instruct her in the ways of being a proper pure blooded witch. Alexis Rose Malfoy, born Alexis Rose Meadowes, had been adopted by the most prominent member of the Wizarding world, the Malfoy’s. She had also just completed her first year at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, of Gryffindor house. She had become friends with people like the Weasley twins and their brother, four dorm mates, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
The only problem with her foster father’s lessons was that she didn’t agree with most of what he said. She saw it all as prejudiced nonsense and disgusting, how they spoke of muggle born's or half-bloods, as if they were dung on their shoes. For this reason, she saw little of the room that had been named hers on her very first time entering Malfoy Manor. Lucius seemed determined to ‘drill in’ the ways of Malfoy’s into a child so young. Instead she spent most of her nights in the dungeons in the basement, alone with only her cat for company, when he could sneak down.
Lexie found herself staring at the wall opposite her, her legs curled close to her body, her arms wrapped around them. Today Lucius had tried to make her memorize the names of the pure blood families and she had talked back when he spoke badly of the Weasley’s. She idly wondered if perhaps it was the Black side of her that made her rather mouthy. She remembered her father’s journal entries mentioning her uncle and his habit of talking back to his parents, her grandparents. She supposed it didn’t matter; her birthday had come and gone, near the beginning of the summer. She only saw her foster brother when Lucius had their lessons, but he refused to meet her eye which was just fine, she hadn’t forgiven him about last year anyway.
She missed her friends though, and wished she could send a letter or two to them but she rarely had a chance. Tonight she would be attending a dinner party with another pure blood family and one of Draco’s friends, Blaise and the Zabini’s.
Draco cleared his throat from where he stood near his father’s chair and the man turned his head to give his son his attention. “Should I bring Alexis to her room to prepare for dinner, father?”
His father sighed and made a vague gesture and Draco left the room, hurrying to where his foster sister was kept. He hadn’t had the nerve to go and visit her yet, mostly because he didn’t know what to say. Most of the time he could convince his mother to get his father to let her out to shower and such but there was nothing he could do to save her from her punishment. Why did she have to be so stubborn?
Draco descended the stairs and entered the dungeon, looking around for the familiar head of brown hair. He found her in the far corner, curled up and staring at nothing and he frowned.
“It’s nearly time for dinner, father says to go get bathed and dressed,” he told her, not really wanting to get closer but doing so anyway.
Her gaze swept over to meet his, her lips parting, “So because father says
, I should obey?”
“Please Lexie, I hate seeing you like this,” Draco pleaded and crouched nearby.
“Must be why you don’t come down here.” Her expression hardened. “Tell father I’m fine where I am.”
“Look, the Zabini’s will be here in an hour,” Draco sighed. “Please just do this?”
The girl studied her foster brother then stood, stretching out her muscles and headed for the stairs without him. Draco followed silently, trying to think of some way to apologize to the girl he had promised to stand beside and failed. When they reached her door he wrapped his fingers around her wrist to stop her before she went in.
“Liar,” her reply was said softly. “If you were sorry you’d speak up. Maybe you’d end up with me down there but you’d do it.”
Draco had no answer and she tore her arm away from him, “I’ll see you at dinner Draco.” He hated the disappointment he heard in her voice as she closed the door, now lost to him.
Lexie turned to survey her room; she had almost forgotten what it looked like after so much time in the cold and dark dungeon basement. She saw Max sitting in his bed and a dress hanging in her closet, the accessories waiting on the bed with some new clothes. She took a long and leisurely bath, making sure to scrub herself pink and brushed her hair until it shown, adding George’s Christmas gift, a barrette to secure it in place above her ear. She put her necklace from her parents on and looked at herself in the mirror.
On her bedside table lay her sketchbook and a bundle of letters and she sat down to read them. There were a few from the twins, mostly George, a few from her dorm mates and Hermione. The only person, it seemed, who hadn’t written was Harry. Lexie frowned; she hoped he was having a good summer wherever he was. In a couple of the twin’s letters she noticed that they had invited her over to their house and she felt a wave of sadness. The chance of escaping to the Weasley’s was very slim, especially with the way the summer was going. At this rate, she would be lucky if she got to spend tonight in her room.
There was a knock on her door and she stood and walked to it to see that Draco had also changed, now in a nice pair of slacks and dress shirt, hair gelled back. She didn’t say anything to him as they went back downstairs and into the receiving area, where a family of dark-skinned people waited. The Zabini’s turned to examine the girl who’d been officially adopted over the summer as she joined them, Draco next to her. Narcissa air kissed Mrs. Zabini’s cheek and the men shook hands while Draco nodded to Blaise and Lexie just stood there silently. She tuned out of the adult’s conversation and followed her brother as he and Blaise talked about the new school year.
“Hello Lexie,” Blaise addressed the girl with a smile.
“Did you hear who’s teaching this year Blaise?” Draco asked him, trying to turn his curious gaze off his sister.
“Lockhart wasn’t it?” Blaise grinned then turned back to Lexie, “I suppose you’ll be swooning eh?”
Lexie just looked at him. Who were they talking about? Blaise chortled at the expression on her face.
“Come children,” said Mrs. Zabini from the dining area and they hastened to join.
“Yes mum,” Blaise replied, his thoughts on Draco’s sister’s obvious unanswered question. “Gilderoy Lockhart is the Defense teacher this year, Alexis.”
Lexie nodded and took a seat across from her brother and beside Blaise; his parents stopped their conversation to look at her.
“I thought you would have heard dear?” Blaise’s mother asked, surprised that Lexie didn’t seem to know this fact.
“No ma’am,” she said respectfully.
“Alexis has been visiting a friend this summer,” Lucius interjected to cover the moment. “I haven’t gotten the chance to mention it to her.”
“Yes, my friend is muggle born you see, so she wasn’t aware either,” Lexie cut in blandly. “I only just got back this morning actually.”
“You allow her to associate with muggle-born's Lucius?” Blaise’s father interrupted in disgust. Draco’s eyes were wide and he was giving his sister a very plain warning look and Blaise looked as if he was trying to contain his laughter.
“I can hardly help who my daughter befriends in that school Seth,” Lucius replied in a controlled tone. “Once we realized her parentage; we brought her home of course.”
“Too bad too, they’re so nice, the Dawson’s. Although I do wish I had gotten to spend some time with the Weasley’s, I had to decline their offer to visit.” Lucius was now glaring at her but she pretended not to notice, “Please pass the carrots?”
The Zabini’s weren’t able to comment however as Narcissa changed the subject to the Ministry and Lucius plastered a strained smile on his face. His gaze was fixed on his daughter who had the audacity to arch a brow and continue to eat her dinner. Lexie wasn’t stupid, she knew she was in for another night of lying in the dungeon but it had been worth it just a little. Blaise, instead of looking at her with scorn at the mention of the Weasley’s, now seemed to watch her in approval. Or was it amusement? She was very aware of the way he looked at her out of the corner of his eye when suddenly an idea struck her: if she were to announce she was going to see a friend in front of guests, they couldn’t very well refuse, not if they wished to keep up their loving adoptive parent’s visage. It would also get her a night away from the dungeon and she could go to the Burrow from Ruby’s. It was perfect!
“Father,” she spoke up and Lucius looked at her coldly. She didn’t care; she’d had enough of their treatment and left her mind open to show him so, while keeping her plan carefully hidden. “I was wondering if I could go visit my friend Ruby again. She wanted to go to Diagon Alley and catch the train together.”
Lexie watched as Lucius realized the tight spot she’d put him in and almost grinned with triumph as he nodded in assent. She excused herself and exchanged pleasant goodbyes and nice to meet you’s with Blaise’s parents and left the dining room. She had to fight the urge to run to her room and settled on a fast walk. She packed everything and frowned when it occurred to her that she didn’t know Ruby’s address. “I guess I’ll just go straight to the Burrow,” she muttered to herself but then stared at her packed trunk. “Starr,” she called and the house elf appeared.
“Yes miss?” The squeaky voice asked.
“Can you send this to the Burrow please?” She asked kindly, picking up Max and her pack with her belongings. The house elf snapped her fingers and her trunk disappeared. Lexie took one last look around and left her room, shutting the door firmly. She walked down the stairs where the fireplace, and her freedom, waited.
“Where are you really going?” Draco asked, coming out of the dining room and Lexie peered behind him.
“Don’t worry, they’ll be a while yet,” Blaise added as he looked at Max in his carrier.
“A friend’s,” Lexie replied shortly and Draco held his palm out which held the key to her vault.
“Here, it’s yours anyway.”
Lexie put the key into her pocket and stood for a moment just looking at her brother. She could still remember the boy who had held her as she cried, cheered her up when their parents declined communication with her, had accepted her right away. It was hard to compare that boy to the one she’d spent a summer with. Draco had not once stood against Lucius’ unfair treatment, and while she knew half of the times she’d been let out to shower had been Draco’s doing, it was still too little too late. He had deliberately gotten her friends into trouble for having a dragon egg, when they had just been trying to get rid of it. He’d spoken so foully of her friends and cursed Neville, had been so cruel to even her.
Yet through all the bad he’d done the year before, and all he’d done that summer, he was still her brother. She gave him a hug and whispered that she’d see him on the train before grasping Max’s carrier tightly, and grabbing a handful of Floo powder. She threw it into the fireplace and said, “The Burrow!” and stepped into the flames.