A/N: So very sorry about the delay. Been caught up on working on Shut out the pain that all my other plot bunnies got set aside. I do not own the wonderful world of Harry Potter, I only claim Lexie and Max ;)
When she fell out of the fireplace on the other end, Lexie was surprised to notice the familiar faces of the twins, and Ron nearby. She glanced around to find herself in a kitchen, along with other redheads that she assumed were the Weasley’s she had yet to meet. The closest, a young girl helped her to her feet, looking at her curiously before she was quickly seized in a hug. The kitchen was rather small with a table and chairs in the middle, books stacked on the mantelpiece and she heard a voice and saw it was an old radio next to the sink.
“Lex!” The welcome sound of George’s voice met her ears as he spun her around as if it had been years instead of a little over a month since he’d seen her. As soon as he let her go Fred promptly repeated his twin’s action and she was breathless with laughter as the twins greeted her. Oh how she’d missed them!
Once Fred finally released her, she turned to the other people watching the scene with amused and wondering smiles. She smiled at Ron in hello and he smiled back, before she looked at the woman who was obviously the matron of the family and blushed.
“Hello, I’m Lexie Malfoy,” she greeted a little shyly. The woman’s expression shifted a little at the last name as she surveyed the girl her sons had so enthusiastically greeted. “I’m nothing like them, I swear!”
“Yeah mum, she was adopted,” Ron added helpfully and Mrs. Weasley softened.
“Molly Weasley dear,” the woman said and smiled at the girl. “I was just making dinner, have you eaten yet?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Lexie apologized and scolded herself for not having the foresight to realize that she’d be dropping into their home without warning in the middle of their meal.
“Not at all, it’s no trouble,” Mrs. Weasley brushed off the apology and turned back to her cooking, still unsure about her newest house guest.
“The twins invited me to visit and I didn’t really have the chance to send an owl beforehand and sort of took a chance as it came up,” the girl explained.
“It’s quite alright; you can share a room with my daughter, Ginny.”
“Thank you so much, and I really am sorry,” she said again but the woman waved her off with a kind smile.
“Go and visit with your friends, dear.”
Lexie’s wrist was grabbed as she was almost dragged out of the kitchen and out the door by the twins followed by Ron and the girl who’d helped her up, Ginny. They brought her out to the backyard and the twins yammered to her about their new prank ideas. Lexie felt glad that she’d managed to escape the Malfoy’s and lost herself in the feeling of being among friends. Eventually the twins and Ron split off from the group and began talking in low voices so she turned to Ginny.
“Hello, I don’t think we’ve met yet,” she said to Ginny.
“No, I’m Ginny,” the other girl smiled and they talked about the new school year.
“Hey, do any of you know who Gilderoy Lockhart is?” She asked them as she remembered what the Zabini’s mentioned while Ginny rolled her eyes.
“Some prat who wrote a load of books, mum fancies him,” Ginny answered and launched into the abbreviated version of Lockhart’s adventures.
George watched Lexie as Fred and Ron discussed Operation Rescue Harry; she seemed thinner to him and quieter. He didn’t miss the barrette in her hair that he himself had given her and remembered the other gift he’d been working on, and decided to pull her away after dinner to present it to her. He’d read in the Prophet about the Malfoy’s officially adopting her and that she’d had a birthday and he also couldn’t wait to find out why she hadn’t written back all summer. Overall, there was a difference in the girl he’d known before summer started and it made him wonder what hers had consisted off.
As if he’d read his brother’s mind, Ron asked, “Why didn’t you reply to our letters, Lexie?”
Lexie hesitated, casting around for a plausible excuse. She would rather kiss a gnome then tell them she’d spent the majority of her summer in the dungeon of her house, but what could she say?
“Lucius held my letters until I finished all my lessons on how to be a Malfoy, I only just got them today,” she settled on a half truth.
“Is that why you came without notice?”
“Yeah, what happened?” agreed George.
“Well we were at a dinner party and I asked if I could visit a friend, Lucius said yes so I flooed here before he could change his mind,” she answered more truthfully. She noticed the way George was scrutinizing her and avoided his gaze. If anyone were to see through her and call her on it, it’d be him. They were interrupted as Molly called them all inside to eat and Fred pulled her in on their plan to rescue Harry, who she learned had not written them either.
After dinner Lexie headed upstairs to go change into pajamas, and was looking around the Burrow with interest. She observed the way the Weasley’s interacted with each other enviously, what she wouldn’t give to have what they had.
“Lex, can you come here for a sec?” George called when she passed the twin’s room on her way to Ginny’s. She entered to see that the room looked like a cross between a bedroom and a laboratory, with two beds, two dressers and desks, a bookshelf and a work table with various potions bottles and what looked to be candies strewn around.
“Yes George?” she asked and he ran a hand through his hair.
“I read in the Prophet that your birthday came and that we missed it so I made something for you,” he said with flushed cheeks. He held out a wrapped package and watched as she opened it to reveal a bound book then looked up at him curiously. “I was thinking about all the problems you were having last year and thought…”
“Is it a journal?” she asked, leafing through the pages.
“Not exactly. See, if you write in it,” he walked over to one of the desks and held up a similar book, “I’ll read it in here and can reply.” He studied her expression carefully, “it’s so if you ever need someone to talk to…”
Lexie gripped the book tightly in one hand and grabbed the redhead in a hug, overcome with emotion. She was feeling far too much at once to put into words; once again George had succeeded in saying and doing the perfect thing. This way she had someone to talk to when she felt alone, or during the summer, she vowed to keep it on her always.
“It’s wonderful, I love it,” she said sincerely and he finally let out a relieved breath she hadn’t realized he was holding.
“Happy birthday Lex,” he whispered in her ear as she clung to him.
“I should get to bed,” she stated after a moment as she let go. “Are you guys going to get Harry tonight?”
“After they’re all asleep, sure you don’t want to come?” he offered with a devilish smile and she laughed and shook her head.
“I’m exhausted, tell me everything in the morning though!”
With that she bid him and Fred goodnight as his twin came in the room and retreated for Ginny’s. Still listening to her footsteps and thinking on the hug and her smile at his gift, he fell into planning with his twin.
Just around dawn she was woken to yells but stayed in her bed to listen. It sounded as if Mrs. Weasley had caught the twins and Ron on their return from getting Harry. She heard snippets, something about bars on Harry’s window and she glanced over at Ginny to see the other girl asleep and changed quietly, slipping downstairs. She spotted Harry as she entered the kitchen and gave him a wide smile and a hug, glad that the other boy was safe and in one piece. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the twins…well maybe just a little. She was about to ask him about his summer when he gave her a slight ‘not now’ Look and she frowned, was his summer so bad he didn’t want to discuss it in front of the others?
Meanwhile Mrs. Weasley was cooking breakfast a little haphazardly, throwing Ron and the twin’s dirty looks and muttering under her breath.
“I don’t blame you, dear,” she told Harry, filling his plate with about nine large sausages and giving Lexie at least five as she took a seat beside the black haired boy. “Arthur and I have worried about you, too. Just last night we were talking about coming to get you ourselves if Ron hadn’t heard from you by Friday. Then Lexie here showed up yesterday too,” the woman smiled at the girl who returned it. “Flying an illegal car halfway across the country—anyone could have seen you—“
With only a flick of her wand, the dishes in the sink began to clean themselves, clinking gently in the background.
“It was cloudy, Mum!” said Fred.
“You keep your mouth closed while you’re eating!” she snapped.
“They were starving him, Mum!” said George next. Lexie looked at Harry sharply to see her friend was beet red from the attention and noticed that he did appear too thin. She also noticed that he was avoiding her gaze but she gave him a sympathetic look. It looked as if their summers hadn’t been quite as different as she’d hoped, with the only exception being that he didn’t look as if he’d spent most of it in a dungeon.
“And you!” said Mrs. Weasley as she pounced on her other son but her expression softened as she cut Harry’s bread and buttered it for him, doing the same for Lexie.
Right at that moment there was a diversion in the form of a small redhead in a long nightdress that appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal and ran back out again. Lexie looked after her and tried to fight a smile of amusement at her new friend.
“Ginny,” Ron told Harry in an undertone. “My sister. She’s been talking about you all summer.”
“Yeah she’ll be wanting an autograph, Harry,” Fred added with a grin but caught his mother’s glare and went back to his food without another word.
Nothing else was said until they’d all finished eating, which wasn’t long.
“Blimey, I’m tired,” yawned George. “I think I’ll go to bed and—“
“You will not,” snapped his mother. “It’s your own fault you’ve been up all night. You’re going to de-gnome the garden for me; they’re getting out of hand again –“
“And you two,” she turned to Ron and Fred. “You can go on up to bed dear, you too Lexie,” she added to them. “You didn’t ask them to fly that wretched car –“
But Harry said quickly, “I’ll help Ron. I’ve never seen a de-gnoming—“
“I’ll help too,” Lexie agreed. Helping seemed to be the only way she’d get answers from Harry, aside from the fact that she wasn’t all that tired anymore.
“That’s very sweet of you dears, but it’s rather dull work,” she told them. “Let’s see what Lockhart has to say on the subject—“
She pulled a heavy book from the mantelpiece and George groaned, “Mum we know how to de-gnome a garden –“
Lexie watched as Mrs. Weasley gazed down at the cover where a wizard was pictured winking up at her. “Oh he is marvelous,” she said. “He knows his household pests, all right, it’s a wonderful book.”
“Mum fancies him,” said Fred in a very audible whisper and Harry and Lexie grinned at each other.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Fred,” she admonished him, her cheeks coloring. “Fine, if you think you know better than Lockhart, then go and get on with it, and woe betide you if there’s a single gnome in that garden when I come to inspect it.
Yawning and grumbling, they trooped outside and Lexie fell into step beside Harry and listened as they talked. Ron bent over a peony bush and straightened clutching the ugliest creature she’d ever seen. It was small, about up to her knee in height with an overly large head; it looked like a potato with legs. She shared a brief glance with Harry and could tell he thought the same thing and bit into her wrist to stifle a giggle at Ron’s revulsion toward the gnome.
“This is what you have to do,” he said. They watched as he lifted the gnome over his head and began to swing it in giant circles. When he loosed it, the gnome flew what must have been twenty feet in the air and over a hedge.
“That was pitiful,” said Fred. “Bet I can get mine past the stump.”
Lexie and Harry tried next and she yelped when the one she’d grabbed bit into her hand. All compassion for the thing gone, she envisioned Lucius’ face and hurled the gnome as hard as she could.
”Nice one Lex!”
“Here,” said George. He went over to her and grabbed a gnome and stepped behind her, his bigger hands covering hers as he taught her how to better throw the gnomes. She blushed at the contact and his closeness and tried to focus on the task at hand. “You throw it like that,” he let go as she released the gnome and it flew through the air and past the hedge.
“They’re not too bright,” he added to her and Harry as he grabbed five at once. “The moment a de-gnoming starts, they all come up to look. You’d think that they’d learn to stay put, wouldn’t you?”
Not long after they’d finished, the door shut and she watched the twins and Ron grin and hurry inside. George seized her wrist and she let herself be led inside with him, a little nervous to meet their father. It was no secret that Lucius and Arthur Weasley didn’t get along and she hoped that he wouldn’t automatically judge her by the fact that she had the same surname.
Arthur was a thin man with balding hair, but what little he had was as red as his children’s. He wore long green robes and looked very tired as he told his family about work. She tried to slip away but the twins would have none of it and firmly sat her down between them and she sighed with defeat. She cast Harry a pleading glance but he just shrugged and she stuck her tongue out at him while the family talked. The conversation was interrupted when Molly entered and started in on Arthur about the flying car, which would have been comical if not for the way the three Weasley kids shifted uneasily.
Once Arthur was informed of Harry’s presence, he jumped at the sight of the raven-haired boy and she suppressed another giggle. He then noticed the other person at the table with hair that wasn’t red and his eyes widened.
“Who might you be?” asked Arthur curiously.
“Lexie Malfoy,” she answered and wrung her hands under the table. She was stopped by both of the twins’ pulling her hands apart and holding onto them in an effort to calm her. “The twins invited me for a visit, sir.”
“Oh yes, the girl Lucius adopted. I heard about that. So sorry about your parents.”
“Thank you, sir.”
His attention was again pulled away to deal with his still very angry wife and the three Weasley kids and their two guests snuck quietly from the room and up the stairs. Harry and Ron disappeared into one bedroom and Fred and George into theirs and she went back into Ginny’s to read. Her summer was finally looking up, she thought and smiled.