A/N: I own nothing but Lexie and Max! All ownership belongs to J.K. Rowling. In other news, I regret to inform you that the pairing I have in mind will not take place until way later, as only I know who it will be. Lexie's parentage will be revealed in a later chapter as well. I hope you like!
Once he reached the other side, Draco let out a breath and was relieved to see the Hogwarts Express before him, with students leaning out the windows waving and talking to their loved ones. Lexie came through beside him and he turned, glad to see that she was over her fear and was now gazing at the train in amazement.
“Let’s go, we have to find compartments.” Draco directed, once again leading the way, handing off his trunk to the wizards loading the other student’s trunks onto the train. He grabbed only duffel that held his robes and his owl; Lexie did the same, grabbing Max and a small book bag. They boarded the very packed train, searching for a compartment. Draco found his own friends not long after but was dismayed to see there wasn’t any room for Lexie to join them.
“You stay, I’ll find one. See you later?” She asked him and he hesitated, “you can come and find me if you like when the train’s going.”
“Alright, but hurry. I’ll find you later, if not I‘ll see you when we get sorted.” Draco answered and she nodded once bravely before setting off, peeking into compartments for one she could fit into. Draco took a breath and prepared to put his game face on, knowing he’d have to become the Malfoy his father had raised. He entered the compartment and seated himself next to Blaise, joining in on the conversation, but his mind somewhere else entirely.
Lexie searched the train, finally finding one that was semi-empty, with only the girl she met at Diagon Alley, Hermione, and another boy. She opened the door and smiled at Hermione and the boy in greeting, and asked if she could sit with them. Hermione agreed immediately while the boy just blushed, clearly not used to being around girls. She quickly learned that his name was Neville, and that he was also starting his first year. The girls started a conversation about the different houses at Hogwarts and the classes, everything they could think of to talk about. Once he got over his shyness, Neville joined in on the conversation until Lexie smiled at him, then he was once again left speechless and beet red.
After what seemed like forever, the Hogwarts Express finally pulled away from the station and Lexie leaned out the window to watch, imagining what it was like to have family waving goodbye and there to see her off. She didn’t feel sorry for herself though, knowing she at least had Draco who cared, and who was also coming with her to school.
Not long into the ride Neville noticed his toad was missing and the girls agreed to help him find it by checking the other compartments. Hermione took the back of the train while Lexie headed toward the front, leaving Neville with the middle cars. She looked along the ground for the toad until she reached the first car and lightly knocked, opening it to find four girls, three in conversation and one reading a book. They shook their heads when she asked if they had seen a toad so she continued on, checking each compartment and asking the occupants.
Eventually she reached the one her brother was in with his friends and opened it to ask, smiling first. “Have any of you seen a toad? Someone’s lost one.” She inquired; catching Draco’s eye and feeling her heart sink as he greeted her with a sneer.
There was a girl with a pug face who looked back at her disdainfully, and a dark skinned boy who looked her over curiously. “No, we haven’t.” Said the boy and after a last glance at Draco, who had simply ignored her, she left; closing the compartment door softly.
“So Draco, breaking hearts already?” Blaise teased; his gaze still on the girl as she checked the next compartment.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Draco retorted, forcing down the flash of regret at how he’d treated her. Already he didn’t like this new school year, or himself. But what choice did he have? If he showed even the smallest bit of weakness and affection for her, then his father would hear of it and he was sure to suffer.
“Uh huh,” Blaise replied doubtfully, eying his friend speculatively.
Draco spent the remainder of the ride ignoring them both, wishing the trip would go a lot faster.
Lexie supposed she shouldn’t be surprised, he had given her fair warning after all, not that it mattered. She just didn’t get why he was doing it, to impress Lucius perhaps? Her adoptive father didn’t much strike her as the impressed type, or the accepting type now that she thought about it.
Lexie continued down the train, asking more people but had no success, Trevor the toad had up and disappeared it seemed. No one looked even remotely familiar, until she came to a compartment with two redheads, twins in fact with two other boys. One was dark skinned while the other light and the twins looked tall with identical features. Lexie realized that she recognized one of them from Diagon Alley; one of the twins had bumped into her.
“Hello, sorry to be a bother but a boy lost his toad,” she asked a little nervously. “Have any of you seen it?”
The boys all shook their heads but one of the twins couldn’t tear his eyes away from the girl, a twinkle in his eyes. “No but we’ll keep an eye out. Who are you?” Asked the other twin, noticing his brother’s staring.
“Lexie, I’m a first year.” For the strangest reason she felt that she should keep her last name to herself, even though everyone would likely find out anyway. She smiled, pretending not to be uncomfortable with the boy’s constant gaze.
“I’m Fred, that’s Lee and Seamus, and the staring one is George, we're in our third year.” Said Fred, nudging his brother who snapped out of his trance to smile at her.
“Hi, well I should keep looking,” She replied and closed the door again.
George Weasley was infatuated. It was love at first sight. The angel who had opened the door had the sweetest smile, full of nerves and the brightest eyes. Now how to get her to notice him?
“Geez Georgie, way to scare the poor girl off!” Fred laughed, and he scowled.
“I did not! You heard her; she had a toad to find.”
“Sure,” Fred drawled, “And I suppose you’ll say next that you weren’t looking at her and nearly drooling just now?”
“Shut it Freddie,” he muttered, willing himself not to blush.
All three boys laughed before returning to their original prank planning. His thoughts were elsewhere, wondering about the girl and why she had only provided a first name, as well as bumping into her at Diagon Alley. Fred had been in a rush to get more supplies for pranks for the school year before mum noticed them gone and he’d accidentally almost knocked the girl over. That night she’d haunted his dreams, only to turn out to be real, and a student no less at the very same school. He'd find a way to get to know her, he vowed to himself, whatever it takes.
Lexie finally caught up to Neville and Hermione to find that Trevor had not been recovered unfortunately. They held some hope that the toad would turn up before they reached the castle, despite the very real chance that it was lost. Since there was still a little bit of a ways to go, the three of them spent the rest of the ride relaxing; Hermione read, Neville slept, and Lexie took out her sketch pad and just drew. She drew the compartment, Neville as he dozed, even Hermione as she read.
Some time later Hermione caught her attention by sitting on the bench beside her, leaving a sleeping Neville to occupy the one across. Hermione watched as she finished a drawing of George, his face still fresh in her mind.
“You’re very talented, how did you learn that?” Hermione asked. “And who’s he?”
“Just a boy on the train I met. I had the oddest desire to draw him.” Lexie replied, looking over her work and smiling at the other girl. “I started drawing when I was younger and do it all the time now.”
Hermione’s smile looked slightly envious before it passed, “You should put on your robes, we'll be arriving soon.”
Lexie fought the sudden wave of dizziness at her words and took out her robes from her knapsack, putting the sketchbook away as she did so. Hermione woke Neville to do the same and he graciously left the compartment to allow them to change. Once they did it was really only a matter of time until the trains stopped, and stop it did. Lexie took a deep breath, grabbed her bag and Max and followed Hermione and Neville outside.
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! All right there Harry? Hermione?” Yelled out a voice and Lexie turned to see a giant of a man waving over all the first years, so she followed. She saw Hermione smile at the man and fell into step behind her and two boys, one a redhead and another with messy black hair and wearing glasses. She smiled at Messy hair and he smiled back as they followed the crowd outside.
“C’mon, follow me -- anymore firs’ years? Mind yer step, now! Firs’ years follow me!” The man went on, leading them all down a steep, narrow path. For lack of a better idea and so she wouldn’t lose her footing, Lexie grabbed onto Messy hair’s shirt tail, hoping he wouldn’t trip and make them both fall. If he minded, he didn’t show it, merely kept walking with her tagging along.
“Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” The man called over his shoulder, “’jus round this bend here.”
There was a loud “Ooooh!” As the path opened to a vast black lake, perched atop a high mountain on the other side, windows sparkling in the starry night, was a castle with many turrets and towers, almost like in the books she’d read. The sight before her caused her hand to go slack, releasing Messy hair’s shirt as she stared in awe, not really noticing the others passing her and climbing into a fleet of boats.
“No more’n four to a boat!” Called the man as they climbed in, Hermione joined the boy with red hair and Messy hair. She just stood there staring, until she felt a sharp tug on her wrist and snapped out of it to see that Draco was trying to get her attention and lead her to a boat.
“Get with it Meadowes!” He hissed as she hurried along and joined him and the two from his compartment in a boat. She glared at him for using her last name but either he didn’t see it due to it being so dark or he ignored it.
“Everyone in?” Shouted the giant-man, “Right then -- FORWARD!”
The fleet of boats began to move and she nearly fell over until Draco threw an arm over to hold her in her seat. Everyone was silent, all gazing at the castle that loomed overhead, as they got closer to the cliff in which it stood on.
“Head’s down!” Giant-man barked, and they obeyed, ducking their heads as the boats sailed through a curtain of ivy, a strand or two catching in Lexie’s hair. They reached a harbor filled with smooth pebbles and the boats stopped so that everyone could climb out. Draco discreetly helped her but dropped her hand immediately once she was on solid ground so no one would see his actions.
“Oi, you there! Is this your toad?” Yelled the giant-man, who’d been checking the boats for anything forgotten.
“Trevor!” Neville cried, holding out his hands. Lexie had to cough to hide her laugh and she noticed Draco sneer at her side so she stepped on his foot. He glared at her and she smiled sweetly at him, to which he just rolled his eyes and followed as they walked along another passage. They came to a stop at last onto damp grass in the shadow of the enormous castle.
They walked up the flight of steps and crowded around the huge door, Lexie staying close by her brother’s side. “Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?” The giant-man raised his huge fist and knocked three times on the door.