Hi everyone! Okay, so here's the deal, there's a lot to tell:
First, this is probably going to be the last, or next-to-last chapter of For Good. Don't worry, I'm already working on a sequel chronicling Lexi's final year at Hogwarts. Going along with the Wicked theme, the sequel is going to be titled No Good Deed, and will deal a lot with the consequences of the choices Lexi's made in her 6th year.
Secondly, I've made some banners/pictures/whatever you'd like to call them for both fics, and will hopefully have them posted immediately after I post this chapter. Not only do I just think they look neat, as well as give you guys an idea of what I think Lexi looks like, but the pictures for No Good Deed will give you a little hint as to what's to come for Lexi.
Thirdly, uh there's a little George/Lexi interaction in this chapter that goes a little further than anything previously Just letting anyone who might be offended by that know beforehand.
Please review and tell me what you think of everything, the chapter, the pictures, whatever! Thanks guys, you're so great!
Chapter 36: Birthdays, Letters, Spies
Everything seemed to be falling back into place. Draco was back, school was starting soon, and my birthday was coming up in a week.
Draco was already of age, since his birthday had passed back in June, and once I was of age and legally allowed to live on my own, I felt things would be so much better for the both of us. Of course, we'd still be staying at the Order's headquarters through the summer.
I laughed to myself as I thought of Draco's rooming situation. Although I had been lucky enough to get my own room, Draco wasn't so lucky and had been given the option of bunking with George and Fred or bunking with Potter and Weasley. He had of course chosen the former. Both Draco and George insisted to me that they were getting along all right, but I imagined they were both only saying that for my benefit.
As it were, Draco spent little time with anyone but me. We were often in the library or in my room together.
I had worried that things between us would be awkward, or strained, but luckily we seemed to pick up right where we left off.
Not saying that either of us weren't affected by what had happened. I knew, sometimes, when Draco wasn't quite himself or when he got a certain look in his eye that he was thinking about all that had happened. And although he seemed to be dealing with it well, I never took for granted the fact that he was okay. I knew at some point he'd have to come to terms with everything, but I certainly wasn't going to force that on him.
"What do you think it's gonna be like?" Draco asked abruptly one day.
"What?" I responded, turning a page in the Potions book I was reading.
"Hogwarts, this year." Draco closed his book, "How.. Are we going to be treated? We ought to be prepared for it."
I sighed. It had been a topic I had been wanting to bring up.
"I don't know." I confessed, "Honestly, I don't know what story everyone will know, or believe. The Prophet said that … Lucius went crazy and attacked me and my…what happened---was an accident." I stopped.
"But who knows who the Dark Lord told the truth, right?" Draco voiced my thoughts.
"Exactly." I paused, "I don't know how differently we'll be treated. Even if everyone believes that story, it can't escape anyone's notice that I ran away from home." I put my head in my hands. "Some excuse will have to be made…"
Draco patted me on the back.
The thing was, we were both worried. As shallow as it may seem, Draco and I had come to expect the kind of treatment our last names gave us, both within our year and within the Slytherin house. The thought of being treated, not only like any other Slytherin, but worse, was actually very disconcerting.
I didn't like the idea of being at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole.
"I think you'll be fine." I said quietly. "I'm fairly certain that unless my father or Rudolphus blabbed, which I don't think they'd risk their necks to do so, everyone will still think you were attacked by Muggleborns. They'll feel doubly bad for you because of Lucius."
"It's irrelevant, what happens to me." I shrugged, trying to hide my concern. "Nothing can be worse than when you weren't there."
"Slytherins are brutal, Lex. We both know that." Draco reminded me.
"Good thing I can give as good as I get." I replied.
Now that Draco was back, I thought every part of my life would fall into place. And that was true, for the most part. The constant anxiety I'd had while he was gone had left. Blaise and Cho had returned, much to my delight, and the three of us had been reunited. It felt fantastic.
Why, then, was George Weasley avoiding me like the plague?
Of course, he was busy with his shop and Order business, and I was busy tending to Draco and doing the summer homework I hadn't bothered with earlier, but although that did leave little free time for either of us, George hadn't really made an attempt to talk to me since Draco had returned, and I was completely baffled.
The trouble was that it was the middle of August. Not only was Draco and I's imminent return to Hogwarts fast approaching, but my birthday was in only 5 days. I'd never had a boyfriend during my birthday before, and at this point I wasn't sure at this point what George and I were, and his actions were only increasing my confusion.
Still, I couldn't help but remember all the things he'd said and done for me while I'd been so distraught over Draco. His sudden standoffishness just didn't make sense.
"Three days until your birthday, Lex." Draco commented one night at dinner. Everyone turned to look at me.
"Really?" Ginny asked. I nodded. Mrs. Weasley's face broke out in a grin, and I could practically see the wheels of her mind turning, which, after the celebration she'd given Potter for his birthday at the end of July, had me worried.
"You'll be 17 too then?" Potter asked. I nodded again. While coming of age was supposed to be exhilarating, I was unfortunately not allowed to use magic anyway, as Dumbledore and Remus had been sure to remind me last week.
"It's no big deal, really." I muttered. The last thing I wanted was a pity party thrown by a bunch of Weasleys and Gryffindors.
"Nonsense." Granger piped in suddenly, "Everyone deserves to have their birthday recognized."
I gaped at her a moment, glancing at Draco quickly who looked equally perplexed. "Ah, t-thanks?" I managed to get out.
If living in a house full of Weasleys weren't weird enough, my entire world threatened to turn upside down if Granger started acting kindly towards me. I sighed, judging by the look on Draco's face he was thinking similar thoughts.
I could only hope that some sort of normalcy would return upon going back to Hogwarts.
"I miss the way things used to be." I said.
"In what way?" Remus asked.
"Every way… well, nearly." I replied, "I miss the respect I had among my housemates… I don't think I'll have it when I return to school. I miss the clear boundaries between myself and the people in this house. I miss the animosity between Granger and myself. All the lines in my life are blurring, I barely know which way is up. I don't like it."
"Lexi, surely this is better for you though? Better than being a Death Eater, you didn't want that." Remus reminded me.
"But I didn't want this, either. I don't follow Voldemort, obviously, but now I feel as though I'm… almost as though I'm being forced into the Order, or at least onto their side, by being here. I feel like I don't have a choice. I don't want to pick a side. I want out."
Remus sighed, "Lexi, I know this is hard, but whether you want to accept it or not, a war isn't just coming---it's already here. People have died, Lexi. There's no way out of choosing a side."
I nodded, "I-I know. It's hard, you have to understand, it's really hard. I had.. a very… privileged life, in many ways. And it's hard for me to know that it's gone. Everything's changed and…"
Remus nodded, "Not exactly in the way you'd have wanted it to. Lexi, I'm sure we all wish we could have our cake and eat it too, but the fact is that to gain something, you usually always have to give something up."
I swallowed, "Guess I'm just used to having everything."
It was a harsh wake-up call to realize that if I wanted to be free from my parent's influence, I would have to give up the perks of being their daughter as well.
Two days, two days, two days until my birthday. The thought sort of startled me as I left my room that morning.
What startled me even more was nearly crashing into George, who had apparently been waiting right outside my door.
"Lexi." George breathed out. I smiled up at him nervously.
"We should talk." He said quietly, I nodded in response and turned back into my room, George close behind. I shut the door and perched on my bed.
"What's wrong?" I asked. Hopefully he'd give me some reason as to why we hadn't seen much of each other.
"I'm .. not going back to Hogwarts this year." George looked apologetic, "I really tried but with the war heating up they need everyone they can get available for missions."
I stared off ahead, and George wrapped an arm around me, apologizing again. But the fact that he wasn't going to be at Hogwarts wasn't the only reason I was upset.
"Missions?" I asked quietly. "George, this is dangerous."
George nodded, "It is. I won't lie. But Lexi we both knew I was going to do this."
I nodded, "I'll miss you. I wish we'd.. had a better time together this summer."
George swallowed, "Sorry for avoiding you. I just wanted to give you time with Draco." He paused, "Also, I wasn't sure if, now that he was back…"
I sighed, "George." I closed my eyes, "I guess I haven't made myself perfectly clear. I love Draco, so much. He's been there for me more than anyone else. He's really the only family I have left, and he's obviously proven he'd do anything for me… the feeling is mutual."
"I see." George said, stiffening slightly. I grabbed his hand and turned to face him.
"But…then there's you." I smiled. "You've treated me far better than I deserved, after all the mistakes I've made. I admire you so much, George, because you're so good, and it's like you don't even have to try."
"And…" I hesitated, "You told me once, that you never stopped loving me."
He nodded, his hand resting against my face. I pulled him close and rested my forehead against his.
"I didn't either. Never." I smiled, "George, I may love Draco, and nothing will ever change that. But I'm in love with you, and---" George cut me off by pressing his lips against mine.
"Draco and I aren't so different, you know." George whispered, "We're both demanding of attention. He's used to having you all to himself; I want you all to myself." His arms snaked around my waist and he pulled me onto his lap. I could feel my heart racing.
"You know…" I said, smirking at him, "In some ways, George, you will have me all to yourself." I boldly pushed him down on the bed before positioning myself on top of him, my lips crashing against his. His hands, which had been on my lower back, moved south before he brought them back around to the front of my body, moving up but stopping right where my shorts ended and my shirt began. My eyes flew open as I felt his hand travel underneath my shirt.
"Lex?" He paused for a moment, his voice husky. "You okay, love?"
I nodded quickly before bringing his mouth back to mine. The next thing I knew, George and I had switched places. George ran his tongue along my lower lip and I gasped, my hand clutching at the material of his shirt as I pulled him closer to me, wrapping my legs tightly around his waist.
"Lexi…" He groaned, "You don't know what you're doing to me."
I pulled away momentarily, biting my lower lip nervously, "D-did I mess up?" I had really just been going off of instinct at this point.
George looked at me and I was surprised to see his eyes were dark instead of their normal sparkling blue. "No, quite the contrary. Please don't bite your lip like that." His hand, still under my shirt, began to run along the bottom of my bra. My heart was racing a mile a minute, I'd never experienced anything remotely like this before. My body felt like it was electrically charged.
I quickly muttered a soft "Sorry" and averted my eyes, my lips forming a pout. George's hand was quickly pulled from under my shirt and he turned my face back towards his before kissing me hard. I responded eagerly and didn't stop him as his hands drifted down to the first button of my shirt, unbuttoning it a little clumsily. The rest soon followed, George quickly learning. I grabbed the hem of his shirt, and with shaky hands pulled it over his head. His hands were roaming all over my exposed midriff, finally making their way upwards and---
We both sat up quickly as a loud knock sounded on my door. I flopped back down on my bed in irritation, George soon following and laying beside me. I knew I was trying to regulate my breathing, but I wasn't sure if he was trying to do the same.
"Ignore it, ignore it." I whispered to him, rolling over and kissing him quickly, running my hands down his chest.
"Lexi!" Draco's voice sounded. "Lex?"
I closed my eyes and cursed under my breath. George sighed and kissed me on the forehead.
"Like I said, Lexi, you're hard to share." He said, smiling nonetheless as he helped me button my shirt back up before putting his own back on. I blushed as he turned back to me.
"Don't be self-conscious, love." He put an arm around my waist and led me to the door, "That was bloody amazing." He whispered in my ear before opening the door. "Malfoy." He greeted before giving my a quick kiss and leaving. Draco walked past, grinning.
"Obviously I interrupted." He gestured to the rumpled sheets on my bed. Grumbling, I stalked past him.
"Interrupted, indeed." I agreed, before smirking at his shocked face.
"I take it you and Weasley have made up, then?" I blushed and Draco laughed.
"Just wanted to let you know, though, that Blaise is downstairs with some… interesting news. And an even more interesting idea." I could tell from the tone of his voice that Draco thought neither the news nor the idea were something he was happy about. I quickly ran a hand through my hair, about to leave when I stopped and cringed.
"Do I, uh, look… presentable?" I asked, my eyes closed as I waited for the teasing response I was sure was coming.
"As presentable as one can when they've just been romping around on a be--" Draco stopped as I hit his arm, my face burning. With all the dignity I could muster I headed downstairs.
When I got to the kitchen, it was crowded with most of the house's inhabitants being there, as well as Blaise, Dumbledore, and Mad-Eye Moody.
"Lexi." Blaise gave me a quick hug before handing me a letter. "You need to read this. It's from Pansy."
What in Merlin's name is going on? It seems this summer has turned everything upside-down. Lexi ran away from home, Adrian Pucey was murdered… Lucius is dead and Draco's recovered, apparently, though no one has seen him or Lexi for weeks. People are talking Blaise, and it isn't good.
They're saying that Lexi killed Lucius, Blaise. I know what the Prophet says, but word around here is that there's a lot more to it than that. No one knows any specifics, at least no one our age, but a lot of things are being questioned: Lexi's loyalty is obvious, but Draco's is being questioned as well. Some are even blaming Lexi for Adrian's death, though I know better than to believe that. All I know is with Lucius dead, Draco hasn't got the influence he used to. And Lexi's parents have officially renounced any protection their name may have given her.
I'm writing to you because I know you'll warn them, Blaise. I can't. I've got my own safety to think about, and I know what I have to do to stay on my parent's good side. I made my choice long ago, but I know your mother's never taken a stand on either side and you're free to do as you will, so you'll need to tell them.
I don't know what exactly is going to happen. All I know is things at Hogwarts are going to change this year, dramatically. I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but both Lexi and Draco better get used to the idea of being treated as blood-traitors. I don't know how popular the idea of that has gotten, but them being ostracized is a definite possibility. They need to be careful.
I sighed and set the letter down, "Well, so now we know." I glanced up at the face around me. "Losing popularity with my house isn't the worst that could happen." I lied, knowing there was much more to it than that.
"This is about a lot more than popularity, Lex." Blaise voiced my thoughts.
"So we deal. We've fought the Gryffindors for year and kicked their arses---no offense." I motioned to the Golden Trio, "Now the fight is just a bit closer to home, is all."
"That's not all and you know it." Draco snapped. My gazed flicked over to him.
"Obviously I'm aware of what we may be up against, Draco." I paused, "And what's this idea that Blaise has got?"
Blaise shiftly uncomfortably, "Lexi, we've been in a good position, up until now. With the three of us at the top of the metaphorical dog pile, we never had to worry about people's opinions or plans. That's obviously going to change this year. You and Draco can't get back on the inside, at least not right now, but I haven't been tossed out just yet."
My eyes widened. "Blaise, you aren't!"
"Mr. Zabini has kindly agreed to keep an eye on the other Slytherins, while maintaining the attitude that he has gone along with their ideas." Dumbledore spoke up helpfully.
"In other words, he's going to be a spy." Draco drawled from his resting positions against the counter. My eyes flashed towards Blaise.
"No. Absolutely not. I won't allow it." Blaise's eyes widened in indignation.
"Won't allow who to do what, Lexi? You've got no control over me. I'm doing this for you guys, anyway."
"Blaise, these aren't just students we're dealing with. These are the sons and daughters of Voldemort's inner circle we're talking about! They'll eat you alive if they discover you've been tricking them!"
"And if I don't then we'll never know if they're planning to do anything to you two!" Blaise retorted. I fumed silently for a moment.
"Ridiculous. Why does Blaise have to keep an eye out for anything. Isn't that your job?" I looked at Dumbledore.
He nodded, and replied, "Though it is my job, Miss Conrad, I think student in this room, yourself included, has proven that with discreet planning thigns may fly under my radar. I cannot be everywhere at once." The Golden Trio had the decency to look ashamed, whereas Draco and Blaise smirked, as did the twins. I was still seething.
"So what does this mean, Blaise? You're going to pretend that you're not our friend anymore?" I asked, throwing myself into a seat.
"Obviously I'll have to distance myself from you---in public." He said quickly.
"She's already agreed to stage a break-up." He swallowed. He was serious about this.
"What…" I paused, "What if we lose you to them, Blaise?" I knew how alluring the Dark Arts were.
Blaise squeezed my hand, "You won't. I promise."
I sighed and looked around the room. I had no choice but to trust him.
George poked his head into my room while I was packing. Tomorrow we left for Hogwarts.
My birthday celebration hadn't been large, by any means. I think George talked to his Mum about it and we just had a quiet dinner with some gifts. I was shocked when Mrs. Weasley gave me a knitted jumper; even more shocked when Remus gave me a book on Transfiguration. "I was told by a reliable source that it was your strongest subject." He said, sharing a conspiratorial smirk with Potter.
George had given me the best present I could think of. He said he got the idea from Potter, as he handed me a mirror. Initially I wasn't impressed, until I learned they were two-way mirrors, George having the other. This meant that I could see his face very nearly whenever I wanted to. It was the next best thing to having him at Hogwarts with me.
"So… leaving tomorrow." He stated.
"Yeah." I frowned, "I'll miss you. You'll visit?" George grinned.
"Like anything could keep me away, love."
"Missions could." I pointed out.
George smiled and pulled me close, "But you'll give me something to come back to."
I smiled against his chest, "You better come back, always."
A lot of things were going to change, that I was sure of. I may not like it, but I could handle it.
"I'll make sure of it." He kissed the top of my head, "I love you, Lexi."
"I love you too, George."
As long as some things stayed the same.
FINISHED! YES! COMPLETED!
Ah, okay, after years this fic is finally done! But don't worry, Lexi's story is far from over!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I loved writing it. Thank you all so much, everyone who reviewed, especially you reviewers who stayed with me throughout the whole thing. I really appreciate every single one of you.
I'll update this with a link to my new fic since a lot of you have this story on alert! Until then, go check out the images for this story and its sequel!!!