Sense of Belonging

Chapter 9

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter (that magic belongs to J.K. Rowling).

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The following weeks moved with ease. Izzy settled into her usual routine, waking up early for breakfast, getting to classes before all the other students, and meeting Hermione in the library after to go over any assignments they could get ahead on. The two First Years had come to a truce about competing for classes. It showed that Izzy was better in Potions and Herbology while Hermione dominated in Charms, Transfiguration, and History of Magic. Neither of them were very good at flying, and Defense Against the Dark Arts remained their constant battle as to who would be top of their class. By Friday September 20, the Slytherin had also already finished reading Pride and Prejudice secretly and could not wait until the library later where she could discuss it with Hermione.

As the young dark-haired Malfoy sat at breakfast that morning, she kept sneaking peaks into her bag to re-read sections she had marked. Barely anyone was down at the Slytherin table yet – and that was just how she liked it. She glanced up as a large group of First Years walked in, seeing Hermione head to the Gryffindor table. She gave her a small, friendly wave before quickly looking away. Izzy had yet to tell her brother about her new friendship, knowing what his reaction would be.

Draco and his posse soon joined her for breakfast. With only a small greeting from her brother, Iz listened as the group talked about Quidditch and their plans for the weekend. Draco was organizing a small game out on the front lawn, if there was good weather. He had already talked to Professor Snape to borrow a few of the school brooms and was itching to really show off his flying skills. The other Slytherins seemed excited at the event, even a few only wanting to watch the game. Pansy had already called team captain of the other team against Draco. Izzy, however, had very little interest in Quidditch or flying. She still did not enjoy the Thursday afternoon flying lessons, despite their slow pace of learning. (They had barely learned how to rise into the air, let alone actually fly.) If she had a choice, she would rather use the time learning more valuable skills than riding a broomstick.

As she was finishing her breakfast, she leaned over to Draco. "Mother wants you to send her a letter, she says you haven't since the first week of classes."

"Sure. I'll write her one later, whatever," her blonde-haired brother shrugged. About to return to his conversation about who would play which positions for his pseudo-Quidditch match, the mail began to arrive. But it wasn't a normal day of delivery – everyone's attention was quickly caught by a long, thin package carried by six large screech owls. The bundle fell on the Gryffindor table in front of a group of First Years. Students tried to see who it was for or what was in the package, a few at the Slytherin table standing to watch. A pair of young boys, the red-headed Ronald Weasley and the famous Harry Potter, quickly grabbed the package and ran from the Great Hall.

"It's obviously a broomstick, Potter is going to be in so much trouble –!" Draco commented before chasing the two Gryffindors out into the Entrance Hall, Crabbe and Goyle following him. Having already finished her meal, Izzy slowly followed her sibling with the intent to get to her class early, less interested in the package. She came upon the boys just outside the Great Hall.

" – say you've got at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty? Comets look flashy, but they're not in the same league as the Nimbus." The red-haired Gryffindor grinned at his friend, the boy with glasses, who was holding the long, thin package.

"What would you know about it, Weasley, you wouldn't afford half the handle." Draco snapped back at the pair, a mixture of jealousy and spite in his expression. "I suppose you and your brothers have to save up twig by twig," he added, smirking. As Iz was about to step in, the Charms professor appeared all of a sudden.

"Not arguing, I hope, boys?" Professor Flitwick squeaked, barely as tall as her brother's elbow. Draco took the opportunity and pointed to the package, stating quickly,

"Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor!" He waited expectantly, hoping to see his self-identified nemesis be caught in trouble. Instead, the part-goblin merely turned to the Gryffindors and beamed at the dark-haired boy.

"Yes, yes, that's right. Professor McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is it?"

"A Nimbus Two Thousand, sir. And it's really thanks to Malfoy here that I've got it." Potter smirked triumphantly at Draco, obviously trying not to laugh at the look of surprise and horror on the young Slytherin's face. Professor Flitwick nodded and headed back towards the Great Hall as the Gryffindors ran off towards their dormitories.

"Draco – " Isabelle began, knowing her brother's temper and his instinct for revenge. But he ignored her, turning to his two 'bodyguards.'

"Potter is going to pay for that. I am going to tell Father and he is going to talk to the Headmaster and I swear, Potter is going to wish he never came to Hogwarts." Draco fumed, surely already scheming a plan. Without even noticing Malfoy's sister, the boys returned to finish their breakfast in the Great Hall. Rolling her eyes, she would leave her brother to cool down. It wasn't her concern, anyways, as she didn't really care if Potter had a broomstick or not. She headed off to her classes, sure the package would be the talk of the day.

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By mid-October, the school year had really commenced and the weather began to turn. Students began to realize their schoolwork piling up as assignments became more frequent and more difficult. Isabelle's mostly-deserted quiet space in the library became infested with other students, no longer only the two First Year girls at the abundance of tables. Though it was never packed full, the extra company made the Slytherin nervous for a few reasons. First, she did not want to be seen with Hermione. A Gryffindor, but more importantly a Muggle-born, Iz was worried someone would tell her brother or somehow it would get back to her parents that they were friends. She hoped Hermione did not think it was an odd request when they began sitting at separate tables again once others had invaded the space. Second, Izzy did not feel comfortable speaking freely about the Muggle novels and lost her space to read them. (She had spent many nights in the library not only for assignments but for the ability to read the novels alone, without the curious eyes of other students.) And third, the invaders were just annoying and had no manners, at least in Isabelle's opinion. They would be loud or disruptive, sneak food in, or move the tables together to create large study groups. Despite these reasons, Isabelle remained stubbornly in her same location.

Quidditch remained the talk of the school. A rumor was circulating that Harry Potter had been named the Gryffindor Seeker, the youngest player in over a hundred years at Hogwarts. Everyone was waiting in anticipation of the first House match, though it was still a couple weeks away. Gryffindor and Slytherin remained bitter enemies on the field and out, but most of the rest of the school hoped for the defeat of Slytherin for the first time in seven years.

It was a Thursday afternoon, following the weekly flying lessons which were finally becoming more advanced, that Izzy made her true second friend. She sat at her usual table, Hermione at the table to her right and across, both girls diligently working on their DADA essay. They were finding it hard to concentrate as a group of Third Years sat a few tables down, laughing at something, making more noise than they should be allowed to. The First Years continued to glance at each other in annoyance at yet another evening interrupted by interlopers.

"That's it," Izzy finally muttered, standing. She closed her book, leaving her quill to mark the page she was on. Glaring at the Third Years, the Slytherin turned to walk towards the entrance to the library so as to alert Madam Pince of the disruptions. She was on good terms with the librarian, a regular at the library and not a usual troublemaker. Madam Pince nodded in agreement at the irresponsible noise level and said she would go and talk with the students. The professor also suggested that Isabelle try a quieting spell for her table area as that may help her concentrate. Not sure she was yet up to trying such magic, Iz was glad when the librarian walked over to where the Third Years sat.

Giving Hermione a quick, successful smile, the Slytherin was about to go back to her table to continue her essay when something caught her eye. Down one of the long rows of books near the back of the library, Izzy noticed a girl sitting on the ground, a large book open in her lap. She was all alone, obviously wanting to be hidden away from other students in the library. In fact, she appeared upset. Not usually one to approach strangers, especially those showing emotion, Iz cautiously started down the dark row of books.

As she got closer, Iz realized she recognized the girl. Sitting in her tattered jeans and comfy t-shirt, the blonde-haired Gryffindor was leaning against the shelves, staring at the book in her lap. So engulfed in whatever she was reading, Izzy was able to sneak up next to her without her realizing. Glancing over the girl's shoulder, Iz realized it was a yearbook of sorts. Jett was open to a page with Gryffindors in their House robes, a group of four boys hanging out on the grounds. Leaning closer, the Slytherin tried to read the names or the year, curious.

"Who is that?" She asked quietly but startled the girl. Jett quickly slammed the book shut, her sad look replaced with an angry glare.

"What do you want?" The blonde Gryffindor nearly growled, attempting to hide the cover of the book. Iz only caught the year, 1978.

"Well, I saw you sitting all alone down here and wanted to make sure you were alright. Is your dad in the yearbook?" Isabelle asked, unfazed by Jett's gaze. She had become used to her annoyance, enduring it every week during Potions or whenever they were around each other. The Gryffindor never seemed to be in a good mood.

"None of your business. Can't you just leave me alone?" Jett stood up angrily but, as she did so, a letter fell to the ground from the yearbook. Iz reached down to pick it up, quicker than her Potions partner. Holding it out to her but seeing it addressed in French in fancy script, Iz tried to figure out what Jett was doing. The Gryffindor merely snatched the letter back and plopped back down, hiding both the book and note on her other side.

"Did your mother write you?" Iz asked quietly, but Jett only ignored her. "Well, I /was/ going to invite you to come and sit with Hermione and me. It's probably more comfortable than the floor." Pausing a moment to see if there was any reaction, Isabelle sighed and walked back up the row, returning to her now-quiet section of the library. The Third Years had decided to move on, leaving only Hermione's and Izzy's work.

"Where'd you go? I'm almost done with the essay," Hermione commented, glancing at Iz curiously.

"I saw someone sitting by themselves down one of the rows and I wanted to make sure they were alright. It was Jett, though, so she didn't want anything to do with me… Let's just get back to work."

"She never wants to be bothered. She doesn't talk to anyone, even the other Gryffindors. I feel bad for her, I don't think she wanted to come to Hogwarts – "

"Well that's where you're wrong." A small voice answered Hermione and both girls turned to see the blonde-haired Gryffindor standing there. "I wanted to get away from my mother and her obsession with perfection, I wanted to know more about my dad but… It's just hard being here." Jett shrugged, not looking at the two girls, but sat at a table behind them. She still had the 1978 yearbook with her but was staring at the letter again.

"Is he in the yearbook?" Izzy asked curiously, but also cautiously. She hadn't yet forgotten the Gryffindor's actions after their first Potions class together. Iz wasn't sure why Jett had suddenly decided to act more civilly.

"Yeah, but not much. He wasn't really the best student." Jett paused, glancing up. "What, are you just going to stare at me now? You're the one who invited me to sit with you."

"Are you still mad at me for being a Malfoy? Because you sounded pretty upset about that fact a few weeks ago." Izzy retorted, letting her anger seep into her voice. She had never been spoken to like that before and it had startled her that someone could judge her just because of who she was.

"Yeah, well, you're sitting here with a Muggleborn. And you were concerned enough to see if I was okay. So I guess you can't be all bad. Your brother, though, is a different story. He is a complete arse." Jett replied directly, almost challengingly at Isabelle, who was befuddled by her clear opinions.

"Well maybe I'm not all that my family is. And maybe I agree with you that my brother /can/ be an arse. You still made me feel like…well not welcome, definitely." Izzy responded, crossing her arms, not breaking eye contact.

"Yeah, sorry. I judged you based on what I'd heard, not who I'd met. You were nice enough on the train and you haven't let us fail yet in Potions, so – "

"Why do you hate Professor Snape? I mean, he surely dislikes you now based on your tardiness and lack of respect, but – " Hermione chimed in, having been meaning to ask her for weeks.

"That's a long story. Basically, he doesn't deserve my respect. And he favors all you Slytherins anyways." Jett rolled her eyes, then leaned forward. "But I owe you an apology, Isabelle, for taking it out on you and prejudging you. Okay?" The blonde-haired girl offered her hand, not exactly apologizing but sounding sorry enough. Isabelle hesitated before giving in, shaking her hand. She had enjoyed their part of the train ride together and the girl seemed to be up to her standard anyways.

"Well, I guess you can join us – only if you do homework though. We don't need any distractions." Hermione added, cautiously optimistic as they were in the same House. At that, Jett practically burst out laughing.

"Who actually does their homework on time?" Izzy and Hermione glanced at one another, unsure how to respond. Jett, taking notice, stopped laughing and gave them a small, sincere smile. "Oh, I already got that essay done. Defense Against the Dark Arts is by-far the easiest class, and the most interesting. Maybe that's why I'm the top student?"

"Are you serious?" Izzy asked in shock, as Hermione and she had been battling to beat the other for the top DADA spot. "How'd you already get the essay done? We've been working on it for a couple hours!"

"It wasn't that hard, really. And I was just kidding about the top student, I have no idea. Is that important to you or something?" Jett continued semi-jokingly, knowing that at least Hermione coveted being top student and quickly learning that Iz had a similar drive. As both girls were about to answer her, the bell rang alerting the students it was supper time.

"Well, I'm famished. Thanks again for inviting me over. See you later!" Jett grabbed her small pile of things and ran off without another word. Iz wasn't sure whether this had been a one-time thing or if they were suddenly friends, but she was glad that they had at least had the chance to talk. She was also interested to know who her dad was, as Narcissa and Lucius had gone to school around the same years. Maybe their parents knew each other?

"Peculiar, she is. Same time tomorrow, Isabelle?" Hermione asked with a slight smile. Izzy nodded, still staring after the blonde-haired Gryffindor in wonder.

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Iz had kind of hoped Potions would become more enjoyable with Jett speaking to her. Somehow, it may have become worse. Instead of their silent partnership, taking notes and working on potions assignments, the Gryffindor now felt able to share her thoughts about the professor and his teaching methods with Izzy. Anything from drawing horrible caricatures of Snape and his large nose to whispering at him mockingly, Isabelle almost wished that they could go back to their silent understanding.

" – and then he doesn't even explain what we're supposed to do, the git – "

"Hey, Jett? Can you help me with this please? We need to finish this potion before class ends in a minute." Handing a couple of ingredients for her to hold, Izzy gave their cauldron a couple more stirs to finish it. Jett took two vials and filled their samples, capping them, and stood up. Before she could start moving to the front, though, Izzy stopped her.

"Let me take them to the front. He likes me better." Guessing by the look on Jett's face that she was going to make some sort of unfriendly comment about her as a Slytherin or the professor, Isabelle merely grabbed the vials and hurried up front to the desk. She gave Professor Snape a small, innocent smile, never afraid to kiss-up a little for extra points (or make up for points loss). Giving Potter and Weasley an extra glare for being annoying as she walked back to her station, she noticed that Jett was already packed to go.

"Hey, Izzy." The dark-haired Slytherin glanced over to her brother, his two goons following behind him like always.

"Yeah?"

"We're gonna go and hang out outside. You should come with us – I promise not to make you fly or anything. It's supposed to be the last of the nice weather." Draco gave her a genuine smile, having missed spending more sibling time together like they would always at the Manor. He had become slightly obsessed with getting Potter in trouble.

"Oh, I was going to go up to the library to get ahead on a couple of assignments. But thanks for the invite, maybe I'll join you later?" Izzy glanced across the room at Hermione, who was obviously listening to their conversation but pretending not to. They had planned to begin working on a midterms exam study schedule, even though it was only mid-October.

"Okay, see you later then," he said, slight disappointment in his voice, but he quickly hid any of it. He gave the other Gryffindors still in the Potions room his typical rule-the-world glare before marching out of the chamber.

"You aren't seriously going to waste another afternoon again, are you? You spend your whole lives in that place studying!" Jett commented as Hermione came closer to the two.

"What else is there to do?" Izzy asked, raising an eyebrow at her Potions partner.

"Lots," Jett smiled back.

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Hope you're enjoying the story so far! A little longer of a chapter following a small break. Let me know what you think in the reviews :)