Sense of Belonging

Chapter 11

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

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The day had finally arrived – it was Isabelle's birthday! After such an eventful evening of Halloween, the Slytherins had reached their common room with plenty enough time to get a good night's sleep. For once, the dark-haired Slytherin slept in a little longer than her usual first-one-up routine. It was still a class day but Izzy was excited for all the sure surprises she would find filled throughout. When she finally decided to get up and ready for the day, she found the first round of presents waiting at the end by her feet.

With her curtains still closed around her bed, the Slytherin sat up to reach her two wrapped presents and a piece of parchment. Opening the smaller package first (and poorly wrapped, of course, as what eleven-year-old knows how to wrap a present?), she found a pile of her favorite chocolates and sweets from her brother. She smiled at his small note which made a joke about her not just saving it for another time – she should eat it all then! (Isabelle had a bad habit of keeping things for a "rainy day" but then never using them. Draco couldn't understand her patience and restraint, always preferring to use – and often break – whatever new present he had received as soon as he could.) Rolling her eyes, she repackaged the candy to move on to the next present.

Hermione had simply written her a small note on the piece of parchment. Unfolding it, Izzy jumped in surprise at the pop and shimmer of the magical card. (Hermione apologized, having asked an older student to help her with it and not knowing if it would work or not.) The card went on to say that the Gryffindor's gift would be given in the library later. Smiling and excited for her friend's surprise, Isabelle moved onto her third and final gift at the foot of her bed.

This package was perfectly wrapped in silver-and-green sparkling paper. A small, hand-written note on top confirmed that it was from her parents, her mother's handwriting easy to recognize. Not waiting another second, Izzy opened the largest of the packages to find a soft, velvety material. A new dress? Pulling the long fabric from the wrappings, the Slytherin found a long and warm cloak. Standing on her bed, Iz pulled the material over her pajamas to try it on. It appeared a little too long but was warm and soft. A moment later, the cloak turned from the dark gray color it had been in the package to a royal purple. Surprised, Isabelle tried to see why it had changed when the cloak turned to a dark green, reminding her of her House colors. Confused, she looked around for the note from her mother again, finally reading what she had written. Besides for being of the highest quality, Narcissa wrote, the cloak was charmed to change color and even pattern depending on the wishes of the wearer. (It could not turn invisible, though, of course.) Sitting back down on her bed, Isabelle quickly piled her presents together and began to get dressed.

Stowing the chocolates and cloak in her trunk, Isabelle grabbed her school bag and turned to leave the dorm. Having been too caught up in her own thoughts about her birthday, she hadn't realized most of the other girls in her dorm were waiting for her to get up. Wishing her a happy birthday, Daphne, Tracey, and Millicent offered their own small presents. Opening two brightly-colored packages from the latter girls, Izzy found two intricate hair pieces.

"They're charmed. Here, we can help you put them in," Tracey offered, with Millicent assisting her as they attempted to wrangle Iz's somewhat-wild hair. Pulling her dark waves into a new style away from her face, Izzy liked how the pieces made her look in the mirror.

Thanking them both with a small smile, she then turned to Daphne's gift. Opening the small box, Isabelle found a silver bracelet with a serpent on it. As soon as she touched it, however, the serpent began to move around the band, enchanted. Almost dropping it in surprise, Daphne showed her that it was engraved with her name and bore the Slytherin House colors. Now wearing her new accessories, Isabelle joined the three girls as they made their way downstairs to the commonroom.

"Happy Birthday!" Draco's voice rang out as soon as Izzy had stepped through the curtain from the girls' dormitory. Giving his sister a hug, he quickly asked her if she had eaten any of the chocolate yet.

"I haven't even had breakfast yet, Draco, of course I didn't have any chocolate. Speaking of food, can we go down to the Great Hall? I'm starving," the dark-haired Slytherin smirked at him, her birthday having already started out so well. Breakfast was the same as always but, with the small gifts and cards she received by owl post, Izzy was sure the day would turn out magical.

~:~

Classes went smoothly, including her double Potions with the Gryffindors. Jett was friendlier than usual, having also gotten Isabelle a couple presents. (The one was the newest version of a potions book "for the everyday witch," which the blonde-haired Gryffindor got as a kind of joke for their class partnership. It had sections on all different kinds of potions and even included helpful healing spells. The other present was a bag of magical water balloons, including instructions to be used against her "git brother" when necessary.) Spending much of the rest of the class discussing the best pranks they had pulled on family members, Iz was glad Jett had become a close friend.

" – and then I was trying to hide under his bed, but – " Isabelle was finishing part of her story when Professor Snape walked over to their table. Giving Jett his usual unfriendly stare, he turned to Izzy, stating in a neutral tone,

"Ms. Malfoy, I have received a message that you are needed at the banquet room next to the Great Hall. As class is almost over, you may gather your things and head there now. I'm sure your partner can…adequately finish the assignment on her own." Snape gave Jett another suspicious glance before moving on to another part of the class. Confused, Isabelle packed her bag quickly and left the classroom in the dungeon. Not sure where the banquet room near the Great Hall exactly was, she wandered in the empty corridor when a door opened nearby, a voice calling,

"Isabelle!"

The Slytherin turned to find her blonde-haired mother standing there, smiling happily. Running to give her a hug, Izzy couldn't help but ask, "What are you doing here?"

"It's your birthday, sweetie, I couldn't miss seeing you. Your father couldn't make it, unfortunately, work at the Ministry. He sends his well-wishes for you, though, of course. How are you doing? How's your birthday going?" It was soothing to hear Narcissa's voice after two months away. Iz hadn't realized how much she had missed being at home and with her mother.

"It's been great! I got your present this morning, the cloak is wonderful! Thank you. And Draco got me some chocolate, and the other girls in my dorm got me these hair pieces and this bracelet. And then my friend from Gryffindor got me a book on Potions because we're partners in the class and – "

"Friend from Gryffindor? You haven't told me about them at all." Narcissa commented, overall happy to hear that her daughter was getting along fine. She was slightly surprised that she was befriending Gryffindors, however, and remained somewhat suspicious.

"Oh, yeah, her name is Jett. Don't worry, she's from France," Izzy said, before adding as expected, "and a pureblood, of course. She is nice and pretty smart."

"Wonderful, I'm glad to hear you have made so many good friends. Now, I asked Severus to send your brother up here as well so that the two of you can show me around to your favorite places. Before he gets here, I have another present for you…" Narcissa pulled an older-looking, ornate box from her bag and set it on her lap. "It is very important to our family and now that you are attending Hogwarts and are eleven-years-old, I thought it was time for you to have it."

"What is it? Did it belong to Father's mother?" Isabelle asked, knowing Draco had received a Malfoy heirloom for his eleventh birthday, their grandfather's magic quill.

"No, actually, it is a Black family heirloom. My family." Narcissa replied quietly, playing with the box almost nervously. As if lost in thought for a moment, she offered the ornate package to Izzy, watching her carefully. More focused on the present than her mother's cautious nature, she opened the jewelry box to find a basic yet elegant necklace.

"It's beautiful!" The young Slytherin commented, quickly picking it up from its place in the box and admiring the necklace in the sunlight. It was a simple charm, the Black family crest engraved on one side and a lavish stone set on the other.

"I'm glad you like it, sweetie, it was my older sister's. I'm sure she…she would be happy to know you love it so much." Narcissa ran her hand gently through Isabelle's hair, still somewhat lost in thought. The dark-haired girl always reminded her so much of Bella and was glad to share part of the family history with her. Taking a deep breath, she smiled at her daughter proudly, "Why don't I help you put it on so you can wear it for the rest of today? Would you like that?" Izzy gave her a gleeful nod, not really understanding her mother's nostalgic and distant look. Just as she had clipped the heirloom on, Draco came running up to give the blonde-haired woman a hug.

The three spent much of the rest of the day together, Narcissa given clearance to walk around with the two First Years as they showed her their favorite spots at Hogwarts. After visiting the Slytherin dorms, the family made their way to Isabelle's favorite spot: the library.

"It's almost dinner time, Izzy, we should just go to the Great Hall." Draco complained, always hungry and having no interest in the library.

"It's your sister's birthday, honey, we'll eat soon enough. You know, I don't think I ever really came to the library when I was a student here. Your father and I preferred the grounds or just the commonroom… It hasn't changed much at all, it appears," Narcissa commented, following Izzy into the library. They didn't move in farther than the front entrance, Isabelle aware that Hermione would be at their usual spot in the library. Remembering her mother's reaction to her mention of Jett earlier, she was sure that the reaction would not be positive if she introduced Hermione as a friend or even acquaintance.

"So this is the library. I spend most of my afternoons here, when Jett doesn't make me go outside. It's getting too cold now so I'll probably be here most of the time. It's nice as long as annoying people don't come in and be disruptive – like Draco." Izzy smirked, glancing at her brother, who promptly rolled his eyes. "So…I'll meet you down in the Great Hall. I have to get a couple of books for a few projects."

"That's alright, sweetie, we still have some time. Why don't you grab the books? Draco and I will wait here for you." Narcissa smiled, knowing that she couldn't stay for dinner with the two and wanting to ask Draco how he was honestly adjusting to Hogwarts. Glancing at her brother, Izzy gave a small nod and went into her familiar section of the library.

"What took you so long? I'm already almost done with that Transfiguration essay, it's not easy, and I thought you were going to bail on me – " Her bushy-haired friend commented from the pair of desks they usually occupied.

"I'm sorry, my mother came to surprise me! Actually, she's still here so I can't stay but I wanted to thank you for the birthday card and see what your surprise is." Isabelle smiled at Hermione apologetically, but also glanced nervously at the entrance as if afraid to be caught by her family. Ignoring the Slytherin's distracted glances, Hermione pulled a set of books out of her bag wrapped in a bow.

"Here, all for you. I think you'll like the middle three the best, but they are all great reads. If you have any questions, you know where you can find me – and happy birthday!" Izzy smiled wide at the large pile of Muggle books her friend had gotten her. She couldn't believe it! This would last her at least until January! She gave the Gryffindor a hug before quickly stuffing the books in her bag.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'll let you know how I like each one. You're amazing!" Pausing, the Slytherin added, "And you are going to /have/ to tell me what happened last night. I heard you tried to go after the troll!"

"You're welcome for the presents. I'll…tell you later about that. You better get back to your mom and brother, I think I just saw Draco peak around the corner for you." Hermione stated matter-of-factly, knowing how she would want to spend as much time as she could with her parents if they could visit. She also didn't want to really talk about the Halloween troll incident – at least, not yet to Izzy. "See you at dinner or sometime tomorrow!" With a quick wave goodbye, the dark-haired Slytherin ran off to meet her family.

"What took you so long? I'm /starving/. And Mother is looking at some weird old books with pictures because you were taking /forever/," Draco complained, plopping down in front of the fire place next to where Narcissa sat. Izzy could see that she was holding a yearbook, the moving pictures inside and year on the cover giving her clues. Sitting down next to her, she asked quietly,

"Did you find you and Father?" Trying to look over her shoulder, Izzy found Narcissa looking at pictures of Slytherin couples at some school dance. One photo in the middle looked particularly familiar to Isabelle but she couldn't figure out why. The boy and girl were dressed elegantly, as if for a fancy ball, and were smiling wide at each other as their pictures were taken. Both had dark eyes and dark hair, the woman turning to face the camera and smile, only to turn away again. It wasn't her mother, she was sure of that, but the woman seemed familiar. And the man – he was tall, appeared to be proud, but also was not Lucius. The two seemed happy together…and oddly recognizable to Isabelle. "Who are they?"

"Oh, I don't know, I just stopped on the page by accident. I couldn't find my year so I just picked one up to see if I knew anyone." Narcissa quickly closed the yearbook, giving her daughter a smile. She obviously knew the couple but lied about it. Izzy gave her an odd look, about to ask further questions when –

"Awesome, let's go eat!" Draco jumped up from his seat by the fire, now actually starving, having seen the yearbook close. Not ready to answer questions yet (and maybe not ever) from the curious Slytherin First Year, Narcissa also stood.

"That sounds good to me. Unfortunately, I can only walk with you down to the Great Hall. Your father and I are having dinner at the Minister's tonight and I cannot stay very much longer." Running a hand gently through Izzy's hair, she gave her a sad smile. "But I am glad to see that you both have settled in here at Hogwarts. You make your father and me very proud."

Isabelle gave her mother a hug, but also memorizing the yearbook year so that she could go back and look at that picture. 1970. As they walked back down through the corridors, Izzy couldn't help but wonder what Narcissa could be hiding from her. She quickly put it aside, though, as they said their goodbyes. Draco gave his mother an extra hug, apologizing for not writing as many letters as he should. Narcissa kissed both of their heads before walking to the front doors out of the castle. The siblings entered the Great Hall for their supper, settling back into the usual routine.

Izzy's birthday had turned out to be wonderful, despite the troll incident the evening before. The young Slytherin had really come to settle in at the magic school, with her brother at her side and a few growing friendships. Off to see what her eleventh year of life would bring…