Sense of Belonging

Chapter 12

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

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November continued on, cold and wet as ever. The first Quidditch match of the season was only a week later after Isabelle's eleventh birthday and an excited energy filled the halls of Hogwarts. Most of the school wanted to see Slytherin crushed by Gryffindor, as the silver-and-green House had won the Quidditch Cup the past seven years in a row.

Iz had tried to hide in the library on that Saturday afternoon of the match, looking forward to the sure peace and quiet as the rest of the school made their way out to the Quidditch pitch. The First Year had just settled in and was about to pull out one of Hermione's gifted Muggle novels when her brother and his two friends appeared.

"Izzy!" Draco's whiny voice was louder than it should be in the library and she turned to give him an annoyed look. "You can't miss the first match of the year, especially because the Slytherin team is playing. Come on, sit with us. You can waste your life away in this place later tonight." The blonde-haired boy smirked back at his friends, thinking himself clever.

"I am perfectly happy staying here and finding out the results later tonight, thank you very much." Isabelle glanced around the library, as if hoping Hermione would also be joining her today. She hadn't gotten the chance to ask her the night before and was secretly hopeful the Gryffindor would appear so that she would have an excuse to stay. Not that Draco knew they were friends or anything, but she could make some excuse about needing to beat her on their upcoming exams or something.

"Not an option." Her brother didn't even hesitate as he grabbed Iz's bag and ran off with it, hoping to motivate her to leave the library. He paused at the entrance to glance back, checking that both his two friends and his sister were following.

"Draco Alcor Malfoy!" Izzy called in anger, trudging out after him. Both received a disapproving look from Madam Pince. "Give me my bag back, now." The dark-haired Slytherin held her hand out expectantly, a no-nonsense look on her face.

"Nope. There is no assignment so important that you're gonna miss out on everything fun at this school. All you do is study and do homework – come watch the game and have fun with the other First Years!" Draco held the bag behind his back, it slightly tipping over. Izzy's anger only grew with his accusations that she didn't know how to have fun. At the same time, she was aware that one of the Muggle novels was dangerously close to falling out of the bag. Knowing her brother would tell their parents if he saw the book, she had to make a quick decision before the situation got out of control.

"Fine. Fine! I'll go to this one stupid game. Just give me my bag back," Isabelle stepped forward to swipe it from him, quickly closing it so that everything remained safely inside. Draco smirked triumphantly.

"Perfect. You have to get your cloak or something, it's pretty cold outside. I also got a banner from one of the older students that we can hold if you want." Her brother, Crabbe, and Goyle all walked back to the commonroom, arriving just as the majority of the House were leaving to go to the pitch. The Quidditch team had already left to get warmed up.

"We'll have fun, you'll see. Just hurry up, we want to get good seats!" Izzy rolled her eyes at her brother, holding back her retort that she would take as much time as she pleased. Getting to her dormitory, she found the other First Years all dressed warmly and in silver-and-green to support their House. Daphne helped Iz find her mittens and a hat, wearing her new warm cloak she had received the week before as a birthday gift. The other girls, even Pansy, seemed excited for this first game and they all headed downstairs and out to the pitch as a group.

The climb down to the Quidditch pitch and up the stairs wasn't as bad as Isabelle expected – then again, she was actually having meaningful conversation with her fellow Housemates like she never had before. She hadn't remembered that Daphne had a little sister or known that Millicent's favorite animal was a cat. Settling onto the bench next to Draco, Iz was surprisingly glad he had forced her to come along. The First Years were all able to bond over something, and the dark-haired Malfoy wasn't too busy to talk with them.

Izzy had been to Quidditch matches before, the Malfoys attending different games around Great Britain and even Europe. She had stopped going, if she had the choice, when she was seven or eight. At the last game she had attended, one of the Chasers had been knocked off their broom right in front of their stand, scaring the young Malfoy girl from both flying and the magical sport.

Glancing across the pitch, Iz spotted the Gryffindor First Years, their sparkling banner with a lion and "Potter for President" easy to see. Borrowing Draco's magical binoculars, Izzy noticed Hermione dressed up with the others in red and gold under the sign. Looking to the Slytherin House's left, she saw the tower with the professors and special guests for the match, including Professor Dumbledore. It seemed almost all of the sections were full, the whole school out on the field to witness this first match. A few boos followed the Slytherin team's entrance onto the pitch, while most of the crowd cheered loudly for the Gryffindors. The rumors had been right – Harry Potter was the Gryffindor Seeker.

"I knew it!" Draco yelled, jealousy and anger mixed in his voice. "Of course, 'perfect' Potter doesn't get expelled, he gets rewarded by getting a spot on the Quidditch team. I hope he falls off his broom."

"Draco," Izzy gave him a warning look of disapproval, but turning back to watch as the game began. Lee Jordan, a Gryffindor, was on the loudspeaker giving play-by-play commentary (however biased to the scarlet-clad team).

"Slytherin in possession, Chaser Pucey ducks two Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds towards the – wait a moment – was that the Snitch?" All eyes were on the Gryffindor chaser, who dropped the Quaffle, too busy looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had sparkled past his left ear. Potter dove down after the streak of gold, Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs quickly following. Neck and neck they hurtled toward the Snitch – all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch. The small Gryffindor was faster than Higgs and Potter was so close to grabbing the Snitch to end the game when – WHAM! Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint blocked the path for the young Seeker, sending him whirling on his broom away. The crowd went wild, the Gryffindors yelling "Foul!" Madam Hooch, who was refereeing the match, spoke to the older Slytherin, obviously angry. The Gryffindor team were given a free shot at the goal posts but the Golden Snitch had once again disappeared from play.

The game continued with Lee Jordan's unending one-sided comments. The players flew back and forth across the pitch, mellowing after the excitement of only a few minutes before. Isabelle was becoming bored, as she always would with the Quidditch games, and began to tune out the announcer. Glancing around, everyone seemed to be avidly watching still, even the professors. The DADA teacher, Professor Quirrell, seemed to be intensely watching, mouthing something to himself as he kept his eyes on the players. Professor Snape appeared similarly in-tune with the game, and Izzy found it strange how committed the two adults could be to the sport.

"See? Potter shouldn't be allowed to play, he can't even stay on his broomstick!" Draco's voice suddenly rang out and Izzy, hearing, turned back to look at the field. Sure enough, the young Gryffindor was rising higher into the air, his broomstick jerking and twitching. The whole crowd gasped, Potter's broom having given a wild jerk and the Gryffindor dangling from it with only one hand.

"Did something happen to it when Flint blocked him, do you think?" Tracey whispered to the other First Years, obviously concerned.

"I don't think so. It must be cursed or jinxed – it's moving too erratically. But someone would have to be doing it now, since the broom was working fine earlier, but who – ?" Izzy responded, mostly talking to herself. She took Draco's enhanced binoculars again and saw that Hermione was gone from the Gryffindor stands. Glancing up at Potter, waiting to see if he would fall, his broom suddenly evened out enough for the First Year to clamber back on and in control. Or at least, it had appeared so. Only a few moments later, Potter was again speeding for the ground before falling off his broom, his hand to his mouth as if he was about to be sick.

"Oh, this will be good! That's so humiliating, and in front of the whole school – !" Draco commented, smirking at Crabbe and Goyle.

Potter hit the field, falling on all fours, and coughed a few times. It took a couple of moments before the crowd realized the gold item in the Gryffindor's hand was the Snitch. The Slytherin Houses groaned in defeat as the rest of the crowd cheered the young Seeker. A most confusing Quidditch game, Izzy was at least glad it was over quickly. (The games could go on for hours and hours, you know.) She followed her Housemates back to the dorms, listening to all the chatter that the game shouldn't have ended, that Potter didn't actually /catch/ the Snitch, he nearly /swallowed/ it. One hundred and seventy points to sixty. What a defeat.

As they reached the Slytherin commonroom, Isabelle turned and hugged Draco. "Thank you for inviting me to the game, even though we lost. It was kind of fun?"

"Yeah, yeah, we lost. And Potter cheated. But I'm glad you came too – you spend way too much time at the library."

"I think I'm good for today. Want to play a game of Wizard's Chess after supper?" Izzy smirked at her brother, knowing that she almost always won when they played. But it would be like home again. Plus, she didn't want to go to the library and hear all about Gryffindor winning – Iz was sure that there would be a bit of gloating.

It was not until the next day at the library that Hermione told Izzy and Jett about what she had seen at the Quidditch match – Professor Snape jinxing Harry's broom, him limping after the troll on Halloween, and even the name Nicholas Flamel that was somehow involved in the whole thing. The young bushy-haired girl even told them about the surprise behind the Third Floor Corridor doorway, with the three-headed dog named Fluffy. Not believing Hermione for most of it, Isabelle promised not to say anything to anyone else and even offered to help her look for this Nicolas Flamel (if only to prove that nothing weird was going on at Hogwarts). What Izzy had expected to be a quiet weekend of getting work done turned into an eventful Quidditch match and stories from her Gryffindor friends, with anticipation rising as the winter holidays approached.