Sense of Belonging

Chapter 17

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

.

.

.

Draco didn't want to talk about the Forbidden Forest detention after the first time he had told Izzy about it. He wasn't even willing to recount how badly he had scared Longbottom at the beginning. The dead unicorn and the masked man or creature which had killed it haunted him enough that he did not want to revisit those memories. Not even with his sister, who was curious to hear more about what the forest had been like.

Instead of badgering for information, the two siblings had enough to deal with at the end of the school year than to worry about one detention. (Lucius and Narcissa, however, were quite concerned upon hearing what Draco's assigned punishment had been. But the son, as with Isabelle, refused to offer any further details than what had been sent home to inform them of the young Slytherin's midnight wandering which had gotten him in trouble in the first place.)

Draco often joined Iz in her studying for the exams. She had already created study guides and offered them to him when she was working on something else. The library was so chaotic and unproductive by this time of the year that Isabelle rarely left the Slytherin dormitories except for meals and classes. She was determined to be top of their class and hadn't spoken to Hermione or Jett since the day after the detention.

As the exams came and went, the Malfoy children became more excited to return home. Even Izzy was becoming tired of school and assessments, preferring to go back to reading her books for fun and being able to relax at the Manor. The written exams were all held in one large classroom for the First Years, which was somehow always sweltering hot. Isabelle much preferred the practical exams, where she could prove herself one-on-one with the professor. She easily made Professor Flitwick's pineapple tap-dance across a desk and turned her mouse in Transfiguration into a beautiful snuffbox, surely earning her extra points. The potions test was a little more difficult but Iz had studied how to make a Forgetfulness potion a million times and so was not too concerned.

The First Years' last exam was for History of Magic. Despite all of the books she had read, the timelines she had written out, and the color-coded study guides she had made, Isabelle was quite nervous for this written test. She knew Hermione could remember dates and events a lot better than her. Professor Binns had also been unclear as to what time periods their focus would be on. It was a relief, then, when an hour later the examination was finished and they were set free. Izzy glanced over to where the Gryffindors had been sitting, giving Jett a small smile as Hermione commented something to Ronald Weasley. They were done! And their last exam had been /way/ easier than she had thought it would be – so much for the extra studying, she could have passed that in her sleep.

Instead of returning to the dorms or even the library, Izzy felt a liberating sense to have completed her first year at Hogwarts. She followed her brother, along with most of the other First Years, down onto the grounds near the lake. She still had a few surprises to plan for her brother's birthday in two days on June 5th and had put it off until after the tests were all completed.

"I'm so glad those are all done, I don't think I could have taken another exam," Daphne said as she plopped down on the grassy hill with the other Slytherins.

"We still have to wait a week for our results, but I don't care. I'm ready to just relax," Blaise Zabini smirked, laying back to soak in the sun. Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle had moved down to the water's edge, the latter two kicking rocks into the lake. Izzy leaned against one of the few trees, smiling, also glad to be done. Glancing over the lake, the young Slytherin noticed the Weasley twins and Lee Jordan disturbing a giant squid as it basked in the warm shallows. A few of the older students, already finished with their exams as well, were out swimming to cool off in the sweltering heat of summer.

Looking back towards the castle, Isabelle noticed the Gryffindors under a tree nearby. Potter, Weasley, and Hermione sat apart from them, none of the rest of their fellow scarlet-clad students wanting to talk to them as they had lost the house so many points. Jett had disappeared from view, though Iz was sure she had seen her there only moments before. All of a sudden the messy-haired Potter popped up from where he had been sitting, as if remembering something. Without another moment of hesitation, the three, Hermione included, ran off towards Hagrid's hut on the other side of the grounds. What could they be up to? Izzy thought.

Her brother entertained by the lake and the other Slytherins having moved on to discuss their upcoming summers, Iz started out to follow them to see where they were going. As she was just coming to the top of the hill, she saw the three Gryffindors head around the castle to the path that would lead them to the groundskeeper's home. Curious, she began to trail after them when she heard her name called.

"Isabelle! Hey, wait!" Turning to find Jett, holding two broomsticks and carrying a bag of who-knew-what, Iz raised her eyebrow and gave her a weird look.

"Hey. What's up? What are those for?" Izzy glanced once more back to see where the Golden Trio had gone but she had lost sight of them. Jett was already at her side when she turned back, close enough to see there were plenty of magical water balloons in the Gryffindor's bag.

"Well, it's so hot out, I thought we could help a few people cool off." The short, blonde-haired girl smirked, obviously planning to surprise some of their fellow classmates with a cool wake-up call.

"No way. We'll get in trouble. Draco is one thing, he won't tell, but some of the others might – "

"They're not /all/ for us to use. I made extras, so we can set up a real fight. We'll just get them started. Here," Jett held out a broomstick to Iz, putting it in her hand when she didn't take it at first.

"What is this for?" But the Gryffindor didn't answer as she set a second bag of the water balloons at Iz's feet and hopped onto her broom. Izzy watched as her friend flew over to one of the trees, on the outskirts of most of the First Years. She pointed for Iz to go to the other side of the group of students, near where the Slytherins were still laying in the sun. Walking instead of flying, Isabelle set the broom against the tree and put the bag of water balloons on the ground.

Jett picked up a magical orb of water in her hands and squinted her eyes, as if looking for her first target. Not even hesitating, the Gryffindor threw the balloon into the back of a Hufflepuff's head, right in the middle of their group, the water splashing everywhere. The First Year girl stood up, obviously angry, and looked around to see who had thrown the water balloon. Jett motioned to Iz to start her own bag's worth, throwing another one now at a Ravenclaw group in front of her. Still hesitating, Izzy picked up her first balloon and tried throwing it at the Gryffindor boys closer to Jett. Instead of hitting Dean or Seamus, as she had planned, the wind carried the water ball to smack Lavender Brown in the back, her long hair soaking wet.

Within a few seconds, an all-out water balloon fight had broken out between the First Years. It had started out as retaliation for the first few water balloons from Jett. The fight quickly turned to fun, all those participating getting soaked but laughing the whole way through. Izzy aimed a few good shots at Pansy, making it look like the Gryffindors were aiming at her. Draco, who had run back up from near the lake, quickly hit Iz in the face with one before his sister returned the favor. Although the match only lasted a half hour, it seemed to be the perfect way for the students to end their first year at Hogwarts.

"That was actually really fun, Jett, thank you," Izzy said later as they sat underneath one of the trees. A few of the students had decided to go into the lake for a swim and others had returned to the castle after the fight. Only a few remained sitting on the hill, the sunlight still beating down with mid-afternoon intensity as they dried off.

"Did you think it wouldn't be? Everyone loves water balloons. And we're done with exams, so why not?" The Gryffindor glanced around, still smiling but a little puzzled. "Where did Hermione and the two idiots go? I told them I'd be right back and they were already gone."

"Oh, I'm not sure. I think they were heading towards the groundskeeper's hut but," Isabelle shrugged, having already forgotten about them. They eased into other conversation as if they had been best friends for years rather than only the few months they had known each other. By supper time, they parted ways but made plans to spend time together the coming week before they had to leave Hogwarts for summer vacation. Iz had to leave dinner early to get Draco's birthday package and hide it, Narcissa having helped buy it and send it with Russet, their owl. She missed seeing Hermione, still wanting to ask her what she had thought of the various exams now that they were over with.

Little did the young Slytherin know what was about to occur that night, as three First Years entered the unknown and fell through a trapdoor to face their greatest challenge yet.