Sense of Belonging

Chapter 19

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

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"Hey." Isabelle looked around cautiously, the Great Hall such a mess of students that no one would notice or care if a Slytherin First Year was sitting at the Gryffindor table. It was their last day at the school, the students all getting ready to travel back home for the summer. Neither Potter nor Weasley had joined their bushy-haired friend yet, and Jett was nowhere to be found.

"Hey. Did you have one of these muffins? They're amazing!" Hermione smirked, offering her one. Taking a large bite of her own, she said while chewing, "I 'an't wait ta' come 'ack ta'" /swallow/ "school."

"Yeah, me either. I talked to a couple of the professors this morning about next year, I can give you the list of books they recommended to keep up with our studies if you want." Iz opened her bag and pulled out the list, letting Hermione copy down the titles. Sneaking another muffin – they were too good! – the Slytherin was about to get up when someone else sat down across from the two girls.

"Good morning, Jett. Decided to sleep in on the last day?" Hermione asked smirking, as her blonde-haired friend hadn't been awake when the rest of the Gryffindor First Year girls had left.

"Yeah, yeah, sure. What was the point of getting up early? I didn't have that much to pack and there's still plenty of food left." Jett shrugged, grabbing an apple and biting into it. She always seemed to eat a light breakfast.

"I'm not surprised. Here, take a muffin for the train ride. When do you think we'll get back to the Muggle station? I want to make it home in time for dinner so that I can plan out my summer reading schedule –"

"Oh! I almost forgot." Hermione pulled her bag onto her lap, glanced around, and took out a smaller bag filled with books. "This is the last of the books I brought with me from that series you liked. Just make sure I get them back, they're some of my favorite too." Slipping them on the bench to Izzy, who quickly snuck them into her own bag, the two girls smiled in excitement at continuing their "book club" during the summer. What did her parents need to know about the Muggle novels anyways?

"Thanks, Hermione. Will you still be able to get owl post at home?" Isabelle asked, unsure how the Muggle world worked with the animals and mail delivery.

"I'm pretty sure. Wouldn't you think?" Hermione gave her an unsure look, shrugging.

"You should be able to." Jett added, putting her feet up on the bench next to her. Some of the students had begun to file out of the Great Hall, working their way outside to the path that would lead to Hogsmeade. The Gryffindor girl rifled in her bag, trying to make more room for a few snacks on the train. As she did so, a piece of sealed parchment fell out and under the table. Bending down, Izzy picked it up. Seeing a fancy seal and recognizing the fancy script as Jett's French mother's, she handed it back to her friend with a questioning look.

"Why didn't you open it yet, Jett? Isn't it from your mother? Maybe she wants you to floo home instead of riding the train or something." Jett glanced at it but seemed too afraid to open it.

"Nah, it's fine. I don't care what she says anyways. I'll just go home and lock myself in my room and listen to good rock music or something. Plus, she doesn't care if I do magic at home or not as long as I don't get myself into big trouble – like with a Muggle or something. So I don't want to read what she wrote because it will just ruin the summer." Jett said definitively, acting braver than she felt. She put her hand on the letter and hesitated, as if she wanted to know what it contained but was afraid of what it would say.

"I think you should open it, Jett." Hermione said quietly, watching as a few of the other students got up from the table. A prefect came over to tell them it was time to go and the three stood. "It could be important." As they left the Great Hall, Jett stuffed the letter back into her bag and swung it over her shoulder, still acting like she didn't care.

Potter and Weasley joined Hermione as they made their way outside and Isabelle moved away to rejoin the Slytherin line. Draco was too distracted by Goyle making stupid jokes to have noticed his sister's disappearance and Isabelle slid right back into where she would have been otherwise.

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Isabelle had heard that the carriages weren't pulled by anything. She was then surprised to learn that they were, in fact, pulled along by dark-horse-creatures. (One of the older students, who said they could see them too, called them thestrals.) Confused as to why she could see them and others couldn't, Izzy added it to her list of inquiries for the summer break.

She followed Draco once again to the Slytherin carriage, its open concept a lot more inviting than it had been back on September 1st. She sat down next to her brother but near Daphne and the other Slytherin girls. (Their conversation, driven by Pansy, was all about their summer shopping plans. Iz had no interest in chiming in.) Once the train was underway, and the girls' conversation had moved onto something more fascinating, the young Malfoy found herself feeling the most settled she had been the whole year. And yet, she was itching to take out one of the new novels Hermione had given her or to find out what Jett's letter would say from her mother. Escaping the carriage with an excuse for the bathroom, Izzy decided to wander the train cars in search of her two, closer friends.

Hermione, as expected, was sitting with Potter and Weasley. Jett had surprisingly joined them, as had Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan. A bit disappointed that she wouldn't be able to join them (she had no interest in befriending the two idiots or the other two Gryffindors), Isabelle walked past their door and circled back a few compartments later, planning to return to the Slytherin carriage. By that time, however, she discovered the four boys had disappeared. Knocking on the door, she entered to sit with Jett and Hermione.

"Where did the others go?"

"Oh, they went to the candy cart, I think. They kept talking about food and Ronald wouldn't stop saying how much he was going to miss the meals at school, so it made them all starving. They didn't think ahead to grab snacks." Hermione answered, munching on one of her saved muffins from earlier. Izzy sat down next to Jett, smirking.

"So? Did you open it yet?" Iz asked in anticipation. She was looking forward to visiting Jett in France at some point in the summer, having only ever gone there once for a fancy family mini-vacation. Not that she had talked to Jett about any of this yet, she was really just planning it in her head.

"No. And I'm not going to." Jett replied somewhat sourly, crossing her arms.

"Why not? We want to know too! Come on, before the boys get back."

Jett gave them both a look and shook her head. She went back to staring out the window at the countryside landscapes zooming by as the train passed them. Iz glanced at Hermione before snatching up their short friend's bag. The Slytherin held the sealed parchment and, without hesitating, opened it.

No sparks flew out. There was no pomp and circumstance nor any fireworks. It seemed to be just an ordinary letter.

"Now look what you've done! She'll think that I actually cared enough to read it." Jett said angrily, grabbing the piece of parchment back before Izzy could try and read what it said.

"It's open now, you might as well read it." Hermione said, leaning back and crossing her legs, listening intently. A stare-showdown occurring between the two Gryffindors, Jett finally sighed and was back to looking a little fearful.

"Fine." Cautiously opening the parchment, Jett read the French text. She read it again, a confused look now on her face. She couldn't understand what her mother was saying.

"What did she write? Did she want you to floo home? I knew it!" Hermione smirked, wondering why her mother would want to travel all the way to a train station in London to pick her daughter up. Isabelle leaned forward in concern, knowing that, as often as Jett got confused, this was more a worried look than silly misunderstanding.

"What does it say, Jett?"

"She said… She won't… I don't know. I don't understand." Jett sat there quietly for a moment, still staring at the parchment before looking back up again. "She isn't coming to pick me up."

"Did she say why not? Who will be getting you?"

"You can always come back to my house again, Jett, my parents won't mind." Izzy offered, unsure how it could be allowed that her mother wouldn't pick her up. Where was she supposed to go when she got to the station if she didn't have any friends who could take her in? Or did her mum expect her to stay at Hogwarts for the summer alone?

"She…she went off and got married to that guy from Christmas. Or says she's going to. I don't know. She…she's just leaving me with a stranger. My 'godfather.' I've never even met him, for all I know he could be a psychopath or a murderer or a vampire or – " Jett finally said, working herself up. She wasn't crying this time, though. She was angry. Her mother always put herself first, never thought of anyone else, especially her daughter. Spending the Moreau family fortune in whatever way she pleased, traveling and drinking and anything else, Jett always seemed to be forgotten in the mix. And here she was, a twelve-year-old dumped onto a stranger for an entire summer.

"Well, if he's your godfather, he can't be that bad, right? And maybe it'll be better than living with your mother. You could have someone who actually cares about you!" Hermione suggested, putting a hand on Jett's shoulder.

"You can always come to my house, as I said, if he's really mean or something. But Hermione's right, I think it'll be a good thing." Just then the train went into a tunnel as it drove under a mountain, Isabelle's cue to return to the Slytherin carriage. They were getting close to London and she didn't want to be caught without her trunk and owl. "Make sure you write me this summer, both of you! I want to hear how it's going – and let me know about your family, Jett, you're always welcome at the Manor." Giving both of the Gryffindors a hug, Izzy quickly departed from the compartment. She passed Potter and gang on their way back, who were laughing at the red-headed Weasley who must have eaten a rotten-flavored Bertie's bean.

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"There you are! Here, you carry Russet, he likes you better." Draco said as his sister sat back down next to him. The train pulled into King's Cross Station, the somewhat-familiar Platform 9 ¾. The two Malfoys weren't in a rush to get off the train, having already planned to meet Lucius and Narcissa near the apparation point. Grabbing their trunks and pushing through the dense crowd, Izzy glanced back at the crimson train with high hopes for the next time she would see it.

As they pushed their way towards the tall, blonde, and severe-looking pair who were their parents, Isabelle couldn't help but stall hoping to see her friends one last time. She waved to Daphne as her parents and little sister departed. She saw Hermione go to two oddly dressed people near a stone column who must have been her parents. They were quickly lost in the crowd. Finally, Iz saw a tall, thin man in somewhat-tattered clothing approach Jett as she waited near the back of the train. Unable to see anything except his sandy-blonde hair as he bent down to be at her short height, Izzy saw Jett give him a small smile at some sort of joke he said. Smiling in turn at her friend's seeming happiness, she cried out as someone yanked her arm and took Russet's cage from her.

"You are holding up the entire family, Isabelle, keep walking. Your mother wants to be out of this crowd as soon as possible. Come on." Lucius stated, almost spat, already walking away with her owl. Izzy pulled her trunk behind her, trying to catch up to where Narcissa was hugging her brother in greeting. "We can go now, I found her." The light blonde-haired mother turned to her dark-haired daughter and ran her hand gently through their trusses before giving her a tight hug as well. Lucius sighed impatiently, glancing around with disgust at all of the Muggleborns and half-blood, hybrid families picking up their magical children.

"Welcome home, Isabelle." Narcissa said softly in her ear before standing back up. Taking her hand, the Malfoy family prepared to apparate back to their luxurious manor estate. And yet, part of this eleven-year-old girl felt that she wasn't really heading home but rather she had just left it for the summer. How ever slightly her sense of belonging had begun to change.

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Author's Note: And with that ends Isabelle's first year at Hogwarts! I hope you enjoyed these beginning chapters to her story. I will be continuing the arc and making this one long fanfic (instead of breaking it up into multiple stories). So, next chapter: the beginnings of "Book 2" in the actual Harry Potter series and Year 2 for our favorite characters.