Sense of Belonging

Chapter 1

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

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A slight knock at the door made Isabelle jump in surprise. She quickly hid the novel she had been reading, the last Muggle book Hermione had given her for the summer. (Though, of course, she would be happy to re-read what she had to last her the next few weeks.) The dark-haired Malfoy was sitting in her favorite reading chair near the doors to her balcony. She had become so wrapped up in the story of her book's characters that she had forgotten where she was. Sitting straighter and glancing back at her doorway with ease, she smiled as her mother entered.

"I just received a letter from Jett's mother. She says it would be wonderful for her daughter to join us for a day or two. We were thinking in a week or so? Around the twelfth?" Narcissa strode in clutching a piece of parchment.

"Sure, whenever. We were thinking she could stay overnight and we could go swimming." Izzy replied, smiling at the news but a little confused that it had been her friend's mother who had sent the letter. As far as she knew, Jett was supposed to be staying with her godfather for the summer break. The two girls had been planning a get-together for a few weeks but they were waiting on the adults' approval.

"Wonderful. I'll send her a reply. Enjoying your afternoon?" Her mother leaned in, curious to see her daughter sitting there without a book. Iz nodded and stood up.

"Yes. Actually, I was just about to go for a walk as it is so nice outside." Izzy walked toward her doorway, glancing back slightly to be sure her book was still well-hidden and that her mother was following her out of her bedroom.

"That sounds like a good idea. I hate to see you and your brother staying inside on such a lovely day. Why don't you invite him to go with you?" Without waiting for Iz's response, she called, "Draco! Come here, darling!"

The twelve-year-old, blonde-haired brother came running. He had been waiting for weeks since they had returned from school to go shopping for some new Quidditch gear. Draco was determined to get on the Slytherin Quidditch House Team in his second year at school so as to show-up his self-proclaimed nemesis, Harry Potter. "Yes, mother?"

"Your sister was going to go outside for a walk. You should join her, it is perfect weather." Narcissa smiled at her son, knowing he was eager to shop for new gifts. Lucius had said he would take the boy but kept delaying their trip due to increased work at the Ministry. Draco's excited demeanor dropped, now frowning at his sister.

"But…I don't want to go outside. Plus, she's gonna try and prank me again," Draco practically whined, giving Isabelle a look. He was still attempting to get her back for her last prank and knew it was easy to get his sister in trouble with his parents if he wanted to.

"No, I'm not. And you don't have to come, I was just going to walk by myself," Izzy retorted, sticking her tongue out at her brother. Before Narcissa had a chance to comment, however, there was a slight pop in front of the three Malfoys.

"Mistress," Deke, their newest house-elf, bowed low. He had come to Malfoy Manor following Izzy's grandfather's, Cygnus Black's, death back in February. Answering mostly to Narcissa and Isabelle, and often ignoring Lucius or even Draco, the house-elf was quite obedient and well-behaved. "Madam Rosemary has arrived for tea. She waits for you in the East Lawn Drawing Room." With that, the poorly-clad creature popped away once again.

"Well, you two will just have to figure this out on your own then. No pranks, Isabelle, or your father will hear of it. Go have fun outside." Narcissa gave both children a look before disappearing down the hallway towards the stairs. Isabelle glanced at Draco, eyebrow raised.

"Did you really think that was gonna work? It wasn't even that bad of a prank."

"No, but it was worth a try. But I'll get you back, sis, don't you worry." Draco smirked at her before going back in his bedroom, closing his door.

Rolling her eyes, Iz returned to her bedroom for one second more to grab a quill and a couple pieces of parchment before heading outside onto the front lawn. Feeling protected by the high hedges and the simple walking paths that led to the gates near the road, the eleven-year-old wandered the grounds before reaching her favorite letter-writing spot. A small bench under a medium-sized alder tree, Isabelle sat in the shade and laid out her supplies. Sometimes Isabelle would come out here to color or even read, if the weather was right. Today, she was going to reply to her friends' letters.

Having already finished the short response to Daphne Greengrass (who had spent much of the time complaining about her little sister), Izzy pulled out Jett's letter. Quickly re-reading it, she couldn't help but have a list of questions for her "acceptable" pureblooded friend.

~ Hi Jett!

Summer's going well. Mother just confirmed that you will be coming to the Manor in a week or so. We can go swimming and play pranks and do whatever you would like!

She said that your mother had written her from France. Are you living with her now? I thought you were staying with your godfather for the summer break?

His cottage sounds pretty cool. Is it very small? Are there a lot of Muggles nearby? Was he good friends with your mum? Are you getting bored there?

Hear from you soon,

~ Isabelle

Setting the letter aside and glancing out over the grounds a second, Izzy couldn't help but wonder how her friend was really fairing. Jett was known to love her Muggle clothes, but her mother couldn't stand them. (Cecille Moreau, like the Malfoys, was used to certain standards and the odd fashion of the Muggles made her feel out of sorts. Her daughter, on the other hand, wore them because they were both comfortable AND made her mother uncomfortable.) Iz hadn't heard yet if Jett's godfather held the same standards. She guessed he probably did, otherwise the Gryffindor wouldn't have been allowed to stay with him. The cottage had sounded fairly small and in a rural part of the country, quite different than Jett's home in France. Izzy was sure that her friend was bored, as she had not heard of any other children living with this godfather. Sighing, the young Malfoy folded the piece of parchment and moved on to her final letter.

Hermione Granger and Isabelle had been sending each other letters nearly every day of the summer thus far. The brilliant Gryffindor missed being at school with all of the classes and challenges the professors threw their way. She found a compatriot in her miseries with Izzy, who hated the break almost as much as her. The Muggleborn girl had been delighted to find out how easy owl post was even from home. Deciding to rent an owl for the summer, Hermione wouldn't stop writing Isabelle nearly every day. She would check in on their summer assignments to see how far Iz had gotten, or what textbooks she might have begun reading.

The girls' favorite topic of conversation, however, was the novels they were sharing. Hermione loved receiving updates on Izzy's progress in the books and her guesses at plot points. She also didn't mind clarifying questions that Iz had on Muggle technology. At the same time, Isabelle had sent a few magical novels to her friend that she had already read. Though Narcissa had found it strange that one of her daughter's friends couldn't just go out and purchase a book on their recommendation, Izzy had hid it well that she was just sharing because she had special notes in the books or some other white lie she had come up with. Only Draco still knew of the two girls' friendship but, as he spent most of his time in his room or out on the Manor Quidditch pitch, had no idea that Iz was staying in so much contact.

Finishing her quick reply with an update on the Muggle novel and her plans for the next piece of break homework she would work on, Izzy put her feet up on the bench and closed her eyes. Smiling, she imagined herself back at Hogwarts in -the library – her favorite place in the entire magical school.

After a few moments, the dark-haired girl opened her eyes once again. Her stomach had grumbled in hunger. Not wanting to interrupt her mother and her guest in case they were utilizing Deke and Daisy, nor allowed to bother her father's house-elf Dobby, Isabelle sat up and decided to focus on an apple tree nearby. Not moving from her shady spot on the bench, Iz held her hand out in front of her and set her sights on a richly-colored apple near the top of the tree. Having been reading her spell book and wanting to see if she could perform magic without her wand, Iz concentrated on the apple appearing in her hand. Closing her eyes again, picturing the apple in her hand, she gasped in surprise as she felt something land in her grasp. Opening her eyes, she saw –

"What is that?!" Dropping the round object that was /definitely/ not an apple, she found Draco chuckling nearby, leaning on his broomstick.

"It's a muddy, mini Quaffle. I was practicing and saw you over here and couldn't help but – " He laughed again, picking up the main ball used in the magical game of Quidditch. "What were you even trying to do?"

Isabelle wiped her now-muddied hand off on the bench's handle, giving her brother an annoyed look. "I was gonna practice wandless magic. I keep reading about it in our textbook and I wanted to try it. I was concentrating on getting that apple into my hand." Draco rolled his eyes at her, thinking she was joking. He knew magic wasn't /technically/ allowed at home, but that wasn't really the problem.

As they were nowhere near Muggles, the Malfoys could use their magic as they pleased. Sure, they were underaged students and weren't supposed to practice magic outside of school, but it wasn't like their parents were going to tell on them. In fact, Lucius kept suggesting Draco practice so as to be ready when he went back in September. As the Trace and Ministry could only tell where and when a spell was being used, and not who performed it, the Malfoy children were free to use their limited knowledge whenever they wanted to. A wonderful little loophole in legislation. Draco's real problem was his sister thinking she could perform wandless magic at eleven years old.

"I almost had the apple! If you hadn't broken my concentration." Iz sulked, now crossing her arms.

"You can barely clean your bedroom with your wand, Izzy, there is no way you could have gotten that apple. Unless you climbed the tree." Draco got back onto his broom and flew away, staying in the front of the house now to practice. Isabelle watched him for a few moments before turning back to the apple. She was determined to get it, one way or another.

Staying seated on the bench and returning to her concentration on the apple, she kept her arm outstretched again for at least another half an hour. Almost ready to give up and go inside to get a snack (or actually climb the tree to retrieve the apple), the young Slytherin decided to give it one more try. Focusing this time not on the apple or her hand, but on her desire to eat the apple, she blocked out all the other noise on the grounds and imagined. The juicy, sweet taste of the ripe apple, soft but not mushy, a perfect mid-afternoon snack –

"I did it!" Izzy cried, opening her eyes to find the gleaming apple in her palms. Her eyes wide, she glanced back up at the branch she had been staring at the last half hour to see the fruit was gone from the tree. "Draco, look! I did it!" Taking a bite of her prize, she grabbed the rest of her stuff with her on the bench and ran to where her brother had just landed on his broom. Of course, he didn't believe her. (Plus, he hadn't been paying her any attention.)

Proud of herself and eager to tell her mother about her accomplishment, she first stopped to send Russet on his way with her newly written letters. This summer had only just become more exciting! And what an achievement to tell her professors about when she was back at Hogwarts in only a few weeks.

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Author's Note: And Year 2 begins! As this story will mostly parallel the original series, I may hint to items in the books and/or movies that Isabelle or other characters may not know of or be aware of yet. As with the Forbidden Forest or even the battle with Voldemort at the end of the first book, those important scenes may only be mentioned in passing as the protagonists of this story hear about them through their own channels. What awaits our characters on their journey ahead into their second year? Keep reading to find out! Also thank you for any follows and reviews :)