Sense of Belonging

Chapter 5

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

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"Hey, what's the hurry?" Jett asked, pulling her hand away as soon as they were sufficiently lost in the crowd in Diagon Alley.

"I promised Hermione we would meet her for ice cream at twelve o'clock. Florean Fortesque's is just around the corner there. Come on!" Isabelle led her friend to her favorite ice cream shop. Two familiar-looking Muggles were just leaving as the girls went in. Recognizing them as Hermione's parents from King's Cross Station, Izzy went right over to the table where their bushy-haired friend was sitting reading a book.

"Hermione!"

"Izzy! Jett! How are you both?" Each giving the Muggleborn Gryffindor a hug, they bought some ice cream and sat down to catch up on their summer vacations.

With little prompting, Jett delved into her exciting summer with her godfather. She loved living near the Muggles except for the part that she could not use any magic. (But that would have happened at her home in France anyways…) The blond Gryffindor described learning the Muggle sport of football and joining a few of the local children to play every once in a while. Her godfather was home some of the time, usually in between jobs, but she could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted.

" – and so I wore jeans for, like, the ENTIRE summer and it was great. No mother or grandfather to yell at me for dressing like a Muggle. Plus my godfather had this HUGE collection of movies that we could watch on his television. One of my favorites was Bambi – "

"Ooh, I like that one too! I saw it in theatres a couple of years ago with my parents. How can you watch it on the television?" Hermione chimed in, having finished her bowl of ice cream and enjoying Jett's excitement at Muggle culture.

"Some kind of VHS or movie box or something? I don't know, he just puts it in this Muggle contraption and then the movie plays on the TV." Jett sighed contentedly, leaning back in her chair to finish her ice cream cone in a few licks. Isabelle had been sitting there quietly, listening to the whole conversation with interest but also a little jealousy.

"What about you, Isabelle? Anything exciting happen?" Hermione turned to ask her Slytherin friend, noticing her quieter-than-usual mood.

"Uh, nothing much. I read all of the books you loaned me – I think I read each of them at least twice." Izzy gave her a small smile, handing her the bag that held them. "Do you have more of that series about the mysteries?"

"Yeah, I can bring them to school with me." Hermione took the bag and, after glancing inside, thanked her also for the extra wizarding novel. Giving her a slightly suspicious look, she leaned closer and asked, "Are you sure you're alright, Iz?"

"I'm fine. Just Draco annoying me all summer and my parents – " Isabelle just finished that with a shrug, glancing out towards the storefront and into the busy Diagon Alley.

"Oh! I forgot to tell you, Mione. We got in trouble with Izzy's parents – for visiting a Muggle village near her house!" Jett chimed in excitedly while Iz slightly cringed at being reminded of that. She still felt guilty – both about breaking her parents' rules but also that she had any interest in the stupid Muggle culture that had gotten her in trouble.

"Really? Izzy, you got in trouble?" Hermione practically gasped, surprised but also joking around a bit with Jett. Quickly moving on, seeing how it made Iz uncomfortable, she asked, "Did you like it? The Muggle village?"

Isabelle shrugged, still glancing out the window at the passersby. "I guess… I just, I won't be able to go there again so what does it matter?"

"Oh come on. It's not the end of the world, Izzy. So you got in trouble once – I bet your brother gets into trouble all the time. It's just part of being a kid." Jett poked her jokingly with a smirk, still not understanding why it had been such a big deal.

"Yeah, well…"

"…Well, you know, you could always come visit me at my house. Or even Jett and at her godfather's – she lives right near a Muggle village too. Then I can show you what a car is and how we write with pens and not quills?"

"Jett and I saw a few cars at Derry Hill. I thought they were cool…and kind of scary." Izzy replied quietly, then looking at her friend curiously. "Do you really ride in it every day? To go places?"

"Yeah, all the time. I mean, we walk too – but we don't use Floo Powder or apparate or anything because Muggles don't have any magic."

"How do they work? Do you just…get in and say where you want to go?"

"No, no. You, um, use a key to start the car – to turn it on. And then you have to use the driving wheel to steer it on the street. And there are stop signs and signals and other cars you have to look out for too." Hermione folded her hands together, not entirely sure how to explain a car to someone who had never ridden in one before.

"So you know how to…lead the car too?" Izzy asked, not knowing the word 'drive.' She had a whole long list of questions that she wanted to ask Hermione and had forgotten about them until now. Feeling less ashamed about the Muggle village incident and really interested in what her Gryffindor friends could tell her, the time passed too quickly before they realized they were supposed to meet the others at the bookstore.

"So this electricity…it powers everything for Muggles?" Izzy asked as they left the shop, still engrossed in their conversation.

"Yeah, I guess so. It's like – oof, hey!" Hermione ran into another person before realizing she recognized the red-haired, freckled boy and his messy-haired friend. "Ronald! Oh, hi, Harry. How are you?" Giving them both a quick hug hello, she forgot her conversation with Isabelle to start a new one with the two boys. Potter was giving Izzy a weird look and, as they were practically at the bookstore (with its long line waiting outside), she and Jett quietly took off to meet up with the rest of the Malfoys.

"There you both are," Narcissa commented as the two girls approached them. Draco looked overly pleased and did not even give Jett a dirty look. "The event started early. We will just have to get in and out as quickly as possible." The tall, blonde-haired woman was glancing around nervously and with a little disdain. There were plenty of other obviously-wizarding women who were clogging the doorway but it was also a large shopping day for students to get their books – including those with less desirable blood status. The number of Muggle-clothed persons bothered the older Malfoy.

"I have my list of books, Mother. I can go ahead with Jett to grab ours. Where do you want us to meet you?" Izzy asked.

"Up here in the front left corner, by the staircase. Don't dawdle – and only your school books, Isabelle!" Narcissa called after her as the two girls squeezed through the doors. The inside was nearly as packed as the outside.

"Wow. Why are there so many people?" Jett asked, glancing around in wonder.

"Mother said some sort of event. Probably an author is here or something. They have one every week or so. Here, let's go upstairs first – " Iz led them through the throngs of gabbing middle-aged witches but stopped at the top to glance down. Sure enough, she spotted a table near the front where a man was sitting surrounded by large, blown-up pictures of himself. They were all smiling and winking at the crowd. Squinting to read the sign, she rolled her eyes.

"It's Gilderoy Lockhart. Mother has a few of his books from gifts – she says that he is full of it. She does not think he ever did anything he writes about. But all of her friends are crazy about him." Isabelle smirked, seeing the wizarding women freaking out as he signed their books and charged them for a picture with him. He seemed to adore all of the attention.

"Wait, don't we have to buy all of his books for Hogwarts?" Jett asked, glancing at the list Iz had handed her.

"Really? I guess our new professor is really in love with him." Izzy shook her head. Glancing through the store towards the door, she noticed a group of students as they entered. Hermione seemed to be freaking out, like many of the others in the bookstore, while Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley looked on unfazed.

"Looks like Hermione has heard of him." Jett commented, smiling at her friend as she jumped up and down to get a look at the author. Iz simply rolled her eyes.

As Izzy turned away to begin collecting her books, there was some commotion down below that made her turn back. The dazzling Lockhart was pulling someone up to the front of the shop, giving a small speech of some sort.

"It can't be Harry Potter?" The crowd below parted as the family of red-heads, Harry, and Hermione were revealed in the middle. The author sprang forward and grabbed Potter's arm, pulling him forward for a few pictures by the Daily Prophet. Following the awkward silence as the crowd looked on in awe, the two were greeted by thunderous applause. The author then threw his arm around the famous boy's shoulders and continued his speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what an extraordinary moment this is!" Waiting until the crowd had quieted, he continued on. "The perfect moment for me to make a little announcement I've been sitting on for some time! When young Harry here stepped into Flourish and Blotts today, he only wanted to buy my autobiography – which I shall be happy to present him now, free of charge – "

The crowd applauded again and Izzy could not help but roll her eyes. Lockhart continued on emphatically and with his dazzling smile.

"He had no idea that he would shortly be getting much, much more than my book, Magical Me. He and his school fellows will, in fact, be getting the real, magical me." The author paused for a dramatic moment before continuing on. "Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure and pride in announcing that, this September, I will be taking up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!" The crowd went wild once more, cheering and clapping. Isabelle glanced at Jett in surprise. /This/ was going to be their DADA professor?

"He must be joking. The Headmaster could not have possibly hired /him/ to be our teacher. Right?" Izzy just could not believe it. Lockhart seemed to thrive in the attention he received from the crowd. Would he really prove to be a worthy teacher?

"I guess so. Why lie about that? He just seems a little cocky, that's all. But after Professor Quirrell last year… I think he might be better." Jett shrugged, watching as Harry struggled under the weight of the whole stack of books Lockhart had just handed him.

"Well, I bet Potter enjoyed that." Isabelle commented, rolling her eyes. She assumed, as she did not know the Gryffindor very well, that he was always hoping for a photo-op and to be on the front page of the newspaper. Why wouldn't he want to be? He was the famous Boy-Who-Lived. Jett did not respond, having gotten to know Harry and Ron a little better at the end of last year and not agreeing with her friend's tone.

"Here, come on," the blond Gryffindor said before running down the stairs to meet up with the other Hogwarts students. Izzy did not hear her at first, having decided to grab the two books they needed from upstairs before making her way down. Hurrying after her friend, Iz stopped half-way to observe her brother picking a fight.

" – a bookshop without making the front page."

"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!" a little red-haired girl said, glaring at Draco.

"Ooh, Potter, you've got yourself a /girlfriend/!" Draco's voice drawled, laughing as the girl's face went red.

"Shut up, Malfoy," Jett butted in, crossing her arms. She was now standing next to Harry as Draco made his way down the rest of the stairs. He held a piece of paper in his hand that he had just ripped out of a book nearby. He crumpled it in his fist as Izzy, not necessarily wanting to get involved, crept closer. She knew it was likely that her brother would start a fight with Potter, even in the bookstore…

"Oh, it's you," Ronald Weasley commented as he and Hermione joined the group of Hogwarts students. "Bet you're surprised to see Harry here, eh?"

"Not as surprised as I am to see you in a shop, Weasley," Draco retorted. "I suppose your parents will go hungry for a month to pay for that lot."

"Draco, don't – " Izzy took the few steps down and put a hand on her brother's shoulder as if meaning to pull him back. She flinched away as Ron made to jump at her brother but was held back by Potter and Hermione.

"Ron!" They all turned to look at the tall, thin but brightly-red-haired (or what was left of his hair) man coming towards them. He wore somewhat worn-down clothing and one of the lenses on his glasses had a crack running through them. Puzzled for a moment, Izzy figured that, with the two troublemaker twins following him, it must be the Weasley's father. "What are you doing? It's mad in here, let's go outside."

"Well, well, well – Arthur Weasley." Isabelle turned back to look at her father, now standing behind Draco tall and proud. He wore an odd expression, as if sneering in hatred at the red-headed boy's father while also acting his superior self.

"Lucius," Mr. Weasley replied with a curt nod. He turned back to his children as if to shoo them outside.

"Busy time at the Ministry, I hear. All those raids… I hope they're paying you overtime?" He reached into the little girl's cauldron, the one who had defended Potter earlier, and pulled out a well-used copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. Recognizing her father's tone, as like Draco attempted to mimic, Iz knew that this would not resolve nicely. She looked around for her mother, hoping to escape away or have her put a stop to whatever fight her father was picking.

"Obviously not," Lucius drawled. "Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"

Isabelle spotted Narcissa waiting just outside of the bookstore. She was talking to one of her friends in Diagon Alley and paid them no mind. Glancing nervously at Jett, who was now glaring at her father like much of the other Weasley's, she was not sure what to do.

"We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy," Mr. Weasley stated, his face flushed red, even darker than his daughter's had earlier.

"Clearly," her father responded. Iz hoped that would be it and took a few steps down as if to encourage them to leave. Instead, Lucius continued on as he glanced toward the bookstore's doorway. "The company you keep, Weasley…" Izzy glanced up to where he was looking and saw Hermione's parents. They were watching the situation apprehensively, not close enough to hear everything but seemingly understanding the nature of the situation. "…and I thought your family could sink no lower – "

Draco jumped out of the way as Mr. Weasley dove at their father. Practically knocking Izzy over, the two scrambled up the steps to avoid being clobbered by the heavy spell books falling from the shelves above. The fight gained the attention of the entire bookstore but all they could do was watch… until finally a voice broke through and someone pulled the two men apart.

Iz watched as her father dusted himself off and tried to regain any semblance of royal composure. Still holding the young girl's transfiguration book, he thrust it back at her with a look of pure malice.

"Here, girl – take your book – it's the best your father can give you – " Lucius practically spat before fully ripping himself away from Hagrid's grasp, who had succeeded in breaking up the fight. The older Malfoy turned to glance up at Draco and Isabelle before beckoning for them to follow him outside. Draco clambered after him, shooting Potter and Ronald a dirty look as he passed. Izzy followed and grabbed Jett's hand to bring her with, wanting to get out of there as fast as she could. She paused a moment to give Hermione an apologetic look and mouthed to her, "See you at Hogwarts!"

"…Rotten ter the core, the whole family, everyone knows that. No Malfoy's worth listenin' ter. Bad blood, that's what it is…" Izzy listened to the half-giant's voice as the two girls quickly left the bookstore. Something about what he said stuck with her. Did everyone really think that they were so terrible? Of course, they did not have bad blood – they had some of the purest blood in all of British wizarding society. And the Malfoys were also one of the best and richest families. What could be wrong with them?

But the way Hagrid had described them, her family…she just could not get it out of her head.