Sense of Belonging

Chapter 8

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

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Isabelle woke to the green light leaking through the underwater Slytherin dorm room. She had been so tired the night before that she had forgotten to close the hangings around her bed. Sitting up and glancing around the room, she saw that each of the other four Second-Year Slytherin girls still slept soundly. Quickly getting dressed, having packed her bag last night to be ready for classes today, Iz easily snuck out of her dorm room and up to the lavishly-decorated commonroom.

Flicking her wand at the fireplace, Izzy took a seat in "her" chair near the growing flames. It was cooler than she remembered, being under the water and down in the dungeons, but was glad that she had memorized the spell to light the fire. Glancing around once more to check that she was alone, the dark-haired Malfoy took out the Muggle novel she was currently reading. Tucking her legs underneath her as she leaned against the side of the arm chair, Isabelle soon found herself lost in the storyline. It was a critical point in the novel – the heroine was lost, deserted in the middle of some city, and had no idea how she might get back to solve the mystery of her brother's murder. Hopping in a taxi – Izzy made a note to ask Hermione later what that word meant, she guessed a kind of automobile – the Muggle teenage girl sped off to a hotel nearby which might hold a few clues…

"Morning, Izzy!" Jolting the eleven-year-old out of her imagination, Iz looked up to see one of the Slytherin prefects smiling over to her. Her name was Gemma Farley and she was the youngest in her family with two older brothers. All had been in Slytherin and were average students – but Gemma had proven to be better than her siblings when she became a prefect in her fifth year. The two girls had met last year, after Draco had gotten into some trouble, and had quickly become friends. The now-Sixth-Year prefect came to sit next to Izzy, waving a few of her friends on towards the doorway.

"How was your summer?"

"It was good! It was hard to not practice magic though – I didn't want to lose anything I learned! But I did what you suggested and practiced the wand movements and Mother even let me try to make a few potions at home. What about you, Gemma?" Isabelle quickly hid her Muggle novel behind one of her Gilderoy Lockhart books.

"We went on holiday all throughout Europe – to Poland, France, Germany, Switzerland – we even visited Andorra!"

"That's so cool. We didn't get to travel anywhere this summer – Father had a lot of business to do with the Ministry. I really want to go and visit Italy – I've heard the beaches are amazing and they even let underaged wizards and witches practice magic!"

"That would be nice. I think I have a cousin who lives in Italy. Maybe we'll have to take a trip?" They both laughed. "Anyways, ready to find out your classes for today?"

"Yeah, I can't wait. I've got all of my books with me, just in case," Izzy said as she picked up her bag to show how full it was. Gemma chuckled in response, shaking her head.

"You are always prepared, aren't you. Want to come down to breakfast with me?"

"Oh, I, uh, thank you, but I have to wait for my brother. I promised him and everything," Iz quickly lied, shrugging like it was no big deal. "Thank you though! Maybe later this week?"

"Sounds good to me. Have a good first day of your second year – and keep your brother out of trouble, will you?" Gemma smirked and left, her friends having waited for her near the doorway.

Watching her leave, Izzy sighed in relief. It wasn't that she didn't want to go to breakfast with her friend – and she definitely did not want to talk to Draco, especially while he was acting like a jerk – but she had wanted to wait long enough to be able to talk to Hermione and Jett without being noticed. Besides for the fact that the blond Gryffindor always slept in, there sometimes were so few people in the Great Hall that the youngest Malfoy felt like she was being watched when she went to talk to her friends outside of Slytherin House. It wasn't against the rules, per se, but most of the students did not interact with the other Houses except in classes. For Izzy, her two closest friends were outside of her House – and she definitely did not understand the unspoken rule against inter-house relations.

Heading down a few minutes later, Isabelle was glad to find a good number of students already up and eating. The professors had not yet begun to hand out timetables and so the Slytherin quickly headed towards her bushy-haired friend. After glancing up at the dull, cloudy grey ceiling of the Great Hall, she realized that Hermione was so engrossed in Voyages with Vampires (propped open against one of the milk jugs) that she did not realize Iz was there. Tapping her lightly on the shoulder, she sat down on the bench next to the Gryffindor.

"Morning. What are you reading?" Still nervous that someone would notice her, the Slytherin grabbed a piece of toast and began munching on it.

"Hmm? Oh, hi, Izzy. I'm just re-reading one of Professor Lockhart's books – I want to be prepared in case he asks us questions! Plus the stories are just so remarkable…I cannot believe he did all this, he's amazing." Hermione gave her friend a smile before turning the page, continuing to read while she ate.

"Oh…yeah…right." Isabelle tried to feign interest as she did not agree with Hermione. Switching subjects, she continued, "Anyways, there was a rumor last night that Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley drove a flying car to school yesterday. Is that why they weren't on the train?"

Hermione huffed and looked back up at Iz. "Unfortunately, yes. And they were proud of it! The whole Gryffindor House celebrated their 'accomplishment'," using air-quotes to demonstrate her sarcasm, "even Jett! I think it was foolish and stupid and dangerous. They're lucky that we didn't lose any House points! They just got a detention or something. If I were Professor McGonagall, I would have given them /ten/ detentions." Hermione shook her head and went back to reading her book.

"Oh. I couldn't believe it when I heard – I didn't think the two could be so stupid!" When Hermione just nodded in response, Izzy leaned closer with a small smirk. "You are really smitten with him, aren't you?"

"What? With who?"

"Gilderoy Lockhart. Jett and I saw you at the bookstore – you looked like you were in love with him."

"I am not! He is just an incredible wizard – and we can learn so much from him. I can't wait to go to his class, I mean, how did Professor Dumbledore get him to be our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?" Hermione said incredulously, obviously still fawning over him.

"Well, I don't think he did everything he wrote about. It's impossible – "

"Is not! He is just a really talented wizard."

Izzy rolled her eyes and smiled, going to comment further when she saw the Gryffindor Head of House, Professor McGonagall, begin to hand out timetables and knew she would have to move. "Regular time at the library later, Mione?"

"Huh? Yeah, sure, see you then." The Gryffindor replied, still engrossed in re-reading Lockhart's book on blood-thirsty monsters. Izzy stood up and shook her head. Heading over to join the Slytherins, she gladly accepted her timetable from Professor Snape as she sat down. Draco plopped down across from his sister only a few moments later but still ignored her, turning to Crabbe to get him the butter for his toast.

It was only after about fifteen minutes that the now-full Great Hall turned silent to listen to something coming from the Gryffindor table. A woman's shrill voice filled the chamber, echoing off of the stone walls and causing dust to fall from the ceiling.

" – STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY'D EXPRELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET HOLD OF YOU, I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TOT HINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT HAD GONE…"

Unsure exactly what was happening, Iz also turned and tried to see what was causing the commotion. By the woman's voice, she could tell it must be someone yelling at Potter and Weasley about their travel choice the previous day. Unable to see over the throngs of other students staring towards the red-clad Gryffindors, she sat back down to listen further.

"…LETTER FROM DUMBLEDORE LAST NIGHT, I THOUGHT YOUR FATHER WOULD DIE OF SHAME, WE DIDN'T BRING YOU UP TO BEHAVE LIKE THIS, YOU AND HARRY COULD BOTH HAVE DIED…"

By now, the high-pitched tone of the woman's voice was hurting Izzy's ears. How much longer would she be yelling?

"…ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED, YOUR FATHER'S FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK, IT'S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT AN DIF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE WE'LL BRING YOU STRAIGHT BACK HOME."

Silence fell as the other students became used to being able to hear once again. Standing up once more to see if she could see anything, Isabelle saw a bright red envelope burst into flames and then ashes in front of the two stunned culprits. Weasley was trying to hide under the table and the Boy Who Lived appeared frozen from shock. A few of the older students laughed, including a group of Slytherins next to her. The normal babble of talk broke out again in the Great Hall and most returned to their conversations with friends.

"…was precious, did you see the look on Weasley's and Potter's faces?" Pansy laughed, almost choking on the piece of bacon she was eating.

"I can't believe that's what Weasley's mum sounds like. That voice was wretched!" One of the older Slytherin boys chimed in and laughter ensued from most of the others.

Izzy was still more surprised than anything – she had never experienced a Howler in real life. In fact, she had never really done anything (minus the Derry Hill incident) that would require she receive such a letter. Glancing back down at her schedule, she noticed that they had Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws. Hurrying to finish her breakfast, Iz caught Draco's gaze only once which was followed by an annoyed glare before he returned to ignoring her. Rolling her eyes, she left with Daphne to get to Transfiguration early.

~:~

"How many did you end up transfiguring, Izzy? Can I see?" Tracey asked as the Slytherin girls walked down to the Great Hall for lunch. Their task in Transfiguration was to turn a beetle into a button. Though it had been tricky at first, Isabelle was the second student to succeed, after one of the Ravenclaws had gotten lucky. After she had done it once, however, Izzy found it easy to repeat. She now carried at least fifteen buttons with her in her pocket, smiling proudly.

"Yeah, yeah, they're just buttons… Did you all hear that Cedric Diggory is single again? I talked to Emma yesterday and she said that her friend in Hufflepuff said that he broke up with his girlfriend over the summer!" Pansy jumped in, smirking at Isabelle as she stole the other girls' attentions again. Having kept the buttons more so to compare with Hermione, Iz sat down and listened as the others guffawed over the "Hufflepuff Hottie" of fifth year.

Watching the Gryffindors traipse in looking somewhat exhausted, Izzy got up to go and see her friends.

"Did you go to Transfiguration yet?" Isabelle asked and she sat down next to Jett, who was eagerly eating lunch. "Did you skip breakfast again?"

" – overslept – not a big deal – just a little late – " She replied between swallows, giving Iz a 'no need to be a mum' look.

"Yeah! Have you? We get to practice transfiguring beetles into buttons and look!" Hermione said excitedly, pulling out all the buttons she had created. Izzy pulled out her own and the two nerds started to compare.

"See, I only transfigured one more than you, Mione, but yours look /so/ much nicer!"

"But I really like this one – the pattern is really cool, Izzy! How many points did Professor McGonagall give you?"

"I think fifteen? I'm not sure."

"Me too!"

Jett, having listened to this for too long, put out her arm and swept all of the buttons on the table into her bag and moved it to the other side of her. "There. Talk about something else. /Please/."

"I'm going to want mine back, Jett," Izzy crossed her arms and gave her a look. Knowing her Slytherin friend, she just smiled back innocently and continued to stuff her face with food.

"Fine. Are you going to try out for the Quidditch team, Jett?" Hermione asked, leaning forward with a knowing look.

"Uh…maybe? I'm not sure, I hadn't really thought about it, you know…" Jett responded, a slight hint of embarrassment on her cheeks as she leaned back to look at them both.

"Well, I heard you talking to Fred and George, /AND/ Dean and Seamus about trying out." The bushy-haired girl said matter-of-factly.

"Yeah, well, I was just asking around because, you know, Second-Years can try out… I won't make it on the team, I know that, so why should I try?" Jett shrugged and sighed, glancing down the table a bit where Harry and Ron were sitting.

"What do you mean you won't make the team? You beat Draco every time this summer!" Izzy chimed in, knowing how important Quidditch was to her friend.

"That's because your brother sucks, Iz."

"Maybe. But you're really good – didn't you say last year that you had competed in some sort of flying competition or something and came in second place?" Isabelle supposed, trying to think of what that had been about.

"I remember that! It was the French League's annual training tournament and you beat out, what, like ten other flyers who were /way/ older than you!" Hermione added.

"Yeah, maybe. But it was easy! It really wasn't that great of an accomplishment. Plus, I play seeker and chaser – I don't want to go up against Harry, I mean, it's /Harry/. And the other chasers seem nice…"

"Well, I think you should still try out. Maybe you could be an alternate? Then you can still train with the team and play if they need you to! But you wouldn't have to beat out someone else for the position." Izzy suggested.

"And how would you know? You hate Quidditch." Jett pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

"When you have to listen to someone go on and on and on about it for a whole summer, you learn /something/. Besides, I doubt Draco will make the team – and maybe I would come and see you play then instead of staying in the library." Isabelle offered.

"I'm holding you to that, Iz," Hermione smirked, finishing her lunch.

"That's fine. At least I'm not in love with one of our professors," the Slytherin snickered, showing Jett Hermione's decorated schedule. Around each of the DADA classes with Lockhart, the intelligent Gryffindor had doodled little hearts.

"Ooh, whatever!" Hermione blushed and snatched her timetable back. Quickly changing the conversation, she asked, "Want to go hang out outside? I heard the professors talking about it turning colder before the weekend. Might as well enjoy the warm weather while it lasts." Both Jett and Izzy nodded and, after packing up their bags, headed out into the courtyard near their afternoon classroom.

As Hermione and Izzy were sorting their respective buttons from the pile Jett spilled on their bench, neither seemed to notice Potter and Weasley join them nearby. Of course, they were also talking about Quidditch. Glancing up a minute or two later, the girls noticed another kid – a geeky-looking First Year – talking to Harry. He held what looked like a Muggle camera. A bit intrigued, they listened in on the nearby conversation.

"…and a boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures'll move! It's brilliant here, isn't it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad's a milkman, he couldn't believe it either. So I'm taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it'd be really good if I had one of you…maybe your friend could take it and I could stand next to you? And then, could you sign it?" The boy continued to ramble on and Izzy wished she could see Potter's face. Even the famous Harry Potter had to be somewhat annoyed by this fanboy.

"/Signed photos/? You're giving out /signed photos/, Potter?" Draco's voice echoed throughout the entire courtyard and within seconds, nearly everyone was staring at the boys. The Slytherin prince stood right behind the fanboy, Crabbe and Goyle at his side.

"No, I'm not. Shut up, Malfoy," Potter replied angrily, his fists clenching.

"You're just jealous," the boy with the camera squeaked, turning to face the Slytherin.

"/Jealous/? Of what? I don't want a foul scar right across my head, thanks. I don't think getting your head cut open makes you that special, myself." Draco replied, leaning closer to the poor kid. His posse snickered behind him.

"Eat slugs, Malfoy," Weasley started, and Crabbe stopped laughing to crack his knuckles menacingly at the Gryffindor.

"Be careful, Weasley," Izzy's brother sneered. "You don't want to start any trouble or your mummy'll have to come and take you away from school." Then mimicking the voice from the earlier Howler, he continued, "/If you put another toe out of line/ –" A group of students laughed nearby.

"Weasley would like a signed photo, Potter. It'd be worth more than his family's whole house!" Draco smirked. He leaned in towards Weasley, obviously taunting him to try something. In response, Ronald whipped out his Spellotaped wand as if ready to curse him. Izzy stood to intervene but saw a professor making his way through the crowd.

"What's all this, what's all this?" Professor Lockhart came forward in his turquoise robes. "Who's giving out signed photos?" He swung his arm around Potter's shoulders and continued his show.

Isabelle watched her brother step around the Gryffindors and head in her direction. Meeting his gaze, she had a feeling he was coming to say something to her. Deciding that she would hear him out, she crossed her arms but kept eye contact, as if challenging him.

Draco stopped just in front of her, glanced down with mirth at Jett and then gave Hermione a look before meeting his sister's eyes again. And yet, he still said nothing.

"What is it, Draco?" Iz said finally, somewhat annoyedly.

"I thought I would let you know that I am writing a letter to Mother and Father to tell them who you are hanging around with." He glanced back at Hermione again as if in disgust, putting on his best Lucius impression.

"And so what? Do you think they are really going to care? You don't get to decide who my friends are. And neither do our parents."

"Yeah, well, I wouldn't be too sure. You should pick better company." With that, Draco brushed past his sister, Crabbe and Goyle following on his heels. Sighing angrily as she took a seat again on the bench, Iz stared down at her feet.

"…what a prat." Jett commented, staring after him.

"He really is a jerk, Izzy. I bet he won't even send a letter, what does it really matter?" Hermione chimed in, but not sounding as sure as she would have liked. She knew from last year (and from what Jett had told her) that her friend's family was really into blood purity nonsense. Maybe it would make a difference if her parents found out who her closest friends were? Would Iz get in trouble?

"Yeah, you're right… Come on, we have to get to Defense Against the Dark Arts." Smirking at Jett and then to Hermione, Izzy continued, "We get to see whether Professor Lockhart is really as gifted as you think he is."

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AN: Not the smoothest of first days for Izzy – and it isn't over yet! Do you think Draco will actually send the letter? Or is he just being Draco? And what will happen in Lockhart's first class with the Second-Years? More in the next chapter! Read&Review :)