Sense of Belonging

Chapter 10

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

.

.

.

The Slytherin Commonroom bustled with more people than Isabelle remembered was normal. It had always seemed fairly empty to her – but that was also when she was so concentrated on studying or writing or reading that she paid no one else any attention. Was it always this loud?

She sat in her regular chair by the fireplace, this time facing the entrance so that she would know when her brother returned. She sat with a textbook open on her lap as if pretending to read but, in reality, she had not picked it up in over an hour. It was getting late. What if Draco had already sent the letter? What would he exactly tell their parents? Sure, she was friends with Hermione. But Iz could spin that in a way for her father – that she was making sure the Gryffindor did not beat her in exams again – and did not think her mother would really care. She would lie if she had to, say she was doing it to get better grades or something – but she would not stop being Hermione's friend just because of some belief that they were dangerous or 'unpure' or something. She was confident she could lie her way out, if needed.

His familiar laughter wafted through the open entranceway a few moments later. Draco entered, telling some sort of story to none-other-than Pansy Parkinson, Crabbe and Goyle following behind them. The Slytherin girl laughed loudly as they approached the seating area by the fire and her brother looked more than proud of himself. Upon catching Iz's eye, his smile turned to a neutral glare before he took a seat in his 'throne.'

"You would have /loved/ to see the look on his stupid face, that First-Year Hufflepuff didn't even know what to do!" The group of four laughed as Draco finished his story. Izzy continued to stare at her brother, obviously trying to get his attention without actually saying his name, but he ignored her and continued to look into their common room fire.

"Ooh, tell the other one again, Draco, the one with that Gryffindor boy in the courtyard and Potter signing fan mail – !" Pansy cooed at her brother, who obviously enjoyed the attention.

"Fine, alright. So we had just finished lunch when – "

"Draco?" Izzy interrupted quietly, leaning forward. She knew that if her brother started off on another story, he would keep it going for a while. Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle all turned to look at her while Draco's mouth just turned to an annoyed scowl. "Draco, can I talk to you for a moment?"

"He was telling us a /story/, Isabelle, doesn't your mother teach you any manners?" Pansy replied with a small flick of her hair, as if dismissing Iz from being present. But Isabelle had learned over the past year to ignore whatever Pansy tried to do and continued to focus on her brother.

"Draco, please? It's…about earlier…" Not wanting to give too much away (for Parkinson to use at her disposal for starting rumors), she leaned closer to try and catch her brother's eye. After a few moments he sighed in annoyance but stood up. Without another word, he walked back towards the entrance of the common room and stopped at the top of the stairs. Iz followed him, trying to get the words prepared right in her head.

"What?" Draco finally said, glancing back to where the three others were watching them.

"Did you send the letter?" Isabelle asked simply, her tone neutral as she knew any challenge would turn into a loud sibling fight.

"Not yet. But I'm going to," her brother threatened, still refusing to meet her eyes. He crossed his arms and Iz could not tell if he was bluffing or not.

"Well…I don't want you to."

"I get that, Izzy. But you shouldn't be hanging around with that Mudblood and that bloodtraitor." Finally meeting his sister's eyes, she was still surprised at his word choice.

"First of all, Mother told you not to say that word because it isn't nice. And so what if she's Muggleborn? She's one of the smartest witches in our class!"

"Yeah, because she cheats." Draco stated, giving Iz another look.

"She does not! And Jett isn't a bloodtraitor – she's a pureblood who just has different opinions. And…and I don't think she is wrong." Izzy ended definitely, trying to act confident in what she had just said. She stood straighter as if to challenge Draco, not to argue with him but to prove her point as someone independent and open-minded.

"Well, then you're just stupid." Draco retorted, leaning closer to emphasize the last word. He turned back towards his friends as if to leave the conversation there, but his sister was not finished.

"I don't think I'm the one who is stupid – you are for just listening to what our parents say. What if they are wrong? What if – ?"

"They're not wrong, Izzy! They're our parents and we should listen to them! Father thinks you are getting better grades than me because you have no friends. And he thinks Moreau is just a worthless – !"

"You're just mad because she punched you and broke your nose. And Father knows that I'm smarter than you and that I work harder, so he wouldn't say any of that." Isabelle replied angrily before taking a deep breath, trying to keep her anger under control. "What I'm trying to say, Draco, is maybe they are just a /little/ wrong about Muggles. When I was in the village, they didn't seem dangerous at all."

"You shouldn't have even gone to that village. Father was ready to hex you but Mother wouldn't let him." The older Malfoy turned back to face his sibling once more. "All /I'm/ trying to say is stay away from Granger." Draco stepped closer, acting the older, bossy brother.

"Well, that's not going to happen, Draco. Ok? Because she's my friend. I told you earlier – you don't get to tell me who I can be friends with. And just because you surround yourself with brainless idiots – "

"They are not!"

"They are!" Remembering her other point and seeing that she would not get him on her side about Hermione, she backed down from their usual fight pattern, saying instead, "But anyways, our parents are keeping a secret from us."

"So what's the secret?" Draco said in disbelief, now barely listening because of his stubbornness. He glanced back over to the fireplace seating, where Pansy was motioning for him to come back and sit down.

"I don't know." Izzy said hesitantly, biting her lip. "But I heard them talking in Father's study and Mother said that we could not know anything yet but she had promised to tell us when we went to Hogwarts."

"Now you're just making stuff up, Iz. I'm sending the letter."

"Draco, you aren't listening to me! I'm saying, if they are already keeping one secret from us, why is it so impossible that they could be lying to us? Or that they are wrong?" Draco gave no response as he met his sister's eyes again. Thinking through what she had said, he hesitated. What if she was right? His father had been acting kind of strange at home before they left for Hogwarts…

"See? Isn't it possible that they are lying to us about Muggles and Muggleborns too?" Izzy stepped closer and placed a hand on his shoulder, sensing his hesitation.

"No." Draco finally said, looking up with cold eyes and a frown. "No, they wouldn't lie to us. But you're lying to them – and you're betraying them by being friends with a /Mudblood/." He hissed the last word and pushed her away. "Don't talk to me again until you realize that I'm right. I don't want to be associated with a /bloodtraitor/." Her brother finished rather loudly, a few students nearby turning to glance at the siblings. Satisfied with the look on his sister's face, Draco walked away and back to where Crabbe, Goyle, and Pansy sat by the fire. Stunned for a moment that he had called her that, Izzy ran downstairs to her dorm room without looking back.

It wasn't until she had finally reached her bed that she let herself cry. She could not believe what had just happened. He was going to send the letter and she would get in trouble with her parents, that was for sure. But then, in front of the entire common room, her brother had embarrassed her AND called her a…a…

She was not a bloodtraitor! She still thought that purebloods were the strongest with magic and such. But she could not agree that Muggleborns were useless – Hermione was top of their class! And she was kind and understanding and more of a friend than her own brother was being at that moment.

And the matter of the letter… What would happen if her father found out? She knew what he thought. But what could he do? He couldn't make her stop being friends with someone while she was at school. And her mother? Izzy didn't know what she would think… Remembering the Derry Hill incident, however, she had an inkling of what both of their reactions might be…

"Hey, Isabelle?" Jumping at the voice, she wiped her eyes and sat up to look towards the door.

"What do you want, Pansy?" Iz asked somewhat roughly, in no mood for any games. The girl walked in looking innocently at her and held out the book she had left downstairs.

"You forgot this. And Draco asked me to check that you were okay… He feels kind of bad." Parkinson said in a sweet tone, holding out the textbook.

"Yeah, well…he should." Iz replied in almost a whisper, wiping her eyes again. She stood up and reached for the book. "Thank you…" As she grabbed the textbook, small pinpricks of lightning shot out from it and stung her hands. Like an electric shock but ten times worse, Iz had to drop the book to stop the pain. Pansy roared with laughter at her jinx-charm and, with a smirk, left to go back to the common room and regale about her prank.

Tears once again in the young Malfoy's eyes, Izzy bent down to pick up the book but found the same stinging sensation occur once more. Deciding the book could stay where it was for the evening, Iz turned to get her nightclothes on so she could go to bed. But as soon as she touched those, the stinging sensation returned with small bolts of lightning appearing to burn her skin. Now annoyed, the Slytherin went to pick up her wand to undo the charm but could not touch that either. She would have to sleep in her uniforms, she would not be able to write in her journal before bed or read her book, she couldn't do anything…

Finally just giving up for the day, she rolled back onto her bed (careful to keep her hands from touching anything else) and decided to try and sleep. An hour or so later she heard the other girls come upstairs for bed. One of them picked up the book from the ground and set it on her trunk. They turned the lights out, none realizing Isabelle was still awake and unable to sleep for the pain in her hands…