Sense of Belonging

Chapter 16

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

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Isabelle told Draco about the letter the next morning. He swore he had nothing to do with it – he still had the letter he was /going/ to send in his bag, forgotten and unsent!

Lucius had not said how he had found out about the friendship, but merely demanded that Iz stop spending time with the Muggleborn girl or there would be serious consequences. Deciding that, this time, she would tell her friends about it and get their opinions before doing anything, Izzy headed down to the library with the letter in hand.

As she walked past the bright-red writing on the wall on her way, Iz still could not believe the events of Halloween. She had overheard Madam Pomfrey talking in the Hospital Wing, when the Slytherin had went to check and see if she could be of any more help with potions. The school nurse had been confiding in one of the other professors about the nature of Mrs. Norris' predicament. She was sure it had not been another student – that it was some creature, some monster. Isabelle was stunned at hearing the adults speak in such hushed and frightened tones and she found herself stepping gingerly through the hallways as if the creature would reappear in front of her.

Izzy waved as she passed Ginny, but found the girl looking extremely upset. Her older brother, Ronald, was trying to comfort her as crocodile tears fell down her face.

"But you hadn't really got to know Mrs. Norris, Ginny. Honestly, we're much better off without her. Stuff like this doesn't often happen at Hogwarts. They'll catch the nutter who did it and have him out of here in no time. I just hope he's got time to petrify Filch before he's expelled. I'm only joking – !" The red-headed Weasley boy ended as his sister blanched. Iz knew the girl loved animals and was sure what had happened to the cat had shaken her. She considered stopping to comfort the Gryffindor, but realized she might do more harm than good – especially with the elder Weasley's attitude.

Reaching the library and joining Jett at their familiar table, she glanced around looking for her other friend.

"Where's – ?" Iz started to ask.

"Over there. Combing through every shelf." Jett said with an amused smile, obviously enjoying watching Hermione run around looking a little crazed.

"Any idea what she's looking for?" The Slytherin sat down and pulled out her own books, still watching the bushy-haired girl as she attempted to reach for a book on the top shelf.

"Stuff about the Chamber of Secrets. More information, I think." Jett shrugged and leaned back on her chair, tipping it slightly. The blond Gryffindor glanced at her friend and immediately noticed the letter in Iz's hand – its elegant script and gold decoration glimmering. "A note from your mum again?"

"Oh, uh…no. My father, actually." Isabelle responded quietly, shutting her book and staring back at the fancy piece of parchment.

"What's he writing about?" Jett leaned forward curiously, just as their other friend plopped down at the table with a large stack of books.

"Now hopefully there is /something/ here about the secret Chamber," Hermione huffed, looking slightly enthralled by all of the books she had found and but also exhausted. "Hey, Izzy."

"Hey." The young Malfoy replied, bit her lip, and then continued to answer Jett's question. "Father says that I'm not allowed to be friends with you. Hermione, I mean."

"That git!" The small blond Gryffindor stood angrily, somehow having known that that was going to be the news. "Your brother is a real piece of – "

"It wasn't Draco! I already asked him. He still had his letter – said he hadn't sent it. My father doesn't say how he knows but…he wrote about all the time we spend here in the library. And he said that, if I don't stop meeting with you, that there would be 'serious consequences.' And he added that I was embarrassing the Malfoy family name…" Iz glanced down at the open letter, re-reading some of the words which forbade her from even talking to her friends about this. Looking back up with mixed emotions, she found clear feelings written on both of their faces.

"What kind of bullshit is that? He can't control who you are friends with!" Jett sat back down and crossed her arms. This whole business, even back in the summer, reminded her of her own struggles with her family in France and their pureblooded nonsense.

"Izzy, he's not even at the school. Jett's right, he can't tell you who you can be friends with. Plus, what can he do as 'consequences'?" Hermione told her softly, thoughtfully.

"He could disown me," Isabelle whispered, a serious fear of hers. Where would she go if her parents disowned her?

"That's stupid. Your mother wouldn't stand for it, and over a small thing about friendship at school?" Jett shook her head at the thought of such a ridiculous idea.

"He's said it before – when I've done something that's embarrassed him or I messed up in public. He's said he would disown me if I ever did something /really/ bad."

"I don't think this counts as really bad, Iz. And when you go home for the holidays, we can come up with some excuse as to why you hang out with me and Jett. Like, you're trying to cheat off of me or something," Hermione smirked at her dark-haired friend, an inside joke they had had since last year.

"Yeah, I guess so… He might buy that I'm just trying to keep you from beating me in all the exams again. Which you didn't, by the way, I still was top of the class in Potions and Herbology." Izzy stuck her tongue out at the two Gryffindors but also laughed a little. "You're right. I'm worried for nothing. Plus, I have no idea how he found out."

Shrugging and putting the letter away, the three got lost talking about their upcoming assignments…

~:~

Izzy sat at their table in the library on the following Wednesday afternoon. She was finishing her Transfigurations homework but was still quite distracted by Hermione. Her bushy-haired friend had continued to run around the library every day since the attack on Mrs. Norris as if new books were magically popping up from all over.

The Slytherin watched as Harry Potter made his way into the back of the library. She had not been surprised when both he and Jett had been told to stay behind after their Potions lesson. (Listening to the boys' conversation, she learned it was to scrape tube-worms off the desks in the dungeon classroom.) Glancing back towards the entrance of the library expectantly for Jett, she overheard Potter say that the French girl was trying out some pranks with the Weasley twins or some other nonsense.

"I don't believe it, I'm still eight inches short…" The red-headed boy mused to himself furiously. He let go of his parchment, which promptly sprang back into a roll. "Hermione's done four feet seven inches and her writing's /tiny/."

Iz smirked, having already perfected a nearly-five-foot essay on the assignment about the Medieval Assembly of European Wizards.

"Where is she?" The boy-who-lived asked as he grabbed the tape measure and unrolled his own homework to check.

"Somewhere over there," Weasley pointed towards where Izzy was sitting, near the History of Magic section. "She's looking for another book. I think she's trying to read the whole library before Christmas."

Just then, Hermione emerged from between the bookshelves looking irritable. Izzy watched as her friend went straight to the two boys. Missing the first couple of words, she shifted her chair to hear better.

"…have been taken out. /And/ there's a two-week waiting list. I wish I hadn't left my copy at home, but I couldn't fit it in my trunk with all the Lockhart books."

"Why do you want it?"

"The same reason everyone else wants it, to read up on the legend of the Chamber of Secrets."

"What's that?" Potter said quickly, as if nervous.

"That's just it, I can't remember." The bushy-haired girl bit her lip, thinking. "And I can't find the story anywhere else!"

"Hermione," the red-headed boy interrupted with an almost-whiny tone. "Let me read your composition!" He looked up at the magical clock on the wall, looking desperate.

"No, I won't. You've had ten days to finish it." Hermione replied in a strong and severe tone.

"But I just need another two inches, come on!"

With that, the Gryffindor girl grabbed her bag and shook her head definitively. She began to leave the library, Ronald following after her almost begging, and Potter following behind as if lost in thought. Izzy waved at Hermione before settling back to her desk, determined to get a couple of productive hours done in the library.

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A few hours later, after the Gryffindor's double History of Magic lesson, Jett and Hermione came into the library deep in conversation.

Isabelle had finished all of the homework she had planned to and, instead of studying, was reading one of the novels Hermione had given her for her birthday. She perked up, hearing their two familiar voices, and moved back to the table they usually sat at instead of the comfortable arm chair by the fireplace.

"…do wonder how she died, no one seems to know." Hermione sighed as she sat down.

"I don't care /how/ so much as someone /did/ kill her – and condemned the rest of us to forever be stuck with her." Jett said somewhat jokingly.

"Who?" Iz asked as she joined them, curious.

"Moaning Myrtle." The two responded at the same time.

"Did you go into the first floor girl's bathroom again? She always floods the place. To be honest, I feel kind of bad for her…" Izzy stated, glancing between the two.

"Yeah. We were just investigating what might have happened the other night… At least we now know about the legend of the Chamber and I don't need to keep searching for Hogwarts: A History." Hermione said in relief, jotting down a few notes on a piece of parchment so that she would not forget what Professor Binns had told the class.

"Is that the book you've been searching for? Why didn't you say so?! I brought it with me – it's in my trunk in the Slytherin dorms." Isabelle replied, giving her friend an odd look.

"Of course it is. I left mine at home this year because of all of Professor Lockhart's books – can I borrow it?" Hermione finished, to which her Slytherin friend nodded.

"But we heard all of what that old ghost had to say. Now we just need to figure out who the heir is, if the Chamber has really been opened." Jett interjected, glancing at Hermione.

"Well, the rumor going around at the moment is that Harry Potter is the heir." Isabelle said quietly, watching both of the Gryffindors for their reactions.

"That's ridiculous. Harry isn't the heir – he isn't even in Slytherin!" Jett responded right away, scrunching her eyebrows together at the thought.

"Yeah. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's just because Filch blamed him that everyone is thinking that." Hermione added.

"Okay, if you say so. But people are saying that's why You-Know-Who didn't kill him – because he's Slytherin's heir." Iz smirked, now mostly joking with the two girls, also thinking the rumor was preposterous.

"…do you know who the heir is, Izzy?" Jett asked somewhat slyly, leaning forward to watch her friend's reaction.

Without really thinking and not noticing the two Gryffindors' intense stares and attention, Isabelle hesitated a moment. She did not know /who/ the heir was, exactly, but her parents somehow knew. But did that make her somewhat suspicious to say that? Would they also assume that she was then related to the heir, like Draco had?

"No, I don't know. There have been a lot of rumors circling around Slytherin but no one has any real idea or proof." Iz finally answered with a shrug, speaking as honestly as she could.

The two Gryffindors glanced at each other but did not say anything more on the subject. They moved on to an easier discussion about the upcoming quiz in Transfiguration and happily departed for dinner.

It was later that evening in the Gryffindor common room that Jett and Hermione, in the company of Harry and Ron, would come up with the Polyjuice Potion plan to find out who the real heir of Slytherin was.