Sense of Belonging

Chapter 17

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

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Izzy began to notice that her two best friends were acting strangely around her, and especially around Draco. She realized that they must have heard the rumor (of which her stupid brother was helping to spread) that he was, in fact, an heir of Slytherin. This, of course, also meant that /she/ was an heiress of Slytherin, which made her potentially culpable for the whole secret chamber happenings. Her inner anxiety told her that it may be because of her father's letter, that the two Gryffindors believed she would cut them off and were slowly pulling themselves away. Because of this, Iz had decided not to address this directly in case that was a possible explanation for their odd behavior.

That did not explain what they were doing one day after a Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Isabelle had resolved to the fact that, with Lockhart as the professor, it was one of her least favorite classes. She was barely learning anything! They had been taught one spell in the entire first two months of the school year. On top of that, the professor was so enamored with himself that his homework assignments were almost never on actual Dark Arts but on his heroic ability in each of his books.

Of course, DADA had become particularly interesting the last few classes. Lockhart was using Harry Potter to act out scenes from his books. It was surely embarrassing for the messy-haired Gryffindor but he always seemed to go along with the crazy professor's plans. That particular class, Harry was acting as a werewolf, howling, moaning, shrieking –

BRRRRNNG! The bell rang to signify the end of class. Listening to her brother's muffled laughter, she packed up her bag and stood. Over the sound of chairs scraping the floor and the rest of the students discussing that day's class, she heard Lockhart dictate some sort of homework.

"Your assignment is to compose a poem about my defeat of the Wagga Wagga werewolf! Signed copies of Magical Me to the author of the best one!" Daphne, who was standing next to Iz, practically swooned at the last part. She and Hermione seemed to be the only ones left in the class who actually enjoyed Lockhart's lessons.

About to follow the other Slytherins out of the classroom but realizing her Gryffindor friends had not finished packing their bags, she waited near the doorway. Both Jett and Hermione glanced up as they were some of the last students in the classroom. Together, they waved Izzy on with a look that said, "We'll meet you in the library." Confused, she left the DADA room.

Feeling a bit suspicious as to why they were speaking to Lockhart alone, and what they could be up to, she waited in the hallway for them to emerge. It was only a few moments later but there were four Gryffindors instead of only two. Potter and Weasley were with them, with the former commenting,

"I don't believe it! He didn't even look at the book we wanted."

"That's because he's a brainless git. But who cares, we've got what we needed." Ronald replied with a shrug as the small group made their way down the hallway, followed by an eavesdropping Slytherin.

"He is /not/ a brainless git." Hermione defended their professor, but said nothing more. The four Gryffindors were moving more quickly than their usual walking pace and Iz was having a difficult time keeping up with them.

/Why are they in such a hurry?/ Izzy thought.

"…because he said you were the best student in the year…"

The young Malfoy caught part of the conversation before the group entered the library, lowering their voices. She followed them in but, instead of going up to the counter where they were standing, she sat down at a group of armchairs near Madam Pince's desk. Iz leaned closer, struggling to hear the conversation with such low tones.

She had missed whatever book they had been asking for but saw the librarian's distrust of the request. Madam Pince held up the signed note (with Lockhart's loopy signature clear on it) as if to detect a forgery. Satisfied with the test, she disappeared into the throngs of bookshelves before emerging with the Gryffindors' requested book.

/It must have been in the Restricted Section/, Isabelle thought to herself.

Looking closely, Iz caught the title written on the spine. Most Potente Potions. It was a large and moldy-looking book.

The bushy-haired girl quickly stowed the magical book in her bag and left without another word. The two boys' faces looked almost guilty, Jett even appearing nervous, and the Slytherin could not help but wonder what the group was up to.

~:~

Later, at dinner, Izzy approached the Gryffindor table cautiously. Tapping Hermione lightly on the shoulder, she leaned down to say in a friendly manner, "Missed you in the library earlier after DADA. Where did you disappear to?"

Not missing the guilty look on her friend's face for the split second it had appeared, nor the glance at Jett for help in coming up with some lie, Isabelle sat down and shook her head. "I saw you both in the library. With Potter and Weasley. What did you need a potions book for?"

"Oh, uh, just studying up on some that Professor Snape mentioned last class…" Hermione attempted to lie.

"Uh huh. And it needed to come from the restricted section?" Iz raised one of her eyebrows in a questioning look at the two Gryffindors.

"Look, Izzy – " Jett began to say, a better liar than Hermione.

"No. Are you or are you not trying to poison someone?" Izzy asked seriously, that having been the only explanation she could come up with for the request of a restricted section potions book.

"Of course not!"

"Absolutely not!"

"Then why did you need that book?" Hermione and Jett glanced at one another, both unsure what to say.

"She's better at potions than you, Mione, she could help – ?" Jett started to say but stopped as the other Gryffindor whacked her.

"I could help with what?" Neither answered Izzy. "You know I could have gotten that book for you without you having to ask Lockhart to sign the piece of paper. Professor Snape has given me full access to all of the potions books, as long as I explain why I need them. So why did you two need that book?" The dark-haired girl crossed her arms and gazed at her two best friends, still completely serious.

"We were…going to try and make a truth potion. To be able to find out who the heir of Slytherin really is! Yes!" Hermione explained, becoming more excited by the end of her sentences. (Not that Iz realized it, but she had come up with a workable and successful lie!)

"Veritaserum? But that's, like, extremely difficult to make. And we aren't even allowed to have it because of the Ministry rules…"

"No, not that one. We aren't skilled enough for that, Iz, we're only Second Years. It was a different one, one Hermione had read about in one of her books. We just want to find out who really is the heir of Slytherin, if there is one." Jett followed up, nudging Hermione to nod along.

"So you both don't trust me?" Neither responded in the short window of time the dark-haired Malfoy gave them. "Were you going to use it on me?" Isabelle realized, now looking more hurt than concerned with their actions.

"Of course not, Izzy! We were…going to use it on one of the older Slytherins." Hermione waved her hand toward the silver-and-green table across the Great Hall.

"We trust you, Iz, but you might not know everything. So we wanted to find out on our own! Plus, if we make the potion right, it's not dangerous at all." Jett smiled reassuringly, glad their lie seemed to be working. The Gryffindor would need Isabelle to believe it was a truth serum if Jett were to use the Polyjuice Potion to become her friend and interrogate her brother.

"…okay. But you both won't do anything too dangerous, right? And if you need any help, I'd be happy to step in?" Isabelle added, glancing at them both to get their affirmation. "Alright, then, don't get caught."

"We won't. Thanks, Izzy," Hermione gave her a smile and waved as the Slytherin left to go back to her House's table in the Great Hall. Looking over at Jett, she sighed in relief at how they had gotten away without telling her their true plans.

~:~

" – going to be amazing tomorrow, Draco. I'll be cheering you on from the Slytherin stands!" Pansy was guffawing over her brother again, the pair entering the common room followed by Crabbe and Goyle.

Izzy stowed her Muggle novel away, knowing that the group of second-years would be headed towards where she was sitting. Glancing up, she watched as her brother, who now seemed tired of the attention from Pansy, slumped slightly into his chair by the fire. The two boys sat on the couch nearby while the spiky-haired girl sat on the arm of Draco's 'throne'.

"Thanks, Pansy," was all her brother responded, staring into the flames of the fire. He seemed a bit nervous to Izzy but was hiding it well. She knew it was a big deal for him – his first Hogwarts Quidditch match on the House team. Sure, he had played Quidditch informally almost his entire life. She knew about all the times he had tried new broom tricks or when he had fallen and broken his wrist when trying the game with bludgers for the first time.

Iz also knew that Draco did not really want to be the Seeker – it had just been the easiest position for him to take on. Despite the fact that the Seeker got all of the glory of the game, she knew that her brother preferred to play as a Chaser. He had really only trained for the catching-the-snitch position for the last couple of weeks and she was sure that the elder Malfoy sibling did not feel as confident as he wanted to.

"You'll do great tomorrow, Draco, I know it," Isabelle chimed in, trying to cheer up the buried look of worry on her brother's face. He turned and gave her a small smile of thanks.

"You're coming to the game, aren't you, Izzy?" Draco seemed unsure, remembering how much his sister hated the sport and flying.

"Yes, of course."

As if suddenly remembering something, Draco reached into his bag and pulled out a worn piece of parchment. Iz immediately recognized it as a letter from home. Not having heard from either her mother or father since the warning letter about Hermione, the dark-haired girl bit her lip in concern.

"I forgot to tell you, Mother and Father are coming to see the game tomorrow, too! They said for you to meet them at the western gate, where the players enter. Mother wrote that you'll be sitting with them, a few of the professors, and some of the Board members." Draco held the letter out to his sister. Ignoring Pansy's annoyed look at the news that Isabelle would be getting one of the best views for the game, Iz read the short letter to confirm her brother's words.

"Okay…"

The second-year Slytherin was now quite nervous. She had thought, if her mother was not going to come and visit her again on her birthday the week before, that she would not have to see her parents or deal with the Hermione thing until at least Christmas break.

Now that she would be seeing them tomorrow, Isabelle knew that she would need to prepare a defense for her father. And maybe some questions for her mother…

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AN: Sorry for the couple of weeks break, life got away from me for a bit. Planning to be back to regular updates! Hope you all are still enjoying the storyline. What will our twelve-year-old protagonists be up to next?