Sense of Belonging

Chapter 18

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

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November 7th seemed to be a good enough day. Or, at least it was in the morning hours before the Slytherin-Gryffindor Quidditch match.

Isabelle had been the first one up per usual, just as the green light began to enter the dorm room. Sneaking up to the common room, she could not shake the nervous feeling in her stomach. She tried to convince herself that it was just for her brother, for Draco's first official Quidditch match on the school team today. Sure, she was nervous for her brother and for her House to win. Right?

But the youngest Malfoy knew it was something different. She had to come up with a plan as to how to deal with her parents. They were coming to watch Draco at the Quidditch pitch and had invited – or really expected – Iz to join them in the guest booth.

Despite her best efforts, all Izzy could imagine was her father deciding that she was embarrassing the family name too much at Hogwarts, using the excuse that she was too young still, to remove her from the magic school. /You'll learn just as much at the manor, sweetie, don't you worry,/ the dark-haired Slytherin could hear her mother say, attempting to soothe her. Would Lucius really make her leave Hogwarts?

Resolving to find a solution to each possibility, Iz sat staring into the common room fire, thinking.

"…Izzy?"

Blinking a few times before glancing over to where Daphne was standing, she gave her a confused look. "Yes?"

"You alright?" The Slytherin girl brushed part of her blonde hair behind her ear, seeming concerned for her friend.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, of course. Sorry, I didn't sleep well and was kind of dozing off… Want to head down to breakfast?" Isabelle covered her confusion quickly, adding a small smile of reassurance to convince her suitemate. Standing from her chair and moving toward the door, the two girls made their way to the Great Hall amid the buzz of other chattering students.

"You would think that it's the World Cup or something," the elder Greengrass girl commented to Iz. Both glanced around at the almost full room – a strange phenomenon for a Saturday morning.

"I still don't understand what everyone gets excited about. The game is still kind of stupid to me, but," Iz shrugged and returned to her pumpkin juice before continuing, "I've got to support Draco today."

"Do you think we're going to win?"

Izzy hesitated. She wanted to be positive for her House, be optimistic for their victory and for her brother's success, but she had also seen Potter and his flying. Though she would not easily admit it out loud, she knew that Draco was no match for the Boy-Who-Lived.

"I hope so," the younger Malfoy sibling answered as the older appeared at the Slytherin table with Crabbe and Goyle. Cheering up a bit to be supportive of her brother, Isabelle turned to him with a smile, saying, "Good morning, Draco!"

"Morning." Draco responded with a small smile back, appearing more confident than the night before.

After eating a decent enough breakfast, the blonde-haired boy stood to leave with the rest of the Slytherin House Quidditch team. The other second-years followed a few minutes later, a couple finishing putting on their silver-and-green scarves to brave the chilly November air.

Izzy split off from the group as they approached the pitch, remembering that she was to meet her parents at the western gate. As she made her way down the steps on the hill, she watched the Gryffindor team disappearing through the players' entranceway. Catching Jett's eye as she stood at the back with the other two substitute players, Iz waved in good luck to her friend.

"Isabelle," a voice said to her left and she turned to see her parents waiting. They were both dressed in the Slytherin House colors, Lucius with his elegant walking stick and Narcissa sporting a new pair of beautiful emerald gloves.

"Hello, sweetie," Izzy's mother set a hand on her shoulder in greeting. A little disappointed in not receiving a welcoming hug but remembering that they were technically in public and her parents would be acting their usual proud selves, she nodded back in greeting with a small smile.

"Good morning, Mother, Father. Where are we going to be sitting today?" Iz already knew the answer, as Draco had told her last night. Lucius was seemingly ignoring her, glancing around as other important Board members walked by. Turning to her mother, the second-year waited for the answer.

"Up in the reserved booth, in the middle. Your father was invited to sit with some of the other Board members and a couple of your professors." Pausing to look up at her husband, who was now in some political conversation with a fellow Hogwarts Board member, she smiled a bit more broadly at her daughter as if discussing a secret and leaned closer. "So, how was your birthday?"

"It was good. Thank you for the quills – they work really well and I use them every day."

"I'm glad you are enjoying them. Oh, it looks like we are heading up to our seats now. Come along," Narcissa replied, following after the other well-dressed guests. They both caught up to Lucius and followed him up the winding staircase to the reserved booth. Knowing she would only have a small window of time to ask, Isabelle worked her way next to her mother as they climbed the wooden steps.

"Mother? I have a question. There have been some odd happenings at school the last week or so… Have you heard about it at all?"

"What sort of happenings, sweetie?" Narcissa answered, keeping her focus on the stairs ahead.

"Well…on Halloween, the caretaker's cat was petrified and someone wrote a note on the wall that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened." Watching her mother for any sign of reaction, Izzy continued. "It also said, 'Enemies of the heir, beware.'"

"It sounds like it could have merely been a student's prank, Isabelle. The Chamber of Secrets is an old Hogwarts myth." Narcissa responded evenly, glancing back at her daughter quickly before focusing once again up ahead.

"That's what I found out, yes. And I was sure if there was any truth, the Headmaster would have had to notify our parents. But…well, even if it is a myth, there might still be some truth in it." No response from her mother. "Do you know who the heir of Slytherin is?"

"The heir of Slytherin?" The tall, blonde woman repeated slowly as they climbed the final turn of the staircase. She glanced up toward her husband, waiting at the top, and Iz caught a look of doubt on her mother's face. The young Malfoy waited eagerly.

"No, sweetie, I'm sorry, I have no idea. There may not even be an heir."

Frowning, knowing that she was lying, Izzy rushed after her before she reached the top of the stairs. "But Mother, I heard you and Father talking at home during the summer. You must know /something/, it's the talk of the whole school."

They reached the top of the staircase, joining Lucius.

"Please, tell me who the heir is! Or, or if Draco and I are – ?" Iz tried to continue but was cut off by her father.

"Enough, Isabelle. The game is about to begin and we must find our seats."

"Just wait a moment! Mother, I heard you and Father at home, about the heir but also about some secret or other – !" The second-year Slytherin attempted to get answers, blocking her mother's path to following her father.

"I said, /enough/, Isabelle. And do not raise your voice at your mother. Now come, we are here to watch the Quidditch match. Behave yourself." Lucius added the last point, his tone and the cold look in his eyes offering the pre-teen her last warning. Knowing not to push her parents anymore, at least at that moment, she followed them into the stands.

Finding both Professor Flitwick and Professor Snape to be sitting among the various Board members, Izzy put on her fake, public smile and obediently took her seat next to her mother. (Who knew they would have such soft, comfortable seats in the reserved booth? Last year when she had attended a game, the students only had wooden benches!) Across the way Iz could see the Slytherins, all dressed in their House colors. The Gryffindors were on the opposite side of the pitch, with a mixture of the two remaining Hogwarts houses in the middle.

The game began as boringly as Isabelle had expected. She clapped as the Slytherin team took the pitch and pretended to watch with interest. Sure, the Slytherins took an early lead of 60 points to 0. They were very obviously faster than the Gryffindor team, the new broomsticks from the Malfoy family donation paying off brilliantly.

Izzy had mostly been watching her brother, who honestly had done basically nothing the whole game so far. He would sometimes fly along the play, watching the Quaffle, and cheering as his House scored.

Moving to look at some of the other players, she recognized the two red-haired twins that Jett enjoyed spending time with. They seemed to be sticking near Potter instead of flying around the stadium. No matter what either Beater did, even hitting it straight at her brother, the large bludger turned back the other way towards the messy-haired Gryffindor instead. Iz winced as a bludger almost knocked one of the Gryffindor Chasers off her broom as she went to score.

As a time-out was called by the Gryffindor team, Draco decided to fly by where the rest of his family was sitting as a way to show off. He did a trick before meeting up with the rest of the Slytherin team, giving his parents and sister a quick wave and a confident smirk.

"Yes, I'm very proud of my son," Isabelle overheard her father say cockily to a couple of Board members.

She glanced back to see that Professor Flitwick had disappeared. Turning to try and ask her mother once again about the Chamber or the heir, she found Narcissa talking to Professor Snape. Unsure what they could be talking about, and hoping that it was not anything bad about her or Draco, Iz turned to face the pitch as the game re-started.

"Your potions professor is very impressed with your work, Isabelle." Her mother leaned over to whisper in her ear, squeezing her daughter's shoulder proudly as they both turned to refocus on the Quidditch match. "He says you may be one of his best students of all the classes."

Izzy smiled at the news, glad that her hard work had earned her both Snape's and her mother's praise. She glanced at her father, who was closely watching the game now, and wondered if that information may help her in getting out of trouble.

Returning to the Quidditch match, Iz leaned forward in surprise as she watched Potter dive straight for her brother as if to unseat him. Draco moved out of the way with a confused look before realizing that the other Seeker had seen the Snitch. Moving out of the path of a bludger, Draco zoomed after Potter, easily catching up to him with his fast broomstick.

Now watching, captivated like much of the crowd with the struggle between the two Seekers, Izzy sat on the edge of her seat to get the best view. The pair zoomed past the reserved booth, Lucius still smiling but concentrated on his son. The Snitch must have dropped quickly to the ground as the two Seekers followed in a sudden movement. Potter's arm was outstretched as if he was about to catch the golden flying ball –

WHAM! Isabelle jumped in surprise as one of the bludgers smashed into the Gryffindor's arm. Potter kept going, somehow managing to stay on his broomstick despite his surely-broken arm.

Draco zoomed forward, practically getting his hand around the Snitch but losing it in the haze of rain that had begun to fall. Watching as her brother glanced up and dodged once again as Harry flew right towards him, she watched Draco's smile turn to a frustrated grimace as he raced to catch up once again with the scarlet-clad Seeker. He had not yet realized his mistake as, only moments later, the bludger that kept attacking Harry came barreling towards the young Malfoy. Pulling up to get out of the heavy ball's path, Draco had moved too quickly and proceeded to fling himself and his broom head over heels, landing roughly on his ankle and his broom flying a few feet away.

Standing to get a better look at Draco to be sure he was alright, she heard Lee Jordan's voice over the loudspeaker announcing that Harry Potter had caught the Snitch and that Gryffindor had won. The star scarlet-clad player seemed out of sorts, remaining sitting on the pitch, holding his arm. Hermione, Ron, and Jett all ran over to the famous boy, followed by Professor Lockhart. Glancing back to where Draco had landed, Iz saw one of the other Slytherin players helping her brother stand, something wrong with his leg or ankle.

The players too far away on the pitch to be able to really see what was going on, Izzy felt her mother stand up next to her. Glancing in her direction, she saw that Narcissa was gazing down at the pitch, obviously worried about her son. Isabelle also stood up, expecting to follow her parents down to the ground to check that Draco was alright. Looking over to her father, she saw a very different reaction than her mother. His face was in a deeper scowl than it usually was when they were in public. Lucius seemed almost angry, something which the second-year Slytherin could not understand. Was he angry with the Gryffindors? With Potter, who had practically knocked Draco off his broom? Or with Draco himself for failing?

A few of the other Board members appeared somewhat amused, especially the two who had sat behind the Malfoys sporting their scarlet-and-gold. Without another word, the head of the family led Narcissa and Iz down the winding staircase.

Upon finding that Draco had been taken up to the Hospital Wing already, the three figures trudged their way back up the hills to the castle in silence. Izzy did not feel it was the right time to continue with her questions about the Chamber or heir but was itching to get some sort of answer. And yet, her mother was obviously preoccupied with whatever had happened to her brother and her father was in no mood to be disturbed.

Madam Pomfrey had already seen to the young Malfoy boy by the time his parents and sibling arrived. The rest of the Slytherin team departed, leaving the pureblooded family alone in the large room.

"Draco, are you badly hurt?" Narcissa fawned over her son, brushing her hand through his blonde hair and sitting on the edge of his bed. Iz watched as Draco put on a deeper frown and pretended to wince in pain to get more attention.

"I'll be alright, Mother, it only hurts – " He winced again and let out a small gasp of pain before continuing, "when I move. The nurse said I was lucky…"

"Oh, my poor boy!"

Draco gave Isabelle a small smirk as their mother gave him a tight hug. The look quickly disappeared as he met his father's eyes though.

"You should have caught the Snitch, Draco. It was right near you – right beside your ear. And yet – " Lucius' voice remained a displeased quiet, but his intense eyes showed his restrained anger.

"It's all Potter's fault! I would have caught that stupid ball if /he/ hadn't tried to unseat me. He rushed at me, and then I was distracted because of the bludger – "

"No excuses. You had the faster broom, you have the better skill. You have embarrassed me in front of the entire school. You – !"

"Enough, Lucius." Narcissa cut in before her husband's voice would get any louder. Shooting him a serious look, she said, "The boy is hurt. He tried his best, and there will be other games for him to prove himself. But now he just needs to rest."

"Fine." Taking a moment to watch Draco sip the water his mother had offered him, he turned to the dark-haired girl standing on the other side of the boy's bed. "Isabelle. A word."

Having been expecting this – and having hoped it would be after her brother had /won/ the game, when her parents may have been in a better mood – Iz followed Lucius a few feet away from the bed.

Taking a deep breath in preparation, she said quietly, "Yes, Father?"

"I expect that you received my note last week." Recognizing that he did not even hint at her birthday, she gave a short, affirmative nod. "And yet I received no reply from you explaining the situation. Must I remind you of the consequences?" Lucius leaned down, closer to the second-year who met his eyes as bravely as she could manage.

"No, sir. I was going to send a response but Draco… I had realized you would come to see the first Quidditch match. I felt it was better to explain in person." Isabelle clarified diplomatically, trying to choose her words carefully. She could still see the anger in her father's eyes and knew if she took a wrong step she would feel the full cost of her brother's loss.

"And?"

"And I have been spending so much time near that /muggleborn/," Izzy added as much mirth to the word as she could muster, "so that I know how to beat her in classes." Lucius looked wholly unconvinced and opened his mouth to retort something, but the Hogwarts student continued quickly. "She thinks she's /so/ smart and all of the professors love her. But see, I figured out that if I pretend to study with her, I'll know exactly how to beat her in the exams. I'll know everything that she knows and then I can study harder to become top student! Behind Draco, of course." Adding the last part, she clasped her hands behind her back and waited for her father's reaction.

The tall, blonde-haired man had stood back up to consider what the girl had said. He glanced towards the doorway to the Hospital Wing as it opened, a group of Ravenclaw students coming in, and he realized his chance of yelling at the girl had passed. Lucius looked back at Iz and leaned down again, his tone low and almost menacing.

"That had better be the case, Isabelle. And if I hear differently, if there are any rumors that you have made that Mudblood your friend, you know the consequences. You will be out of Hogwarts before you can say 'butterbeer.'"

With that, her father walked back over to Draco's bedside and laid a hand on his wife's shoulder. She watched Narcissa give her son one more hug before standing to leave. Lucius simply walked out of the wing without another look at either of the two children. Izzy ran to give her mother a hug goodbye.

"Sweetie, you watch after your brother now, alright? I trust you to keep him out of more trouble."

"I know, Mother." Iz squeezed her tightly once more before looking her straight in the eyes. "Can you really not tell me /anything/ about the heir of Slytherin?"

"Oh, Isabelle, not this again. I do not know anything other than what the rumors say. But I am positive you and your brother and your Slytherin friends are all safe here."

"But Mother – "

"I shouldn't keep your father waiting. Just focus on your studies!" And with a quick kiss on the forehead, Narcissa disappeared through the doors as well.

Turning back to her brother's hospital bed, Iz found him already surrounded by a few of his Slytherin friends. He was moaning and groaning and complaining about how much everything hurt. Draco continued to blame Potter for the loss and seemed to curse the Boy-Who-Lived every other sentence. His complaints did not stop even when Madam Pomfrey told him that he could go, her focus now across the wing on the Gryffindor seeker who would need to regrow bones.

This is what she was stuck with at school. Her whiny, attention-grabbing brother and some chamber she could not crack the secret of.