Sense of Belonging

Chapter 27

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

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February flew by, following the incidents on Valentine's Day. Draco demanded attention per usual, telling all of Slytherin House about Potter's diary and making up stories of what could be written in it. That, or he was rubbing it in his suitemates faces that he had gotten two Valentines while they had all received none. (The one had been from Pansy, the other anonymous. If only Draco could recognize his sister's handwriting and realize she was using him to make Pansy jealous.) Isabelle would have corrected her brother on the journal as well, knowing that it was not Harry's personal journal but one from a T. M. Riddle from fifty years before, but the younger Malfoy sibling did not care enough and was focused on other things.

The first was her work with potions. Ginny Weasley had much improved in her studies since the beginning of January and Izzy was ready to recommend that she did not need the tutoring any longer. It seemed that the Gryffindor girl had simply needed to focus on the class – and whatever had been distracting her since the beginning of the year had disappeared since the bathroom incident. On top of that, the Slytherin had overheard Professor Sprout tell Potter that the mandrakes were almost mature enough to cure those petrified in the Hospital Wing. The ambitious young Malfoy could only hope that she might be able to be a part of – or at least observe – how to make the cure.

The second thing on Isabelle's mind was her friends. Once they had returned to their usual library routine, her Gryffindor friendships had fallen right back into place. Hermione and Izzy would finish their homework or check each other's while Jett attempted to distract them or get them to pull pranks on some unfortunate student. Iz always wondered when Jett got her homework done, as she never seemed to be in danger of failing a class. Even so, the last few times the girls had met had been different. Hermione and Jett were back to whispering with each other and hoping the Slytherin did not notice. The only words Izzy had been able to catch were the same two she already knew: diary and Riddle.

Thus, Izzy had opted to stay late in the library on a few occasions researching what she could find out on her only lead. Who was this T. M. Riddle? Iz first thought to check the wizarding family records in the history section of the library. Finding no family name of Riddle there, she then went on to check school records for any possible clues. She discovered that a Tom Riddle was made a Slytherin prefect in 1942 and became Head Boy in 1944.

Having exhausted the library's resources that she could access freely, Iz tried the Trophy Room in hopes Riddle's picture or name might also be found there. She was in luck, discovering a fairly large plaque dedicated to this Tom Riddle for "Special Services to the School" in the year 1943. There were no pictures of the boy – he had not played on the Quidditch House team and it was before Hogwarts had begun any sort of yearbooks – but Isabelle felt she somehow knew him. Or maybe it was just because he was also a Slytherin, and accomplished, and she was trying to solve a mystery?

/There has to be more/, Izzy thought to herself, frustrated that this was the only information she had discovered. /If he was a Slytherin when the Chamber opened the last time, he must have known who the culprit was! Who else might have been alive then…/ Realizing it was likely only the Headmaster who may have known the boy, and not wanting to risk bothering Professor Dumbledore while snooping around for clues, she would have to figure out some other way. If no one else was alive then…

A ghost! Taking off running through the corridors, Isabelle stopped every ghost she could find to ask about a boy named Tom Riddle. Most said they knew nothing or had not even heard of the student's name. When finding the Grey Lady, the Ravenclaw's House ghost, the young woman curtly shook her head and took off through one of the walls without another answer. Even Professor Binns, who the Slytherin girl found still in his classroom, had no idea who she was talking about.

Frustrated with her lack of success, Isabelle returned to the Slytherin common room to plot out some more plans to get the information she was looking for. And that would be without Hermione's or Jett's knowledge.

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Izzy had very little luck finding out any more information on the 1940s boy or his diary. Potter had stopped carrying the book around with him (the Slytherin had checked his bag, in case she had the opportunity to steal it for answers) and Iz was still set on not asking Hermione or Jett what they knew. By the time the Easter holidays had arrived, she was no closer to figuring out the mystery.

At the same time, the entire school seemed to be in better spirits. There had been no more attacks – with Professor Lockhart taking the claim that he had scared off the culprit – and the weather was getting nicer. Plus, Isabelle had something to distract her while she was back at the Manor for the holidays.

"Look at all the choices, Draco! How am I even going to be able to choose?" The dark-haired Malfoy sat in her favorite Drawing Room at the Manor one day during the break. Iz was staring at the official Hogwarts form in front of her which dictated the electives she could begin taking at the start of her third year.

"There really aren't that many, sis. There are five to choose from and you only have to take two." Draco sat with his feet up on the couch, tossing a ball up into the air and then catching it, looking bored.

"But I want to take all /five/."

"You know you can't, there isn't possibly enough time. Plus you would have to do all of this extra work – it isn't worth it. What ones are you really interested in?" Draco sat up, indulging his sister, hoping if she finally picked that she would go outside to play a game with him.

"Well, I think Ancient Runes would be really cool. I've heard that Professor Babbling is nice and I don't think the translation would be that hard. Plus, it could help me read older potions instructions or texts." Isabelle glanced up, already wanting to take the class.

"Okay, so that's easy. Your first elective. What about the others?" Her blonde-haired brother stood up to join her at the table, not having made his decision yet either but having an idea in mind of which classes would be the easiest.

"Well… Arithmancy seems challenging enough, but I'm not sure it will be much fun. Divination is supposed to be really easy to pass but I don't want to waste my time on nonsense. Care of Magical Creatures… I've heard that Professor Kettleburn is nice but I'm not sure I really want to work with all of the creatures? But I guess it would help with potions ingredients… And then there's Muggle Studies…" Iz trailed off, not finishing her thought, realizing what her brother might think. Draco, on the other hand, caught her tone and gave her a knowing look.

"Seriously, Izzy? You know you can't take that elective. It's pure crap and our parents will – "

"I know! I know…" Iz answered quickly, in case one of the house elves was listening. She had no intention of officially signing up for the elective…but her parents or brother could not stop her from getting the textbooks and living vicariously through Hermione or Jett, if either of them ended up taking the class.

"So that just leaves three to choose from." Draco sat down, pulling his own Hogwarts form toward him and filling it out on his own. "There. Done. See how easy that was?"

"What did you pick?" Izzy leaned closer to see her brother's handwriting. "Divination and Care of Magical Creatures?"

"Yup. The two easiest classes. I don't need Runes or Arithmancy for anything so why not?" Draco leaned back with a smirk, imagining how easy his next year would be. "If only we could drop major subjects, like History of Magic."

Taking another minute or two to think it over, Isabelle decided that she could not make a decision. She would talk it over with Mother a little later to get her opinion before officially declaring her electives. Giving in to Draco's whining, she followed him outside to help him practice Quidditch for a couple of hours.

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A few days later near the end of break, Izzy discovered a secret room in the Manor. It was not her first time finding something like this – she used to spend her days before Hogwarts exploring the large house and grounds. Narcissa used to even leave her clues to follow as a sort of game.

Isabelle had not thought to ask her parents about a boy named Tom Riddle. As they had both gone to Hogwarts over twenty years later, she was sure they would have no information. In fact, the younger Malfoy sibling had given up on finding out anything else. If the Chamber of Secrets was once again closed, what did it matter?

Spending one of the sunnier (yet cooler) days in the Upper Tower room reading one of her wizarding novels she had received as a present from her mother, Izzy was simply enjoying being at home. Though she loved Hogwarts, her classes and seeing her friends, she missed the quiet and comforting atmosphere of her childhood home. What could be better than reading a great book while sitting in the warm sunshine?

Finishing the novel (with a cliffhanger ending – every time!), Iz stood up to find a different book to occupy her thoughts. Walking by the window, the dark-haired girl noticed her brother terrorizing Lucius' peacocks in the front grounds. Draco seemed to be practicing flying while also hitting the majestic-looking birds with – fruit? Unsure what he was up to, she moved along the bookshelves searching for something that looked entertaining.

Nothing seemed to stick out to her. She had already read many of her favorite section. Narcissa's shelves were full of hosting tips and Witch Weekly magazines, nothing of substance for Iz's liking. Draco had a total of four books, all about Quidditch.

Reaching Lucius' section, Izzy searched for any title that might sound interesting. Her eyes drawn to a bright blue book in the second row to the top, Iz took out her hand to levitate it down. Trying to practice the spell without saying the incantation, she concentrated on the book. It lifted itself up and out of line, leaving the other books to topple against each other. Just as it began to descend, Izzy's concentration broke – she had jumped at the sound of something slamming into the window. As she looked over to the glass panes of the window (where Draco was now floating on his broom, trying to get it to open so he could come inside), the blue book fell quickly, knocking another, older book out of place.

By the time Isabelle glanced back at the bookshelves, they had mostly disappeared, a door in their place.