Sense of Belonging

Chapter 4

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

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First stopping to change into her Hogwarts robes, Isabelle wandered through the different train cars, all of the compartments filled.

Coming upon one compartment which looked empty, she opened the door and sat down inside. Setting Russet next to her, she pouted, staring out the window. How /dare/ Draco not give her the money. He couldn't tell her what she could and couldn't do, Izzy thought. So distracted by her own self-pity, she didn't notice another person's belongings on the other side of the compartment. When the door opened only a few minutes later, Iz jumped, surprised by the noise and looking to see who it was.

A petite, blonde-haired girl entered, giving Isabelle a strange look. She had obviously just changed into her Hogwarts robes, putting away what looked like tattered jeans and a t-shirt. Oh great, a Muggle-born.

"Can I help you?" The blonde girl asked, turning around and sitting across from Iz. She spoke with a slight accent which Iz couldn't place.

"Excuse me?" Isabelle responded, confused but acting polite for appearances.

"Can I help you?" The girl repeated. "Why are you in my compartment?"

"What makes it /your/ compartment?" Iz replied, giving her a strange look.

"Well, my things were in here. I'm sitting here. Why are you here?" Unsure why the girl was acting so cold, Iz crossed her arms and gave her a look that said she wasn't going to move.

"I had a disagreement with my brother. I saw this compartment, which looked empty, and came in. Is that a problem?" Doing the best impression she could of her mother, Izzy stared the girl down.

"I guess not. But most people ask if they can join someone, not just barge in." After a moment, the girl sighed. "My name is Jett, by the way. It's my first year." Her tone was more upset than anything else, as if she didn't want to be going to Hogwarts.

"I'm Isabelle. Nice to meet you." Pausing a second, she uncrossed her arms, leaned forward slightly and asked curiously, "Where are you from?"

"France. I live with my mother in France. My father's from Britain but… I live with my mother." Jett ended definitively, not inviting any more questions on that topic.

"Oh. Why are you coming to Hogwarts then, instead of Beauxbatons? I heard that was also one of the nicer schools for magic." The other girl made a face at the mention of the school.

"They're all stuck-up. My mother went there, but my father went to Hogwarts. I wanted to come here to get away from family…"

"So both your parents had magic?" Iz said in a tone more obviously hopeful than it should have been. Giving her a weird look, Jett replied,

"Yes. I'm a pure-blooded witch. Does that matter to you?" Not used to being judged for her beliefs, Iz was unsure how to answer. Thankfully, she was saved by the candy cart, the door opening.

"Anything off the cart, dears?" The smiling, dimpled old woman asked the two girls. Izzy's stomach rumbled a little, excited at the thought of candy. Then she remembered that her brother still had their money for snacks. She could use her emergency money in her bag – but she wasn't that desperate. Putting on a small, fake-happy smile, she said,

"Not at the moment, thank you."

"You sure?" Jett asked her, taking out a money bag of her own. Spilling at least a dozen galleons onto the seat next to her, she counted out some money for a treat. "I've got plenty, if you wanted something." After a moment of hesitation, Iz ordered a couple of Pumpkin Pasties, a Chocolate Frog, and a few other smaller snacks as needed. Jett ordered a bit more, putting most of it away in her bag for later.

"I can repay you, it's just…my brother has our money…" Iz said a little ashamedly, still annoyed that he wouldn't give her part of it.

"It's no problem, as I said, I've got plenty. Fan of the Pumpkin Pasties too?" Jett smiled at her, most of her stuck-upedness gone. She relaxed back in her seat comfortably, eating the snacks.

"Yeah, they're one of my favorites. I always have pumpkin pie for my birthday." After a moment of silence enjoying their food, the two entered into easy conversation about Hogwarts and life in France before getting onto family issues.

"Your brother sounds like a real prat." Jett commented after Izzy told her about Draco. "And I understand about your father. My mum…sometimes I don't even think she wants me, like she never wanted me…" She trailed off sadly, quietly finishing her last treat.

"Why don't you come and live with your father, here in Britain? Or does he also live in France?" Jett got a pained look on her face and before she could answer, the door opened to their compartment.

"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," a girl with lots of bushy brown hair asked from the doorway. Behind her was a tearful round-faced boy. Both Jett and Isabelle shook their heads.

"Gram is going to kill me…" the distraught boy muttered.

"I'm sure he'll turn up, Neville. We're almost to Hogwarts, we had better get back to our seats. Thanks anyways," the bushy-haired girl turned back around and closed the compartment door.

"I don't think he's going to find his toad. Why would you bring a toad, anyways?" Iz commented aloud, shaking her head. Hearing that they were getting close to the school, she began to get nervous. It was really happening.

"My mother wouldn't let me bring an animal. She said it would be too much of a responsibility or something." The girl shrugged, obviously upset at the thought but acting as if it didn't bother her.

"Well, your mother doesn't sound very nice at all." Lost in her thoughts for a moment, Isabelle glanced back at the other girl, "What House do you think you'll be sorted into?"

"Not sure," the girl responded non-committedly, looking out the window as the train began to slow down.

"What House was your father in?" When the girl didn't answer, Iz continued, "Do you want to be in the same House?" Jett still didn't answer, but instead appeared to be intrigued by the sights outside the window. Curious, Iz leaned closer to see what she was looking at – the castle could be seen in the distance, warmly lit but also glooming. As the train slowed further and they reached the heart of the town near the school, the castle became lost behind the roofs.

"How do we get up there?" Jett asked quietly, more to herself. Remembering from Hogwarts: A History, Iz answered matter-of-factly,

"They have carriages for us, but they look like they aren't pulled by anything except magic. Actually, there are these animals called thestrals – " The train stopped and the whistled blew to announce their arrival. The corridor quickly filled with students fighting to get off the train, now all dressed in their Hogwarts school uniforms. Only the First Years wore plain black robes, yet to be sorted and don their House colors. Now more excited than nervous, Iz grabbed Russet's cage and her bag and followed Jett out into the hallway to the platform outside.

Over the heads of the students, Izzy caught sight of a lantern and the very large man from Diagon Alley, calling, "Firs' years! Firs' years, over here. Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!" Tapping Jett's shoulder and pointing at the man, they both moved to join the group of colorless students standing down at that end of the platform. Moving closer to hear what he was going to say, someone grabbed her arm and yanked her back and away.

"Ow! What –!" Izzy turned to see Draco. He seemed upset, not so much at her for earlier but with something else. Crabbe and Goyle stood on either side of him, the latter holding his finger as if it had been cut. In fact, she thought she could see a little blood on the plump boy's finger as he continued to frown. She pulled her arm free, gave Draco a look, and turned back to the semi-giant. Instead of being able to hear, though, her brother distracted her and asked,

"Where have you been? I went searching for you but couldn't find you. I was trying to give you Father's money for candy but you had run off." When Iz didn't answer him, he gave a frustrated sigh but continued, "Did you know Harry Potter is in our class? He's nothing like the legends, he's stupid and an idiot and knows nothing about magic or manners or – "

"Draco, shh. I don't care about Harry Potter and I don't care that you couldn't find me. I'm trying to listen." At that, Isabelle moved back up to stand next to Jett, who paid her little attention. They listened to the end of Hagrid's instructions about the boats, the lake, and Hogwarts. Then, distancing herself from her brother, she followed her new friend to a boat, getting the last seat with two other unfamiliar students. She ignored Draco's stares from his boat to her left, but rather watched as the bushy-haired girl and the toad boy got into a boat with one of the bright red-headed boys she had seen on the platform and another messy-haired boy.

As the boats pulled themselves across the glass-like lake by magic, Iz couldn't believe the view. The castle was stunning, the towers piercing the sunset-lit sky, the large glass windows, and the dark forest surrounding it on land. The scenery was even better from the middle of the lake, but Izzy found herself being distracted by the whisperings of her boat-mates. They were talking about Harry Potter, pointing to the boat she had been watching before. Trying to get a closer look, she thought it must be the dark-haired boy with glasses. Unable to get a good view in the current lighting, she kept an eye on their boat so that she could find him later. She could tell Jett was listening to the other two students as well and leaned over to her, whispering,

"Hey, Jett, did you know that there's a giant squid that lives in the lake?" Iz saw her roll her eyes, unalarmed at the thought. The other two students had heard her, though, and glanced unsure over the edge of the boat. After passing through the entrance to a cave covered by ivy, they reached the end of the tunnel and worked their way onto shore. After one more incident involving Neville's toad, the students were led into the school through a giant castle door. A tall, stern-looking witch barely greeted the First Years before leading them into a small, empty chamber off what Iz presumed was the main hall. They could hear the drone of hundreds of voices to their right but instead turned their attention to the witch with the pointed hat standing in front of them.

"Firs' years, Professor McGonagall," Hagrid nodded in the tall woman's direction, smiling amicably. She nodded in greeting and motioned for him to join the others for the feast. The large man smiled at the messy-haired boy who was supposedly the legendary Harry Potter before disappearing through the huge doors. Turning back to the students, the teacher spoke in a clear, strong voice,

"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and your new home for the next few months. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before that begins you must all be sorted into your Houses. All four houses have equally produced powerful and outstanding witches and wizards. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. These houses will be your family while here, each with a professor in charge for that house as well as student prefects. I hope each of you will become a credit to whichever House you are assigned to. When I return, we shall proceed in. Please wait quietly." She left them alone for a moment as she walked down another hallway.

A girl in front of Isabelle and Jett looked around concerned, whispering, "Wait! How are we going to be sorted?" Jett shrugged, and just as Iz was about to answer her, she became distracted by her brother's voice. Turning to hear what he was complaining about now, she jumped in surprise, along with the majority of the new First Years, as nearly two dozen ghosts glided through the wall towards them. Her fear quickly turning to fascination, watching them go through the wall to the students' right and into where the feast would surely be held.

As the last of the ghosts disappeared, Professor McGonagall returned and organized the mass of new students into two lines. Draco worked his way to be in front of his sister, Jett placed across from her in the other line, actually looking a little nervous. Most of her annoyance with her brother forgotten, Iz tried to see into the Great Hall ahead, excited but anxious for their defining moment with the Sorting Hat.

Here we go, Izzy thought as the group began to process in.