Sense of Belonging

Chapter 1

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

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"But you promised!" The thirteen-year-old boy's whiny tone echoed in the hallway where his sister was walking away.

"Yes, but you promised to help me find the room with all of the magical artefacts. And every time we go looking, you disappear to get a snack or something else ridiculous like that. We still haven't found where they hid anything yet so I'm not going to fly on a bloody broomstick and practice Quidditch with you." Isabelle replied over her shoulder, scanning the walls of the hallway for any potential clue to a hidden space.

"We aren't going to ever find it because Mother knows we're looking for it! Just give up, Izzy, and come outside with me. I'm /bored/." Draco frowned but continued to follow the dark-haired girl as she searched that particular wing of Malfoy Manor. The older sibling had already begun to grow taller, even though the two Hogwarts students had only been home for little more than three weeks.

"She /thinks/ I won't find it," Iz muttered in response, sliding her hand along a suspicious crevice in the wall. No luck. She glanced up to see if Draco was still there and ignored his pouting frown.

"You said you've already searched the whole manor. Maybe they keep moving the room? It's impossible to find," Draco plopped down against the wall as his sister searched a nearby statue.

"I haven't looked everywhere – like their bedroom, or the third floor East wing. And it was too much stuff for them to keep moving." Isabelle replied, sighing in frustration.

"Why is it even so important? Mother told us you're adopted, that was the secret – " Draco pointed out.

"It was only /part/ of the secret! She won't tell me who my real parents are, or were, or whatever. And I need to know."

"Why? You're obviously pureblooded or they wouldn't have taken you in. You're probably family too. What else matters?"

"What else matters?! Everything! My parents could have been crazy or poor or…or worse!" Izzy said dramatically, joining her brother on the floor. Leaning back against the wall, she stared up at the chandelier on the ceiling, lost in her thoughts.

"But you're a Malfoy now. And Mother said that your parents were gone, anyways. I just don't think it's a big deal." Draco offered quietly, staring at the dark-haired girl. He did not want to admit to her that he was actually glad to have found out the secret. He was now the only genuine Malfoy child – their true blood and family. Though Izzy would always be a sister to him, she was not /really/ a Malfoy. But he would never say this aloud to her.

"So what if they're gone? I still have a right to know who they were. To know how they died…" Iz trailed off as she heard footsteps coming down the hallway. Looking up expectantly, she saw her mother turn the corner.

Upon seeing her two children sitting there in such an odd place, Narcissa momentarily panicked. Did they find it? But then the woman realized that they were not even in the right part of the manor. That did little to quell her desire to turn around and disappear to some other part of her home. The look her daughter was giving her made her want to vanish. Why had she admitted the secret to her? She knew Isabelle would only be curious for more information!

As soon as she saw Narcissa, Izzy popped up from her spot on the floor and dashed forward. "Please, oh please, just tell me who they were! Or their names! I have a right to know!"

"We have talked about this, Isabelle. All I am telling you is that you are adopted – which changes nothing – and that your parents are gone. I will tell you more when you are older and will better understand – "

"But I /am/ older now! A whole month older. I'll understand. Please – "

"Enough. I don't want to hear one more word of this or you will be grounded to your room for the rest of the summer holidays." Narcissa snapped, it coming out more harshly than she intended. Sighing, she added, "Why don't you go and play outside with Draco?"

"Finally!" Draco jumped up excitedly.

"No. If you won't tell me who they are, then I'll find out on my own." Izzy huffed in frustration before stalking off down the hallway, determined to get answers.

This was how much of the summer had gone so far. When the two children had first come home, Narcissa had been glad. She was expecting a few questions and had formed the perfect answers that would not give anything more away but would satisfy their desires – or so she had thought. The Malfoy matriarch had not anticipated Isabelle to be so strong-willed and stubborn (though it did not surprise her when she thought about the girl's true parentage). The first few encounters had been simple, distracting her daughter with food or shopping to avoid giving anything away. But by the second week of the vacation, Iz's determination had not lessened. As such, the youngest Black sister had begun to avoid her children as much as possible.

Draco had given up much earlier. It did not matter to him who Izzy's parents were – he trusted that /his/ parents would not have taken in some Muggleborn or halfblooded child. He expected that his mother would not talk about Iz's birth parents because it was really sad or tragic or something. The mystery room intrigued him but he was smart enough to know that they would never find it. And anyways, it was summer holidays! He should be sleeping in late, eating what he wants, and honing his Quidditch skills every day.

By mid-July, despite spending nearly every vacation day searching and begging for information, Isabelle had only her own theories and barely any concrete evidence to support them. She had written a list of what she did know: she was born November 1, 1980, she was pureblooded, the Malfoys had taken her in when she was about one year old (near the end of the Great Wizarding War, she noted), her parents were gone and more than likely dead, and she appeared to have the Black family looks. What did this all mean?

She thought she may have found a clue one day while continuing her search for the secret room. Iz had stumbled upon her grandfather's belongings in the third floor East wing. At first the dark-haired girl had thought she had found part of her parent's stash. But when looking at the photo albums and books, it became clear that they were Cygnus Black's possessions instead. Izzy had been staring at the inside cover of one of the photo albums when she realized something. It was a handwritten version of the Black family tree, up through her parents' generation and not yet including her or Draco. If she had the Black family looks, she would have to be related in some way to the Black family tree. Using the picture, she realized her list of possibilities was really only five people: Narcissa, her older sisters, Bellatrix and Andromeda, or her two cousins, Sirius and Regulus.

Iz's first inclination was Andromeda. Her mother always acted strangely when her middle sister was brought up. The picture she and Draco had found of the three sisters in the Upper Tower room had reminded Iz of herself. But that would also most likely mean that Iz was, in fact, a half-blood as the middle Black sister had run away with some Muggle boy. This theory was quickly (and thankfully) squashed when Isabelle discovered a notice hidden among her grandfather's things indicating the birth of Andromeda and Ted Tonks' daughter, Nymphadora. Along with a picture of a baby girl whose hair kept changing, the birth year of 1973 proved that it could not have been Iz. Why would Andromeda keep one daughter and not the other?

Isabelle further doubted that Sirius could be her father. He had run away from home at 16 years old. All Izzy had heard of the man from her grandfather or parents was how ill-behaved he had been and what a disgrace to the family he was. She doubted Narcissa would have been in contact with her scandalous cousin and did not feel it was the right answer.

So this left the oldest sister, Bellatrix, or the youngest cousin, Regulus. Narcissa never talked about either of them and Isabelle had very little information to go on. She found a few letters and notes in Cygnus' belongings to give a couple clues. Both had been model children, it seemed. Both in Slytherin. Both had followed their parents' footsteps to support their superior blood purity. And both seemed to have been supporters of the Dark Lord. Iz learned of Bellatrix's imprisonment in Azkaban and noticed it had occurred around her first birthday. A likely candidate, but her mother had said her parents were gone, leading Izzy to look more closely at Regulus. Although there was no mention of a wedding or any sort of engagement in her grandfather's items, Iz found a note about his disappearance in 1980. The family seemed to not know what had happened but believed him to be dead.

Was this it? Was she the daughter of Regulus Black? He had disappeared from the family around her birth, but that could just mean that he had run off with some girl or something. Maybe she was born out of wedlock and, when her parents died, Narcissa took her in! Did her mother like her cousin Regulus? Izzy dared not ask yet for fear of being grounded but felt that she was somewhat close to solving the mystery. Who were her real parents?

~:~

Sitting on the information for a few days and noticeably giving up her search for the storage room, Isabelle hoped to lull her mother into some ease before pouncing for more details. Instead of what had occupied the twelve-year-old for the few weeks she had been home from school, Izzy decided to catch up on her books, mail, and pranks on Draco.

The blonde thirteen-year-old had gotten the upper hand on the latter when the siblings had returned home for the summer. Within the first week, he had scared Isabelle twice in her own room. The second week he had tried something a bit cleverer – using some clear nail polish, Draco covered the end of his sister's self-inking quill so that it would not write on the parchment. (Iz had proceeded to use this quill, it now useless for notes or letters, as a charmed dart that chased her brother around the manor.)

By the time Isabelle had found her grandfather's belongings, the jokes between the siblings had reached a new level. Izzy had transfigured a mouse she had found outside to look like a large, disgusting beetle. Knowing Draco's fear of them, she had planted the actually-harmless creature in his bed and relished in his terrified surprise she heard later that evening.

The older sibling got her back good, however, the following day. Sneaking into his sister's bathroom when she was showering, he placed a stinging curse on the floor tiles and successfully made the door disappear. This left Iz to be stranded in her shower, unable to reach the wall to bring the door back and having no wand to undue the floor's curse. Narcissa had found her a couple hours later, after her dark-haired daughter had not appeared for tea with visitors.

So went the days in Malfoy Manor in the summer of 1993. On the evening of July 16th, the opportunity for a change of pace arose. When Isabelle had first looked up during dinner with an inquisitive expression, Narcissa had steeled herself for the sure onslaught of questions.

"Mother, did you like your cousin, Regulus?"

Not expecting this specific inquiry, the blonde-haired woman set her spoon down and glanced up. "Yes, I did. I was probably as close to him as with my sister. Why?" With a slight smile on her lips, Narcissa had not yet guessed that this had anything to do with Isabelle's true parentage. Honestly, she expected Iz to figure out the truth sooner than Narcissa could tell her. But not yet, it seemed.

"I was going through Grandfather's possessions upstairs and I think I figured out a few things. Did you like him enough that you would take in, say, his daughter – "

"Oh, Isabelle, for Merlin's sake. That is enough. Not another word." Narcissa huffed in annoyance, enough to even get Lucius' attention from drowning in his constant anger and self-misery. Backing off, especially as her adoptive father had become aware of the situation, dinner returned to its usual silence.

By dessert, Draco was staring longingly outside, Lucius was reading the Daily Prophet and muttering about the Weasleys and some prize, and Isabelle was once again trying to catch her mother's eyes.

"Mother?" Izzy's voice sounded softly, cautiously, as if she had finally recognized that she was treading in unsafe waters.

"What is it?" Narcissa replied in an obviously-exasperated tone, having no more patience.

"…I wanted to ask for permission to go and visit Jett. She invited me to stay with her for a couple of days, to get out of the Manor. May I go?" Iz asked innocently.

"Sure, sweetie. France is lovely this time of year. Just be sure to follow all of her mother's rules – I will not hear of any mischief like last year – and let me know if something goes wrong." Narcissa nodded in approval, secretly glad that her daughter would be out of the house for a few days.

"Of course. But Jett is actually staying in the countryside this summer, at a cottage in Garsdale. She said I should travel by floo." Izzy added, hoping that bit of truth might keep her parents from asking any further questions. Iz had recognized that they might not let her go if they knew Jett was not staying with her mother but rather with her Muggle-friendly godfather.

"That's alright, then. When are you planning to go?"

"Tomorrow, if that's okay? Then I can stay through Tuesday." Iz smiled a little, keeping eye contact with Narcissa and not daring to look at Draco, who she was sure could tell that she was hiding some detail or another.

"Perfect. I will write Jett's mother a letter in gratitude for the welcoming offer." Narcissa ended with a final nod before returning to her dessert, closing the conversation before her daughter could once again make it about her parentage.

"Okay! May I be excused? I'd like to send Jett a letter to expect me and begin packing." Without looking up, Narcissa waved her hand to let Isabelle leave the table. Smirking quickly at Draco, who looked confused, Iz ran off to her bedroom to share the good news.

Russet had just returned that afternoon as well as another brown owl Iz had not recognized. (It turned out that the brown owl had been rented from Egypt, bringing the Slytherin a letter from Ginny Weasley describing her family's unexpected vacation.) Izzy had also received Hermione's message about her trip to France with her parents. Iz was eager to respond to the bushy-haired girl with her own updates on homework and her novels. But first, Isabelle sent a note to her blonde Gryffindor friend to confirm their plans for the weekend. Oh, the trouble the two were sure to get into.