Sense of Belonging

Chapter 2

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

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"…stay up til midnight, stay up til dawn, spend another night and all the magic will be gone…"

Izzy hummed along to the familiar tune on WWN radio channel as she finished packing her bag. Muggle-looking clothes? Check. The crested-knife she had found in Cygnus Black's possessions and promptly stolen? Check. Her journal? Check. What else was she forgetting?

Jett had gotten her message and had replied right away the night before. ("Finally! It's been so boring here – it won't stop raining. Don't bring your wand, we can't do any magic here. See you soon!") The twelve-year-old had been a little disappointed at first at the last part of the message. No magic? How was she going to survive? What if she broke something? But the more Iz thought about it, the more excited she became. She could pretend to live like a Muggle, just like in her novels! Plus, Jett's godfather would obviously be using magic. She would just have to be like every other Hogwarts student during the summer holidays for a few days.

"…and that was the newest song from the Thirteenth Hour. Coming up, everyone's favorite Witching Hour with Celestina Warbeck." Realizing that meant it was almost 3pm, Izzy quickly turned off her magical radio and its ever-popular Wizarding Wireless Network.

Packing her hairbrush and glancing once more at her wand on the bedside table, Iz picked up her purse and overnight bag. With a small smile on her lips in anticipation of some sort of adventure, she started out her bedroom door before remembering that she was going to bring some of her Hogwarts homework with her. (She had finished Snape's essay on Shrinking Potions, as well as the Transfiguration and Charms tasks, and was half-way through the History of Magic assignment on fourteenth century witch burnings.) Recalling that she was going to /Jett's/, she gave a little laugh and decided it could wait until she got back. Plus, she had packed two books. What more could she need?

"Bye, Draco," Iz called towards her brother's doorway, which was decidedly closed. (Lucius had snapped at Draco that morning at breakfast when the blonde son had asked to go to the Quidditch supply shop for some trinket or other. Draco had holed himself up in his room the whole rest of the day and, though Iz had planned a farewell prank for him, she decided it could wait until after her trip.) With no response, she made her way down to the North Lawn Drawing Room to floo to Jett's.

"Have you remembered everything, sweetie?" Narcissa was waiting for her daughter expectantly at the bottom of the staircase.

"I hope so. It's only for a few days, Mother. I'll be alright. And I promise to behave." Isabelle added with a quick peck on Narcissa's cheek, not hiding her enthusiasm to get out of the Manor.

"Good. Here is the letter for Jett's mother, be sure to thank her yourself as well." Narcissa offered Izzy a quick hug and a kiss on top of her head before stepping away with a serious look, successfully hiding her own eagerness for her daughter's temporary departure.

"I promise. Bye, Mother," Iz replied before heading to the familiar fireplace. Hoping she was not too early, the younger Malfoy sibling took a handful of powder and called out clearly, "Cypress Cottage, Grisdale." She was swept up and away in the magical transportation, off to her adventure at Jett's.

~:~

Isabelle landed ungracefully and easily fell forward out of the fireplace, falling onto her bag, still all covered in soot. She coughed a couple times and wiped at her eyes, expecting the dirt to disappear within a few seconds, as always happened with the house elves at the Manor. When it did not, Iz almost followed her instinct to magic it away herself. Remembering that she wasn't allowed to practice any spells, the dark-haired girl attempted to open her eyes, coughing once again as she inhaled more soot.

Taking in her surroundings, she became even more confused.

It was so…small. The fireplace was situated in the living room or…? There were two worn couches, light gray and black, that were both pointed towards a metal box on some sort of table. The front door appeared to be on the other side of the room, next to the sit-in window and in front of a white-trimmed staircase that led upstairs. Bookshelves covered one wall but only half held books – the other half appeared to be some sort of boxes or small containers. A light brown, cheap carpet ran through most of the room, not exactly matching the rosy pink color of the walls. The only thing that really looked nice and normal to Isabelle was the decorative wooden table near the two couches.

"Hello?" Iz called after a few seconds, still wondering how big the cottage was. This couldn't be it, could it?

"She's here, Jett!" A man's voice called from up above. All Iz caught was the same she had seen the year before at King's Cross Station – blondish-brown hair and a thin frame.

Suddenly she was soot-free and the young Malfoy silently thanked Jett's godfather. Taking a few steps cautiously into the small room, still taking in its quirkiness, Iz was caught off guard when someone punched her lightly in the arm.

"Hey, Izzy! You're early." Turning around to face Jett, Isabelle made a slight face.

"I am not. It's after 3. If anything, I'm late."

"No, everyone knows you're not supposed to arrive on time. I had to set up your bed and everything – he made me – " The blonde-haired Gryffindor pointed back upstairs to the faceless godfather that Iz had still not yet met.

"Oh, that's okay. I can help finish if you want – that way I can put my stuff there too." Izzy offered, bending down to pick up her now dirt-free bag.

"Sure," Jett replied with a shrug, motioning for her friend to follow her up the stairs. "Watch the third step – it feels like its caving in, but it'll hold – usually." Gingerly climbing the stairs, Iz continued to take in the sights. There were barely any pictures or decorations on the walls. All very simple.

Memorizing their path as she always did in new environments, Izzy noticed that the first door on the left upstairs was closed. Hearing some movement from within, the young Malfoy assumed it was Jett's godfather's room. Following her friend further down the hallway, they stopped at the door all the way at the end. A small red hexagon hung in the middle, with a simple message written in the middle: "Stop."

"This is my bedroom. Bathroom is there on the right, the other door is a closet – things will fall out onto you, so don't open it." Jett pointed back into the hallway before swinging her door open.

The first thing that struck Isabelle was the massive skylight in the middle of the ceiling. Cloud-stunted sunlight streamed in and Iz could see a few branches from trees outside. Next came the dozen or so posters that decorated Jett's walls, covering the basic white color with musicians (Muggle and wizarding), French veelas, and a few Gryffindor-themed ornaments. Two beds stood in the middle of the room, the one obviously not yet made up and the other with a black stuffed-dog named Paddy sitting on it. A closet was hidden just to the right of the doorway, a wooden wardrobe to the left.

"Wow," Izzy commented as she walked over to her presumed bed, setting her bag down.

"What?" Jett challenged, folding her arms, almost defensive.

"I just…all the posters?" Iz remarked with a slightly questioning tone. Glancing around the room once more, she only knew one or maybe two of the displayed.

"Yeah, I brought them from home. They used to annoy my mother so much. Actually, this one is new – I just got it the other day from the bookstore in town." Jett pointed to a brightly colored one by her doorframe. It said "East 17" and showed four obviously-Muggle boys standing in different poses and in very strange outfits.

"Bookstore? Can we go there?" Izzy looked up excitedly, glad she brought the list of Muggle books Hermione had recommended for her to read if she got the chance.

"We can go tomorrow if you want." Jett offered before moving into the room to help finish making her guest's bed.

"Green blanket. I appreciate it," Iz tried to joke, looking up at her friend's Gryffindor decorations once again.

"Picked out specially for you," Jett smirked before plopping onto her own bed. "So, now what?"

"Oh, I almost forgot. This is for your mother – or your godfather, I guess. It's just a letter from my mother saying thanks, I think." Iz held up the sealed envelope so Jett could see. "I should give it to him. Do you know where he is?" The Slytherin stood, eager to finally meet the mysterious godfather anyways.

"No, but don't worry. I'll give it to him later – he's a bit shy, especially around strangers. We can just hang out in here for now – or I can show you the rest of the cottage if you want?"

"Let's go," Isabelle nodded, hoping there was more than what she had just seen. It was so tiny – how could someone live in such a small place? There had to be more hidden somewhere.

~:~

It turned out that Isabelle was quite wrong. The cottage was as small as it had first appeared. Jett had shown her friend the bathroom, specifically how to turn on the light (with an electrically-connected light switch!), before making their way back downstairs. The living room was all that Iz had seen upon arrival. Plus, she discovered that the metal box was actually a television. ("So that's what they look like!" The Slytherin had commented, intrigued.) Then the two girls had moved into the kitchen/dining room off of the living room, right at the back of the house. It was also quite small – barely space for a table with four chairs at one end, a counter and sink, and Muggle appliances like an oven and refrigerator at the other. Jett had led Iz out the back doorway into their garden area and pointed out the forest nearby, hoping that might impress her. But what had really caught the dark-haired girl's eye had been the Muggle village just visible in the distance.

Now back upstairs in Jett's bedroom, the two girls were busy catching up on what they had missed during their couple of weeks apart.

"Hermione seems to be enjoying France with her parents," Iz commented, sitting cross-legged on her make-shift bed.

"Yeah, she wrote me too."

"Do you miss it? France? Even somewhat?"

"…I guess. Some of the food. And how different it is walking the streets there versus here, the atmosphere. But not really the people – my family specifically." Jett made a face, laying on her bed and staring up at the ceiling.

"I understand," Iz nodded with a slight sigh, rereading Hermione's words in the letter she had gotten the day before.

"And you know Ginny's in Egypt, right?" Jett interrupted her friend's thoughts, glancing over to her.

"Found out yesterday – her family won some big Ministry money or something?"

"That's what I heard." Jett shrugged, having gotten a letter from Fred and George about the trip.

"Do you think they'll get to see a live curse breaking? Those ancient Egyptian wizards were really talented – "

"Jett, Isabelle, dinner's ready!" The voice of Jett's godfather called from near the stairs. The blond-haired girl popped up at once, eager for food.

"Come on, I hope he made some pasta tonight. It's my favorite." Izzy got up and followed Jett out of her bedroom, still feeling a little uneasy. She had not expected the cottage to be so small and the amount of Muggle contraptions in the house, though amazing to witness, still made her nervous. (It was run almost completely on electricity.) But Iz was excited to be hanging out with Jett for a couple of days, with the opportunity to explore the Muggle village tomorrow, and get away from the Manor for a bit. Maybe small was just what the young Malfoy needed.

The smell of tomatoes and cheese had wafted into the living room as the two girls descended the rickety staircase. As they entered the peach-colored kitchen, Izzy saw the quaint table set with three dishes of spaghetti and a large bowl of salad in the middle. Sitting where Jett indicated, Iz's stomach growled in hunger at the appetizing – yet decidedly Muggle – food before her.

"It looks amazing, Moony, you didn't burn it this time!" Jett remarked with a playful smirk.

"Shush," her godfather replied as he sat down to join them, adding a warmed loaf of garlic bread to the table's food supply. The man looked somewhat tired, dressed in comfortable Muggle clothes which had a few patches sewed into them here and there. He also appeared somewhat ill, the wrinkles under his eyes not matching the bright youthfulness of his eyes. Even his light-brown hair was speckled with gray. He was much different than Isabelle had imagined.

After a moment, the man met Iz's eyes and nodded towards her plate. "Go ahead and eat while it's still warm, no need to wait for me."

"Oh, sorry," Iz replied quickly, used to waiting in the grand Malfoy dining room until everyone had arrived.

"She has /manners/, papa," Jett added with a mouth full of pasta.

"I understand, but believe me, it tastes better warm," the man rolled his eyes, obviously amused by his goddaughter. The two continued in conversation for most of the meal, an odd change for Izzy who was used to her parents' silence.

"Thank you for the delicious food, sir," Iz offered as she finished her helping, taking a final sip of water.

"I'm glad you liked it. And you don't need to call me 'sir,' Isabelle, I'm not that old yet." The light brown-haired man smiled kindly at the guest.

"What should I call you then?"

"Just call him Moony, that's what I do. It's his nickname from school," Jett poked Iz as if in encouragement, knowing it semi-bothered her legal guardian.

"Mr. Lupin works too, whichever you prefer." Izzy nodded in response with a small smile.

The three enjoyed a bit of dessert before the girls disappeared back upstairs for the evening. The guest was finding that she enjoyed the tiny cottage and charming family atmosphere between Jett and her godfather. With little else spectacular occurring, the Third Year Hogwarts students settled in for the night with a full plan for the next day.