Sense of Belonging

Chapter 4

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

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The next day began very similarly to the previous. Izzy was once again woken by bright sunlight and snuck downstairs so as not to accidentally wake her morning-cranky host. Lupin was up as well and the two shared another pot of tea. Because Jett slept in to her usual mid-morning hour, their conversation lasted longer and moved past Hogwarts-related topics. Instead, the two were joyfully arguing over the best uses of pomegranate juice in potions when the other resident of the cottage finally joined them.

"But I was just reading a book that showed adding a couple drops of pomegranate juice to the Growth solution, before you mix it together could – Morning, Jett – could make it that much more potent!" Izzy replied, enjoying having someone who was both interested enough in magical arts and willing to discuss new information with her.

"Good morning, cub, food's on the counter – and I disagree, Isabelle, I think it would dilute the potion too much. Then again, potions were never my strong suit. What book was it?" Lupin smiled at his goddaughter before waving his hand in the general direction of breakfast.

"The newest edition from Stellaluna Woxforth. Here, I can write down the title for you – she has all of her sources in it, plus her own recommendations for a few household potions." Iz picked up the Muggle pen sitting on the table and a part of yesterday's Daily Prophet and, after a few tries to use the non-magical device, succeeded in giving Moony the title.

"Thank you. I'll see if I can find a copy and read it, then maybe we can continue our conversation? Next time you are here, of course." Lupin smiled, pocketing the piece of paper before standing.

"Yes, please."

"Good. Well, I must be off to work. Behave yourselves, stay around the cottage today, like usual, Jett. Understood?" Lupin turned to meet the blond girl's gaze with a serious look, picking up his bag and coat.

"Yes, Moony." Jett rolled her eyes at him, smiling innocently. "We'll stay out of trouble."

"And no magic. You know the rules. I'll see you later." Giving them both one more parental look, Lupin turned around and went out the back door. A few seconds later, the girls heard the distinctive pop of apparition and knew that they were alone.

"So, what do you usually do?" Izzy turned to her friend, who was still eating her breakfast.

"Break the rules, you know… Don't worry, I'll behave. I forgot you like rules." Jett stuck her tongue out at Iz before whoofing down the rest of her plate of food.

"I'm serious – we went to the village yesterday, but it's a long walk. So what can we do around here?" Izzy crossed her arms, waiting for a serious response.

"I usually just hang around the cottage. Sometimes I like to go for a walk in the forest – it's really nice. But why don't I show you a few more Muggle things Moony has in the house? You said you wanted to live like one, right?"

"Just for a couple days. I already miss magic… But what do you have?" Iz perked up, remembering her list of questions from her novels and their outing the day before.

The two girls spent much of the rest of the morning exploring throughout the cottage. Isabelle learned how to use a Muggle telephone, though they sadly could not practice calling anyone as Hermione was still with her parents in France. Jett showed her Slytherin friend her video games, turned on the television to show her a few TV shows and the news when it came on, and even showed her the washing machine in the cottage.

Somehow Jett was able to make a couple of sandwiches, a little salad, and some pudding for lunch for the two. (Or really, she had just taken them out of the fridge where Moony had left them. But Izzy did not need to know that.) They sat outside in the garden, enjoying the beautiful summer day.

"Want to go explore the woods a little now?" Jett asked as the two girls finished their meal.

"Is it safe?" Iz asked, glancing over to where the woods started.

"Of course. Nothing will hurt you there, just some cute animals and some plants and stuff. Don't you have part of a forest at Malfoy Manor?" Jett asked as they brought their plates inside and grabbed their coats.

"Yeah, but this is a /Muggle/ forest so I didn't know if there would be something more…dangerous there."

"Muggles aren't dangerous, Iz, you've seen that. It'll be fun, I'll show you my favorite spot." Jett said before pulling her friend out the back door and heading into the tall trees.

They wandered for a good half hour before reaching Jett's desired destination. It was a small clearing, just big enough for a couple of people to stand in. When Iz looked up, she could see the blue sky and clouds rather than a multitude of branches and leaves.

"This is nice. Do you come here a lot?" Izzy asked, following Jett to a tree that had fallen some time before. Sitting down on the log, Iz watched as her blonde-haired friend reached inside the trunk as if looking for something.

"Yeah, all the time. Now where….is….it…" The thirteen-year-old replied, still struggling to find whatever it is that she was looking for.

"What is it?"

"A gift from Papa when I came home this summer. Here it is!" Jett smiled proudly and pulled out some sort of shiny, round bobble-like object.

"Again, what is it?" Iz gave her friend a perplexed look.

"It's a compass! A magical one, that is. If I ever get lost out here, I just need to find my clearing and then I'll be able to find my way back to the cottage. See?" Jett opened it to show her the spinning dial before it stopped and settled in one spot, pointing back the way they had come.

"That's cool. Can I look at it closer?" Iz reached out to inspect it. The item was obviously hand-crafted but also well-used and she silently wondered if Lupin had had to buy it second-hand. Realizing it did not really matter, she became confused when the dial started spinning again. After a moment, it landed and pointed in the opposite direction of where it had for Jett. "Whoa. Why is it –?"

"Oh, it's based on the person holding it. Where their home is – mine is the cottage, and yours is…that way." Jett shrugged and took it back, hiding it away once again in the log.

"Alright, now where to?" Izzy inquired as she stood up, assuming they were continuing on.

"Wait, you dropped something." Jett said, bending down to pick it up. She handed it back to Iz with a strange look on her face.

"Thanks," Iz replied, holding her grandfather's pocket knife in her hand. Seeing Jett's reaction, she added quickly, "I just found it the other day, at the Manor. It was my grandfather's and it looks really cool. Plus, I think that's the Black family crest on it. My current theory is that, since I'm adopted, I'm Narcissa's cousin, Regulus', daughter because no one knows what happened to him. But I'm not sure…" Jett was still staring at the knife as if it was really weird for a twelve-year-old to have, so Iz went on, "I know it's strange to carry it around with me. I just like how it looks and it felt important. It's still sharp too, I'll show you."

Thinking it would make Jett understand, Izzy unhooked the sharp blade and went over to one of the trees near the clearing. Being careful not to cut herself, she began carving out her name in the bark.

"See?"

"Yeah, uh, I guess that's cool. Still kind of weird though, Iz… Let me try it." Jett finally said, holding out her hand to take the knife. Going to another tree in the clearing, she carved her own name before slashing an "X" underneath it.

"What's the X for?"

"I don't know. I just felt like it. Here you go," Jett gingerly handed the knife back to its new owner and Isabelle quickly stowed it away back in her coat's pocket.

"Does Moony know about this place?" Izzy questioned, glancing around it once more.

"Not specifically."

"Then it can be our secret. And when Hermione visits next time, she can add her name too." Iz smiled at the idea, thinking about finding her own secret hideaway at the Manor when she returned back home.

"Sure." Jett shrugged, and then smirked with an idea. "Hey, want to play a game?"

"What kind of game?" The dark-haired girl asked cautiously, knowing the disastrous effects of some of her friend's ideas.

"Just a couple rounds of hide-and-seek. The forest is a lot of fun – there are plenty of good places to hide. We can go anywhere between here and the cottage, that way no one will get lost."

With a quick nod of agreement from Iz, Jett took off running, calling back, "You have to find me first then!"

Thinking it was kind of a childish game but having almost always won against Draco, Isabelle expected them to grow bored of it quite quickly. Instead, it took her at least ten minutes to find Jett the first round. The Gryffindor had been correct that the forest provided a lot of great places to hide.

By the third round, Iz was determined to stump her friend and win the game. The young Malfoy had climbed one of the trees near the clearing but far enough away that it would not be easy to see her. Knowing she only had so much time to hide, she propelled herself higher into the tree where the leaves would cover her much better. Finding a thicker, more secure branch to sit and wait on, the Slytherin smiled to herself and thought that there would be no way Jett would find her.

Izzy was quite right. The first time Jett had passed by the tree looking for signs of her friend, the blonde-haired girl had glanced upwards as if thinking Iz may have climbed one of the trees but apparently did not see her. A few minutes passed before Jett came by again, looking a bit more frustrated at not having found her. It was almost twenty minutes later that Jett passed by a third time but Iz was not willing to give up her hiding spot. Hugging the tree and staying as still as she could, she heard her friend's footsteps fade into the forest and away. Proud of herself that she had won, Iz waited for Jett to come nearby a fourth time to call to her and give away her hiding spot.

But Jett did not come by again. After what felt like an hour of waiting, the twelve-year-old girl grew concerned. What if something had happened to Jett? What if there /were/ actually dangerous animals in the forest? She thought she had heard a noise a few minutes back. Realizing that she should head back to the cottage and hope to find Jett there, Isabelle made to climb down from the tree – and froze.

How did she get up so high? Reattaching herself to the trunk of the tree in a hurry, Isabelle dared not look down again. /Stupid/, she thought to herself. This was the exact reason why she did not like flying on a broomstick – she was afraid of falling.

What was she going to do now? Would Jett come back looking for her? Did she go to find Moony? What if she was stuck in the tree all night?

The sun had started to go down and the forest had begun to grow darker. The wind was picking up too, as it had the day before, and Iz hoped that that did not mean a storm was on the way. Fighting the panic that was rising in her, she thought of the only thing that might work.

"Help! Jett! I'm stuck up in the tree! Jett! Moony! Jett!" Calling as loudly as she could, it seemed like it was no use. There was no movement below, no sound of footsteps, nothing.

The panic starting to settle in, Izzy made one last attempt to overcome it and climb down the tree. This simply resulted in almost falling /out/ of the tree, hearing her grandfather's pocket knife hit the forest floor, and hugging the trunk of the tree even tighter than before. She was stuck with no safe way out.

It felt like forever when she finally heard some noise. She opened her mouth to call out but found it dry, the panic having left it so. Coughing instead to try and make some use of sound, Isabelle saw Jett's godfather making his way through the trees with a concerned look on his face. Having seen something flash near the base of a tree and then hearing the cough, Lupin looked up to just make out a figure up in one of the branches in the fading light.

"Isabelle?" Moony's voice called, light illuminating from his wand.

"Here," Iz tried to shout back.

"Are you hurt?"

"I'm just stuck…it's too high…"

"It'll be okay. I'm going to levitate you down, but I need you to let go of the tree. Can you do that?"

"I don't know," Iz whispered in fear, still able to see how far of a fall it would be if she slipped…

"You can trust me, Isabelle. It's very easy. Take one hand off – just like that, good! And now the other…there." Lupin raised his wand and, as gently as he could, magicked Izzy back down to the ground.

As soon as her feet touched the ground, Isabelle burst into tears from both the held-back panic and happiness to be once again on flat earth. Moony quickly enveloped her in a hug before checking to be sure she was not hurt at all.

"I'm f-fine, I'm so sorry, Jett and I, we were p-playing hide and seek and I wanted to win and Jett couldn't find me but then she disappeared and I c-couldn't get d-down and…" Iz tried to explain, feeling comforted in the fatherly hug.

"Jett told me. Come on, she's waiting at the cottage worried sick." Lupin said quietly, pulling away.

Bending down to pick up her family heirloom knife and sticking it quickly in her pocket, Iz followed Jett's godfather in the dark forest under the new moon all the way back to the warmly-lit cottage.

"Isabelle!" Jett called as soon as she saw them coming up to the back door from the garden. "What the hell happened? Were you hurt?"

"I was stuck up in a tree…I wanted to beat you at the game," Iz offered weakly, suddenly glad to be inside in the warmth and light rather than the cool summer night. "You passed by a couple times and I was going to tell you the next time you came but you didn't come back and I got stuck because I was afraid I would fall and…yeah."

"You – " Jett said almost angrily, having been so worried about her friend.

"Let her get in, Jett, she's alright. You can warm up with some dinner, Isabelle, alright?" Lupin suggested, giving his goddaughter a look before motioning them to the table.

"Thank you, Moony," Izzy replied quietly, going to sit down, feeling more guilty now than anything else. Why had she been so determined to win at the stupid game?

Most everything returned to normal after dinner, with Jett and Lupin bickering once again and the whole hide-and-seek fiasco practically forgotten. Deciding to watch a movie on the Muggle television set, the three settled in on the two couches to watch Jett's favorite film: Bambi.

Despite the eventful day, Isabelle had come to really enjoy being at the cottage. She considered writing her mother to let her stay a few days longer but realized that that may not be okay with Jett's godfather. Instead, the young Malfoy settled in to enjoy the strange moving pictures on the small box in front of her and planned to come back sometime later in the summer.