Sense of Belonging

Chapter 5

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

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The Great Hall, lit by thousands of floating candles, was a spectacular sight. The First Years marched in by their two lines, the four House tables on either side of them filled with current students. Isabelle saw the Slytherin table to her far left, recognizing some of the students from the Malfoy parties. Glancing back up front, she saw one long table presumably for the professors and became nervous once more. What would they think of her? Would she be any good at the classes? What if she failed?

Once everyone had filed in and grouped themselves up front, Professor McGonagall brought out a stool and set an old, tattered hat on top of it. Iz watched as it opened its mouth, singing a song about Hogwarts. Listening to each of the descriptions for all the Houses, she began to wonder if Ravenclaw was a better fit for her than Slytherin. Draco nudged her gently, almost reassuringly, as if he could tell she was a little afraid. As the hat finished, all the students burst into thunderous applause as it bowed to each House before going still. At that, Professor McGonagall stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment before stating,

"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted. Abbot, Hannah…"

A girl with blond pig tails began cautiously up the stairs, nervous-looking. She sat and faced all of the students as the hat fell over her eyes. Within a few seconds, the mouth of the hat opened and cried, "HUFFLEPUFF!" The girl smiled and walked quickly over to the table, students and House ghosts welcoming her with cheers. The students slowly filed up the steps in alphabetical order, each greeted into their newly-assigned House. She watched as the bushy-haired girl was called up, eagerly putting on the hat before being sorted into Gryffindor. The toad-boy accidently ran off with the hat after it took a long time to decide.

As they reached the "M"s, Izzy felt a pang of anxiety again in her stomach. Draco squeezed her hand gently, reassuringly, before he marched up determined to the front of the group. The hat barely touched her brother's head before it shouted, "SLYTHERIN." The green-and-silver clad table rang out in cheers to welcome their new addition. Watching Draco walk to the table, she nearly missed her own name being called.

"Malfoy, Isabelle." Iz glanced back to the front, blushing by instinct at being singled out and gingerly approached the stool with the hat. She wiped her black wavy hair out of her eyes, staring at the back wall as she sat on the stool to avoid eye contact with the other students as the hat settled onto her head.

She jumped involuntarily as a small voice whispered in her ear, "Isabelle Malfoy. Your brother was an easy choice, you…you have much yet to decide your path. A bright but terrible future ahead of you. Choices, choices…"

What do you mean? Iz thought in response, confused by his musings. Why am I so difficult? I'm just like my brother –

"For now, for now. As to a House… Dedicated, intelligent, so many talents…so many possibilities…"

My brother's in Slytherin, can't I just join him? Our whole family has been –

"Not quite, not quite, my dear… You may be a fit for Ravenclaw, or even Gryffindor, but you are self-motivated, you will feel you have a lot to prove as time continues…intelligent, yet cunning… I believe you would be best in – SLYTHERIN!"

Professor McGonagall pulled off the hat and Izzy immediately glanced at the Slytherin table. Draco had a wide grin, proud and much less concerned now that his sister was joining him in the House. She sat down next to him as the table cheered for her, but what the Sorting Hat had said still haunted her. Why would she have a lot to prove? And how did he know of her future? Lost in her thoughts, she almost missed her new friend being sorted.

"Moreau, Jett." The blond-haired girl walked up confidently but Izzy could tell she was still somewhat nervous. Although the hat took a little bit longer than average, he seemed quite sure when he broke the silence in the hall that she belonged in Gryffindor. Looking relieved, Jett made her way to the red-clad table without glancing back, sliding in next to Hermione.

The rest of the sorting went fairly quickly, save for the infamous Harry Potter. Draco made a scowl when his name was called, obviously already upset with the attention he was getting. Sitting across from Draco, who sat between Crabbe and Goyle, she could tell he did not like this messy-haired boy and wondered what had occurred between them. She watched the red-haired Weasley boy (now recognizing the name from her Father's complaints about the family) be sorted into Gryffindor before the last student, Blaise Zabini, joined the Slytherins.

She glanced back up as the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, rose to give her four words she would never forget at the opening speech: "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!" Everyone cheered and laughed before digging into the plates of food that appeared in the middle of the tables. Hungry after a long day's travel, Iz joined them, eating quietly and listening to others' conversations.

Everyone seemed to already know each other, in one way or another. Most were from the oldest pureblood magical families and had grown up intertwined since their birth. Many were cousins or second cousins, their family traditions tied to both the Slytherin House and their old wealth. The annoying girl from the train, the one whose name was a flower or something, had moved on to discuss the very exciting new addition of a wizard magazine her parents had led her read. Daphne, sitting a few seats down from Iz, was looking bored once more. To her left, the older students listened to their friends' riveting tales of summer vacations and adventures across Europe and beyond. A few looked friendly enough, many smiling and laughing, comfortable with their close Housemates.

Isabelle glanced back across the table at her brother, stuffing his face with food while leading the conversation of most of the First Years. He leaned comfortably back, all of the other students who were listening facing him yet none noticing his discomfort as a ghost flew to sit next to him. Iz gave a small look of horror, the ghost a ghastly image with blank eyes and covered in blood. Isabelle blinked in surprise before quickly looking down at her food, hoping the ghost hadn't noticed her staring. Draco returned to his conversation, talking about the family's summer vacation outside the country. Rolling her eyes, Iz glanced back to her right where the other girls had been chatting away. Accidently catching the annoying girls eye, she turned to face Isabelle with a challenging look. Without thinking and hoping to make friends, Iz quickly said,

"Hi, I'm Isabelle Malfoy. And you are?" Attempting to muster a semi-friendly but also strong smile, Izzy held her hand out to shake the girl's. She took it gingerly, sizing Iz up as the other girls went on to their own conversation.

"I know you and your brother. We attend the annual Ministry Ball. Pansy Parkinson." The girl wrinkled her nose slightly as if upset but at something promptly turned back to continue leading the group's conversation. Before she could, however, they introduced themselves as Daphne Greengrass, Millicent Bulstrode, and Tracey Davis. Already knowing Daphne, she nodded politely to both Millicent and Tracey.

About to start up a conversation to ask the girls about their summers and what they thought of Hogwarts, Pansy quickly took their attention back onto the new magazine. Shaking her head slightly, Iz finished her dinner and glanced back at her brother.

"– I can't wait to beat the Gryffindors, my Father was telling me all about the age-old rivalry between the houses. I mean, who would even want to be in Hufflepuff? They're all idiots. And Ravenclaw is just for nerds. In Slytherin, we're both smart and cunning. Gryffindors just think they're better than us, they're only stupidly brave, not intelligent at all, and they're mostly Mudbloods –"

"Draco." Iz gave him a warning look, having sworn off using the derogative term since she had begun reading Muggle novels. "You shouldn't say that. And I know for a fact that there's at least one pureblood Gryffindor and I'm sure plenty of half-bloods."

"I can say Mudblood as loudly as I want. Mother's not here so you can't tell on me, Isabelle, and no one is in charge of me – "

"Malfoy." Both Iz and Draco jumped, turning to face one of the prefects for Slytherin giving a disapproving look. "What did I say about your attitude on the train? The professors will dock points for it. And watch your language, it is not appropriate." After giving her brother a final warning look, Izzy watched the prefect turn back to finish her meal. Draco scowled, acted as if it was no big deal, and finished his dinner.

As soon as dessert appeared, everyone returned to their pleasant conversations and the rest of the meal went smoothly. Izzy had tried to jump into the girls' conversation at least three times but was shut down each time by Pansy. As one more opportunity arose to get Daphne's attention, the Headmaster rose and everyone quieted immediately, looking up expectantly at the long-bearded man.

"A few announcements before we head off to the dorms…" Distracted by Draco's whispering to Crabbe and Goyle, Iz was startled when the other students suddenly began singing. Each sang what sounded like the same lyrics but with different tunes and Iz determined it must be the school song. She tried to keep from laughing as a pair of red-haired twins at the Gryffindor table finished last with their slow death march before everyone clapped. The plates and food disappeared from the tables and everyone stood to go to their dormitories for the beginning of the school year.

Before leaving the Great Hall with the rest of the Slytherin First Years, Izzy glanced toward the Gryffindor table to see if she could get a glimpse of her train friend Jett. Sighing with no sight of her, she turned and followed her brother as the prefects led them down the hallway. The corridor began to slope downwards and the noise and light of the Great Hall was soon replaced by eerie quiet and less lighting.

"Are we going underground?" One of the girls in front of Isabelle asked Pansy, who shrugged.

"Yes, they're near the dungeons. Our common room is actually right by the lake and sometimes you can see the giant squid swim by – " Iz answered before Pansy pulled the girl to her other side, as if to keep her from talking to Izzy. Only a few moments later, the First Years stopped suddenly in front of a large doorway. The prefect in front announced the password to get in and watched as the door magically swung open.

The common room was elegant and beautiful, if only for the very strange lighting. There was plenty of comfortable seating, places to lounge, and at least a few tables to study at if wanted. Cautiously moving farther into the room, Izzy continued to look around. In the corner of her eye, she watched her brother smirk and plop down into a central chair right in front of the fire as if he owned the whole place and that was his throne.

"First Years! Up to the dorms for bed! The prefects will come around to be sure everyone is up nice and early for breakfast in the morning. Any issues, talk to a prefect. Boys dorms are over there, girls through there. Good night." The female prefect who had reprimanded Draco earlier at the feast motioned to a doorway covered by an elegant drape. The stairs led down further, seeming to spiral even farther under the lake. She glanced back to wave at Draco, a small reassuring smile, before following the other girls into their dormitory for the school year. The light turned greener than the common room and Izzy almost passed the First Years' doorway without looking.

As she turned in, she found that Daphne and Millicent had made it down first and found their beds. They looked large and comfy, draped with silver and deep green curtains. Looking for her trunk, she easily found it with her initials right in the back of the room. A small note sat on her desk side table letting her know that Russet was warm and comfortable in the owl conservatory. She set her bag down on the bed, moving around to her trunk to be sure everything was there. Satisfied and beginning to relax, she smiled, glad they had put her here at the back, hoping she'd be able to sit in her bed to read, do homework, or write letters without anyone bothering her. She could also see the whole dormitory room and had a small window above her nightstand, the light green of the lake shining through. Working toward changing into pajamas and getting ready for sleep, Iz picked up her bag and reached down to her trunk when all of a sudden someone plopped down on her bed.

"Thanks for getting your stuff off my bed," Pansy smirked at Iz, acting like the queen of the universe. Izzy let the lid of her trunk fall before standing back up.

"What do you mean, /your/ bed?"

"This is clearly my bed, so I thanked you for getting your stuff off of it. Now, your brother might rule the boys but I have no intention of bowing down to your weird – "

"I don't want to rule /anything/ and what my brother does is not me. But my stuff was at this bed and I'm staying here. Kindly remove yourself, Pansy." Iz mustered her best cold look, attempting to mimic her mother's disapproving airs, staring the other girl down.

"No. I want this bed."

"Pansy, her stuff was already there – " Daphne began to defend Isabelle but backed off at the annoying girl's glare. Giving Iz a bitter-sweet smile, Pansy made no attempt to get off the bed.

"My stuff is here. Your stuff is over there. I am staying here." Speaking to Pansy as if she were a toddler, Iz leaned closer to her, attempting to appear threateningly. Although she had little experience dealing with another outside her family, she had watched her parents enough and no qualms dealing with someone who was taking something that was rightfully (or not) hers.

"But I'm already sitting here, so… I suppose it's my bed now!" Pansy leaned back to lay on the bed, smiling challengingly at Izzy. Narrowing her eyes, she began to reach for her bag, for her wand, having already memorized a few spells she had been itching to practice (but not yet attempted). Pansy was already holding her own wand, obviously wanting to start a fight. Temper taking over, Iz was so close to cursing her new dormmate when the prefect opened the door to check that they were all set.

"Lights out in ten minutes – " The prefect stopped, taking in the situation before moving farther into the room. "Is something wrong?" Her eyebrows were raised, sizing up the situation.

"Yes – " Izzy began, glad she didn't yet have her wand out so that she couldn't get in trouble, but quickly interrupted by Pansy.

"No, nothing, just getting to know each other. Ten minutes until lights out? We'd better hurry!" Pansy smiled sickly sweet at the prefect, standing up from the bed to lean against the bed post. The prefect gave them both one more warning glance, at which Pansy smoothed the bed sheets as a pretense, before heading out to check on other dorm rooms. Without missing a beat, Pansy whirled around to be only a few inches from Iz's face.

"Listen here, Malfoy. You have no royal right to boss ANY of us around or expect to be waited on here. /I'm/ in charge of this dorm and you should /not/ get in my way. Stay out of my stuff, out of my way, and don't talk to me. Night," Pansy practically hissed at her before turning away back to her bed, her short hair whipping furiously behind her. Glad she had stood her ground, Iz glanced at Daphne, who rolled her eyes and gave her a small friendly smile, before focusing on getting ready for bed. As she finished unpacking, the new Slytherin was glad that not everyone was taking Pansy's side, giving her hope to still make friends in her own House.

The one-minute warning was called for lights-out and Iz pulled the covers back to climb into her bed. She tucked herself in, smirking, checking to be sure her wand was still at the ready if needed. As she began to relax, a sharp, piercing scream came from the bed two down to her right – Pansy's. A garden snake slithered off her and onto the floor as the prefect rushed in. Seeing the serpent, she sighed and made it disappear, glanced around the room as if searching for the culprit before turning out the lights. Izzy had already closed the hangings around her bed but couldn't help but laugh a little at her revenge. Ready to rest after her eventful first day, the new Slytherin fell asleep quickly, already beginning to feel at home.