Sense of Belonging

Chapter 11

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

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After greeting the class in a somewhat nervous manner for his first ever Care of Magical Creatures elective lesson, Hagrid led the Third Years towards the Forbidden Forest.

"We aren't going in /there/, are we?" Isabelle whispered to Jett, eyes wide. Besides for the usual warnings from professors about the mysterious forest, she remembered her brother's terrifying adventure in there during their First Year when he had received detention.

"I hope not," the French girl replied, having her own concerns.

Thankfully the group of students were led only on the outskirts of the trees until they came to a clearing and paddock a few minutes later.

"Everyone gather round here! Come right up to the fence, won't bite yeh, make sure yeh can see." The apprehensive Third Years approached, unsure what they should be looking at in the seemingly empty opening. "Now take yer books out and open 'em to page 49 –"

"How?" Draco's voice called out, a few students down from Iz. She set her bag down and cautiously took out her own copy of the Monster Book of Monsters, trying very carefully not to anger it.

"Eh?" Hagrid replied, turning to see who had asked something.

"How do we open our books?" Her brother repeated, this time holding up his belt-bound book.

"None o' yeh bin able to open yer books?" The Care of Magical Creatures professor glanced around disappointedly, settling on the trio of Gryffindors in front who all also shook their heads. Taking Hermione's copy and ripping off the tape keeping it closed, he demonstrated to the Third Years how to stroke the spine, immediately calming the book's otherwise-wild nature.

"Oh, /obviously/, why didn't I think of that? How silly we've all been," Draco sneered above the other mumbling students, though most looked a little unsure that stroking their books would actually soothe them.

"Shut up, Malfoy," Potter replied quietly, shooting Iz's brother a look. While the students all unbound their various copies of the elective book and tried to open them, Hagrid disappeared to bring their first lesson's magical creatures. (All were successful except for Neville Longbottom, whose book decided to try and eat his face. It was only able to reach his robes.)

"These books were a little insane, you have to admit…" Iz commented to Jett after she got her copy open, who simply shrugged. About to comment further, she was interrupted by her sibling's exasperated tone.

"God, this place is going to the dogs. That /oaf/ teaching classes, wait until I tell my father – " Draco was smirking towards the other Slytherin boys, shaking his head.

"Shut up, Malfoy." Potter stepped forward, speaking more loudly this time. The messy-haired boy looked angry and approached Izzy's brother. Draco merely smirked more, handing his school bag to Crabbe before stepping up in challenge to the Gryffindor boy. Neither said anything, simply staring each other down while the other students prepared for some sort of duel.

And yet all of a sudden, the Slytherin boy's face changed. His smirk turned to a concerned frown and his eyes grew large, as if he were seeing something terrifying just behind Potter. Draco stepped back once, and then once again, as if stumbling from fright, before calling, "Dementor! Dementor!"

Isabelle glanced to her right with the rest of the students, falling for her brother's trick like the others. Of course, she knew there was no Dementor – there had not been the cold feeling, the panic. Glancing back towards the Slytherins, she watched Draco, Pansy, and the other emerald-clad boys pull hoods over their heads and pretend to be the terrifying magical creatures. All started to laugh at their joke while Hermione pulled Harry back to the other side of the group, attempting to ignore them.

"Well like that doesn't get old," Jett commented bitterly to Iz as Hagrid reappeared in the clearing.

All of the students turned to watch as a dozen or so creatures trotted toward the group. Glancing down at her textbook which was opened to the instructed page, she found a drawing representing the same live magical creature in front of her: Hippogriffs. The back end of a horse and front end of an eagle, they were both beautiful and frightening. Their brilliant orange eyes unnerved Izzy the most.

After tethering the creatures to the fence, Hagrid turned with a proud smile to the group. Motioning for the Third Years to come a bit closer, only a couple of Gryffindors bravely approached the Hippogriffs.

"Firs' thing yeh gotta know 'bout Hippogriffs, they're proud. Easily offended, they are. Don't never insult one, might be the last thing yeh do." The half-giant professor motioned to the line of them, still smiling as if what he said was a pleasant story rather than an important warning.

Izzy had taken out a piece of parchment and was attempting to jot down notes. This was difficult, however, as there weren't any flat places to write on. Moving to the back of the group to sit on one of the flat rocks with her book in her lap, Iz attempted to listen above the mutterings of her brother and his friends. Finally kicking Draco lightly in the shins to get him to shut up, nodding her head towards Hagrid as if to silently tell him to pay attention, she continued to jot a few notes down about their first magical creature.

"Right – who wants ter go first?" Isabelle glanced up just as the entire group of students took a step back in unison. Getting up to watch, she noticed Potter standing right at the front by himself.

"I guess I'll do it," the boy-who-lived offered unsurely, taking a ginger step forward.

"Ooh, no, Harry, your tea leaves!" One of the Gryffindor girls said worriedly.

"Harry, good, righ' here. See how yeh get on with Buckbeak. Come on," Hagrid motioned the Third Year Gryffindor forward as he untied the Hippogriff's chain from the fence.

Izzy followed her brother as he pushed his way up front to get a closer look. Settling next to Hermione, she watched a little nervously for Potter. The messy-haired boy began to bow, keeping eye contact with the magical beast. Buckbeak turned to stare at Harry with one of its piercing orange eyes, as if sizing him up. After a few moments, Hagrid warned the Gryffindor to back away slowly, looking a little worried now himself. What exactly happened if you disrespected a Hippogriff?

Izzy did not receive the answer. A moment later, Buckbeak had bent his front knees in an unmistakable bow towards the boy. Smiling slightly at the odd actions of such a magical creature, she watched as Potter approached the Hippogriff, pet it, and then was able to climb onto its back.

"Mind yeh don' pull any of his feathers out, he won' like it…" Hagrid instructed Harry Potter before moving back to let Buckbeak fly.

"What if Harry falls off?" A Ravenclaw girl asked the professor, glancing worriedly towards where he and the Hippogriff had disappeared from sight.

"He won'. Buckbeak's a good one, they'll be righ' back."

It was a few minutes later before the pair returned, welcomed back by an applause from the surprised students. Emboldened by Potter's success, the rest of the class moved closer to the remaining magical creatures and were trying their luck with bowing.

"I'm not sure I want to," Izzy protested, being extremely cautious. She had never really been one to like animals or magical creatures, except for trained household pets. Jett, on the other hand, seemed to be elated. Their chestnut Hippogriff had readily bowed to her and the small French girl was standing nearby, petting its beak, encouraging her friend to try.

"It's fine, she's really nice. If I give her a name, will that make it easier for you?"

"Probably not. I'll just observe for now, thanks," Iz bit her lip, shaking her head. Glancing over to where her brother, Crabbe, and Goyle were working with Buckbeak, she was slightly disappointed to see that the Hippogriff had already accepted Draco.

"See! Even Draco's done it, you can't be shown up by your brother, Izzy," Jett said, also watching them.

"This is very easy," Draco called loudly, not to reassure his sister but to goad his Gryffindor nemesis. Deciding Jett was right, Iz made to turn back and try her own. As she did, however, she heard her brother drawl, "I knew it must have been, if Potter could do it… I bet you're not dangerous at all, are you? Are you, you great ugly brute?"

A second later, Draco's high-pitched scream rang out through the clearing. Looking back to where her brother had been and finding him on the ground, Iz froze in surprise. He was curled up, cradling his right arm, where blood seemed to be pouring all over his robes out of two large gashes.

"I'm dying! I'm dying, look at me, it's killed me!" Iz's blond-haired sibling called, eyes wide in fright. Hagrid came plundering over, having called the Hippogriff away, and took in the sight. The half-giant's face went white and he also froze as if unsure what to do.

"He has to get to the Hospital Wing, Hagrid!" Hermione reminded him, opening the fence gate as Hagrid picked up the Slytherin boy. The groundskeeper hurried out and up the hill back towards the castle, leaving the class standing there in stunned silence.

Watching the professor carry her brother away, Isabelle could not stop staring at the blood-stained path they left in their wake. Was Draco going to lose his arm?

"Izzy? Hey, Izzy?" Someone shook gently her where she was standing as if to wake her. Momentarily taking her eyes off the retreating forms heading up the hill, Iz first saw Jett's concerned look and then Hermione's. Potter was standing next to Buckbeak now, stroking its beak once again. She then glanced back towards the other Slytherins, where Pansy, in tears, had already picked up Draco's belongings and the boys looked just as stunned as she felt.

"You okay?" Hermione asked, laying a hand on her friend's shoulder.

"Draco'll be fine, it was just a scratch – " Jett started to say as if trying to comfort Iz, but she did not have the chance to finish.

As if suddenly realizing what happened, Isabelle, worried about her brother, took off running up the hill after Hagrid and Draco. It was /not/ just a scratch, he had been attacked by that Hippogriff! Hurrying to make it to the Hospital Wing, she did not look back as the rest of the class followed at a walk.

~:~

Madam Pomfrey made quick work of healing Draco. By the time Isabelle had reached the Hospital Wing, Hagrid had already set her brother down on one of the beds and was watching the school nurse work her magic.

When she first arrived, Izzy could definitely say that Draco looked to be in serious pain. The bleeding had stopped thanks to Madam Pomfrey's magic and a potion he had downed. The two cuts had easily closed, though the nurse did comment that Draco was lucky the creature's talons had only severed a few muscles and had not seriously damaged the bones. Wrapping his arm in bandages before going to grab a few other medicine potions to soothe the boy's pain, Iz took advantage of the moment and finally approached him.

"Draco? Draco, how does it feel?" Izzy took a seat on his hospital bed, taking his good hand in hers.

"Hurts like hell," the blonde-haired boy admitted, looking up to his sister. His grey eyes looked pained and he made no attempt to smile, simply grimacing.

"It sure looks like it would. But Madam Pomfrey can fix anything," Iz glanced up and smiled as the nurse came back over. Moving out of the way momentarily as Madam Pomfrey administered a few more potions and healing spells to help Draco, Isabelle noticed Hagrid simply hanging out on the other side of the room as if unsure what he was supposed to do. A bit angry at him for letting this happen to her brother (though logically knowing it was partly her brother's fault nonetheless), she held back her temper and returned to focusing on Draco.

"There. You will need to rest, Mr. Malfoy, and stay here overnight, but your arm should be good as new by Thursday morning."

"Thursday? Has my father –?"

"Yes, your parents have been informed. Now rest, no moving that arm. If you need something…well, I believe your sister will be here to assist you." Madam Pomfrey nodded at Isabelle before moving away, onto some other task out of sight. Hagrid had also disappeared, leaving the siblings to themselves.

Iz pulled a chair over to sit next to Draco's bed, not wanting to accidentally move him. Reprimanding her brother as he attempted to sit up more and winced, she huffed slightly, "You know you shouldn't've done it."

"Done what, Izzy?" Draco made a sour face at her, the medicine not having taken effect quite yet.

"Insulted the Hippogriff. That's why it attacked you, and the professor clearly said – "

"That oaf shouldn't even be a professor. He should be sacked, I'm sure Father will push for it, I could've lost my arm –!"

"Now you're just being dramatic." Iz replied, sighing and shaking her head. Not wanting to rile him up anymore in case it interfered with his arm's healing process, she made to change the subject as the Hospital Wing doors banged open.

"Oh, Draco! Are you going to live? How is it?" Pansy came running into the room, tears still streaming down her face. Getting to the other side of the bed, she gasped theatrically as she saw Draco's bandaged arm.

"I'll survive," Iz's brother put on a brave face but not quite hiding his pain. He smiled slightly at Pansy and overdramatically winced as she went to touch his shoulder. With Draco obviously enjoying the spiky-haired girl's doting and undivided attention, Iz pulled out her Ancient Runes textbook and began reading the next chapter while tuning the other two out.