Sense of Belonging

Chapter 12

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

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Pansy had been sure to inform the rest of the Slytherin House as to Draco's pained state. Isabelle had missed most of the talk when she returned to the dormitory later that evening but was introduced to it at breakfast the next morning.

"And he was in such great pain, he said it even hurt to smile, but he did it just for me." Pansy recounted, hand over her heart and smiling happily.

"Is he going to be alright, Izzy? Truly?" Tracey asked her suitemate as they were finishing their breakfast.

"Madam Pomfrey said it should all heal nicely, as long as he rests it. I'm going to check on him before classes today, but she said Draco'll be back in classes by Thursday. So, tomorrow." Iz shrugged, unsure what else to say.

When the younger Malfoy sibling finally made it upstairs, she found Draco frustrated, struggling to eat his breakfast, but in a noticeably cheerier mood. Despite being unable to cut up his food, Iz's brother was very talkative and seemingly pain-free. Not that he would admit it, even to his sister, however – he insisted his arm was still throbbing with pain and vocally voiced his concerns that he would have to stay an extra few days in the Hospital Wing.

Izzy knew Draco liked the attention he was getting and so was not fully fooled. Lucius and Narcissa had even come to visit their son the evening before to be sure he was alright, doting over him like always.

"And Father promised to complain to all of the school governors about this incident. I hope the oaf's fired." The blonde-haired boy finished with a huff before stuffing his mouth with the last of his breakfast.

"Draco, you know it was kind of your fault. I doubt they'll fire him over just this –"

"Father seemed pretty hopeful. Don't you want a /real/ professor, Izzy? Someone you can actually learn from?" Iz simply shrugged, not wanting to admit that that idea did sound nice.

Promising to collect her brother's homework for him, Isabelle was just heading to her next class when she passed by a group of Gryffindors leaving the Great Hall.

"Izzy! Is Draco okay? You didn't come to the library last night so I thought maybe something went wrong…" Hermione stopped to check in with her friend, hugging a couple of her textbooks to her chest as if in concern.

"He'll be fine, he just needs rest. He was just kind of helpless last night, in a lot of pain, so I said I would stay with him to help." Iz shrugged, glancing over to where Potter and Weasley had stopped a few feet away, listening in curiously. The red-haired boy scoffed as she described her brother's agony and the Third Year Slytherin shot him a warning glance.

"Oh, well that's good to hear, I guess. Hagrid told us that we'll probably start with flobberworms next lesson, something a little easier…" The bushy-haired girl informed Iz, shooting her two fellow Gryffindors her own mixed look.

"That sounds more like what he's capable of. He isn't really a trained professor anyways, right?" Izzy said, not thinking too much of her statements. It was true that Hagrid was not trained to teach – nor was he a fully-trained wizard. With her parents' complaints from the night before still stuck in her head, she had meant the comment more as stating a fact rather than a criticism.

"He's a great professor, it's your brother's fault for what happened!" Harry Potter stepped forward, angered by the dark-haired girl's remarks.

"It was not! Those creatures were simply too dangerous, especially for our first ever lesson." Isabelle replied with a bit of an air, narrowing her eyes at the two boys. Though she herself had admitted to Draco that it was at least partially his fault, she would not give her brother's nemesis any satisfaction in that regard. Looking to Hermione to support her about the risky Hippogriffs, Iz found the bushy-haired Gryffindor glancing away as if she did not want to get in between.

"Your idiot brother – " Ronald Weasley started to say but was cut off by Hermione.

"We've got to get to class, Isabelle, sorry. Glad to hear he'll be okay. See you later!" The three Gryffindors headed off towards their next subject, leaving the Slytherin there feeling a bit riled up.

Upset at the fact that Hermione had not defended her logical conclusions about the Hippogriff incident, Izzy decided to sit at a different table in the library later that afternoon to study. Still waving in a more obligatory rather than friendly manner as Jett and Hermione had come for their usual meeting, the two Gryffindors sat a few tables down from their friend. The odd interaction continued through dinner and into the next day.

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Draco finally returned to classes on Thursday morning, coming in halfway through a double potions lesson with the Gryffindors. Isabelle had taken out his cauldron, having heard he should be leaving the Hospital Wing that morning, but had yet to set it up. Though Crabbe and Goyle had left a spot near them open per usual, the blonde-haired Malfoy had sauntered over to where Potter and Weasley were preparing that morning's assignment: a Shrinking Solution.

"How is it, Draco? Does it hurt much?" Pansy leaned over to ask, looking overly concerned at the amount of bandages the boy had on his arm.

"Yeah," Izzy's brother replied with a sort of grimace as he made to drag his cauldron over with his good arm. As Pansy turned away to add something to her potion, Isabelle watched Draco wink at Crabbe and Goyle. Having visited him once again the night before just to be sure he was all set to return to classes, Iz had noticed him act one way with her (back to his normal, annoying self) and then an overexaggerated pained act for most of his other visitors. Rolling her eyes and knowing he was now simply milking it for attention, she returned her focus to the task at hand.

"Settle down. You all have an assignment."

"Professor Snape, sir! I'll need help cutting these daisy roots, my arm – " Draco's voice called, pointing to his sling. Without looking up from his desk, the Potions Master replied,

"Weasley, cut up Malfoy's roots for him."

Glancing up to see the Gryffindor's angered reaction, Iz could not help but feel a bit pleased at Ronald's annoyance. Even if Draco was mostly faking his arm injury. Her brother's plan seemed to backfire, however, as the red-haired boy purposefully chopped the roots roughly and unevenly, ensuring an imbalance in her brother's potion. Before she could say anything, Draco piped up and complained,

"Professor, Weasley's mutilating my roots, sir, he's ruining my potion." Snape, who had already begun another round around the dungeon classroom to check on his students' progress, approached Draco's table. Inspecting the potions ingredients, he smiled at the Gryffindor and directed simply,

"Change roots with Malfoy, Weasley."

"But sir –!"

"/Now/," the Slytherin House Head commanded, his tone suggesting he was close to taking away points for the boy's insolence. Weasley shoved his pile of carefully-cut roots towards Draco before turning back to his own potion.

"And, sir, I'll need this shrivelfig skinned," Draco added, a mischievous smile broad on his face. He was obviously enjoying humiliating the two Gryffindors.

"Potter, you can skin Mr. Malfoy's shrivelfig." Snape walked away to check on a few other students near the back of the room. Isabelle watched the messy-haired boy snatch her brother's ingredient and toss the finished product back at him. Smiling in amusement to herself, Iz turned to return to her own potion but caught Jett's annoyed expression.

"Only a /dash/ of leech juice, Jett, careful!" Izzy reminded, trying to be helpful despite her continued odd interaction with her Gryffindor friends. The French girl had been distracted by Potter's and Draco's conversation in front of her.

"Right, sorry," Jett waved her hand at Iz dismissively, putting the bottle of leech juice back down, muttering to herself. Isabelle thought she heard her call her brother a few choice words. Before the Slytherin could retort with her own commentary, the class was distracted by Professor Snape's voice near the front of the room.

"– does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours? Didn't you hear me say, quite clearly, that only one rat spleen was needed? What do I have to do to make you understand, Longbottom?" The rotund Gryffindor boy looked miserable and certainly on the verge of tears, trembling under the professor's intense glare.

"Please, sir, I could help Neville put it right –" Hermione offered from the row behind.

"I don't remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger. Longbottom, at the end of this lesson we will feed a few drops of your potion to your pet toad and see what happens. Perhaps that will encourage you to properly follow the directions. Get back to work," Snape barked, glancing around at the rest of the class in warning.

Izzy returned to her place, stirring her almost-finished potion and watching the scene in front of her. Hermione was whispering a few instructions to the frightened Gryffindor boy while completing her own task at the same time. Knowing that her friend was going to get caught, Iz chastised,

"Mione, you're going to get in trouble. Leave him be, he can follow the directions –!"

"His poor toad, Izzy!" Hermione turned to her Slytherin friend with a determined look before returning to assisting her classmate. Hearing her friend give the wrong advice to fix his potion and not really wanting the boy's toad to suffer, she sighed and hissed quickly,

"Tell him to add another half-dozen daisy roots, not a dozen, that will balance out the extra rat spleen. And try a pinch more of cowbane and an extra caterpillar. And tell him to hurry, we only have a few minutes left."

As Snape walked by once more, Isabelle returned to stirring her perfectly-green potion and offered a small smile to the professor. Turning to check on Jett's progress in case she needed help, she found the Gryffindor once again listening in on the boys' conversation in front of her.

"Not too far from here… What, Malfoy?" Iz heard Weasley say. Thinking Ronald was speaking to her at first, she turned as she listened to what her brother contributed.

"Thinking of trying to catch Black single-handed, Potter?" Draco asked with a knowing smile, confusing his sister.

"Yeah, that's right," Harry said a bit sarcastically.

"Of course, if it was me, I'd have done something before now. I wouldn't be staying in school like a good boy, I'd be out there looking for him." Draco was now smirking as he stirred his potion counterclockwise.

"What are you talking about, Malfoy?" The red-haired boy questioned roughly.

"Don't you /know/, Potter?" Draco raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"Know what?"

"Maybe you'd rather not risk your neck. Want to leave it to the Dementors, do you? But if it was me, I'd want revenge. I'd hunt him down myself." Draco shrugged, as if it was not important.

"What are you talking about?!" Potter finally chimed in angrily and looking confused. At that moment, however, Snape instructed the class to leave their potions to simmer while they packed up.

Having already cleaned her station, Izzy approached Jett and whispered, "Were they talking about your dad?"

"I think so, there was some sighting near Hogwarts, I guess…"

"That's not good, right? You should talk to Moony, find out if he really thinks your dad's after you –"

"Drop it, Iz, I don't want to talk about it."

"And what does Potter have to do with your dad?" Izzy continued aloud curiously, sure that her friend would have to know.

"I don't freakin' know, but your brother obviously does. Why don't you ask him?" Jett replied bitterly, the overheard conversation confusing the Gryffindor and making her tense.

"I mean, besides for the obvious thing that he supported the Dark Lord and all, so maybe he's just after Harry Potter for, you know –" Isabelle continued to muse aloud before Jett simply pushed past her to put some ingredients away. "Jett!"

"I don't want to talk about it! Okay?"

Unsure what had made her friend so mad, she turned to finish her potion for her grade and then joined the class to watch what might happen to the Gryffindor boy's toad. His potion now looked a much healthier shade of green but Iz worried that it may not have had enough time to simmer. A small pop a few seconds later proved that the potion had been a success and Izzy smiled to herself. She had probably been the one to fix the potion, of course.

"Five points from Gryffindor. I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed." Snape was frowning and handed the now-tadpole back to its rightful owner.

Grabbing her bag, Isabelle followed the class out of the dungeon. It was better that Snape did not know she had also helped Longbottom but at the same time she wished to tell her House professor for the praise she deserved fixing his ruined potion. Not seeing where Hermione went, and Jett still seeming in an upset mood, Iz fell into line beside her brother.

"How's your arm?"

"It aches, you know, but I'll be alright," Draco told her truthfully, glancing around to be sure no one else was too nearby.

"The sling? Is it really necessary?" Isabelle raised her eyebrows at her brother, guessing the answer.

"I said it aches. Plus the scars aren't completely gone, so, yeah…"

"And Potter? What do you know about him and Black?" Iz questioned directly, wanting to know the answer.

"Nothing, I just asked Father about the whole thing since it was everywhere and he told me that the murderer is said to be targeting Potter. He's a big supporter of the Dark Lord, you know. And /then/ he said that Black was Potter's parents' best friend at school, so he probably betrayed them and all when they were killed. Not positive, though. Thought Potter'd want revenge, you know, but seems he's just a wuss like always." Izzy's brother explained, smiling the entire time as if he found the situation funny.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Draco turned to head back to the Slytherin dormitories rather than the Great Hall. Starting to follow him, Iz realized that she wanted to tell Jett the information she had found out. Did the French girl already know that Harry's parents had been her father's best friends?

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AN: Hey all, thank you very much for the favorites/follows and positive reviews! I am happy that you seem to be enjoying the story. Always open for constructive criticism or ideas, especially if something happens that seems a little far-fetched. Next up, first DADA class of the year! :)