Sense of Belonging

Chapter 13

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

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Jett did not appear for lunch that afternoon, despite Isabelle checking the Gryffindor table every few minutes. Iz had expected she would just arrive with the trio, who also came in late, but the short girl had not been with them. Hermione looked quite upset, the Slytherin assuming it was from the fact that she had lost her House points, but she had also somehow ripped her bag. Potter and Weasley were each carrying a few textbooks, neither looking too thrilled about it.

Draco joined the rest of the Third Years at lunch with only a few minutes before their afternoon classes. He had a large smile on his face.

"What?" His sister gave him a questioning look, pushing the platter of sandwiches towards him.

"Father spoke with the Minister of Magic. Told him about the Hippogriff. He seems to think there'll be a trial." Draco smiled smugly, reaching for a piece of dessert first.

"Oh. Well don't trials usually take a long time?" Izzy pointed out, unsure why her sibling seemed so happy.

"Not always – especially with my /lasting/ injury." Others jumped into the conversation to get more details about Draco and his arm, leaving no time for Isabelle to rebuke his statement.

Walking with the Slytherins to their first Defense Against the Dark Arts class, they found the classroom empty. Sitting in her favorite seat (second row, middle), Iz took out her textbook and began reviewing the first chapter expectantly. She was absolutely excited. What would Moony do as their first lesson? If there was a pop quiz, she would be extra prepared.

The Gryffindors arrived a little after the Slytherins and took their seats on the right-hand side of the classroom. (Most of the Slytherins were sitting on the left.) Only Hermione made to sit up front and in the middle. Isabelle glanced up, surprised Jett had not sat near either of them. But she had something important to tell her!

Glancing around the classroom, she realized Jett was still not there. Wondering if she would be bold enough to skip her godfather's class, Izzy leaned forward and asked Hermione, "Where did Jett go?"

"No idea." Mione shrugged as she reached into her ripped bag and pulled out her own notated copy of their textbook.

"Oh, your bag's still ripped. Want me to fix it?" Isabelle offered. The Gryffindor shrugged again, which Iz took as approval. Taking out her wand, she fixed the bag and reinforced it for all of the books, a spell she had learned over the summer. "I can decorate it too, if you want."

"No, thanks, Izzy. What's that spell?" The Slytherin wrote it down for her on a piece of parchment, just handing it to her as the bell rang for the start of class. "Where do you think Professor Lupin is?"

"I'm not sure." Izzy glanced back towards the classroom entrance, realizing what might be going on. What if Jett had actually gone to talk to Moony at lunch? Maybe that was why they were both late? But, of course, she could not say this to Hermione.

The door opened a moment later. Most of the students turned, expecting their shabbily-dressed professor, but instead a familiar blonde-haired girl hurried inside. Glancing up at the front of the classroom and sighing with relief, Jett sat down next to Hermione and leaned back towards Iz to say, "I was sure I was going to be late."

"Where were you? I have something important to tell you –" Izzy started when the door opened once again, their DADA teacher finally appearing. Waving Jett to turn back around, not wanting either of them to get in trouble in their first class with Moony, Iz sat with her hands folded on her desk, waiting expectantly.

"Good afternoon," Lupin started when he got to the front of the classroom. Glancing around at each side before settling with a smile on the middle, he continued saying, "Would you please put all your books back in your bags. Today's will be a practical lesson. You will need only your wands." The students shifted nervously as they had never really had an entire class dedicated to just practice before. "Right, if you'd follow me."

Pulling her bag over her shoulder, Izzy got up and followed the group as they filed out of the classroom. Heading around the corner towards the staff room, they hit a little traffic along the way.

Peeves the Poltergeist was blocking their way, taking up most of the corridor as he stuffed chewing gum in one of the keyholes on a nearby door. Isabelle frowned, very much disliking the annoying and obnoxious ghost. Once, when she had been walking back from the library at night alone as a First Year, Peeves had followed her most of the way back hissing her name and then cackling.

Now, the ghost set his sights on their professor. Smiling, he started to sing, "Loony, loopy Lupin, loony, loopy Lupin – " Iz tried to see Moony's face, sure that such disrespect would anger the man. Instead, Jett's godfather appeared simply amused.

"I'd take that gum out of the keyhole, if I were you, Peeves. Mr. Filch won't be able to get his brooms." Instead of listening, however, the poltergeist simply ignored the professor minus momentarily sticking out his tongue.

Lupin shook his head and sighed, still smiling, as he glanced back at his class of Third Years. "Watch closely, this is a useful little spell. Waddiwasi!" Within a second, the piece of gum Peeves had been pushing into the small hole shot out and up his nose, forcing the ghost to fly up and away cursing in annoyance.

"Cool, sir!" One of the Gryffindor boys said while others laughed.

"Right, this way." Looking oddly proud of himself, the professor led his students down a second corridor before stopping in front of the staff room door.

"He did that to me once over the summer – but I got him back by pouring an entire can of tomato soup over his head." Jett half-smirked, whispering to Iz with amusement at the summer memory. Not sure she liked this prankster side of her friend's godfather, Isabelle followed the rest of the class into the nearly-deserted room.

"Leave it open, Lupin. I'd rather not witness this." Professor Snape rose from his comfy arm chair at the other end of the long table, a sneer on his face. "Also, no one's probably warned you about Longbottom. I wouldn't entrust him with anything difficult unless you want half the class in the Hospital Wing."

Izzy glanced at her classmate, seeing that Neville had gone scarlet red in embarrassment. Turning back to Lupin, she saw mixed emotions at his colleague's comments. Simply raising his eyebrows, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor replied, "Is that so? I was hoping Neville would assist me with the first stage of the operation. I'm sure he will perform it admirably."

Snape merely scoffed before departing, shutting the door firmly.

"Now then, we're heading over there. The wardrobe, yes." As the class formed a semicircle around the other end of the staff room, Professor Lupin stepped up to stand in front of the old wardrobe. When he went to speak, however, the furniture piece gave a sudden jolt away from the wall before crashing back against it. The couple of Gryffindors standing nearest to it jumped away in fright, their eyes wide. Izzy gripped her wand more tightly, apprehensive but trusting Moony and curious as to what their assignment was.

"Nothing to worry about, it's just a Boggart. You tend to find them in wardrobes such as these, the gap beneath beds, under sinks. This one moved in yesterday and the headmaster left it to you all to get some practice. So, the first question we must ask ourselves: what /is/ a Boggart?" Both Hermione's and Isabelle's hands shot up into the air where the two girls stood next to each other. A second or so later, Jett had also raised her hand but a bit lazily. Turning his green eyes to the three girls in front of him, he nodded towards the taller Gryffindor.

"It's a shape-shifter who likes dark, enclosed spaces. It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us the most." Hermione beamed at being chosen to answer as well as at the resulting praise from the professor.

"Couldn't have put it better myself. Next question: what does a Boggart actually look like?" Hermione and Isabelle both raised their hands again, with Jett following a few seconds later. Lupin nodded towards Izzy this time, who replied confidently,

"That's a trick question, sir. No one knows what a Boggart looks like when it is alone."

"Correct. And so, when I open this door, the Boggart will assume the shape of whatever each us of most fears. Has anyone spotted the advantage we have today? What should you always have when you're dealing with a Boggart?" The professor glanced around at his group of students encouragingly.

"A wand?" Blaise offered, a few other students laughing.

"Yes, that's true. What else?" Lupin motioned to the group as if to clue in, but noticed Jett's hand raised again next to Hermione's and Isabelle's. Motioning to his Gryffindor goddaughter, she stated simply,

"Other people. The more, the better."

"Right, and why is that? Have an idea, Harry?" Turning to his left towards the Gryffindors, he had noticed the look on the messy-haired boy's face.

"Uh…because there are so many of us, it won't know what shape it should be?" Potter offered as if unsure.

"Precisely. He becomes confused. So, the charm you will learn today is fairly simple but requires power from the mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a Boggart is /laughter/. What you need to do is force it to assume a shape that you find amusing." Smiling around at the students who seemed a bit unsure about the whole process, Lupin went through the motions to show them how to perform the spell. Isabelle attempted to ignore her brother as he complained to Crabbe and Goyle. ("This class is ridiculous," Draco had remarked at one point.)

"Now, the more difficult part. Neville, this is where you come in." Iz watched the rotund Gryffindor step forward trembling, jumping as the wardrobe shook again. She bit her lip, unsure that the Gryffindor boy would be able to do this – he hadn't proven himself very capable nor powerful in most other classes. Except in Herbology. Observing closely, Izzy listened to the boy answer Lupin's question about what frightened him the most.

"Professor Snape." Most of the students laughed, either in a sort of agreement or because they knew how much the Potions Master humiliated Longbottom.

"Hmm…and you live with your grandmother, is that right?"

"Yes, but I don't want it to turn into her either."

"No, no, you misunderstand me. Describe her for us, what does she usually wear?" Lupin shook his head, still smiling.

"Always the same hat, a tall one with a stuffed vulture on top. And a long dress, usually a green one… And a big red purse." Neville said, his face frowning as he thought about his relative.

"Right, now you need to picture those clothes – the clothes only – in your mind's eye, very clearly. Can you do that?" The Gryffindor boy gave a small nod, holding his wand at the ready.

"When I open the door, Professor Snape will appear. All you need to do, Neville, is raise your wand and focus on the clothes. If all goes well, Professor Boggart Snape will be forced into that hat and dress and handbag." There was a common chuckle around the room at that professor wearing the ridiculous outfit. Imagining it, Izzy made a face and shook her head. Awful.

"Be ready, the rest. When Neville is successful, it will rotate to each of you in turn. Think of your greatest fear, and how you might make it comical." Thinking over Lupin's words, Isabelle became unsure. What was her greatest fear? Sure, she did not like heights for fear of falling, she did not like bad grades, she did not like getting into trouble… But how could any of those things manifest itself in a Boggart?

"One, two, three… Go!" Iz did not have time to think further as she watched the wardrobe door open. Neville was now standing alone before his classmates, his wand stretched out in front of him and his arm trembling terribly. A figure very much like Professor Snape stepped out with a deep frown on his face and began walking toward the Gryffindor boy.

"Go on, Neville, picture it," Lupin encouraged from the side, confident that his student would succeed.

"R-ridikulus!" Longbottom finally called and, within a second, the Boggart transformed – still Professor Snape, except now wearing a very ridiculous outfit. The class burst out laughing and even Neville smiled, finding the scene funny. The creature paused at the sound of the crowd, confused.

"Good, Neville. Tracey, forward!" The DADA professor called, looking towards the Slytherins to his right. Izzy watched her suitemate cautiously step forward and take out her wand, eyeing the Boggart suspiciously. Professor Boggart Snape turned towards her and shifted into a terrifying mummy, bloodstained and bandaged. It reached its arms up towards Tracey, as if to grab her when –

"Ridikulus!" The mummy tripped over its own bandages and fell flat on the floor.

"Parvati, now!" One of the quiet Gryffindor girls stepped forward and the Boggart changed to a huge rat, its teeth gnashing in anger. But before it could even move, it became fixated on chasing its own tail. A new wave of laughter sounded from the group.

"Vincent, forward!" Lupin called, switching between the Hogwarts Houses. Draco pushed Crabbe so that he was standing in the open space. As if a little confused, it took the boy a moment to find his wand. In the meantime, the Boggart had transformed itself into a single bloody eyeball. A second later, it was a Quidditch Quaffle which dropped to the ground and rolled towards the Gryffindors. It shifted a few times, into a snake, a clown, a severed hand, before the students heard their professor call,

"It's confused, good. Seamus, now!" The boy stepped up and Isabelle half-expected it to be some sort of explosion. Instead, a Banshee appeared with her floor-length black hair and green-tinged face. She let out a wailing shriek, causing many of the other students to take a step back. The Gryffindor boy bravely performed the new spell and suddenly the noise was gone, the creatures' voice taken from her.

"Right. Isabelle, your turn!" Glancing over to where Lupin had situated himself in the corner as if to be sure he was talking to her, the dark-haired girl cautiously stepped forward. She had no plan! What was the Boggart going to turn into for her?