Sense of Belonging

Chapter 14

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

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"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?

The Banshee had disappeared, replaced by a large, rectangular, flat surface. Isabelle recognized it immediately. It was the Family Tree from Malfoy Manor, its elegant writing and gold-tinged symbols distinguishable in the Boggart's rendering. Except one thing was different – Isabelle's name no longer existed on the tree. Finding Narcissa and Lucius, a line to Draco, the line where her name should have been was not there. Taking a moment to search for where she could possibly be, an overwhelming sense of loneliness and shame flooding her, her eyes were drawn to the bottom left corner where she could just make out her name when – BAM! It was blasted off as soon as she read it. Izzy's eyes went wide, realizing what that would mean. Panicking for a second longer, staring at where her name had been and then where it should have been, she came back to her senses. Lifting her wand in a determined matter, she called,

"Ridikulus!"

The Family Tree transformed, the names still visible but now balloons under each of them. When Izzy had called the spell, she had released a dart which had ruptured one of the balloons resulting in a small magical firework. She vaguely heard the reactions from her classmates but remained focused on the magical creature in front of her. Smirking at her favorite festival game, Iz flicked her wand a half-dozen more times, exploding a few of the named balloons – Draco, her grandmother Druella, Regulus, Narcissa, Bellatrix –

"Very good. Ronald. You're up!" Isabelle stepped back as the red-haired Gryffindor went forward, his wand already outstretched. Her board of balloons was replaced by a six-foot-tall black spider towering over the group. Although a few others gasped, Weasley quickly completed his spell and the spider lost its legs, causing it to roll all over the room aimlessly.

As the class laughed, the spider came to a stop right next to the red-head. Potter stepped up with a determined look and waited for the Boggart to change. Isabelle watched the legless spider begin to shift, it taking longer and longer as the students' spells appeared to weaken it. Just as it seemed to settle on a tall, dark, wispy form –

"Here!" Lupin had hurried forward and was now standing in front of Harry Potter. A second later, the semi-recognizable Dementor became a glowing white orb surrounded by mist. The DADA professor did not hesitate as he demonstrated the spell, turning the Boggart into a balloon letting out air and directing it back into the wardrobe.

"Excellent, a superb first lesson. Well done, everyone. That's enough for today, just a taste. Don't want to have too much of a good thing. Homework, kindly read the chapter on Boggarts and summarize it for me, to be handed in next lesson. That will be all."

There was a general sound of displeasure as the students went to pick up their bags near the door of the staff room. Izzy had enjoyed the lesson despite what had happened with the Boggart. She was sure one of her classmates would put it together as to why the Family Tree had been her greatest fear. What would they think when they found out she wasn't really a Malfoy? Avoiding Draco's gaze, Iz turned the other way.

"Hey, Jett! He did well, didn't he?" Isabelle asked, using her as an excuse not to go with the other Slytherins.

"Yeah, I guess. Still gave us homework." Jett sighed, as if hoping her godfather would be the one teacher who would not.

"Not difficult homework, though. What do you think the Boggart would have turned into for you?" The dark-haired girl asked curiously, suspecting it would have something to do with her father. Who wouldn't be afraid of such an infamous mass-murderer?

"Jett, a word?" Moony called from near the wardrobe, beckoning the short Gryffindor over with his hand and saving her from having to answer her friend's question. Iz pretended to look for something in her bag, buying herself more time so that she could walk back with Jett rather than her Housemates.

"Yes, /sir/?" Jett overemphasized, a small smirk on her lips but still trying to act professionally.

"I was hoping you could join me for tea tomorrow afternoon."

"Oh, um…" The French girl glanced behind her, noticing Hermione, Potter, and Weasley waiting near the doorway. A panicked look crossed Jett's face as her bushy-haired friend, obviously having heard, seemed confused. Lupin, realizing she had not yet told her other friends that he was her godfather, seemed at a loss of words, unable to come up with some excuse.

"To answer her questions, Professor Lupin? May I join as well? I've already read the chapter on Boggarts and have a few of my own." Isabelle stepped forward, hoping the excuse would be enough to cover it all up.

"Of course. I'll have more time tomorrow…to answer your questions, Jett. How does three o'clock sound to you both?" Lupin gave a small smile in the Slytherin's direction before returning to the blonde-haired girl. Jett simply nodded.

Walking out together, they met up with Hermione in the corridor. (The Gryffindor boys had moved on, knowing their Gryffindor friends would go to the library to study – or "study" for Jett – per usual.)

"I wish I could come tomorrow, I have /loads/ of questions to ask Professor Lupin. He seems like a very capable professor, don't you think? Can I give you a list of my questions, Izzy? Maybe you can ask him for me."

"Sure, Mione. I think he's pretty nice too – maybe we'll finally learn something this year." Iz replied with a smile, bumping Jett in a joking manner but also trying to jolt her out of her silent panic. Hermione seemed to believe the tea meeting to be no more than a student-teacher discussion. And yet, Jett kept glancing at her Gryffindor friend in worry as if she would suddenly guess something else was going on.

By the time they reached the library and had settled at their usual table, the three girls had moved on to talk over plans for the upcoming weekend. Jett relaxed, sure Hermione would have brought up her suspicions if she had them. Hermione fretted about all of the homework she had to do, wondering if she would have the time to get it all done. And Izzy forgot to tell Jett the new information she had learned about her father.

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Isabelle was looking forward to her meeting with Jett and Lupin. She had a lot of questions to ask him – just not actually about Boggarts. Hermione had made a long enough list dealing with them and other potential DADA topics for the year that Iz felt well prepared if they were lacking in conversation.

Arriving a couple minutes early to Lupin's office, Izzy waited outside in the empty corridor until the bell rang signaling it to be three in the afternoon. Wondering if Jett had actually gotten there early and they were waiting inside for her, she knocked lightly on the door.

The door suddenly lurched open on its own. Peering inside, Iz saw the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor sitting at his desk reading something. Realizing he must have simply flicked the door open with his wand, the young Malfoy entered cautiously, seeing that Jett was not actually there yet. The whole point of the meeting was for the godfather to see his goddaughter – Isabelle had simply offered a pretense as cover-up.

Taking a seat in one of the chairs by the desk, Lupin finally glanced up from his book with a smile, bookmarking a page. Having expected both girls to be sitting there, his happiness morphed slightly into a look of confusion.

"I'm not sure where she is, sir, I thought she might already be here. I can wait outside, I'm sorry, I forget how late Jett can be – " Izzy offered as she stood up once more, feeling a bit like she was intruding. True, she had her own list of questions – some academically-related, others not – but she knew Moony had really just wanted to check in with Jett.

"It's not a problem, Isabelle, please sit. Would you like some tea while we wait? I just brewed a pot. Jett will come when she remembers." Lupin's pleasant smile returned as he shook his head slightly, a semi-amused look on his face. Like father, like daughter, Lupin thought to himself, his thoughts having been momentarily on his old school friend.

"Yes, please. Thank you." Iz took the teacup from him and took a sip, quickly hiding her surprise as she slightly burned her tongue. Holding it in her hands for a moment as they waited in silence, the Slytherin finally glanced up to attempt a little small talk. "Are you feeling better, Mr. Lupin? Or, I mean, Professor Lupin?"

"What do you mean?" Lupin asked, wondering if many students had already begun to notice his health or if the girl sitting in front of him was simply perceptive to such details.

"You looked quite exhausted, sir, on the Hogwarts Express and at the Opening Feast. But you look like you are feeling better now." Iz clarified, not catching the man's eyebrow twitch in concern.

"Ah. Yes, I had come down with a cold a few days before the start of term and was just recovering from it. I am doing much better now, thank you. Speaking of, how has your first week of classes gone?" Lupin answered matter-of-factly before smoothly switching the course of the conversation, now leaning back in his chair and sipping his cup of tea.

"Very well, sir. Well, kind of. I'm sure you heard about the accident involving my brother…" Isabelle shrugged, momentarily glancing away and out one of the office windows. She could see part of the Forbidden Forest from here.

"I did. Is he recovering alright?"

"Well enough. He still complains that it aches but… Anyways, the rest of my classes went quite well. I think I will enjoy Ancient Runes very much, and Potions per usual. The other classes merely picked up from last year. But I am also especially excited for your course, Professor."

"I see. Well, that makes me happy to hear." Lupin genuinely smiled, the rest of his DADA classes having been just as if not even more successful than with his Third Years. Morphing into the more-relaxed version of himself from Moony's cottage, at least in Isabelle's eyes, Iz leaned forward slightly to prepare to ask her most pressing questions.

Glancing back at the open doorway as if expecting Jett to walk in right at that second, she turned back and began cautiously, "Did you spend the rest of the summer in France with Jett?"

Caught off guard by this question, Lupin sat back up and set down his cup of tea, unsure what the dark-haired girl in front of him was leading towards. "Yes. After I picked Jett up from your home, we went straight to her mother's flat near Paris. We were there until King's Cross Station on September 1st."

"And now you're both here at Hogwarts to…keep Jett safe from her father?" Izzy pondered aloud.

"I had actually accepted the Headmaster's offer before any of the business with…Jett's father came up. It is simply an extra perk to be here with her – though as far as I know, you are the only other student who knows our relationship?" Moony questioned, attempting to shift the conversation once again, away from his ex-best friend.

"I believe so. I promised Jett I wouldn't tell, not even my brother, so unless she told someone… But sir, do you really think Jett's in danger? Is Sirius Black truly after her?" Isabelle asked, showing her concern for her best friend.

"I have no idea, honestly. But I would rather keep her safe and be overly cautious than risk anything happening… Until they catch him and he is back in Azkaban, Hogwarts is one of the safest places for her."

"…is her father as dangerous as the Daily Prophet says he is? You were one of his friends at school, right? Did you ever think that he might – one day – you know–" Iz tried to put together, attempting to be subtle but wanting to know as much as she could about Jett's father and her potential uncle. Not that she had any desire at present to meet him.

"I would rather not discuss this topic, Isabelle, I'm sorry. He was one of my friends, yes, and no I could never have imagined him doing what he did, but the fact is that he did do it. And whether or not he is after Jett is irrelevant as she will remain safe here until he is caught." Lupin's expression had changed once more, his pleasant smile gone as he glanced away from the Third Year sitting on the other side of his desk. The finality in his tone told Isabelle to not push the subject any further. For the time being, at least.

"May I ask a couple of other questions, then, professor? Hermione Granger gave me a long list about Defense Against the Dark Arts, but I have a few of my own as well…" Iz trailed off, unsure if she had more than upset her best friend's godfather or not.

"Of course."

"So, I was wondering about the curriculum before our first examination – "

"Sorry I'm late." Jett called from the doorway as she walked in over the threshold to Moony's office. "I forgot we were meeting and went up to the common room and then I remembered." The blonde-haired girl shrugged as she sat down in the chair next to Izzy. Lupin gave his goddaughter a slightly annoyed look at being so unconcerned about being late but still smiled at her.

Continuing the conversation with both girls and eventually returning to how Jett's first week had been, the three finished the tea pot about a half hour later.

"Thank you for the tea, professor, and for answering my questions. I can schedule another time to come back or something, maybe with Hermione? Anyways, I'm sorry I kind of invited myself, just since Jett hasn't told anyone else yet that you're her godfather and all – " Iz rambled as she stood, wanting to leave the two alone as it was originally meant to be.

"Not at all, Isabelle, you are always welcome. It was a clever save yesterday. If you would like, we could meet at the same time next week."

"That would be wonderful! Jett could come too, of course, if she didn't want others to notice."

"I think she knows she can come whenever she wants to."

"/If/ I want to. But fine." The French girl corrected Lupin but with a smile, knowing it would be easier to come and talk to him rather than keeping up the pretense of sending owl post every week or so. Plus, they had grown closer over the summer and he was the closest thing Jett had ever had to a father-figure…other than her Azkaban-escapee father, that is. She stood up and followed Iz towards the door, not yet wanting to start that discussion.

"Be sure to spend some time outside this weekend, the weather should be lovely. And Jett?" Lupin said as he picked up his book once more after waving them both goodbye. Smirking as his goddaughter turned to him, he added, "Stay out of trouble. Oh, and don't be late to my next lesson."

"Sure, /Moony/, I'll try," Jett smirked right back at him, not surprised he had found out she had actually been late to DADA. Knowing using his nickname could get her into trouble, the Gryffindor girl hurried out to meet Izzy a few paces down the corridor.

After making plans for the weekend, the two girls parted ways at the main moving staircases. The dark-haired Slytherin made her way back to the common room, still thinking about her conversation with Lupin. So many unanswered questions…

As Isabelle entered the Slytherin common room, she noticed her brother and Pansy sitting near the fire. Draco turned to Iz with a "Help, please!" look while her suitemate sported a curious expression. Guessing what Pansy might want to discuss with her – and having avoided questions surrounding the Boggart situation for the entire day – Izzy left her brother to his company and made her way down to her dorm room.

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AN: Hi all, sorry for missing Thursday's update. It looks like it will be more of a weekly update for the next little bit rather than bi-weekly. I'll try to have longer chapters in the meantime. Hope you are still enjoying the fic!