Sense of Belonging

Chapter 15

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

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Isabelle could not escape the questions for long. Though Tracey and Millicent had not seemed to care very much about the first DADA lesson, Daphne and Pansy had certainly noticed. Both seemed overly interested in what their suitemates' Boggart could have meant – what was Isabelle so afraid of? And though both girls wanted to figure it out, they went about it in different ways.

Daphne began throwing in little hints during their between-class conversations. While walking back from Herbology the following Monday afternoon, the Third Year Slytherin had somehow connected their new list of poisonous plants with the DADA lesson. Izzy had not been fooled by the subtle change in conversation and was thankfully (but unintentionally) saved by Draco needing assistance with his homework.

Pansy, on the other hand, was very direct about her interest. She bombarded Isabelle with questions – in their dorm room, at meals, during classes. Although she started out asking in the friendly way she had been acting since the first of September, the more Iz navigated around her questions or ignored them altogether, the more Pansy returned to being her annoying self. Even Draco would not give the spiky-haired girl any answers, claiming he had no idea what the Family Tree had meant for his sister. This left Pansy to begin guessing as to its meaning, spreading little rumors throughout the Slytherin House until Izzy would have to deny her hypotheses as false. She had yet to guess the Boggart's true meaning.

The weekly meetings with Lupin continued and Isabelle found herself looking forward to them. Most of the time Jett came late (though the time and day had remained the same since the first week), leaving Izzy to discuss more academic questions with the professor that otherwise bored her best friend. By the end of September, the two were revisiting their discussion on pomegranate juice in Growth solutions.

"But did you read the chapter of Stellaluna Woxforth's new book? I saw they have a copy in the library."

"I did," Lupin admitted as he leaned back in his chair tiredly, a small amused smile on his lips as he continued his summer argument with the Third Year Slytherin.

"Well, did you read the whole thing? I thought that particular chapter was one of her most convincing. Sure, the one about her homemade Confusion Concoction did not make a very compelling conclusion, but the pomegranate juice – if added at the right proportion to other ingredients – should make a Growth solution that much stronger!"

"I stand by my idea that it would dilute the potion. I'm sure you could ask Professor Snape to test the theories, however, he certainly knows much more about that than I do."

"Right, well…speaking of that, I had been meaning to ask you…are you considering bringing the Dueling Club back?"

"The what?"

"The Dueling Club? Professor Lockhart and Professor Snape had arranged a Dueling Club last year for students to practice dueling spells. I thought, since you're the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year, you might have thought about it?"

"Ah. I don't know, Isabelle…"

"Did you have it when you were a student here? I thought it was a great idea – though it didn't seem to work out well last year…"

"Not that I recall, no. But I'll consider it." Lupin jotted it down on a piece of parchment as Izzy glanced back towards the doorway, wondering where Jett could be. It was nearly four o'clock! "Jett isn't coming today. I thought she might have told you?"

"She isn't? She hadn't mentioned it in class earlier."

"She's at Quidditch training at the moment. Gryffindor's got three practices a week, it seems, and today was moved up earlier."

"Okay. She said she would be meeting Hermione and me in the library after dinner tonight, I hadn't realized…" Glancing down at her list of ever-growing questions, Izzy looked back up and noticed how exhausted Moony looked. "Are you feeling alright, sir?"

"Another cold, I believe. That, or it's allergies." Lupin offered a bit off-handedly, as if it was not very important.

"Well, I think I'd better be going then. Thank you again for the tea and conversation. I really enjoy being able to talk to you about all of this." Iz smiled at him, somewhat brown-nosing like she would with other professors but meaning it more genuinely. He never got impatient with the amount of questions she had. And he never simply answered them but rather challenged her to think more – that was perhaps what she enjoyed most about their conversations. Honestly, Lupin was becoming if not already her favorite professor.

Waving goodbye, she was just about to head through the doorway when her House head professor walked in. Carefully moving out of the way, both because Snape had been in such a foul mood since the beginning of the year but also because he was carrying some sort of goblet or so, Isabelle watched the two professors' interactions.

"Ah, Severus. Thank you very much." Izzy turned to see Professor Lupin smile at the Potions Master. Snape glanced at his Slytherin student and then back to his colleague with a curious look. As he set the slightly-steaming goblet down on the DADA professor's desk, Lupin added in a pleasant tone, "Isabelle and I were just finishing up, she had a few questions to discuss. We're starting Kappas next week."

"Enthralling." Snape looked back once again at the dark-haired girl, who was still lingering in the doorframe. "Be sure to drink it directly, Lupin."

"Of course, yes, I will." Moony nodded tiredly, already reaching for the potion. "I should have some tomorrow as well, if possible."

"I made an entire cauldron full…if you need more." The greasy-haired Potions Master added, acting a bit strangely in Izzy's opinion. It seemed like her House professor hated Lupin, a much more personal hate than the simple idea Snape had lost out on the DADA position once again. What was it?

"Thanks very much, Severus." Iz moved out of the way once again as the Slytherin House head turned to leave. Snape glanced once more at the younger Malfoy sibling and then back at Lupin, some sort of distrust or wariness in his expression. Turning back to the DADA professor, she watched Lupin take a gulp of the potion and make a face as if he had tasted something awful.

"May I ask what that is, sir?" Curious about the potion itself but also why Snape had personally brought him it, Iz took a few steps back towards Jett's godfather's desk.

"A special concoction for my cold, Severus has been generous enough to brew it for me – it is much more complicated than I could manage." Lupin admitted as he took another sip.

"But why don't you ask Madam Pomfrey for something? She has loads of potions like that up in the Hospital Wing that could help."

"I'm sure, but this seems to be the only potion that will work. Unfortunately, sugar makes it useless…" The light brown-haired man shrugged and glanced up. Realizing his responses were only making the student in front of him more inquisitive, Lupin waved his hand and quickly added, "I should get back to work. And aren't you meeting your friends in the library? Do tell Jett that I'd like to see her before tomorrow evening, if you could."

"Oh, um, yes, of course. Good luck with your work, and feel better…" Izzy turned around and left, still having questions to ask but deciding she could leave them to another day. He had looked so exhausted; she hoped it was nothing serious.

Reaching the library, she sat down opposite Hermione at their usual, deserted section.

"Hey," Iz offered quietly as her Gryffindor friend was furiously writing on a piece of parchment. Hermione glanced up for a moment to return the greeting but went right back to work on her homework. Following suit, the two girls worked in silence until the third appeared.

"God, Oliver is taking this all too seriously. He had us running the same training over and over today!" Jett plopped down, dropping her bag unceremoniously next to her.

"You chose to play Quidditch," Izzy replied, a slightly joking smile on her lips as she shrugged. She knew how much Jett really enjoyed the sport and, though she was still merely a back-up Chaser, Iz hoped one day her friend could be on the main team.

"I know… How did your meeting go?" The blonde-haired Gryffindor glanced towards Hermione, who was still working hard on an essay assignment and did not seem to be paying attention.

"It went well. We, um, continued our conversation from the cottage," Iz whispered slightly, just in case the bushy-haired Gryffindor was actually listening, "and caught up on some DADA material. We're moving onto Kappas next!"

"Okay, so I just missed another boring hour?"

"Sure. Oh, and he asked me to tell you that he wants you to see him before tomorrow evening? Is tomorrow something special?" Izzy continued to whisper but doing so casually (and failing), trying to keep Hermione from getting suspicious.

"No, I don't think so. Probably just wants to hear how my week's been." Jett acted nonchalantly, shrugging again but shifting through her bag as if looking for something.

"He looks like he's getting sick again. Actually, Professor Snape came in just as I was leaving and it was so weird."

"What was?"

"The way they interacted. First, Snape was personally delivering some sort of potion to him. When I asked, he said it was some special concoction for his cold or such, that it was too complex for him to make himself and the ones Madam Pomfrey has weren't enough?" Isabelle leaned closer, hoping Jett had more information than she did. Lupin was /her/ godfather.

"I don't know, probably some potion he found in one of his old books that he thought he could try."

"But why did he have Snape make it? And the way the two of them were acting – well, Moony was actually fine but Snape – it was more than just the Defense Against the Dark Arts position thing. I'm thinking that maybe they went to school around the same time or something? I swear your godf- Professor Lupin said he had been in Gryffindor. So maybe a House rivalry?" Jett had looked up sharply as Izzy almost slipped up. Continuing to finish but glancing at Hermione, who had stopped writing but appeared to simply be rereading her essay, Isabelle gave the Gryffindor a guilty look and returned to her homework.

"Maybe, I'm not really sure." Jett cut off the conversation as their bushy-haired friend finally put her essay away, pulling out her next bit of homework.

"There, Charms is done. I'm sorry I missed your meeting with Professor Lupin again today, Izzy, I had a few questions for him about the Red Caps before we moved on. How was Quidditch practice, Jett?" Hermione said as she opened her textbook, flipping through pages full of notes as if she were trying to decide something.

"Fine. Oliver is insane, I swear, but as soon as we crush Slytherin – no offense, Iz – I think it'll be better."

"Good. So why does Professor Lupin want to see you before tomorrow evening?" Hermione looked up from the book in front of her, a serious look on her face.

"I, uh, I don't know. Maybe I failed yesterday's quiz?" Jett said, quickly coming up with some sort of lie. Isabelle pretended to keep her focus on the piece of parchment in front of her but listened closely, nervously.

"Oh, okay." The bushy-haired girl shrugged but continued to stare at her suitemate. "And last week?"

"What? I went with Iz again, to ask some questions about class."

"What kind of questions?"

"About the Red Caps. Why?"

"Because you never have questions for the professors. And you've never gone to see a professor to ask anything after class – except with Professor Lupin."

"What are you, a detective? Maybe I have gone to other professors to ask questions and just didn't tell you."

"I'm sure that's happened." Hermione replied sarcastically, crossing her arms. "You've been acting so weird around him, with every DADA class, these meetings, even when we were on the train and he was asleep in our compartment. And you and Izzy were just whispering about him." There was a moment of silence, as if she expected some sort of confession. "Well?"

"Mione, lighten up. He's just a really good professor, I think you're imagining – " Isabelle jumped in, trying to save her friend's secret.

"Fine. He's my godfather." Jett admitted before the Slytherin could even finish coming up with some lie to hide the truth.

"Your godfather? The one you've been spending the last two summers with?" Hermione said in surprise, now confused.

"Yes. But it's not a big deal, really. He just wants me to check in every once in awhile and he thought me sending him letters still was stupid so he wanted me to come and see him. Iz covered for me on the first day and we just kept up the pretense since then."

"Oh. Well that explains a lot. Why didn't you just tell me? You two have been whispering for weeks and it made me all worried."

"Jett didn't want anyone to know. I only knew because I visited her back in July and met him. But everyone else…" Isabelle chimed in, glancing over to Jett.

"I don't want them thinking I'm getting good grades because he's my godfather. I've almost beaten you both in that class the last two years – you know I'm good at it. But others might think it was just because we're family…you know?" Jett sighed, frowning slightly.

"I understand. And you haven't almost beat me, maybe Izzy." The bushy-haired Gryffindor gave her friend a slight smirk, sticking out her tongue. Jett and Hermione laughed at Isabelle's unhappy reaction before the three fell into some other conversation, back to their usual dynamics. Though Jett made Hermione promise not to tell anyone, the French girl also assured them that she would tell Harry and Ronald eventually.

As the dinner bell rang and the three were packing up their belongings, Iz remembered to ask, "Can I see your Muggle Studies notes again, Mione? I've been taking my own from the textbook but Professor Burbage seems to add a lot during class that I don't want to miss out on."

"Why don't you just take the class, Iz?" Jett shook her head, still unable to understand why her friend could not break that rule from her parents.

"I can't." Izzy retorted, watching Hermione dig once more through her overstuffed school bag to find her Muggle Studies notes. As she set a pile of papers on the table while searching, the piece of parchment on top caught her eye. It was the bushy-haired girl's weekly schedule – except it was packed with two to three lessons nearly every period, all week long. How could that be possible?

"Here you are. Just get them back to me by Sunday, okay?" Hermione said as she handed her friend a small packet of notes.

"Yeah – Mione, how can you be taking so many classes?" Izzy pointed down at the timetable as Jett leaned over to look at it as well. Hermione snatched it up and stuck it back in her bag, hidden from sight.

"I told you, I have an agreement with Professor McGonagall. It looks like more than it actually is, don't worry. I'll see you both later, bye!" Hermione quickly grabbed her bag and left, leaving the two curious behind her.

As Jett and Isabelle reached the Great Hall, they parted their customary ways to their individual House tables. Still musing about Hermione's packed class schedule, Iz missed whatever comment Draco had made that caused the rest of the Slytherins nearby to begin laughing.

"…and don't get me started again on his robes. Who would leave their homes dressed like that? Certainly not Hogwarts professor material. Hey, Izzy." Her brother looked up at her smirking, waving with his non-bandaged arm. Though it had been weeks, Draco was still milking his injury for all it was worth.

"So, Isabelle," Pansy started as the dark-haired girl sat across from her and her sibling. "I heard a rumor this morning. Want to hear it?"

"Do I, Pansy?" Iz asked, her eyebrow raised. She was tired of the girl's insistent guessing. Though she had yet to figure out the true answer to her suitemate's Boggart, Pansy persevered nonetheless. She could tell something was amiss in the perfect Malfoy family and she was determined to figure out what it was.

"I think you do. I received a letter from my mother this morning and somehow your family had come up, I don't know… Anyways, she told me that your mother, Narcissa, had an affair after she had Draco. And that you're only Draco's half-sister." Pansy smiled, waiting for the response as other Slytherins listened in on the newest gossip.

Draco, who was sitting next to Pansy and who had not yet heard this 'rumor,' balked, looking extremely upset. "Mother wouldn't, she loves Father. That is just a complete and total lie."

"Is it?" The spiky-haired girl turned to her suitemate expectantly, confident she had the right answer this time. Isabelle, who had been midway through scooping some rice onto her plate, had stopped at the thought of Narcissa having an affair with anyone else. For a second, she considered the possibility – it would explain the Black family genes, how she looked – but then Iz remembered that Narcissa had said she was adopted.

"No, that's not true either. Just give it a rest, Pansy, stop trying to make our family look worse so your family looks better than it actually is." Izzy shook her head and put on confident airs, glancing around the other Slytherins who had been listening in and meeting their eyes, challenging them to argue with her. She found that if she let the rumor fester, people began believing it to be true.

"That's ridiculous, my family is one of the best and purest, you're just making excuses. You /must/ know about it, if you aren't actually Draco's sister? The Boggart – "

"I don't need to explain my fears to you, Pansy, or anything about my family. And I am Draco's sister." /In every way that counts, at least/, Iz added in her own thoughts. "Can't you just let it go?"

"But – "

"I heard something interesting earlier." Tracey chimed in, knowing the two girls could argue for a while and ruin another meal. "Adrian's parents are getting divorced."

"Adrian? Adrian Pucey?" Pansy turned to glance down the table at the Fifth Year Slytherin who sat eating with his friends.

Isabelle tuned the others out, knowing the drama that her suitemate would stir up with this new information. Though she did not enjoy the girls' gossip, especially now about the nice, quiet boy who was their new target, Iz was glad the attention was off her. Part of her did not want to think about the Boggart or her parentage anymore.

And yet, she desperately wanted to know the truth to put all of the rumors to rest. She would have to admit eventually that she was adopted – none of the others had figured out yet that she and Draco were only born five months apart, making it impossible for her to actually be his sibling anyways. Iz was tired of the guessing and the subject continuing to come up. Why couldn't Narcissa just tell her the answer; who were her true parents?