Sense of Belonging

Chapter 6

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

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Iz woke the next morning bright and early only to not remember where she was. Sitting up quickly, she began to think about all that had happened to her in the past few months. Fighting for her right to go to Hogwarts this year, she remembered shopping at Diagon Alley for her own school supplies, and then her eventful first day at the magic school. The train ride, her fight with Draco, the great food and feast, the sorting – she was a Slytherin! Smiling as she revisited those memories, she glanced around the room, trying to see through the thick bed hangings. No one else appeared to be awake yet. Often an early riser, she quickly and quietly got dressed, locked her trunk and hid her currently-useless wand in her robes. Grabbing her hair brush and sticking it in her bag, Izzy snuck out of the First Years' dorm and up to the Slytherin Commonroom. It was warm enough without the fire, no one else yet stirring, but Iz found it comforting and a reminder of home. Taking one of the comfy arm chairs near it, she sat down to take in the room around her.

As she sat there thinking in the silence, worrying about the day ahead of her but also excited, she heard a noise somewhere in the room. Pausing to listen, she heard it again and stood up, recognizing the sound of an owl delivering some sort of mail. Quietly moving toward a small wooden door in the wall near the entrance, it opened before she reached it. Surprised, Russet flew through to land on the back of one of the fancy chairs nearby, an envelope in his mouth. Russet patiently waited for the ten-year-old girl to take the letter, expecting a treat or two as a reward. Still amazed the owl had made it all the way down to the underground dormitory (there must be passageways built throughout the castle, Iz thought), she gave her owl a treat and pet him quickly before plopping back down in her chair to read the letter. It was her mother's handwriting and was addressed only to her.

Smiling, Izzy quickly opened the short letter to read the formal yet affectionate contents for the new Hogwarts student. Narcissa had known she would be the first one awake, especially as her brother had a habit for oversleeping. Being the only one still in the Commonroom, Iz could imagine her mother's soothing tone as she re-read the letter. Enjoy the food, watch after your brother, take good notes for your first classes, introduce yourself to the professors, make friends with your dormmates – Iz sighed at this last piece of advice, remembering the uneasy encounters of the night before. She could focus on her classes first and worry about making friends later, of course, it would be simpler that way.

Glad she had stowed a pen and some parchment in her bag already, Isabelle quickly replied to her mother with only positive stories of her adventures thus far. She mentioned recognizing some of the other Hogwarts students, making friends with at least one new First Year (not mentioning her House placement, of course), the delicious food from the Great Hall, and her comfortable-enough bed in her dorm. Hoping to hear from her mother soon again, she wrote that she would send another owl after dinner to update her on the day's events. Iz smirked, adding that she would watch after her brother and /try/ to keep him out of trouble. Not mentioning her fight with Draco or Pansy, the dark-haired daughter sealed the letter and gave it to Russet. Petting him a few more times, she opened the secret door to let him fly back up and out. Taking a deep breath, she turned around to find others finally waking up.

Returning to her seat in front of the fire, Iz watched as her Housemates slowly came back to life. Many still seemed as excited as they were at the feast the night before, not yet drowning in homework or caught by the drawl of a boring lecture. None of the other First Years had yet to make an appearance and Iz became worried. What if there was something they needed to do in the dorms before their first day? Or what if they had all already woken up and left without her knowing? About to stand and check her dormitory, the female prefect who had checked on them the night before poked her head out from behind the entrance to the girls' dorms. Smiling as if relieved, the prefect gave Isabelle a small wave before disappearing back down to the bedrooms. Glad to know she wasn't in any trouble, she relaxed back in her newly-claimed chair. That is, until someone or something poked her in the shoulder.

"Ow!" Iz cried, it not having really hurt but more-so surprised. Glancing up, she recognized her brother's stormy-gray eyes and triumphant smirk. Stowing his wand away in his robes, Draco plopped down into the seat he had claimed the night before.

"Morning, sis. How'd you sleep?" He seemed overall in a pleasant mood, lessening his sister's anxiety for the upcoming day.

"Pretty well. No one snores, at least, as far as I know. I was the first one up," Izzy smirked back proudly. "Oh, and Mother sent us a letter. She says to have a good first day and to not mess up." Suddenly aware how glad she was to have her brother at school with her, she leaned forward. "How are your dorms? Isn't the lighting weird? Are you worried about any classes?" The siblings continued to catch up on the few hours they had spent apart, Iz still not mentioning anything about the incident with Pansy. Hoping to just forget about it and move on, she eagerly followed the prefects down to the Great Hall for breakfast with the other First Years. Daphne had greeted her warmly, while Pansy and the other girls had said nothing at all. Looking forward to what would surely be a scrumptious meal, Izzy had a feeling she would come to love it at Hogwarts.

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Izzy's first week of classes probably would've been great if there had never been a Friday. She had managed to memorize the quickest ways to get to her classes plus important places such as the Great Hall, library and infirmary. She enjoyed the subjects in all of her classes so far that week and was excited when she found out that Friday morning they were to have a double period with the Gryffindors at Potions. Iz wasn't sure whether or not she would like potions but was eager for the opportunity to try them. Plus, their House leader was the potions master: Professor Severus Snape.

Rushing from the Great Hall to be the first one there and choose the best seat, she found the classroom in the dungeons locked. By the time the professor arrived with his unreadable demeanor, most of the class had arrived as well. He didn't assign the students any seats but Iz found herself quickly outnumbered and nearly out of choices. All of the Slytherin students had partners at their stations, including Draco, who sat near Crabbe and Goyle. Having wanted to sit in the middle of the room, second row back, she found herself forced to choose a seat elsewhere. Jumping at the sound of the classroom door slamming, Iz and a few other students scrambled to the remaining spots as Snape began roll call.

Draco gave her a confused look, motioning for her to pull up her chair to his desk as a third. Glancing around the room, Izzy saw that she was the only student without a partner at their desk. She bit her lip nervously, wondering whether she would need a partner for the class.

Not entirely listening to attendance, she heard that only one person was missing as the dark-haired man reached the name of some boy in the front of the classroom with messy black hair. Recognizing him from the night before as the supposed Harry Potter, Iz watched as her brother and his two new friends snickered behind their hands. Having missed whatever the excitement was, the eager Slytherin student listened attentively to the rest of what her professor was saying. After finishing the roll call, Snape began to brief them on what the year would be focused on, when,

"Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of worm – "

Dutifully taking notes on her professor's questions in case they were quizzed on it later, she stopped when there was a lazy knock on the door. Snape sighed, drawing his lips into a tight, obviously annoyed line and opened the door for the short girl she had befriended on the train. Jett strolled into the classroom, claiming she had gotten lost on her way to class, at which the professor sneered.

"It was nice of you to finally join us, Miss Moreau. Tardiness will not be accepted. I expect all of you to be on time to every class. One point from Gryffindor for lateness. Go take a seat." Jett turned to search the classroom quickly before finding the seat next to Isabelle to be the only one available. Taking her time, Jett finally plopped down in the seat to the Slytherin's right, her bag dropping to the floor. Her blonde-haired friend seemed to have a complete hatred for Professor Snape despite having known him for but a few moments! Confused by her actions, Izzy re-focused on her professor's lecture. So focused, in fact, that she nearly jumped when Snape's voice became louder. She looked up to find him standing at her table, his attention not on her but rather on Jett, whose smirk challenged him.

"Then I suppose, as Mr. Potter could not answer the question, that you can, Miss Moreau?"

"I thought this was a First Year Potions class, Professor, why should we know such things already?" Jett said this in a tone almost sickly sweet, that perfect smile contrasting with the hatred her gray eyes portrayed.

His scowl turned darker as he turned back to the front of the classroom as Jett leaned back triumphantly. "For your information, it would create a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death." He turned back around to the rest of the classroom and asked, almost harshly, "Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?" Iz finished writing the name of the potion down as the rest of her classmates scurried to take notes. Noticing a few of the Gryffindors having trouble with their quill pens, she knew they must be Muggleborns and unfamiliar with the wizard writing supplies. Over the noise she heard Professor Snape call, "And another point from Gryffindor, for your cheek, Miss Moreau."

After a few more introductory notes, they were set to work on a supposedly simple potion to cure boils. The drawback: she was partnered with Jett, and Jett was hated by the professor. But Izzy didn't want to just finish the task; she wanted to do it the best. Though she had expected Jett to not be much of a help, even hold her back after her morning performance, their silent partnership had resulted in being farthest done when there was an explosion up front. Iz jumped and saw Neville covered in angry red boils and the messy-haired kid, Harry Potter, was being blamed. Semi-smirking at the Gryffindors' set-back, she quickly returned to working on their potion. Snape yelled at the rest of the class to get back to work as he dealt with the problem.

Upon successfully completing the potion in continued silence, Iz took the small sample, labeled it and set it on Snape's desk just as the class ended. Glancing back hoping to catch up with her train buddy and now potions partner, she watched as Jett quickly left from the room. Ignoring her brother's attempt to get her attention, she ran off after her.

"Jett! Hey, Jett! Wait up!" Rounding the corner as they headed up from the dungeons into the main castle corridors, Jett finally stopped and turned to the Slytherin First Year, her face unreadable.

"What?" Jett said after a moment, almost sounding annoyed and showing no interest in continuing the conversation.

"Hi, I just wanted to say hi. We haven't talked since the train and I – "

"We shouldn't talk. You're a Slytherin, and a Malfoy. I'm a Gryffindor and I don't care anything about blood status." Jett said almost coldly, still on edge from her encounter with Snape. She barely turned towards Iz, looking at her from the side of her eye.

"What?" Isabelle said, confused at first. "What do you mean? Who makes the rules that someone from Slytherin can't be friends with a Gryffindor – "

"People. Just leave me alone." Jett turned to walk away once more.

"Wait – we can still be friends! Why does it matter that I'm a Malfoy, I don't care – " Isabelle tried to continue, still confused at her accusations. She reached out to touch Jett's shoulder.

"You can tell yourself that all you want, it doesn't change who you or your family are." Jett gave her another cold look, stronger and fully facing her this time, as if to scare Iz off. Stepping closer, she continued, "Since it seems I am paired with you in Potions until Christmas, let's get one thing straight: we'll work in silence and just get the assignments done. You seem to care about everything that life-sucking dementor says but I honestly don't give a– I could care less, about him or you. Leave. Me. Alone." With that the blonde-haired Gryffindor sped away without looking back, leaving Iz to stand there hurt and flabbergasted. She had been nothing but nice to the girl, as much as she could remember. Why did she suddenly hate her? Watching Jett run off, Isabelle saw that she did not stop to talk to or even acknowledge any of the other Gryffindors, continuing on all alone down the dark corridor.

Izzy jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning to find her brother and his two cronies, she glanced once more down the hallway before focusing on her sibling.

"Hey, you okay? You look upset." Draco asked his sister, genuinely concerned.

"Hmm? I'm fine, yeah, nothing." She responded, distracted, as Pansy and the other Slytherin girls walked by. The annoying short-haired ring-leader gave Iz a vengeful and mischievous look before continuing on down the hallway. Rolling her eyes in response, Izzy put on a smile for her brother as if what she said was true.

"You sure?" When she just nodded, Draco knew he would ask her later when she would be more willing to talk, one-on-one. Instead of pushing her further, he turned to Crabbe and Goyle with a smirk to continue their earlier conversation. "Did you see the look on Longbottom's face? That was hilarious!" Isabelle walked behind her brother and his new friends as they worked their way to the Great Hall for food. Lost in her thoughts, she paid their conversation no mind.

Deciding after only a few minutes that she wasn't very hungry (or more so had no interest in staying at the Slytherin table), Isabelle decided to retreat to her newly-found favorite spot at school: the Hogwarts library. Settling into her now-routinely-familiar table in the middle back by the history books, the dark-haired First Year took a deep breath to relax. Pushing the nearly overwhelming problems the first week had given her away, she brought out one of her textbooks and a piece of parchment to get a head-start on an upcoming assignment. Glancing around, she noticed the bushy-haired Gryffindor Iz had met on the train just a couple of tables over from her in the nearly-deserted library. Staring at her curiously, the girl worked diligently on her homework. When she finally looked up and found Izzy absent-mindedly staring, she gave her a distrustful look before returning to scribbling on her parchment.

Isabelle sighed, having been rejected in friendships enough for the week. This Gryffindor had chosen to be in the library on a Friday evening and even seemed to actual care about her assignments! But knowing nothing about the girl nor wishing to waste her time on another failed friendship attempt, Izzy stayed where she was at her own lonely library table.

Committing herself to get ahead on assignments, she stayed until the call for all students to return to their dormitories came. Putting the finishing touches on her essay, the Slytherin First Year glanced up to find the other girl still in the library as well. Packing her bag quickly so as to not be caught after-hours in the corridors, she glanced once more at the bushy-haired girl. Catching her eye, Iz gave her a wave goodnight and a small smile. The girl offered a slight wave in acknowledgement but continued to look at her distrustfully. Unsure why that was so, Izzy rushed off to the Slytherin common room.

Having not found her brother waiting for her, she assumed he had already gone to bed. Dressing in her pajamas and getting into bed as quietly as she could, Izzy thought back over her first week of classes. She was beginning to settle into her routine, when meals were, where her lessons were, and who she could rely on to sit with. She actually liked a few of the classes, though a couple of the professors were odd. Without really trying, Hogwarts had become to feel like a second home, just as her mother had said. Now if only she had a few more friends to confide in…