Sense of Belonging

Chapter 19

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

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Isabelle once again pushed her parentage question down the list of priorities as the weekend proved quite eventful.

The Third Year Slytherin was woken earlier than usual because of the lake's forceful waves against the dorm's windows that Friday morning. (The storm raging above land seemed to be much worse, with Care of Magical Creatures having been cancelled the Wednesday afternoon before and students warned to be prepared if they trekked outdoors.) Iz found more than a few of her Housemates joining her early at the breakfast table that Friday morning before classes. Ignoring whatever conversation was swirling between the Slytherins (though hearing something about Quidditch), the dark haired Third Year was already planning her weekend's homework, having finally picked her topic for McGonagall's research project for Transfiguration.

The double History of Magic with the Hufflepuffs distracted Izzy enough, though the material remained as boring as ever. ("When can we drop this idiotic class?" Pansy had whispered to Daphne next to Iz about halfway through the lesson.) Draco was working on some sort of drawing, snickering as he showed Crabbe and Goyle instead of taking notes. The morning lecture dragged on and the Third Years were finally released to lunch as Professor Binns finished with the effects of warlock explorers in the 1400s.

Isabelle grabbed a sandwich from the Slytherin Table in the Great Hall before running up to the Owlery to send a letter to her parents. Having meant to send it earlier that week but waiting for the weather to break, Iz wanted to send her mother her birthday response before the weekend so Narcissa would not worry. She found Shadow, her favorite birthday present, snoozing in one of the alcoves in the tower. The dark haired girl apologized for waking her pet and gave the black owl a few treats before tying the message to her leg and releasing her into the wind and rain.

Hurrying back down the steps, only one final class remained between then and her weekend: Defense Against the Dark Arts. Arriving just as the rest of her Slytherin classmates were settling into their usual seats, Izzy sat down and tried wringing out her hair, having forgotten to charm it before leaving the Owlery.

"What happened to you?" Draco turned to his sister, raising his eyebrow in surprise at her wet state.

"I had to send Mother the letter, I told you earlier. It's still raining, in case you hadn't noticed." Finally pulling out her wand to spell herself dry, Isabelle turned to take out her book and notes in case they would have another partner task.

"Oh, I noticed. If only my arm was feeling a bit better for Quidditch tomorrow…" Draco sighed loudly and glanced around the room to see others' reactions. Rolling her eyes at his dramatic behavior, Isabelle looked up towards the DADA professor's office door. She still regretted that they would not have their usual weekly meeting. The Third Year wondered how Moony was feeling. Had the potion helped?

The Slytherin's unasked question was quickly answered. Iz heard a set of familiar footsteps stride into the classroom and turned with a confused look. Why was Professor Snape here?

Two Gryffindor girls who had been staring outside at the dismal weather suddenly jumped back as the shutters closed with a loud clang. Each of the windows followed suit, though the room had already been quite dark despite the abundance of candles. Watching the Potions Professor make his way to the front teacher's desk, Isabelle remained concerned. Where was Professor Lupin?

"Take your seats, we are starting. Take out your books."

Already having it out on her desk, Izzy watched Snape as he shuffled through papers on Lupin's desk up front. Obviously searching for some sort of lesson plan, he settled for a stack of parchment which looked like their recent essays on Grindylows. The room now waited in silence, still unsure what exactly was happening. The Slytherin House Head made his way through the rows, handing back papers and making comments as he did so.

"I'm surprised this was not incinerated, Finnegan – "

"Disappointing, Ms. Brown. Your lack of hard work is obviously not only an issue in Potions…"

"I am surprised, Longbottom. You somehow passed. I will check this over once more, I assume there was some mistake." Snape stated, showing the Gryffindor boy his grade before pulling the assessment away.

Turning to where Isabelle sat, the professor simply handed her back the familiar thick roll of parchment without comment. Wondering if that was a bad sign and slightly panicking, Iz then saw the usual high marks indicated in Professor Lupin's handwriting and relaxed. Opening her assessment, she read over the DADA professor's thoughtful comments and even smiled at one which told her that she had actually surprised him with her information. Glancing over to Hermione's usual seat, Izzy saw her just pulling out her book as Snape handed her her own parchment.

"Some of you obviously have some improvement to be made…" Snape's voice echoed throughout the classroom, seemingly wanting to comment further on his colleague's teaching but instead leaving silence. "Now, there does not seem to be any record left of what you have covered – "

Suddenly the doors at the back of the classroom banged open, two students hurrying inside.

"Sorry we're late, Professor Lupin. Oliver Wood needed us – "

Harry Potter and Jett Black both stopped in the doorway as soon as they saw who stood at the front of the classroom.

"This lesson began ten minutes ago, Potter, so I think we'll make that ten points from Gryffindor – from each of you. Sit down." Neither of the Gryffindors moved.

"Where is Professor Lupin?" The boy with the lightning scar finally asked.

"He says he is feeling too ill to teach today." Snape responded with a strange smile, as if he took pleasure in the pain of his colleague. "I believe I told you to sit down?" But Jett and Harry stayed where they were.

"What's wrong with him?" Potter asked in concern, staring down the professor.

"Nothing life-threating, I have been assured. Five more points from Gryffindor, and if I have to ask either of you again, it will be fifty."

"Come on, Harry…" Jett finally whispered, both Gryffindors slowly taking their usual seats in the middle.

"As I was saying before Potter and Moreau interrupted, Professor Lupin has not left any record of the topics you have covered so far —"

"Please, sir, we've done Boggarts, Red Caps, Kappas, and Grindylows," Hermione interrupted quickly, "and we're just about to start —"

"Be quiet," Snape snapped, looking at the bushy-haired Gryffindor coldly. "I did not ask for information. I was merely commenting on Professor Lupin's lack of organization." The Potions Masters motioned to the now disorganized desk at the front of the classroom, the one he had disrupted searching through all of the papers at the start of the class.

"He's the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we've ever had," said one of the Gryffindors – Dean Thomas? – boldly. Izzy had to agree but knew that this would not be a recommended action with the look her House Head was giving.

"You are all easily satisfied. Lupin is hardly overtaxing you — I would expect first years to be able to deal with Red Caps and Grindylows. Today we shall discuss…" Snape flicked his wand, searching through the textbook until it hit the last chapter. "Werewolves."

"But, sir," Hermione said, obviously looking to correct their professor. Iz sent her a small look of warning, shaking her head to tell her to just go with it. But the Gryffindor either did not see her friend or ignored her and continued, "we're not supposed to do werewolves yet, we're due to start Hinkypunks —"

"Miss Granger," Professor Snape now focused in on the Gryffindor a few seats from Isabelle. Turning to her, he responded in a quiet but tight voice, "I was under the impression that I am teaching this lesson, not you. And I am telling you all to turn to page 394." He glanced around again as none of the students moved. "All of you! Now!"

Jumping slightly at the professor's suddenly loud voice, Isabelle opened her book to the beginning of the last chapter entirely dedicated to werewolves. Unsure how their DADA class would proceed, she hoped it would be a simple assignment of reading and answering questions so that she would not need to hear her House Head when he was in such a foul mood.

Snape jumped right in while some students were still flipping through the pages of their books. "Which of you can tell me how we distinguish between the werewolf and the true wolf?"

Isabelle, who had been quickly rereading the first two pages of the chapter and trying to remember anything from her summer time spent reading ahead, she hesitated to answer her professor's question. Every other student simply sat waiting, none of them having read the chapter except for Hermione, who had her hand in the air, ready to answer.

"No one?" Snape asked, purposefully turning away from the Gryffindor and walking to the back of the classroom. "Such a shame. Professor Lupin has not even taken the time to ensure you can make the basic distinction between a – "

"It's the last chapter of our book, sir, we haven't gotten as far as werewolves yet." One of the other Gryffindor girls chimed in.

"Silence! Excuses. I will be sure to inform the Headmaster of how very behind you all are, Third Years who cannot even recognize a werewolf… Tsk, tsk." Professor Snape mused aloud, giving a strange smile as if he were happy to report that information.

"But I can, sir, please!" Hermione seemingly could not wait any longer. "The werewolf differs from the true wolf in several small ways. The snout of the werewolf – "

"Enough." Snape turned on her as he had walked up front. Narrowing his eyes as he towered over her, he added, "That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger. Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know-it-all." The professor walked back to the front chalkboard and flicked his wand, enchanting the chalk to begin writing notes on it.

Izzy glanced towards her friend, having winced at the harsh comment. Sure, Hermione was a know-it-all – but so was Isabelle. And that wasn't anything to be ashamed of! But Hermione was hiding her face in her arms, obviously trying to keep from crying. Writing a small message to herself at the top of her notes to make a copy for the Gryffindor later, Iz tried to ignore her unease and turned to take notes as they were added to the board. She was almost immediately interrupted by another outburst, now coming from the back of the room –

"You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don't want to be told?" Weasley's voice became louder the more he talked until he was practically yelling at the professor.

Isabelle was in shock, never having thought the red-haired boy would be stupid enough to raise his voice at a professor, especially Snape. Glancing up slowly to watch the dark-haired man turn and advance on the Gryffindor, she, like her classmates, held her breath to see what would happen.

"Detention, Weasley." Snape leaned down into the boy's face, his look a mix of anger and menace. All of the class, both Gryffindors and Slytherins alike, waited in silence. Not even Draco made some kind of remark, having recognized the Head House's current mood as dangerous. "And if I ever hear you criticize the way I teach a class again, you will be very sorry, indeed."

There were no more interruptions the remainder of the class. Izzy returned to copying notes down from the board and then from the textbook chapter. Pausing at one point to shake her hand, the quick quill writing making it sore, the Slytherin glanced around the room. Hermione was still hiding her face with her hair but seemed to be slowly taking notes from her textbook. Most of the Gryffindors were following suit, despite Professor Snape making disapproving comments on their previous DADA work.

The only exception to the studious Third Years seemed to be Jett, who sat at her desk with her arms crossed, staring at the picture of the transformation of a man into wolf Snape had left displayed at the front of the classroom. But it was not her usual look of disapproval, however. There was something more in the blond-haired Gryffindor's look than her typical hatred of the Potions Master. Was it just because she was worried about Moony?

Isabelle immediately returned to her note-taking as the professor turned around to survey the classroom. Even though she knew he would not take away points from his own House unless he had to, she did not want to risk his ire for any finite reason. The dark-haired Slytherin soon got lost in copying down the successful ways to subdue a werewolf post-transformation and the introduction of the Wolfsbane Potion. Re-reading the ingredients needed to make such a complicated potion, she was not ready when the bell sounded and returned her to the DADA class at present.

"Sit down, Goyle." Professor Snape raised his eyebrows at the Third Year boy as he made his way back to his seat. Gazing around the room, he explained, "You will each write an essay, to be handed in to me, on the ways you recognize and kill werewolves. I want two rolls of parchment on the subject, and I want them by Monday morning. It is time somebody took this class in hand." There were slight sounds of annoyance and disdain that rippled through the teenagers but no one dared to speak directly to the professor.

Packing up her bag quickly as Weasley was held back to discuss his detention for his outburst, Isabelle tried to catch up with where Jett and Hermione were leaving with Potter. Following them as they walked down the corridor and away from the classroom, she finally reached them just as Potter was finishing his small tirade against the Potions Master.

"– and he can't just ask stupid questions and then complain when someone knows the answer! He's just jealous that Lupin knows how to teach." The messy-haired Gryffindor finished as Izzy stepped into the group. Ignoring the boy's annoyed look, the Slytherin turned her attention on her bushy-haired friend.

"You okay, Mione?"

"I'm fine." Hermione shrugged in response, glancing back down the corridor as if Snape would appear any minute and hear what she really wanted to say.

"Okay… Want to head up to the library? Because Professor Lupin's sick, we don't have our usual tea. We could get started on the essay Professor Snape just assigned us? Or I think I've figured out what I want to do for Professor McGonagall's project – "

"It's a bloody joke if he thinks any of us are going to write that essay on werewolves, Isabelle. And its Quidditch tomorrow. We're playing against Hufflepuff thanks to your brother's fake injury so we really need to be prepared." Jett replied before Hermione could even open her mouth to respond.

"Exactly." Potter echoed.

"But I thought yesterday was your last practice before the match? We don't have to work on the werewolves essay – you can write it on Sunday after the match, anyways, we could get ahead on something else –" Iz tried to convince her friends, not wanting to spend another night alone in the library.

"Sorry." Jett shook her head, taking off with Potter down the hallway as Weasley joined them looking furious.

"You too?" Izzy asked, turning to Hermione who was still standing near her, obviously trying to decide.

"No, I could use some library time. Let's go."

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As decided the night before in the library, Isabelle waited in the Great Hall at lunch the next day for Hermione and her cat, Crookshanks. The winds and rain had not stopped and even the enchanted ceiling provided a dismal picture for that afternoon's Quidditch match. With no intention of going, the Slytherin had agreed to watch her friend's mischievous cat while she went to the match to support Gryffindor House and her friends.

"You'll be careful, won't you?" Izzy asked to Jett, currently sitting at the Gryffindor table while waiting for Hermione.

"I probably won't even get to play. Which is all for the better, with the lousy weather and all… They have a professor sitting with us on the bench, anyways, if you're worried about…you know. Didn't help us practice, though, and we aren't really prepared to take on Hufflepuff…" The blond-haired Gryffindor mused aloud as she stared out the window, taking another bite of the pear in her hands.

"I hadn't even thought of, erm, /him/, I was more talking about the weather. But I'm glad to hear it. Do you think –?" Beginning to ask about her best friend's godfather, they were interrupted by Hermione's return.

"Thank you, again, Izzy. I don't want to risk him going after Scabbers again. Plus, there should be plenty of mice down in the dungeons for him to catch, as you said… He's really intelligent, though, so don't let him out of your sight. He might try to escape back upstairs to the Tower." Hermione instructed, petting the fluffy, orange cat with a loving look.

"No worries, I'm just planning to be in the Commonroom the whole time working on homework. He'll have my undivided attention." Izzy stood up and held out the back of her hand for Crookshanks to sniff, waiting for him to accept her before scratching him under his chin. Though she had met the cat on occasion before, he typically stayed in Gryffindor Tower.

"Thank you. He also does not particularly like thunderstorms, so in case you can hear them down in the Slytherin House dorms…"

"Unfortunately, yes, but we'll be fine. Don't worry." The dark-haired Third Year took the cat from her friend's arms, surprised at how heavy he was to hold. Crookshanks did not try to escape her grasp, however, which was a good sign.

"Okay." Hermione glanced out the window as another large gust of wind could be heard pounding against the glass. "I wish I had something better than these old boots. My feet are going to get soaked."

"They don't have to. The Impervius charm should work on them, I think. Let me try." Izzy offered, setting Crookshanks on the Gryffindor table where he could lick some milk from a bowl. Taking out her wand, she aimed it at Hermione's boots and flicked it, stating clearly, "Impervius." After a slight glow was produced from her wand, the Slytherin glanced towards Jett with a look. Understanding, the French girl quickly grabbed one of her classmate's glasses of pumpkin juice and poured it on Hermione's boots.

"Jett!" The bushy-haired girl called, but stopped in surprise as she moved her dry boots. The orange liquid had simply flowed to the side without actually landing on the Muggle shoes. "Wow. What spell was that?"

"The Impervius Charm. It's really quite simple, just a half turn of your wrist and a flick at whatever you want to be protected from the rain. Mother used to use it on her hair whenever we would go out shopping." Izzy shrugged, demonstrating the movement again so Hermione could copy it. Noticing many of the students beginning to leave the Great Hall on their way to the much anticipated Quidditch game, the Slytherin picked up Crookshanks and smiled, once more wishing Jett luck before heading the opposite direction of the majority of students.

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"Very good, Crookshanks! Here, try to catch this one. Oops, careful!" Isabelle giggled as she continued to move the small, red dot of light she had conjured from the point of her wand, entertaining the orange cat as he chased it around the room, obviously intent on catching it. Having jumped up on the mantel above the main fireplace in the Slytherin Commonroom, the cat had knocked off a vase of some sort but had also almost fallen himself, scrambling too quickly after the imaginary light.

Glancing at the time again and having expected students to have returned from the game about two hours ago, Iz glanced back down at her to-do list and realized she had spent most of her time playing with Hermione's pet instead of getting ahead on homework. But she had always wanted a kitten of her own and, as Hermione had said, Crookshanks was a very intelligent cat – and affectionate when he wanted to be.

"Come here, Crookshanks! There you go, have another treat. Hermione will be here soon to take you back up to the Tower. It wasn't too bad spending time down here in the dungeons, was it? No, I don't think so," the Third Year cooed to the animal, petting his head as he snacked on the small pile of treats the Slytherin had left for him. After finishing, the flat-faced cat looked up at the girl, obviously expecting to be fed more. Izzy shook her head before returning to her Transfiguration book. Crookshanks finally settled next to her on the couch after a short bath and Iz focused on copying down her basic facts for her research project.

The doors to the Slytherin Commonroom banged open only a few minutes later. Feeling Crookshanks jump up to attention, she pet him a few times to calm him before turning to look and see who it was.

"Hufflepuff won!"

"I can't believe Potter fell off his broom!"

"At least Gryffindor lost!"

"But those Dementors – "

"Yeah, but Diggory caught the Snitch!"

Not really caring who won (but a bit shocked to hear that Potter had fallen from his broom and somehow Dementors had interfered in the game), Isabelle searched for Draco to ask him questions about the match. He appeared a few moments later, laughing with Crabbe and Goyle and obviously having forgotten his arm was supposed to still be causing him pain as he went to high-five one of the boys.

"Draco! What happened at the match? Did Harry Potter really fall off of his broom?"

"Did he ever! It was awful weather – I am so glad we weren't playing in it – but somehow Dementors came onto the field and Potter had to fall almost forty meters before Dumbledore stopped him from crashing onto the field." Izzy's brother plopped into his usual arm chair with a wide smirk, as if he found the situation extremely hilarious instead of the potential horror it could have been.

"Is he alright?"

"Who cares? They took him to the Hospital Wing. Diggory caught the Snitch, anyways, so Hufflepuff won. I'm just glad to be back inside – it was freezing out there." Draco commented, peeling off his soaking scarf and hat, simply dropping them on the floor.

"I'm sure it was," Iz replied, having returned to petting Crookshanks.

Sure that Hermione would have gone up to the Hospital Wing to check on her friend instead of picking up her cat as they had discussed, the orange creature would simply have to spend a little more time with her for the evening.

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AN: Now, who wouldn't mind keeping Crookshanks company a bit longer? Certainly not Isabelle! Thank you for reading this extra-long chapter – reviews and ideas are always appreciated!