Sense of Belonging

Chapter 8

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

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The Trophy Room incident was not surprising to Isabelle in the least. Her brother, as expected, cared very little about classes and actually learning magic. Rather, he found it more interesting to prove himself better than everyone else. He had self-proclaimed Potter as his enemy and did everything he could to best him or get him expelled. This came, to Iz's post-incident disapproval, to setting the pair of Gryffindors up to be caught in the magic school's Trophy Room.

Draco returned to the Slytherin common room the evening of the flying lesson snickering, Crabbe and Goyle still following him everywhere. While Izzy was working on her homework (the library having already closed at 8pm), she couldn't help but overhear their loud and annoying conversation.

" – I bet he fell for it! They are going to be /totally/ expelled. And then no more Mr. Perfect Potter or his stupid friends. He got lucky earlier with the brooms but he won't get out of this – " Draco went on and on, laughing along with his fellow Slytherins.

"What are you talking about now, Draco? What did you do?" Iz gave her brother a suspicious look, closing Hogwarts: A History. She leaned closer so as to hear the answer.

"Nothing, don't worry about it. Potter will just get what he deserves for being a half-blood prat – "

"Don't you think you broke enough rules today? Mother and Father will not be happy." Izzy leaned back, having already finished her letter to send to their parents about the afternoon's incident. She hadn't been able to focus in the library, Hermione's presence bothering her too much to concentrate on homework. (The two rival First Years were the only ones to sit near the History of Magic section and it could become awfully quiet in such a secluded place.) Instead, she had written Narcissa and Lucius a detailed letter of her brother's actions and her lack of culpability. She had decided she would not actually send it, not wanting her brother to get into too much trouble. This conversation, however, and her brother's tone made her reconsider.

"Well, they're not gonna find out about it, are they? That teacher didn't even say anything to me when she came back so I bet she didn't see me flying about. Just Potter got in trouble – but I think they're letting him off because he's 'legendary.'" Draco spat jealously, his two cronies nodding in agreement. The blonde-haired boy crossed his arms as if pouting, staring at the common room fire.

"So, what are you going to do now?" Iz asked curiously, but also cautiously. She didn't like the sound of her brother scheming against another student in their rival house. It could lose them a lot of points. This was different, of course, than the two siblings pranking each other, or even the disagreements her and Pansy had within their dorms. But if it involved her brother breaking the rules or doing something dangerous with magic, she wanted no part of it.

"Just wait. No worries, Izzy, we won't get in trouble. I just left a tip for that old git Filch, letting him know he might find a few Gryffindors wandering around the Hogwarts Trophy Room. Potter and Weasley think we're gonna have a Wizard's Duel. Like they even know what that is," Draco laughed, Crabbe and Goyle mimicking him as he smirked back at them.

"Do you really think they're going to fall for that?" Iz raised her eyebrow, as if she were unimpressed. In truth, she was sure that those two First Years would do anything stupid to try and prove themselves. They had yet to prove themselves in classes and did not appear to have very much dedication to their studies. Draco shot his sister an annoyed look at her doubting him. She rolled her eyes, closing her books, and sat up. "Well, I guess we'll find out at breakfast tomorrow morning." Wishing him goodnight and sticking the letter to their parents in her book, she chose to make the final decision on tattle-telling on her brother at breakfast. Sneaking up to her dorm room, she got into bed, thinking about what tomorrow would bring…

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The morning of September 13th went smoothly, despite the date and day of the week. (Shouldn't a "Friday the Thirteenth" technically be lucky?) Per usual, Isabelle had gone down to breakfast before most of the rest of her fellow Slytherins. Enjoying herself and taking the time to eat, she had only just begun on her scrambled eggs when her brother and the majority of First Years joined her at their table.

"I bet they were expelled," Draco smirked over at the Gryffindor table, no sign of their First Years. He laughed with the rest of the boys, one of them doing an impression of Potter getting caught by Filch. Rolling her eyes, Iz glanced over to the table and then to the door. She watched as a group of Gryffindors piled in, four very tired-looking First Years trailing in the back.

Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley looked to the Slytherin table, obviously looking for her brother. They smiled cheerfully at him, the red-head waving sarcastically in greeting. Draco's face turned to shock and slight embarrassment before covering both up with anger and pompousness. Instead of focusing on his failure, the blonde-haired Slytherin went off on how privileged Potter was despite his half-blood status. Instead of getting expelled, he got away with so much, or so Draco complained.

Rather than listen to her brother, Izzy watched as the group of Gryffindors sat down for breakfast. It wasn't only Potter and Weasley who looked tired, but also Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom. She continued to stare at them, trying to figure out why they would also appear so exhausted. Catching the bushy-haired girl's eyes, she quickly looked away as if she didn't care and pretended to be distracted by something else. Glancing back once more as she finished her croissant, Iz found Jett had finally joined the other students. Not looking forward to another double Potions in silence, the young Slytherin sighed and left the Great Hall, eager to get her day of classes over with.

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Potions went as well as the week before. Jett showed up late, again, and Izzy worked hard to make up anything which may lead Professor Snape to be prejudicial against their partnership. She refused to lose her place as the top potions student because she was partnered with someone who obviously did not care for the subject or teacher. Leaving the class promptly, she went right to the owlery in the West Tower. Having edited the letter to her parents so that Draco would not get in too much trouble (but just enough, of course), Izzy then went to her familiar spot in the library.

Friday afternoons seemed to be the quietest time in the library. Only those truly dedicated to their homework (or so Iz thought) came to her favorite spot in Hogwarts. And that included one rising rival from Gryffindor: Hermione Granger. The bushy-haired girl already sat at her own table, diligently finishing one of her assignments. She did not even look up when Iz came in, too focused on her parchment. The Slytherin became similarly absorbed in her work, easily finishing the History of Magic essay and moving on to her Transfiguration assignment. As such, she most definitely jumped when someone taped her shoulder.

Glancing up, startled, she quickly turned her look of surprise to a glare, angry that she was being disturbed. "What?" She said, somewhat sharply, quickly covering up what she had been working on. Hermione stood next to her chair and table, a little guarded but also seeming a little desperate.

"Um…hi. May I, uh, borrow your History of Magic book to finish my essay?" The dark-haired Slytherin girl just stared at her, trying to understand what exactly she was asking. Was she trying to get ahead of her? Thinking maybe she had made notes in her copy of the book? Hermione continued, quietly explaining, "I think I forgot my copy in the Gryffindor dorms and it would take forever for me to go all the way back there and then come here to finish the assignment." Pausing once more, she finally added, "Please?"

"Sure," Izzy finally said, pushing her copy toward the other girl. "Just be sure to give it back. I already finished that essay." She shrugged, as if it had been no problem and not the four hours she had spent perfecting it. Who knew a comprehensive paper about the founding of modern magical history was going to be so difficult and involved? "Good luck," Iz added, going back to focusing on Transfiguration.

Hermione took the textbook and turned, about to head back to her seat when she looked back at Izzy. "You're Draco Malfoy's sister, Isabelle, aren't you?"

"Yes," Isabelle replied, focusing on her essay instead of looking back up. How did the girl /not/ know who she was? Or was she just saying this to irk her?

"Well, he almost got me detention last night," the Gryffindor commented, obviously annoyed. "He told Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley that they were going to do a Wizard's Duel in the Trophy Room and then never showed. I'm sure he just set it up for them to get caught by the caretaker, which served them right, of course, for agreeing to anything that stupid but – "

"If it was so stupid, why were you there then?" Izzy looked up challengingly, defending her brother but also wondering why this Gryffindor was telling her this.

"I didn't want to be, I tried to stop them, but I was locked out of the Gryffindor common room! I told them that they would lose us points or get expelled." Flustered, Hermione sighed in frustration. "Anyways, I think your brother is a real prat." She finished, turning around to head back to her table.

"Well, he may be a prat sometimes but at least he wasn't stupid enough to fall for such a ploy. You're welcome for the book, by the way," Izzy responded semi-angrily, glaring at the Gryffindor for both distracting her and wasting her time with complaints. They returned to working in silence, Hermione using Iz's book. After a few more minutes, the bushy-haired Gryffindor walked back over to the Slytherin's table.

"Here…and thank you." Handing Iz her book back, the Gryffindor was about to grab her bag and head to dinner but stopped. Bending down, she picked up a red-covered, obviously well-read book that had been laying on the floor. "Is this yours?"

Hermione held up the Muggle novel Isabelle had been hiding since the train ride. The Gryffindor seemed somewhat amused but also had a fond look on her face, as if remembering reading it before. The Slytherin answered quickly, but unconvincingly, "No. I don't know what that is." Attempting to cover up her embarrassment and a little shock with pride, she tried to glare at the bushy-haired girl to scare her off from asking further questions. Hermione was not swayed.

"You sure? It's a good story. I read it a couple years ago, it's a classic." Seeing that she wasn't getting anywhere but too curious to let it go, she leaned back and added the book to her own pile. "Oh, well. If it's not yours, I guess I'll just take it with me to re-read it…"

"Wait! What if…what if someone forgot it in the library? You wouldn't want to steal it on them…" Isabelle continued, as if still unsure and trying to act nonchalant. She glanced once more at the novel, biting her bottom lip nervously.

"No, I guess not." Hermione responded, setting the Muggle novel back down on the table. "But, whoever's it is, I have a few more suggestions for them for other novels they might like… You aren't interested in that, though, right?"

"No, thank you." Izzy replied automatically, knowing if it got out that she was interested in Muggle studies at all that there would be some serious consequences from her parents. "But, you know…maybe whoever's book this is would appreciate the list? You should leave them a note," the Slytherin suggested quietly. Hermione nodded, trying to decide something, before sighing and rolling her eyes. She leaned over the table, closer to her First Year class rival.

"Isabelle, I know it's yours. What's the big deal? Did you not like it? I won't get offended," the bushy-haired girl reassured Iz.

"No, I…I'm not supposed to have it. It's a Muggle novel. I'm not allowed to…" Izzy attempted to finish her though but unsure how to without really offending the other girl. She knew that Hermione was Muggleborn, having heard Draco complain about her persistence in classes as annoying. She also knew that Hermione wouldn't understand why having such a thing, let alone reading it and enjoying it, went against everything her family was supposed to stand for.

"But did you like it? Who was your favorite character?" Hermione took a seat across from the Slytherin, curious as very few other students had read any books she had. She missed her book clubs from Muggle school and discussing her favorite and least favorite parts. After a few minutes of discussion, Izzy warmed up to the Gryffindor and found she enjoyed finally being able to talk about the novel. Of course, she had a favorite character. And the surprise ending made the story even more exciting! Still embarrassed, Iz continued the conversation quietly by asking about Hermione's suggestions for further reading.

"Definitely Pride and Prejudice, I think you would love it. Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird, too. I probably have more novels like this one too, if you wanted to borrow them." The Gryffindor added in a friendly matter, realizing she may have judged the quiet Slytherin too soon. They had a lot more in common than either had thought, liking being friends rather than rivals.

Realizing the time, the girls hurried to clean up so as to make it down to the Great Hall for dinner. Isabelle felt oddly satisfied with their conversation, but still uneasy about someone else finding out about their friendship – because of the rivalry of their Houses but also her family's prejudices. Curiosity getting the best of her, Izzy had to ask, "So what actually happened then, if you went with Potter and Weasley? Obviously they didn't get caught, or at least not expelled. Did they get detention?"

"Nope, nothing. Mr. Filch didn't find us, we hid behind the– behind a locked door and then returned to the common room." Almost giving away the secret behind the Third Floor Corridor, Hermione shook her head at how silly it had been. "I would have gone right back in but, as I said, I was locked out, so I had to make sure Potter and Weasley didn't lose us any more points."

"I understand, I keep having to watch my brother. He can be so stupid and I'm sure he is going to lose us all the points I've earned the House." As the girls reached the edge of the library, they hesitated, realizing their friendship really only existed in that home of knowledge.

"Well…see you tomorrow?" Hermione asked, hopeful, knowing Izzy spent most of her time in the library just like her. The Slytherin gave a slight smile and nodded before wishing her new friend a good night. Smiling all the way through dinner and back in the common room, Isabelle couldn't wait to get more suggestions for books to read – and a new friend in her journey at Hogwarts.