'Hermione, what are you doing?'
Elizabeth had entered the library and come across Hermione, who was bent over a large book, muttering spells, seemingly, to herself.
'Oh!' she gasped, jumping slightly. Spinning around, she smiled to see Elizabeth looking at her with a curious grin on her face. 'Hey.'
'Hi. So what're you doing?'
'Well,' Hermione quipped cheerily, 'I've decided to start an organization for the good of house elves everywhere. These –' she gestured to the book in front of her, '– are buttons that I'll sell for two Sickles along with a membership to the club. I'm trying to fit the name on, but the buttons aren't big enough.'
'What's the name?' Elizabeth asked, sitting down beside Hermione.
'I was thinking, "Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in their Legal Status" but…'
'But that would require a banner.'
'Exactly. So, now I'm trying to figure out a new name.'
'That does sound more like an action statement.'
'I mean, could you imagine a button that said, "S.O.A.O.F.M.C.C.C.L.S."?'
Elizabeth snorted with laughter and, glancing around for Madam Pince, said that she could not.
'Precisely. I was thinking "Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare." That sounds better, doesn't it?'
'So… the buttons would say, "S.P.E.W."? In a school of teenagers, is that the best idea?'
'There'll be periods between the letters. It's not as if they're all completely immature. Besides, as soon as we have more members, people will get it and they'll want to join, too. It won't matter what the name is.'
'It's all about publicity.'
'Exactly. I've been researching and, Elizabeth, did you know no one has ever thought to do anything about this atrocity? Muggles abolished slavery ages ago, but Wizards still have it? It's horrible.'
'I will admit to that, Hermione, but it's like… imagine telling Molly Weasley she's not allowed to look after her children anymore. That's what it's like for house elves. For the most part, they want to take care of humans. It makes them happy.'
'How do you know? Dobby doesn't like it and he's a house elf.'
'Well, perhaps the rules should change to accommodate those such as he, but even he says he wants to work, and take care of humans.'
'Well, I'm working for all those who don't.' Collecting up her buttons, she smiled. 'I'll get all elves everywhere free to do whatever they please. I'll see you tomorrow in class.'
''bye, Hermione. Good luck with S.P.E.W.'
'Thanks!' she replied, and skipped out of the library, her bushy head held high.
For hours, Neville couldn't sleep.
He tried everything. Counting back and forth from a thousand. Counting Puffskeins. Even a kind of meditation Hermione Granger had told him Muggles did. No matter what, though, he couldn't seem to drift off.
This is why he found himself wandering Hogwarts' grounds at five o'clock the next morning.
As he walked, he allowed himself to imagine what life would be like if he lived with his parents. Would he have turned out any different? Certainly there wouldn't be such a pressure to be his father from his Gran, because she would already have his father. Not that he begrudged her her wishes for him – he just wished, sometimes, that she would see his skills and not find him lacking.
Coming upon the lake's edge, he sat down and wrapped his arms around his legs for warmth. The autumn's chill was setting in, he noted, and soon Hogwarts' grounds would be covered with leaves, and then with snow. Then it would be Christmas, and he would visit his parents at St. Mungo's again.
Resting his head on his knees, Neville watched a snowy owl dance across the sky. Hedwig, he guessed, watching its graceful progress. Upon its wings, the morning sky reflected pink and orange, whilst behind it a backdrop of stars provided her stage. Neville sighed, and mused that Harry was more an orphan than he. Neville, at least, could visit his mother and father. He lived with his Gran who tried to make the best for him. Harry, though – Harry's parents were dead, and, from what he had overheard, he lived with relatives who did not do the best for him. Neville had heard Hermione Granger muse once that it was no wonder that Harry was so small, with how he grew up.
Through all his thoughts, Neville did not notice the snowy owl flying towards him. Nor did he notice when it landed behind him, or when it transformed into Elizabeth Holmes. He only noticed when a pale, slender hand touched his shoulder.
Jumping at the unexpected contact, he almost fell into the lake.
'I'm so sorry, Neville,' Elizabeth gasped, grabbing his hand and pulling him upright again. 'I didn't mean to frighten you.'
'That's – that's alright,' he stuttered, brushing himself off and settling back down. 'It's my fault. Gran's always saying that I'm drifting off to one place of another.'
'I'm sure she means it in the best of ways,' Elizabeth said, sitting down next to him. 'When she speaks of you to me it's always very complimentary.' Neville snorted, and she insisted. 'Truly. I've not had tea with her once and she's not praised you for something or another.'
'She only wants the best for you, you know.'
'Yeah – yeah, I know.'
'And that for you be able to take care of yourself when she's gone.'
Putting her arm around his shoulders, she said, 'Follow your bliss, Neville. That's all there is to it.'
'Is that what you did?' he asked, leaning on her shoulder.
'Yes,' she replied gently. 'And every day I thought of my parents and willed myself to believe that they would be proud of who I've become.' Giving him a squeeze, she concluded, 'And they would be proud to call you their son, Neville. I know it.'
Giving him one last squeeze, she stood, and left him alone with his thoughts again. This time, though, they brought a smile to his features, and by six o'clock, he was back in bed, dreaming of only happy things.
A few days later, Dumbledore called Elizabeth into his office.
'Sirius is back in the country.'
'Yes.' Dumbledore smiled indulgently at her, and continued. 'Harry sent him a letter at the beginning of the summer about how his scar has begun to hurt again and – '
' – and he is now hidden in the mountain ranges just outside Hogsmeade.'
'So… so can I visit him?'
'That is why I thought you might want to.'
'What about Harry's scar?'
'I believe it is connected to the death of a muggle named Frank Bryce, but I cannot be sure until Sirius talks to Harry.'
'Oh. But he's okay, right?'
Watching her pensively, he replied, 'I told you of the connection I believe the two formed when Lily died for him?'
'That is what I believe this is. They're sharing memories, or dreams, or something to that effect.'
'So there's nothing I can do.'
'No.'There was a pause, and then Elizabeth grinned. 'So where's Sirius? And does he need anything?'