Sol - self, vitality
Sol ⊙ Self, main concerns, vitality
"Pitch black, pale blue;
It was a stained glass variation of the truth,
And I fell empty-handed."
It was a known fact that Luna Lovegood had a cousin.
Having a relative wasn't that uncommon here after all, with being such a large and historic school. It was a competition alone to be accepted, much of it having to do with one's bloodline and magical ability, besides location that is.
Echo Bell was her name. Long, pale bangs but hair cut short in the back and slanted eyes; she was a peculiar girl and at quick glance appeared the complete opposite of her cousin's looks. Though, she did stick out on her own, in her own way.
This was unintentionally made known on a year on the train ride of the Hogwarts Express. At the young age of eleven and bursting with excitement for her first year at Hogwarts and trying to make friends, poor little Echo had the misfortune of finding a live toad tangled among her belongings when returning from the loo. She had let out a piercing scream that was in many's dreams afterward. She then went on a rampage to find out whose toad it was.
She guessed she shouldn't have left the door open...
With her name's origin deprived from either a story or a location of her parents' honeymoon—depends on which one you ask—she already stood out very poorly. If you didn't notice the small girl with bright hair almost perfectly hiding her eyes, then she'd be the one in the back that wouldn't stop bouncing.
If Luna was to be known as being calm and passive, then Echo was spacious and energetic, a Gryffindor will come to find out. Her patronus's form will be a dolphin when she is in her later years, to match.
Now Echo wasn't special; she wasn't important; she never was—she and her cousin were weird, after all. Her hair cut was deemed odd by her peers and her cousin's was too long and messy. There was a permeant scar along her right cheek and a mole birthmark on Luna's neck, something Luna hides with her long blonde hair.
And one can only imagine the frightened dance she had performed that day long ago once seeing the toad crawling on her back then… And that both had missed a bushy-haired brunette asking around the train for one...
And Neville—poor Neville—had the unfortunate luck of falling in the path of the then-eleven year old's panic rampage. She had been the one running down the train and hollering angrily. She had almost stepped on his hand with her heel, actually.
He had stood from crouching in a doorway, looking for his animal, and up at shocked bright eyes behind a thick curtain of bright hair. Echo had luckily paused before stepping on him, her foot raising in he air.
She could still feel the creature's cold touch, and was still very much flustered.
He had stood straight then and asked rather rudely to "watch your step will you? You could step on Trevor," whoever that was. He was rather shy and his voice shook like he was never sure of himself.
Echo had snapped in response and huffed, still very creeped out.
Neville would make sure to keep track of Trevor the toad from then on and years after.
But that was the last he had seen of the short-haired girl—of course, until later that night in The Great Hall for sorting.
"You will come quietly...I will place the sorting hat on your head…and you will be sorted into your house," Minerva McGonagall explained. "….Hermione Granger!"
Echo remembers that girl being the first called to be sorted. Next had been Draco Malfoy, Susan Bones, and a boy named Weasley.
She and Luna had held hands at Kings Crossing and now she stood alone, waiting her turn under the hat. The round of students were to be sorted in a house, see their common room and meet their prefect. Echo planned her and Luna to attend the same teachers when she would come next year. They would and converse with their house ghost, talk about fairies and trolls, and sneak late cups of hot chocolate in the winter time, like they've always done at home. It would be good, they would have a good time.
"Vincent Crabbe!" McGonagall's voice echoed the room.
But that never happened.
McGonagall turns to Echo.
Echo will watch with a pit in her stomach next year as her cousin—and the only person she knew—was separated from each other. While she and Luna would stare in horror from across different house tables, the only ones not smiling, both would warm up to each's different crowds eventually, but it was only a matter of time before they were individually known as "looney."
"I suppose we can still hang out together," Luna would speak to her cousin in that usual soft tone of hers. "Nothing's gonna stop that. ...We just don't have the same classes…"
"Or schedule…Which means we probably won't see each other at all…"
Echo knew the truth and Luna couldn't deny it. They have always been together, like sisters they were; their parents had made sure to keep family close. Echo had wiped away tears that night and it took a long time for her to fall asleep.
Echo was known to have relations with Luna Lovegood at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, her oddness stemming from her unusual name. With it, of course—which had to do with the judging that came with dealing with other adolescence—came the expectancy of her being just like her cousin. Given, the rest of her loopy rumor would branch from Luna despite being in different houses.
Kids can be so cruel.
"I'm terribly sorry, Echo."
Luna always felt she had to apologize for her cousin's misfortune. It was her fault, she felt, that Echo was teased so terribly.
"It's all terribly my fault. I shouldn't have—-"
"It's fine, Luna," Echo would interrupt.
The students would tease her for hanging out with Luna, suggesting that she might have a screw loose, like her. But Echo wasn't going to let them push her to isolating someone who hasn't done any wrong or was at any fault, especially family.
Luna had watched her mother die just a few years prior attending Hogwarts, and to turn her back on someone afterwards would be beyond low.
So she didn't listen.
And the teasing worsened.
Echo Bell of Hufflepuff was the cousin of Luna Lovegood of Ravenclaw, but she was known by her own individuality of being so outspoken and lively and random. She wasn't important, she wasn't significant or even the smartest in her classes or had a special talent. She attended a school with one of the most brightest witches of her decade and of the most pristine and a famous boy named Harry. Echo would become nothing but a punch line, a name that was a joke.
"That's Echo Bell."
"Stay away from that one. I here she's a bit loopy in the head too."
"She hangs out with that girl, Loony Lovegood, so you know there's something loopy 'bout 'er."
"She's related to her ya know."
"Well then she's definitely loony. Might try and fill your head with nonsense."
That's what they whispered about her.
Echo Bell was nothing but a name that few could match a face to. Though the teasing would start to later in her years, she would grow to being a joke, much like her cousin and stemming from her.
No one cared for her because no one knew her, and those who did, didn't want to, afraid of superstition rumors. And she was fine with that. She liked books more anyways.
No one bothered to talk to her for very long. That is, until a day in first year in the hospital wing:
It was a bright mid-afternoon and there weren't many to fill the beds. One of the few was a seventh year with a terrible cold, an fifth year girl who couldn't stop puking slugs and oozing green mucus from her nose, and a young boy with a broken arm. They were all asleep.
Neville whined, wincing when he accidentally bumped his cast. His wrist had been broken for four days now all thanks to that wretched broom at class. Now, he couldn't do things as simple as spoon food into his mouth, as he was trying to do now, with much difficulty. His dominant hand been broken in the fall from the tower after his broom lost control.
He steadies to lift a spoonful of soup, lets out a snort when it missed his mouth and spilled on his bedsheets. It tasted awful—something a nurse had conjured up—and threw the spoon down on the tray. He looked up hearing giggling.
"You don't want to eat that."
He heard the high voice but there was no one looking his way. All the other patients were asleep, except for someone looking out a tall window from their bed.
"Are…" Neville stuttered, "are you talking to me?"
Who turned around was a young girl about his age. "Yes," her slanted eyes crinkled in a silent smile. He could see since her bangs were held back by a number of hair pins. "You don't want to eat that—it's Ethel's latest concoction. And no matter what she says, it has no healing properties. But if you insist, I suggest dipping a jelly scone in it if you insist to eat it."
He stared for a moment in silence, unsure whether to say something back or not. He decided to go for it.
"How would you know that it doesn't help heal? …And was that you who was laughing at me…?!"
He must never sound sure, she thought, noticing his voice tremor.
"I know because that boy, Jonathan Gale, the one next to you, he had about three bowls a week ago and now look at him," she gestured toward the sickly boy a few beds over from Neville. She was kicking her feet as if in excitement, which was odd, since the only excitement he could find was the girl puking slugs in a corner.
The odd girl leaned over a bit, tilting her head to the side with a little smile on her face. "And yes. I couldn't help but laugh at the faces you were making. You looked so frustrated. ..Have you never broke your arm before?"
Neville paused. "That's…that's not very nice, ya know." He thought for a moment. "Wait a moment. You were looking out the window, you couldn't see me…"
The girl looked away for a second. It was at an angle where he could see how her side bangs fell just above her small shoulders but the back cropped short.
"It was through the mirror's reflection," she admitted slow then noted with a tilt of her head, "have you never broke your arm before?"
"Of course not…!" He wanted to call her out, say how ridiculous it was to go around breaking one's own hands, and then he saw hers, but she hid them in her robe before he got a good look. He then wondered why was she wearing a robe over pajamas.
"How'd you break your arm?" She jumped down and scurried over to his side. He instinctively scooted away. She rested her cheeks on her hands with a growing smile on her lips.
Neville swallowed. "…I broke it." He didn't want to tell her the truth, lest she see him as weak too. He knew his house mates would no doubly be laughing at him—especially that boy, Malfoy.
"I can see it's broken—I mean how? Did something hit it? Did something trample you? Was it a spell?" Her eyes sparkled. It wasn't just some sparkle of curiosity—Neville looked into the eyes of this stranger girl at the foot of his bed watching him, smiling; he looked into her eyes and literally saw them sparkle.
"Um," he stalled. "Something fell on it," he lied.
Her eyes widened more in excitement, if even possible. "Who did it?!"
Neville started to panic for an excuse. This girl expected something cool, not that he fell from being hung on the side of a building by accident.
"That's a lot of questions. What are you even doing here?"
The smile faded from her face. She appeared to look sheepishly. Neville didn't expect her to raise her hands to his face. They were bandaged and blood was already steadily seeping through.
She raised a finger to her lips in a shh motion. "The nurse don't like it when we are out of bed, so be careful."
He raised a brow but Neville wasn't going to say that he wasn't planning on moving for some time. She told him to not get too loud. He didn't know how loud he could get with a broken arm.
She then put her hands down and hovered above his bed using her hands, coming uncomfortably close. "Do you think it's odd that Muggles use those stick things—what are they called?" She positioned her fingers as if holding a cigarette. "Even though it damages their lungs?"
Once again, he paused, not knowing how to respond. She then reached to his bed table, grabbed a bottle there, uncorked it and sniffed inside. Her nose wrinkled in response as well.
"Well," she began, taking it and corking the bottle back, "I want to see a nargle," she grinned.
Neville kept quiet.
"By the way, what's your name?"
Neville was a quiet boy who wasn't too sure how to deal with conversation, something he could tell this girl could do a lot. He was shy, timid, and didn't speak up much. But then, the girl in the hospital room did most of the talking. He learned that her favorite color was blue like the sky, and she admired orchids for their scent and beauty. While recovering and watching her get stitches on her hands, the two continued talking. They spoke of many things, random things, things when the nurses weren't around and giggling behind their backs when they were supposed to be getting their "beauty sleep." Some of it even earned them looks from the other patients. They talked about their classes and Neville talked about a garden back home and she talked about wanting to train beasts.
She was a mischievous, talkative girl she was, who ate her food strangely and would spin with an arm outstretched like a falcon was perched on it, telling of the tricks the imaginary thing would do. Eventually, he grew accustomed to wake up and asking her what to avoid eating or to a strange question like "why are oranges the only food named after their color?"
She was an odd girl she was who made the time fly for those short several weeks, until her hands healed and she left. Neville would admit that the remaining two months were different and the hours did drag a bit without someone coming over to sit on his bed. He didn't see that girl again.
The flowers at a bedside were withering and browning, and the tall window at the end of the room streamed in daylight. And Neville sat alone in the hospital bed.