Neptune - imagination, dreams, delusions

Neptune Imagination, dreams, delusions

"I'm only honest when it rains
An open book with a torn out page
And my ink's run out, I want to love you but I don't know how
Know how…"

Hogwarts was under attack. Death Eaters surrounded them and a force field had been put around the castle. Adults and students were running like rabbits and there was an army at their doorsteps. Everything was coming down to now, this final moment.

It was terrifying.

Dean turned to Echo, Colin, Isabelle, and Lee, and all fled to aid The Order members that arrived. Cho, Lavender, Seamus, and Luna went as one group and Hannah, Padma, Justin, Terry, and Zacharias, went as another. Grace and Michael escorted Neville back to The Hog's Head and in turn, gaining another soldier.

Outside, the sky was dark and alive with cries and battle screams. Hogwarts was dying, dying quickly and The Dark Lord has made his presence known.

Hogwarts, a magnificent castle and their home away from home, was being threatened and no one was safe. People have died in these very halls they walked and students were being tortured in classrooms. Families worried back home after a traitor became Headmaster and a demon was now going to be in power of their world.

Something like a line from a song played out in Echo's head as she and her team traveled up one of the staircases. She had read it somewhere but couldn't remember exactly where.

Isabelle cursed under breath about the amount of stairs in the tower just as a loud rumble shook the walls, making them all freeze. The team watched as lose stones fell down the spiral to the floor below. Dean hurried them up the stairs.

War was here, and there was no way denying it anymore.

Students from Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor had turned to living inside The Room of Requirements when their lives were threatened. Luckily the room accommodated to them and a passageway was found that led to The Hog's Head, providing them with a source of food and water. But the hallways had been off limits to those who didn't want to be found out. Classes still continued but you wouldn't have found anyone of the DA in their sleeping chambers or in the halls nonchalantly. The Carrows were still here after all, and those head of house begun worrying when certain students never returned to their chambers. But it wasn't like they could turn to the Headmaster for help. Everyone was on their own now.

"There's been a weather change. Lightening has struck, I repeat, lightening has struck!"

Harry Potter had returned not too long ago. The golden trio had circled around back in search of a remaining horcrux that they said supposedly resides somewhere in the castle. They explained that they were searching for something small, supposedly easily to hide, something that represents bravery...

That's when Luna spoke up. It was a brilliant idea, an off the wall suggestion, but one that was brilliant.

"Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem," the blonde had suggested when they were all back in The Room.

And that is what Harry Potter was off searching for now.

Grace and Michael led Aberforth to meet with McGonagall, upon his own request. Grace wasn't too sure about this though, worrying about their timing and gave Neville a look that expressed this.

"Don't worry," the boy spoke aloud, aimed toward Grace.

A dry smile graced his face. Grace knew he was only trying to lighten the mood but he was terrible at lying.

Neville told the silent elder about how students—the DA members—were split off into groups, placing at least one of the top duelers in each group. He explained how Grace, here, was one of the best in the DADA out of the three, and he knew a great healer they could call on if needed, who was one out of the three they had.

Aberforth looked at the boy out of the corner of his eye, a biting remark on his tongue.

"Everything's going to be fine." Neville tried to keep the smile.

Grace and Michael walked in front of them, wands out, and it was she who spoke up, beating the second Dumbledore to Neville's lies.

"You can't be serious." Her tone bit terribly but she didn't avert her eyes from their path. "We're in a war! You can't possibly stand here and expect to lie to us." Off to her right, a student ran in their path. She lowered her wand that was held ready, mistaking them for the enemy for a moment. "And don't go around telling lies to him," she meant to Aberforth, "now just because you're head of the DA." Grace kept her head forward so she didn't see Neville's brows furrowing.

"Excuse me for trying to be positive—-"

"That's not your job." She finally fell back, letting Neville come to her side. "You're one of the leaders of the DA now. Your not some fool anymore!" Her finger jabbed at his chest. "People look up to you now—especially Colin, Ech—-" Grace stooped abruptly, and noticing Michael and Aberforth have caused a gap in the group, hurried to catch up. "You don't have any reason to be lying," she finished. "We all know what we're getting into and it's probably not going to end well."

"How the heck was I lyin'?"

"Several reasons—don't talk us up like some grand warriors. No one here is. ...We're all still human. ...No one here is Potter—no one is going to save anyone from this mess but ourselves…" She was stone faced.

After a few more disagreeing lines thrown, Grace shut her mouth, having being told she was becoming hysterical.

Eventually, the group found McGonagall and Aberforth went to go speak with her. The three escorts stood off and a way back.

"You're important, Longbottom, yes. That's why I can't leave your side. I owe you that much; I owe Echo that much." Grace's arms were folded and the two watched the adults talking and McGonagall pointed out at something in the distance. "But this is war. Don't let people think they are all immortal gods."

She was referring a supposed-to-be inspirational speech given back in The Room which left most of the DA cheering with talks of almighty, honor, and fearlessness.

Neville's defensiveness fell when Grace's eyes lowered. "She was the one who asked me to go up and volunteer to escort Aberforth you know. She knew that who did that would probably end up fighting with you." Her voice softened, remembering Echo whispering in her ear no longer than forty-five minutes ago. "She asked for me to keep you safe. …She cares about you, you know." Grace barked a dry, sad laugh. She punched his arm lightly. "She cares about everyone. Way too much for her own good. But she's so damn hardheaded…"

Grace and Luna had tried to convince Echo multiple times to stay out of the fight, to help bring in the injured or something. It hadn't worked obviously, and is why the girl was upstairs preparing for battle just like the rest of them.

Grace slapped her hand on Neville's chest, facing the opposite way and preparing to leave to help Remus Lupin not too far off. "She cares about you a lot. We all do. ...Now don't go and get yourself killed, you giant sap," she laughed dryly again, in a sarcastic way much like Isabelle.

Inside, students rushed like rats from a fire. Hogwarts alumni and professors covered the corners of the castle. Parents that could come, joined the fight. Those of the DA were broken off into groups to go aid whom they could.

The Patil twins, Ginny, and three others gathered, on their way to defend the Wooden Bridge. Luna went in search for her cousin, and finding her well, departed with saying she needed to go send a message. And elsewhere, Grace and Dean mentally prepared to call their patrons, who was beside Remus, Arthur Weasley, and Kingsley.

The shouts of angry Death Eaters echoed around them. Many of the students were already running for their lives, hysterical though the magical barrier hadn't fell.

McGonagall sent Seamus, Neville, and Cho to prepare explosives for the enemy. Parvati, Ginny, and Katie got into position in the courtyard with a crowd of students herded by Aberforth Dumbledore and Kingsley. Voldemort overlooked the grounds and the Quidditch pitch was up in flames.

They were to assist at any where they could, fight and kill all Death Eaters and dementors. Well, not kill—no one said kill—they said defeat, but if the enemy was hurtling at you in rapid speed, you wouldn't be thinking about their wellbeing

Hogwarts was alive and dying at the same time. Casualties were going to be falling left and right and everyone knew it.

Somewhere inside, Echo and Lavender had gotten split up.

Out on the Wooden Bridge and at the edge of the barrier, a herd of Snatchers waited for their cue. Neville watched with frightened eyes as hundreds stared back at him, waiting. It was like he was back in first year again, all eyes on them and waiting for him to mess up. He felt his hands sweating and rubbed them on his jeans.

Traveling up the stairs of a different tower, Luna followed Harry through the current of students. She was struggling more, trying to call for the boy and push her way through.

"Harry! Wait, I need to talk to you. You won't find anything in the Ravenclaw common room. You're wasting your time."

She tried to speak to him but he was gone again in his own head. Only when she yelled did he finally stop, turning around with eyes wide and scared.

"Harry Potter! You listen to me right now!"

Luna never raised her voice before and it was the first time anyone had heard Luna speak above a calming resonance.

"Don't you remember what Cho said about Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem? There isn't a person alive whose seen it. It's obvious isn't it? We have to talk to someone who's dead. "

While Ron and Hermione retrieved a Basilisk's tooth and destroyed the horcrux in Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, outside, Voldemort stood alongside Bellatrix Lestrange at the edge of the barrier, a force field enchanted to protect the school ground. He raised The Elder Wand and the world exploded in a blinding, brilliant light. The force field surrounding the school, the only thing keeping it safe, was destroyed.

Remus' wife, Nymphadora, arrived and they both embraced in a hug.

Grace watched, first in admiration at Remus' wife, and then at the affection that radiated from them. She admired them and then grew sad, it hitting her that kind souls like them were dragged into a hideous war like this and Grace wished they'd turn back and live out the rest of their lives. She wiped at a tear on her cheek.

Nymphadora caught eye of the Hufflepuff wiping her eye and pride surged in her chest. She leaned down to Grace and smiled such a pretty smile. Nymphadora—Tonks—told Grace that her help was much appreciated and to go and find others she could help, that they were all covered here now.

Grace nodded and did as she was told, not missing the woman's hair changing color in the dim light.

Grace found Ginny with a few others at the edge of the Wooden Bridge leading to Hogsmeade. She saw sparks from the enemy shooting at something running ahead.

As she approached the group, Grace noticed the thing at the front was Neville, narrowly avoiding killing curses. She arrived in time to see the bridge collapse and Neville drop along with them to a rocky grave. Ginny held the girl back when she lunged forward, an ugly screech wrenching from her throat.

Lavender left her position, thinking she saw the form of Draco, Vincent, and another of his goons slinking past. She was supposed to report back up to the tower but everyone knew this Slytherin was up to no good and knew that every minute was precious and could prevent more casualties. Everyone knew now that Draco was the who was supposed to kill Albus Dumbledore and Lavender was ready to hex him if found.

Gripping her wand, she hurried around the corner she saw him disappear. She was supposed to return back to the tower to fight but she chased after where she thought she saw Malfoy run.

She ran passed an opening into the grounds, where a wall had fell. She ran at top speed, mind focused on one thing and didn't see the madmen grinning, turning and following her in the shadows.

In the halls, Ginny pulled Harry into a kiss.

The stairs were crowded with panicking bystanders. The children were frightened and didn't know what to do, afraid of the demon outside just as much as the soldiers.

"Are you alright?" Harry ran up to his friend, both out of breath.

"Never better! I feel like I could spit fire!" Neville radiated something odd, and was bouncing on his toes.

Ginny squinted—he seemed oddly excited for someone in a war.

"Have you seen Luna?" Neville asked and the new couple was surprised to see a smile grown on his face. "I'm mad about her. Might as well tell her—we'll probably all be dead by dawn."

Wondering the castle halls, Ron and Hermione tried to find the third of their trio by The Marauder's Map. And when they saw Harry's footsteps disappeared next to a wall printed on the parchment, Ron suggested The Room of Requirements, leaving Hermione's jaw open and a tug at her lips and flutter in her chest.

That is where they would find him, trying to destroy Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem.

"No killing curses unless absolutely necessary," Neville had spoke alongside Harry Potter back in The Room of Requirements.

"Then how do you expect us to get rid of them?" Dean had spoke up.

"Hex them. Jinx them if you have to," Harry answered. "But we aren't the enemy here."

"But to them we are," Cho countered. "And I don't know about you, but some of us want to keep our skin."

Echo hurried down the hall, following the sound of a splitting scream. Wand out and memorizing a list of curses, she tried to guess the right path the noise ricocheted from.

She heard the scream again—it sounded a lot like Lavender—and it led her up to the Art classroom.

Death Eaters streamed in the courtyard, dirty and scurrying like cockroaches. Bright sparks of green and blue blasted from every which way and somewhere near the front of the castle, animated knights made of stone crushed any of the enemy that tried to run past.

Upstairs, Kingsley froze a Death Eater that propelled through the glass window and flung him back out to the field, the floor too high to hear the crunch of his skull to the ground.

Back in the tower, Echo crept up the stairs, hearing the screaming stop. She noticed when Lavender didn't return to their post and had become worried. Having lived with Lavender for over a month back in The Room of Requirements, she knew the Gryffindor was burning with a need for justice and to prove herself.

Lavender was brave and courageous, just like her house, and Echo knew that she would not back away if she came face to face with an enemy. Lavender was strong, that's why the scream that sounded so much like hers brought Echo to follow it. It frightened Echo that someone like Lavender give out such a fearful cry.

The Hufflepuff crept up the stairs and peered under the railing, not reaching the top of the stairs so she could sneak a peek in the room. The screaming had stopped and harsh voices filling the dark of the Art classroom.

This had once been Echo's favorite class, but now the room was in shambles due to a fight. A large hourglass was shattered on the floor and the sands spilled. There was a draft coming in from somewhere that blew the sand into her face and Echo covered her eyes.

When it died down, Echo looked over and at first she didn't see anything. The sky outside was dark and the room was cast in deep shadow. But she heard deep, shallow breathing, like something large and deadly. Someone gasped and Echo's head swiveled in that direction.

At first she didn't see it, but as her eyes focused, determining form from shadow, she saw a large hulking form over something on the floor. And that something coughed. Echo recognized Lavender's bushy hair and didn't identify the looming form of the werewolf, Fenrir Greyback.

Elsewhere in the castle, Harry, Hermione, and Ron managed to find and defeat Draco's group—the real one. And when a Fiendfyre, a cursed fire broke out, started by Vincent Crabbe, the five managed to escape by the skin of their teeth. The unfortunate one being Crabbe, who fell to the flames he conjured.

Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem was dropped at the entrance of the The Room. Just before the doors closed, Harry made a running kick, flinging it back inside the room where it was consumed by the flames and finally destroyed.

Out near the bridge, Aberforth and his army of students fended off dementors.

A wild giant flinging an iron instrument had already killed twelve men.

Echo recalled every curse she could remember, hurling them at Greyback. It knocked the large man off balance and sent him flying to the other side of the classroom. That's when Echo darted over to Lavender. She asked of the girl's wellbeing, pressing her hands along the girl's body, searching for wounds.

Lavender shook her head and cleared her throat. Blood stained her lips and teeth.

A spark from a curse narrowly missing them brought both girls' attention to the second tall man walking toward him.

Echo squinted. She couldn't make him out well in the darkness, but could tell he was of large size and height equivalent to Amycus Carrow.

Both girl drew their wands, watching the Death Eater let out a deep chuckle. He twirled his wand in his hands. There was no one up here except them and he was going to enjoy torturing them.

Greyback recovered in the back, watching with a greedy look.

Lavender struggled to her feet, hand on a deep claw wound the werewolf had given her. The killing curse was on her tongue and she outstretched her arm, ready, and Echo jumped in front of her, spitting out curse after curse, propelling the man back to the wall and Greyback to follow once more. The second Death Eater collapsed into a bookshelf.

Echo grabbed Lavender's wrist and ran for the door. But Greyback was quick for a burly man, and had dodged her spells. With his speed, he quickly caught up to the girls, grabbing Echo and throwing her like a rag doll to the window glass. Lavender was caught under his paw, her face impacting on the floor and his wand pressed to her skin. Her screams rang out, the pain he casts unbearable.

The second Death Eater emerged again. "Just finish 'em off," he called to Greyback. The man cursed aloud, mentioning the idiocity of children and annoyance of Gryffindors.

Echo pushed herself from the stone, spitting to the floor. She knew the killing curse. It repeated itself over and over in her mind. But she was trying to do as she was told—"don't kill, only stun," they had been told.

The Death Eater waved his wand at Echo but she was quicker. First, she disarmed him, then she threw Greyback off her friend with another wave of her wand.

Lavender didn't move from the floor, still stunned, blood dribbling from a busted lip. Again, Echo made a run to her and was able to get her arm under the Gryffindor and both to a stand when a vice wrapped around Echo's throat. Losing her footing, Lavender fell to the floor.

She watched as Greyback's feet stepped beside her face, hearing Echo's breath quickly draining from her lungs. The werewolf snarled, lips drawn back in a frightening grin.

Lavender fumbled for her wand.

Echo was shaking, and Greyback loved it, her trembling in his hands. She was afraid. When Greyback grabbed Echo by the throat, she was frozen in fear and begged with wide eyes. Her lungs gasps for air it couldn't obtain, she was lightheaded and her vision was blacking at the corners. Her bangs were wild and windblown from her face, her eyes beginning to dull.

Shots fired from Lavender's wand but these curses that hit Fenrir Greyback in the chest appeared to do nothing.

She wasn't casting the right ones.

The werewolf's eyes were wide and a bright color that sent fear and shivers through the girl's bones, clutched in his claw.

The large windows behind them exploded and the cold air rushed in—a misfired spell.

Greyback grinned and the man behind him shouted something.

Echo was the first one to fall.

As loose papers and rocks and sand blew among the room, Echo was the first to fall from the Art room.

"I'm only honest when it rains
(Know how, know how)"

It was pictures of a little girl, so bright and alive, her shining eyes showed it.

The memories were quick and vivid that flashed across her mind, each one lasting a millisecond but feeling a century.

The first being a small field, not too far from Hagrid's. It was the field Echo liked to spend time in the beginning. It was wide and blooming with flowers. Luna was watching them play, and Echo jumped onto Neville's back, both falling to the ground and grass and dead flowers rising into the air.

"If I time it right, the thunder breaks
(Know how, know how)"

Echo started growing out her hair after a pensive thought. It reached to her shoulders and was now blowing wildly. Her hair, a snowy blonde, blowing as the wind rushed up around her, Echo watched the wall ran away from her.

It was like slow motion—the sky was clear and peppered with stars. And lights, bright, ghosted memories flickered past her mind. And her body was falling.

"When I open my mouth
( I wanna love you…)"

She saw herself and Neville dancing around the abandoned room for the last time, when he followed her out of The Room of Requirements. She remembers having her head on his shoulder, eyes brimming with tears because she knew that none of this was going to work out. It had been a nasty, heavy feeling that weighed in her pit while the moon shone brightly outside like so many nights before. He twirled her around by the hand, both laughing for the first time in months, a soothing melody.

"I want to tell you but I don't know how
(Know how, know how)"

She saw many faces flash across her mind. Of Gretchen, a girl once been her friend; of Hermione Granger when Echo was found crying in the bathroom in second year; of Professor Sprout, a woman so kind and of gentle soul; of Justin and Colin and Hannah and Remus Lupin...

She saw the many dinners spent in The Great Hall and sessions she shared with her cousin. She saw when she was first sorted, filled with joy, and then watching Luna under The Sorting Hat. The breaks in between classes spent with friends was seen too.

She remembered the warm hugs from her mother and her uncle that would come up beside her, turning it into a group hug that Luna would join in.

"I'm only honest when it rains,
(Know how, know how)"

Echo fell.

One Christmas, the one before everything went wrong, was always held at the Bell residence. Xenophilius was playing a peculiar muggle instrument, Echo's mother had the scent of fresh baked sweets lingering in her clothes, Echo and Luna dancing around the open living spaceit was when they were much younger. They've been doing this since they were small.

She remembered the ones filled with the tricks done by Fred and George, and Remus' chocolate, and her mother's kisses.

"An open books with a torn out page, and my ink's run out
(Know how, know how, I wanna love you)"

She remembers posing for a picture for Colin Creevey, Grace and Isabelle at her sides. They took another photo sometime later in that year, a magical one that looped. It showed Grace and Isabelle standing nicely together before Echo ran up from behind, simultaneously jumping in the middle and pulling the girls closer together. Luna walked in from the side before turning to leave, the photo looping again. All were laughing hystericallythe joy of youth.

Echo fell.

"I wanna love you but I don't know how."

The night was alive and the sky was shining bright.

Echo's vision was already darkening and only quickened to consume her when she hit the ground.

She didn't move—couldn't, actually. When she looked up to where she remembered the fifth floor window being, she saw a figure made out of bright white, almost like a ghost, and it gently floated down to her. The white light—a woman, it appeared, hovering above her.

A sense of safety and calm washed over the broken girl, and the ghost-like woman reached out her hand to Echo's cheek. She sighed, the touch sent a sweet sensation over her and her body held no pain. The woman seemed to smile slightly and Echo looked back to the stars twinkling down at her.

"I don't know how…
I don't know how…
I don't know how,
I wanna love you but I don't know how…"

The Great Hall was now a room for the injured and broken, eerily silent from the death that has taken so many already.

A girl on her knees is bent over a body on a stretcher. Her eyes were squeezed shut yet the tears still flowed heavily. Her cry of pain had came and passed and she still stayed, not yet wanting to leave her loved one. The body was cold and stiff and a there was a scar on the corpse's cheek under a right eye, acquired years ago. The crying one still had her fingers entwined with the dead ones as if it were still alive. And oh, how much she wanted it to be. She hoped by some luck it would wake up. She knew it was a farfetched idea and thus cried more.

She wanted the body to be alive. Oh god, she wished it would be, that it still was, and wished she could have been there to stop death.

Grace was the one who tugged Isabelle's sleeve, catching Luna knelt over a body in the room. The girls stood in shock for a moment then Isabelle rushed over first, catching the corpse's blonde hair but not wanting to believe it.

Isabelle called Luna's name. The Ravenclaw didn't look up and only raised her head from resting on the forehead of her cousin, sniffling.

Grace's hands flew to her mouth in a gasp. Isabelle took steps back.

"How…how did this happen?" Isabelle's voice trembled.

Tears gathered in Grace's eyes. "No, no, no," repeating in mumbles behind her hands.

"How did this happen!" Isabelle was screaming now.

A nearby nurse came over and explained where the body was found and that Lavender Brown was brought in with her, Lavender who was barely alive now with a nasty gash to the neck.

"Where's Hannah!" Isabelle shouted again. The nurse started explaining that no one knew a specific Hannah. "Hannah Abbott! Long blonde pigtails! Hufflepuff!" Isabelle was screaming, tears falling now.

She was the one who let out a ferocious roar next.

Luna's thumb slid over Echo's dead hand. Isabelle bowed over her form and Grace buried in Echo's still chest. When Hannah arrived, already limping from battle, she started sobbing too.

Grace had failed, she wept. "I…w-was…su-supposed to pro-protect her…" bubbled out between sobs. "I'm so sorry," she wailed. Her hands clutching the dirty robes.

Luna's hand ran through her cousin's hair, such a bright blonde that it made Echo appear more pale than she was. It whisped and slid through her dirty fingers with ease.

She told Neville that Echo was found in some rubble when he arrived, her probably haven fallen from the Art room balcony.

When he came, he stood frozen and shocked and his wand slipping from his hand. A hot, angry feeling surged in his chest but it fizzed quickly, and joined the girls on the stone ground.

"She always hated her eyes, you know," Luna spoke, noting Echo's gaze that still looked toward the sky, her usual calm expression still there but with sleepy eyes. Luna's hands now rested on her cousin's shoulder. "The left one's green while the other one's blue. She never liked them for as long as I can remember and used her hair to cover them. She was teased too when she was little about them."

Neville crawled to a sitting position. Grace raised, feeling Echo's body moving and watched him pull the small girl to his lap. Try as he might, the tears didn't hold and were soon falling on Echo's cheeks.

Neville's hands ran through Echo's bangs as he rocked slightly. He sniffed, holding back sobs. His large frame bowed over her made hers appear so small.

Once, Echo's eyes held a sparkle when she spoke about magical creatures she loved, and all of them could still remember it so vividly.

All this just didn't seem real. Grace watched with tears still falling. Luna and Hannah's cheeks were drying from their own, and Isabelle bit her lips in an angry sadness. Neville's hands shook as he slid the girl's eyelids closed, no longer shining but a dull stare they held.

She had been so happy all the time, almost like a sister to most of them and a seemingly magical creature herself to Neville. She was something that had been impossible to live, impossible to survive, and impossible to die it had seemed. They had all grown up together.

He rested on her hair, kissing her forehead.

Echo's legs were stretched out, feet still on the stretcher and Neville buried his face in her white hair. Her fingernails were dirty and there was sand in her bangs and her wand nowhere to be found. Now she slept, he told himself, told the girls. Echo's shoulders remained in his lap and his nose in her hair. She had a relaxed face now that she did appear to only be sleeping.

There were so many casualties from war, so many that shouldn't have been. A twin, Remus and Tonks had been found, struck dead. The young Colin Creevey too. It seeming so odd that the lively were so still now. It didn't seem right, didn't seem natural.

Neville's shoulders wracked and he finally let out a sob.

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