Mercury - communication

Mercury Communication, intellect, reason

"You let me
Set sail with cheap wood
So I patched up every leak that I could, until the blame grew too heavy."

Second Year:

Draco Malfoy was already making a name for himself as one of those boys your mother warned you to avoid in school. He thought largely for himself and showed it whenever he could. At the same time, he was determined to be seen as the best and important in everyone's eyes, and had no problem selling others out for this purpose. Most either sneered at him or avoided his path, afraid of the trouble and rumors his running mouth would start. He was like most of the students here, though, who dwelled on the supposed words and support of others.

Unlike him and others who would get in trouble for whispering to each other, Echo would get caught reading an unassigned book in class or wandering a corridor she was supposedly not allowed to, or staying up talking with the castle's ghosts. That was also one of the things Draco had pointed out about her, loudly while in class—how she was always doing something weird, that "who is so crazy to want to talk to ghosts?" Mind you, it was something that many students did, she only more than most, but he just wanted to make her look bad.

She didn't talk to people much, which is one thing people did talk about her for. She did before—tried to make friends once, but now, not many took time out of their day to do more than actually tell her the time of day.

"The girl who talked to books like they were people."

"The one who would randomly blurt out in class and nonsense."

"Can you even see past that hair of yours," Draco had asked after throwing a paper ball at her head. "Or did your parents purposely make you keep that cut to save the rest of us from your hideousness?"

Draco never did get caught whenever he teased her; sometimes others did, though. But Echo tried not to let that get to her, even when others would talk to her, repeating their words in a steadily lowing tone, in a way mimicking a tunnel's echo.

But despite, she would still carry her books to class and take her quizzes with the rest of them, and passing. Even when they would point out her "weird" or "hideous" earrings she wore that her cousin gave to her, she wouldn't let that deter her from raising her hand to an answer she knew in class, or blurting something she suddenly remembered, or being the loudest in her cheer section at Quidditch games.

One person she knew who had such bravery was a girl with bushy brown hair whom the teachers muttered fondly about, who apparently was quickly climbing to the top of her classes. Echo overheard this in a classroom as she passed cuddling someone's lost pet rat, of Professor McGonagall gushing about Hermione Granger. Funny, really, how Echo walked right passed them—right in front of McGonagall and several other teachers—and it was like they didn't see her at all.

No one really notices her, actually. That's why it was always sort of a surprise whenever someone would speak to her face to face. That's why she had been so excited that day in the hospital wing too, that for once, she had someone to talk to who wouldn't shove her way like a nuisance.

Don't get it wrong; no, she did try talking to others—she tried a lot—though most didn't hold a conversation for long. Apparently, her sentences strung too long and her words jumbled together. She spoke slower than her mind processed and it put a lot on edge and confused.

But she tried to not let it get to her much, and spent most of her time either in the books or counting down to when she would see her cousin sorted into her house. But still, Echo wondered about that day in the hospital wing. She wondered what would have happened if she had come back and perhaps spoken with that boy some more. She did like him; he was entertaining. But still, she wondered...

She doesn't know what happened to that boy in the hospital wing with the broken wrist.

Earlier that day, there had been a disturbance in Potions class where the class had to be emptied in fear one of the cauldrons would explode. Eyes were looking around wondering who had done it and Hermione was going off about what idiot could have gotten Aconite Fluid and porcupine quill mixed up, as that was the only possible way this scare could have happened. Professor Snape was also glaring at the culprit the whole time, making his little head bow in shame and red flush to creep up his neck to his cheeks.

That culprit had been Neville, frighted and panicked when threatened in class.

As the bell rang and the students dispersed, Harry trailing after Ron, the only one who lagged behind with Neville was Dean, though he was more into his textbook than those around him. He hoped that the rest of the day was going to go well because of his mishap, the class was assigned their first essay.

Now the three—Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom—though separate, where lost somewhere in Hogwart's grand library. Yes, lost, or as it seemed to be. He had seen them earlier and thought about asking them about the essay—since he had forgotten the main points they were to write about. He saw the two and turned away, fearing he would be ridiculed and once again was afraid to ask for help.

The three boys were determined to start this paper early, apart from last time when they had turned it in late which costs points to be deducted from their houses.

They had split up for the time being, each looking for their own research material to share later. But of course, no one stayed focus. Neville in particular, had drifted from the history book section to plants. As his fingers grazed the spines of ancient books, he idly pulled one from the shelves and began thumbing through it before adding it to the growing stack beside him. He flipped through a second book, and another. And it wasn't until this third one and his fingers catching a page about flowers did his brows crinkle.

Toad-eating plants are a large species of plants that many say resemble large orchids. This common, but difficult to harvest species of plant grow commonly in boggy and swampy environments, but can grow accustomed to being as house plants if kept in very moist soil. The toad-eating plants' diet consists of toads, as its name deprives, as well as other amphibians...

Neville's lips moved along with the wording, his finger an additional guide. His legs had already found the nearest chair and was nose deep in the book before he knew. His hand found his parchment and was soon taking notes. He was comfortable, the essay not even a thought anymore.

Many minutes passed by as time was forgotten, and Neville had filled up at least half his parchment when he came to a section in the book that confused him. He set his quill on the table and reread the paragraph once more, twice.

He mumbled to passage to himself: "The begonia plant's immune system is abstinent, and must remain in humid conditions year round, this believing its ancestors originated from the South. Though, this has no recollection…? …dubbobs? No...I mean—-"

"Obstinate. I think that's what you meant, its immune system is obstinate, is it not? It means that it's most likely not going to change."

Neville looked up from his book, wondering whose voice that was. The library was quiet except for hued conversation and the only person was in front of him had a book in front of them.

"I know that," Neville lied. "Dugbogs—what exactly re they?" he asked in time to see the person put the book on the table, leaning over it with an arm on her cheek. The girl across from him too had a piece of parchment beside her with notes. He could tell from the color of her robe that she was a Hufflepuff. Neville inwardly sneered.

She turned a page. "Dugbogs're nasty little buggers that love to eat your begonias…if that's what it was you're readying about, is it?"

"Yeah…" he began.

"May I ask why you're reading about them? You're not going to think about planting begonias, are you? That would be unfortunate…"

Her voice was soft, he realized while listening to her, and was very high and couldn't put where he could have heard her before. She looked very familiar but Neville had a bad memory and didn't feel like giving himself a headache trying to remember something that was probably not even real. Maybe it would help if he could see the rest of her face, but everything north of her nose was hidden behind thick bangs.

"What's it to you," he countered, not nearly sounding as tough as he wanted and turned back to his book. He tried to appear focused and knowledgable about what he was doing. He shyly slid his blank parchment out of sight and into his lap.

She paused. "It's not."

He tried to ignore her. He didn't want her to know that he had forgotten to write his essay, but it was a prickling feeling up his neck that happens when knowing that someone is watching and knew could tell she was doing just that. It was the sort of feeling that prickled your skin, that you didn't need to look up to know that a short, almost-white haired little girl was staring at you with an undiverged stare.

Time passed with him trying to ignore her but as the minutes passed, the feeling that he was being watched didn't change and he began to sweat, and not knowing whether it was from nervousness or annoyance, Neville turned a page, wanting to call her out. But the words never left his lips. He had heard rumor starting to circulate about an odd girl with equally odd hair, but never thought he'd actually run into her since she was of a different house.

"Why do you keep staring at me like that?!" his voice wavered more than he planned.

The girl blinked once. "I'm bothering you; ...I'm sorry." She turned. "It's just that, you look oddly familiar…we've met before in a past life, right…?"

What she said went right over his head.

By now, she had closed her own book and had her small hands were folded on the table, and Neville knew she was ready to talk for a while. But he wasn't planning to—he had a paper to write. His first, actually.

"I think I'd remember someone who looked like you."

"Like me…?" Her eyes widened.

"Yeah, 'cause, you know…" He gestured.

She stared at him, wide eyed and curious. And then it dawned on him: she had no idea.

"You know," he began, "your…" He pointed at his head and her hands flew to hers feeling if something had gotten catch. "No," and he sighed. "Your hair—it's…weird," Neville explained sheepishly.

Her hands lowered. "How?" She grabbed at her side bangs that reached near her shoulders. "It's just blonde."

But it was a light blonde that belonged to only a very few here, one which was one of the most well known, being a rich pureblood Slytherin who liked to boast.

"And it's too short," he added, crossing his arms, finally giving an air of confidence.

"So?" She held up her side bangs, playing with them and twisting them side to side.

He scooted his chair back. For a moment, Neville wondered why was she twisting with such a silly smile and thinking he should just leave this weird girl alone again.

"You know, if you want to talk about someone, your tie is crooked. And I can tie a better tie than you obviously can—and I'm a girl!" she stuck out her tongue, smiling.

Neville didn't have a comeback for that one and just stood, glaring at her.

"Now, are you going to sit down and read or stand there all day?"

Neville hesitated. For some reason he had become anxious, not knowing whether to leave or not. He wasn't afraid by this girl, he told himself; she hadn't done a thing to him.

But she could tie a tie better than I can. And she's a girl!

"If you want, I can tell you a way to get keep your plants from being eaten too." She smiled, flipped her head and he could finally see her eyes peeking out from behind her front bangs.

This did fault his decision to leave. Maybe this girl would know information that Pomfrey wouldn't go over—and if she did, he'd be advance in it. Neville weighed his options.

The girl watched him with slanted eyes as, after several still minutes, he finally turned fully towards her. He folded his arms. "What is it then?"

She then covered her eyes. "I dunno. You don't look like you're interested—you're getting ready to leave," she kicked her feet, still smiling. But then, her smile vanished. "You too don't want to talk to me, do you? It's fine—if you don't want to."

Isle down, someone must have dropped something because there was a loud fumble followed by a hushed "bloody hell!"

"That's why I'm covering my eyes," she explained. There was no trace of a grin on her face anymore. "So if you want to leave, go ahead, because I don't want to see you go and I'll just get back to reading again."

Neville looked around.

Moments passed with no noise other than those in the library.

"Are you gone yet?" the girl spoke to what she thought was empty space. After a moment of wait, she lowered her hands to watch Neville scooting back in his chair.

"Not until I hear about how to protect those begonias. I want to get some when I'm older."

He watched her rub her eyes. He wouldn't tell her that they were still moist when she lowered her hands but his brows did knit for a moment.

He spoke how interested he was in wanted to learn about plants. Her eyes sprinkled in a slight smile as she listened.

Neville held up a finger to pause his speech. "Did you ever get sent to the hospital wing last year? There was some girl there and I had a broken arm then—-"

She nodded. Paused, then a wide smile and giggled. It was her giggle.

"-—That was you!? I knew you looked familiar!" He had a terrible memory and could only recall bits and pieces of the short couple days she had spent with him almost a year ago.

"But you said you never saw me before."

He shrugged. "Well…" He lied, he admitted. He shrugged to try and make it seem nonchalant.

Behind her hair, her eyes looked the chubby boy up and down.

Somewhere else in the library, students were gathering required material for assignments or asking ghosts for help. Aisles over, Dean and Seamus had found their own research material for the essay. Meanwhile, Neville had completely forgotten about it. He and the girl continued talking for hours until he remembered when Professor Binns spotted them and accused him of slacking.

"What's your name again?" the young Gryffindor held out his hand across the table. "I...I'm Neville Longbottom by the way."

He frowned when she began giggling.

"What's so funny?!"

"Nothing." Her bright eyes crinkled as she smiled widely. She grabbed his hand in both of hers, in an improper handshake. "I'm Echo!"

"Bell? Are you related to Katie Bell? She's in one of my classes."

"...I don't know who Katie is, so I would suppose not." She drifted to the blank piece of parchment with "Animal Essay" written at the top. " ….Do you want help with your essay since you want to write about creatures."

Neville thought that sounded like a great idea.

After that, Neville didn't speak much to or about the girl. He did see her much except in the hallways, mainly with her head bowed like his. It was expected though, being from different houses. But that didn't stop the eavesdropping—even those that weren't intended—hearing of her being ridiculed for whatever reason that could be created, from her voicing an incorrect fact to her tying her tie into a bow instead. He would look away though—he always did. It wasn't like he could speak up about it. Who would listen to him, Longbottom, the boy who sent himself to the hospital wing first year and then was hung on the chandelier by fairies?

He heard that she was seen running up to a Ravenclaw girl in the hallway that was a year under her like they knew each other, since both were rambling about something and smiling, before running off down the hall, hand in hand.

There were times Echo did see Neville and would run up to him even when he was with others, yammering for a few seconds about some creature she had found fascinating and then a few bits about some herb she thought he would like as he would blush with embarrassment before running off. One time, she ran up to him at lunch time, hands covered in dirt and a bit on her robe and face, wearing the widest smile and holding out a large beautiful bright purple flower cupped in her hands that she found in the courtyard. He would rush to put it away and shoo her before anyone saw how dirty she was.

She was always so enthusiastic.

It was one time and months ago she unintentionally ratted him out, innocently blurting his name when a fourth year Gryffindor was looking for a "short chubby boy who stuttered a lot and carrying that bloody remembrall he kept leaving in the common room." She had turned around, blurting his name and asking what the boy needed Neville for. The fourth year had just turned and left. She had found out later finding Neville in the courtyard by himself. He ridiculed her for it, as she stood in front of him, watching him from behind the bangs in her eyes. She had let him yell at her and call her every offensive name he could think of—a tattletale, a daydreamer. She let him rant without saying a word. She had made up for with a cupcakes she had managed to nab from lunch too.

But their sitting was cut short when some began muttering amongst themselves about the two seated together as they passed. Neville had quickly gotten up and left not long after the third passing of appointed whispers, spitting out a lie as his excuse to leave. He wouldn't—couldn't say anything against the words of others. He didn't want to become even more of a target for teasing. He was too afraid to face them.

Besides, even if he wanted to...

Neville put his head down and kept walking.

The next time Neville saw that girl was in The Great Hall for the new batch of first years. The tables were applauding for each house's new additions and he had looked up from congratulating Ron's younger sister.

She had been staring off into space and despite the glee that was so heavy in the room, no one seemed to notice Echo sitting stock still and looking horrified. And then he stopped mid-clapping. Two fat tears fell from Echo's heterochromial eyes and he didn't know if she would have made any sound, if he could have heard at all. Her nostrils flared and. At first he thought she was staring at him or the Gryffindor table. He turned around and saw another girl—a first year—turned around from her new seat at the Ravenclaw table. She had longer, darker blonde hair and a look just as distraught in her wide eyes. Neville didn't know if she even saw him, if she was even paying enough attention to.

An upper class girl at his side nudged him. "Are you alright?" she vice carried over the roar of crowds.

Neville just nodded. He looked back in the direction of the Hufflepuff table, but now someone—and someone rather large—was sitting in the space that had given him a view and now couldn't see her at all.

Oliver Wood noticed Neville's confused look and rather slow clapping. He turned around, couldn't find what the brunette was staring at and sent a raised brow in younger's direction.

Later, in the common room, Oliver asked him about it, bumping his shoulder as Neville sat in one of the armchairs before sitting across from him.

"What was with you earlier at dinner?" Oliver questioned. "You look like you were hit with a Blue Sparks charm."

Neville just looked at him confused, and then it dawned on him. "I just remembered something is all," he lied. He was lying a lot lately and didn't quite like it—he never liked lying and saw it troublesome.

Echo Bell was a girl who always smiled. Though tonight she cried. It never occurred to him that she could cry since she smiled practically all the time, he thought to himself that night in bed. No candlelight could have created an illusion of those tears rolling down her face.

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