Moon - emotions, habits
Moon ◯ Emotions, instincts, habits
"Stitch by stitch I tear apart
If brokenness is a form of art,
I must be the poster child of prodigy."
Within the weeks that passed, Neville didn't see much of the girl—Echo—from the library much. He did pass the essay, by the way, and with high marks to add, something the professor and the class gave him a look of shock for. Neville, of course, kept quiet about it. But for the many days that passed, there wasn't a random spoken word or glimpse of her bright hair for a long time. It was like the girl with her hair chopped off in the back had dropped out of existence.
Neville did go along with those that invited him to hang around now and then, but he found himself glancing around just a little too often for a crown of snowy hair or listening just a little too closely for a giggle out of place. Those that invited him were more outgoing and just didn't notice anyways.
Weeks passed of this, up to the point Ron started pointing out that Neville kept acting like he had lost something his remembrall was trying to tell him. Neville had just went with it and never corrected the boy.
Once, Neville did ask. It was some time around curfew in the common room, and Ron and Harry were placing wizard's chess, Dean was reading a textbook, and the few older students nearby paid no attention.
Neville had cleared his throat, mustered up some courage and spoke: "Any of you heard of a girl here with white-blonde hair chopped off in the back?" Neville has only seen her a handful of times, maybe five, and every time she'd leave and it was like she would vanish as if she'd never been there in the first place. Either she really was a ghost or just a fast walker.
Dean shook his heads in answer.
Ron paused. "Is that some kind of ghost here?"
"No…!" Neville's brows crinkled. "Her name's Echo Bell….I think" He added the last bit as precaution.
"What house is she then?" Harry spoke, making his next move and taking Ron's knight.
"…Hufflepuff, I think." He remembers her tie a yellow color.
Ron looked up. "You think? Well if she's Hufflepuff then of course we haven't heard of her," he groaned. "What are you doing hanging around a Hufflepuff anyways?"
Neville remained silent. "No reason."
Echo Bell was a girl about his height that smiled almost all day and just radiated joy and innocence. It was her dreamy-looking gaze and bright smile that stayed with him.
The next day Neville saw Echo was out when he was looking for Trevor behind the kitchen, near the garden. To this day, he remembers the first words she spoke when she saw him and still could never fathom just why.
"What do you suppose is fate, fate, really? And truth? I don't believe in the first much, 'cause I think it's just a made-up contraption humans have created to make themselves feel better, like time."
He had stammered, "what are you talking about?" and continued looking for his toad, hoping she'd take the hint to leave him alone so he could put her out of mind.
"There is no such thing as coincidence, is there? That's made up. And fate. When time lines up with preparation and luck, that's only when the universe will allow whatever it is to happen. It's something that can be created and manipulated…I think..."
Wasn't that the same thing? He arched an eyebrow at her. She was indeed loopy.
Silence passed with them staring at each other more out of confusion and not meeting up with each other's thinking.
"What, next you're going to tell me that the moon is made of cheese and the sun is purple?"
"That would be quite peculiar wouldn't it? I heard that those little bugs—flying whales I think they're called—they can make you see things as different colors. They're called that because they like puffing out little clouds of color in your ears and puff up when they do it. Though I think they look more like pufferfish than whales... They may be related to Glumbumbles, I think."
Echo was an odd girl and Neville wasn't exactly sure why he had been so intent on seeing her. Maybe he stayed int he garden instead of leaving as a way to reassure himself that she wasn't in fact a ghost because of the rare times he saw her. But she wasn't transparent, so that wasn't an option anyway. Maybe it was to make sure he could look for her when he had another essay due.
"I found this garden a few days ago by accident. I like coming here to read. It's peaceful." Her gaze flickered to the sega of books she had left against the castle wall behind them.
Here, the scenery was marvelous. The view overlooked the surrounding hills that disappeared into forestry. The view allowed them to see out across the dark forest for miles until the sun peeked out from the far off.
The wind blew. Neville grabbed for the hat on his head. He turned to Echo, who had barely moved.
He watched as she stood her ground, leaning forward slightly as if the wind would carry her off if she just lifted her arms. The wind blew her pale hair, her long robe flowing out behind her like something marvelous, and the light hitting her just right, turning her eyes into jewels. A pang hit deep in him, and it was something that made him wish he was could be as strong as she seemed.
"This is my secret place," she stated simply, almost a whisper that he guessed was meant for herself.
Later, Echo pushed Neville down the hill before rolling after him. Her laughter drowned out his surprising scream. They were caught afterwards and then driven away by an angry, ladle-waving elf.
Meeting her became a regular occurrence, Neville found, whether it was catching her in the library or at her table at lunchtime if she wasn't perched on a ledge in the hallway with her nose in some magazine. Echo was indeed an unusual one, and Neville was still unsure about other's opinions of her and avoided her around others, so he didn't spend too much time in the hallways—that is why the library and the secret locations she found she found were a sort of safe haven. Neville still cared too much what others thought, kept losing Trevor and forgetting the most important details. And Echo would still be gone almost as soon as he turned his back.
After that afternoon behind the kitchen, Echo had been hesitant to talk to Neville at first, oddly given the rest of that afternoon was spent on her pushing him to join her rolling down the hills. Now, she was more hesitant and he noticed she was missing her belonging increasingly. Neville had asked her about it once but she had only smiled, her usual dreamy look in her eye:
"It's nothing to worry about."
Even when all her quills where mysteriously found broken once, Echo had worn a pleasant smile.
Neville didn't speak of it much anymore. But still...
"I found my cousin sleepwalking again," she spoke randomly once while in the library. They were in the back so there was less worry of seeing someone one who would start telltales.
Neville had looked up from his books about desert vegetation. She was sitting across him, reading her Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them for the hundredth time. "You have a cousin? Who?"
"Luna. Luna Lovegood. We're cousins on her dad's side. You seen her?"
Yes, Neville had heard of Luna—or Looney Lovegood, as she was starting to be known across as. Neville had no idea Echo was related to such a girl, but guessed it wasn't too much of a surprise.
Echo was spontaneous and energetic who periodically forgot her parchments. She spoke up in class too loudly and never shied away from being the first volunteer in The Care for Magical Creatures class. She was a burst of energy and took too long to think of her words when she was called upon. She was the one student whose wand worked wonders with locks but sputtered upon any accio charm. Neville did shy away when there were too many peers around them and when some would mock her. He was very unlucky after all, as it went, and longed to get rid of the reputation. Whenever he thought about it, Neville always came to the conclusion that he stayed around her because she was entertaining and usually came up with answers and homework solutions that he could not.
She had given Neville a hug once in The Great Hall, telling him he had forgot his remembrall which she had brought in one hand, and of course making a blush burn his cheeks. There were murmurs from others that she had ignored but that seemed to fill Neville's ears. His young brain had spun too stunned to react.
Ron had exclaimed, "Oh, that's the Echo girl!?" and she had turned to him, sticking out her tongue.
Hermione had stared silently, having been just a few seats down with her head in her textbooks again. When she caught ear of the blonde's high voice, she suddenly was able to put the voice crying in the bathroom to a face.
It was about three days ago when she went to use the restroom—steering clear of the first floor one. She heard sniffles and sobs from the largest bathroom stall. And after washed up, Hermione had stood and listened, staring at the closed stall door. She didn't know who it was or why they have been crying but she didn't know whether to comfort them—she didn't know how. And when she finally mustered up enough gall, hand pressed against the door ready to push it open, Susan Bones had hurried in, head turning every way until seeing Hermione.
The Gryffindor explained in a hush that there was someone crying and Susan must have already knew She slipped past with a hurried "pardon," and into the bathroom stall. It was too quick for Hermione to see who it was, but she heard as she left the bathroom that Susan managed to sooth the girl. She had bent down before leaving to peek under the stalls that the girl was sitting against the wall and Susan crouched in front of her.
Hermione's eyes widened at The Great Hall table. Now she knew who it had been.
Of course then Neville had kept Echo at arms length, a beaming face to his more flustered.
Soon, it had become part of his norm to pick out a crown of snowy-blonde hair in the crowd.
That Professor Lockhart, or whoever he thought he was, wasn't warming up well to the school. That part was obvious. He thought he was more important than he really was.
He liked to make it known that he was fabulous and well known, courageous, and whatever exaggerated lie he could pull out his ass. And there would be mocking behind his back, students mouthing his words and flipping their hair in an exaggerated fashion. This had begun on the first day, but after one was caught and Lockhart added a falcon to perch high in the classroom as his extra pair of eyes, the teasing died down considerably.
That still didn't make him a better teacher. Especially, how he kept avoiding questions about The Chamber of Secrets, as he allegedly so boastfully volunteered to investigate. He wasn't a teacher favored by many students—excluding those with fan crushes—and namely those of Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Ron was very verbal with his disproval; the least being Harry.
Hermoine hadn't complained when it was Lockhart that was to duel against Snape as example for students—as did much of the student body as well. Though, she did hesitate, like many of those infatuated with him.
"Five galleons says Severus messes up," Fred Weasley whispers.
George turns to him, looking surprised. "Five? Ten! I mean, look at that bloke! Wouldn't last a minute. Ten says Lockhart falls on his ass."
A younger Gryffindor snickers near them, overhearing. Oliver Wood catches her and she bows her head, hiding her smirk behind her bangs.
"See? Even Isobel agrees with me," Fred jokes. "Don'tcha?"
She shakes her head, long brown curls bouncing. "I think I'm with George on this one."
"Ah, whatever. That's what I get for asking a first year anyways."
The shy smile of hers was replaced by an angry blush. "Well…well don't come to me when you're having trouble in potions and spells again then…!"
Across the platform, Justin Finch-Fletchley chuckles at them. Both Weasleys chuckle and make loud identical "ahhh!" seeing her blush intensify, though this time not of anger.
Lockhart called for attention then.
"Professor Dumbledore has granted me permission to start this little dueling club, to train you all up in case you ever need to defend yourselves," he boasts, and somewhere in the crowd, Neville sneers. "As I myself have done of countless occasions—for full details, see my published works," Lockhart adds quickly.
The proud man then throws his coat to the crowd. A trio of Gryffindor girls momentarily fight over it.
"Let me introduce my assistant: Professor Snape!"
Neville groans. "I don't see how's he such a big deal. What's so good about that bloke?" he questioned about Lockhart. He suppresses a shudder when Snape steps forward and his eyes sweep the crowd.
"Well," Hermione answers shyly, "he is rather handsome…"
Ron looks at her incredulously.
The next five minutes were spent of George winning his bet as Lockhart was knocked on his bottom by Snape. Then followed were two chosen contesters of each's house to duel each other—a Slytherin and a Gryffindor. The room grew silent as Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter were ordered on the platform.
"Of course," Justin Finch-Fletchley mumbled.
All went well after that. There was talk days later throughout the school about the supposed opened chamber of secrets, but that was just a rumor. Though the people who did believe it more than others were certain that Harry was the heir of Salazar Slytherin, especially after hearing him speak parseltongue at the duel.
And then when the curfew was enforced throughout Hogwarts, everyone was sure that something mysterious was going on again.
"I'm certain there is now," Oliver spoke at dinnertime, some days later. "These things can't juts be a coincidence."
"Lots of weird things's been going on," another older Gryffindor added.
"The bathroom's been flooding a lot lately," Seamus added, jumping in.
"Yeah," Dean spoke, "I don't think Filch's gone this long without fixing something. I'm still finding spiders in my room sometimes." He shivered at an uncomfortable memory one morning.
Conversation paused. Neville looked between the boys. He hesitated. "...Have…"
Oliver and his friend were busy with their chicken dinner that none heard.
Neville took a breath, "...Have any of you noticed your animals acting…"
Oliver looks up then.
"…Weird…?" he finishes.
"Well I did say spiders, Neville, and they are animals—-"
"No, I mean like your owls or cats? I now Trevor's been acting really nervous lately..."
All the others answered "no." Oliver and his friend shook their heads due to full mouths.
Oliver chewed and swallowed. "Why do ask?"
"…A few days ago, Harry's owl, Hedwig, went crazy out of nowhere and trashed our room. But that was even after we think someone broke in and stole the diary."
"What diary?" Oliver almost choked.
"Tom Riddle's diary of course." When Neville was met with silence, he asked, "you have heard of it, haven't you?"
Oliver's friend was staring wide eyed. He dropped his drumstick. "He has Tom Riddle's….!?"
"Well I think it was pretty predictable. Do you?" Echo looks down at the colorful string she twined together.
"I think so," the tall woman in the painting spoke She smoothed out her blue dress before continuing. "From what I get, he was chosen to duel because Snape favors Malfoy over all the other Slytherins, but I'm not entirely sure why."
Echo thought about this.
Currently, the young Hufflepuff was seated on the stone floor on the sixth level of the school. The hallway she was in was deserted except for the abundance of portraits that hung on the high walls up. It was an abandoned hall of the castle that no one, not even Filch it seems, goes down and had served as her private sanctuary since early year.
This is where she goes to talk to the paintings, mostly when she is has certain circumstances on her mind—including loneliness, curiosity, or when she just needs a quiet place from constant judgment and gossip. The ghosts are also the ones whom she would spend her time with—she just didn't take well to Moaning Myrtle.
Echo lowers her finger from her lip. "You said Snape favors him over other Slytherins—do you think there's people from other houses that do that too?"
"Well, we all know that he doesn't take fondly to Mister Potter and he does bully Neville Longbottom of Gryffindor often," the woman spoke.
"No, I didn't know that…" Echo mumbles.
The woman sighed. She didn't want to lie—she had no purpose to; it's not like she would be punished for doing so anyway. "But there is talk among the other paintings…" She paused to discontinue but Echo was too interested. "…That there is a certain Gryffindor he's taken an interest to, for some reason. She's a little, skinny thing, and her hair is bigger than she is—she's that one who came in a year behind. I can't think of her name at the moment, but I think she is an orphan—or a recent foster kid—I don't know; I heard it from Fredrick down the hall and he always gets information mixed up."
Echo's finger returned to her lip as she thought to herself.
"But there is another young chap—an older one in Slytherin—who I hear Snape is wanting to take under his wing. I, personally, I'm not too sure about him myself. He seems the broody and sketchy type..."
Echo looked up from her pleated skirt back at the painted woman. She could never remember the woman's name, so just went to calling her Azure, a politer alternative to blue like the color of her elegant dress.
"Azure, do you know anything about The Chamber of Secrets everyone keeps talking about?"
The look on the woman's face changed immediately. She leaned forward, and if she could escape the portrait, her finger would be in Echo's face. "Now don't you think about going to go find it! There's already enough trouble going on here to get yourself caught up in something like that. Stay clear of that place, you hear?!"
Echo nods. She doesn't correct Azure that she only asked if she knew about the chamber.
Later that week, Echo wouldn't go into the chamber herself, but she would go into the library where she would run into Hermione for the first time and show her the book she had just seen Draco stuff something inside and leave behind. Though the brunette would give a side eye to the blonde, her eyes would sparkle at the ripped page Echo would pull out for her to see. It was an already ripped page about a creature called the Basilisk that Hermione would take and go study about long after Echo left, and leaving her to become petrified in the future. And it was with this information, some Echo had found on her own, that Echo wrote on a piece of parchment and left on a desk after her class in The History of Magic, left for the next round of students, that a budding herbologist found and how he got the idea of carrying a foul smelling onion while in the halls in hopes to ward off the chamber's creature on a night he was out past curfew and the bathroom waters reached the hall.