Earth - nurture, life

Earth nurture, sisterly, life

"Thread by thread I come apart,
If brokenness is a work of art,
Surely this must be my masterpiece."

Third Year:

In her third year, Echo Bell was attacked by a dementor.

It was that winter it happened, on a trip to Hogsmeade. The snow was heavier that year and though there had been more staff positioned there to keep an eye on the students, Echo was already an oddball and somehow had slipped through their fingers. She was odd enough that more knew of her name than her face.

It was that winter at Hogsmeade in a clearing that she was found on the snow, mouth open to the cold air, and three dementors hovering above her—it was an event she doesn't even remember; doesn't want to. Echo had gone to seek a quiet place to read at the time, tired of the crowds and mocking from her peers. The dementors approached her without warning.

It was some Slytherin girl who had found Echo, too afraid to fight on her own and unknown of a spell for the creatures anyway, the Slytherin girl ran back, screaming. Still, it was a good several minutes or so until a helpful adult listened to the hysteric girl and even then, by the time they were lead back, with several nosey students in tow, two more dementors had joined the feeding frenzy.

Three experienced teachers were required to drive away the dementors successfully. And even so, Neville witnessed as Echo Bell lied motionless in the snow, eyes wide and unblinking to the sky, and gasping for breath. The only evidence she was still alive were the slight twitches she would give now and then. She was taken to the hospital immediately, trembling terribly and breathing very shallow now.

There weren't many who visited her bedside there, and she had apparently gave the nurses quite the scare, the memory of them too barely clinging in her mind. Echo was brought in the hospital then with a bad case of frostbite, pneumonia, was motionless and shallow breathing. No one knew for sure just how long she had been lying in the snow.

The dementors were an event that was widely talked about but was expected to be overshadowed by Harry Potter's dilemmas. That was what was hoped, but instead, it only worked against the poor girl. It is known that was Echo was referred to the hospital wing at Hogwarts after the dementors. She was almost kept back a year because of it.

There was a speech made about the dementors at dinner once—emphasizing the dangers of them, and then of Harry's and Echo's experience. Echo was looked on with pity after that, given hers was far worse than Harry's run-ins. Now, she was given more attention with others saying greetings to her in passing and quick looks, but she didn't like it and it bothered her. She would disappear somewhere in the castle if she was hassled by a group of students.

It was rumored that Echo almost lost her soul that winter, sucked out by the dark creatures. Some that were witnesses would swear that they watched a glowing light rise from her lips. That too, was never confirmed.

The young Hufflepuff provided quite the scare for the nurses, but one can only imagine the surprise and relief felt when she walked into class almost a month later. Oh, and the whispers that followed, of course.

Classes returned to normal and the daily grind fell back into place. Hushed murmurs dispersed at dinnertime and the professors were certain everything was fine. And everything was, aside for the blank stares in class that she would give now. Echo wasn't as talkative as before—in fact, she barely spoke at all. She barely responded to the taunts and teases she was given or if she was called, if she responded at all; she would remain unfazed as if a veil was placed over her, and she would act as if nothing never happened. Her hand didn't raise anymore in The Care for Magical Creatures class, and she appeared more scatterbrained than usual. Her eyes held a more vacant look than before and she spoke the most outrageous liners as always. But there was some sort of difference...

As far as anyone else in the school knew, Echo Bell was just even more an odd, yet unlucky girl that for once, who had been through a situation worse than Harry Potter.

She was the girl who was related to Looney Lovegood, an oddball, and was nowhere near as well known or important as Harry Potter. So not much was thought about her behavior, even if it has changed. But for the little fame she did receive that year, for some reason, she was looked on with sympathy trashier than bravery.

Echo had just been unconscious then with the dementors. She didn't have any recollection of the event, no mater what others thought of her. She just didn't think anything of it.

"She must have hit her head and it must've loosened a screw," some said aloud.

Others—mostly boys—would make crude remarks about what the dementors should have done to Echo, or what someone else should have if they had found her helpless on the ground...

The girls didn't much care and quite ignored her so.

"That's not nice you know," Luna would interrupt aloud. "You, as well as the whole school I bet, know that she was attacked by dementors."

"Shut up, Looney Lovegood!" someone would jeer in a nasty tone.

"It's entirely ordinary for someone to change," Luna would defend. "An event like that would be traumatic, I would only suppose..."

This was Luna's fear, that her cousin would hear these rumors. She knew that Echo must have caught wind of them by now, but Luna didn't want her to hear them clearly. She knew how fragile her cousin had become.

Luna wasn't one to care about what others thought of her and was rarely angry, if ever. But seeing the way some would make faces and act as if they were fainting in her cousin's presence, encouraged Luna's face to contort into a scowl which in itself made them back off.

But she was a good cousin and friend. Luna would greet her cousin whenever she could and would ask Echo to join her to go see the creatures of the school, something that Luna wasn't very fond of, but would in the future. Echo's speech was minimal—a nod or a curt 'yes—and Luna tried to encourage her to speak more, constantly, all the more afraid that her cousin had become impaired besides being scared witless, something the nurses failed to fix. It has gotten better over time, though, luckily.

This is why Luna had a firm hand clasped in Echo's while making a way to the Quidditch field. There was a game today between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and none was going to let a little rain stop them from cheering for their house.

Luna adjusted the umbrella to shield her own shoulder. She tried to make small talk against the students that were hurrying past. She told her cousin of several students she accidentally almost set on fire in class as they walked side by side, and asked if anything interesting had happened to Echo lately.

Echo shook her head but then thought for a moment.

"Unexceptional as anyway.," she spoke quickly.

Up ahead, the Quidditch stands were almost filled already.

"I did run into someone when I was asleep in the library," Echo added softly.

Luna took this in. "You mean you met someone in a dream again?"

Echo shook her head. "I met him before—that boy who liked plants. He gave me quite a fright actually when he woke me up."

"Did you say anything?" Luna questioned as they approached the steps, the rain blowing in their faces now.


Luna didn't speak on the matter any longer. Echo followed her as she wove her way into the crowd until she found a good view. And when the teams came out, the crowds roared. Gryffindor Giants and Hufflepuff Heroes banners hung by their supporting house. Any inappropriate slogans were magically changed by the administrators with a flick from their wands. Hollers of team spirit roared from those with paint on their faces. All was well and cheerful and Echo was as quiet as ever with a tranquil expression.

During the opening cheer, Luna's hand had slipped on her umbrella, slick anyway from the rain, and it was carried away into the storm. Only the few around them paused to catch it disappearing into the dark clouds.

Echo looked up, her lips stormed a small "o" rather than a yell.

A tall boy next to then held up a piece of cardboard with Hideous Hufflepuffs painted in capital letters. He and the lot with him were all adorned in red and yellow—it wasn't hard to guess who they were rooting for.

The brute was yelling some obscenities, his way of cheering. The girls screamed and boys beat their chests, and when three quaffers scored in a row, they jumped for joy. The space here was minimal and the ground wet; when the boy came back down, he bumped into Echo. Something on his wrist scraped her.

"Hey watch it!" he ordered, losing his footing for a moment.

Echo merely looked at him and turned back to the field, stone-faced and silent.

The girl beside him murmured when the brute scoffed, "weirdo."

Luna caught and held the first's stare with a hard look of her own. She then turned to the tall boy beside her cousin.

"Statistics say that more injuries happen when it rains than broom-riding. So it's more likely for you to snap your neck slipping on the pavement then it is by broom."

He couldn't understand it, but he quickly lost his pride. Her wide eyes held his with such strength that he quickly felt uncomfortable.

"That would be very unfortunate," Luna spoke again, "wouldn't it?"

He looked down at her from the corner of his eyes. "What?"

Echo was still staring ahead and watching the game as if unknown to the confrontation. She watched as the two seekers of the teams chased the snitch into the storm clouds.

"That you'd snap your neck in the rain." Luna's tone remained calm as always, with a slight sense of wonder.

He saw her hand reach into her pocket, which is where she kept her wand. She kept it in precaution if anyone was to get violent, as much of Echo's taunting was, and also because it would have been too crowded to keep it behind her ear.

He swallowed.

There was a scream and the stadium stood. Everyone looked up seeing a dark object falling to the the field. It was registered as one of the seekers. For a moment, the game paused as the administrators stood, and before the Hufflepuff seeker hit the ground, was suspended in mid"air.

The rain beat down heavier. It took a while but soon everyone's attention was turned to the sky, seeing dark forms circling. It wasn't until one swooped down did panic break.

"Great! Now look what you freak's done! The boy shouted. "Your crazy ass brought the dementors here to finish you off!"

Echo flinched.

Panic spread and students squirmed to leave.

No more than a minute later, another body dropped from there sky, this one more like deadweight. It too was stopped by Albus Dumbledore chanting a spell.

The administrators tried to usher the panicking mob safely back to the castle, but most were already fleeing for their quarters. Luna grabbed for the hand of her cousin, seeing Echo was getting tripped and pushed by the crowd. By the time they arrived back, Echo was brandishing a bruise on her left side of her face.

The new batch of students—now second years—were getting along just fine, and besides the usual small complications of Hogwarts, everything was going fine. The students loved Professor Lupin as their new DADA teacher—in fact, they adored him. He was one of the best they've had and he cared so much about the students, excluding that incident with Harry and the bogart, of course. And Lupin was quickly gaining popularity, and Dumbledore was very pleased with this new choice in staff.

But as things weren't crazy and life-threatening, didn't mean everything was exactly back to normal.

Luna skipped down the empty hallway, humming. It was lunchtime and her stomach was announcing it. She was warming up to Hogwarts well, she thought, and despite the few who wanted to give her trouble for her butterbeer bottle cap necklace.

Luna came to a stop down the corridor, catching something white and out of place outside. She stopped skipping and retracted back to one of the wide open windows. The only one she could guess to have a head of almost white hair to be outside alone was her cousin.

Luna walked into the courtyard. It was empty since everyone was heading to lunch. "Echo, what are you doing missing lunch?"

She didn't get an answer.

Luna had heard of the run-in Echo had with the dementors the day it happened. Since she wasn't able to go to Hogsmeade yet, Luna had rushed to her cousin's side when she returned. She was in one piece and unharmed, Luna was relieved, but it was days later she realized that Echo had been hurt in a way eyes couldn't see. The first clues were her prolonged silence and alarming decrease in energy and speech.

Luna walked around to where she could see the face of her cousin. Echo's lips were lightly parted and she only looked to her cousin when her name was called again.

"You know it's lunchtime don't you? You don't look right, like you haven't washed your hair in weeks now."

Echo smoothed down her hair which Luna asked what previous activity had messed it up. Again she didn't get an answer. All was said was a low "I forgot" about attending lunch. To be honest though, Echo wasn't very hungry; she knew Luna would insist anyhow.

Echo forgot a lot lately.

The blonde reached for her older cousin's hand and smiled when Echo's tired eyes looked up to hers. Luna, slowly at first, pulled her back into the castle and led her to The Great Hall.

"I'm looking forward to a tuna sandwich, how about you?" Luna smiled.

Again, Luna was met with silence. That was something that quietly unnerved her. Her cousin had been one of the most outspoken, expressive people she knew, and now it was like everything had been turned off, like she had been turned off. The day Luna saw her lying, eyes open, in that hospital bed, she knew her cousin had gone through a traumatic experience and Luna knew that every experience to trauma was unique, but she never expected this. Echo was had turned into a doll. And Luna feared, as she led her mute cousin to The Great Hall, Luna feared with eyes wide in a feeling that was nowhere near joyful, that Echo had become just as her name was—an echo.

She wasn't the first to notice the change. No; in the beginning, Echo had gotten many strange looks. In class, students would watch her, turn around in their seats to have a quick glance at her, as if to make sure she was even there. One time she had apparently been sitting so still, Susan Bones had thought her to be petrified and called her name, sticking out a finger to feel her cheek to see if it was frozen, and nearly hitting the ceiling when Echo turned to her call. Susan had covered it up by asking how Echo got the long scar across her cheek.

For a short while, Echo had been the talk of the school, of the girl who had been attacked by five dementors at once. But the funny thing about it—or odd—was that for once, Echo didn't show any thought towards it. She hardly shown any emotion now. She was either completely silent, or she seemed dazed and blurted things that had nothing to do with the current conversation. Even at the lunch table that afternoon, she had made a chicken sandwich of cranberry and mustard. She had blurted a fact about how powerful unicorn blood was when the topic had been Quidditch and then was confused by the quizzing looks.

Unknown to the school, she was unraveling. The string in her mind had been pulled and it was slowly becoming undone. The only one who seemed to notice most was Professor Lupin.

Once, Echo went missing. It wasn't noticed right away and by the end of lunch the second day, Pomona Sprout had converged with McGonagall that she hasn't seen the student for going on three days now. At first, the professor thought it no big deal and suggested that she was perhaps sent to the hospital wing or was in in-school detention. After Sprout reported that she had found neither true is when she became worried. That was the first time the professors executed extra security throughout the castle. They feared the worst—that Echo had ran into a death, drowned in the lake, or had wondered into the Dark Forest. All in her quarters didn't do much about it, and the incident had actually been kept quiet amongst the school—all except for Hannah Abbot. She had overheard the girls who shared the room with Echo as she was passing on her way to her bed. Since she knew Luna was her cousin and but he few times she converged with Echo, she guessed they were pretty close and told her.

No one in the school was more worried than Luna that week.

There was literally no signs of Echo for days and no one had seen her come back to the Hufflepuff common room. Hannah spoke with Susan Bones and a few others about their missing housemate but no one had seen hair or tail of her since a day she was teased in Charms class. Echo wasn't very good at Chamrs and some began thinking the worst, especially Luna.

She didn't show much emotion to Hannah—no, she just didn't say much. When Hannah Abbott came up to Luna one night, Luna's protuberant eyes widened even more and her breath left her. A panicked look came across the Ravenclaw, opposite of her Hufflepuff cousin's, and she couldn't say a word even when Hannah tried prying words from her. Luna was very worried—she knew that her cousin could take care of herself, but still, she needed guidance. It was the charms and jinxes treated on her in the hospital that messed her up more than the dementors attack. And Luna feared that Echo may have wondered too far into The Dark Forest or trapped somewhere in the castle since she liked to wonder both places.

The typical thing would be to go alert the authorities, but Luna was never one to follow typical regulations, and thought it best to send out an owl. If her cousin was doing fine, she would respond; if not, she's really be in trouble. So when Luna was sure she wouldn't be missed, she snuck out to the owlery when she knew Hagrid wouldn't be there and note in her robe pocket, picked out an owl.

There were more owls than she expected. There seemed to be at least one of every breed perched on all sides of the large owlery. If one was not flapping its wings, it was staring at her with large eyes.

Luna walked down, meeting the eye of each owl. There were large dark ones and horned ones asleep. There seemed to be a majority of brown owls and a few white ones, and one that for the whole time watched her with its head cocked to the side.

"Nope. No, no, nope," she mumbled aloud.

None of the birds appeared to be able to know where to take the note if she were to hand it. Besides, this was secret and she didn't need the bird fly to an administrator and rat her out. Luna was already breaking several rules.

Eventually, she did find an owl—a small black one that seemed to know her. And after giving her written letter and after telling it where to meet Luna for the answer, Luna let it lose. She didn't get a response until dinner that night. It was written on the back of Luna's original letter and she rushed to read it. The letter was only 40 words:

I don't want to [come back].

But I suppose I will soon.

There isn't much light here and a few spiders and so many birds.

I'll come back after finding either a jobberknoll or niffler to prove they're real. Always wanted to see one.

Luna had written a long letter demanding her cousin to show herself and how worried everyone was and this short response was the only she got. Luna immediately set to writing a response letter right there at the dinner table. No one in her house questioned it.

One last letter converged between them before Luna lost contact with her. For the third and fourth and fifth letter sent, the small black owl came back with parchment in its beak. Luna had been sending instructions on how to get back and when the letters stopped, she rush to tell the authorities, the first being the ghost Professor Cuthbert Binns.

By the time Echo was found, Hagrid and his boarhound, Fang, had found her, dirty, starved, and seeming asleep wrapped in a spider's silk. When they unwrapped her there was a rock in her hand and she didn't wake until late that night. Hagrid was caught off guard when Echo suddenly awoke with a piercing scream. She didn't rejoin her classes for a full week after a good scolding by both her head house and parents via howler. Luna made a note to thank Hannah Abbott next time she saw her.

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