Neptune

Venus - love, beauty, art

Venus ♀ Love, beauty, art


"I'm only honest when it rains
If I time it right, the thunder breaks.
When I open my mouth, I want to tell you but I don't know how."


Lupin stepped down from the griffin statue leading to Dumbledore's office. He paused for a moment, letting the statue set back in place but a hand was over his mouth. It slowly slid down until it fell at his side. He had just finished reporting to the headmaster about the students, the curriculum, updates on any news about the school and the dementors, and of course, Harry.

Harry. Of course Harry.

"Would you keep your eye on Harry, professor? He seems to be getting very distracted lately.."

Lupin craned his neck back, letting out a sigh. His fingers automatically reached for his jacket pocket and the pack he was so used of having there, but was empty now due to his refrain.

There wasn't just one Harry at the school, and after Lupin asked for clarity—even though he needn't it—Dumbledore explained it was Potter.

Lupin set off down the hallway. Students were gathered amongst friends and chatting, given it was this round's free class. He walked without running into any running children, an eye out for mischief or a mop of messy dark hair in particular.

"The dementors, sir. What about them? They've caused quite a bit of trouble already. What about the children who were harmed by them—like Miss Echo Bell in Hufflepuff?"

"…You're asking me this like she isn't in the care of the medical professions here..."

"She hasn't been for a long time now. So long, I'm beginning to question her wellbeing…"

Dumbledore had looked rather dumbfounded after that. After all this time, he had thought the girl who had been attacked by five dementors would have stayed in the medical's care as long as she needed, much longer than she had. But not every incident is reported—filed away, yes; but not reported—not everyone got special treatment, like Potter. Dumbledore couldn't check up on so many hospital reviews every month. But it was too late now, it was far too late.

Lupin broke up a trio of Hufflepuff girls belittling a Ravenclaw first year.

Look for a head of messy dark hair—or snowy blonde, Dumbledore had said.

Two boys in robes ran past. Lupin almost missed it if he hadn't been watching the children so closely. He slowed down, his steps shuffling before walking up to the pair of girls sitting on a ledge of an open window. Both were smiling but faded when he called for attention and they looked up from the upturned magazine they were sharing.

"Miss Bell," Lupin greeted, then turned to the other who had several quills in her hair. "Miss Lovegood," he nodded.

"Good afternoon Professor Lupin." Luna was the one to answer. Her brows knitted together a moment. "Are you hear because of the knarls that broke free earlier, because I'm sure there is no one hear appetizing enough."

Lupin paused. "No…I didn't know they escaped—-"

"Upturned, actually."

"Upturned," he corrected. "But I'll make sure to report it. …I'm actually wanted to speak with you, Miss Bell."

Echo looked back with the blank look she held even before he came up. She just blinked.

"Uh, have you been having any memory trouble recently—-" he began, until being interrupted by Luna.

"Quite often. Just today, I had to remind her to finish the vegetables she forgot on her plate."

Echo turned to her cousin beside her and back to the professor.

Lupin held his tongue from saying anything regretful. He forced a "thank you, Miss Lovegood," to which she smiled to, and turned to the silent one. He continued: "Have you been having trouble remembering at all besides that? Difficulty concentrating? ….does your head ever feel fuzzy or scatterbrained or any increase in headaches?"

Echo didn't answer right away, and when she did, it was a simple "yes" to each question until the one about being scatterbrained. She turned to Luna as she spoke up again:

"Isn't that typical? Because that's just Echo's usual way of being," Luna answered about the other being scatterbrained.

Lupin took this in. "Have you grown more afraid of anything at all? Any feelings of uneasiness and such?"

Again, there was a pause as if Echo was searching for the words to say. This time her answer was a nod of her head.

Lupin slid his hands in his pockets. "I think I know what your ailment is." He didn't miss the tiny look of hope in Luna's eyes. "I want you to stay after my class tomorrow," he held up a finger as if to make sure she was paying attention. "We will discuss it then."

Still, Echo did nothing—not an upturn twitch of her lips or a look in her eyes—nothing but blink.


The Fat Lady had been complicated at times—this is spoken by many Gryffindors who were too impatient; the others who took the time to list to her "singing" had no trouble—but this time was definitely the worse. Her painting was ripped though she herself was not there. This had sent all of Gryffindor into a periodic panic to call Dumbledore and Filch to investigate. The Fat Lady was found in another painting on the opposite wall and hiding behind a hippopotamus.

"It's him, headmaster. He's here, somewhere in the castle—Sirius Black!" she had shrieked.

Now, all of Gryffindor house—as surprising as it seemed—was camping out somewhere on the fifth floor of Hogwarts. In sleeping bags. Almost the second week in a row so far. Most of them obviously didn't take to it fondly, and those who did at first, the excitement had quickly faded after that third night waking up with knots in their backs. It was an interesting experience, actually, sleeping under the stars as Dumbledore had put it the first night since the ceiling was enchanted to look like deep space. But by now, it was becoming an inconvenience. Though there were instructors and Filch who were assigned shifts to watch the students and prowl the hallways, it didn't seem to solve anything—it didn't seem like anything was the matter, is all. Besides, what were a few scratches to a painting supposed to prove? There were some who owned cats, after all; who's to say it wasn't one of those that had done it, like a black cat perhaps?

Ron still held a grudge over Hermione, believing her cat was behind the disappearance of Scabbers, and the rest of Gryffindor was either asleep or the lightening and thunder kept them awake as well. Some, like Hermione, were studying for an upcoming quiz or were playing with zonkers. Then there were some who wee listening to the rain pelt the glass—Neville was one of them. All one and a half large rooms on the fifth floor were reserved for Gryffindor house to sleep for the time being until they fixed The Fat Lady's portrait. Until then and currently for this room, Professor Lupin was on guard but he hasn't been seen on the fifth floor for some time...

It was probably around midnight, guessing by the height of the moon through the tall window. And the trail of raindrops was rather soothing reflecting off the tall window, and at a certain angle, it could look like teardrops.

Next to Neville, Percy Weasley was fast asleep and snoring loudly, and earlier Harry had been talking with some older boy and giggling like a little school girl, but it was Neville's own thoughts that were keeping him awake. For some reason he couldn't sleep—he was worrying again. Worrying about everything, about passing his classes, about how sick Trevor had gotten, how Snape had pointed him out in class and made him look bad again and wanting to run out the room, about how he didn't even finish his homework…

Neville had been lying still and on his back for probably a long time now with his fingers knotted on his stomach. He had stayed awake listening, hearing everything in the room. He heard how a girl snuck in a textbook and was studying under a lumos charm, of a few boys discussing Quidditch, Dean trying to ignore everyone and get some sleep, of Harry's overzealous giggling, of Justin Finch-Fletchey scolding a younger year, and still more.

That had been hours earlier, and Neville was still lost in his own thoughts so far that he didn't hear the padding of foreign bare feet across the floor. Or even when it's owner stopped and squatted right in front of him, watching. He was just too deep in thought.

The room remained quiet otherwise, most of its occupants asleep now.

"Starlight, star bright..."

Neville missed hitting his forehead when he bolted upright, but just by a hair.

He grabbed at his chest. "Echo!"

She blinked behind her hair, her squatting position unchanged.

Neville's eyes squinted. "Echo..?" His brows then knotted together before arching high. "Echo! How-how'd you—-?!"

He cut off seeing her finger raise to her lips and hearing Percy turn in his sleep.

Echo smiled a tiny bit. "Bored?"

Neville was lost for words and just continued staring at the girl squatting with hands on her knees. How did she even get in here? Surely the door had been bolted so that not even a fly could get in.

He watched Echo stand. Her white nightgown reached to her ankles and bright hair looked to be freshly combed, still hiding her eyes per usual. And she held out a hand.

"There's something I want to show you."

For a long moment, Neville stared up at her. Many thoughts ran through his young mind, the most profound being just how did she get here? Or was this even her?

"Move your hair," he ordered.

Her hand fell and she frowned, but did as she was told after a hesitation. Echo lifted her front bangs, looking down at him with a blank stare. But outlined by the charmed planets and galaxies, her eyes shone all on their own and she looked different altogether. And he knew it was her. He didn't know why he even thought otherwise.

His mind more at ease that she wasn't some impostor, he stood, shivering at the cold floor. He bent back down to wrap his blanket around himself. Echo was smiling when he looked back at her. And without another word, grabbed his hand and pulled him, running toward the door. Little did they know, Hermione had woken from a dream. The brunette rubbed her eyes in shock hearing both's feet padding along the stone floor.

Echo pulled out her wand. "Don't stop running."

Neville looked at her bewildered and readied himself to stop when he saw her flick her arm and they were suddenly outside the room, running down a hallway.

And back inside, Hermione's jaw dropped.

Neville realized where they were upon seeing many snoring portraits lining great walls.

Echo stopped suddenly and if it weren't for her still holding his hand in a tight grip, Neville would have toppled over the edge of the floor where a staircase should be. He didn't know if she even noticed the look of panic and close death he just experienced but she was steadily looking ahead. He wondered if she was still in her right mind and was regretting coming with her when he realized she was watching the staircase. It neared closer and Echo's hold didn't loosen so he tightened his hold on his blanket around him. When the staircase secured in place, Neville kept up this time when she bolted up the steps. Echo paused only a few times when he tripped.

When they reached the top, Echo had to pull him back when he didn't stop, as Neville was stepping off to the next floor and she stayed at the top.

"Not here," she explained simply.

They climbed two more flights of stairs before she raised her arm, pointing to where he guessed they were to get off the now-moving staircase.

"I've never been up here before," he mused.

Neville glanced at her at his side. Echo was still looking ahead with no expression. She didn't respond.

"I don't think anyone's allowed up here…" Neville muttered, more to himself.

Her answer was another yank of his arm as she sped down the hallway, flicking her wand and mumbling a charm to create a source of light. From it, Neville could see more sleeping portraits. They were on every wall they turned passed. Some stirred from the lumos charm, others spoke to Echo as they passed, as if they knew her. Neville was almost sure no one had been up here at all, that no one should.

"How do they know you?" he asked, panting.

"They're quite lovely," she answered, a slight smile in her tone. "I think they'd be fond of you; they're good company."

As they continued running past, there were a few "shouldn't you be in bed, Miss Bell?" Echo just waved back. Neville's blanket billowed behind them and their feet were the only audible sounds in the castle's sixth floor halls.

"Right here," she pants, coming to a stop Neville was more than happy to oblige. They were still in a hallway, but Neville could tell there was a light up ahead.

She waited patiently for him to catch his breath, her breathing hard herself.

When he had, finally, he questioned her—and rather harshly—why he was up here? Hair now windblown, he saw her eyes cast down and she shuffled. He knew that ever since the incident at Hogsmeade, she hadn't quite been herself. That thought planted both suspicion and worry in his mind.

Echo fingered her nightgown. It was covered in patterns of small giraffes.

"I found this place last year. I…I thought you'd might like it," she explained in a low mumble, driving a heel into the floor. "No one knows about this except you…I'm gonna tell Luna tomorrow..."

Neville blinked. "You could get in big trouble you know! I don't think anyone's been up here in ages. It looks ancient..." He looked at the dwindling number of portraits and earned a scoff from one. "You're lucky I won't tell on you," Neville turned to leave. "We can't be up here." He tugged on her hand to walk out but she stayed put.

"No one knows about this except you," she repeated, still looking to the floor, hair in her eyes. "No one comes up here. I checked."

Neville stared at her. He was more than ready to leave, and her for that matter—he was more than capable.

"No, Echo," he stopped, jerking her forward with him. "We aren't even…why'd you even go up here? We'd get in really big trouble!"

She looked back to see worry lines shape his face. He was probable right, she supposed.

"Why'd you bring me up here?"

A portrait, a jolly old man with a baritone voice intervened: "Aw c'mon, little guy. Just listen why don'tcha?"

She looked down, her bangs now cast completely in front of her face. "I was just doing what Professor Lupin suggested…"

Neville was confused.

Echo took in a breath. "To find something that puts your mind at ease; to do something constructive that you like," she repeated the same words the teacher had spoken to her since going to him for recovery therapeutic sessions. Echo then added in a more hushed tone, "he said it would help…"

The lines on Neville's face relaxed. Oh, he knew now.

"...Oh…"

How was he supposed to come back from that?

Echo wouldn't look at him and knew she had closed up again. The awkward silence was filled with Neville trying to come up with a way to redeem himself.

"I… I-I'm… I didn't mean… Echo, I-I—-"

"Psst!" The baritone man in the painting called again. Several portraits down the way were also whispering amongst each other. "You two better get," he advised. "Someone's coming—and I think it's Filch!"

The fear in Neville's eyes were immediate. He looked to Echo for guidance on a way out. She showed no signs of responding.

Neville's head whipped this way and that, heart already hammering in his chest.

"Psst!" The man in the portrait hissed again. "That way!" He pointed behind them, "and take a right!"

Neville nodded and did as he was advised, grabbing for Echo's wrist and clearing the long hallway just as a cat and a bony man carrying a lantern entered the hall.

Neither Neville nor Echo knew where they were headed to and it was too dark to see and all there were was hallway, leaving nowhere to hide. Neville's heart thundered in his little chest and Echo panted behind him. They ran and ran and their feet were the only sounds bouncing off the tight walls—the wide hall closing in the further they ran, as if the walls were narrowing. There was no light, not even Filch's light could reach them if he saw them—if he was even following them.

The thought dawned on Neville all too late and he slowed down. Was Filch even following them—did he even see them?

This thought made his feet slow, turn back around.

If Filch did find them—what if he didn't ever find them?!

Neville's head fell. Once again he got stuck in some whacky situation. Here he was, probably lost in the school, stuck with and running with some weird girl—and why was he still holding on to her? He knew just like everyone that she had a screw loose in the head, that she was loopy and no one could guess what would come out of her mouth next. Most of it was nonsense anyway, random babble that had nothing to do with current subjects. She caused awkward silences and gave you an uncomfortable shiver when you knew she was staring at you, if she was staring at you. Just like her odd behavior, it was also a known fact about Echo's run-in with the dementors. It was still a running gossip-debate on whether she really did get her soul sucked out that day or not. This was due to how reserved and untalkative she had suddenly become.

Neville had heard the stories—of how she would be found randomly wondering the hallways and would have to be escorted by a house prefect; how she sometimes would start writing with the wrong side of the quill; how she'd eats meals worth in desserts and never touch her vegetables—well, that last one was pretty typical among students.

Echo was had always been very knowledgable, Neville knew. He had come to her for research every time he was assigned an essay or report, especially involving creatures and animals. But still, she was odd and many spoke about her—still, it was almost like she had completely changed.

Who was this silent one, and what happened to the energetic girl who fawned over even the ugliest magical creature?

A chuckle broke him from his thoughts.

Who did she think she was? And this wasn't good being alone here. She could do things to him here in the dark and he wouldn't be found for months afterward!

Neville froze, mind already going a mile a minute. He slowly looked behind him to the girl still holding his sleeve, hoping he could at least glimpse her features and see she was still somewhat sane.

Echo didn't look up at him as her hand slid to cup his. "Your hands 're cold," is all she said, and Neville could feel the different in body temperature.

"Yeah, well it's cold up here…" He pulled his blanket closer around his shoulders. "You aren't cold?"

She shook her head even though he couldn't see it. He didn't comment about it.

Their feet patted against the stone floor. The faint sound of heavy rain pelting the castle was the only other sounds.

The hallway they had turned down felt like it could go on forever. It was pitch black around them and the walls couldn't be seen. Neville focused on the small opening of light far in front of them which was the other hallway with the portraits they had passed earlier. Moonlight was streaming in through the darkness.

The only sounds in here were their bare footsteps. Well, at least they couldn't hear Filch anymore. And they walked in silence and darkness, Neville being the guide for once with his hand feeling for purchase along the wall, jumping every so often at something that seems out of the ordinary or from a funny feeling frame.. The silence seemed to stretch and the light ahead nearing ever slowly. The silence was broken by Echo, asking:

"Why are you so scared of Professor Snape?"

Neville's steps faltered. "Who told you that?!" he panicked internally.

"…But you like Lupin, right?" she added.

Neville hesitated to open his mouth and answer, and when he did, was interrupted again:

"You don't seem as pale anymore when I see you coming from Potions class ever since Lupin started teaching. Don't worry; I like him too. It was him to why I'm up here, you know—why I brought you here. He advised me to."

This was the most he'd ever heard of her speaking and heard with his own ears ever since that Hogsmeade. While yes, Neville avoided her in the past because of what people were saying about her, but he still talks to her—even more today because he was caring less about what others said, something he was even surprised himself to think. But he wasn't going to speak as of right now in case she closed up again.

They were almost out of the dark hall. Neville wondered just how much they had ran.

"He gave me lots of chocolate," Echo informed as they emerged and took a right down the moonlit hallway. "Said for me to find something that would be stimulating as well as productive. That's what I was up here for. I think I found something like it and that's why..."

"Uh huh," is what he said to her. He was too occupied looking down the halls to avoid running into Filch and be reported.

He began scurrying down the way, pulling Echo in tow. Neville ignored the portraits calling out to him, muttering something about a paint room he didn't hear—he guessed they must be speaking to Echo, since she came up here often. When they got to the doorway where the staircases were, he peeked out his head to make sure it was clear before hurrying down the stairs before they got in trouble. Echo was still holding on to him.

Neville looked at the girl grabbing on his sleeve. Though he wasn't holding her hand any more, she had a firm grip on his sleeve. She still had her face down and in the dim light, her hair casted a deep shadow above her nose.

"I'm not as dim as they say I am, you know," Echo spoke suddenly as they waited for the staircase to line up with a floor. "I know what they say and why you don't like me; why you didn't want to come anyway, Neville. And I don't blame you. Most of them are dreadful and shameful, and Luna doesn't think I know either. My head does get really fuzzy and I forget stuff a lot now but I don't mean to. I'm trying to get better though—that's why I wanted to come up here, and it was easier to go get you because Luna's up in the Ravenclaw tower. I wanted to show you what I found up here, but it's not important." She then lowered her head even more and whispered, more to herself, "not important."

Neville went silent and suddenly began feeling guilty. He had been avoiding her ever since he met her in the hospital first year. She had been quite loud, and had too much energy for him. He knew what it was like to not be taken seriously, to be ridiculed and ignored—heck, it happened to him all the time. He had few friends, was bullied by his teacher, and was just plain unlucky. He knew all too well. But now, as he listened to her words, he realized, as he heard her whisper again something she probably didn't mean for him to hear:

"...I'm trying…"

There was silence again between them—there was always a lot of that, but this one was the first that wasn't awkward, that broke only by a sniff from Echo. He asked before he could stop himself: "So that's why you wanted me up here…?"

He was met by silence, probably her closing up again, returning mute.

"Would it help you feel better if you showed me what was up here that you wanted to?" he asked. They were coming closer to the direction of The Great Hall, wandering to the bottom of the ground floor of Hogwarts, but wasn't too late to turn around.

"Isn't important," she mumbled.

They stepped off the room of staircases. She was still holding tightly to his pajama sleeve. Neville looked at the girl trailing behind him. "It's not too late to turn back." He forced a small half-smile.

"…'sn't important…"

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