Chapter 2 : Moontoads and Pudding
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Everyone in the room froze. Hilary held pillow in her fist, feathers still floating from it. Harriet paused in her writing of "Loony" across a headboard with her wand, and the cross-eyed girl slightly relaxed her grip on Luna's hair, which she was trying to dye green with her wand.
Four pairs of eyes swivelled to a patch of floor illuminated by the moonlight, from which the sound was emanating. If you looked closely, you might be able to see the faint outline of an amphibian shimmering slightly as it moved back, uncomfortable with the sudden attention.
It’s a moon frog!” Luna whispered, struggling slightly to get a better look. “My father told me about them once. They’re native to the moon, all the ones that are on earth came from a bag that one wizard collected when he visited it on a broomstick.
”That’s daft, no wizard could fly to the moon and back on a broomstick” Hilary scoffed as she tossed her hair over her shoulder.
"Wait, what if he had some kind of charm for oxygen and pressure?” Harriet asked.
"Why would he need a charm for air? He wouldn't be going underwater.”
Everyone went silent again, and even Luna questioned how this girl had been put in Ravenclaw.
"Ophelia,” Harriet started carefully, leaning over to whisper in the girl’s ear, “why don’t we make Loony here catch that frog so she can take it back to the moon and stay there for the night with it.”
The cross-eyed Ophelia smiled wickedly at the suggestion and pushed Luna forward. “Pick the frog up and take it outside. If you can do that we may just let you sleep here for the night instead of in the common room”. Hilary let out a snicker of approval. Luna calmly picked herself up and looked at the frog. It looked back, slightly nervous, though no one could really see its facial expression since it was practically transparent.
"Can I have my shoes?” Her feet remained bare, as she hadn't been able to find socks.
Hilary and Harriet looked at each other, thinking they might show the girl some compassion, but Ophelia spoke before they could.
"No, no shoes for you. Besides, it’s only a short trip, you won’t need them”. Ophelia smirked at her.
Luna picked up the frog and calmly walked from the room. It really would be nice to get to sleep in a bed this week. Not that she minded the common room window seat. When the girls had first found out they would be roommates, there had been some protest towards Luna but she hadn't been banned from her bed until she had asked Ophelia why her eyes crossed when she was thinking. She had said some other things in the following argument about Hilary and Harriet that probably hadn't helped, but she didn't regret any of her statements. The others were just so close-minded. The frog squirmed slightly and let out a few protesting croaks, but let itself to fate after a few escape attempts. Actually, as Luna held it now she thought it seemed slightly bigger than a frog, and slightly wartier than a frog. In fact, she thought she might be holding the world’s first moon toad.
His slippers padded softly against the cold stone floor as he called softly for his pet Trevor. Occasionally he would stop to make sure Peeves wasn't around and to listen for Trevor’s characteristic croak. He really hoped the toad hadn't made it outside; it would be impossible to find him after that, but he was nearing the door to the courtyard and there had been no sign of the toad yet. Neville sighed as he thought of the ridicule he would receive for losing the toad again. It was only October too.
Turning quickly towards the sound, Neville pounced on the first thing he saw. But it 't a toad he caught. Instead, he found himself holding the bare foot of an overturned girl.
"Oh my gosh I’m so sorry, I didn't realize you weren't a toad” he apologized in a single breath, scrambling away from her. Luna brought her head up from the floor to see a concerned boy with dark hair, striped pyjamas and a slightly chubby face looking down at her, offering a hand up. She was about to take his hands when she remembered the moon toad. She had somehow managed not to squash or drop it in her fall.
"Wait a second; let me put this toad down.”
Neville looked confused for that second when she appeared to put nothing on the ground.
“Hold on, what toad? I've lost a toad.”
Luna looked back up to take his hands.“Oh, it’s a moon toad; you can only see it when moonlight hits it.”
Neville pulled her up a little too hard, so that they ended up standing very close together. An awkward silence descended as they stared at each other in the dim light from Luna's wand.
She has very pretty eyes, he thought. She didn't seem to mind how close they had ended up either, in fact it looked like she was going to continue talking about these “moon toads” when-
Neville stepped away, slightly embarrassed about the closeness. He looked to the ground for the source of the croak.
"They come from the moon originally, though I've only ever heard of moon frogs making it to Earth”. Luna calmly grabbed her wand and swept the ground with it until she saw a toad-shaped shadow. She picked up Trevor, tucked her wand back behind her ear, and looked over at Neville. “Did you make a trip to the moon recently to get this one?”
Neville looked over at her, confused. Then he looked to the invisible thing in her hand. Why in the name of Merlin was his toad invisible?
"Where did you find him?” he asked.
"Well he was just on the flagstone over there...”
"No, where did you find him first?"
"Oh, he was beside my bed. The others thought I should take him outside to the lake” Luna replied.
"You’re not in Slytherin, are you?” Perhaps Malfoy had decided to play a prank on him using a concealing charm and lost the toad.
"No, I’m a Ravenclaw. Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!” she recited, remembering the sorting hat’s song. “How about you?”
A terrible screech cut off Neville's reply, as a familiar poltergeist rounded the corner.
"STUDENTS! STUDENTS OUT OF BED AFTER HOURS!"
Several things happened at once. Trevor squirmed out of Luna's grip and hopped towards the courtyard, Luna ducked as Peeves flew over their heads, and Neville grabbed Luna's hand and pulled her in the opposite direction Peeves was going. They barrelled down the hallway and stumbled up the first stairs they came to, blind but for the wand light tucked behind Luna's ear. Neville whimpered at the thought of what Peeves might do to them, then at the thought of what Filch might do to them. It wouldn't be long before Filch came around, and that light would make it easy for him to find them. They had made it at least three flights up when stairs began to change, and they were forced to pause for a moment.
"You have to douse that light, or he'll see us!" Neville frantically whispered to her.
"We need to hide" Luna replied, turning and muttering "nox" to extinguish the light. Just as the light faded, Neville saw her expression change from one of exhilaration at running to one of alarm. He followed her gaze. Peeves was floating up towards them, but hearing a clatter got off on the floor below instead, not seeing the swivelling staircase above him. There was a large crash, and a door slammed below, then Peeve's cackling returned. It sounded like he was going into classrooms. The stairs ground to a halt and they tiptoed into the hall. With no windows or Luna's light, they were blind.
Neville grabbed Luna's hand again and started feeling along the wall for a broom closet or tapestry, anywhere they could hide. Suddenly his fingers hit something soft and a musty smell hit his nose. It would have to do. He lifted up the corner of the tapestry and pulled Luna behind it with him. He went to lean against the wall to catch his breath, (after all, he did just do several flights of stairs in record time and was not used to such physical activity), but he continued to lean, until he lost his balance and fell over with a flail of his arms.
"What happened?" Luna whispered, turning around at the sound of him hitting the ground.
"I could've sworn there was a wall there," Neville mumbled back, picking himself up from the floor. He felt around the air in front of him, trying to find the back of the chamber they seemed to have stumbled upon; but he was disoriented from the fall and ran into Luna, hugging her into the side of the wall and knocking her wand from her hair.
They both froze at the clatter of the wand on the floor, and listened carefully for Peeves. It sounded like he was throwing paper around in a classroom close by.
"Where is your wand?" Luna whispered in Neville's ear, tickling it with her breath.
"I-um-uh-in my, uh, pocket, I think. The uh, left one" he stuttered. She smelled earthy, like the first flower to come up in spring.
"You should grab it then, I think."
"What? Oh." He stepped back to retrieve his wand. "Ok, now what?"
"Do you know the wand-lighting spell?"
"Right. Lumos." A small light formed at the tip of his wand, revealing a tunnel ahead of them and Luna's wand lying on the ground. Luna stepped forward and picked it up. As she did, Neville noticed a dark green streak in her hair, as well as a few feathers. He wondered if the poltergeist had given him a green streak as well.
"I wonder where this goes." she whispered to him, peering down the passageway. Another loud clatter sounded from outside the tapestry, closer this time. All the noise Peeves was making must have attracted the attention of Filch or Filch’s cat by now. Ms. Norris would be able to find their scent fairly quickly too. Luna's scent still lingered in Neville's nose, but as he inhaled again, a musty, rotting smell took over.
"I guess we should follow it, maybe it comes out in the kitchens" he whispered, and started down the passageway. More likely, he thought it might come out in some kitchen scrap disposal.
They walked along for a few moments in silence. Luna looked over at Neville a couple times, as if she was figuring out something to say.
"You never did tell me which house you were in.”
"Oh, I’m in Gryffindor.”
"That makes sense. Daring, nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart!” She smiled, then remembered what the cost of his chivalry had been. "I'm sorry about your moon toad by the way; he got out of my hand when Peeves came."
"Hmm? Oh, that's all right. He'll probably be happier down by the lake anyways- for now at least." Neville looked at the ground, thinking about how lucky Trevor was to be down by the lake, invisible to the world and most importantly not avoiding a mischievous poltergeist. “I’ll look for him tomorrow if we get out of this alive.”
Luna glanced sideways at him. “It'll be hard to spot him in the sunlight though, since he’s a moon toad. You’d have better luck if we looked now.”
"I don’t think we'll get out of this with enough time to search for him,” seeing her face fall in disappointment, “...but if you maybe wanted to, uh, tomorrow we could, uh, maybe search for him, um, together.”
At the suggestion, she brightened. “I’d like that. By the way, I’m Luna,” she said, smiling at him.
He gave an awkward smile back. “Nice to meet you Luna, I’m Neville.”
A stone dropped, its crash halting them in their tracks. Luna looked up, and the ceiling stared back at her. So did the walls.
Thousands of eyes set in green blobs blinked at the pair of students. Luna's heart jumped to her throat as she realized what was looking at them.
"Bundimun. I should have known the place would be invested with them! There was that smell and everything, I thought we were just headed to a garbage disposal room or something."
"We have to be careful; with this many of them the tunnel can't be that strong." She carefully stepped forwards, then beckoned back to Neville. A trail of spiders ran past her bare foot as she checked the ground for eyes.
"Why is it looking back at me?" Neville whimpered.
Suddenly the tunnel was filled with the groaning, creaking noise of metal and stone letting go and more rocks fell. The noise rose to a crescendo and the ceiling became a twisting, writhing sea of surprised looking eyes.
"RUN!" Luna shouted, not needing to look back because Neville was already ahead of her.
They tore down the passage, dodging debris and keeping ahead of the tidal wave of destruction, heading towards a small green door. Luna sent an Alohomora at it and they sprinted through.
Luna was in heaven.
Before her lay shelves stocked to tipping point with jars upon jars of pudding. She leaned against the door, oblivious to the pounding of rocks piling up behind it.
To say Luna loved pudding would be an understatement. She was a pudding fanatic. Not even Fudge's umgubular slashkilter would be able to hold her back from the stuff.
Neville was on his hands and knees trying to catch his breath. He winced every time a rock hit the door.
"Is there another way out of here?" He looked around the room then up at Luna. She had a giant smile plastered on her face. "Are you alright?"
Luna stepped forward, grabbed the closest jar of pudding and opened it. She inhaled the lovely caramel smell, then pulled out a finger full to taste. Oooh, there were lovely chocolate bits in it she wasn't expecting. She closed her eyes in bliss and savoured the pudding as Neville looked on.
"We must be in a storeroom or something," he said, gazing around at other shelves stocked with jars of fruit and pickled things.
Mmph?” Luna swallowed the pudding in her mouth and looked over at Neville. The jar was half-empty.
"I’m going to go look for a way out over there” he said, starting towards what he hoped was an exit at the end of the aisle.
"Ok, I’ll stay here and uh, guard the pudd- I mean door. Yes. The door.” She stared up at the lovely shelves of pudding with flavours she had probably never tried before, not sure which to try next. The house elves surely wouldn't notice a couple jars missing, and after all, she did deserve some kind of reward for all that running. And if she knew anything about rewards, the best ones were always the hardest to get. So by that logic, the best pudding should be at the top shelf. A rolling ladder was conveniently next to the wall of pudding; she ascended it, pausing every so often when a particularly good-looking pudding caught her eye. By the time she reached the top, she had made over 10 trips up and down the ladder, and had quite the pile of pudding going at the base of it. There was a glorious golden jar at the top, with a yellowing label that said "peach melba pudding".
Well, it was at the top of the shelf, Luna thought, so it must be the best. She looked around, hopeful for another flavour.
Neville was at the other end of the room, still looking for a door. Luna liked him; he was different from all the other students she had met this year. He didn't call her Loony, and hadn't said anything mean to her yet. He was nice, even if he did have a habit of pulling her around and crashing into her.
He had stopped by a square opening in the wall, and appeared to be flailing his arms in it. At least that’s what it looked like from where Luna was.
"Neville!” she called to him, waving. “What did you find?”
Keeping one arm in the square, he turned towards the direction of her voice, and seemed surprised to find her at the top of the shelves.
“I think I've found a dumbwaiter! We can take it up!”
Several minutes of trying to cram into a box with Neville later, they were on their way up. She had been forced to narrow her pile of pudding down to three, as she hadn't been able to get in otherwise. Luna was sad when they finally came to another opening. Neville cautiously peered out.
"It looks like we're in some kind of coffee room." He carefully got out, keeping a grip on the rope. "Must be where the teachers meet or something."
Luna gathered her jars of pudding and hopped down. A large door was to the left of them, she carefully opened it. "I think this is the sixth floor, the bust of Gallus Puertkee is across the hall."
They slipped out the door, carefully closing it behind them and headed for the stairs. Luna realized their adventure was coming to an end. She didn't want it to stop. This was the longest she had ever had a conversation or adventure with anyone. Then she remembered Neville's invitation.
"I'll see you tomorrow, right?" she asked as they reached the stairs.
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, of course. I'll be down by the lake after breakfast."
The clock tolled once; Luna smiled and said she'd be there, then she skipped down the stairs towards Ravenclaw tower. Neville stared after her, then headed up to Gryffindor tower slowly, contemplating the girl he had just met.
He may have lost his toad, but he'd found a new friend.
A/N: So I hope you caught all the hidden jokes in there, my favorite was the "wand in your pocket or are you just glad to see me" reference. I know they're young, but I couldn't resist. Anyways, I've started writing chapter 3, if you have any ideas of what you'd like to happen, let me know!
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