A/N: I want to thank Ada Kensington for the great beta.
And discord_harmony, for helping me figuring out what was wrong the
‘Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.’
-O. Henry, Gift of the Magi-
Myrtle woke up when the sunlight hit her face; it shone through a small opening in the hangings around her bed. She sat up with a jolt. The sun should not hit her face - at least not on a school day when she was still lying in bed! She cursed and picked up her glasses, then moved beside the hangings and looked at the clock hanging on the wall opposite her bed. It was already half past eight and classes would start any moment. She looked around. Her dormitory was empty.
They had done it again; they hadn’t woken her when they got up. And now she was going to be late for class. She was a heavy sleeper and often didn’t wake up when the alarm went. Some of her classmates never realised she wasn’t there; sometimes it was like she was invisible. But Olive Hornby would know she was not awake and would simply choose to let her sleep.
She felt the tears welling up in her eyes. She tried to stop them, but there was nothing she could do. Every time she lost control of a situation, or if somebody made a comment about her, she would cry. She knew they called her a cry-baby behind her back. They talked about her often when they thought she couldn’t hear them. But she had perfect hearing and could hear much more than they knew. And besides, she just couldn’t stop the tears.
Ah, well, you will get them back. After all, you have a nice array of jinxed that will do nicely, she thought. This calmed her down enough to stop the tears. It had been her defence all her life. She always had been the odd one out, even back home. They would tease her, take her things, hit her, so the first thing her father had thought her was to use her brain.
‘You’re not strong, but you are smart, use that brain,’ he always said and she did. She didn’t get angry, she got even.
She got dressed as quickly as possible, avoiding the mirror as usual. She hated her looks: the spots, her slightly protruding ears, her lank hair and especially those stupid glasses. She hated those the most. She walked down the stairs of the deserted Tower quickly and picked up her books in the common room. There was one good thing about being a Ravenclaw; their head of house was very strict about taking other peoples property, so it was safe to leave your books anywhere you wanted in the Tower. Even for her.
She ran through the corridors towards Charms. Professor Meadowes was the strictest teacher and she wasn’t forgiving, especially not towards her own house. Myrtle held her book bag in her hands as she ran. Then she felt her glasses slip down her nose; they did that all the time. She clumsily pushed them up again, not having the time to stop and put them on properly she really didn’t have the time to stop and put them on properly. She ran past a group of students she recognized as seventh years and she heard somebody yell after her, but she didn’t have the time to stop and pay attention. She had to get to Charms. She turned a corner and felt her glasses slip again felt her glasses slip again. To her horror she was too late and they fell to the floor with a clatter. She desperately tried to catch them with her hands, but between her bag and having to concentrate on her footing she missed. She heard the tell-tale crack of breaking glass, followed by a dull thud made by her book bag, and the sound of more breaking glass. She dropped to her knees immediately. Myrtle needed her glasses; she could barely see without them. She felt around desperately. The moment she put her left hand down on the ground, she felt a sharp pain in the ball of her hand. She squinted at her hand and saw something glittering between a trickle of red oozing down her wrist.
“What are you doing down there?” said a stern voice. Myrtle recognised it immediately and groaned. Minerva Abercrombie was the head girl and very popular. As the teachers always said, Minerva was a true Gryffindor. Myrtle didn’t really like her. She always was very short with her. Myrtle couldn’t imagine wanting to be Minerva, like several of Myrtle’s classmates wanted to be. She would never want to be that bold, that rash, that smart, or that popular. She pressed down the unwelcome feeling of jealousy and slowly stood up.
“Let me look,” said Minerva, sounding worried. She took Myrtle’s hand and pushed at it. Myrtle flinched and almost pulled her hand away. She looked away and saw a blurry figure bend down to pick her things up; she couldn’t see who it was.
“I’ll get this out. It might hurt.” Before Minerva had finished her words, Myrtle felt another shot of pain going through her hand and felt the tears starting to flow again.
“For goodness sake, it's just a small piece of glass,” said the older girl dismissively, while she bend down to pick something up. Myrtle only had eyes for the blood dripping out of her hand.
“Here, use this,” said another voice - a voice she would recognise out of thousands. Why did it have to be Richard Lupin who saw her like this? She felt her face turn red and the tears flowed even harder.
“Reparo.” Minerva held something out to her. “Here. Put these on so you can pick up the rest of your books.” Myrtle slowly took the glasses and put them on, only to see a large group of students standing around her. She felt her face turn even redder, as they all were looking at her, laughing and pointing. She blinked furiously to stop the tears.
“Alright everybody, the show's over.” Minerva sent them all away. They obeyed reluctantly, enjoying Myrtle’s embarrassment. Myrtle bowed down to pick up her books. She looked at the damage; her books were covered in bright blue ink.
“Here's your bag. I cleaned it for you.” Richard gave her bag back with a smile. She felt the blush rise again. “You can do the books later. If I were you, I would put those in the classroom and explain what happened to Professor Meadowes. You do have Charms now, don’t you?” He didn’t look at her for conformation, but at Minerva, who nodded.
“She should go to the hospital after that. Professor Meadowes won't have a problem with that,” said Minerva. She turned to Myrtle and spoke, “Now go, before I take points.” Then she left without another word. Richard turned and followed her, not giving Myrtle another glance.
Myrtle slowly walked to Charms, holding his handkerchief against her hand. It was slowly turning red, as her face turned normal again. She reached Charms without further incident and softly opened the door. Meadowes looked up from the lines she was writing on the blackboard.
“Ah, Miss Fubster has decided to join us. Fifteen points from Ravenclaw for your tardiness,” she said. Myrtle heard several of her classmates snigger and she saw Olive smirk.
“Professor, I have to go to the hospital wing,” she said softly, not looking at her classmates
“Why?” Meadowes looked her over until she saw the bloody handkerchief. “I don’t want to know,” she said exasperatedly, shaking her head. “Go, before you get that blood everywhere.” Myrtle turned around and left to the sound of snickering.
“Silence,” said Meadowes tiredly, “before I take more points…” The rest of the sentence was inaudible as the door closed behind Myrtle. She slowly walked to the hospital wing meeting nobody. They were probably all in class, or enjoying the beautiful weather outside. Myrtle felt the urge to just go and enjoy the weather, too, but she was too afraid to disobey both the head girl and Meadowes. So she kept on walking to the hospital wing.
She went into the hospital wing and she sat down on one of the beds. She carefully pulled the handkerchief away. The cut stared bleeding again and she looked at it, fascinated.
“What can I do for you?” asked Madam Crandell, as she walked across the room.
“I cut my hand on my glasses,” said Myrtle in the saddest voice she could muster. Madam Crandell took Myrtle’s hand in hers.
“I have to check if there is any glass left in your hand.” Madam Crandell poked Myrtle’s hand carefully. After a minute she seemed satisfied.
“It's clean. I'll heal it now,” she said, as she waved her wand over Myrtle’s hand. “So now we wait,” she said, before she walked to her office. Myrtle hoped she could stay at the hospital wing, she loved being fussed over.
“It looks fine,” said Madam Crandell after ten minutes. “You should go back to class.”
“Do I have to go?” Myrtle felt disappointed. Madam Crandell smiled, as she shook her head.
“Shoo,” she said gently, as Myrtle moved to the door. “Normally I have to tie them down to stop them running off,” Myrtle heard Madam Crandell murmur, as she left the hospital wing.
The rest of the day went by unbearably slowly; her classmates still sniggered when they saw her, so she stayed in one of the bathrooms — as far from the Ravenclaw tower as possible — during lunch. She had no friends, so nobody would miss her; even if she stayed there all day. It wasn’t until supper time when she had to face them again. Her stomach was aching by this time, so she had to go down to the Great Hall and deal with them. The thought alone was enough to make tears appear again.
Luckily, the table was mercifully empty. If she was fast enough, she could eat before the others appeared and she would get through the night without further humiliation. But she had just put some roast potatoes and green beans on her plate when she heard a group of girls talking and laughing. She looked up and her eyes met Olive’s, whose blue eyes gleamed triumphantly. Olive pointed to her and Myrtle put her eyes to her plate again. She knew what would follow now. And indeed, Olive sat down opposite her.
“Did you sleep in again?” Were the first words Olive spoke to her. Myrtle felt the tears prickle again and they had just started.
“What did you do to your hand this time?” asked Johanna, Olive's best friend and Myrtle's second biggest enemy. Myrtle saw the others smirk at each other. She tried to ignore them and put some food in her mouth. But Myrtle’s throat seemed to have closed up. She could barely swallow and the beans threatened to choke her.
“I heard you broke those stupid glasses again.” Myrtle felt Olive’s piercing eyes on her. After a long struggle, she was finally able to swallow. She knew she couldn’t eat any more today.
“The seventh years told me they found you on the floor, looking for them. I'd thought you'd be happy to lose them. Those glasses are so ugly, but then again so are you.” The tears finally broke through, like they had been threatening to do since her classmates had arrived.
“You’re such a cry-baby,” said Olive maliciously. Myrtle couldn’t see any more. This was all she could handle and she bolted from the great hall, her departure followed by shrieks of laughter.
She was running towards her favourite hiding place, when she ended up on the ground again. She had bumped into somebody.
“For goodness sake, watch where you're going!” someone said. She felt a pair of hands pull her up. “Oh, it's you again. Can't you stay on your feet for a few hours?” Minerva sounded agitated. “Besides, you really shouldn't run in the halls.”
“They're making fun of me,” sobbed Myrtle, she saw Minerva shake her head in a blur.
“You’re a fifth year. You should be able to take care of yourself,” she said, “Just ignore them.”
“You’re exactly like them!” yelled Myrtle, before she pulled out of Minerva’s grip. She stalked away, afraid to run in front of Minerva.
“Did you have to be that strict, Minnie?” Myrtle heard Richard say. She slowed down; they were talking about her and Richard had taken her side. She felt the tears slowly stop, as her heart did a small jump.
“She has to toughen up a bit,” replied Minerva, “She can’t handle critique. She even cries when she gets a bad mark, or if a teacher passes comment on her. She's going to be run over if she leaves Hogwarts with that habit.”
“Well, I suppose you're right. I'd never have guessed she was a fifth year, if you hadn't told me,” Richard agreed.
Myrtle felt the tears return again as she ran to her favourite bathroom. She sat down in one of the stalls, the tears still streaming steadily.
Myrtle was trying to calm down, but as soon as she had herself under control, her mind went back to the laughter in the great hall and she felt desperate again.
I’m going to get them, she thought. She would conjure some mice and put them in Olive’s bed. Olive hated mice. And Johanna was afraid of heights, so Myrtle would put some levitating spell on her. As for the others, a book repelling charm would do nicely. They would go crazy not being able to get near books. It was the worst thing to a Ravenclaw. She should know; she was one, after all. Perhaps she could curse them so that they needed glasses just like her. And then she could tease them. Olive would hate that; Olive, with her perfect skin, perfect hair and perfect body. Myrtle smiled and noticed that she was starting to feel better. What else could she do?
Myrtle spent the next hour contemplating revenge, until she felt her stomach clench again. She had left the Great Hall before she could eat and she hadn’t eaten lunch either. She should go back, but she didn’t feel like she could stand it. The tears started flowing again; she really didn’t want to go to the Common Room either. All she wanted was to stay here for the rest of her life, alone and safe. Then she felt the hate inside her rise again. It was Olive’s fault; Myrtle would not rest till she had revenge.
“I will not rest until I have taken my revenge on Olive,” she said out loud. She felt a trickle of energy go through her.
“I will get my revenge on Olive.” Again she felt her magic react. At that moment she made a rash decision. She pulled out her wand and aimed it at herself.
“I, Myrtle Fubster, hereby declare that I will avenge myself on Olive Hornby and I will not rest till I have my revenge.” This time Myrtle saw a red flash go from her wand to her heart. The moment it happened she knew she had done something stupid. The first thing Professor Meadowes had warned them against was unknown magic. Keep your intentions under control or your magic will turn against you. Myrtle knew that was exactly what had just happened. She shook her head to clear it. She hadn’t said anything she didn’t mean, so what was the worst that could happen?
Then she felt a soft flow of wind, just like a door opening when somebody entered a room. She pulled her feet up, hoping nobody would see her. She heard a low soft hissing noise, almost like somebody was imitating a snake. The sound changed slowly in words, strange words, words she didn’t understand. It was clearly another language. The S’s were strangely elongated and the vowels' sound, unearthly. When she realised it was a boy speaking, she decided to tell him off. It wouldn't do: a boy in a girls’ bathroom, her bathroom. She pushed her glasses up her nose again and opened the door slowly, but didn’t see anyone. Myrtle walked outside cautiously. She pushed her glasses up as she felt them slide down her nose again; they refused to stay put. She turned around the corner one of the stalls when she saw them just over the top of her glasses.
Two big, yellow eyes.
The feeling was immediate. She felt something tug at, her something was pulling upwards. It felt like she was torn in two. Every fibre of her being was pulled upwards, but it was as though her feet were glued to the ground. She had never felt like this before. She could feel every single cell of her body; every experience she ever had soared through her. She had never felt so powerful, so peaceful, so... alive. She loved the feeling and she wished she could be like this forever. But things were not normal. She noticed the lack of sounds, and the draft always going through the castle had disappeared. It was like all her senses had shut off. Then the silence was broken by a harsh, cold laugh. She looked around to the source of the sound but couldn’t see anybody. The cold laughter pierced her. It consumed her. She remained bound in the fetters of that cold laugh for the longest time. She tried to move when, suddenly, it was like the spell broke; sounds returned and the feeling disappeared. She realised something was wrong, very wrong. Slowly she lowered her eyes to the ground and to her horror she saw her own body.
“What,” she stammered; she still felt the pull upwards.
“I’m dead,” she said loudly, but nobody replied. She looked around desperately; she didn’t see anything. It was if time was standing still; all that was left in the world was her and her body. Suddenly she felt the pull downwards intensify; something was definitely holding her down. Something that stopped her from flowing away, something that whispered in her mind. It felt like somebody was talking to her while she was sleeping. She felt like she wanted that whisper to stay with her for ever, to never wake up to reality. It would make her happy. But when she looked down again, she felt her mind protest.
But she couldn’t be dead, could she?
She had sworn revenge. If she died she couldn’t get back at Olive. Slowly all the happy feelings left her, while her mind was consumed with revenge. The pull upwards stopped and she knew she would get her revenge as she slowly went back down to earth. She lifted her arms and her fears were confirmed. She could see the tap right through it. Then she realised how big the mistake she had made was. She had condemned herself to this life. She let out an ear-splitting scream before backing into the wall behind her, only to end up in the boys’ bathroom.
She was dead; she was a ghost.
She crouched down in a corner and stayed there for a long time.
In the end it was Minerva and Olive who found her body. They came rushing in merely minutes after it happened. The boy and the eyes had disappeared by then. Myrtle would never know who it was. All she heard was that a second year called Hagrid had been expelled. She didn’t think that it had been him, but misery loves company. The more who were miserable, the happier Myrtle was. Minerva came back after she discovered Myrtle’s ghost and apologised, but Myrtle refused to speak to her ever again. Minerva learned her lesson, though, and when she returned to teach she would show compassion to those who needed it.
Olive, though, would not have another calm night. Myrtle had made sure of that.