When we last left our heroes in
"Well," said Myrtle’s voice
from behind her, "that was disgusting."
Ginny looked around to find Myrtle’s
head once more protruding from the bowl of the toilet. Ginny herself wasn’t
quite sure she didn’t agree. She WAS happy for them, really, and amused
by their singular way of doing things, but at the same time rather depressed,
and very annoyed with Myrtle.
"I’m going." Ginny threw
open the door to the stall and headed for the exit. All of a sudden, a
horrid possibility occurred to her, and she swiveled. "And don’t
run around talking about this to anyone who will listen, Myrtle. I mean
it. Keep your mouth shut." She found herself completely out of patience,
and unable to be conciliatory with the ghost. "If I hear from anyone
about this…" Her threat was abruptly cut off by the flash of a swiftly
moving Myrtle flying past her head.
"Well, I like that!" she
screeched. "Coming here into my bathroom and threatening me after
what you’ve done. Heartless, that’s what you are. Heartless and manipulative."
"All right, Myrtle, what have
I done? Let’s hear it. Did I inadvertently allude to something that made
you remember that you aren’t alive? What?" Even as she spit out the
words, Ginny felt she might have gone a bit far, but she had no control
left. She just wanted out of this bathroom.
"You have no feelings at all,"
sniveled Myrtle. "Coming round all the time, pretending to be friends.
Making fun of d-dead people! You’re awful, you are!" A positive torrent
of sobs burst forth.
Instantly, and against her will, Ginny
felt guilty. "Aw, Myrtle. Stop crying. I’m sorry, really I am. I
am your friend. I’m…I’m just in a bad mood, that’s all."
"There you g-go…lying to m-me
again. I d-don’t know why he l-likes you. You’re a horrible g-girl."
Ginny felt rather hurt. "Look,
I don’t know what you’re talking- what? He who?"
"That got your attention, did
it?" said Myrtle with glum satisfaction.
Ginny took a deep breath. This was
going nowhere. It was definitely time to exit. "Myrtle. Listen. I’m
sorry that you think…whatever it is that you think, but we’re both upset
and I think it’s better if I just leave now before…"
Myrtle interrupted. "You don’t
want to hear what he said, then? I should think you’d want to know what
he said about you."
"He who?" Her voice
was shrill to her own ears.
Despite fiercely willing it not to
do such an undignified thing, her stomach lurched. Harry had been talking
about her? To Myrtle? It was the most unlikely thing she’d ever heard.
She found that her heart was pounding in her ears.
"Well, what did he say, then?"
She cursed herself for the wobble in her voice.
Myrtle bobbed slyly in the air before
Ginny. "I don’t know if I should tell you. You’ve lied to me."
She turned a slow somersault, savoring the moment. She was obviously torn
between torturing Ginny and the gratification of gossip.
"Fine," said Ginny, trying
to play it cool. "Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable."
She desperately tried to formulate a strategy. "In fact, maybe I
better leave, so you won’t feel pressured." This was a risky last-ditch
effort, she knew, but this was the moment Myrtle would put up or shut
up. Stiffening her resolve, Ginny headed for the exit.
"Welll…" interjected Myrtle
quickly. "I suppose…"
"Yes?" Ginny stopped a few
feet from the door.
"All right, I’ll tell you. But
you don’t deserve it, you know. I’m just too sensitive. I-It’s what got
me k-killed in the first place." Myrtle’s chin was trembling again,
and tears were imminent.
"Yes, you’re very sensitive."
Ginny hoped that her impatience wasn’t leaking through the soothing voice
she had adopted. "Go on, Myrtle."
"Yesterday I was hiding from Peeves
in the Prefect’s Bathroom on the second floor-"
"But that’s a boy’s bathroom,"
interrupted Ginny, shocked.
"Obviously that’s why it’s a good
hiding place," said Myrtle with dignity.
The Prefect’s Bathroom: Yesterday
"Stop shaking your head at me.
You’re acting like your mum."
Ron grinned at Harry. "Somehow
I don’t think my mum would have let that fight go on as long as I did."
"Let the fight…honestly, Ron,
it barely got started before you pulled me off him!" said Harry,
glaring at him. He glanced around the brightly-lit bathroom. "What
am I doing in here anyway? I’m not the one who’s a prefect."
Ron settled himself against the edge
of the sink. "Excuse me. I thought it might be better than dripping
blood through the hallways. What was that about, anyway?"
Ron looked at him curiously, cocking
his head to one side. He hadn’t seen Harry this angry in a long
time. It was odd, wasn’t it? Malfoy had gone through his usual
list of Weasley put-downs; no money, too many children, Muggle-lovers-the
usual. Ron and Harry had heard it so many times that sometimes they would
recite it along with Malfoy, which aggravated him greatly. But today,
something had been…different. Harry had hurled himself at Malfoy, surprising
him so much that Malfoy had barely reacted. That is, until Harry punched
him in the nose. But why had Harry reacted so violently to this particular
encounter? True, it was the first time that Malfoy had ever mentioned
Ginny personally. He usually stuck to insulting Fred, George, and Ron
but this time Malfoy had said something particularly nasty about Ginny.
His eyes narrowed. But that couldn’t be it, could it? Why would
Harry…? It didn’t make any sense. Ron shook his head, trying to ignore
the small knot of suspicion growing in his stomach.
"What’s going on with you, Harry?"
Ron’s voice was impatient.
"Nothing except Malfoy is still
Ron rolled his eyes. "Look Harry,
you know I think Malfoy is a quivering git but I couldn’t very well just
stand there and let you break his nose. Oi, I didn’t even pull you off
until he started getting in some good hits!" He sounded a little
Moaning Myrtle’s: Today
"Wait. I thought he split his
lip in Quidditch practice. That’s what he told Hermione." Ginny could
no longer contain herself.
"So now you’re calling me a liar,
are you?" Myrtle’s face was thunderous.
"No!" Said Ginny quickly.
"Because I saw the whole thing,"
said Myrtle with dark satisfaction. "Before I hid in the tap. He
had the blond one on the floor, and he was hitting him all over."
The Prefect’s Bathroom- Yesterday
"Your mouth’s still bleeding,"
Ron noticed. Harry stood up, and walked over to an enormous mirror that
stretched from floor to ceiling. He scowled at his reflection. Gingerly,
he dabbed at the thin trickle of blood that flowed from the cut Malfoy’s
knuckle had given him. "Stupid git", he muttered more at himself
than Malfoy. Ron walked over and stood next to him. He leaned over and
examined the cut.
"You’ll live. Look, it’s already
stopping bleeding. I don’t think Malfoy got off so easily. It looked to
me like his nose was gushing pretty heavily." Ron’s tone was a mixture
of pride and something else. Suspicion? Harry took a deep breath and glanced
over at Ron who was now leaning against the wall, arms folded in front
of his chest. "So, what was that all about, Harry? Not that I blame
you for wanting to beat the crap out of Malfoy, but…" Ron trailed
off. He was looking at Harry differently now. Almost…surveying him, sizing
‘Oh, this is brilliant’, Harry thought,
and avoided Ron’s eyes. How was he going to explain why he’d gotten so
upset? He barely knew himself. They’d met Malfoy in the hall and he’d
started in with all his stupid insults. He was pretty used to that- not
a bother on him. And then he’d said that…that… thing about Ginny
and something inside Harry just snapped. He couldn’t, wouldn’t just
stand there and listen to Malfoy talk about Ginny like that. He clenched
his fists again, almost without thinking. All he could think about
was punching his stupid face and then all of a sudden he was punching
Malfoy, over and over and Ron was yelling and pulling him off.
Harry stared at his reflection in the
mirror. His hair was sticking up in clumps where Malfoy had pulled it.
Harry tried to smooth it down with his hands, mostly just to buy a few
more seconds before he had to answer Ron’s question. He took another
breath and tried to calm down. He had been realizing for some time that
his feelings toward Ginny Weasley weren’t so much ‘I care about you because
you’re my best mate’s little sister’ as they were ‘Every time I see you
I forget how to breathe and I’m petrified because you’re my best mate’s
little sister.’ He remembered how his stomach had felt when he had had
that stupid crush on Cho Chang. That had been little butterflies and a
slight queasiness. When he was around Ginny it felt like Hagrid was bouncing
up and down on his chest. And where had all this gotten him? He had practically
broken Malfoy’s nose, Ron was looking at him very suspiciously and his
mouth was turning black and blue. ‘Love,’ thought Harry, ‘is crappy.’
Moaning Myrtle’s: Today
"I’m sorry, Myrtle. I still don’t
understand. What’s this got to do with anything? Malfoy’s always acting
like a prat. I mean, usually it’s Ron who has to be pulled off him, but
I don’t see…"
"Well, you wouldn’t, would you?
I haven’t told you what Malfoy said."
"All right, then, what did Malfoy
Myrtle looked very smug. "I can’t
tell you. He used some really filthy words."
Ginny sighed impatiently. "Just
give me the gist, then."
"I’d still have to use really
"Can you whisper it or something?
All Myrtle needed was some additional
coaxing. Certain now that she had a rapt audience, she floated closer
to Ginny’s ear and whispered into it.
"That-" And Ginny said a
really filthy word.
The Prefect’s Bathroom- Yesterday
Ron had changed tactics.
"Like I said, I’m the last person
to blame you for starting the fight. He was saying some pretty horrible
things. And about Ginny, well, that’s going a bit far. I can ignore the
stuff about me but he’s got no right to talk about Ginny that way. Glad
you did something about it," Ron said lightly, not removing his eyes
from Harry. " I mean, you really went at him. You’d almost think
she was your little sister… I suppose she must seem like your little sister."
Ron’s tone implied that she better seem like his little sister.
Harry said nothing. If at all possible,
he would avoid actually lying to Ron, but he felt no need to volunteer
information. Still, it didn’t look like he was going to get out of this
easily. He bent over the sink and began to splash water on his face.
"Let’s not tell her about this,
ok?" He could feel Ron’s eyes burrowing into the back of his neck.
"Yeah, ok." Harry straightened
up and grabbed a towel from a bracket underneath a reproduction of the
Mona Lisa. She winked at him. And
Honeychurch and Lallybroch wink back!—Do you think we should put a little
author’s note right here that says that? I
don’t think we should put in a note here…I always feel like it takes the
reader out of the story. I think we should put it in the notes at the
end, though, definitely!
"It’s a good thing she doesn’t
seem to have a crush on you anymore. If she heard about this, she might
get all silly about it. You know girls." Ron’s voice expressed
a world of condescension.
Harry attempted to laugh, but apparently,
he wasn’t very convincing. He turned to find Ron standing in front of
him with his arms crossed over his chest.
Moaning Myrtle’s: Today
Ginny had hoisted herself up on to
one of the sinks. She was listening avidly to Myrtle, who was describing
the fight in minute detail.
"…and then he just jumped on him,
like that, and he hit him in the face—oooh, lots of times."
Myrtle was looking happier than Ginny had ever seen her. "And there
was blood and everything. But then your brother pulled him off the blonde
one." She seemed less happy about this.
"Then they went into the bathroom,
and I went in there too. You know, to get away from Peeves."
"Myrtle! You went in there to
spy on them!"
"I did not! As if I have nothing
better to do than hide places and watch people. I do THINGS, I do."
She nodded emphatically.
Privately Ginny felt that Myrtle had
absolutely nothing better to do, and further, did very little else, but
she held her tongue. There was no point in angering her when this was
getting so very interesting.
Myrtle’s whole face went glum again.
"And that’s when I found out you lied to me."
"Myrtle, honestly, I swear I never
lied to you. What are you going on about?"
"You never told me you liked him."
There was no question to whom Myrtle was referring. Ginny felt herself
"That- That was ages ago,"
she lied. "They were talking about that?" Well, that was just
the most humiliating thing ever. She could die, right here, and keep Moaning
Myrtle company in the neighboring stall.
"Ron wanted to know if he liked
you back. He didn’t seem to fancy the idea very much." Myrtle’s dull
alto was tinged with satisfaction.
The Prefect’s Bathroom- Yesterday
"But it’s not like you like
her, right? Because you like her, but you don’t like her, right?"
Harry started, turning so quickly that
he fell backwards over the chair resting next to the mirror. He scrambled
hastily to his feet, smoothing his rumpled robes. Ron’s eyes were wide.
"Harry, that’s not a yes, is it?" he said in a shocked voice.
"What, the falling?" asked
Harry in what he hoped was an innocent and casual tone. "No, the
chair…it moved…I’m a bit fuzzy after the fight and all… ahem. Yes."
He began slowly inching toward the
door. "Course I like her. She’s your little sister. Why wouldn’t
I like her? She’s very likable." Harry waved his hands dismissively.
"But I don’t like her like her. Because you wouldn’t like
that, would you? Would you?" He ventured a glance at Ron. "No,
no, of course you wouldn’t like that. So that’s why I don’t like her.
Like that. Not that the only reason I don’t like her that way is
because you wouldn’t like it if I…"
He had finally reached the door.
Grasping at the handle he yanked it open and stuck his head out into the
"What’s that Hermione? Yes, I’ll
be right there. Right, thanks for the help Ron and I’ve…got to go."
Harry dashed out the door and disappeared down the corridor.
Ron remained standing in the center
of the room, stunned.
Moaning Myrtle’s: Today
"He said that?"
"He’s a horrible liar." Myrtle
was matter of fact about this. "You’d think he’d be better at it."
She floated down to rest on the sink next to Ginny. The light was glinting
off her glasses, and Ginny couldn’t get a clear view of her expression,
but it seemed a bit sympathetic. "What are you going to do now?"
she asked, curiously. "Are you going find him and kiss him passionately?"
Ginny blushed furiously and shook her head. "Ooohh…Are you going
to slap his face and call him a scoundrel?" Myrtle spun several excited
circles in the air and settled back down on the sink. "If that’s
what you do, will you do it in here so I can watch?" she asked, breathlessly.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Oh, honestly
Myrtle. I’m not going to do either of those things. You sound like a Barbara
Cartland novel. I’m…I’ve got to talk to Hermione. I’m sorry, but I have
to go. Will you be alright?" Myrtle nodded morosely. Ginny jumped
off the sink and started toward the door. She stopped and turned back
to the ghost floating dejectedly above the sink.
"Myrtle? Why did you tell me this?"
"You asked me." Myrtle said,
"No, actually I didn’t. You brought
it up in the first place." Ginny looked straight at her, or rather,
through her. "You didn’t have to tell, you know. I think it
was quite nice of you. In fact, I think you rather enjoyed it."
And she turned and ran out the door.
"Fights are more entertaining,"
Myrtle mumbled, and headed back to the toilet.
Continued in Part