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The Death and Times of Moaning Myrtle by Blissbug

Format: Short story
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 11,697
Status: Abandoned

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Mystery, Angst
Characters: OtherCanon
Pairings:

First Published: 07/24/2009
Last Chapter: 09/24/2009
Last Updated: 09/24/2009

Summary:
Delicious banner by Bedazzle@TDA



If one is entirely ill-suited to the business of living, what happens when one dies?
Myrtle has always been a disconnected, discomforted and displaced
sort of girl. Now that she's dead, she find's an unexpected chance at a new beginning.


Chapter 1: Alive
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Chapter 1:


Dying was a relief. This was the first thing Myrtle realized about being dead, and the first real clear thought she had since having been dead. It was relief, a sweet exhalation: a sigh, a release gifted to her in the uncomplicated form of gray, a shifting smoky world defined by an utter lack of things. Of taste, and smell. Of touch and impact.

Here, in this new place, Myrtle has no influence. She could not open a door, or feel the water which flooded the bathroom floor soaking into her shoes. She could not smell the persistent mold scent of the castle (also a relief) or force out the tears that threatened to fall, even though Myrtle told herself that being dead was not such a bad thing.

Myrtle did worry though. She worried about not being more worried, because despite the very obvious evidence of being dead (one cannot stand over one’s own body and not suspect something is amiss) Myrtle could not seem to summon any sort of extreme emotion.

She wasn’t panicking. She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t angry or regretful or unsure or distracted or confused. She wasn’t even resigned as you might suspect someone of being if they were to suddenly and irrevocably accept the fact that they had died, such as Myrtle had.

Instead, the only two persistent feelings Myrtle was at all aware of was relief and a vague sense of worry, but other than that she felt fine. Or, as fine as she ever felt, which is to say that if Myrtle’s sense of ‘fine’ were a color it might be a drab smear of taupe, or a lumpy blob of ash-gray.

But to understand how Myrtle felt about being dead, it helps to understand how she felt about being alive, and perhaps the best way to comprehend that is to rewind a bit, say…five or ten minutes before the moment she actually died because it there, in that brief space of time and existence, that one can see quite clearly how ill-suited Myrtle was to mortal existence.

One might say it all began with Olive Horby, though in actuality one cannot blame a frog-faced girl for a whole youth’s worth of cruelties, let downs, misunderstandings and injustices. It is just that Olive happen to be the last in a long line of human beings who reacted badly to the person of Myrtle, finding her to be a most excellent target for the inadequacies, faults and un-changeable facts they themselves were unable to face in their own beings.

Of Myrtle herself one can place a bit of blame because she was certainly a very sad and lamentable example of humanity. Being naturally squat in stature, with knobby knee’s, rounded shoulders, shallow eyes and pale pimpled skin; it is not surprising that Myrtle was not exactly the most chipper, extroverted and striving personality.

Still, it was hoped (and often pointed out) by her parents that she might work to over-come those various physical short-comings placed on her by an extraordinary bad pool of genes. The lank muddy colored hair, the nearly permanently wrinkled expression and high sharp voice didn’t have to be dominant features: Myrtle could have endeavor to employ her intelligence, her stubborn nature, her oddly intuitive perspective to be something more than the bad tempered fat girl who lurked behind the book stacks and indulged her affinity for pea-soup at every opportunity, a detail that no single student in Hogwarts failed to notice or find very disgusting, for who in the right mind actually likes pea-soup?

But no, Myrtle was as regretful as you might suspect, having no natural social graces and absolutely no inclination to possess them since she thought they were a waste of time and energy. After all, people shied away from her, easing their own guilt about being weary of such a girl by being snide and mean. Why should she be kind and curious and warm when no one else was ever that way towards her?

Of Olive Horby it can be said that while she was not regretful, she was not anything spectacular either. Average might be a very good word to describe Myrtle’s most persistent enemy, though there was a certain something, a knack for cruelty that stood her apart, and from the very beginning it was quite clear that Myrtle Dowerhaint and Olive Horby were not destined to be friends.

Their first encounter went something like this: “Haint, are you going to use that salt or such glower at it to death?”

“You’re right Horby. Here, let me throw it at your head, that’s a much better use for it.”
That particular conversation took place their third year, neither girl having noticed the other up until this point, despite they being under the same roof. In fact, perhaps if it weren’t for a certain boy, both girls would have gone on their merry way, entirely oblivious of each other, their lives more the better for the oblivion.

Of the boy in question there is much to be said, but it all must be saved for a little later. Mostly for after

It is a widely known, but often-ignored fact that children can be exceptionally cruel. The very essence of their young nature almost seems to make such cruelty a passing thing, a wind-blown moment of hurt, of biting ugliness before it is chased out of their little heads by some other equally errant and important thought.

But certain children are more prone to carry scars and Myrtle was such a girl. It was not just that she tended to take things to heart, despite her casual sarcastic nature, but that certain things went much deeper than the heart, words and looks and sniggering expressions drove right down to the bone, carving into her very frame lines and symbols that marked her a distrusted, disliked and displaced soul. And even if you did not have the eyes to see it, you’d certainly sense it, for Myrtle took with her these calcified tattoos wherever she went.

By the age of fifteen, the age at which Myrtle died, her bones where so heavily marked upon that there was very little left to support the child that shaped itself around them. It is not surprising then that when Olive Horby set to teasing Myrtle about her newly acquired glasses (after the other’s had mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared in pieces floating in her cauldron on a Tuesday afternoon in Potions), Myrtle, instead of turning around and flinging her usual vitriol at Olive, simply disappeared into the girl’s bathroom, where she might sink down into an exhausted pile of second hard robes and darned knee’s socks. There she made use of tears and pathetic little moans, trusting the privacy of the bathroom – and its very out of the way location – to protect this moment of weakness.

The bathroom was terribly cold, but Myrtle welcomed it. She rather be cold and lonely then warm and lonely, for at least if she was cold and able to stand it, well then she was something of a soldier, braving on in her solitude, welcoming the decrepit conditions with a firm chin and a hand at the level of her eye. She was better than where she currently found herself, but not above it. Besides, she actually really rather liked this bathroom.

Something about the stonework here, it seemed more elegant than other places, as if whoever had tacked on this after thought of a loo did it with care. There were thin tendrils of stone along the doorframe and the windows, spiny arches in the corners of the ceiling. The hard stone floor tiles were laid out in subtle soft patterns and the fixtures were done in dark pinched metal, shapes of snakes and bearded faces decorating latch-handles and sink facets. Sunlight rarely made an appearance, but when it did, from just the right angle, it would stream in through the mottled glass windows, setting the multi-basined sink of white marble to sparkling and winking.

But of course these were details surely only noticed by Myrtle, for it was she who most often frequented the bathroom, even going out of her way sometimes to simple go in and stand, silent and observant. She had a small thought; a secret thought that said maybe whoever had created the lovely space had done it just for her, an unlikely heaven in an unlikely hell. It was her special domain, an escape.

Of course, one might wonder why a girl such as Myrtle would need an escape from living and learning in an environment as famed as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Didn’t every magical child dance around and squeal with joy upon receiving their letters? Well, not every child, no and certainly not Myrtle: Myrtle who even at the age of eleven wanted nothing more than a simple life, surrounded by the simple anchoring details such as white bread, her Muggle father’s pipe-tobacco and the cat, Oatmeal, asleep on her bed.

To be as she was, so entirely unattractive and naturally quarrelsome, intelligent and yet unmotivated, a perfect world consisted of her backyard with the swing high in the apple tree and its patchy green grass. A perfect world was having nothing but time on her hands and not a single demand beyond what she wanted to do. Myrtle was content to stay home and eat her mother’s burnt chocolate cookies, feeling more safe and secure watching from her front window as children with their bikes and mates and skip-ropes raced down the block, entirely oblivious of her existence, and she immensely relieved to not be part of theirs.

Hogwarts – cold stone and a hundred laughing faces and teachers in strange hats – was certainly like something out of a story. But a bad story, one where everything went wrong and there was no happy ending for the likes of people like Myrtle Dowerhaint.

It did not matter to Myrtle that this school was one of magic, and that since she had magic it was the natural place for her. For her magic was just another thing that marked her apart, and to be forced to go to the center of that separation, away from her kitchen and her yard and her cat… Could there be a crueler fate?

So she found herself in the bathroom, her special space. And here was no one there to see her if she cried.

Cry Myrtle did, but for something more than her stupid glasses, the frames too thick, the lenses too round and her nose too small and tight to hold them up. She cried for a boy, for a really lovely boy with a haughty face, remote eyes and the most beautiful mouth she thought she might ever see in her whole life.

His name was Tom Riddle and he was perfect.

Unfortunately, for one, she wasn’t the only girl to have noticed this fact, and secondly, Tom Riddle had absolutely no idea Myrtle Dowerhaint existed. The girl – well one of a few, but the most vocal about it – to notice the strange magnetic presence of Tom Riddle was none other than Olive Horby and of course she was average looking enough for Riddle to actually spare a few words for her. This, perhaps more than the fact that Olive fancied Riddle, hurt Myrtle most grievously, for Myrtle had tried, really she had, to speak to him. To catch his eye. To make him just…see her.

Myrtle looked up from where she sat; her face pressed her face into her knees. She was sure she had heard a sound, the door opening with its quiet squeak. She held her breath, licking her lips to taste salt and snot. There was the hesitant drip-drip-drip of a facet not closed completely, and of course the constant Scottish wind buffeting the upper level but what else? A footstep maybe, light and unnaturally graceful.

Myrtle’s thin lips parted as she unconsciously leaned forward, perched on the toilet seat with her legs awkwardly tucked under her. Oh yes, that was a noise, the hem of a robe brushing along the floor.

“Who’s there!” Myrtle suddenly depended, nearly falling off her toilet with indignation.
“No one’s supposed to be here!”

To her statement was a reply, but such an odd reply it was that the very sound of it immediately hushed Myrtle, who now standing, hands in fists and fists on wide hips, was more than ready to charge the stall door and specify that the unknown persons immediately identify, and then remove themselves from her presence.

There came a great grinding noise, stone on stone, a sliding of secret things revealed and floor under Myrtle’s feet trembled with such force, and the water in the toilet bowl sloshed around, Myrtle gasped in surprise, spittle flying from her thin flabby lips.

Her stall door swung open of its own accord, and Myrtle stepped out, just as a boy spoke and there was almost something familiar about the voice, except that Myrtle never got a chance to put a face to the voice, for when she looked up, expression ready and angry, all she saw was yellow. Yellow orbs at eye-level, bobbing in a sinuous dance and she could not look away. She never got the chance to look away.


A/N: Hello Dear Readers. Welcome to The Death and Times of Moaning Myrtle, my newest piece of HP fiction. Like most of my inspirations, the idea for this came on fast and persistant and would not be ignored: only thing to do...start writing.

I'm sure many of your are aware of my writing philosophy that 'character's are people too', and in that spirit I thought to shed some light on a character that for many of us fits into a neat compact box of canon stereo-type. Here is Myrtle as I invision her and hopefully the vision will change the way you see her as well.

If you've read, and you like what you've read, be a love and leave a review, they make me inordinately happy.

BB


Chapter 2: Dead
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Chapter 2: 



“My dear girl, I do believe you’re dead.” 

“Of course I’m dead,” Myrtle replied sharply, eyeing her companion with a scrunched up expression. “Don’t you think I can tell that I’m dead?” 

“There’s no need to be snide, I was only trying to be helpful.” 

“Helpful? Are you barking? How do you expect to be helpful? I’m already dead!” 

“Comforting then,” replied the Fryer, adjusting his heavy cassock about his around see-through belly. “One does expect a bit of comfort might be called for in a situation such as this.” 

Myrtle turned away from the crumpled form of her body long enough to give the Fat Fryer a scathing look. “I’m sorry; do I look like I’m in need of comfort?” 

The Fryer, who by nature was a jovial fellow, couldn’t help but wince as he regarded the incorporeal form of Myrtle Dowerhaint. Death had done little (well all right, absolutely nothing) to improve her visage. The girl was still rather squat; her gummy hair was just as frazzled and greasy in its pigtails. Her glasses were too big for her face, her mouth was just as sucked in and her eyes, small and angry, were as piggy and cold as ever. 

“No, you – well, you seemed composed enough. Handling it quite well, in fact,” the Fryer said, clearing his throat uncomfortably. “I uh—perhaps I should be off. Didn’t mean to intrude, of course.” 

“Right, like that ship hasn’t sailed,” Myrtle replied, folding her arms across her flat chest. She registered, in a sort of foggy far off part of the mind, that wasn’t it interesting, she still had arms to fold and that she could feel them, real and fleshy? 

She stared down at her body in a critical fashion, hardly noticing the way the Fat Fryer ducked out of the bathroom via the south wall, his own expression nearly horrified, perhaps not at the fact of her death, but at the fact of her ghosthood. The idea of this girl being the newest member to their ranks was alarming indeed and the Fryer forgot to say goodbye, so worried was he, busy debating about whether or not he ought to call a ghost-council to order. 

Meanwhile Myrtle resumed a cocked-out stance, brow pinched in deep concentration. There were things to be considered here, and what odd things they were. 

“Well,” Myrtle said to herself, nodding because it felt right, speaking out loud. “Guess that’s it then.” She kicked at her own body but her foot seemed to just pass through her already chilling flesh. 

The bathroom was painfully quiet now, even the slow dripping of the facet was gone and with the sun sinking below the peak of the mountains, the room was washed in shadows, lustrous grays and warm dusky blues. Myrtle slowly extended her left arm, turning her palm this way and that, her eyes seeing through the shape of the limb even while her own pearly ash glow (apparently, Myrtle thought with some chagrin, when one became a ghost, one also glowed) reflected off her glasses. 

She hadn’t been sure, before the Fryer had showed up, about whether or not she was or was not in fact very potentially a ghost, but now, having had the bloated specter babbling in her ear, Myrtle couldn’t deny the fact any longer. Yes, she had died. That was easy enough to digest. But this other thing, this ghost-ness… 

She almost wished the Fat Fryer hadn’t left to quickly, she would have liked to ask him a few questions, but then again maybe not, if he was so bleeding sensitive about everything. Comfort indeed, what a ridiculous idea. 

What worried her most though, more than being dead (which hardly worried her at all) or being a ghost (queer, far too queer to consider at the moment) was the fact that no one had come looking for her. No one, it seemed, was alarmed by the fact that more than three hours had passed since she’d left the study circle in the library. More than three hours since she’d stormed past that horrible Olive Hornby, more than three hours since Myrtle come in here, and had heard that noise… 

Myrtle shook her head and spun away from her body crumpled on the cold floor. No, no she wouldn’t think about all that right now, wouldn’t linger over the specifics of how, and why. It was enough that she recognized that she’d died, and it was enough not to feel overly worried about the fact. Better to go back to that first feeling, that soul-deep sense of reprieve; as if she’d gotten through the hard part (living) and was onto easier things (not living). 

But still, why hadn’t someone come by now? A person couldn’t just die and no one know about it, right? It wasn’t like Myrtle was expecting magical alarm-bells to go off all over the castle every time some person’s mortal coil was cut (of course recognizing that death was hardly a common occurrence at Hogwarts) and yet shouldn’t a single person sense the difference? Wasn’t there anyone out there to look up from their oh-so important lives and think, ‘A girl just died. The world is short one soul because a girl just died.’ 

Where were her friends (all right, classmates who hardly ever noticed Myrtle to begin with) or her teachers? Where were the masses of nameless faces to stare and point and laugh? At this point she’d take a little mockery if it meant that there was someone there to notice her being dead? It was one thing to be alone in life, a person like Myrtle expected to be alone in life. But in death? That seemed unfair, the ultimate form of unfair. Wasn’t Myrtle important at all? Didn’t she matter even enough to be noticed as not being alive anymore? 

Myrtle started to cry, tears collecting fat and cold at the rim of her eyes before spilling down, curling around her chin and collecting in the seam of her nose. She pressed her hand to her nose to keep it from running (ghostly snot, how disgusting) and paced, the occasional hiccup making her chest heave. She didn’t feel particularly headachy or dizzy with her grief; the sense of her sadness seemed entirely ethereal, like she’d been clothed in an invisible fabric of hurt and loneliness. 

It was a horrible feeling, a heavy immense feeling that was so much bigger than Myrtle could have ever hoped to be, in life or death. She wondered if there was any getting past it, beyond it. Maybe there wasn’t. Maybe this was all there was to death, to what was beyond death. 

Maybe it was an act of conscious, or means of arming himself, but when the Fat Fryer returned, he brought with him Sir Nicolas and they both paused, silent and hovering, just inside the bathroom’s door, watching for a moment as the jerky gossamer form of Myrtle moved back and forth in front of her body. She had her arms wrapped right around herself and her eyes closed as she paced. It looked as if she had memorized the steps her feet took automatically, her movements never bringing her any further from, or any closer to the mortal remains of the fifteen year old girl. She shivered, she sniffed and occasional she moaned, but it was plainly obvious that the ghost of Myrtle Dowerhaint was thoroughly absorbed by her grief. 

“What should we do?” the Fryer asked very quietly. 

“We must inform the headmaster,” Sir Nick replied, a saddened expression on his face. “This is most terrible, of course. Most terrible indeed.” 

“But look at her,” said the Fryer, pitching his voice even lower, terrified that the angry girl-ghost might notice them at any moment and fly into a rage. “She’s in a terrible state, she knows she’s dead but does she know she’s a ghost?” 

“How can she not?” Sir Nick replied, flashing the Fryer an ironic look. 

“Well I don’t know,” huffed the rotund ghost. “She seemed a bit preoccupied before, I didn’t actually ask. And she wasn’t exactly friendly; you ought to be friendly if someone offers you help.” 

“Did you offer her help?” Sir Nick asked, his heavy embroidered cloak swinging around his legs as he turned to regard the Fat Fryer. 

“Well no. But I did tell her that she was dead.” 

“Which I’m sure she already knew.” 

“And your point, Sir?” asked the Fryer, affront that one, Nick failed to sympathize with the verbal flagellation the Fryer received from the girl, and two that Nick pointed out an obvious fact: it’s probably not a good idea to tell a dead girl that she is dead. 

“I think you ought to fetch the headmaster, and whoever else you think appropriate,” said Sir Nick after a moment more of watching the child ghost pace. “I will stay here; try to reason with her, watch over the body. This doesn’t feel right, something is amiss don’t you think?” 

The Fryer perked up, puffing with opinion. “Quite right Nicolas, quite right. I sensed if from the first, of course. Uh…yes, something gone wrong, but what? Eh, well, I’ll be off as you say, fetch the headmaster.” 

“Yes, good, you do that,” murmured Sir Nicolas, again absorbed by Myrtle’s manic pacing. 

When the Fryer had gone, and the bathroom seemed less crowed, Sir Nicolas made his way over to Myrtle, his feet moving just above the floor, his passage making not a sound. 

“Child,” he said in what he hoped to be a soothing tone. “Child, are you all right?” 

Myrtle paused, head jerking up as she regarded this newest intruder, the spark of hope that had flared in her chest immediately dying. He was just another ghost, not a real live person. “No one’s come looking,” she said, hands falling loosely at her side. 

“No one at all. I’m dead and no one’s noticed!” She sounded very petulant, she thought, but she didn’t care. 

“Did anyone know that you’d come here?” Sir Nicolas asked, cocking his head, which tipped precariously to the side. He pushed it aright with his hand, an annoyed expression flashing across his face. “This is after all, a very out of the way bathroom.” 

“But I’m dead, someone should have noticed!” 

“Mortal senses are limited, child. They know very little.” 

“I’m not a child,” Myrtle snapped, turning away from the ghost. “Stop calling me that. I’ve a name. Even ghosts have names.” 

“Indeed they do,” agreed Nick. “Names and lives and thoughts and feelings…” 

“Feeling, yes,” Myrtle agreed, rounding on the ghost. “What is this feeling, like I’m sinking, what is that?” Myrtle rocked back on her heels, she felt a bit better for having asked. It was brave thing, to ask and after all, the feeling wasn’t going away. This horrible sense of…something, a great indefinable horrible something only seemed to be building. The more she paced, the more she cried the bigger and bigger it got. If she were in water, it would have been like drowning, and if she were in a blizzard it would have been like freezing. The sensation was all encompassing, and so great was it, so momentous a feeling that Myrtle wondered that if she were not yet already dead, then this feeling might just have killed her. It was all she could breathe in, all she could taste or feel or hear, but why? She certainly wasn’t getting any deader, so why was she feeling more and more awful? Didn’t she get a break from all this feeling now that she was dead? 

“It…” Sir Nicolas paused, trying to word things just right. “It is your mortality. Or rather, the lack of it. Alive you hardly notice it’s presence but when you’re dead, it’s all you are aware of. The fact that it’s not there. The heaviness, the grief… When you first die, it is hard to understand but give it time. Things will become clearer to you; in time you won’t always feel like this.” 

“What do you mean time?” Myrtle asked sharply, tugging at a pigtail in distraction. “How much time?” 

“Oh dear girl,” Nick sighed, his non-existent heart very heavy indeed. “No one can tell…”

Chapter 3: Discovery
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Chapter 3:


When they came it was teachers and staff: the sort of faces Myrtle recognized remotely. The headmaster was there first, a little round sort of man who favored robes that stopped short of his shins and wore circular hats that looked like flattened flower-pots. 

His usually rosy face, Myrtle saw from where she hovered in the corner, was horribly sickly looking, and when he saw the body, quiet by accident for he had not expected to turn the corner and find her corpse just lying there despite having been warned by Sir Nick, he blanched and ran for one of the toilet stalls, where he promptly threw up his evening meal. Myrtle was actually rather pleased by this, and she grinned as Dippet at last left the stall, dabbing at his mouth delicately with the kerchief he had conjured. 

“Sir Nicolas,” said Dippet, clearing his throat uncomfortably, “is she here now? I cannot see her.” And indeed the headmaster could not, he turned in a dizzy little circle but not once did his roaming eyes come even close to Myrtle’s corner, and the pleased flush of emotion Myrtle had felt when she saw that at last her death had some kind of impacting blow, vanished. 

“Why can’t he see me!” she asked indignantly, turning on Nearly Headless Nick. “I can see him, and you and you can see me!” 

“I don’t know, dear,” said Nick placating. Meanwhile the headmaster stared at Nick, his gently piggy eyes worried and weary at the same time. 

“What is it, Sir Nick?” he asked. 

“Excuse us, Professor Dippet. There seems to be a bit of confusion. Myrtle Dowerhaint is here, but apparently you can’t see her? This is entirely strange, because I can see her, and she can certainly see all of us.” 

“She is a ghost though,” replied Dippet, again surveying the flooded bathroom, now liberally draped in night shadows, “is she not?” 

“Seems that way to me,” said Nick, frowning at the girl. “Tell me child, how old are you?” 

Myrtle twitched away from her intense glare of the headmaster and replied most petulantly, “I am nearly fifteen.” 

“How near?” asked Nick. 

“…nine months near,” glowered Myrtle. She drifted away from her little corner and began to circle the headmaster curiously, who batted at the air ever so often as if fending off a bug. “Why can’t he seem me? I thought everyone could see ghosts.” 

“Nearly everyone can,” replied Headless Nick. He worried the edge of his thumb and frowned at the headmaster, who kept shooting nervous look’s at the body of the dead girl, her clothes soaking through as the water level on the floor increased, the flooding yet stopped. “Most people – well, wizard-kind that is – have no problem seeing ghosts, and most ghosts want to be seen.” 

“What?” asked Dippet, head snapping up. “You’re talking to the girl?” 

“She’s worried that you cannot see her, Headmaster,” Nicolas said respectfully. He followed Dippet’s queasy gaze as it once again rested on the corpse of the girl. Floating closer to the teacher, he said softly, “Did you know she was only fourteen?” 

“Nearly fifteen!” Myrtle corrected as she drifted away. Sir Nicolas ignored her, moving to rest a cold and sticky hand on the shoulder of little Headmaster Dippet who had the good and respectful sense not to throw it off. 

“Poor thing. I wonder what happened here.” 

“What indeed,” muttered Nick darkly. 

Just then the lanky form of Albus Dumbledore ducked into the room, and in his wake he brought others, one of the healers (apprentice in tow) from the hospital-ward, a grounds-man, Professor Binns, who immediately drifted to Sir Nicolas’s side, and lastly a young boy, twisting the edge of his school tie in his hands as he hovered just in the doorway of the bathroom. “It is really her?” he kept asking, dancing around in an effort to see past ghosts and people. “Is it really Myrtle?” 

Now, you might find it surprising if it is said at this conjuncture, knowing what you know about Myrtle Dowerhaint, that the youth standing in the door was actually her friend. Her only friend in fact. Let us, for a moment, examine the personage of little Hubbard Gilnook. 

There he stands, his whole body – a perfectly normal collection of little boy limbs attached to a little boy torso – fairly vibrating with horrified and curious disbelief as he gigs around in place, trying to catch a glimpse, even the smallest peek, of his best friend. 

You see, he can’t exactly believe that it is her, but a extremely small pin-prick sized part of him is secretly excited, because after all, he’s never actually really known someone who’s died, and course it’d be rotten luck if it is Myrtle cause she was the only who even ever gave Hubbard a second look, but wow; because if she is dead, well, Hubbard is the only student on the know. 

Funny thing though, about Hubbard. The boy was really very easy to ignore, not unlike the one person in the world he called friend (though if ever asked, Myrtle might have said the friendship in question was suspect at best). So the adults in the room, and the various ghosts found it all to simple to turn their backs on the boy, and while there was a great increase of activities – a soggy body, carefully levitated onto a conjured stretcher while teachers and healers and headmasters all debated about the unknown happenings in the bathroom, and established ghosts attempting to grill the existence of a new ghost – Hubbard got more than an eyeful. 

And of course he was immediately horrified, for what small twelve year old boy wouldn’t be upon realizing that his one friend (prickles and all) was in fact dead. His wailing finally caught the attention of Albus Dumbledore, who was quickest to step out of the bathroom and scoop the lad up in his arms. 

“Gentleman,” Dumbledore said, his voice booming in his chest where little Hubbard Gilnook has his face pressed, “there is a time and place for these conversations and this is not it. Shall we be about our business?” 

If Headmaster Dippet felt annoyed at Dumbledore’s ability command the situation, and if Sir Nicolas felt discomforted because Professor Binns had nothing helpful to say about the ghosthood of Myrtle Dowerhaint, neither man showed it. As for the healer, and the apprentice and the grounds-man, they were all more than happy to quite the bathroom, and so the whole troop marched out, not a one sparing a backwards glance for the girl who hovered, sniffling, in the stall in which she died. 

It is unfortunate though, that Myrtle did not follow her body out of the bathroom, down the hall and to the stairs, for if she had she might’ve heard the wild speculation Dippet did nothing to suppress, and she might’ve witnessed a rather handsome youth, prefect badge shining and guileless face concerned, stop Dumbledore and pull him to the side. 

“Sir, it is true?” Tom Riddle asked, eyeing the floating stretcher which bore the young girl’s body. Dumbledore caught the eye of the healer, who immediately understood the teacher’s intent and took into her arms Hubbard, who’s wails had tapered off to the most pitiful sort of whimpers. 

Both student and teacher waited until the healer, bundle well in hand, was out of ear-shot. Only then did Tom press his case. “Could they really shut down the school?” he asked hands lank at his side. “I’ve nowhere else to go.” 

“It would a most unfortunate turn of events,” replied Dumbledore tiredly. “But not entirely impossible. A girl has died.” 

“But Sir,” said the prefect. Dumbledore waited for more, but Tom looked away, swallowing whatever else he’d meant to say. 

“Dippet speaks too freely, Tom,” Dumbledore said, heavy hand landing on the seventh-year’s shoulder. “We don’t even know what happened yet. While closing the school as a preemptive measure sounds wise, it may not be the best course.” 

“People will be concerned though,” said Tom, licking his thin lips. “The parents will cause problems and the authorities will come, they always do.” 

“Of course, all to be expected.” 

Tom shook his head, shadows making sharp the fine bones in his haughty face. “I can’t leave now, Sir,” the boy said softly. It almost sounded as if he spoke to himself, except that his dark eyes flickered to the lined face of Albus Dumbledore. “I’m not ready yet. They can’t make me leave until I’m ready.” 

“No one’s going anywhere yet, Tom,” Dumbledore said. Surely he meant to sound reassuring but the deep frown on his face, and the murky depth of emotion in his voice made the statement sound like a quarrelsome growl, and Riddle drew back, uncertain: should he feel insulted that the teacher had snapped at him, or weary that perhaps the man saw too much? 

“What would it take, to keep the school open?” the prefect asked, squaring his shoulders. 

“Nothing less than the truth,” replied Dumbledore carefully. He rocked back on his heels and surveyed the boy in front of him down the line of his nose. “A girl died and her – her killer would have to be caught.” 

“Yes, I see,” said the boy, nodding to himself. “A killer must be caught.” 

The killer, Tom,” Dumbledore corrected. “The killer must be caught.” 

“But if caught, they wouldn’t close the school, right? If caught, I can stay.” 

Dumbledore paused before answering. He looked at Tom Riddle as if searching for something, and the moment between them stretched out thin, until it seemed that both boy and man held their breath, waiting for the moment to break. 

“It’s late, Tom,” Dumbledore finally said, looking away from the boy. The teacher pushed his half-moon glasses up his nose and added, “You should be abed. And don’t” – Dumbledore amended, just as Tom Riddle turned away – “go prattling about this to any of your classmates. Do you understand? This is not to be known about by the majority.” 

“Of course, Professor,” the boy replied, his mouth turning up at the ends in a tight echo of a smile. “It will be our little secret.” 





Hello Reader. I just wanted to quickly thank everyone who's showed interest in this odd little story. I appreciate your feed back, your reviews, favorites and support. 

I am very much enjoying the process of writing about Myrtle and I'm thrilled that you readers have had such a good responce. I hope you'll stick around to find out more of this girl's story.

Huggles.

BB


Chapter 4: Ceremony
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A/N: Dear Reader, in this chapter I’ve taken some very obvious liberties with the content. Despite the vast sea of spells, potions and sometimes-foolish wand waving that JK explored in her writing, certain aspects of certain kinds of magic were purposely left unrevealed. She knows in her own writer’s mind how the following bit happens, but she has very intentionally not told her reading audience and I respect that.
While I always meant to stay as canon as I could with this particular tale, because of the hidden nature of the magic I’m about to explore, I’ve had to get creative. But because she welcomes other writers to play around in her world through fan fiction, I am sure that JK – and you – will forgive the liberties I take, and hopefully will appreciate my own distinctive interpretation.
BB


Chapter 4:
They had taken her body away, and without it Myrtle felt horrible alone. It had been a tie to what had happened, evidence – real and impossible to ignore – that she was in fact, dead. Able to look upon the waxy expression of her own corpse, Myrtle had no choice but to accept the unacceptable. She was gone, ended. But, with her body away, Myrtle’s ghosthood became suddenly very real. She wasn’t just ended, she was ending. Always ending, a continual course of some strange unnatural half existence.

“Not fair,” she muttered to herself, staring at the floor. Not fair that her feet no longer touched the ground. Not fair that she could not cup water in her hands to quench a thirst that she’d died with; a thirst that apparently she would for the rest of her non-existence be now plagued with. It was not fair that they had not seen her, those who had come for her body and left with her body and spared not a real look for the ghost left behind. It was not fair, that the longer she stayed within the confines of the bathroom, the more she remembered. Of her death, inane details that at the time hadn’t matter a wit but now seemed to matter so much.

She would not get away from the scent of mold, for it had been in her nose when she died and was there still. She felt chilled, and had felt chilled before she had died, her tatty school robe not nearly enough to clothe out the damp of too much stone and laughter. She had been before death, just a little bit hungry, and wondered now if she would ever feel full again.

And there was the emptiness, the great black emptiness with its own weight and its cold and its own scent. The absence of her mortality. Gone-gone-gone and never ever coming back, a mortal coil that would now forever be out of reach, a strand of life not cut, but rather pulled from between her little girl hands.

If hours passed, Myrtle did not feel them. Time (though she was mostly unaware of it) could not blanket the dead the way it did the living. It’s burden was lifted from her the moment her life had been snuffed out, and so evening sunk deeper into night, and while the bitter spider fingers of midnight, then two a.m., then three caresses sleeping persons with active blood in their veins, Myrtle did not connect to the passing hours.

What she thought about in those first few desperate and alone hours is a jumble. To look on those thoughts now is to see their reflections in muddy water, the wind of circumstance and choice blowing ripples across their surfaces. You might catch a glimpse of sorrow, the kind you cannot fathom while you draw breath, and you might see anger, blessed warmth in so much murk and cold.

Confusion could glint like a fleck of gray and disorientation makes all those ripples small, hardly stirring at all. You won’t see much that you’ll understand, but you might see something you recognize later, for this one all-too slow night did more to shape and spur on the girl-ghost than perhaps anything that had happened before.

Oh how terrible it is, to think that even with all the many unhappiness’ Myrtle suffered in life, it this first evening of death that made her a most troubled and regrettable soul. Yes, yes she certainly had been a pathetic and dreary person to begin with, but now, as night submitted willingly to morning, a lover of midnight bones rolling over to embrace her partner of morning flesh, Myrtle was becoming something more than what she had been while alive.

And perhaps it was this aspect, this sliding suckling transformation of an unfettered soul that drew a girl’s killer back to the scene of the crime. The bathroom door creaked open, and a spell of privacy was caste. He knew he was damn fool to do to it here, in this place. But where else could be more sacred, hold more ceremony? Even if he himself had not performed the final act, his hand had been behind it. And it had happened here: right…yes, right here. Tom Riddle understood the importance of places.

So he took out the journal with all due care. He swung his school robe away from his trim shoulders, and arranged it on the damp floor. He locked the door with a magic of his own making and conjured the seven candles he’d prepared, tall white pillars, unburned and untouched.

His fine hands with their nimble fingers were more efficient than gentle as he set the journal aside, rose and lit the candles, placing each one until a ring surrounded him. He did not notice the girl peering over the top of the toilet stall, and if she sniffed, or her icy breath caught at the site of his young haughty face, he took no notice. Myrtle had not existed for him in life except to fill a need, which could have been served by anyone in the right time and place. She did not existence now for him in death, so she watched while he worked and the boy was none the wiser for it.

As for Myrtle, her hands unable to grip the edge of the stall wall, her face unable to blush, she only had one thought and it was this: He knows I’m dead and he’s come to mourn me. Beautiful Tom Riddle. He’s the most lucky thing to ever happen to me.

In the jerky flickers of candle-light, and the smoky shadows of the wee hours, Tom Riddle – for perhaps the first time in anyone’s recent memory – actually looked like the boy he was. The smearing of light and shadow rendered the youth a hollow looking thing, all pale skin pulled just a bit too tightly across bone. The mouth, usually so lush and impertinent now seemed petulant and swollen. And his eyes, almost shallowly set into the skull, look wide and bloodshot.

Myrtle saw none of that though. She could only tip her head to the side and love the way his smooth motionless dark hair cupped his skull. She rather liked how very uniform his body was, as tall as it was broad, one arm no longer than the other. He wore his second hand clothes as if they were new and his prefect badge was always so shiny and bright, like a winking star.

It is not uncommon for girls of any sort to find themselves swayed by a person of great haugher, and Tom Riddle had that in spades; not just an affectation but an ugly kind of determined glamour he never completely shed. Even here, in this alone place with his blood trembling in his veins and sweat beading along his spine, he did possess an undeniable surety. It flared like black lightening in his dark eyes, and Myrtle was not mistaken, when she took the slight up turning of his prettily cruel as an expression of pleasure. He was pleased, immensely and obscenely pleased.

From the pocket of his slacks, Tom withdrew a bit of chalk, and stepping outside his circle of robe and candles, begin marking on the floor. The pattern of damp titles chipped at the chalk, and more than once did the boy carefully retrace over his rune-work, digging the chalk lines deep into the grooves of the bathroom floor if he had to, to make sure his circle was unbroken.

To Myrtle it looked as if he played at some silly sort of magic game, the kind she might have amused herself with as a stripling girl, tucked away from her parents, solitarily occupied in some cramped space of her choosing, where a little wand flourishing and bits of make-believe words could wrought upon her what nature and circumstance had not: beauty, a desire to laugh, to run and play and be careless and accepted.

But Tom played at no game. From his other pocket he withdrew a square of parchment, which he stared at for a moment. Myrtle leaned forward of the top of her stall, squeaking when hands that alive might have held her in place, sunk through the wood, setting her off balance to float nearly horizontally. She cursed, and floundered.
Tom’s head snapped up, his eyes went wide and his whole body tensed. “I’m alone,” he said. “I’m the only one here.”

Myrtle froze too, having gained a little equilibrium. She had not the heart to correct her Tom, and it didn’t matter a fig anyway figuring there was no seeing her to begin with. She just waited, and he waited and after a moment there was an audible sigh (his, not her, for ghosts have no need of air in the lungs) and activity resumed.

He unfolded the parchment and was very mechanical as he double checked the chalk work, the lines looking more gray than white against the damp black stone floor. He sank down onto his haunches at one point; nose nearly level with the floor as he looked from his notations to the floor, than back to his notations. Finally satisfied though, he stood up briskly, refolded the parchment and moved to put it in his pocket. 

Myrtle, having given up the pretence of hiding in her stall, drifted to the darkest corner she could, where she huddled and sniffed, watching Tom intently. This was the strangest sort of thing she’d ever seen done for a dead person, she thought as the boy cocked his head to the side. He regarded the square of paper in his hand, almost as if he were having a silent conversation with it. His expression changed, one from calculation to decision, and suddenly he tossed the paper into the air, drew out his wand in a sinuous gesture and faster than Myrtle could blink, the parchment burst into fast orange flames before drifting down in smoldering bits to land on the robe.

Tom stepped over the candles to quickly stamp out the burning confetti and Myrtle felt her mouth pull as if to grin, for he looked very silly and very young, stomping every which way to keep his school robe from getting burned. As it was, Myrtle could see a hole in the wool where Tom had missed a corner piece near the collar, and she thought with an indulgent sigh, that if she were still alive she might have pointed it out to him. He would have thanked her, for everyone knew he was very fastidious about his appearance, and then Myrtle – because she was a good thinker when properly motivated – would have used a bit of witty magic to set the robe aright and oh but that would have been a good opening for a conversation and smiles.

Myrtle swallowed, her hand unthinkingly rubbing at her chest. It was too late now, she thought liltingly. To late for conversation or witty magic or his smiles. That, like everything else, wasn’t fair and what could a ghost do about that? Nothing, because ghosts – or at least Myrtle as a ghost – could do nothing. Who said death was any different than life? “I wasn’t anything then,” she said, knowing she had only herself to hear it. “I’m still nothing. Nothing and none at all.”

When he started speaking, she looked up. In one hand he held the journal, carefully balanced, and in the other he gripped his wand. His eyes were closed softly and he spoke softly, as if telling a story in whispers. Myrtle found herself leaning forward, for Tom Riddle had a strange sort of voice, like velvet and razors, young but so very sure,  and was also eerie as well as captivating.

He spoke and the things he said – horrible slippery hissing things – set such a tremor in Myrtle that she fell back away, deep into her corner and as he carried on, voice growing louder, she crouched tighter and tighter into herself. Something, a slowly sliding something that she couldn’t quite remember, seemed familiar about those words, the odd little made-up language. She could not understand what he said, but she recognized the things he said and oh the fear it set in her. Myrtle shook, tucked into her corner. She shook and knew fear and it was nothing like the fear of being dead. This was something more… Something worse.

What happened next, the dead girl did not witness. Even if she had seen what Tom was about to do, she could not have explained it, for such magic for the moral soul is vulgar and heinous, and if you understand what it means to love, to have courage and faith than you cannot understand this, which is the better for you.

Even Mrytle, who was in life naturally shut-off, introverted and waspish, could hardly stomach as a mere shade of her former self, to remain in that space with him, while Tom Riddle chanted, and performed his terribly ceremony.

The candles flickered. The words wore on. The magic thickened.
It gathered, a cloud invisible and yet audible and it was the whine of a thousand mosquitoes, the thready pulse of a dying heart and a shriek of broken hope.

To look on the boy was to see the physical evidence of the darkness he gathered too him. It was on his face, and if you thought his expression – swollen mouth open, eyes wide and unseeing, cheeks flushed and brow pinched – was one of pleasure than you would be wrong, for the agonized cry that tore through the boy’s body was one of such impossible intensity it could not be contained in any sound. Pain such as that cannot be heard, it can only be felt and Myrtle and Tom felt it indeed, silenced by it’s horror, striven in two by it’s purpose, forever changed by it’s result.

The boy’s body arched up, as if pulled on invisible strings and he stood on tip-toe, and his frame bucked, arms jerking. The journal fell to the floor with a thud, barely discernable over the whine and wind of dark-magic and he screamed. He screamed and he screamed and he screamed: silent and bound forever and Myrtle could not even look at him, for she was afraid of what he had done, and she was ashamed because she did not want to save him from it, she only wanted to survive it.

Then the magic was done, it’s worked achieved.

The boy fell to the floor. His head bounced against the hard stone, and his wand rolled from his flung hand, as his grip was loosened by his unconscious mind. He breathed shallowly and Myrtle went still, her eyes held shut, her body bent.

And in the silence, there could be heard a rustling and if boy or girl had been able to look, they would have turned their attention to the journal, which lay open, it’s blank pages flipping slowly, one by one: stirred by a wind that was not there.

Chapter 5: Funeral
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Chapter 5:
It would later become a regret of Myrtle’s that on the day of her funeral she was still occupying the bathroom in which she died, very idea that she might actually leave that horrid little place with its ostentatious stone sink and murky windows having yet occurred to her. 

So, while students and staff (and parents) dutifully filed into the Great Hall for the occasion, Myrtle was busy experimenting with her ghosthood. If nothing else it filled the time and besides which, Myrtle was rather glad to discover that all it took to make one of the toilet stall doors move was a measure of well-invested effort and some serious concentration. And while one might wonder what use it would be for a ghost to be able to open a door when one could simply walk through the door, Myrtle was yet attached to who she had been, instead of who she was. In her mind it was only proper that she actually physically open the door, rather than push her smoky incorporeal self through it. 

Had she actually attended though, Myrtle would have been surprised by her funeral. On the subject of funerals she had the same general impressions as everyone else; that naturally being dreary affairs, funerals should happen on cloudy drippy days, and everyone in attendance ought to wear their grief and exhaustion on their sleeves. If music were to be played, it would be that horrible sort of organ clatter you never hear except at funerals, and any food to be served should would cold, and boring and eaten with all solemnity. 

But the day was far from cloudy, and certainly not drippy. The sky instead choosing to show a brilliant blue with only the softest fluffiest sort of clouds scuttling across its reaching expanse. The people pressed into the halls all chattered easily, for most of the students were there mandatorily, the majority of who could only remember Myrtle the way they might remember their dislike for some sort of mushy green vegetable: that is to say, with a soft mildly disgusted expression quickly hidden away. 

As for the music, none played unless you considered the quick darting gossip that chased from person to person and what food was to be expected had already happened, lunch having been served (as normal) an hour ago and the Great Hall hastily cleaned and readied afterwards. 

And while Myrtle might’ve been able to ignore the lack of depressing atmospheric participation, and the lack of appropriately painfully organ music, and the dull food, she certainly would have found the general mood appalling. She wanted tears for her death, and wails for her passing and perhaps some very pretty sentiments from unexpected corners about how misunderstood she had been. 

Even if Myrtle hadn’t thought about leaving the bathroom, she had certainly thought about the school’s reaction to her death, and time and lack of company had provided her ample room in which to imagine the silence of so many students and teachers and strangers wishing – now that it was too late – that they’d known Myrtle Dowerhaint better. They would be sad, she had decided: regretfully, shame-facedly and guiltily sad. 

Unfortunately the only people at the funeral to truly appear regretful, ashamed and guilty…were Myrtle’s parents. 

Todd Philips Dowerhaint IV was Myrtle’s father. On the topic of his name he had this to say: “Well it’s damn lucky, is it not that she were a girl and not having to carry ‘round a name like that? Who the bloody hell wants such a mouthful anyhow? ‘Sides, Myrtle’s a well enough name and if you’ve got half a mind it’s not hard to spell either.” 

On the topic of her husband’s name, Mercy Dowerhaint had this to say: “Oh do shut it, Todd dear.” 

Between them the best description to be had was an unremarkable one. They were the sorts of people who did not makes waves, do not leaves lasting impressions and who would never ever be suspect of anything as exciting as a scandal; or even gossip of a scandal. They were predictable even-keeled mundane people. Average. Boring. The kind of people who’s nightly excitement might be whether it was boiled eel or beans on toast for dinner. 

But even as average and boring as they were, the upheaval of emotions they felt at their daughter’s death was to be expected, and so no one said anything at the faintly canine sort of howling that came from Mr. Dowerhaint when Headmaster Dippet spoke of the fleeting nature of mortality, and no one could fault Mrs. Dowerhaint when she flung herself into her husband’s arms with such gusty wails that some people wondered at the power of her lungs. 

And while witness to the extreme of their emotional torment, not a single soul could call either Dowerhaint even-keeled. Such is the nature of grief, to tear us from the cocoons of our normal selves, to render us strangers to our own expectations, and to change, inexorably and infinitely, the people who we always thought we were. 

The funeral ended, the Dowerhaints dried their eyes, nodded vaguely at the people who expressed their sentiments, and then went home. Myrtle’s body was interned without ceremony in the family plot, next to grandmamma Hope Dowerhaint, and grandpapa Todd Phillips Dowerhaint III, and of course Mr. Spoons, the family dog which Todd Philips Dowerhaint IV accidently killed three years back with a bit of forgotten rat-poison. Myrtle hardly noticed at the time, for she had never especially liked the dog. Dowerhaints and animals were really very ill-suited to each other.
It was Hubbard Gilnook who ended up telling Myrtle about her funeral, for just after it he went skipping to the bathroom in which she died, his grief less than that of her parents but perhaps more sincere for his determination to only remember her with good feelings and happy smiles. 

He came with cookies in his pockets (“Can ghosts eat cookies, do you think?” he’d asked his lunch-mate, who’d ignored him for being strange). He had quite a lot to tell Myrtle and he felt very important indeed, because Albus Dumbledore had told him about Myrtle being a ghost, because he’d wanted Hubbard to stop carrying on so and Dumbledore hadn’t told her parents and Hubbard really wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else, so it was a secret and Hubbard was its keeper; or so said Dumbledore, who Hubbard rather liked a lot on account that the teacher always seemed to have sweets on hand to hush up a crying fit. 

“Mert’?” he called, coming into the bathroom boldly, the door slamming in his wake. “You should come out. I went to your funeral and it was jolly good.” 

Myrtle – who had been dozing with her head resting on the rim of the toilet seat in her favorite stall – started. She of course immediately recognized Hubbard’s twelve year-old voice, and several thoughts flashed across her mind at once, such as, “Why is he here?” and “When will he go away?” and “What funeral?” 

“And I’ve got cookies, except their all broken now…but you can still eat the broken bits I guess. Mert’?” 

“I hate that name,” Myrtle said to herself. She pushed up off the floor (well, as much as a ghost can push up off of anything) and only after a moment’s hesitation managed to get the stall door swinging enough that she could slip past it. 

Hubbard, who’d been staring around the bathroom curiously, twitched at the movement of the stall door. “Mert’, is that you?” he asked, thinking that maybe he should just double check in case maybe there was some other ghost here who didn’t like cookies and didn’t care about some girl’s funeral. 

“…Mert’?” 

“Oh for the love of god!” Myrtle exclaimed, throwing her hands up, “don’t call me that!”
Hubbard blinked. “It’s only a nickname,” he said, staring at Myrtle. His little mouth fell open and then he added, “You’re all see-through. Did you know?” 

“Bleeding teabags,” Myrtle swore. “Course I am. I’m dead, aren’t I?” 

“Dumbledore say’s you’re not dead, you’re a ghost and he wouldn’t let me tell your mum or your da’ or anyone else cause it’s a secret.” 

“My parents are here?” Myrtle asked in confusion. She was surprised; it was a clammy feeling that rushed through her whole body. Her parents… Why hadn’t she thought of them before now? 

“No, well – they were here,” replied Hubbard, digging out a cookie shard which he then popped into his mouth. “For the ‘uneral,” he added around a mouthful of cookie. 

“Whose funeral?” Myrtle asked, gripping the edge of her sweater. How odd, a corner of her mind thought, that even in death (or non-death as it were) she could still feel so completely anxious, so completely set adrift. As if a fact were right in front of her face, but her mind simply could not grasp it. 

“Weren’t you listening?” Hubbard asked, puffing out his chest. “Your own funeral. I thought maybe you’d come, you know, cause ghosts like to do stuff like that, go to their own funerals. Nearly Headless Nick did.” 

“I…” Myrtle swallowed and stared at her friend blindly. She felt terribly dizzy, dizzy and guilty and… Well it was all very final now, wasn’t it? A funeral meant something, meant she was recognized as being completely dead. Anyone who’d known her now just thought her dead and dead meant gone. Meant you were no one anymore. 

“Hubbard,” Myrtle asked very carefully, “why did Dumbledore not tell my parents that I’m… That I didn’t…” 

“That you’re a ghost and everything?” 

Myrtle resisted the urge to roll her eyes or simply scream, and so nodded, her lips tightly sealed. 

“He said something about uh…” Hubbard’s little boy faced squished up in concentration. “About funerals giving people peace? Yeah, and that it’s not just the dead that get to go rest; its people too. You know, the ones who didn’t die.” 

“The ones you leave behind,” Myrtle supplied, turning away. She wrapped her arms around herself and nodded. Yes. That made sense. It would be easier, Merlin help her, if her parents really did think her completely gone, not just half gone. At least they’d get to move on, instead of being stuck in some horrible gossamer limbo. A half world, full of gray and cold and… 

Myrtle sniffed. “Hubbard, could you please go away?” she asked without looking at the boy. Hubbard’s eyes widened and he debated about whether or not to be insulted. 

“Really? But I haven’t told you all the good stuff yet. Everyone was there and Dippet gave this really long boring speech. Your da’ cried a lot.” 

“Just go, Hubbard.” 

“Nah… Really?” 

“Yes, really,” Myrtle replied. She could not bear to look at the boy at all. He was so friendly and stupid and excited. Boys were like that, world could be just going to pieces and they’d all clap their hands, pleased as…well, anything. 

“…oh. Alright,” replied Hubbard. He sounded dejected and Myrtle could very easily picture his expression, but she did not turn to confirm it. She made no move in fact, staying perfectly still, for she was as embedded to her spot as a tree to the good earth. She was feeling a great mix of emotions, and they were the roots that went deep. 

When Myrtle failed to say anything else, not even a good bye, Hubbard sighed a great gusty sigh. “I’ll go now,” he told Myrtle’s back. “And maybe later… Could I? Do you want me to come back ever?” 

Myrtle blinked at the floor. She had often felt bothered and put-out by Hubbard Gilnook in life, so it was very odd indeed, that now the idea of him coming back to this horrible dank place, just to see her, lifted Myrtle’s spirits as much as they were capable of being lifted. But of course it would not do to give the boy an open door, so she just shrugged, and let the lad made of that what he would. 

Then he left: he shuffled his feet and glanced back at Myrtle but she wasn’t saying anything and not even looking at him, so Hubbard figured she was awfully upset about missing her own funeral, cause who wouldn’t want to go to their very own funeral? But anyway, he’d go cause she asked and the bathroom door closed behind him very softly, and Myrtle shuddered at the gentle sound. 

So her parents had come, she thought, biting her lip. They’d come looking as plain as they ever did, and they probably didn’t say anything, which was alright really, because neither were particularly good at conversation. But she hoped they’d been sad. Good and weepy and sad. Parents should be sad when they’re kids die, and Myrtle really just wanted someone else to be as sad as she was. 

But god, she’d been buried, Myrtle thought, letting out a shaky breath. Put down deep into the ground. “Probably next to that barmy dog,” she muttered morosely. Myrtle was getting rather good at muttering, morosely or otherwise. She found muttering suited ghosthood quite well. “I hated that dog,” she added with a sigh. 

“So I said to Patrick that a duck with a cape could fly as good as he could and it’s no reason we lost the game if it’s blokes like him on the field,” said a voice at the same time as the bathroom door squeaked open. “I mean really, it’s not like catching a quaffle is that hard. I know cause my brother showed me once.” 

Myrtle gasped. Olive Hornby came a sudden and silent stop. The girls stared at each other. 

“I – I thought you said she died!” exclaimed the friend Olive had dragged with her to the bathroom. “I thought you said she died!” 

“Oh shut it, Marcy,” Olive snapped caustically. She kept her eyes on Myrtle, adding with a shrug. “It’s only a ghost, plenty of those around here.” 

“You,” hissed Mrytle, hands balled into fists. “What are you doing here?” 

“Gotta pee,” replied Olive Hornby with a shake of her head. “What else? I mean really, are you daft as well as dead?” 

“You’re…” Myrtle paused, trying to find a good enough insult for horrible Olive Hornby. She came up short, so she said instead, “You’re not supposed to be here. I’m sure the headmaster closed this place off.” 

“Gah, what for?” Olive asked, shaking her head. “It’s only you and folks still gotta pee.”
“I—can we just go,” asked Marcy Shingleshack, a small mousy sort of girl who hovered at Olive’s shoulder. “I really don’t want to be here.” 

“You’re pathetic,” said Olive, but she shrugged and apparently that was consent enough, because Marcy darted out of the bathroom. The door shuddered closed behind her, and silence descended slickly. 

“Well,” Olive said after a moment. “How have you been since you died, Myrtle?” 

“I’m not dead,” Myrtle replied petulantly. 

“Technically you are though,” said Olive, scratching her nose. She regarded Myrtle with a level look, the sort of look one might receive by a person who was very sure they knew everything there was to know and so could never ever be wrong. If the people around Olive Hornby found this particular arrogance a tad bit annoying though, they never said for it was a better thing to be on the good side of such a person. 

“I mean,” Olive went on, head cocking to one side, “you have died. Your body is…well empty and you’re the emotional echo of what is left of your soul. So you are dead.” This last was stated almost kindly, and Olive batted her eyelashes at Myrtle expectantly, as if she was just waiting for Myrtle to thank her for the information. 

“Excuse me?” Myrtle asked hands lank at her side. It is understandable that this was the only response she could utter, for Olive Hornby was the kind of person to render other people speechless for sheer audacity. Unfortunately Olive often took such replies as a sign of lacking intelligence or an inability to keep up, so she gave Myrtle an extremely pitying look, and Myrtle, whose day had already been extremely trying, snapped. 

“I’m. Not. Dead!” she screamed, and launched herself at Olive. Sadly enough though, Myrtle being a ghost and Olive Hornby not being a ghost, the blows Myrtle threw at the girl didn’t even land, and all Olive suffered was a twinge in her ankle from where she’d tripped backward, and the particular sensation of cob-webs wherever Myrtle hit her. 

“Stop, stop, stop!” Olive exclaimed after a moment, waving away the pesky ghost. “You’re so damn sensitive, I mean really!” 

But Myrtle was beyond herself now, and as she realized the complete ineffectuality of her attack, some much like the complete ineffectuality of her whole mortal existence, something very close to rage and despair filled up every corner of her mind and she stopped hitting Olive Hornby and instead began to scream.

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