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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.


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