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Warning, before I get into it: This story deals with such topics as social anxiety disorder, bullying, character death, and (minimally) slash. If any of these bother you, you should probably not read on. 

 

The tension hadn’t eased by breakfast the next morning, much to Olive’s chagrin. She had the same wish most mornings – that Aggie would somehow forget what had happened the night before (because something always happened), and that Myrtle would miraculously start getting along with everyone. But every morning was the same.

Aggie had been recounting the events of the previous night to Mabel, who sat across from them. Lottie sat halfway down the table with Charles, which was usually the case ever since he had begun courting her. Olive simply tuned everybody out. Aggie’s bitterness got old quickly.

“Olive?” Olive snapped back into the moment. Mabel was looking at her expectantly, while Aggie looked a little perturbed at being interrupted. What had she missed? They would be upset with her for not listening, she was sure. Should she lie? Should she pretend she was listening? 

“Hm?” she replied.

“Are you okay? You look distracted.”

Olive shook her head. “I’m fine,” she said, taking a bite of food onto her fork. “Just a little tired, I suppose.” Mabel didn't seem mad. Perhaps she wasn't, after all. Olive sighed, relieved. 

Aggie snorted. “I’m not surprised. We don’t all sleep like the dead.” She gave a pointed look at Mabel.

When Myrtle walked by, Olive’s fork was halfway between her plate and her mouth, which hung slightly open in anticipation. She froze. Myrtle’s eyes flicked over to them for a fraction of a second, but then stared steadfastly ahead of her as she walked. Her eyes were still red.

Olive put her fork down and watched Myrtle as she took her usual seat at the end of the table. She folded her arms on the surface of the table and continued to look between Myrtle and her friends.

“…like someone would actually consider picking her as someone worth attacking!” Aggie kept on.

Olive knew all about Myrtle’s fears. She, herself, was a muggleborn witch, and could sympathize with Myrtle at least that much. Although she was much more reserved about her anxiety, she knew what it was like to be afraid. Aggie’s comments struck her hard.

“In her defense,” Olive started cautiously, not wanting to upset Aggie further, “it is-”

“Did you just say,” Aggie interrupted her, “that you’re defending her?”

“Aggie,” Mabel warned.

Aggie glanced at Mabel before turning to face Olive. “Well?”

Olive didn't know what to say. She felt attacked, from every direction. The way Aggie was looking at her - Olive wanted to cry. She wanted to leave, go back to the Tower, get back into bed, and stay there all day. Wait - they had been talking about something. Aggie had asked her a question. Olive remembered. “Jeremy,” she started, “the fourth-year Gryffindor. Nicest bloke in school – he was attacked. And if someone would want to get him…” Olive trailed off, but the implications were felt. 

Aggie simply rolled her eyes, uncaring. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “The point remains that I am tired, and she is being ridiculous.” She stood up roughly and picked up her books. “I’ll meet you after class.” And then she left.

Olive and Mabel were silent. Olive was staring steadfastly down at her plate, fiddling with her fork in her fingers, when Mabel said, “You know Aggie doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“No, she’s right,” Olive shook her head. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s stupid.”

“That’s not true,” Mabel disagreed. “She’s just upset. You have every right to be worried.”

Olive gave a small smile and shrugged. “I thought we were talking about Myrtle,” she said.

Mabel hummed and looked up at Olive. “Well, she has every right, too.”

---

Thankfully, Olive didn’t have class with any of her dorm mates that morning. It wasn’t that Olive disliked any of her fellow fifth-year Ravenclaws, but she was growing tired of them, with the exception of Mabel. Lottie seemed to be leaving them behind, Aggie was getting continually more irritable, and Myrtle was simply impossible to get along with. Olive was grateful for the time to herself.

That was the very reason she had decided to take Divination. It wasn’t that the subject matter was interesting to her, or that she was even very good at it. In fact, if one were being completely honest, she was absolutely dreadful at the subject. But, she wanted a few hours where she wasn’t surrounded by those girls. 

They had been studying bibliomancy – employing the use of books in Divination – for the past week, and Olive had yet to see any connection with the readings she had gotten with her everyday life. They had gone over the theory extensively in class: how readings differ depending on the book chosen (for example, one using the Bible will most likely get a much different reading than one using the Odyssey or the Qur’an.

She had pulled out her chart, laying out the properties and histories of the different texts, the proper technique, and various interpretations, which they were to have done for homework in preparation for today’s readings. Olive had slaved over it for hours in the library, all while Aggie was twittering away in her ear and Mabel was throwing useless information at her which was apparently supposed to help. The end result was that, although she was able to finish her chart, she was so distracted that she had no idea what it meant or how to use it.

She sat next to a large Hufflepuff girl named Ardella, who seemed to be having no problems at all. In fact, every few minutes or so, Olive could hear her muttering words of encouragement to herself. Things like “That’s exactly right, ‘Della,” or “Perfect,” which only made Olive squirm more. She had barely scraped by the previous year with a passing grade, and she would have to do a whole lot better than that if she wanted to do well, or at least adequately, on her OWLs. She turned slightly in her chair, hiding her chart from Ardella's view. She was sure it was wrong, and didn't want Ardella to notice and comment about her idiocy, or even think it. 

She took another reading, letting her book – the Bible – fall open. Picking her passage, she opened her eyes and scribbled down what she had gotten, and hastily writing an interpretation to go along with it. She took a look at her chart, and then back at what she had written. “No, that’s not right,” she mumbled, taking her quill and scratching out a part of her writing.

“You alright?” Olive’s head snapped up and her eyes met Ardella’s.

Olive swallowed, and nodded slowly. “Yea,” she said. “I’m alright.”

“You’re talking to yourself.”

The first thought Olive had was how unfair a judgement it was. Hadn’t she been talking to herself only moments ago? In fact, Olive felt herself getting slightly angry at the unfairness of it all, but knew she wouldn't say anything. She never did. Olive took a deep breath and closed her eyes before responding.

“It helps me think,” she said.

Ardella seemed to think about this for a second, and then nodded, looking back down at her own readings and chart and writing furiously. She had taken out a piece of parchment for notes, and although Olive was unsure as to what notes there were to write, she took a piece out as well. She didn't want to do anything wrong. 

“Miss Hornby,” she heard from behind her. Not good, she thought, as she turned in her seat and came face to face with the professor. She hastily tried to stow her parchment away from behind her back.

“Y-yes, Professor,” Olive stuttered.

“What are you doing?”

“Working on my readings.”

The Professor stared at her chart a little longer, and Olive reddened. She was sure it was all wrong, and she was about to be called out on it. She wished dearly that she could stuff her chart back in her bag and leave. Ardella was watching, Olive could see out of the corner of her eye. 

“You’ve gotten sortes Virgilianae and sortes Homericae switched,” the Professor noted.

“Pardon?”

“Virgil and Homer. They’re switched.”

Olive looked down at her chart, taking only a moment for her to recover. “Oh, right.” She nodded quickly, and coughed. “Thank you, Professor.”

As soon as the Professor had moved on, Olive let out a loud exhale and sank lower in her seat. She fixed her char, grabbed her book and went through the steps again.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing,” she read quietly, making note of it on her chart.

Ardella tutted, drawing Olive’s attention to her. “How fitting,” she drawled. Olive blushed.

---

Olive had precisely ten minutes to go back to Ravenclaw tower, grab her books, and head to History of Magic, and so far, she was precisely on time. She answered that annoying riddle to let her into the tower, she bounded up the steps (two at a time), opened the door to the dormitory –

“Oh – hello.” Myrtle was lying on her bed, staring up at the ceiling.

“What are you doing here?” Olive asked. She hadn't expected anyone to be in the dormitory, and it had her slightly fazed. 

“So I’m not even allowed to be in my own bed?” Myrtle laughed hollowly. “I don’t suppose I’m surprised.”

Olive immediately began shying away. Myrtle was upset. Had she done something wrong? No, Olive told herself. She had been upset beforehand.“That’s not what I – we’ve got class, is all.”

“I’m not going.”

Olive took a step closer, reaching out to grab a book off of her bed. She looked at it – it wasn’t the one she needed. Where had she put it? She was sure she had left it on her bed - that's where she had always left it. 

“Why not? You don’t usually miss class,” she commented, pulling her comforter to the side to look under her bed. Nothing.

“Oh, you’ve noticed, then?” Myrtle sulked. “Well, besides the fact that it’s dreadfully boring-” she cut off when she noticed Olive crawling on the floor. “What are you doing down there?”

“Can’t find my book,” Olive grunted, hoisting herself back up onto her feet. She knew she looked silly.

Myrtle glowered at her, and Olive noticed that her eyes were red and watery. Either she had been crying moments before, or she was just about to. “Why do you always have to make everything about you, Olive?” she chastised. Olive's heart jump-started. What had she done? Myrtle was upset with her. Or was she just upset? Olive took a break from looking for her book to look up at Myrtle. “Anyway, it’s not even worth me going.”

Olive opened her trunk – perhaps it was in there? “Why do you say that?” she asked, careful not to include a personal statement. It was clear Myrtle would simply reject it anyway. 

“That’s an ignorant question,” she remarked, and Olive began to think that maybe she should just forget about the book and leave. Myrtle was clearly in no mood to talk, and Olive was quickly losing the resolve to continue this conversation. “You know Everett Brown has been teasing me all day.” Actually, Olive did know this, but only because Everett Brown teased Myrtle every day. This was not new information, and Olive wondered why Myrtle was bringing it up now.

“You shouldn’t let him keep you from going to class, though.”

“Goodness, Olive, take mine!” Myrtle shouted, tossing her book at Olive. Olive caught it at the very last second, the corner piercing her arm. She bit back a short cry of pain. “And what would you know about it, anyway?” Myrtle continued to whine. “Everybody likes you. You haven’t got these awful glasses, or pimples.”

Fine, Olive thought. It was obvious her efforts were futile, anyway. “Shall I take notes for you?”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Myrtle demanded.

Olive furrowed her brow in confusion. She wasn’t aware her offer could mean multiple things, and racked her brain quickly to find something else. She found nothing. “I don’t-”

“I suppose you don’t think I’ve got any friends to take notes for me?” she cried. Olive regretted starting this conversation in the first place. In fact, she should have simply rushed to History of Magic without coming back to the tower. She was going to be late now, as well. Everyone would look at her as she walked in and wonder where she had been. They would make judgements, start rumors...perhaps she should stay here as well. 

“Bollocks, I know you’ve got friends.” This was a lie, Olive knew, but she could see no other way out. And she wanted out.

“You’re lying,” Myrtle pointed out, tears already coming out of her eyes. “Why did you even come back here? Like to rub it in my face that nobody likes me?” No, she definitely couldn't stay here. She had no place to go. She would be facing jeers anywhere she went, she was sure of it. 

Olive shook her head frantically, her only wish being to make it out of the room alive. “That’s not true,” she said, and was about to add more lies to it when Myrtle cut her off.

“Why do you have to be so horrid?” She howled. “I know what you and Aggie always say behind my back! I may not be pretty like you, but I can hear just fine!”

Aggie, Olive thought, Aggie says those things, and almost said this out loud, but she knew Myrtle wouldn’t believe her. She was far too stubborn, especially when she was so upset. “Are you-” she started, “I mean, will you – be okay?” she asked. The moment she had said those words, however, she knew it was the wrong thing to say. Again

“Like you even care,” Myrtle sniveled. “Why don’t you just go run off to Aggie. You two can talk about how stupid and ugly silly old Myrtle is!”

Olive, although feeling the need to point out the fact that she had never said anything like that about Myrtle, kept her mouth shut, nodded, and backed quickly through the open doorway. When she slammed it shut, she could hear the reverberations echoing throughout the tower. She wondered if anyone were around to hear it, and would they come down wondering what it had been? 

She shook her head, squeezed the bridge of her nose with her index finger and her thumb, and rushed down the stairs into the Common Room and out the door. She couldn't go to History of Magic. She was already five minutes late, and she couldn't show up after class had already started - she couldn't face her classmates passing judgement on her. She had nowhere to go. 

---

“Do you think I’m,” Olive scrunched her nose, “horrid?”

Mabel chuckled as she walked out of the Astronomy Tower. Aggie had bolted as soon as class ended, hoping to get to the library before it closed, and Lottie was lingering just outside the doorway for Charles to pick her up, leaving Mabel and Olive to walk back to Ravenclaw Tower alone. Not that Olive minded. “You? Of course not. Nobody could ever think that, Olive.”

“Myrtle says I’m horrid.”

Mabel sighed and took Olive’s hand. “Myrtle doesn’t know very much about human interaction,” she said. “I wouldn’t read too much into it. Trust me, you’re not.”

Olive, of course, didn’t accept this, but nodded her head and smiled anyway.

“When did she say this?”

“I was looking for my History of Magic book. I told her she had friends, and she said I was horrid.”

Mabel scoffed. “Only she could turn a compliment into an insult,” she said, seemingly to no one in particular. Then she turned back to Olive. “She’s the horrid one, Olive. Not you.”

They walked slowly back to Ravenclaw Tower, neither one saying a word. Mabel seemed to sense Olive’s apprehension at facing Myrtle again, and squeezed her hand tightly. Olive looked over at her and gave her a small, forced smile.

“A human being,” Mabel stated. Olive stared. What? She had missed something Mabel had said, and it was probably important. 

Then she led Olive through the door to enter the common room. Oh. They had already made it back to the tower. Olive reddened and dropped Mabel’s hand. Mabel began to make her way up to the dormitories, when she stopped. Olive hadn’t followed her.

“Would you rather stay down here?”

Olive shook her head. “No – of course not. It’s fine.” Mabel wouldn't understand. Olive envied her ability to face things - like Myrtle - without feeling frightened. Olive wished she could do that, too. 

Mabel eyed her questioningly, but ultimately began to walk up the stairs again, and this time Olive was close behind her. When they opened the door to the fifth-year girls’ dormitory, Myrtle was there, on her bed, reading. She glanced over when Mabel and Olive entered.

She immediately focused on Olive. “Oh,” she said. “So, you’re back. Come to poke fun at me some more?”

Olive glanced at Mabel, who nodded knowingly.

“Knock it off,” Mabel said. “Olive’s been nothing but kind to you.” As grateful as she was for Mabel's defense, Olive wished she hadn't said that. Now, Olive was in the middle of the situation. Or, she felt like she was. 

“Of course you’d take her side.” Myrtle hopped off of her bed and pushed her glasses further up her nose. “I’m going for a bath,” she announced, not sparing either of them a glance as she flounced out of the room.

Olive changed quickly and pulled back the covers of her bed. She had had a mentally and emotionally taxing day, and she was rather tired.

“I know what you’re thinking, Olive,” Mabel said, smoothing down the covers at the foot of her bed and straightening her pillows.

“And what’s that?” Olive replied.

Mabel gave her a pointed look. “You’re not horrid.”

Olive let her shoulders fall, letting out a deep sigh and closing her eyes, before climbing into bed and pulling the curtains around the bed frame. She was asleep within minutes, and didn’t wake up until the next morning.

 

 

A/N: I changed my mind (I do that sometimes) I'm going to work on this fairly quickly so I can make it by the deadline. But anyway, hope you liked it! 

The Bible passage is from Psalm 37:8 from the New American Standard Bible

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