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Their whispers get you like a snake.

Poisoned words drip from their mouths and slither up to bind you. You leave, your breakfast untouched, the din of the Great Hall warping into something sinister.

Their acid laughter still bubbles in your head.

You want to wash yourself clean, but the words have already gotten through your skin – ugly troll, specky ape – worming into your thoughts and running rampant there. You don’t know where you’ll go, in this castle. If you could, you’d fly off into the dark clouds ahead, into that grim morning.

Ignore them, sweetheart. They’ve no idea who you are. All they know of you is from the surface and remember the water, dear. It looks pretty with the sun dancing on it, but look below and you’ll gasp at its depth, at its hidden treasures. Wipe your tears and believe this.

You want to, with all your heart. You repeat these words to force the stinging ones out, to reclaim this space for yourself. But it’s like throwing a pail of water on a wildfire – you douse only a little and it burns up again, even hotter.

HOT. You think there's a real fire in your mind, their words striking matches against your brain. You need the cool kiss of your mother’s lips planted right in the middle of your forehead - but she’s far from Scotland now and you’re stuck in this blaze all by yourself.

Bathroom bathroom. Your feet move so quickly, you stumble and almost fall. But you get there, the first-floor bathroom, and all the while the fire in your head rages, nearly forcing its way out.

The sink! You run towards it, catching flashes of yourself in the mirror – mousy hair, uneven bangs, grandmother glasses, skin improbably poked. Acne has sprouted like stubborn weeds, even though Miss Wixley’s Facial Cleanse assured its rightful death.

The fire is so hot, it’s turning white. Quickly, sweat dripping from your forehead, you strike the faucet handle and shove your head underneath the gushing water. Your mind drinks this sudden coolness, and it is glorious relief! You wish to live in this feeling forever.

But how can you, while Olive Hornby and her fellow hornets still breathe their breaths, spouting poisoned words and looks like no one’s business? Countless times, you’ve gone for help, to those adults of authority. And you believed in their promises, foolish for not knowing they were as brittle as parchment.

FOOLISH. As the flames settle into a charred wreck, that word emerges from the smoke, big and glaring. Foolish! Look at yourself! The grimy mirror stares back, a reproachful eye, unfairly faced with your damp ugliness.

Your hair sticks to your edgeless face, your glasses askew over your crooked nose. Earlier, you had looked in that same mirror and found yourself not so disapproving. There was a slight glimmer to your skin, a healthy glint to your eyes. You even cracked a smile, stowing the moment away like a pleasant photo.

But now it lies as ash, and all your light is gone, made dead by the water that has thrown your face into awful clarity.

This is Myrtle, truly.

This is Myrtle, looking forlornly at her Ravenclaw crest - wondering how in the hell she was placed in a house built on the foundation of genius, of mental talent. Because if that is true of her, then why can words break her down to this very moment?

Feeling tears rush in, and not bearing to see her face twist into something uglier, she scurries to the stalls to lock herself into a square of shame.

The toilet is a good listener. It does not flinch at her piercing cries; at her heavy breaths (quite apelike, she realises); at her awful moaning. And it all washes away into a pain so great, it’s silent.

Myrtle sits there, running her finger round the toilet bowl. She imagines how dark Olive’s blood might look, piping through her veins or maybe spilt across the floor in a grisly accident.

She hears something – something that sends her thoughts falling away, like a hand pulling aside a curtain.

Footsteps. Heavy, sharp, purposeful. They enter the silent air of her grief, breaking it as if it’s snow beneath their weight.

She feels invaded – this bathroom is hers – and, hunching over, tries to locate the selfish shoes that have done this damage. And there they are, moving fluidly across the dull floor, not even touching the ground, it seems. Shiny like obsidian.

Whispers suddenly enter the air. On the other side of the stall, they spill out from someone’s lips, the words undulating like a mist. A faint whispering of unintelligible words - are they even words? But the curiosity pales against her growing realization that it's a boy-snake, having found a certain deepness in the voice.

A boy in the girls’ bathroom! Myrtle sets her teeth, tenses her muscles. Unlucky for him, she has built up a venom of her own, ready to spit. He invaded her space with such confidence!

Splaying a hand across the stall door and pushing it out, Myrtle will show him just how easily confidence breaks.

Author's Note ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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