Chapter 1 : Tempest
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‘Will there be pain?’
‘How long will it last for? A few seconds? A minute? A few minutes?’
‘On how you die.’
‘How did you die?’
‘I just saw a pair of big, yellow eyes.’
‘And you died?’
‘And I died.’
‘So… so there was no pain?’ I wonder whether death can be so simple? Or is she just having me on? Is this her pathetic idea of a joke?
‘It was... all too quick,’ she confesses, albeit a touch reluctantly.
‘But you said there’ll be pain.’ All too quick, does she say? Maybe it won't be too bad. Maybe it won't be painful, when it finally happens. ‘You had me going.’
‘There was pain,’ she snaps back, pushing her thick glasses up her nose. ‘You possibly can’t realise how painful it is to know that you’re dead, to know that you can’t live again.’
‘I’ll be more than happy to know that I’m dead.’ Hell, it’d be wonderful. No pain. No fear. No nightmares. ‘And then what happens? Once you’re dead?’
She says it with relish. The stupid cow seems to be enjoying this conversation. Her attempt at being mysterious is so pathetic it isn’t true. ‘Depends on what, exactly?’
‘On the kind of person you’ve been in life.’
What the hell does she mean by that? If this is her attempt to make herself seem more important than she really is, then it isn't working. If she thinks I’m going to believe her just because she’s snuffed it, then she’s mistaken. I want definite answers, damn it, not twisted, warped ones. ‘What kind of person were you in your life that you ended up like this?’
She doesn’t answer me immediately. Maybe she enjoys keeping me hanging. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Sev – ‘I… I didn’t want to die,’ she finally says.
She sniffs; she’s about to cry. What’s it with girls and crying anyway? ‘Looks like you’ve forgotten, but I was murdered!’ she shrills.
She thinks I’ve forgotten? Is she for real? ‘No I haven’t. S’hard to forget that you were murdered seeing as you repeat it every time I see you.’
A wail of anger, a slosh of water and she’s gone. Probably drowned herself in her S-bend. If only ghosts could be killed, if only they could be banished forever! Banished to a land where the nutter can meet other mental headcases like herself. They could all live together there, amusing one another with stories about their deaths. Thinks she can fool me, does she? Who does she think I am? Crabbe? Even Crabbe wouldn’t believe the rubbish she talks. She’s gone round the bend, and she’s trying to make me look a right prat by making me believe in what she’s saying.
Not that she needs to try. If anyone gets wind that I’ve been talking to Moaning Myrtle...
No one will ever know.
I need to get out of here.
I’ve got to get out of this bloody bathroom lest someone thinks I’m a div.
I need to get out of here.
‘You seen the Evening Prophet?’
No, I haven’t, Blaise. I’ve been having a nice little chat with Moaning Myrtle holed up in her cosy bathroom. ‘Why?’
‘Muggle family. All six of them found dead somewhere near Manchester. All been tortured badly, by the looks of it. The Ministry reckons that you’re aunt might’ve been involved. Thought you might know summat ‘bout it.’
‘You reckon my aunt owls me every time she goes to kill?’
Goyle sniggers. No Goyle, it wasn’t meant to be funny. It’s not funny.
Blaise, however, doesn’t see any humour. ‘I wasn’t talking about your aunt, Draco. I was talking about him. You know who I’m –’
‘I know who you mean.’ How could I not, when I see him every day in my nightmares?
Blaise is staring at me, waiting for me to answer. Can’t he get the drift that I don’t want to talk about him right now? Even Crabbe’s looking up from the stupid comic book he always reads. They all think I know something. Only, I don’t. And they’re testing my patience. ‘What the hell do you lot want to know?’
‘Who’s next?’ Blaise demands.
What does he mean by that? ‘What d’you mean “who’s next”?’
‘Who’s gonna be done in next?’
‘And how on earth would I know who’d be done in next?’ For all I know, it could even be me.
Blaise smirks. ‘I thought... if anyone would know, it’d be you. Looks like I was mistaken, doesn't it?’
Crabbe pips in, ‘Didn’ yeh tell us you’re in on ‘is most secret plans?’
Can he get any thicker? ‘Brill, Crabbe. Only in your book will the murders of Mudbloods qualify as top secret.’
Predictably, he doesn’t get the sarcasm. Blaise does, though, and that wipes the smirk off his stupid face. And before anyone can grill me any further about what he may or may not be planning to do, I leave. It’s late, and I’ve got to turn in for the night. It’s been a tiring day – three hours in the Room of Hidden Things but no joy. The cabinet’s a bugger; it just won't mend. Unless it’s fixed... until the old man’s dead...
Is Myrtle right? Can death be simple, painless? Will my death be simple, painless?
Chance would be a fine thing.
All of us.
Father. Mother. Me. Even our house elves. All dead. Unmoving. Lifeless. This is the end.
There was pain. And it lasted for quite some time.
The house elves first. All the three of them were tortured. And then beheaded. Bellatrix seemed to find this quite amusing.
Then it was Father. Then Mother. I was alone with only Bellatrix and the bodies of my parents and house-elves for company. And him.
I couldn’t look at my parents’ bodies – bodies that once pulsed with life. Bodies that were now rotting flesh and bones. I couldn’t look at him either. Strangely, even in death, my parents looked more alive, more human than he did in life. So I was looking at the only person whom I could look at: Bellatrix. ‘You failed your task, Draco. You failed the Dark Lord.’
His words echoed in my mind. His words from a year ago. Succeed and you shall be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. In the event of failure, you will face retribution. You and your parents. You will see them killed before your very eyes.
That had come to pass today. ‘Look at me, Draco.’ It was his voice. ‘I want you to look at me when I kill you.’
I obeyed. You see, I couldn’t help it. There was a certain compelling quality to that sibilant voice. I looked into his bloodied eyes, hoping it would end soon.
It didn’t. It didn’t end soon. He didn’t torture me.
He didn’t need to.
Just standing there, looking at him was more torturous than the pain any curse could’ve inflicted on me. Knowing that I was at his mercy, knowing that there would be no reprieve until I begged him for the gift of death...
‘Ask, Draco. You only need to ask and you shall receive it.’
I wanted nothing more, nothing more than to die, for the torture to end. I’d never wanted to die any more than I wanted to now. He uttered the curse – the darned curse that held my freedom.
The curse has been performed, yet I am not free. I can’t enjoy the freedom.
I’m trapped in death, as I was trapped in life. There’s no escape. I’m in the same room I was when all of us were killed.
I’m alone. I can see us. I can see all of us. I can see father. I can see mother. I can see the decapitated house elves. I can see myself. Lying down beside my parents. Unmistakably dead. But if I’m dead, why am I trapped here?
Am I dead? Or am I alive? Or is this some limbo? Can one live even after death?
I’m frozen in a nightmare.
‘You’re back?’ Myrtle sounds evidently pleased.
‘I... couldn’t sleep.’
‘Nightmare.’ It was only a nightmare.
Only a nightmare.
‘Are you scared?’ she asks kindly.
I nod. Yes. Yes, I’m. It seemed so real. Death has never seemed more imminent.
‘Why are you scared?’
Why am I scared? Because I see myself dead. I see my family dead. ‘I see myself failing.’
‘What does it matter if you fail?’
What does it matter? It’s a matter of life and death.
‘Are people... I mean, do people bully you? Is that why you’re scared you’ll fail?’ She sounds sympathetic.
‘Yes. Yes he does.’
‘I can’t tell you. I can’t tell anyone.’
‘Not even your friends?’
‘Not even my friends.’ Not Blaise. Not Crabbe. Not Goyle. Not Pansy.
‘You’re lonely.’ It’s not a question. She says it fairly certainly. She’s not wide off the mark.
‘You know,’ she says, ‘we have a lot in common.’
‘We do. People used to bully me too. They were mean to me. Nobody understood me. Not even my friends. They all used to make fun of me and tease me and have a good laugh at my expense. I used to feel very lonely too. Nobody mourned my death, except my parents.’
Even my parents wouldn’t be alive to mourn me. ‘Nobody will mourn me either.’
‘You see, we have a lot in common.’
‘We can be friends...’ she trails off.
‘Then tell me, why were you asking me about my death last evening?’
‘Because I’m about to die. Any day now.’
‘Really?’ she asks hopefully.
‘If you die, you can share my toilet with me,’ she says happily.
Share her toilet? And what, be the butt of ridicule for eternity? ‘I don’t want to die.’
‘Sorry, didn’t catch that.’
‘I DON’T WANT TO DIE. I DON’T WANT TO DIE AND... AND... AND BECOME A FUCKING GHOST LIKE YOU. I DON’T WANT TO DIE. I DON’T WANT P-PEOPLE TO MAKE F-FUN OF ME AND...’ I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to die. But it’ll happen. Soon. Very soon.
Maybe even today. I wouldn’t even get to see father before I die. Or mother.
‘Don’t cry,’ she croons. ‘What’s wrong? Maybe I can help you.’
No one can help me. It is inevitable. We’re all going to die. ‘You can’t help me, Myrtle.’
‘If you tell me what is bothering you, I’m sure –’
‘You can’t help me, Myrtle. No one can.’ There’s no help. I’m all alone now, as I will be in death.
‘You can always come to me if you want to talk about it.’
Yes. I can always go to her. ‘You wouldn’t tell a soul, would you?’
‘I promise I won’t. Your secret is safe with me.’
‘Thanks, Myrtle.’ I feel better. I’m not so alone, after all. There’s Myrtle, even if she’s only a ghost. I’m not alone. And maybe I wouldn’t be alone in death as well. Maybe there’ll be someone. But now, I need to get back to the dorm. It’s the dead of night and perchance Filch hobbles by, I’m bound to get detention.
‘Will you come back and see me?’
This is not the first night I’ve had nightmares, and I’m sure this isn’t the last. ‘I will.’
The storm has been weathered, even if only for today.
March 24, 2009: I had to get out of my comfort zone to write this. The title La Tourmente translates into ‘The Storm’ in English. I’ve contextualised the title not in the literal sense but figuratively. Hope the voice was convincing; this is the first time I’m writing in first person. Thanks a bunch to marinahill (tell_me_what_the_truth_is on the forums) for issuing the challenge, and thanks to everyone that has read. :)