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Chapter 1 : A Bully and a Bathroom
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And on with the story!
Olive Hornby was a bully. She loved nothing more than teasing people, whether it was about their looks, the way they spoke or who they fancied. She delighted in thinking of cruel nicknames, joined in with Peeves' mean rhymes and teasing the Hufflepuffs just for being in Hufflepuff.
Olive thought that she was well within her rights to do this, as an intelligent, good-looking, pureblood, it was almost her duty to point out the flaws of others. Her closest friends often joked, between laughing at her latest jeers, that she should have been in Slytherin. Truth be told, the old hat had thought about placing her in the house that was notorious for its cunning and favouring of purebloods, but had decided her brain was more suited to those in Ravenclaw. She was content with it's decision, she would have been happy in any house with the exception of Hufflepuff. In Olive's opinion, they were a bunch of twits.
By far the biggest twit though, and the person that Olive delighted most in teasing, was Myrtle Phillips. Myrtle was a fellow Ravenclaw student, though why she was in the house for the intelligent was a mystery to Olive.
"The girl is a total Hufflepuff," she would tell her friends, in a loud voice so that Myrtle could hear, "maybe the Sorting Hat felt the rim of her overly large glasses and assumed there was a brain in that spotty head of hers."
That was the other thing about Myrtle Phillips. Her pale skin was barely visible beneath the blotches and the patches of pus-filled pustules that were scattered across her face. Olive loved making fun of Myrtle's spots, she always prided herself on having acne-free skin and took every opportunity to remind Myrtle of that. The best days were when Peeves would make up songs about the spotty girl and follow her around singing them, causing Olive to laugh until her sides hurt. One of her personal favourites was:
What's that on your face?
If you think that you've got spattergroit
Then St Mungo's is the place!
She joined in singing that one with Peeves for several days.
Myrtle absolutely loathed Olive Hornby. She hated everything about her, from her sing-song voice, that charmed the staff and insulted anyone outside of her friend group, to her perfect looks, especially her perfect skin. Myrtle wished that she could place an irreversible hex on Olive Hornby so that her face would be covered in spots for the rest of her life. She had once tried to trick Professor Binns into giving her access to the restricted section but, ironically, the ghost saw right through her and banished her from his classroom.
She wished more than anything that Peeves would sing his songs about Olive, and chase her around with a bottle of 'Pinkton's Pimple Popper Potion' (not that the stuff worked anyway). Above all, Myrtle wished she was invisible; to be seen by no-one and to get through her time at Hogwarts in peace. She sometimes watched the ghosts of Hogwarts and envied their abilities to become invisible at will. How she wanted to be able to do that.
As the end of Myrtles fourth year at Hogwarts approached, and the summer with her parents she so desperately craved grew nearer, Olive had decided to spend her time teasing Myrtle about her glasses. It didn't help matters when Myrtle had taken them off altogether, praying that her eyesight had improved within the magical walls of Hogwarts, and had set her own cloak on fire rather than the base of her cauldron.
"Put your glasses back on, specky!" Olive had shrieked across the dungeon. "I can't play my game of 'count Myrtle's spots' if I can't see your face through the smoke your little fire has caused! Wouldn't want to set anything else on fire would we? Come on Myrtle, you know I adore your bifocals, remind me, are they made from jam jars?"
At this point Myrtle plunged her arm into her cauldron in a desperate attempt to put out the fire, causing Olive to laugh uproariously. Unable to stand further taunts, Myrtle ran out of the dungeon ignoring the calls from their potions professor, who had just appeared from his supply cupboard, and headed to her favourite bathroom on the second floor. It was always quiet as it was at the very end of the corridor and wasn't the nicest of the many bathrooms Hogwarts boasted. She often came in here and sat in the end cubicle just to get away from the cruel words. Perched on the closed lid of the toilet, she let the tears fall freely from her face, removing her glasses once more so she could wipe them away.
The old wooden door that was the entrance to the bathroom creaked open, Myrtle silenced her sobs and listened carefully for an indication as to who her intruder was. She heard a whisper of a voice, saying something she couldn't quite work out, she did, however, know the voice was male. She put her glasses back on and stood up, ready to tell the unknown boy to go away and use his own bathroom. When she opened the cubicle door, she could see no boy, she saw only one thing; a pair of large yellow eyes, staring back at her. An odd sensation swept over Myrtle, though she had been hit with a body-bind curse. Before she had time to process this new feeling, another hit her. A light, floaty, not at all unpleasant feeling. Myrtle looked down to see if she really was floating, and saw her own limp, lifeless body lying on the floor beneath her. Myrtle Phillips, was dead.
"Of course I'll go and look for Myrtle, Professor Dippet. I'm ever so concerned that she wasn't in any classes this afternoon, she didn't look all that well when she left potions this morning." Olive told the Headmaster sweetly at the end of dinner that evening.
"Thank you, dear girl. I daresay you'd make a fine prefect." He smiled knowingly and headed out of the Hall, presumably to his office.
"For Merlin's sake." Olive spoke to her friends now. "I've far better things to do than searching for that dunderhead. Headmaster Dippet said she's not in our dorm, where else would she be?" Her friends, who had been waiting for her, shrugged.
Olive headed to the dungeon, deciding to speak with the Professors of the lessons Myrtle had missed, wondering if she had gone to collect her homework from that day. Before she reached the classroom, however, she bumped into a fifth year Prefect, she knew his name already, he was extremely good-looking and Olive had admired him from afar but never spoken to him.
"Oh, hello Tom. Sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going."
"Why are you down here? Shouldn't you be in your dormitory?" he snapped at her.
"Well, you see," she stammered, feeling nervous in his presence, "Headmaster Dippet asked me to find a girl from my year, she's gone missing you see. Myrtle Phillips. Um, spotty girl, wears glasses." Olive had no idea why she was explaining who Myrtle was, of course Tom Riddle wouldn't know her.
"Ah. Yes, I know who you mean. I saw her talking to that giant oaf, Hagrid, earlier. Up on the second floor."
Olive stammered her thanks and, though she doubted Mytrle would still be there, headed up to the second floor, if only to avoid the intense stare of Tom.
As she had suspected, the second floor was deserted, she pushed open a few classroom doors to find them empty, many were even out of use. The last room that remained to be searched was the bathroom, she decided to quickly check it before returning to Professor Dippet to tell him that Myrtle was nowhere to be found.
"Myrtle?" She called as she pushed open the door. "Are you in here sulking Mytrle? Because Professor Dippet asked me to look for you and-" Olive froze, the rest of her sentence suspended. She took a step back into the door, not quite believing what she was seeing. Where her eyes deceiving her or was that Myrtle lying, unnaturally still, on the bathroom floor?
"Hello, Olive." An unmistakeable voice came from somewhere in the bathroom, but not from the body it should have. Before she could will her feet to move, a face appeared, inches from her own. The spotty, bespectacled and completely transparent face of Myrtle Phillips. Olive let out an ear-splitting, high-pitched scream before yanking the door open and racing down the corridor, as fast as her legs permitted. The ghost of Myrtle, floated quickly, catching up to Olive in mere moments.
"Oooh, you're going to regret teasing me. I'm going to teach you a lesson, in the worst kind of way, Olive Hornby. Just you wait and see."
Late the following day, Olive woke up in the hospital wing. A bottle of calming potion stood on the bedside table. She searched her brain trying to figure out how she had come to be there, remembering only the horrible sight of Myrtle's body and the taunts of her ghost, though she wasn't sure if that had been a bizarre dream. Having realised that she was awake, Madam Lightfoot, the nurse, checked her over and then rushed off to find the Headmaster. Upon his arrival, he fully explained her situation. Apparently, several staff and students had heard her screams and had found her passed out, presumably from shock, in the corridor and brought her to the Hospital Wing. He also explained that Myrtle was, unfortunately, dead and that, despite having spoken to her ghost, they were unsure how it had happened. He suggested to Madam Lightfoot that Olive stayed where she was for the remainder of the night and she could return to her own dormitory in the morning. With that, they both left Olive alone with her thoughts.
Myrtle was dead. Killed by a creature with yellow eyes according to her, though no creature has been found, Dippet had said. She was unsure how to feel about Myrtle's death, not sad; she didn't know the girl, never had a desire to. Still though, she was young, as young as Olive. Should she have made more of an effort? Been a little nicer to the girl? It felt wrong that she didn't feel at all sad at the death of a fellow student.
As Olive began to drift off to sleep once more, she heard a faint whisper of her own name, and sat bolt upright in bed.
"Who's there?" she whispered back.
"Boo!" said the voice, louder this time, as Myrtle's ghost appeared and sat cross-legged at the bottom of her bed.
Olive gasped, her heart pounding. "For goodness sakes, are you trying to kill me?" she scolded.
"Nice choice of words, Olive. You mean like you killed me?"
"What on earth are you talking about?" Olive hissed.
"Well, not directly. But I would never have been in that bathroom if it weren't for you. You, teasing me about my glasses. That's why I was there, it's where I would go to cry. All of the time you know, because of the teasing, the name calling, Peeves' songs. You know all about his songs though, don't you Olive? You even helped with the lyrics for some of them."
"Myrtle, I-" Olive began, but Myrtle cut her off.
"It doesn't matter now though. I'm dead and that's that. It's not so bad really, I do like the disappearing thing, and the floating, the floating is great fun. They'll both be really useful for my revenge."
"Your...revenge?" Olive was whispering again.
"Oh, yes. You've teased me for four years Olive Hornby. It's time I had a little fun of my own. It's only fair since you're indirectly to blame for me being dead."
"Myrtle, please. Just, listen. I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry that I teased you and I'm sorry that you died. I'm even more sorry that you think it was my fault. If I'd have known that you used to hide in that bathroom to cry, I would have never...I didn't know you would die in there Myrtle," tears were forming in Olive's eyes now, "how could I have known? I would take it all back if I could. I know me saying this doesn't change anything but still, I'd trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday. Just one chance to do that potions lesson differently. Do it all differently..."
"I don't believe you for a second Olive Hornby. You're a bully and you always will be. Save your tears, they won't work. I'm going to make you try sorry for every cruel word you ever said to me. Just wait and see."
And with that, the ghost of Myrtle, floated up, directly through the ceiling above, her promise echoing in the mind of Olive Hornby; who, from that day, kept her mean thoughts to herself thanks to the haunting presence of Myrtle Phillips.
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