Chapter 1 : Ghostly Day
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The letter was more of a mystery for the young Ravenclaw student. Her mother did not write as, after nearly three years of knowing her daughter was a witch, could not quite bring herself to embrace that there was magic. Instead Myrtle often heard herself referred to as an oddity when guests were over for tea. Deciding that the letter had to be better than the glasses, Myrtle opened that first. And, to her surprise, it was something nice.
It was a short note from an unknown admirer who said her “intelligence was a delight more pleasing than the summer breeze” and that she had “freckles which put the beautiful night sky to shame.” A blush crept onto Myrtle’s spotty face as she read that the mystery person wanted to meet that evening in the trophy room. She glanced around the hall wondering who could possibly have written her such a nice letter. Her list of possible candidates was quite short as most boys did not speak to Myrtle for longer than it took to tell her to move or call her a rude name.
People were starting to file out of the Great Hall to go to lessons. Myrtle tucked the note into her bag and decided to open the box with her glasses on the way to Transfiguration. Apparently the shop they bought her new glasses at had an excess of packing tape as they had barely left a surface on the package free from the shiny and impossible to rip material. Several students bumped into Myrtle as she tried to open the pestilential box.
Stopping in the middle of the hallway, determined to open the box before class, Myrtle caused a few students to collide into her. “Watch it!” one of them said as they went by. “Pay attention,” another growled, as if they were delayed on their way to a very important appointment.
Sighing with frustration, Myrtle pointed her wand at the box and muttered, “Diffindo.” The tape mercifully separated from the box and out fell a case for Myrtle’s dreaded glasses. Finally putting on her glasses it was amazing to see the world come into focus. She could see the crisp outline of trees off in the distance, the interesting bevel of the stones through the corridor, and …a bespectacled, frumpy witch who was alone in the hallways and late for class.
Luckily, Professor Dumbledore was rarely harsh with students in his class and seemed to accept Myrtle’s apology for being late. “Please pair up with Mr. Goldstein,” he said with a kind smile. Myrtle glanced around catching eyes with William. Myrtle too excited at her luck in partners to notice him grimace to his friend as she approached.
“We’re practicing switching charms,” he whispered passing her the turtle they were to use for the class.
“He did say they’d be on the exam,” Myrtle replied as she rummaged for her wand.
Despite being quite good with Charms and several other classes, William Goldstein was not very proficient at switching spells. This was the one of rare times when Myrtle felt people could like her – when she was not just able to but asked to help someone with their schoolwork. Transfiguration was her best subject and helping William in class was as close to flirting as she got.
By the end of glass William was laughing with her and not at her as he successfully performed the spell they’d been practicing all hour. “Thank you, Myrtle,” he said with a genuine grin on his broad face. “You’re quite a good partner.”
Myrtle felt her stomach swoosh with what started as delight but ended in horror. Her period had not just started but flooded as she sat in Transfiguration. Feeling paralyzed by the mortifying revelation that any attempt to leave her chair would leave traces of her monthly cycle, Myrtle tried not to cry.
“Are you okay?” William asked noting the sudden rigidity in Myrtle’s posture. She didn’t respond or even acknowledge that he spoke. When the bell rang, he got up and left with the rest of the class.
Trying to time her departure so that Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t think she had a question, Myrtle slid out of her seat and turned towards the door just in time to run into Olive Hornby who often went out of her way to tease Myrtle. Olive’s keen eyes trailed back to the seat Myrtle had just vacated. “Gross, Myrtle,” she said snidely. “Did you just flower in class?”
It was too much for Myrtle to bear in that moment; she ran out of the classroom right as she heard Dumbledore’s voice cut through the room. Tears splashed down her face and caused the new glasses to steam up, obscuring her vision. The Ravenclaw Common Room was too far to run in her condition so Myrtle found refuge in the nearest loo. Myrtle did her best to clean herself up, thankful that they had learned a few helpful spells from Madame Pomfrey when it came to menstrual incidents. It was several minutes until Myrtle felt composed enough to face potions with the Hufflepuffs.
At dinner that evening Myrtle debated whether she should risk going to the Trophy Room that evening to meet her mysterious admirer. There had been attacks recently that caused three students to go into a state of petrification that the school was attempting to undo. Rumor was that they were attacked for being muggle borns. Myrtle didn’t think anyone would attack her for that, not when people went out of their way to point out the many other ways Myrtle was abnormal.
She was almost set on not visiting the stranger when an owl landed in her pudding and hopped towards Myrtle with a leg extended. Taking the letter, Myrtle felt her heart race. The message was short and made her wonder if the doubt she’d been feeling was floating above her head in a thought bubble for all to read. The note said, “Hoping to see you tonight.” Curiosity won over as Myrtle decided to risk meeting this person.
To be safe, Myrtle decided to think it was a joke so that it wouldn’t be as bad when no one showed up. Sneaking about school was new for Myrtle so she was keenly aware of noises in the emptying hallways. Footsteps caused her to flatten against the wall and stay there as she watched a Slytherin prefect and a few other students pass by. They also seemed to be avoiding detection and were not concerned or aware that a third-year Ravenclaw watched them go.
Myrtle was five minutes early to the dusty room. She feigned interest in the trophies and awards but was really watching the seconds tick by on her wristwatch.
She was sure that no one would come.
Maybe she should just go to avoid being teased when whoever wanted to prank her showed up.
It could be desperation, but Myrtle was certain the she heard the thud of someone’s heavy tread approaching the room.
“’ello?” came a voice she didn’t recognize. Turning around, Myrtle saw a quite large Gryffindor she hadn’t met before but couldn’t help but notice due to his size.
This large boy was the last person she had expected to turn up but she wasn’t one to tease a person who gave such kind words towards her. “Hello,” Myrtle said in her sweetest voice.
The boy’s bushy eyebrows contracted at the sight of Myrtle. “Who are you?” he asked, looking quite confused.
“Myrtle,” she answered feeling her stomach knot. “Who are you?”
“Hagrid,” he said casting around the room as if hoping there was a third person for him to talk with. “Aren’ yeh the person with the troll?” Hagrid was looking shifty at best as Myrtle slowly shook her head.
A cold voice sliced the silence that had settled between Hagrid and Myrtle. “I wrote to you,” Olive said as she skirted around Hagrid. “Everyone knows you love monsters and beasts so I thought I’d introduce you to the troll from Ravenclaw Tower.”
Hagrid looked bewildered as he looked from Olive to Myrtle. If she weren’t so overwhelmed by feeling distraught, Myrtle might have realized that Hagrid was as much of a victim in this joke as she was. Instead she pushed past the laughing Olive and the stuttering Hagrid and left the room crying once again.
Not caring how much noise she made, Myrtle clambered towards her common room sobbing and feeling quite miserable. She didn’t realize how much noise she was making until the prefect who had passed her earlier said, “What are you doing out at this hour?” His voice was did not carry interest or concern to her predicament, rather he was preforming a duty.
“I was…” Myrtle started but couldn’t quite finish. She thought of the hope then humiliation that had caused her to be out of bounds and didn’t know how to articulate it into a plausible excuse.
A smirk formed on the older boy’s face as these memories flashed through Myrtle’s mind and he said, “Just go straight back to Ravenclaw Tower. If I catch you again, you’ll regret it.”
Nodding, Myrtle continued her trek to the common room wondering how she could regret anything more than what she had experienced that night.
Eyes still red from crying the night before, Myrtle had to drag herself to class the next morning. That morning she had Defense against the Dark Arts with the Slytherins. While the subject was always quite interesting, Professor Merrythought did little to stop Olive’s continued tormenting of Myrtle in her class.
That day it started as soon as Myrtle took her seat. “You broke Hagrid’s hairy heart,” she hissed from behind her book.
Myrtle kept her eyes fixed on the chalkboard where Professor Merrythought was writing a down the name of a book they could read for more information on hinkypunks. Most days this technique would cause Olive to get bored but Myrtle was not in luck.
“I really like your glasses, Myrtle,” she said in a low whisper. “Much thicker and you’d need a hovering charm to keep them on your nose.”
Ugh, the glasses – they seemed to be the epitome of Myrtle’s miserable, gangly existence. Taking in a deep, shaky breath, Myrtle continued to focus on the front of the class but her vision was blurred by the tears threatening to get out.
“Are you crying, Myrtle?” Olive almost sang with delight. “I can’t believe what a moping bint you are.”
Myrtle stood up abruptly, causing her chair to squeak against the old floor, and turned to leave the classroom. Over the snickers of Olive and her friends, Professor Merrythought called out, “Ms. Rochester, are you well?” Not stopping to answer, Myrtle fled to a bathroom two floors away to have a good cry in peace.
The bathroom on the first floor was mercifully empty when Myrtle noisily crashed into a stall and sat down. It was all too much – the teasing, the non-stop bullying from Olive and indifference from everyone else. Knowing she’d only have to repair them later, Myrtle threw her glasses on the ground and stomped on them. She wanted to destroy the parts of her no one liked, which at times felt like everything.
Her sobs turned into haggard breaths and she considered going to the Hospital Wing for a Calming Potion when the door opened. This caused Myrtle to freeze, holding as still as possible to avoid contact with someone else. There was silence for a minute, then a strange noise. It almost sounded ethereal at first but then Myrtle realized it was a boy making those funny sounds. Opening the door, Myrtle looked towards the blurry figure and saw something she didn’t expect.
The bathroom seemed overly bright as Myrtle opened her eyes. She wasn’t sure what happened to her after opening the door to her stall. Had she told the boy to go away? How did she pass out? It was all hazy and confusing. It might have been a few minutes or several hours later that Myrtle saw her body on the ground and screamed.
She was dead, or asleep and having a very strange dream. Somehow dead felt correct. Assuming that death was the explanation for her out of body experience, Myrtle started to wonder how she died. It wasn’t as if she had heart failure or some other illness. Almost at once, her mind turned to the girl who had made her life horrible for the last three years – Olive.
If anyone at the school could have planned and carried out Myrtle’s murder it was that pug-faced, bully of a Slytherin. The question was how she did it and who helped her. Myrtle wished she could start making notes and collecting clues about her murder but found that she couldn’t pick up anything, let alone write.
There were any number of Slytherin boys from their year that could have helped Olive. Just as Myrtle was trying to remember the names of the people Olive spent her time around, she remembered – Hagrid. He had been involved in her prank from the previous night. Maybe he also helped her pull of Myrtle’s murder.
The pieces seemed to come together then. A boy who loved monsters would surely have access to something deadly. While the Gryffindor seemed an unlikely ally to a Slytherin, stranger alliances have been made. Myrtle debated whether she should find someone to tell about her death and murders or wait for her body to be found. She felt a pull to her body which caused Myrtle to wait for someone else to come.
To her delight it was Olive who next opened the bathroom door. Her cutting and indifferent words were cut by a scream at the sight of Myrtle’s splayed body. “Screaming won’t convince me you’re innocent,” Myrtle said snidely.
Olive turned on the spot and flung the door open shouting for a professor to come. “Help!” she shouted. “Someone is dead!”
“Theatrics were always your strong point,” Myrtle said darkly. When Olive stepped just outside the door and sank to the ground, Myrtle soared past her at an alarming speed. Olive did not seem to notice. “You can’t ignore me just because you murdered me,” Myrtle glowered not an inch from Olive’s face.
A horrible thought occurred to Myrtle in that moment – Olive couldn’t see her. Or hear her for that matter. Sinking to the ground next to Olive, Myrtle crossed her arms and scowled. It figured. People barely noticed her in life so she was bound to be invisible in death.
Professors Dumbledore and Dippet rand towards the bathroom and Olive – who was crying much to Myrtle’s surprise. “Ms. Hornby,” Professor Dippet said rather sharply. “What is it, child?”
“She’s dead, Headmaster,” Olive said pointing into the bathroom.
Professor Dumbledore poked his head in and looked quite grave at the sight of Myrtle’s body. “She killed me,” Myrtle said pointing at Olive. “Olive and Hagrid,” she said to a deaf audience.
“Let’s get her body to the Hospital Wing,” Dumbledore said quietly. “Ms. Hornby, would you go on ahead and let Madame Pomfrey know we’re coming? See if she’ll get something for your shock too.”
Olive went up toward the Hospital Wing while Professors Dumbledore and Dippet stood on either side of my body. “A murder, Albus,” Professor Dippet nearly cried out, shaking his head. “A murder at Hogwarts.”
“We have to find out who is behind these attacks,” Professor Dumbledore said as he conjured a stretcher for Myrtle’s body, not aware that her ghost watched on.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to, Albus,” Professor Dippet said with a pained expression. “We may have to shut down the school.” With an agreeing nod, Dumbledore levitated the body to the stretcher.
Invisible or not, Myrtle wanted to show everyone who had murdered her. While it was strange that Olive was acting so distraught, Myrtle was not convinced of her innocence. Myrtle thought it’d be easiest to find evidence of Hagrid’s guilt as he seemed less careful than Olive.
It was surprisingly easy to find her way to the Gryffindor Common Room and into the boy’s dormitory when walls and floors were no long an obstacle. Being almost twice the size of other students, Hagrid’s bed and belongings were easy to find. It was frustrating not to be able to rummage through his trunk and find the evidence against him but he was messy enough that most of the boy’s belongings were strewn about his bed anyways.
“Hagrid, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for you to go out in the Forest on a full moon,” came a boy’s voice from the stairway. “There are werewolves.”
“Tha’s half the point,” Hagrid said as he ducked into the room.
“Hello, Hagrid,” Myrtle said glaring at him.
“Bit icy ‘n here,” Hagrid said rubbing his arms.
“Does murder make you chilly?” she asked going right up to his face.
“The fire’s lit and all,” the other boy said grabbing a jumper. “Let’s get to dinner; I’m starving.”
Myrtle followed the two boys out and listened as they made their way to the Great Hall. If Hagrid was in on her murder, he wasn’t talking to this boy about it. Instead they talked about quidditch, the lurking cold, and the giant squid. Once in the Great Hall, Myrtle left the two boys as they went to the Gryffindor table. She went to sit with the Ravenclaws but ended up floating through the table instead. They were all whispering her name, which was a first.
“You care now that I’m dead,” Myrtle said angrily. “None of you talked to me while I was alive.” None of them were talking to her now either but that was because of her invisibility, she decided. Once she figured out how to be seen, they’d want to talk to her.
That evening most of the hall ate as if nothing happened. It seemed that word of Myrtle’s death had not spread. It struck Myrtle that maybe no one would care about her death and she felt emotion overwhelm her again. She didn’t know if ghosts could cry but she felt the sensation nonetheless. Deciding that bathrooms weren’t the place to have a good cry, she went to the Ravenclaw Common Room to be alone.
She wasn’t alone there – the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower was floating near the statue of Rowena Ravenclaw. The Grey Lady, as the other students called her, turned when Myrtle passed through the door. “You’re the one the staff was talking about,” she stated glancing towards Myrtle. “Professor Dumbledore asked me to wait here for you.”
“You can see me?” Myrtle asked, feeling quite surprised to be seen after being invisible most the day.
The Grey Lady looked peeved by the obvious question. “Ghosts can generally see one another, even if witches and wizards cannot.”
“Will I always be invisible?”
“Most ghosts learn to materialize,” The Grey Lady answered shortly, irritation showing on her haughty face.
“How did you do it?” Myrtle couldn’t help but ask.
“It requires a strong emotional connection with someone, or something, from your life.” The Grey Lady paused for a few moments and stared up at Rowena’s statue. “I found myself returned to Hogwarts after my murder.” She eyed Myrtle for a moment, as if deciding how much to divulge. “There was someone here I felt a deep connection to when I was alive. It was an accident when I materialized and it quite a scare for both of us.” A smile almost broke on her face at the memory.
Myrtle mulled over these words for a few minutes trying to decide who she had any sort of connection with let alone something deep. “Will you tell Professor Dumbledore I’m a ghost?”
“I may,” the Grey Lady said as she started to glide away. “Find your connection and you can inform him yourself,” were her final words before floating out of the common room.
Later that night, as Myrtle floated above her bunk, she figured out who could be her connection. While the Grey Lady’s seemed to be someone she was fond of, Myrtle’s was quite the opposite. She didn’t know where the Slytherin Common Room was but found it after flitting about the dungeons for a while. Once she was it, Myrtle only took a few minutes to locate Olive Hornby’s bed.
They hadn’t been friends and quite possibly hated one another, but hatred was the strongest Myrtle could say she felt about anyone at that moment. It would have to do.
Hovering, just so that her face was almost touching Olive’s, Myrtle focused as hard as she could on the Slytherin girl and began to remember all the cruelty she faced from her words and actions. Quietly, Myrtle whispered her name in a cooing voice, “Olive… Wake up Olive.” It only took a few minutes before Olive stirred beneath her covers.
With the curtains shut on the four poster bed, Myrtle could see the spectral glow she emanated and knew she had materialized. “OLIVE,” Myrtle shouted, causing Olive’s eyes to fly open.
The scream, blood-curdling scream, caused shouts from the other Slytherins and the confused noise of people gathering about Olive’s bed. Myrtle laughed, rather cackled, as Olive scurried to be as far away from Myrtle as she could, eventually falling out of her bed. Myrtle didn’t care at that moment who had murdered her as she was finally able to return some of the brutality laid upon her while living. Afterlife would be the best revenge.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! All four of you. :) I had two challenges for this – one to write about Moaning Myrtle and the other to write a murder mystery after someone’s had a very bad week. Let me know what you think!
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