Author's Notes: This chapter, the last chapter, is rather strange. But then again, so is Myrtle.
The Irrationalities of Despair
It was a strange feeling, floating, the girl decided whilst in the process of doing this very thing. Most especially if one was floating outside of one's own body.
It was likely that there were many romantic terms for that which had occurred, but the girl did not believe in poetry, or even romanticisms, for that matter. She had never understood the former and had never been privileged enough to experience the latter, and so she was blunt. The girl was dead and she was a ghost; to her, there were no better words to describe it.
Everything had begun early that morning—rather, everything that would later lead to her encounter with death. The girl remembered awakening early enough to steal past her roommates and into the common room where she had known it would be quiet for a while. It would be no use, she had thought, to wait in her dormitory until the others arose. After all, they merely would have teased her about her appearance as they did every morning, and she was tired of enduring their taunts. She only wished that she had thought of this sooner, leaving while everyone was still asleep.
The girl sat idle upon one of the many poufs scattered about the room, glad to at last be alone. How nice it was to simply sit and be…
Her lips bunched into a pout as sounds began to drift from behind the closed doors at one side of the room, and then another. But as she did not care to discover precisely who it was that had got up and was now milling about, she slung the wide strap of her book bag over one shoulder and hastily scuttled into the outside corridor.
Unfortunately, this was still not hasty enough, for she heard someone catch the door behind her. The girl sighed, wondering what name would be chosen to give her today and wishing that a teacher was somewhere nearby. There would be no one to fuss over her this time, no one to reprimand whoever was undoubtedly following her now.
Just as this thought entered her mind, she felt her foot become caught upon something and she stumbled forward, her slightly fleshy hands reaching out to meet cold stones. Her neck ached as she strained to see what it was that she had tripped over; she saw nothing on the ground behind her, and so decided that it was the fault of her own feet.
"Forget your glasses, Myrtle?" The voice that said this was not kind as it could have been; rather, it was everything she had grown accustomed to.
But then another thought struck her. Her glasses!
"You're so forgetful," the voice continued, "that you can't even remember that you need to see!" There was a chuckle, though soon it grew into full-fledged laughter that echoed in the emptiness around them. As Myrtle struggled to her feet, the only other person within the vicinity laughed harder. "Really, I'm surprised you even made it this far before you fell flat on your face!"
Her cheeks were red and her lips were pursed, her brow knitted in concentration when she was finally able to stand. She looked to whence the voice had come and was not surprised to find Olive Hornby consumed with bouts of now-silent giggles. Her curly blonde ringlets bounced as she did so, and Myrtle touched her own hair—dark, straight, and lifeless—in a self-conscious manner. Olive was so much prettier than she was, she thought gloomily.
The other girl's hand disappeared into her pocket for a moment, then she withdrew it with something clutched inside of her fingers. A second later, the object fell with a clatter to the ground, metal and glass against stone.
"You oughtn't forget them next time," Olive said dismissively, and kicked the glasses away from her as though distracted. "Otherwise, that thing might get you." She watched, gleeful, as Myrtle scrambled to pick them up.
Myrtle's throat clenched and her vision blurred even more as fat globs of tears spilled from her eyes. The frames of her spectacles were still intact, but the lenses had shattered when they reached the floor. Thankfully, her fingers managed to remain uncut as she picked them up, though this was not quite helpful; she wasn't fond of the sight of blood, but Olive would have been sickened had the glass sliced her flesh.
"Rep-repairey," she muttered, her voice thick as she tapped her wand against the glasses. When nothing happened, she let forth a wail of despair. "Repair!" she commanded. "Just fix yourselves!"
After several such attempts, the lenses were able to fit once more inside their metal frames, though she had to do this without her wand. She had never been able to fully master the spell.
Spectacles perched upon her nose, she looked up, expecting to see Olive Hornby still there, but the girl had left and the corridor was once more quiet. Myrtle squinted; the focus wasn't quite right. She would have to write home for a new pair.
A low growling from her stomach told her that it was time to head to the Great Hall for breakfast. Hungrily, she imagined the smell of pumpkin juice and kippers… But then she shook her head, ridding herself of the image. Perhaps she would refrain from eating today, she thought. It might cause someone to worry about her for at least once in her life. Yet another rumble from her midsection advised her otherwise, and she decided to listen to it. There would be many opportunities in the future to draw attention to herself—the sort of attention that she wanted.
There were two troubles with being sorted into Hufflepuff at Hogwarts. The first was that the basement in which the common room hid was located so far beneath the main body of the school that it was impossible to go anywhere without ascending several lengthy flights of stairs. Myrtle always arrived at the top of them with a face flushed and forehead lightly brushed with perspiration, huffing and puffing for as long as it required to reach whatever destination she had in mind.
The second was the misconceptions about the members of her House. Hufflepuffs were supposed to be friendly and kind, and yet Myrtle knew them to be anything but. Indeed, they could be just as cruel as the Slytherins were—or rather, were rumored to be; Myrtle had never before conversed with a Slytherin, and so she could not be certain of their general disposition. However, she was apt to believe what she heard, and so she had already judged them.
The corridors themselves were quiet, frightening her a little. Most especially since she had heard talk of students disappearing over the past month with little explanation for their absences. Not that she had noticed any of this herself, of course; she was still simply feeding from a trough of rumors. Although, she thought, she was careful about choosing which ones she believed were true. Minerva McGonagall certainly wasn't studying to become an animagus, after all!
Myrtle imagined what it must have been like to be taken by whatever it was that now snuck throughout the school. Perhaps it took its victims into the very deepest of the dungeons, where one was allowed to fester and feel sorry for oneself. The concept of Olive Hornby hanging by her ankles in a dark, filthy cell cheered her considerably, and she quickened her steps, remembering her hunger.
The Great Hall seemed to be packed tightly with nearly everyone that could fit inside of it, in spite of the fact that it was still relatively early in the morning. Warm air rushed at her as she passed through the large doorway, and she unconsciously licked her lips; already, each of the four elongated tables within was heavily laden with breakfast foods.
There was an empty space at the very end of the Hufflepuff table that had most likely been reserved for her, so it was to this place that she headed straight for. She sat herself upon the bench with a graceless thud and reached for an unclaimed goblet just within her grasp. As she touched the golden stem, it instantly was filled to the brim with a pleasant-looking, orange liquid.
Myrtle had only just begun to each when she felt the thin hairs upon the back of her neck stand on end. "Four-eyes," someone whispered just behind her ear, close enough for her to feel breath against her skin. With her fork still clasped in her hand, she turned her head to see who had said this to her.
And who else but Olive, not quite satisfied with the remarks she had last left Myrtle with?
"You can't even fix your own glasses properly!" she howled. "Though with eyesight like yours, I'm surprised you even managed to put them back together without accidentally killing something."
The few students that were unfortunate enough to be sitting near Myrtle sniggered, only the politest of whom hiding their amusement behind their napkins. Olive tossed her head, a glint in both her hair and eyes.
"I suppose that's the only excuse for how you look," she continued, encouraged by her audience. "Though even a blind man knows when ugliness is afoot, especially if it's staring at him through great, thick rims! I think it's all for the better that the lenses make your eyes appear smaller, you know, because even at this size, I'm sick of looking at—"
Myrtle nearly fell as she swung her legs over the bench and got to her feet, rising only to flee from the Great Hall. Like footprints, laughter lingered in her wake until it disappeared, not only from her own ears but those of others as well. Her chest ached as she ran, her breaths coming as gulping sobs amidst pants and gasps. She didn't know where she was going, precisely; Olive was right: her vision was greatly lacking.
Still, she was not surprised to find herself at the entrance of the girl's bathroom whose relative location she could never quite remember. All Myrtle could recall was that this was a premium haunt, a place where her wails reverberated upon the tiles as though she was not alone in her feelings of angst. Without a second though, she entered one of the many stalls and locked the door behind her.
She perched herself atop the closed toilet seat, sniffing and rubbing the skin beneath her eyes until it felt raw. Her hands were sticky and her thoughts were consumed with despair. No matter what it was that she told herself, she did not enjoy moments such as this where there was no one to be pitied but herself, by herself. But she did enjoy being pitied by others, being though of every so often. That's why she wasn't a Gryffindor; she'd heard tell that Gryffindors never accepted sympathy. But of course, whether they liked it or not, they were incessantly receiving such condolences for their petty affairs. Myrtle wanted this but could not have it. There were likely a thousand eloquent ways to put it, but she was a simple-minded girl with thoughts that were blunt. No one loved her, and there was no better way to put it.
She remained this way for quite some time without disturbance and without the care that she might be disturbing someone else. Not that she was; certainly by now, the entirety of the school would know that miserable, moaning, moping Myrtle had holed herself in the lavatory again. They wouldn't want to bother her, and she only wanted them to because that would present her the opportunity to send them away. Almost like a Gryffindor could.
Suddenly, she heard the bathroom door creak open; yet instead of hearing the latest gossip and hurried chatter, this simple sound was accompanied only by silence. Myrtle ignored it, supposing that it was merely one of the ghosts or someone else who had come to frighten her. Never mind that footsteps, heavy yet light, too, soon echoed throughout the room.
And then came a voice that was not a voice, hissing deeply like the snakes she had been so afraid to tread upon as a child. In spite of herself, she leaned forward to listen, wondering. How peculiar that someone would make such noises in such a place as this. Myrtle furrowed her brow for a moment, then gasped. It sounded like a boy! A boy who was attempting to trick her by talking like a snake!
Well, he certainly did a poor job of it, she thought, suddenly feeling huffy. And how dare he come in here, of all locations to be, where she was and other females often were!
Before she could stop herself, she had reached for the latch and swung open the door, preparing to give the intruder a piece of her mind. Yet all that was there was a pair of great, yellow orbs that seemed to burn her all the way through.
It was like she had been picked up and thrown into the air, the girl later decided as she looked upon her lifeless body with interest. Only it had been gentler than that, as if the air had then proceeded to catch her and spare her from the agony of the fall. It was a lovely feeling, in spite of the fact that she no longer needed to breathe to experience it. Although, somehow, she didn't mind this as much as one would expect. After all, there wouldn't have been anything waiting for her once she had left Hogwarts, and she had no friends to miss her.
As the girl thought this—she was surprised to find that ghosts could truly think for themselves—the door to the bathroom was flung open just as she imagined it had been before. A moment later, Olive Hornby stepped inside, not seeing anyone or anything but herself, and proceeded to preen before the mirror that had yet to show hairline cracks of age and misuse upon its surface.
The girl smiled to herself, hiding a giggle behind her transparent hands. Quietly, she floated behind Olive until she was peering over her shoulder and at her own reflection. Olive froze, her mouth shaping into a narrow, gaping "O" of surprise, and Myrtle tilted her head to one side.