Olive couldn't quite explain why it was so satisfying: it hardly mattered to her that it was cruel – because Myrtle was such an irritating waste of oxygen that she simply could not bring herself to pity her – and it rarely occurred to her that she should feel any remorse for her relentless teasing.
She never said anything particularly horrible it was just that Myrtle was so inclined to tears that these days she only had to wave at her and Myrtle would drag up some bad memory to fuel her incessant weeping. Myrtle would easily cry at anything: she cried when she was partnered with someone she didn't like in class, she cried if she didn't do well with her homework and once she cried when there were no roast potatoes left one Sunday.
There were a few people in the world that were sympathetic, but gradually Myrtle had become a joke. Olive Hornby was the teller and the ridiculous moaning Myrtle was the punch line. Olive Hornby was funny and she relished in the attention she received from her jokes, it stood her apart from some of the other girls and made her feel like she had a value.
"I'll pay you three galleons if you make her cry this lesson." someone would offer her before the lessons, because Myrtle's fits of tears were usually so dramatic that the whole lesson would screech to a standstill until proper action could be taken. Sometimes Olive would get detention – if she had said or done something particularly nasty – but by now most of the teachers were so irritated by the constant presence of a snivelling teenager in the back of their classroom that they too turned their frustrations on Myrtle. Olive would never take the money, of course, being paid to make someone cry somehow seemed a step too far over her line of morality. She'd always do it though.
Olive couldn't quite explain why it was so satisfying: but watching the way Myrtle's frustrating face would crumble into emotion, her bottom lip would tremble comically for a moment and then the tears would come. Truthfully Olive always hated the moment just before the wailing would start – the way Myrtle's bright blue eyes would shine with her tears and she'd have this expression as if Olive had physically wounded her, it was too much for Olive to be able to look at most of the time. It both made her hate her and pity her at the same time – there was a sudden stab of guilt before the satisfaction set in. She hated herself as much as Myrtle in that moment. In those moments it seemed like she was projecting all herself hatred onto someone completely (or maybe not completely) innocent. Olive would feel the relief of tears just as much as Myrtle surely did.
Olive was in a foul mood the day, because she'd stupidly left all her homework to the last minute, because her brother had been whining at her to leave Myrtle alone and because all these attacks and this Chamber of Secrets nonsense meant that the whole castle was tense and nervous. Olive hated being scared and she could hardly help it when students were being petrified and nobody had the slightest clue what they were doing. What if Hogwarts closed? She'd heard some rumour that it was being considered, and what would she do then?
Olive sat down opposite Myrtle at the Ravenclaw table and waited for the girl to look up. Eventually Myrtle's watery gaze met hers and with a sudden wave of irritation that Myrtle could induce by presence alone, Olive narrowed her eyes at her.
"Nice glasses, Myrtle." She spat.
Myrtle's features held for a second, quivered, then succumbed to tears. Myrtle stood up and ran from the Great Hall. Olive contemplated that she hadn't expected it to be quite so easy... and that maybe Myrtle was worried about the attacks too, worried about Hogwarts being closed and worried about having far too much homework.
It was this sudden thought of humanity that led Olive to search for Myrtle after her absence had extended for minutes into hours and no one had the slightest idea where she'd been. She didn't feel guilty then, because obviously Myrtle was being as childish as always. No, Olive didn't feel guilty at all. Not until she found the body.