I stepped over the threshold of the bathroom, feeling the pit of my stomach churned. Aubrey and Damon have given me the honours of exploring the bathroom first, both saying that they’d come if only they were girls. Cursing my luck that this was a girls’ lavatory, I walked around the corner of the entrance and faced the famous haunted Ravenclaw bathroom.
The bathroom was empty, an uncommonly cold mist blanketing the floor. The gathering layer of dust on the vanity tops told me that no one had been using this particular restroom for a while, which only made it seem stranger that there should be a sink still damp with water. I stepped over and stood in front of the basin, staring down hard as though I expected the hands of the previous user to appear. My heart was thudding heavily in my chest as I stood there, my brows scrunched up. Who was here, in the broken down girls’ lavatory that many students believed was haunted? Suddenly I heard something, and I whipped my head around, wand in hand.
“Aubrey? Damon? Is that you?” I said, my hoarse voice breaking the silence of the room.
A muffled sob answered me from down the bathroom, a girl’s lonely cry from within the last cubicle. I walked towards it, my knuckles white from gripping my wand. A scuffled pair of Mary-Janes peeped out from beneath the door to this cubicle, and I raised a hand to knock hesitantly.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Who are you? Why do you care?” said the forlorn voice from behind the door, “Just leave me alone.”
“Umm I’m Zoe Henderson, the Chaser from Gryffindor. Are you okay?” I repeated.
“No I’m not,” she said, “And would you go away Zoe Henderson?”
“No I won’t,” I stood my ground stubbornly, “Haven’t you noticed how strange it is in here, with all this mist? You ought to come back to your common room.”
“And why aren’t you back in your common room then?” she shot back, pulling the cubicle door open, “Leave the telling off to the Prefects, Henderson.”
I lowered my wand as I saw her tear-drenched face, knowing in my heart that this scrap of a girl could do nothing to hurt me. She looked so lost and sad that I was tempted to hug a total stranger and cheer her up, but I daren’t. It was strange in here, and I was not taking my chances.
“I’m sorry then,” I said, backing away from her and making my way to the lavatory door.
“Where are you going?” she asked suddenly as I was about to go back to Aubrey and Damon.
“Back to my friends outside,” I said, “What’s it to you?”
“Don’t go, I’m sorry,” she said suddenly, her face crumpling up into sobs and she dropped down on the bathroom floor.
I headed back towards her, my instincts to help outweighing the confusion I felt by this girl’s mood swings. Patting her shoulder awkwardly, I murmured soothing words to her.
“Please don’t cry, I’m not leaving, see?” I said.
After a long and awkward silence, she tilted her acne ridden face towards me and smiled a thin smile. “I thought you were the Olive Hornby type, but you’re much nicer.”
“Who’s Olive Hornby?” I asked, confused.
“The mean idiot whose hobby’s making my life hell,” she told me, then mimicked Olive’s taunting voice, “Myrtle’s a cry baby, Myrtle’s stupid.”
“Oh,” I said, not knowing how I should respond to that, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s always Myrtle this and Myrtle that, I’m sick of it!” she continued, not having heard me at all, “Why, that witch of a girl even said...”
A hissing caught my attention, the most inhuman sound coming from somewhere within the bathroom. Goosebumps rose all over my arms, and I shivered involuntarily. Myrtle kept talking as though everything was normal.
“Listen, I’m sorry this Olive had been so nasty to you,” I interrupted her, “but I really think we should get out of here.”
“You think I’m annoying don’t you? You just want me to shut up by telling me that?” she flared up again, catching me unaware with this sudden turn of mood, “Well, you go. Go back to those pathetic friends of yours. I can hear them talking you know.”
She slammed the cubicle door in my face. Instantly I regretted coming back to try and comfort this strange creature whose moods changes as frequently as a girl changing clothes. Annoyed, I stomped out of the lavatory.
“What took you so long?” Aubrey asked, his eyes full of worry, “I heard raised voices. Who’s in there?”
“This sobbing girl,” I said, “Myrtle. She was crying so, and I felt horrid leaving her. But then the damn thing went and screamed at me.”
“Anything unusual?” asked Damon, straight to the business as usual.
“There was this hissing, a kind of snake-like sound that droned in the background as Myrtle talked,” I said, “I think you better come in to check, because I don’t know whether I dreamed up the noise.”
“It’s a girl’s toilet!” protested Damon.
“It’s empty for God’s sake,” I said, “Minus that girl, Myrtle, but she won’t tell anyone.”
“We better go in,” said Aubrey, “Lead the way, Zo.”