So for some reason I didn't read this during Nargles? I have no idea why because it's quite short and also excellent......really dropped the ball on that one Emma. Anyway, I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. A list of things I loved about it:
- Ravenclaw as the Leftover house! Not Hufflepuff! I love that she's not loyal enough for Hufflepuff, it's such an interesting spin on Hufflepuff (and Ravenclaw, for that matter).
- Olive's flippancy about the war was HORRIFIC. By which I mean it's 100% accurate to JKR's conception of the wizarding world. It's especially harrowing with the constant contrasts you make with Myrtle's life back home -- the rationing, the air raids, the austerity, the fact that her father is literally getting shot at.
- OLIVE IS THE WORST. BACK OFF, MYRTLE NEVER DID ANYTHING TO YOU.
- I'm so glad she has Eleanor, even for a short time! But then....graduation :(
- I LOVE the little detail of the Ministry teaching everyone an anti-missile charm, it SUPER DUPER reinforces the horrifying idea that the wizards know exactly what's going on and they simply DO NOT CARE that Muggles are dying. It's the worst.
- I had somehow forgotten that she was only 12 when she died!!!! Oh no now I'm even sadder. :(
- I also love the idea of Myrtle saying she's brave and cunning and loyal -- desiring all the traits that the Hat said she didn't have, but ignoring the ones that the Hat must have grudgingly admitted she had enough of to get by -- intelligence and a thirst for knowledge and that sort of thing. Love yourself, Myrtle!!
This was beautifully written and such a delicious exploration of Myrtle, who is of course quite one-dimensional in the books both because we're seeing her through Harry's eyes and also because being a ghost has flattened Myrtle, if you will, into a one-dimensional character? I know that doesn't make sense with dimensions but shh. I love all the little tidbits about life on the home front and how you never went all out and SAID the wizarding world was Utterly Evil for being so blasé but managed to definitely communicate that anyway. Unless you didn't mean to, in which case...oops. But I'm pretty sure you did.
Oh my god. This was WONDERFUL!
As I'm sure is true for many people, I've never really been all that interested in Myrtle as a character, mainly because she was fairly one-dimensional and annoying in canon. I love all the layers you gave to her here. You gave us a perfect picture as to why she was what we saw in canon. I really felt for her in this fic, and Olive Hornby needs a kick in the pants.
I'm a proud Ravenclaw, of course, but I liked the angle that this took with Ravenclaw being the "meh" house. In canon, we see Slytherin looked down upon and the house no one wants to be in. For a while in fandom, it was Hufflepuff. It was an interesting twist to see someone actually be hurt by the hat claiming they weren't good enough for those two houses, and for once those houses being what a person aspired to be. Again, I love my house, but it was a nice change. In a similar vein, we rarely see characters from Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw poking fun at Muggleborns, their customs, and their troubles the way Olive does in this story. It's always Slythering characters doing that. This shows that no house is perfect and without their share of not-so-kind people.
The history nerd in me loved the way you tied WWII into this. I geeked out for this as much as I did when Jacob mentioned WWI in Fantastic Beasts. We rarely see major historical events (the Muggle ones) tied into fan fiction, so I loved that this was explired here. I mean, there's know way wizards didn't notice things like that were going on. And WWII especially was a trying time for Britain, and it likely affected many students at Hogwarts, regardless of their parentage.
The ending... ouch. In the back of my head, I knew where it was going. But I was still holding out hope that maybe, just maybe, something good would happen to her before the inevitable. That maybe she could have been someone's first friend or first kiss. And... nope. Gaaah, it hurt me!
This was a fantastic exploration of a minor and generally unliked character. Well done! :)
Beth! I've been meaning to come and review more of your stories lately and this one really caught my eye. I love minor characters and I've thought of writing about Myrtle myself, but I've never found the plot. I don't think I need to after this :)
I really liked the way that you opened this, with this bold statement that makes Myrtle stand out as interesting and unique, before you then go on to dismantle the impression entirely and point out all the things about her which are very unremarkable. It was a great way to build up sympathy on the reader's part (as if I didn't already feel sorry for her, with her being murdered by the Basilisk just because she's a Muggle-born and there) because she was like the kid that we all know in every class who gets picked on and doesn't do anything to stand out or deserve it.
The Sorting Hat really is a bit of a jerk sometimes, isn't it? I can believe that he said all those things to Myrtle but I also can't believe it at the same time, if that makes sense. What an awful piece of headwear.
I loved the way that you incorporated the war, and all of the effects from it! It's attention to details like this one which make me so happy when I read fic, and I thought the way that Myrtle was so amazed by the amount of food (how come the wizards still had so much when the Muggles were living off scraps? Were they stealing all the food? Where did it come from? Why weren't they helping out their fellow human beings? These are probably all questions for another story...) fit really well. And the poor girl - not only have they been scrimping and saving to get through rationing, but Myrtle's not seen her dad because he's away fighting and she's living in fear of bombing raids. Is it any wonder that she struggles to adjust??
Olive Hornby is absolutely awful. Honestly, she's just so catty and constantly sniping at Myrtle from the first day they meet and there's really no need for it - it isn't Myrtle's fault that she's from a Muggle family, or how she looks! Honestly, with this characterisation of Olive, I don't blame Myrtle for haunting her one bit.
I was so sad that Myrtle's only confidante left after her first year there and everything just got worse from that point :(
Also, this story made me realise just how young Myrtle was. I mean, it's pretty easy to laugh at her for the way she moans and call her names and everything, but she was just a child when she was killed and forced to become a ghost. It's so unfair.
I loved the circular nature of this story, the way that you started and ended with the same line. It added this real sense of poignancy to the story and kind of made it stand out how sad it was that everything about Myrtle that made her Myrtle has been forgotten, and she's only remembered as being the first of Tom Riddle's many victims.
This was so well done. You were able to illustrate some of the reasons why Myrtle was so desperate for people to talk to her in later years. Nick mentioned that it was lonely being a ghost, but to have that isolation extend to Myrtle's life before she was killed was a very sad parallel.
The meek Myrtle compared to the angry Myrtle we see later surprised me a bit. Did you do this intentionally because after 50 years she could very well seem like a different person? Either way, the crying and hiding rather than fighting back helped to add to the tragedy of her story.
I love when people are able to pull real world history into their stories, so the references to World War II in this pleased me a lot. The all-consuming nature of the war to Muggles, with rationing and so many men being sent off with no contact for years, is so different than the bounty of food and protection that witches and wizards had. It was another nice way to highlight Myrtle's isolation from other students. Myrtle's poor mother. :( I hope her father at least made it through the war okay.
I really want to punch Olive Hornby in the face.
One minor typo I noticed: there should be an apostrophe in the sentence "There was a boy in the girls room" so it reads "girls' ".
This was a nice look into a different era of Hogwarts.