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Murder on the Hogwarts Express by Violet Gryfindor

Format: Novella
Chapters: 10
Word Count: 17,570

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Humor, Mystery
Characters: Moody, Tonks, Bill, Charlie, OC

First Published: 04/23/2005
Last Chapter: 04/26/2018
Last Updated: 04/26/2018


Sometimes going back to school can be murder. Nymphadora Tonks and Charlie Weasley get caught in the midst of a feud between prefects that turns deadly. Both detectives must sort through red herrings and numerous suspects to find the one important thing: the name of the killer.

2007 Dobby Award Winner for Best Novella!

Chapter 9: The Evidence of the Truth

Chapter Nine

“Are you sure that you saw nothing suspicious?” Charlie asked one of the porters, his temper on the edge since none of them seemed to know anything worth while. He wanted to find at least one piece of information to help Tonks find the killer.

“N-n-no, s-s-sir,” the young porter stuttered, his hands shaking uncontrollably.

Charlie sighed. “Fine, you can go. Do you happen to know where I could find the trolley witch? She’s the last I have to speak to.”

The porter nodded wildly. “Y-y-yes-s-s,” came the reply. “S-s-she s-s-hould-d b-b-be in-n the b-b-back-k wat-t-ting for the t-t-train t-t-o c-c-come int-t-tto H-h-h-hog-gsmead-de.”

It took a moment for Charlie to understand exactly what the porter had said since the man’s stutter was so pronounced, but afterward, he thanked the porter for his help and walked down the long walkway to the far end of the train. On the way, he saw Irene Westmacott ahead of him in the hall. He called out to her and she turned, a bright smile appearing on her face.

“Charlie!” she exclaimed. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“What are you doing out in the hall?” he asked her, not bothering to waste time with greetings. He had seen her barely an hour before.

“I had to use the lavatory,” Irene replied, her voice calm and level. “It’s all this excitement, you know, and the anxiety as well.” After a short pause, she continued. “Have you found anything interesting yet?”

With a shrug, Charlie said, “Not really. Nothing that you don’t already know.”

She nodded. “I see,” she said, the slightest degree of disappointment appearing on her brow. “Not that you would tell me if you knew, anyways,” she added.

“Of course,” Charlie answered, forcing himself to smile at her.

Something wasn’t right...

“Here,” he told her. “I’ll walk you back to the prefect’s compartment, Irene. You don’t know if the killer is still on the loose. You never know, he could be targeting prefects, not necessarily just Moriarty.”

“Alright,” she said, the disappointment replaced by frustration.

Charlie was surprised and unsure. This didn’t seem like the Irene he and Tonks had interviewed earlier. What had happened to her since that interview? Had she been threatened in some way? Or had she figured out who the killer was? In any case, Charlie resolutely walked her back to the prefects’ compartment, nodded to his brother once they arrived. Bill raised his hand slightly, then went back to speaking with one of the two prefects Charlie and Tonks had not yet spoken to: Horatio Dalgliesh. Not too far from the Gryffindor prefect sat Nancy Hastings and another unknown prefect, most likely Peter Jury, a Ravenclaw prefect. For the most part, they were all quiet except for the occasional sniffle from Ariadne and the quiet whispers between Jury and Nancy. The other prefects were silent.

As he left the compartment and continued, Charlie wondered if he and Tonks should have continued their questioning of the prefects instead of going off on separate leads. He was curious to know what Dalgliesh and Jury had to say about the dead Slytherin. Perhaps there had been rivalries, jealousies...

Or perhaps he was spending too much time with Tonks and her murder mysteries.

Shaking the obtrusive thoughts from his head, Charlie continued down the length of the train until he arrived at the final carriage, known by some as the caboose. Inside, huddled around a table, sat some of the train’s staff, taking a short rest before they were to arrive at Hogsmeade. The clock on the wall divulged that time was short: there was perhaps an hour until the train was due at the station.

He smiled duly at the group of adults and politely asked to speak with the trolley witch. A buxom and pleasant-looking woman stood up, introducing herself as Dorothy Doyle, trolley witch for the past decade or so. When Charlie asked whether there were a private place for him to ask her some questions, she turned to the other workers and, with a toss of her head in the direction of the door, sent them out.

“Would you like a cup of tea or fizzy drink, young man?” she asked him, her smile kind and motherly. She reminded him a bit of his mother, who treated guests like royalty.

“A soda would be great, thank you,” he responded, hoping that taking the witch up on her hospitality would make it easier to question her.

Once they were settled with their drinks, Charlie took out his notebook and charcoal.

“Mrs. Doyle,” he began. “Did you stop at the very first compartment of the train around 9.15 this morning?”

“Yes, I did,” Dorothy told him. “There were three people in it at the time, but I didn’t stay there very long since one of them was sleeping. Poor boy needed some rest before school, I suppose. I hated to disturb him, especially since the other two said they didn’t want anything.”

Charlie choked on his drink upon hearing this, and Dorothy had to pat him on the back a number of times before he could breathe normally.

Once he could speak, he asked her, “Do you remember what these students looked like at all?” Hopefully, the lady had a very good memory. Suddenly, the whole case seemed to rest upon the broad shoulders of the trolley witch.

“Indeed I do,” she replied with a broad smile and she went on to describe them in a fair amount of detail that surprised Charlie greatly. Or perhaps it was not so much the amount of detail she gave that surprised him, but rather those who were being described. After Dorothy had completed her description, Charlie jumped up, profusely thanking her for her kindness and assistance in the murder investigation. Hurrying from the room, he practically ran down the walkway towards the very front of the train.

He met Tonks in the walkway. Rather, they walked into each other as neither was looking where they were going since their minds were caught up in the matter at hand. Without realising that they had both learned the same information in grossly different ways, the two friends began talking at once.

"I know who did it!" Charlie exclaimed in a voice barely above a whisper.

"You'd never guess who is responsible!" Tonks told him excitedly, then quickly became quiet when she finally understood his words.

"Are we speaking of the same person?" she asked.

"People, you mean," he quickly corrected her. "There were three involved, though there could be more, I suppose."

Tonks hurriedly revealed her discoveries, after which Charlie told her what he had learned. Upon hearing the same name and physical description for one of the people, Charlie said, "It should have been obvious at the beginning. The way she acted that whole time..."

"Yes," Tonks interrupted. "But sometimes the most obvious answer is the most difficult to find."

"I still can't understand why she would plan all of this," Charlie wondered.

Tonks smiled somewhat stiffly. "That's just something you'll have to ask her."

Discussing aspects of the case and how they could entrap the suspects, Tonks and Charlie made their way to the prefects' compartment, where five innocent and three guilty awaited news of the case or the arrival of the train. Whichever happened to occur first.

Upon entering the compartment, the two detectives immediately felt the tension which filled the air like electricity. The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff prefects sat on one side, while the two Ravenclaw prefects and Harriet Adler sat on the other, the Head Girl by the window beside Nancy. Standing at the window, directly between the two benches, was Bill, who was beginning to look stressed, a rarity compared to his usually calm demeanor.

"Well?" he asked the two fourth years with the slightest tone of impatience in his voice. "What have you discovered? Anything to clear up this mess?"

Charlie glanced beside him at Tonks, who was nodding, a grim expression on her face. "We know everything: what happened, how it was done, and most importantly, who did it," she said, her voice quiet, yet infinitely strong.

"Then tell us!" Bill ordered, his voice cracking as he said it.

Tonks took center stage. Charlie was all but forgotten as Tonks began to explain all the elements of the case.

"Before I reveal the identities of the guilty parties, I'll tell you how it was done. In effect, the clever and supremely devious plans that led to the death of Gilbert Moriarty." Her gaze took in all of the collected suspects and people closely involved with the victim, as though she were trying to obtain any clues from them.

“All of this started over the summer when, quite by accident I presume, the future Head Girl, Catherine Lynley, let slip that she was pregnant most assuredly with Moriarty’s child. It was well known in the upper years that Moriarty had tired of his girlfriend, or rather he was tired of having a girlfriend. I can only suppose that he felt that it was getting in the way of his studies. From what I’ve heard of Moriarty, he was very ambitious, aspiring to become Minister of Magic.” The slightest smile played upon her face for a moment, then vanished as soon as it had appeared.

“It was then that our killer had an idea, perhaps which started as merely a way to get revenge upon Moriarty for leaving his girlfriend in such a way. It was dishonourable, something no one from a pureblood family should do. This person was disgusted with Moriarty’s lack of feeling for anyone but himself, and so their initial idea grew into something greater, something far more deadly. They began making plans to rid the world of Moriarty altogether. But they could not do it alone, so they made arrangements to meet someone they knew, someone who had the ability and the audacity to be able to pull it off.”

She paused for a moment, in which they could all hear the silent sobs of Catherine, who had now realized that this had all happened because of her.

“By the time we were all boarding the train,” Tonks continued. “There were three conspirators involved, all with a grudge against Gilbert Moriarty, and all willing to assist in removing him from their - and everyone else’s - lives. One had prepared a strong sleeping potion beforehand - to ensure that Moriarty would not cry out - while another carried a knife with them. This one, in fact.” With this statement, she took from her jacket pocket the tissue-wrapped knife, and carefully, without disturbing the blood or fingerprint evidence, displayed it for the group to see.

There were many gasps as the blood was noticed - a brownish-red stain that spread across the blade of the knife. Nancy Hastings turned away, burying her face in the shoulder of her fellow Ravenclaw prefect Peter Jury. Terrence Brown frowned, a mournful look in his eyes. Bill made a strangled sound in his throat, his hand resting gently on Catherine’s thin shoulder. Harriet Adler looked once at the knife, then dropped her eyes to the floor, a single tear making a trail down her cheek. Irene Westmacott sat stiffly in her seat, her face entirely devoid of expression, while beside her Ariadne Vane burst into tears. Horatio Dalgliesh stared at the knife, his mouth wide open.

“I’ll be damned,” he exclaimed, rising from his seat. “That’s my knife!”

Charlie instinctively moved to protect Tonks in case the Gryffindor prefect tried to attack her, but there was no need for his protectiveness.

“Are you sure that it’s yours, Mr. Dalgliesh?” Tonks asked Horatio, stepping towards him to give him a closer look at the murder weapon.

He nodded. “Yes, of course, I’d recognize the hilt anywhere. It’s been in the family for generations - nearly five hundred years.”

Charlie, who had not expected this, glanced over at Tonks to see if she was also surprised, but all he saw in her face was pure excitement. It seemed as though she had expected this turn of events.

“And why, may I ask, did you bring it along with you?” she asked Horatio.

He looked up at her, his eyes filling with comprehension. “Someone asked to see it.”

Tonks was nodding sympathetically. “I see. And when did you discover it missing, Mr. Dalgliesh? Or did you give it to someone?”

Horatio muttered something unintelligible, his gaze turning to examine the floor.

“You lost it, didn’t you Horatio,” Tonks said quietly.

When he nodded, she looked at the rest of the group. “I know from my investigation that the perpetrator - or rather the mastermind - of this crime was female, even though I believe the one who held the knife itself was male. The girl who did this held a deep and passionate grudge against Gilbert Moriarty, hating him through and through. From what I’ve heard, there are a number of girls who would have felt this way, particularly since he was such a popular person with the ladies, yet ignored them entirely. One of his biggest fans was you Miss Adler.”

Harriet looked up suddenly, her grey eyes widening in shock. “Surely you don’t think - “ she began, but Tonks briskly cut her off.

“You had a motive, Miss Adler. A strong one, some people have told me. You liked Gilbert a lot, and you were upset when he went off with Catherine Lynley and probably felt even worse when you found out she was pregnant!”

“That’s a lie!” Harriet cried, jumping from her seat. “How could you even think of such a thing! I loved Gilbert, that’s true, but I never ever could have hurt him!”

Tonks smiled. “I know that, which is why I never really suspected you. It was too obvious when we were interviewing you that you liked him, but wished to hide it.”

A perplexed expression on her face, Harriet sat back down.

“Of all of the other female prefects,” Tonks continued. “Only Nancy Hastings had a perfect alibi - one that checked out as well. She was with the Head Girl from the time they boarded the train until the time Nancy came to see me.”

“Wait a minute,” Irene argued. “But didn’t I tell you that I was with my friends the entire time? How can you then say that I have no alibi?”

Tonks turned to the Gryffindor girl. “Well, I can say it because it’s true. When I asked your friends, they said that you left them about fifteen minutes after the train left King’s Cross because you had to go on your rounds as a prefect. Then you came back a few minutes before Miss Vane’s scream. Yet you told me otherwise.”

“You were going to do your rounds at the same time as Mr. Moriarty, correct?”

The curls bobbed again as Irene nodded. “Yes, I was.”

“And where were you while he and Miss. Vane were in the first compartment?”

Irene tilted her head to the side. “With my chums in the third carriage. I went there right after the meeting to catch up after the summer.”

“How did you hear about the ... tragedy?” Tonks asked, her eyes narrowing.

Kicking her legs against the seat, Irene did not seem to notice the predatory look on Tonk’s face. “Well, we heard the commotion from the front of the train. Just before ten, I think,” Irene replied. “Then Bill came around, saying that something had happened and that I had to join the other prefects in the back compartment.” She bit her lip and looked down. “That’s when he told us what happened. I still can’t believe it.”

“You really couldn’t believe it, could you?” Tonks asked the older girl. “You couldn’t believe that your plan actually went through; that Gilbert Moriarty was indeed dead.”

As the other prefects looked shocked and surprised, and Ariadne Vane burst into tears once again, Irene rose from her seat and charged at Tonks like an angry lioness. Then she pushed past the younger Gryffindors - Charlie grabbed at her but missed - and ran out of the compartment, hurrying towards the front of the train.

“She’s going to warn her other conspirator,” Tonks said, her voice strangely harsh. “Terrence, Horatio, Peter, can you help Charlie capture a seventh year Ravenclaw near the back of the train. If I’m correct, he changed compartments soon after Charlie saw him. Irene’s going to the wrong place.”

“But who will go after her?” Charlie asked her.

“I will,” she told him, beginning to move off after the escapee. “Now hurry!”

One more chapter...