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Much thanks goes to Acapella for helping me get over my writer's block. A new flow of ideas are now bouncing back and forth.


Tonks knocked on the door to the compartment before entering. Behind her, Charlie was turning to a fresh page in his notebook and making sure that his charcoal pencil was sharp. Both of them kept their faces grim, not wanting to reveal any weakness to the older and more powerful students they were about to interview. The seven remaining prefects of Hogwarts were upstanding students hand-chosen by the Headmaster to patrol the halls and keep peace among the throng of younger students. A throng that incidentally included both Tonks and Charlie.

The feelings of anxiety radiating off of the seven prefects inside was enough to bring perspiration to Tonks’ temples. In spite of herself, she was feeling nervous about interviewing these students. It was possible that any one of them could be the murderer, but at the same time, each of them could have been in danger of their lives if the killer chose to strike again.

Bill was there, standing by the window, his face passive, but somewhat strained.

“Prefects,” he announced. “This is Nymphadora Tonks and my younger brother, Charlie. I’ve given them permission to look into this ... sensitive manner. They’ll be asking you some questions about Mr. Moriarty, one at a time. Who would like to go first?”

Tonks stepped forward. “Bill, if it’s alright, could we start with the other Slytherin prefect?”

The Head Boy glanced over at a painfully thin girl with extremely pale skin and hair so black it had a blueish sheen to it. She stood up, her robes baggy over her thin frame.

“Of course I’ll go,” she purred in a husky voice. “Anything to help you out.” She smiled, but it did not reach her crystal-like grey eyes. She held her hand out to the two fourth-years. “I’m Harriet Adler, nice to meet you.”

Tonks stared at the girl while Charlie delicately shook Harriet’s hand as though he was afraid it might shatter in his grasp.

“The next compartment over is empty,” Bill told them. “You can hold your interrogations there.” His voice was slightly sarcastic with this last statement, and Tonks barely refrained from sticking her tongue out at him.

The three of them - Tonks, Charlie, and Harriet - moved over to the next compartment over, where Tonks immediately filled all corners of the space with a silencing charm. She did not want anything to be heard by an eavesdropper. Turning to the other two, she sat down on one bench and nodded to have Harriet sit across from her. Charlie sat by the window, watching the two girls with worry written across his face.

“Now, Miss Adler,” Tonks said, her voice deadly serious. “Some of these questions I have to ask you could be personal, or at worst, disturbing. Please forgive me if I offend you.”

Harriet nodded, her face set like a porcelain mask.

“First of all, how well did you know Gilbert?” Tonks asked, her voice emotionless.

Letting out of breath of what seemed to be relief, Harriet sat back in the seat. “As well as can be, seeing that we were in the same year. He wasn’t the talkative sort, you see.”

Tonks snuck a look at Charlie, who was writing down every word the two girls said.

“From what you knew of him,” she continued. “What did you think of him?”

Harriet smiled condescendingly. “It’s not polite to speak ill of the dead.”

“Tell us anyway,” Tonks shot back, her dark eyes burning like coals. “This is an investigation, Miss Adler. It would be most ... helpful of you to tell us everything you know. The truth would be a bonus,” she added with the slightest tone of sarcasm.

Harriet’s face changed for a fraction of a second, her eyes sharpening and her mouth turning into a sneer. It was gone in a blink and she became a statue once again.

“Gilbert was a snob,” she replied. “He thought he was the best of everyone, always strutting around like he did, just because he was smarter than average and better looking than most of the guys. No one really liked him because he wouldn't let anyone close to him. Even his girlfriend couldn’t stand the sight of him after a week. He was a horrible person and I’m not sorry he’s dead.”

Her tone was flat and toneless; not a breath of emotion had entered it during the statement. Hands laying on her lap, it seemed as though not a single nerve in her body was shuddering.

Tonks smiled grimly. “And there you were worried about insulting the dead.”

She quickly glanced over at Charlie to make sure he had gotten her entire statement before continuing her interrogation (as she liked to think of it).

“Do you know much about potions, Miss Adler? Are you skilled in that area?”

Harriet frowned, as though she was unsure about why this question had been asked.

“Yes, yes, of course,” she replied. “What sort of Slytherin would I be if I were not? Professor Snape would surely have my head otherwise.”

Charlie coughed suddenly, trying to cover a rude-sounding snort. Tonks gave him a half smile before turning back to Harriet.

“Enough to know about strong sleeping draughts?”

Harriet’s eyes opened wide. She finally understood where Tonks was going with her questions and she was shocked.

“You mean that Gil wasn’t killed by a knife?” she asked, leaning forward in her seat, the mask of indifference gone from her features. “But Ariadne said...”

“That news did not come up until after Miss Vane had rejoined the other prefects,” Tonks stated flatly. “Mr. Moriarty was not murdered with the sleeping potion, though I suspect it may have been a stronger dose than was required. The potion put him in such a state of unconsciousness that he would not have even felt the knife when it was stabbed into his stomach.”

Charlie would not have believed anyone so pale as Harriet Adler to become more pale than she already was. However, when Tonks said this to the Slytherin prefect, the girl’s face drained of any colour it may have had. She looked frightened ... and worried.

“Where, Miss Adler, were you during the time of Mr. Moriarty’s death at approximately a quarter to ten this morning?” Tonks asked, trying to take advantage of the other girl’s momentary lapse in confidence.

“I was doing my patrols near the end of the train,” Harriet replied automatically. “I was on the first shift with Horatio - one of the Gryffindor prefects - and Peter - a Ravenclaw prefect. Gil was supposed to come after...” she trailed off into silence, a single tear trickling down her face.

Tonks nodded as though she had heard something important. “Right-o. Thanks very much for your candidness, Miss Adler. Hopefully, we’ll get this all cleared up pretty soon.” She stood to open the compartment door for Harriet. “Could you please send in the other prefect who would have been on Mr. Moriarty’s shift?”

She turned to look at Charlie, who was reading over his notes with a thoughtful frown.

“D’you think she was guilty?” she asked him, plopping down in her seat.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Some things that she said about him at the beginning don’t match how she acted at the end. She said that she disliked him, then she cries afterwards? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

“Maybe she was more affected by the death of someone she knew instead of the death of an enemy,” Tonks hypothesized, twirling a finger through her longish brown hair. “She may not be sorry that he’s dead, but she’s sorry that someone had to die. Or,” she added with a shrug. “She could just be a consummate actress who would be better off gracing the streets of Drury Lane.”

From outside the compartment came footsteps stopping at the door, followed by a sharp knock.

“Bring on the next suspect,” Tonks muttered to Charlie before crying out: “Come in!”

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