the characters and setting belong to J. K. Rowling. The mention of Peter Wimsey and the quote from him are the property of Dorothy L. Sayers.
Charlie was astounded. He had left Tonks barely half and hour before and she had already solved the case without his help. How was that possible?
He told her so and she laughed, patting his arm comfortingly.
“Oh come on, Charlie!” she said, amusement filling her eyes. “Do you really think I could do it that fast? I only told you that I knew what happened, but not who did it.”
He frowned, trying to understand her logic. “So you know how he died, but you still don’t know who killed him?”
“Elementary, my dear Watson,” she acknowledged with a mock bow. “As the great Peter Wimsey said, ‘Once you know how, you know who’.”
“I’m not even going to ask who or what you’re talking about,” Charlie said, crossing his arms. “Do you want me to tell you what I know, or do you want to go first?”
“You go first, Char,” she said, turning back towards the compartment where the body still lay. “Maybe what you’ve heard from the others on the train will help us figure out who may of done the crime.”
So he told her all he had heard, mostly concentrating on what the Ravenclaw boy and the group of Slytherins had told him. Tonks found the mixed views of Gilbert Moriarty very intriguing, especially since the Hufflepuff prefect had claimed that he had been personable to her. Why would a Slytherin who couldn’t even get along with his own housemates have a deep conversation with a Hufflepuff, of all people?
She decided to let the question go for the time being. The two of them would interrogate the prefects later on. Hopefully, then they would find the answers they needed to solve this crime.
The two of them were standing outside of the compartment containing the body as Charlie finished his report. Tonks suddenly felt apprehensive about her own news, which was not at all pleasant. It frightened her greatly to think about the cold-hearted planning that had gone into carrying out this villainous deed.
“Charlie,” she whispered, leaning forward so that only he would be able to hear her. “I don’t like this one bit. The things I discovered after you left...”
His brown eyes opened wide. “What, what was it? It must be pretty bad if it’s bothering you like this, Tonks.”
“It is,” she replied, her voice catching slightly. She slid open the compartment door and the two of them slipped in. “This is worse than I previously thought. It was not a random act, or one that happened in the heat of the moment. This was premeditated, planned out beforehand.”
“But how - ?” he asked, surprise evident in both his face and voice.
“Remember how it seemed strange that he’d let himself get stabbed without crying out?” Tonks explained, her voice low. “Well, he was asleep at the time. I don’t even think he woke up when the knife entered his stomach.” She held up the small glass vial she had found earlier. “Sleeping drought, and a very strong one, too. Very few would be able to produce one quite like this, only upper year students.”
“So someone slipped him that in a drink, you’re thinking?”
“It’s very possible, unless of course he took this because of motion-sickness. He was a Slytherin after all, and a smart one at that. He could’ve easily made it himself and taken it.”
“Then whoever killed him had to have known that he had taken it,” Charlie pointed out. “Either that or they’re the one’s who gave it to him.”
“So it would have to be someone who knew him well enough or someone he trusted,” Tonks deduced, her usually smooth forehead deeply furled. “That narrows it down a bit.”
“But from what I heard, not too many people thought the world of him,” Charlie said. “Nor did he think much of anyone else.”
A small, but bitter, smile appeared on her face. “One thing you’ll have to learn in detecting, Charlie, is that no one can be trusted. We can’t be sure that any of the witnesses are telling the truth. In fact, we have to look at the case from two ways,” she began pacing the small space to one side of the body. “One way is to use what all the witnesses say and see what you get from all that. The other way is to use the concrete evidence and see what that tells us about the dirty deed. It’s all elementary, really.”
Charlie looked more than slightly perplexed. “Sometimes, Tonks, I really worry about you.”
“Why?” she asked, looking up quizzically.
Unable to think of anything reasonable to reply with, he decided to change the subject. “Did you find anything else while I was gone?”
Tonks stopped in mid-step and pointed to the bloody knife which lay on the ground nearby. It was still partially wrapped in tissues, but there was something strange about it that Charlie had not noticed before.
He carefully stepped over the body and knelt down to get a closer look at the knife. The blade was a hand’s breadth in length and, where there was no blood, made of shiny steel. On the other hand, the hilt looked like a very old ebony, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. It looked well-made and very expensive.
“Why would they use a knife, Tonks?” he asked, frowning over the object. “We’re all wizards or witches here, surely if we wanted to kill anyone it’d be easiest to use magic.”
Tonks sat down in the seat closest to the window, leaning her head against the wall.
“I was thinking that same thing earlier,” she said, her eyes closed. “But then I remembered something my mom said about magic being traceable, that the Ministry can figure out who used a certain spell by something to do with the wand. Perhaps that was the reason here.”
“But a knife is just as traceable, isn’t it?”
“Unless it was stolen, of course.”
“A wand can be stolen as well, don’t forget,” Charlie remarked.
Her eyes flew open and she grinned. “Touche. But we’re still left with the problem of finding out who did this.” She motioned to the body lying on the floor. “I still have to look for fingerprints on the knife and the vial, though. That could help us a bit.”
Charlie looked closely at the wooden handle, his eyes squinting. “I don’t know much of anything about fingerprints, but do you think that this is one?” He pointed at a smudge where the hilt met the blade.
Tonks quickly crossed the space and knelt beside Charlie.
“It could be,” she admitted. “But it’s hard to tell without the proper equipment. Do you know anyone with a white powder of some sort? Girl’s make-up might do the trick. I think I asked you to get that before.”
“No one I talked to had any that they were willing to lend out,” he said, his cheeks flushing. “Maybe one of the prefects will have what you need.”
Tonks sighed impatiently. “Oh well, I suppose so. We’ll also have to compare that hair I found earlier with someone on the train.” She paused for a moment, rubbing her chin with one hand. “Tell me, what colour was that Ravenclaw boy’s hair?”
Charlie thought for a moment, remembering. “It was a sort of brownish colour.” Then he seemed to realize what she was getting at. “You don’t think - “
”As I said, you can never trust witnesses, however much you want to do so,” she interrupted, standing and brushing imaginary dust from her clothes. “We still have a couple of hours before we arrive at Hogwarts, but we’ve got a lot to do.” She went back to pacing the compartment, waving her hands wildly as she spoke. “First of all, we’ll talk to the prefects. Bill has got a watch on them already, so hopefully they’ll all be in the same place. We have to talk to them one by one, though, so they can’t hear each other’s stories and collaborate on them. We need the truth!”
At this statement, she banged her fist against the other hand, making Charlie jump.
“What then?” he asked.
“We’ll check this compartment for fingerprints once we have the proper stuff to do it with, then we’ll go on and interview more people.” Her eyes took on a strange glow. “The trolley lady will have to be questioned thoroughly, who knows what she may have seen and remember how she offered us food right before that girl began screaming. She could have easily drugged Moriarty and killed him.”
“Why would she do that?” Charlie inquired, his mind whirling with all she was telling him.
Tonks spun to face him. “Why not? Motives can be aplenty when the victim is not liked very much, as seems to be the case with him.” She pointed at the dead boy, still wide eyed with the shock of death. No one had thought to cover him yet.
“But who will watch over the body when we’re gone? We can’t just leave it here!”
A sudden look of confusion appeared on Tonks’ face. Her eyes moved from the body, to the door, and back again. “Oh dear. I never quite thought of that. We can trust your brother Percy to sit with it, cant’ we?”
“He’s only a first year!” Charlie exclaimed. “I can just see the look on mother’s face if she heard that her dear little Percy was exposed to a dead body on his first day!”
“Bad idea, right,” Tonks said, biting her lip. “What about a porter?”
Charlie stood up. “I’ll get one.” He left the compartment hurriedly.
Tonks sat in one of the seats and gazed at the boy’s lifeless body for a few moments. Then a mischievous smile spread across her face as she reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a scrunched brown hat. Shaking it to get rid of some of the larger wrinkles, it became apparent to the type of hat she was holding.
Placing it on her head with a flourish, she said to herself, “The game’s afoot.”