Chapter 10 : The Final Evidence
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Tonks took off down the walkway at a run, just barely keeping the quickly-moving Irene in sight. Pretty soon, however, Tonks knew that the other girl would run out of space to run once she reached the front of the train. Irene would then be as dangerous as a caged wild animal. As she ran, Tonks took her wand from her jacket, hoping that she would not need to use it.
Students in the compartments lining the walkway were peeking out the doors to see what the noise was about. All they saw was an plump brunette Gryffindor being chased down the train by a pink-haired girl in muggle dress. But what they did not see was what occurred at the end of the walkway, when Tonks finally caught up to Irene, who had stopped at the carriage door to wrench it open. Darkness was setting in around them, the sun having set nearly a quarter hour before, and the moors and dales of the north were hardly distinguishable. Stone fences and herds of sheep flew past the train, mere shadows in the growing twilight.
Irene threw herself through the door and fell heavily against the waist-high rail that separated the small platform from empty air. It was nearly impossible to hear anything over the sounds of the engine and the air rushing past them. Irene looked back to see Tonks blocking the doorway back into the train: her only safe exit.
“Don’t do this, Irene!” Tonks cried. “It’s not worth it!”
The fierce look on the Gryffindor prefect’s face was the only thing that kept Tonks from using physical strength to force her back into the train.
“Do you think I’m going to go back just to get myself thrown into Azkaban?” Irene yelled over the blaring of the train’s horn. “I’d rather die than suffer there because of stupid Moriarty! He had what was coming to him.”
“Killing yourself as well isn’t the answer, Irene!” Tonks returned.
But Irene did not reply. Instead she turned as though to jump.
“No!” Tonks shouted, snatching at the other girl’s robes. She put all of her strength into pulling Irene back from the rail, which was not at all easy since Irene was not small and was far stronger than she seemed at first sight.
“Get off me!” Irene screeched, fumbling at the hands grasping her robes. She freed herself and turned, her hands reaching to claw at Tonks’ face. As Tonks reached up to protect her face, Irene saw the smallest gleam from the knife - the murder weapon - in the pocket of her adversary. In an instant, she grabbed the knife and held it between her and Tonks.
Tonks backed up, her eyes upon the dangerous blade.
“Surely killing one person is enough for you?” she asked Irene.
The Gryffindor prefect’s eyes were now wild with fear and hatred, her once-pleasant face filled with a terrible horror. She knew she was cornered, but she would not go down alone.
“I didn’t kill him!” she shrieked. “I wasn’t the one with the knife in my hand!”
“But you planned the whole thing,” Tonks added, her voice shaking. “It was all your idea, and you got Ariadne to help out, same with that seventh-year Ravenclaw.”
“It was him! He was the one who did it, not me!” Irene defended, brining the knife up to the level of Tonks’ throat.
“Did you even care that you were setting up an innocent person? Harriet loved Moriarty, but she never could have killed him. You must have known I would find that out eventually.” Tonks persisted. She was hoping to prod Irene into making a final move or perhaps even make a full confession of the crime.
“I hated him!” Irene suddenly screamed, her head tipping back to cry her words to the open sky. “He flaunted himself in front of everyone, not caring whose hearts he broke. He would have ruined Catherine in more ways that he already did! Someone had to do something!”
“Murder can’t be that something,” Tonks said quietly.
From inside the carriage came the sounds of people running towards the front of the train. Tonks heard it at the same time as Irene, who made her final move, lashing the knife at Tonks with all the strength which remained to her. Tonks stumbled back, unable to make much use of the wand in her hand. Falling hard against the rail, Tonks felt it strain under the force and silently prayed that it would not break. Irene hurried forward, the knife erect in her hand and a murderer’s look in her eyes. She fell upon Tonks, who was still struggling to keep her balance, and tried to push the knife at Tonks’ unguarded throat. Just in time, Tonks was able to grab the wrist which held the knife, using all the muscle she had in order to keep it from making her a match to Nearly-Headless Nick. However, Tonks could feel her centre of balance begin to push further back upon the rail. If she could not get away from Irene, most likely she would be thrown off the train to fall to her death on the stony ground below.
The door to the platform was thrown open and three people spilled out. Someone knocked Irene over the head with a heavy object, quickly grabbing the knife before it clattered to the ground and fell off the moving train. Tonks was pulled away from the rail, her head swimming.
“Are you alright?” Harriet Adler was asking her, leading Tonks back into the carriage.
“Get her to a warm place,” Charlie said when Tonks didn’t reply. “Ask one of the porters to get her something.”
Before Tonks fainted into oblivion, she recalled seeing Charlie and Bill drag an unconscious Irene into the train, not caring if her head or feet hit the doorframe. She also saw the worry in Charlie’s eyes as he glanced towards her as well as the knife in Bill’s hand, imagining the bloodstains upon it to be her own.
When her eyes reopened, she first noticed the lack of movement, which meant that the train had stopped. They must have arrived at Hogsmeade while she had been unconscious. As she struggled to sit up, a slightly blurry face came into view.
“Are you alright, Tonks?” Charlie was asking her, his voice filled with worry.
“What happened? Why did I faint?” she managed to ask him.
Slowly, her eyes were beginning to come into focus and she realised she had been lying on the seat in a compartment. No sounds of students talking or walking around could be heard.
Charlie shrugged. “It might have been the fact that you nearly fell off the train.”
Tonks peered at him to see whether or not he was being sarcastic or not. Before she could say anything in reply, however, a tall, grizzled man entered the compartment. His face was so scarred that he looked as though a chef had experimented chopping techniques upon it. A large piece of his nose was missing as though a bite had been taken out of it by an animal with very sharp teeth. One of his eyes was dark and beady, glaring into a person with suspicion, while the other eye was bright blue - obviously not his real eye - and spun around, seeing everything and nothing at the same time.
This man nodded to Charlie, then looked down at Tonks, now sitting up.
“So you’re the one who figured it out,” he said, almost accusingly, his voice a low growl.
Tonks swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. “Yes, sir. I was.”
“How’d you do it, might I ask? It’s not everyday that you hear of a kid like you solving murders.” His magical - for that’s what it had to be - eye stopped its route, looking straight at her slightly maliciously.
“I - I,” suddenly she found herself lost for words in front of the man. He could be no other than the famous Auror Mad-Eye Moody, who had caught more Dark wizards, especially after the fall of You-Know-Who, than any other before him.
“It was that book,” Charlie spoke up, clearly not so nervous in front of the Auror. “Remember? That one you were reading about the murders on the train?”
Tonks reached into her jacket’s inner pocket and pulled out the yellowed paperback novel. “Yeah,” she said. “It was this book that helped me. The ending’s not quite the same, but it still was a crime of deliberation and passion.” She looked up at Moody, suddenly remembering something else. “Sir? Did you get the knife with the fingerprints? And the glass vial as well?”
The Auror nodded, the tiniest of smiles (or what one could suppose was a smile, with the way his face was so distorted) appearing on his face. “Indeed I did. Quite the detective work you did here, young lady. Those professors at the school will make an Auror of you yet. You have lots of promise.”
Tonks’ jaw dropped. “You mean it? I could be an Auror?”
Moody laughed, an eerie sound that reminded Tonks of Count Dracula crossed with Frankenstein. “I’ll expect to see you in a few years up at the Academy.” He left soon after, meeting an even taller, dark-skinned man in the walkway who grinned at Tonks, then followed after the older man.
“So how did you figure it out?” Charlie asked. “How did you know that the Ravenclaw boy had something to do with it.”
“Another red herring,” was Tonks’ reply. “He was trying to lead you off somewhere else, just like Irene did with her finger-pointing at Harriet Adler. By pretending to be open with his information, he was really trying to cover up his deceit.”
“What did Ariadne Vane have to do with it then?”
“From the amount that she cried while I was explaining what happened,” Tonks began. “I realized that she had not really wanted to be involved with the entire fiasco, that she was bullied into it by Irene, who needed to be away from the scene as soon as possible. It was also Irene’s idea that she should plan the murder, but not actually wield the knife. It was extremely clever on her part.”
“What led you to the Ravenclaw, though?”
“When you first mentioned him, I was a little wary of his assuredness of what he was saying. It just didn’t seem right,” Tonks told him. “So, when you went off to talk to the train staff, I went over to see him. He acted so shifty I’m sure an American gangster could learn a thing or two from him. Anyway, he let slip that he knew Irene. As soon as he said that, I knew.”
After a short moment of silence, Charlie asked, “What do you think will happen to them now?”
“Irene and that Ravenclaw - Adam I think his name was - will go to Azkaban or something similar. Most definitely they’ll have to go before the Wizengamot. Ariadne, however, probably will get off easily since she was forced into it. Besides, she didn’t have a very large role in the plot, just to make up the initial story about finding the body and cause a distraction when Irene wanted to retrieve the potion vial.”
Charlie shook his head. “I still can’t believe that all this happened.”
“It can happen anywhere,” Tonks said. “And usually in the last place you’d least expect it to.”
Once they were off the train and had been taken to the school, Tonks felt strangely distant from the rest of the world. She had been so enthralled by the mystery that, now it was over, she didn’t know what else to think about. People asked her questions about the case and how she had solved it, but she had replied flatly and without interest. All she wanted to do was collapse on her bed and go to sleep. A train ride of a few hours had felt more like one that had taken a few days.
However, when she finally reached her dormitory, instead of falling on the bed and closing her eyes, she took a parchment and quill from her trunk, sat down on her bed, and began to write a letter. It was no ordinary letter, but one that would tell the entire story.
Dear Mum and Dad, it began. You’d never guess what happened on the way to school today...
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