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SIYE Time:9:46 on 27th July 2021


Murder On The Hogwarts Express
By Torak

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Category: Hogwarts Express Challenge (2006-3)
Characters:None
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Humor
Warnings: Death, Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 13
Summary: When a corpse is found on the Hogwarts Express, it's up to Harry to solve the murder...
Hitcount: Story Total: 3762



Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.



Author's Notes:

A/N: For the record, I spotted this challenge late… and then I was busy trying to stop the house tumbling down right up until the evening of the 30th… which actually turned out to be the 29th, so I’m only just starting this at T-5 h… But ho hum – I find no reason why five hours isn’t adequate time to write a fic.


PROGRESS UPDATE: Four hours after typing the above, I woke up to find twenty pages of the letter W. Thus everything after the first scene was written with some urgency…





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Harry’s nose itched.

“…so we head out at the beginning of July,” Hermione was saying, sitting opposite him in the carriage.

As she droned on, Harry’s face contorted as he tried to suppress a sneeze.

“Harry?” Ginny tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hmm?”

He scratched his upper lip.

“What are you doing?”

He squirmed, slightly uncomfortable.

“Um… it just itches a bit.”

“Don’t know why you bother,” she said. “I mean, it’s tiny.”

She reached into her bag with a sigh and pulled out a magnifying glass, pointedly staring through it at Harry’s lip.

“It’ll grow,” he said. “Oh, come on — put that magnifying glass away. It’s not that small.”

“Harry, it’s barely bumfluff.”

He leaned back in his seat, a stubborn expression setting his face as Ginny tried not to smile.

“It’s a good moustache.”


* * *< /center>

They clambered down from the carriage at the station, and headed into the waiting room with their trunks behind them.

As they stepped onto the platform, something odd struck them.

There were two trains there.

It took a moment for the reason to sink in; all the guests at the funeral had to get home, so an extra train had been laid on.

“Bloody hell,” Ron muttered. “Must be a couple of hundred people on that one.”

“Glad we’ve got the Express to ourselves, then,” Ginny commented. “Well, almost to ourselves,” she added as she watched the Minister for Magic climb aboard two doors further on.

They manhandled their luggage into a compartment and flopped, exhausted, into their seats. It was an older carriage than usual, with connecting doors between some compartments. Luna glanced out at the crowded train beside them as it drew out. Even more than usual, her eyes took on that odd luminous quality as she spoke:

“All the world travels tonight…” She glanced round and saw their confused looks. “Well, all these strangers in one place… It lends itself to romance. And accidents. And things.”

Though they could certainly find no fault in her words, they were more than a little disconcerted as they sank back in their seats. Then the whistle blew, and the ‘real’ Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station.


* * *< /center>

Before long they were pounding along the rails, through the driving summer rain. The weather had become increasingly temperamental since Voldemort’s return, and it sometimes felt more like November than June — and today was one of those times.

The train eventually slowed to a crawl, inching forward at an agonizingly slow rate. The networked Sonorus charms crackled to life, with their usual lifeless but cultivated voice:

“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. Due to the wrong sort of leaves on the line, in conjunction with the rain in Spain, this train will travel overnight at a slower speed than usual. For your convenience, your seats will fold out to provide bunks. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

A collective frustrated sigh rose up from the six, and similar noises from the corridor suggested that they were not the only ones displeased with this turn of events.

“Oh well,” Harry said, “at least it’s a reprieve from the Dursleys.”

They set about deploying the bunks, and were soon tucked into bed. As the sunlight faded, they were just dozing off, when…

…there was a thud from somewhere down the carriage.

Outside the compartment, they could hear the trolley lady hurrying along the corridor; opening the door a crack, Harry could see her knock on a door further down.

“Are you alright, dear?” she asked through the door.

“It’s nothing,” a muffled voice replied. “I… fell out of my bunk.”

The explanation seemed to satisfy her, and she wandered off. Moments later, Harry was asleep.


* * *

“Harry!” Ginny hissed, shaking him awake. “Harry! Get up, someone’s been killed!”

He sat up, banging his head against the ceiling, and narrowly avoided rolling out of his bunk. A quick glance through the window told him that it was morning.

“What?”

“They said someone was killed during the night. They want you to take a look.”

“Why me?”

“How should I know? Probably the moustache…”

He climbed down to the floor, adjusting his rumpled clothing, and blinked a few times to clear his eyes.

“All right. Another trip, another corpse…”

It was only a few steps down the corridor to the compartment where Hermione had conjured lengths of blue and white ribbon across the door, and stood keeping the gawkers in check with a 120-watt frown. She brightened when she saw Harry approaching.

“Harry! Hurry up, get over here!”

Harry made his way through the throng, pushing in to the door. As Hermione opened it, revealing what was inside, the crowd gasped.

On the floor lay a dead Cornelius Fudge.


* * *

“Hermione, I’m not qualified to investigate the Minister’s murder.”

“You have to,” she said, closing the door to the corridor. “The driver’s not budging from his engine, and old Mrs Marple is sitting panicking in her office.”

“Well, it can wait until we get back to London.”

“Harry, we’re standing still. We’re completely snowed in, we can’t go anywhere.”

He rolled his eyes. “Hermione, it’s the middle of June. What do you mean, ‘snowed in’?”

She pointed out through the window — and, sure enough, white ferns of frost were indeed creeping across the glass.

“It’s not Dementors,” she assured him, answering the question he hardly dared ask. “I’m not sure what it is. But the line’s blocked front and back. There won’t be any Aurors coming. We need to solve this now.”

“Narrativium.” The voice came from behind Harry. He turned round to find Luna standing in the door. “It’s narrativium. The story needs us to be stuck, so we’re stuck.”

“Luna…” Hermione began with an exasperated sigh, “Narrativium is barely believed in by the nutcase cryptomagologists who claim to study it. There’s no such…”

“But still, we’re stuck in a seven-foot snow drift in June,” Luna said reasonably.

“Luna…” Hermione was visibly rattled. “Oh, Harry, just look at the sodding corpse.”

Harry knelt down and turned the body over on its back. The back end of a chocolate frog still twitched in the corner of its mouth.

“What do you think?” he asked Hermione. “Poison?”

“Could be.” She was busy examining the connecting door. “Harry, this door was locked from the other side, but the door to the corridor was locked from inside. Point of entry?”

“Sounds like it. Let’s pay our neighbour a visit…”

He stepped over to the door and flung it open.

In the corner seat sat Pansy Parkinson, reading a newspaper.

“What are you doing here?” she sneered.

“We’re investigating a murder, Pansy, so just… oh, just do as you’re told. What were you doing last night?”

“I was asleep, you idiot. Went to bed, conked out, woke up this morning to find ice on the window. What murder?”

“Cornelius Fudge was murdered right next door, and you didn’t hear anything?”

“Well… I did see a man.”

“A man.”

“He was sneaking about in here in the middle of the night. He must have come into my apartment to get at Fudge.”

“I can think of no other reason, certainly,” Hermione muttered under her breath. Pansy shot her a glare.

“What?”

“Right, fine.” Harry stepped between the two, picking up a small box on the table. “What’s this?”

“Food on the train’s awful, Potter. You know that.”

“Lunch box?” He opened the box; apart from an assortment of chocolates, there was a small bottle with a thick, greasy sludge inside it and a small red fish. “What’s this?”

“It’s a herring. What’s your point?”

“We’re taking it. Hermione, do we have a bag to put this in? Pansy, we’re taking the box as evidence.”

“Hey!” She was getting angry now; nothing, Harry suspected, would get between her and food. “That’s not evidence, that’s my bloody lunch!”

Harry raised an eyebrow, then pointedly unstoppered the bottle and sniffed it.

“Hermione, can you think of any reason someone might have polyjuice potion in their lunchbox?”

“Now hang on,” Pansy objected, “I really don’t know how that got there…”

“None legitimate,” Hermione grinned smugly. “Hang on…” She drew her wand and tapped the bottle. “Morphorevelo…”

In the air above the bottle appeared a faint, shimmering image of Cornelius Fudge.

Harry and Hermione glanced at each other for a moment, then turned back into the crime scene.


* * *

“Well well,” muttered Harry as the deceased coalesced into the prone form of Draco Malfoy, “Who’d have guessed?”

A sudden idea struck him, and he lifted the corpse’s hand.

“Hermione…” he mused. “How do you tell a Death Eater?”

“Well, if he’s willing to show you his wrist…”

“This one’s dead. He’d be willing to show us his liver if we wanted to see it.” He lifted the hand all the way and turned the arm outwards. On the inside of Draco’s wrist was the Dark Mark. Harry turned and gave Hermione a skewed smile. “What a surprise. The light thickens.”

He looked up at Pansy. “You had better sit down and wait a while until we’re done… but you were carrying his polyjuice, so we’ll have some questions for you.”

“He was bound to catch it some day, really.” She saw Hermione’s glance at her. “Hey, I had nothing to…”

Somnus,” Harry said with a lazy wave of his wand, watching Pansy fall, snoring, to the seat. He turned to find Hermione frowning at him. “What, you never smile?”

“My doctor has advised against it,” she said with a lopsided smile.

Harry chuckled, then moved to the door. A quick glance check that the lock had not been forced, by means mundane or magical, before their entry that morning, and the amount of potion remaining in the bottle suggested that Malfoy had been impersonating Fudge for at least a day. Careful to avoid touching it, Harry levitated the remains of the chocolate frog into the evidence bag.

“Now then, suspects…”


* * *

“Where were you last night at half past twelve?” Harry demanded, as Hermione cast the last of the polishing charms on the table in their compartment.

“Two bunks down from you, Harry,” Neville sighed with a smile. “You trod on my arm when you climbed up to your bunk.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sorry.”

“How about interviewing the actual suspects next?”

“Yeah, alright. Ginny, could you show in Miss Parkinson?”

Pansy Parkinson stepped into the compartment and flomped down on the bottom bunk, which by now had reverted to its seat configuration.

What?” she snapped angrily.

“Miss Parkinson, a repulsive murderer has been murdered repulsively and, perhaps, deservedly. But we are here to find the truth. So, I will need your alibi for the time of the murder.”

“Hold on, what alibi?”

“You will need to explain where you were at the time of the murder.”

“I was bloody asleep, you little twerp!”

“You also said you were unsurprised that he was killed. Glad, even.”

“I never said it like that!”

“No, but your meaning was quite clear.” Harry leaned back and steepled his fingers. “You knew of Mr Malfoy’s assumed identity. You were aware of his attempts to sneak away. But he wouldn’t take you with him, would he? And his mission to kill Dumbledore? That failed, didn’t it? He failed your master!”

He glanced down at the polished tabletop, noting the dark blur on her wrist reflecting in the wood. He grabbed her wrist and turned it, revealing the Mark.

“He failed your master, so you were assigned to kill him. Were you not?”

“You’ve got no evidence for that!”

“Since when did the Dementors sully what passes for their minds with something as squalid as evidence?” He nodded to Ginny. “Let’s book her.”

Ginny stepped forward, pulling a pair of handcuffs from her pocket and shackling Pansy’s hands behind her back. Ron and Neville caught her by the arms and led her from the room.

Hermione looked around the suddenly near-empty room, her gaze finally settling on Ginny.

“So, how come you had those handcuffs, then?”

Ginny glanced away, blushing, while Harry broke out in a coughing fit.

“Oh, just… um… found them lying about, I suppose. Or something. But what do we do about Pansy now?” she asked hurriedly.

“We lock her in her compartment and hand her over to the Aurors,” Harry said. “Then we see what happens.”


* * *

The snow, its purpose complete, melted quickly after that, and the Express could continue on its way. The lines had been cleared overnight, so by now they were making good time and arrived in London just a couple of hours later.

But when they went to collect Pansy, her compartment was empty. The curtain fluttered outside the open window, and a small shoeprint marred the surface of the table.

“She’s got away,” Ron breathed.

“No,” Harry said, noticing the red flecks on the windowframe. “I don’t think so.”


Harry reached into his pocket and carefully vanished the spare chocolate frogs he had prepared.

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