Ginny was feeling very indisposed indeed. She had been pushed into the left front compartment by that stupid Vane brat, only to find a corpse lying there and a sickening amount of blood spread around the place. She wondered how she had made it without throwing up for so long.
With a sigh, she opened the toilet door just in time to have a very sick-looking Harry push past her and empty his stomach just like she had done. She watched him with the tiniest smile on her lips. The great Harry Potter, acting like a normal person for everyone to see. How many journalists would kill to witness a scene like this. A disgusting scene, but at least she now had someone to draw strength from, if only for a short while.
Harry finally flushed the toilet and turned around to find Ginny smiling and watching him dreamily. "One would think this kind of scene would be disgusting, but if you manage to smile, perhaps we should meet in a stinky toilet more often," he teased her. She looked around, startled, and then blushed furiously.
"Sorry…" she said weakly, averting her eyes to the floor. Bloody hell, Ginny, why are you behaving like a silly twelve-year-old? Judging by the hint of a playful shine in his eyes, Harry was thinking just the same. The rest of his face betrayed his worry, though. "What is it, Harry? Is it the murder?" she demanded.
"What else?" he replied. "I've been put in charge of the situation by that witch, you know? And I haven't got a clue who did it – my best guess is that it was her, but there's nothing to prove it, is there?" He rubbed his temples and sighed. "Did you see anything useful?"
Ginny shook her head. "Nope, sorry. I was a bit… busy," she answered, her cheeks colouring brilliantly. Harry narrowed his eyes.
"Busy…?" he asked, seemingly dreading the answer.
Ginny, suddenly understanding how it must have sounded to Harry, hurried to clarify the meaning. "Oh, not that! I'm not seeing anyone, Harry!" She eyed him sadly, drawing a deep breath. "I got into a fight with Romilda Vane," she explained.
For a moment, Ginny saw Harry make an expression of relief, before hastily recomposing himself and eyeing her curiously. "Fight? With Romilda? Why?"
Ginny blushed even more. "Well, she heard we'd, you know, split, and she decided she wanted to have a go at you now…" Ginny was now staring at the floor, looking miserable. Harry just gaped.
"Well, that only shows she's even more stubborn than I ever thought she would be!" Harry spluttered. "Not that it matters – she's not getting me, not now, not ever! I thought you, of all people, would know that, Ginny!"
Ginny stared at him, wide-eyed with shock at the anger behind Harry's words. He sounded as though he didn't feel flattered at all by Vane's interest! She had thought Harry would be glad another girl had become interested in him – it might help him to get over her. If he was indeed in any need to get over her, she thought angrily, for in the end hadn't he been the one to break up with her? Would he even have been able to do that had he felt strongly for her? Ginny was beginning to doubt Harry had ever been in love with her the way he had said he was. Who knows, he might even fall in love with the new girl. Vane might not be on the cover of a witch beauty magazine, but she was certainly easy on the eye, if you went by appearance alone and forgot how much of a spoilt brat she was. But then came those reactions she could only associate with jealousy whenever Harry saw Ginny with other guys. Ginny couldn't interpret his actions. They made no sense to her. Well, not much, at least. In truth, what happened in Harry's life was his call, and she knew she needed to distance herself from him in the romantic sense or she would end up hurt by all the angst he tended to put himself through. She knew, in her mind at least, that her ex-boyfriend was free to do what he wanted. But in a way, she was grateful Harry didn't seem to be attracted by Romilda Vane, as she knew that, for all her beauty charms, Vane would only end up damaging Harry more. She shook the thought from her head. This should not be why they were holding that conversation in the first place.
"So, what are you planning to do now?" she demanded.
When Harry had dashed into the toilet to try to placate his nausea, he couldn't possibly imagine he would find his ex-girlfriend there, facing that exact same problem. He found himself amused and a little relieved that Ginny seemed to react so well to his presence since their parting was still so fresh, but he certainly wasn't complaining about that. That was probably why, in spite of the circumstances, he found himself flirting with her. Ginny, however, had always given the impression of being able to see right through him, voicing his worries spot on. The murder. Too bad she hadn't seen anything of use – at least he would have a reliable witness to count on. And then, when Romilda Vane had been mentioned, Ginny's demeanour changed perceptibly. First she had acted as though the thought of him being with Romilda Vane was perfectly normal and did not revolt her in the slightest, something he did not believe even for a second. And then, just as he was trying to make sense of what was going on in her head, she had gone and reminded him that they had a murder to solve. To tell the truth, he had no idea how to proceed, so the most logical solution was to ask for help. "Any suggestions?"
Ginny frowned for a moment. "Well, I suppose you should begin by eliminating those who are not suspect. I, for one, can't see one of the youngest pupils doing something like this – can you?"
"I don't think so, no," Harry answered. "But the fact remains that those pupils might not be kids at all – for all that we know, one of them could have been replaced by an adult at some point!" He grunted. "How are we supposed to sort this out, Ginny?" he asked, feeling a bit disconcerted. Why would someone provided with rational thought put him in charge of a bloody investigation?
Ginny's frown was even more accentuated. "Now, two things, Harry…" He eyed her in surprise. "First, I'm glad you said 'we' are supposed to sort this out, but don't forget I could be the murderer for all that you know…"
"A bit improbable, Miss Detective!" Harry smirked.
"Still, it's possible, Harry. And second, there's no way a student could be under Polyjuice potion or something. You know, that's what that yellow thing they almost shoved down our throats as we left school was for – it would detect Polyjuice in an instant, make a reaction or something, I heard Dad talking about it last Christmas - apparently, that was a recent invention. And the list of names the Aurors had was the same that McGonagall composed when we took it – only the people whom she saw take the potion were added. So no one was let into the train without having taken that first. The Order told you, didn't they?" At Harry's nod, she continued. "Also, the whole train is equipped against Metamorphmagi and Animagi, I believe Tonks set the alarm off to test it…"
"And the spell detectors would have detected any kind of glamour charm or something else made to change your appearance," Harry concluded. "Good. At least we don't have to worry about that."
However, as he said this, a sudden idea crossed his mind. "But then…" He looked at Ginny, baffled. "But then how did the Death Eater get in the train?"
Ginny stared at Harry with wide eyes, her mouth opening and closing as if she, too, could not find an explanation for that strange fact.
"Oh, can't we get Hermione or something, for Heaven's sake?! She'd have this sorted out in a moment, brains like hers!" Harry exploded. Ginny's eyebrow shot up.
"Well, that's just a matter of asking that plump witch out there, isn't it? You wait there," she said, gesturing him to the toilet seat. "I'll be back in a jiffy…"
Indeed, it seemed like barely a second had passed before she was back in the toilet, closing the door behind her and leaving them to share an uncomfortably small space for two people once again.
"Sorry. The witch says she doesn't want people back and forth in the train. She herself is staying in this carriage, so that she doesn't attract the attention of the other students - distressed as she is, I think that would be a fairly possible thing to happen. She's in the next toilet." Ginny sighed. "So, what do we do now?"
Harry thought about it for a moment. "Well… I guess we should make an inventory of the suspects, what say you?"
Ginny nodded. "Well, this time, I do appreciate the fact that I had to argue a bit before I could find a seat in this carriage. I was one of the last ones to get in, so… let's see…" She paused, trying to clear her thoughts. "In my compartment there was Vane, me, Zabini, Michael Corner, Claire… no, Mariah…"
Had someone told Ginny such a task would take up so little time, she would not dare believe them, but the truth was that ten minutes, some questions and some conjured paper, ink and quills later, they stood with a list in front of them:
Front, left: MURDERED DEATH EATER.
Front, right: Romilda Vane, Ginny Weasley, Natalie McDougal, Mariah Montgomery, Blaise Zabini, Michael Corner.
Back, left: Justin Finch-Fletchley, Anne Clearwater, Morag MacDougal, Cormac McLaggen, Liam Bateson, Leanne Bateson.
Back, right: Gregory Goyle, Pansy Parkinson, Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown, Cho Chang, Marietta Edgecombe.
"Who would have thought? So many different people thrown together into a situation like this!" Harry mused. "So, my guess is that we can eliminate… let's see…" He scanned the list. "Natalie, Anne, Liam, and… that's it? Everyone else is a suspect?" he asked with a sigh.
Ginny scanned the list herself. "I'm afraid so. Those are the only ones who don't know powerful spells yet, they can cause no real harm to anyone." She looked up at him. "How does it feel to be talking to a suspect?"
Harry frowned. "Now, you know I didn't want to include you as a suspect, Ginny. But you said it yourself, you could be the murderer!" He winked at her before looking at the paper again. "Maybe I should owl someone… Tonks will certainly want to hear about this, I bet. I'll just tell her I'm trying to help in here, and send her a copy of this." He waved the paper. "What do you think?"
"Excellent idea. I don't think there'll be time for her to answer, though, but she will tell the other Aurors, I bet, so that they can carry on with the investigation." Ginny nodded and helped him jot down something to send Tonks.
Some minutes later, a grudgingly-brought-by-the-witch Hedwig was on her way to London with a message for Tonks. Harry turned to face Ginny. "Do you think we should inspect the compartment again? We need to find something to help us, after all." She nodded. Taking a deep, calming breath, Harry walked out of the toilet, and, as if steeling himself for what he was going to see, closed his eyes for a brief moment and opened the door to the left front compartment, Ginny on his heels.
The scenario remained untouched, the walls, the bloody mass on the floor, everything. Visibly trying to control himself and not retch, Harry crouched down next to the body, probably trying to spot something that might help them. Ginny herself was much more preoccupied with how little was left of her lunch for her to throw up, so she was not very attentive to what Harry might or not be doing. It wasn't long until she lost the battle to stay quiet and let him work.
"I can't take this anymore!" she exclaimed. "I'm casting a refreshing spell on the air, Harry!"
"No, don't do that!" Harry yelped. "We don't know how to protect the scene, for all we know the magic might contaminate it. We have to leave things exactly as we found them. Go outside if you start feeling too queasy. Sorry." He looked at her apologetically for a moment before turning his attention back to the corpse.
Scanning the body, Harry suddenly gasped and pointed out a form that did not seem to belong with it. He immediately took a handkerchief out of his pocket and proceeded to pick it up from the floor cautiously.
"Gin, I found the guy's wand," he whispered, looking over. Ginny's eyes widened with surprise, though she herself could not tell if it was from the fact that he had picked up the wand despite all that blood or the fact that it had been found. Judging from the increase in her ill-disposition, she would bet on the first one.
Finally, after almost a minute, the girl thought it safe to open her mouth. "What are you planning to do with that? Ollivander hasn't been seen in months, so there's no way you can contact him. What use can it be then?" she mused, more to herself than to Harry.
Harry shrugged. "Just thought we might try and see the last spells this bloke did; it might help us find out how he got into the train, I reckon."
Ginny looked at him for a moment before making her reply. "Well, what are you waiting for, then? Just do it!"
Harry walked away from the corpse, taking his wand out of his back pocket as he did so. Closing the compartment door after they had exited it and standing next to a now eager Ginny, he put the two wand tips together.
Ginny looked at him. "So you're going to check all his spells…?" He nodded and then shushed her as the ghosts of the victim's spells started coming out of the wand.
Five minutes later, both of them were back inside the compartment, the wand was back in the exact place where it had been found and Harry was staring at Ginny, seemingly lost in thought. Ginny, on the other hand, was extremely disgruntled. "Honestly, how's it possible that this guy managed to get into the train without using anything to give himself away?!" she practically barked, turning to face her partner. "Harry? HARRY!"
Harry jumped slightly and blinked at her. "Sorry, it's just that…" he fell silent again, obviously pondering a new alternative.
Ginny, however, was way too impatient to be left in the dark like that. "It's just what, Harry?"
Harry bit his lip. "Ginny… there is no spell in there he could have used to get in here, right?" She nodded, exasperated. "Then the only way he could have entered the train was if someone let him in, yeah?"
Ginny's mouth hung open. "Do you mean this guy bribed an Auror to let him in? Or worse, that Auror didn't need bribery at all?!" she spat out, shocked.
Harry looked thoughtful. "Well, I wasn't thinking about that. You see, I've just realised that the Aurors might have left a hole in the security. Look, I'll be right back, OK?" And, with that, he ran out of the compartment.