Title: Salix Industries
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they belong to their respective creators and companies.
Sarah Miller was bored. For the past two weeks Sarah had been going through mountains of accumulated paper work in her office. Tedious and repetitive she was determined to complete the paperwork that had slowly invaded her once pristine office. She had finished it three hours ago and so far nothing new had come in or changed. To make things worse the computer system was down; upgrades that she usually supervised were under the watchful eye of her second. She played with a strand of her hair. Red hair curled around her slender fingers as she tried to think of something. There had to be something to do that wouldn't bore her to tears.
Sarah sighed, there wasn't anything she could do in her current state without complaints and warnings from others; she decided she would leave early today. Except that then Sam or Graham would want her to pick up the kids from daycare or where ever they were. Damn it. Errands, there had to be some sort of errand for her to run that would have her away from the house and office. She thought about it and just decided she'd think of something later. She was getting out of here. Today was a nice day.
She made her way out of the room and made her way to the elevator. Morris shot her a concerned look but she waved it off. "I'll see you tomorrow." She called.
"Something come up?" Morris stood up, ready to join her. His face was serious and the luminescent light reflected off his bald head.
"No, it's personal." She said laughing.
"Phone on?" He asked, sitting back down with a bored look on his face. Sarah knew exactly how he felt.
"Yeah," She motioned to her bag. Her left leg protested at her next step but she pressed on. "Nothing important."
"If you're sure." Morris said. "Tomorrow then, Ms. Miller." The elevator doors opened and Sarah stepped on.
There was nobody on the elevator, not unexpected given the time of the day. The lobby was busier and Sarah was glad she could blend in more with the crowd. When she exited she sighed contently as the warm sun hit her chilled skin, today was a good day to be out.
Half and hour later Sarah was sitting in a cafe and sipping on a hot cup of coffee. She liked tea but there was only so much she could drink after the coffee machine had broken down and she hated that brand of instant Gerald had bought. That man had absolutely no sense of taste. She ran her fingers over the rim of the cup. She was going to enjoy the rest of today, whether she liked it or not. Sarah looked at the pedestrians pass by the shop and she stared devising of ways to spend her ill-gotten freedom.Just about the time that Sarah was thinking about going to the movies and maybe inviting Annie in accounting her phone rang. Sarah took it out with a weary sigh.
The screen read “Sam F.”
“Miller,” she answered in her business voice and hoped the background noise wasn’t too audible over the line.
“Sarah,” Sam greeted. She sounded tired.
“Hey, Sam.” Sarah said with faked cheerfulness.
“Where are you?”
“In the office?” Sam let out a short bark of laughter.
“It was the first place I checked. Morris said you’d left.” Sam said smiling, at least Sarah thought she'd be smiling. “You bored as I am?”
“Yeah, I finished my paperwork.” She couldn't keep the note of pride from her voice.
“Wasn’t that about two years worth?” Sam asked incredulous.
“Yeah, they didn’t give me anything else to do!” Sarah complained. “At least you get to do something, I just had that and finished it.” She played with her cup of coffee.
“So where are you?" All traces of playfullness vanished from Sam's voice.
“At a café,” She took a sip of her rapidly cooling cup. “with real coffee.”
“I still don’t see why you just don’t buy a new machine.” Empty conversation.
“It’s the principal of the thing.” Sarah said with growing annoyance. “They say it’s not in the budget, get it allocated from other funds or something like that! I’m the one who made them all that money! It’s my bloody department to begin with and I’m stuck behind red tape.” She growled.
“As interesting as that is,” Sam said interrupted, “I need you to check some place out.” She droned. At Sarah's pause she added: “It’s nothing dangerous,” Sarah frowned.
“Where is it?”
“Grimmauld Place, between numbers 10 and 15. The sensors are picking up signs of some kind of strange energy coming from there.”
“And they want me to check it out?”
“Well, you’d be the safest choice in case it’s anything dangerous but so far nothing other than odd noise has been reported by the neighbors.”
“Have any of the teams checked it out? Any of my people?” This wasn't like them at all. Someone should have checked them out before they contacted her, she was too up the food chain to be called for something this simple.
“No, there are problems in Scotland, Cambridge, and around Cardiff. Teams 1 and 8 are on leave because of injuries. If your people aren’t active it’s because they’re on stand by or too injured to be in the field.”
Grimacing, Sarah took another drink from her cup, “Is Graham home?” More empty conversation.
“No, Bethy’s with Mrs. Flores.” Sam replied knowing that Sarah had accepted.
“Do I need any equipment? Scanner? Computer? Mace? Medieval axe? Magic Wand?” A couple near her moved enough to draw her attention. They were looking at her oddly.
“What do you have?”
“Cell, scanner, and bag of tricks. I forgot my hat and white rabbit at the office.” Sarah apologized.
“Bag of tricks is fine,” Sam said good-naturedly. “Do you have your broom with you at least?"
“No, broom’s back at the garage. I’ll go back and get it because I am not walking all the way there.” Sarah complained as she imagined how much her left leg would hurt even if she took public transportation. Taxis were out of the question as well, at least until she was unbanned from them. Jennifer said it’d be at the end of the month thankfully. “Think I need to pick up anything else?”
“No, your scanner should be fine.” Sam said. “Just be careful and don’t try anything if it does turn out to be something.” There was worry in Sam’s voice.
“I know, I know.” Sarah said trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. “I’ll be fine.” Sarah downed the rest of the coffee. “Right then, I’ll call you after.”
“Okay,” Sam said. She didn’t like the idea and Sarah wanted to ask what was wrong. “I’ll see you later then?”
“Okay,” Sam paused awkwardly. “Riley says hi by the way.” There was another pause. “And good luck. I have to go, Sarah.” They hung up and Sarah looked at the couple next to her. They were still staring at her, trying to do it discreetly but failing. Sarah ignored them and began walking back toward the office. If they were a problem she could take care of them.
Despite all the years knowing each other she still couldn’t feel close to Sam and Riley. Graham was the closest out of all of them but really they only had so much in common that wasn’t related to the kids. Unless she completely wanted to bury her old life, the Finns and Millers were the only ones she could talk to about Sunnydale, home, the others…She shook her head. It wasn’t the time.
Mind on the mission, Sarah didn’t notice the couple from the bar following her and dismissing her when they saw her drive past them on her way out. They took a quick look at building's logo and decided it wasn’t related to them. After all, what did one of Britain’s biggest technological companies have to do with magic?
Sarah frowned. Her scanner wasn’t picking up any energy from the area but she could definitely feel it, faint as it was. The machine hummed loudly and felt warm in her hand as she demanded a bit too much from it, things that it wasn't capable of. Reaching into her glove compartment, she pulled out another scanner. This was a newer model and looked like a PDA from the 1990's except much sleeker and only slightly larger. This one would hopefully be able to pick up any energy the older scanner wasn't capbable of. The scanners weren't perfect, they could do a good deal of things but sometimes they didn't have some of the specifications that the larger machines in their network had. Still, if Sam had said it should pick it up then Sarah was going to trust her. The newest modifications had included this world's variation of magic and Sarah knew that if it hadn’t been for Carys they wouldn’t have been able to pick up this energy until much later.
If that was the case then one of the main computers must have picked up the energy; they had been the first ones to be upgraded. If Sarah hadn’t been so high up she doubted she’d have an updated scanner at all with the new settings until at least next month. She gave a wistful look at her older one. She’d helped design the thing and was disappointed they were moving on. Still it was nice to have some change, progress wasn't always a positive thing but this no doubt was one of those case were it was. Looking at the scanner, Sarah began to think of Carys.
Carys was brilliant even if she did only have a primary school education, a normal education at the least. Welsh, a witch and brilliant with technology…if Sarah hadn’t been sure she was straight she would have asked her on a date. Carys reminded her so much of Tara sometimes that Sarah’s heart ached. Still, now was not the time.
Turning on the scanner, Sarah gazed at the screen. It was pinging with energy now. The upgrades had definitely had worked. She quickly got out of the car and began walking.Grimacing when her knees protested at the action before popping.
15 Grimmauld Place was normal, nothing but superfluous energy and three inhabitants if the screen was reading right. 14 Grimmauld Place was abandoned and normal as empty buildings could get. 13 was lived in by a small family and 11 was just as normal. All the houses were normal except for the amount of superfluous energy. The source had to be near by though. Sarah looked at the scanner for a moment and began reading the past few readings.
15, 14, 13, 12-wait a minute! There hadn’t been a 12. Sarah quickly looked at 11 and tried to look past the property barrier only to see 13. Grinning, she looked much slower. Once, twice, and there! She could feel it. Magic. Something was hiding 12 Grimmauld Place. Oh she hadn't seen anything, her eyes had passed as if nothing existed, feeling oddly like her vision was slipping before recorrecting itself when it landed on 13.
One look at the scanner confirmed it. On the small screen was the outline of a property and home. The magic and energy present on the was practically making the screen unreadable to the untrained eye. Sarah quickly tapped on the screen and changed the input, magical energy only.
Holy, the house was still saturated by it. Still, this was not something to do on her own. She'd promised Sam she couldn't go charging in even if it was somethign new. Sarah nodded, content that there was something different, something to do! She’d be back.
After all, it was possible the residents of 12 Grimmauld Place were nice people, if they were people at all, but just in case they weren’t they’d be ready. She’d come back for some answers.
Grinning, Sarah walked back to her car, left leg all but ignored as it throbbed. She’d been kept in the dark long enough by the British government about the true nature of this kind of magic. She was going to get to the bottom of this or her real name wasn’t Willow Rosenberg.