On A Mission
All Btvs and HP characters belong to their respective owners and as always I'm not making any profit from this fic.A/N:
Unfortunately this is another short one, but don't get out your pitchforks just yet; I'm slowly building the chapters up for the halfway point! Chapters 18 and 20 will both be much longer than usual, in fact I'm currently working on 20 and it's already five pages long and nowhere near finished yet!
Chapter 17: On A Mission
The next morning Buffy set to work, putting herself in the role of detective. She was determined to find out what was going on.
She watched Ray like a hawk during the breakfast meal, earning herself a few strange looks from fellow teachers all the while, but she didn't much care. Ray seemed completely oblivious to her staring and eventually left, just like he normally did once the table of ministry officials had all finished eating.
She'd been so focused on keeping an eye on the man that she rose from the table as he did, and followed him out into the corridor. A few teachers and students tried to stop and talk to her but they quickly gave up, giving her surprised looks after she pushed past them.
She kept a distance big enough between them so that he wouldn't get suspicious, but stayed close enough to watch his every move. She had followed him for a good twenty minutes as he walked through the castle, doing his everyday duties before finally he came to the temporary office that had been set up for himself, Ludo and Bartemius to use during their stay.
As soon as she had reached the office door it swung closed, blocking her view of the inside as well as stopping her investigation short. She sighed as she leaned against the wall, knowing that he probably wouldn't come back out for a while now.
She was just wondering when she would next be able to watch him again when suddenly the office door sprung open and Ray walked out, talking over his shoulder and not paying any attention to where he was going.
It happened so quickly that Buffy didn't have time to move out of the way before he barrelled into her, spilling the drink he was holding all down her front.
Buffy's mouth fell open as she was suddenly splattered in the strange brown liquid that quickly soaked through her shirt.
“Buffy! I'm so sorry! I wasn't-” Ray rambled on as he grabbed some tissue from his suit pocket and handed it to her.
She looked him in the eye to try and see if he meant it. His eyes were wide with surprise, and he did seem genuinely sorry for walking into her, but she couldn't help but notice how panicked he seemed all of a sudden.
“Ugh, what is this stuff?” She asked as she dabbed the tissues at her ruined shirt. “This had better come off.”
“I'm sorry, you should get the elves to take a look at that.” Ray said as he gestured to her ruined clothes, before charging down the corridor as if nothing had happened.
Feeling annoyed and slightly stupid, she stalked back to her own classroom intent on finding a clean shirt.
She had barely reached her door when she was stopped again, this time by Severus who was watching her with a strange expression.
“What are you staring at?” She almost growled, being in no mood for his usual brooding.
“Nothing. Did an experiment explode over you again?”
He gestured to her shirt, now stained a dark brown colour.
“Oh no... Someone dropped something over me.”
He took a step forward, pulling a chunk of brown goo off her shoulder and staring at it. “This looks like a potion... Though I couldn't tell you what it is from so little.”
“A potion, huh? Thanks, Sev.” She ran into her room before he could comment further.
By the time she had stepped back into her own classroom, wearing a brand new shirt and not covered in messy goo, she was already frustrated and tired. For every part of her that said she was wasting her time, another part reminded her of everything that had happened over the last few days.
It was a never-ending circle of self doubt and suspicion. And it wouldn't go away.
She slumped down in the chair behind her desk, leaning back to try and clear her mind when she spotted something.
There was an empty space on her desk where she had once put a small photograph in a frame. It was a personal favourite of hers, a photo that had been taken the day that Harry had first come to stay at Grimmauld place with her, Remus and Sirius.
And now it was gone, all traces of it vanished as if it hadn't even existed in the first place.
She frowned as she sat forward in her chair, staring at the empty spot. She pulled out one of the drawers and checked inside, often she would place the photo there during her lessons so that no one would see it. But the drawer had no photograph inside.
The door clicked opened as a mob of excitable students crammed through the entryway and Buffy pulled up her best smile, even if it was fake. Time for another day to start.
By the time lunch came around Buffy had all but forced the un-answered questions from her mind, instead concentrating on her students. She couldn't teach them properly if her mind wasn't in the right place after all, and she wasn't going to make them suffer because of her.
When the last student left the room she let out a breath and began clearing up the classroom. She put away all the extra textbooks and picked up any scraps of parchment that had been left before making her way from the room. She had barely stepped outside when Harry rushed down the hall towards her.
“Buffy, I need to speak to you. I think it's important.”
She nodded, re-opening the door for him to enter the classroom before following him back inside.
“What is it?”
“I saw something strange last night.” He said as he stopped in front of her, looking worried.
“What is it?” She said again, wishing that he would just hurry up and spill it already.
“I looked on the map and I saw Bartemius Crouch in here, in your classroom.”
“Bartemius Crouch? What would he be doing here? I was under the impression that he was too ill to be at Hogwarts any longer.” She said, not really expecting an answer from Harry. “Unless it was a lie...”
“I thought that too.” He said with a nod, “I was so curious that I came down here to look. But I was stopped by Snape, he caught me sneaking around and by the time I got back here the room was empty.”
She couldn't help the slight pang of annoyance that worked its way through her. Damn Severus for interrupting. She might have found some answers if he had left Harry to it.
But then again, there was no telling what Mr. Crouch had been doing in her room. She didn't like the idea of Harry getting himself into some kind of trouble for her sake.
“It's fine, Harry. Although this doesn't clear up anything.” She paced up and down for a moment, knowing that Harry was watching her. She didn't know why, but pacing honestly helped her think sometimes.
“Harry, when you came in here last night did you notice anything different? Do you remember seeing our photo on my desk?” She asked, stopping and turning to face him.
His face scrunched up in thought, “I don't know. I wasn't really looking for it, I suppose. I do remember seeing it before, just not last night.”
“Is everything all right, Buffy?”
She turned her face upwards and smiled at him, although the smile never reached her eyes. “Of course. Thank you for letting me know about this, Harry.”
He was just turning to leave when a thought hit her.
“Oh, Harry. Can you do me a favour? Can I borrow the map for a bit? I just thought of something and it would come in handy.”
He nodded, fishing through his bag and pulling out the familiar piece of parchment before handing it over. “Here, I hope it helps.”
“Don't worry, it will.” She replied with a genuine smile.