A Matter Of Trust
All Btvs and HP characters belong to their respective owners and as always I'm not making any profit from this fic.A/N
So I've had this chapter written for a few days so thought I'd get it out a bit earlier than I'd planned. I'm already working on the next few chapters but I'm having a hard time with them so it might take me some time to get them ready. I think it might be because we're nearing the end now and I'm so excited about it that I can't seem to write anything but the ending... Ugh.
Chapter 32: A Matter Of Trust
Buffy awoke to the sound of the metal gate creaking open and quiet footsteps making their way over to her.
She opened her eyes slowly, seeing that she was still in the same cell, in that same dark room. She had no idea how long she had been held there for and since there were no windows she couldn't even tell if it was day or night. All she knew was that her small nap had given her a burst of energy, had helped her bruised and aching body repair itself.
A dark figure stepped into her line of vision, and Buffy sat up so that her back touched the wall, her legs folded to the side. The man outside her cell didn't look too happy to be there, but he was holding a metal tray with what looked like food in, and his wand of course.
“Aw, you brought me a snack?” She said, her voice sounding way too happy for the situation she was in. “A girl could get used to this, you know.”
The man made a vague gesture and glared down at her, “If I had my way, I'd leave you down here to starve. As it is, the brat didn't want you dead and unfortunately Lord Voldemort agreed with him. I don't see why though, we don't need help from half bloods like you.”
She laughed quietly to herself, obviously they did need her if Voldemort wanted to keep her alive. And the brat? Was he talking about Draco?
The death eater leant down and slid the small tray through the bars, letting it skid to a stop just in front of where Buffy sat. Her eyebrows rose as she stared at the pile of grey mush that they expected her to eat.
Without taking her eyes off the 'food' she pouted, “Huh... So how many calories are in that?”
There was a loud banging noise, as if someone had just fired a shot from a pistol, and Buffy's eyes turned back to the death eater expecting to see him raising his wand at her. But his wand was now lying on the ground at his feet, and his face had gone slack, his eyes glazed over. She watched as his legs gave way from beneath him and his entire body crumbled to the ground, his head smacking into the metal bars as he fell.
And standing right behind him was Severus, holding his wand and sporting a grimace on his face.
Buffy jumped straight to her feet, but she stayed where she was with her back to the wall. She didn't trust him enough to move any closer. Her eyes darted down to the fallen death eater and back up again. “What did you do?”
“Stunning spell. He'll be fine when he wakes up.” Severus said as he used his wand to magically move the body out of his way. Then he stepped up to her cell door and pointed the tip of his wand to the lock.
He stopped then, looking up at her glaring eyes and Buffy was sure she saw a flash of hurt run across his features. “You don't trust me now, do you?”
“Why should I?” She asked, watching him intently. “You said you wasn't involved in any of this anymore, but here you are, right in the middle of it all.” She couldn't help the small laugh that came to her, even though she had no real reason to laugh. Someone she had thought of as a friend, a good friend, had betrayed her, and she really did not know how to react to it.
“And to think I trusted you with my secret. Maybe the others were right about you all along, maybe I should have listened to them for once.”
He kept his expression neutral, as if he was completely unaffected by her words. “Yes, maybe you should have. It doesn't matter what you think of me, I don't have a lot of time.” He used his wand to unlock the door.
“Wouldn't your master be displeased if he knew you were here?” She asked, knowing that the death eaters, and that included Severus, wouldn't risk hurting her in fear of bringing Voldemort's wrath down on them. Or maybe they would, if they thought they could get away with it.
He sighed, a tired sigh. “Definitely.”
He surprised her then, his hand digging into his pocket and pulling out a familiar piece of wood, before he threw it towards her. She caught it one handed, looking down at her wand with a frown.
“Why are you-” When she looked back up he was holding the cell door open for her, waiting for her to walk out. For a split second her mind registered that this might be a trap, but she really didn't want to believe that. “Wait, you're not here to beat on me? You're letting me go?”
He gave her a look that said 'duh', which only made her giggle. It was a look that she had never thought she would see on his usually stoic face.
“Well? Are you coming or not?” He asked, looking a bit annoyed now.
“Oh!” She followed him out of the cell and stepped over the unconscious death eater on the floor. “So you're not one of them after all?” She asked, her expression telling him how confused she was.
“We'll talk of this later, Buffy. Right now you have to get out of here.” He kept looking back towards the gate, as if he was expecting someone to come down the stairs at any minute.
“Okay, great. So what's the plan?” She asked.
He turned back to her, “You can't cast any magic inside the cells, but now that I've gotten you out you can apparate away just fine. I'll stay behind and tell them that you escaped when you were given the food.”
Her eyes widened slightly, “Okay... One, that's not exactly what I would call food, and two, I can't apparate.”
“What?” He looked even more annoyed now and she could only shrug in reply. “You're telling me that you're a full grown adult who can't apparate?”
“Hello, kinda missed school the day we learnt that!” She hissed back, trying to keep her voice down even though she was quickly getting annoyed herself.
“All right, all right. We'll just need to come up with something else then...” He said, seeing that they were getting nowhere by arguing over it. “I'll distract them. You get out of here as fast as you can. There's a small inn not too far from here, they'll have a fireplace you can use to get back to Hogwarts.”
“I need to go back to-”
“No, don't go there just yet.” He interrupted, “I'll meet you at the school and we can talk.”
She nodded even though she was desperate to get back home, to let them all know that she was okay. But Severus was right too, they did need to talk about this first so that they would be able to get their stories straight... or their lies straight as it might turn out.
Buffy looked down and hummed in thought before she nudged the death eater on the floor, turning his body over with her boot. Then she knelt down and peeled off his outer cloak, stuffing it under her arm as she righted herself. “I'm ready.”
The pair of them crept through the metal gate and up into the living room. It was empty save for the creepy portraits that watched their every move, and then they were sliding through a side door and into another room.
There were a few death eaters standing in the corner, talking quietly to each other. As Severus rushed over to them, purposefully making his breath come out in pants as if he had been running, Buffy kept to the shadows and edged towards the next door.
“She's escaped!” She heard Severus say in between long breaths, and the death eaters instantly stood to attention, running back towards the cells, in the opposite direction that Buffy intended to go.
With a nod in Severus' direction, Buffy took off at a run, forcing her way through the house until she came to the main doors. Luckily for her, the death eaters were not quite as good as seeing in the dark as she was, and the house was full with dark shadows and corners.
As soon as she stepped outside into the daylight she flung the black cloak around her shoulders and nudged the hood up around her face.
Now she looked just like any other death eater out there, and hopefully they would fall for it.
With a grin on her lips she calmly walked out of the main gates of the house and into the deserted road.
Severus had been right. Barely ten minutes down the road from the manor was a small village where she had been able to find a working fireplace. She'd resisted the urge to head home, and instead followed the plan and went straight to Hogwarts.
She made it to her own classroom without meeting a single person in the hallways, which she guessed was probably a good thing considering she had been missing for a whole day.
As soon as she stepped inside she closed and locked the door behind her, turning and finding Severus already waiting for her. Suddenly she realised she felt very tense and more than a little exhausted.
“You got away all right?” he asked, nodding to the black cloak which she was still wearing.
“Yeah, you?” She shed the cloak and draped it over one of the chairs, purposefully staying standing in case she needed to get away quickly. She still wasn't sure about Severus. Yes he had helped her escape, but that didn't mean he was in the clear just yet. For all she knew, he could be pretending to help her, only to get her re-captured again... All though her mind stubbornly reminded her that there would really be no point in that...
“Yes, they think that you attacked Nott and escaped. I found Nott just after and told them.” He then noticed that she was keeping her distance from him and sighed. “I just helped you escape, you would think that would have taken away any trust issues here.”
She rolled her eyes, finally stepping forward and sitting opposite him. “Fine, but you have to admit, it's pretty suspicious that you were there making buddies with the death eaters. Care to explain that one?”
He looked as if that was the last thing he wanted to do, but he told her anyway, no doubt knowing that she would bug him about it until he told her.
“You know what I used to be. Of course Voldemort expected me to go back to him as soon as he was brought back, but Albus and I had planned for it. I told Voldemort that I would spy on Albus for him, when really I am spying on Voldemort. This way we get the information we need.”
“You're being a double agent?” She asked incredulously. “But if Voldemort ever found out...”
“Yes, it's dangerous, I know that. But we need to know what they are up to, this is the only way.”
Buffy looked into his eyes, really looked. She was pretty good at reading people, most people anyway, and she could see in his eyes, that he was telling the truth. Or at the very least, she had to believe that.
She nodded in understanding, her mixed feelings unravelling. He hadn't betrayed her after all, he wasn't a bad person like the others tried to make out, he was braver than them, risking his life every day to help them...
“I'm sorry.” She said, slumping back in her chair. “I'm sorry I didn't trust you. I should have-”
“No, it's fine. You had no idea.” He said, holding up his hand to stop her from rambling on.
“Why didn't you tell me?” She asked, “You should have, I could have helped.”
His eyes snapped up to hers, a flash of anger on his face. “You wasn't exactly forthcoming with your own secrets. You wouldn't have told me, would you? It was only because of Moody that I know now.”
She spluttered, feeling her own anger rising. “I didn't want you all knowing for your own safety! Being friends with the Slayer doesn't exactly come with life insurance.”
“And that's the exact same reason I didn't tell you about me.” He replied, his voice softer now. “It was safer for you to remain clueless. And now that you know you could put us both in danger.”
She sighed, feeling a bit guilty for snapping at him when he'd only been trying to protect her, to protect them all really. And she could definitely relate to that. “You mean because Voldemort can read people's minds? If he ever catches me again he could read me and find out about this entire conversation...” At his nod she let out a low whistle, “That doesn't sound good.”
“No, hence it was easier when you didn't know.”
A smile came to her so suddenly that he backed up, almost as if he was dreading what she was about to say. “Teach me occlumency then. You're going to be teaching it to Harry, right? Why not teach me too?”
He considered it for a moment, then nodded. “I suppose that is the only way for us to be safe. And while we're at it, I'll teach you how to apparate too. You're an inconvenience to the Order if you can't get away quickly, they probably wouldn't wait around to help you out if they were in trouble.”
As much as she wanted to argue with that she kept her mouth shut. She did really want to learn it after all.
“We have to decide what we are telling the others. They can't know about any of this, Buffy. I'm not teaching the whole Order how to mask their thoughts.”
She giggled at the mental image that sprung into her mind. She could just see Severus smacking his head on his desk as she and Tonks messed around, and Sirius glared and Remus studied... “I'm not going to lie to them.”
“I'm not saying you have to. Just don't mention me being involved.”
She nodded, knowing that it would be hard to bend the truth to her family. They were bad enough on a normal day, but when she'd been missing... Yup they were definitely going to freak out on her. She thought of her family, she thought of Harry. And that led her to think about Draco.
“What was Draco doing there?” She asked, although she was pretty sure she already knew the answer, and she didn't like it one bit.
Severus looked just as unhappy about it as she felt. “It's his home that they've taken over, of course he would be there.”
“But he's just a kid!” She argued back, even though she knew Severus couldn't do anything to help the situation.
“He's also the son of death eaters, loyal ones at that. He will be expected to go down the same path.”
Buffy shook her head, “When I looked at him back there, I didn't see a death eater, Severus. I saw a scared kid who wanted out.”
“It's not as simple as that. They won't let him get away now, not alive anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“Voldemort means to give Draco a task. I don't know what it is, and he has yet to even mention this to Draco or his parents, but if Draco succeeds then he will automatically join the death eaters.”
Buffy's breath hitched in her throat, “And if he fails..?”
“Then he dies.”'I won't let that happen.'
Buffy thought with determination. 'Whatever the cost, I can't let that happen.'
When Buffy finally returned back home to Grimmauld place she was sprung upon by a very scared and concerned looking Tonks, who latched onto her body and wouldn't let go until Buffy told her she couldn't breath anymore.
As soon as Tonks had stepped away, Remus was there taking her place, and Sirius was standing back looking just as worried. When her brother let her go Buffy braced herself for the barrage of questions that she knew were coming.
“We've been up all night worried about you! Where have you been?”
“Were you trying to give us all heart attacks?!”
“Are you okay? You're not hurt are you?”
She held up her hands in surrender until the questions stopped, and then she ignored the three of them and walked into the kitchen. The kettle had only just boiled so she made herself busy and poured herself a cup of coffee. Only when she had taken her first sip of her drink did she speak.
“Ah, I so needed that.”
“So are you going to tell us what happened?” Tonks asked impatiently.
Buffy nodded, sipping her drink again before she placed it down on the table in front of her. “Voldemort is what happened.”
She ignored their shocked looks and continued on. “He sent some of his death eater buddies after me, oh and they know who I am now which sucks by the way. And then he decided to kidnap me and try and make me join him. I mean like that would ever happen.”
She stared at the faces of her friends and brother, all of whom had their mouths hung open.
“Do you realise how serious this is?” Remus asked, “If he knows you're the Slayer then he could tell the Ministry about you. Especially if you annoyed him by refusing to join him.”
Buffy shook her head, “No, I don't think he will. He needs me for something. He didn't say what, but he made sure I wasn't harmed while I was in his 'care' and that has to mean something. If he told the Ministry they'd try and kill me, and if they succeeded then Voldemort would be left without whatever it is he needs from me.”
“That makes sense, but I still don't like it.” Sirius said with a sigh.
“Me neither.” Remus agreed, crossing his arms over his chest. “How did you get away from them?”
Buffy opened her mouth but stopped herself from automatically telling them the truth. “When they came in to feed me I got out. Stole one of their robes and just walked straight out of there. It was pretty easy.” She shrugged, hoping that they would buy the lie.
“What about the death eaters? How many of them were there?” Tonks asked.
“Uh quite a few. At least twenty, maybe more. And there were probably others that I didn't see too. Our old friend Barty was there, and the Malfoys, and Bellatrix of course.”
“Bellatrix?” Sirius' head snapped to attention at the name of his cousin.
“Yeah, and it looks like she's Voldemort's right hand gal.”
Tonks looked just as pale as Sirius. Bellatrix was her aunt after all, not that she had ever considered her as family. “We need to be extra careful from now on. All of us.”
“You said you walked right out of this place?” Remus asked suddenly, “Do you know where it was?”
“Malfoy Manor.” She replied easily, “But I wouldn't recommend going there or trying to ambush the place. After my grand escape I think they'll tighten up their security. It wouldn't be worth trying to attack them there on their own ground.”
“You're right, that's where they'd be at their strongest.” Tonks agreed. “But at least we know where they are working from now. I'll get this information back to Moody, he'd want to know about this.”
She left before any of them could say another word, and Buffy got the impression that she was more freaked out about Bellatrix than she was interested in handing over information to her boss.
Obviously she wasn't the only one thinking along those lines, as Sirius stood from his seat and followed after her. “I'd best go make sure she's okay.”
When Buffy turned her attention back to her brother she saw the conflicted emotions running across his face. He looked as if half of him wanted to go after Tonks too, and the other half wanted to stay and make sure that Buffy was okay.
She couldn't help the question from coming out of her mouth. “Remus, all joking aside, what's up with you and Tonks? Really?”
He looked up at her sharply, looking a bit guilty. “I... I honestly don't know.”
“But you like her right?” Buffy prodded, taking another sip of her coffee and watching as her brother took Sirius' empty chair.
“Yes, I do... But she's young and beautiful and I'm-”
“Don't you dare say what I think you're about to say.” She butted in, giving him a stern look. “It doesn’t matter who you are, or more importantly what you are. It doesn't matter to Tonks, she doesn't care about any of that.”
“Yes, but she's young. Too young for me. She just doesn't see how much of a danger I am to her.”
Buffy sighed as she pulled out a chair and sat next to him, taking his hand and squeezing it tightly, forcing him to look her in the eye. “Yes she's young. But she's an adult, she's old enough to make her own decisions. And you're not dangerous, not when you take your potions, which you always do. Look, either you return her feelings or you don't. If you don't then tell her now, before she gets her hopes up. If you do... Well then do something about it before she gives up waiting.”
He nodded, and Buffy could practically see the arguments running around in his head. He sure was stubborn.... And it ran in the family apparently.
She let go of his hand then and stood from the table. “She really likes you, Remmy. Don't mess her around.” With that she left the room, giving him time to think over everything she had said, and hoping that he would make the right decision.