In a third-floor corridor on the west wing of the school, Alastor is crouched behind a statue, leaning his back against the heavy stone base. He cups his hand around the end of a cigarette, keeping the little flame safe from the gusts of wind that blow up and down the empty hallyway.
Okay. The key here is to just--just talk to her. She'll be coming along here any time now, the elves said that she was collecting her Charms work and then she was probably going to head back to the Tower. Just--just talk to her. It's easy, just step out and say, Hallo, McGona--er, Minerva; hallo, Minerva, heard that you were taking a bit of a leave of absence off of school. Anything I can do?
Alastor sucks moodily on the end of his cigarette and blows the smoke out in a rush, ruffling the ends of his hair. He sits quite still a moment, considering the conversation that he has just mapped out in his mind, then smacks his forehead with his hand, grumbling to himself.
"Of all the stupid, bloody--way to start a conversation, Moody," he congratulates himself aloud. "'Hallo, heard you were not in school because of your sick and possibly dying little sister. What can I do?' Way to have compassion, you twit."
He sucks on the cigarette again, then stubs it out against the wall before peering down the still-empty corridor. Still no sign of her.
Leaning back against the statue's base, Alastor rubs the heels of his hands against his eyes. "God, what am I doing?" he mutters. "This is so fucking stupid--"
But just then, he hears the sound of footsteps coming down the corridor, and he quickly pulls himself to order, sitting up and peering sidelong around the statue, to see...