This started out as a fifth year story, but I've recently gone through it and made it reasonably compatible with OotP. The story line hasn't changed at all, as only a few phrases and situations needed altering, so I hope you are all satisfied with the changes.
To those of you only just starting this story: Ignore the above ;)
* This is a Severtius Fic for the main part. It is also a Super Powered Harry Fic, with some descriptions of abuse and medium violence. H/H Shipping is most likely, though still undecided in the long run. Rating may change to R in the future.
Chapter One: The Mission
Severus Snape was slouched over his desk, squinting in the dim light of his office while grading essays that were barely worthy of the parchment they were written on. Frowning in disgust, he scribbled down a degrading comment on the paper he was assessing, before sighing heavily and leaning back in his chair, rubbing the back of his neck in an effort to get rid of the kink that had risen due to his leaning over for so long.
Term had finished just under a month ago, but it felt an eternity for Severus; relishing the two months he had every year that wasn't disrupted by snivelling students, or some of his more irritating colleagues.
Turning back to the stack of parchment, Severus scowled as his eyes flicked to the name that adorned the top of the page.
"Probably got every blasted question wrong," he remarked spitefully, pulling the paper to the front of the desk and beginning to peruse it, without much care.
Severus's mood only grew worse as he slowly made his way through the potions essay, noting down every fault or blemish harshly.
Yes. Dumbledore's dear old Golden Boy. Nothing special about him at all, Severus thought bitterly. Probably sitting around on his high and mighty backside, lapping up the praise and idolisation he gets at that Muggle home of his.
With a satisfied smirk, Severus placed his quill down after giving the wretched Golden Boy a much deserved D, written in his favourite red ink. It was a bit of a shame really. Potter did possess a rather natural gift for potions, yet he always seems to screw them up because he's too busy whispering to those idiotic friends of his, planning some semblance of mischief to make his life harder.
Sighing heavily, Severus placed the essay on the 'Done' pile and massaged the bridge of his nose, hating the way it appeared hooked after being broken so many times over the years.
A sharp tap at his office door snapped Severus from his brief break, instantly making him irate from the disturbance.
"Come in," he growled, frowning deeply and looking back at his essays before the door even opened.
"Ah, Severus," the headmasters voice floated towards him in the musty room. "Hard at work, as always."
"Is there something you wanted, Albus?" Severus scowled, finally looking up at the old man, hating how he sounded exceptionally jovial all the time. "I am trying to enjoy what's left of my vacation, where snivelling little children aren't running rampant, and disturbing my peace and quiet."
Dumbledore chuckled as he stepped into Severus's office, shutting the door behind him. "Well, let no one tell you that you're not diligent, Severus," he commented, trying vainly to hide his blatantly obvious grin. "You always did throw yourself into your work, and still do, my boy."
"Well then, Albus, I'd hate to take up your precious spare time," Severus commented lightly, trying his hardest to keep the scowl on his face in spite of Albus's cheerful grin. "And as you can see, I am quite busy…"
"Oh for heavens sake Severus – take a load off and relax for a few minutes!" was the headmaster's rather sharp retort, though the buoyancy in the way it was spoken completely ruined the effect. Albus's tone and face softened even more considerably as he continued his previous train of speech. "You're working all the time, Severus. It's about time you had a small break from the school, and got to know about the life of a particular group of Muggles — "
"Stop!" Severus commanded curtly, pausing as he replayed Albus's words in his head again, before turning to the old man, scowling deeply. "You don't honestly believe that I would have fallen for a trap like that, do you Albus? Pretending to offer me a holiday, just so I could do some discreet spying for you. Don't play me for a fool, Albus. I wasn't born yesterday."
Dumbledore sighed and shook his head, letting the cheeriness fade considerably before gazing back into Severus's onyx eyes. "I can see that you're not to be easily dissuaded this morning, Severus. Very well, to the point. Yes, I do want you to go to a Muggle household and be a nice, polite observer for a few days. Naturally you would have to be in disguise, but if you feel the need to reveal your true identity at any point to anyone in the house, you're quite free to do so, but you must be cautious. For the sole reason of harmony though, I'd advise against revealing yourself unless it was an emergency."
Severus quirked an eyebrow, noting how Albus seemed quite serious about this subject, and that he'd been saying things as though they'd already been arranged and put in motion, before he'd even known of the assignment. Voicing his last thoughts, Severus felt his stomach drop when the headmaster confirmed it.
"Yes Severus, it's all taken care of already," said Albus firmly, leaving almost no place for arguments. "They will be expecting you around midday tomorrow."
Heaving a mental sigh, Severus nodded reluctantly, until another thought crossed his mind. "What exactly is my cover story for being an unexpected visitor in a strangers home, Albus? It's not like I'm capable of a Muggle occupation or anything."
"Ahh, yes," Albus muttered, nodding with confirmation. "Well, Severus, the mission I have for you is to think and act like a Muggle exchange student might. This family has assured me that they have a spare bedroom you can use …"
"So you've spoken to them, then?" Severus cut in; a tad irked that he had to be in disguise after whomever he'd been cursed with had seen the Headmaster, dressed in all his wizarding glory.
Albus paused for a moment, before nodding in assent. "Yes, Severus. I have spoken to them, but not face to face as you might think. No, it was all arranged by the … err 'telephone?' … Yes, I do believe that's what it's called. No, this family thinks your visit was some kind of random draw that they happened to get chosen for. And before you ask, yes, they are aware of magic, but they have no idea that you're a wizard, and it shall be kept that way."
Severus scowled, trying to think up any means possible to get out of what Dumbledore had obviously planned for him for some time. Why did it have to be him? Couldn't Albus see that he had a huge pile of work to finish? What ever happened to the other Professors that stayed at Hogwarts during the summer break? Even someone from the Order could do it!
"Is there a particular reason you want me to observe this particular group of muggles, Albus?" he asked instead, finally resigning himself to the fact that he would be leaving soon.
Albus nodded slowly, and Snape spotted, with his well trained eye, that Dumbledore had grown even graver, at his query.
"Yes, Severus, there is a reason …… but I'm afraid I cannot give you all the information you wish." Seeing the potion master's furrowed brow, Dumbledore relented only a snippet of information. "I've received some disconcerting information, about someone we all know, and I want you to make sure that these suspicions are not true …… even in the slightest degree."
Curiosity began to override his irritability, and Severus began to wonder what situation could cause the headmaster such worry. And what was that about someone being someone they all knew? Shaking his head, Severus let out an audible sigh before reluctantly nodding his head, in acceptance of his assignment. 'Great …" Severus muttered, rubbing his head as he felt a migraine coming on. If there was anything he hated more, it was pretending to be a Muggle. Their way of doing things was so different and foreign to what he was used to … plus the fact that he couldn't use any noticeable magic while he was with them. Everything had to be done the hard way.
"Don't look so down about it, Severus," Albus chided, his blue eyes twinkling merrily. "Think of it as a learning experience. Now, you only need to stay for as long as you see fit, so long as you make sure everything in this particular house is as it should be. No adverse behaviour from all parties, and such. Understood?"
Sighing again, Severus nodded and started to sort out the essays sitting on his desk, so they'd be ready for him when he returned, which hopefully would be sooner rather than later.
"Understood, Albus," he answered, giving one final glare at Harry Potter's written piece, before placing it roughly with the other marked works.
Dumbledore watched Severus silently, from his position near the portrait hole, looking relieved that he'd taken the small job. "Remember, Severus … they think you are there to observe a normal British household for a few days. They aren't to believe otherwise. A portkey will be ready to take you there at midday tomorrow." With that, the headmaster turned and pushed open the portrait, shooting over his shoulder, "And do try to keep an open mind, Severus…" as he shut the door behind him.
Severus scowled even deeper, as he turned and headed for his quarters, wanting to get this ridiculous mission over and done with.
"Where in the bloody hell could he have put the blasted thing?"
Snape was irate to say the least; walking around the forested area Albus had directed him to, in order to find the portkey to take him to this mysterious Muggle home. He'd been packed since the night before, and was currently decked out in a pair of black denim jeans, a black button down shirt with a green tie, black shoes, and a small trunk with some of his belongings and extra clothing. What was most startling about the potions master though, was not his Muggle attire at all. More over, it was the state of his hair and face that would afflict most of his students speechless.
Severus Snape no longer looked like Severus Snape. His shoulder length, greasy black hair, had been replaced by a neat mop of sandy brown hair, looking old enough that it was slightly grown out. It was a short style, yet the front was still long enough to keep the small bangs falling into his vision. Not only was it short, and a different colour …… but also it was CLEAN!
To complete the disguise, Severus had hidden the real shape of his nose using a rather handy illusion charm, and made his eyes a pale cerulean blue, while softening the hard edges of his jaw line and cheekbones.
"I'm going to regret taking this mission…" Snape muttered ominously, just as he found the portkey and summoned it to him, catching it as it reached the activation time, sending Snape off with his trunk for a whirlwind ride. The portkey met its destination, making Severus stumble and fall over. Grumbling heatedly to himself, he got to his feet and looked around for a sign, telling him of his location at the very least.
He pushed the pair of fake oval glasses up the bridge of his nose, as he surveyed something resembling a quite, peaceful suburb, screaming out normalcy from all walks of existence. The houses along the quiet street all seemed near on identical, and Severus also noted that most of them seemed to own the same model of vehicle. Scowling at how Albus had left him hanging, without any knowledge of his destination, he picked up his trunk and strolled aimlessly down the street, trying to spot anything that would tell him where he was required to be.
As Severus reached the curb, he looked up at the street sign …… and immediately felt a hot rush of fury and disbelieve wash over him. He was currently standing on Privet Drive. The street the Golden Boy, Harry Potter resided.
"Are you trying to send me to an early grave, Albus?" Severus groaned, questioning why he, of all people, would be sent here, but also why he had to be sent here in the first place? Albus's instructions were quite precise in discovering if anything at the household was amiss, but he had no idea what type of behaviour would be considered strange for them. And what where the suspicions the headmaster harboured towards this place? He'd said that he'd received information about it, and so thought to sent him along to check it out.
Shaking his head and scowling, Severus put even more effort into getting to Number Four. The quicker he got there, the quicker he could leave, for he was sure that there would be nothing to be concerned about once he arrived.
Finally, Snape came to a small letterbox with a brass 'Four' screwed to the front. Looking up at the house, he felt his eyebrows draw together at how … plain it looked. There wasn't anything overtly fancy about it, but even he could see that this area was for those who had some spare money to burn.
Twisting his lip, Snape muttered, "How quaint…" before stepping forward onto the driveway, and approaching the front door. Dropping his bag at his feet, Snape took a moment to glance into the bushes by the door, making sure nothing was around, before raising his hand and knocking soundly.
A minute passed, and still there was no answer. Growling softly, Snape repeated the action, only with a bit more force and obvious ire. There was some shuffling from inside as someone moved around; presumably to finally get up and answer the door.
The door shifted slightly as it was opened a crack, and Snape was privy to seeing a pair of beady eyes staring at him from what seemed to be a rather fat young boy.
"Good afternoon," said Snape, deciding that being polite was the best was to make an advantageous first impression. "I'm Ashley Phillips. May I speak to your parents, please?"