My mind is literally blown- over 1,000 views and 100 followers in the first 24 hours was not what I was expecting at all. Thanks a ton, you guys! You really motivated me to work on this quickly, even though I feel kind of guilty for not working on my other stories at all the past few days.
Thanks to my brother for being my sounding board for this chapter and helping me figure stuff out.
I'm not entirely sure, but I might be bumping the Harry Potter timeline back so this takes place in the 2000s so it could line up with Marvel stuff. Or I could keep it canon for Harry and have this take place in 1984. I haven't really decided, yet, but it doesn't matter for this chapter.
Severus Snape is not happy when he is woken in the middle of the night by Dumbledore's Floo call. He gives the old coot a glare that would make any first year, and a majority of the upper year students, wet their pants in fright if he used it on them in Potions class, but of course Dumbledore is immune.
"Severus, I need you to find Harry Potter." Dumbledore's head says from the fire without preamble. "Come to my office."
The head disappears from Severus' fireplace, and he quickly Floo's to Dumbledore's office, so quickly that Dumbledore has not even walked back to his desk by the time Severus arrives.
Dumbledore's demeanor is grave, when normally he's jovial, and he seems to have aged another fifty years. The usual twinkle in his eyes is so dim that it's almost gone, and for once he does not offer Severus a lemon drop or any other sort of sweet.
"Why, pray tell, is Potter missing?" Severus questions, scowling. It is the middle of the night, and Potter is not even five years old. He is not some sort of teenager staying out well past curfew, and even if he was, why in Merlin's name would Snape be sent to fetch him?
Had the brat simply run away from home, perhaps to punish his guardians after a petty squabble or tantrum? No, that can't be it. Surely Potter is waited on hand and foot by his doting relatives, although breaking rules is definitely nothing new for a Potter.
"Arabella Figg just called me, frantic, saying the Dursleys' house has exploded." Dumbledore tells him.
"If Potter was in there, he surely did not survive." Severus says. Which could be very bad, if he really is the one to bring down the Dark Lord as prophesied. Despite what most wizards and witches naively choose to believe, Snape does not think the Dark Lord had been completely defeated that Halloween night.
"Harry's name is still down for attendance when he turns eleven." Dumbledore answers. Severus gets the message without Dumbledore elaborating further.
Potter is still alive, then. If the boy was dead, his name would have been automatically removed from the future attendance list.
Had he been sleeping at a friend's house?
"With his family dead, the blood wards' protection is no longer effective." Dumbledore tells him gravely. "Harry is no longer safe."
"He was not exactly safe in the first place, considering he could have easily been in that house when it blew up." Severus almost cannot believe that Dumbledore has failed to mention that. Perhaps Potter's muggle family let their other idiot child play with firecrackers in the house, or they stupidly left something in the oven. Regardless, there was most likely a severe lack of discipline in that house, and Potter undoubtedly has no regard for rules.
"Their deaths are a tragedy, but Harry is in danger. Any of Voldemort's followers are theoretically capable of finding him now. You must find him first, Severus."
That would still count as one of the Dark Lord's followers finding the boy, since Severus was a Death Eater before, but he does not point this out.
"Do you have any clue of his whereabouts? Severus asks, scowling, and Dumbledore smiles slightly, although it doesn't reach his eyes. By asking this, Severus has basically agreed to go find the little brat. Not that he could have refused, exactly. Less than three years ago, on that fateful Halloween night, he had sworn to protect the boy in Lily's honor after Lily and Potter were murdered by the Dark Lord.
Severus didn't think the oath to protect the bloody child would come into play until another seven years from now. His hopes that Potter would remain out of his sight and mind until arriving at Hogwarts when he turns eleven have been thoroughly crushed as if they were one of Severus' potion ingredients.
Severus stalks out of Dumbledore's office, black robes billowing. As he quickly walks through the halls, he transfigures his night robes into appropriate muggle attire, still keeping with his usual color scheme of black.
Crossing the grounds of Hogwarts, he reaches the end of the Anti-Apparition wards and apparates to Privet Drive as soon as possible.
He arrives on the usually dull, plain street. It is nowhere near ordinary now. Dumbledore's description of Arabella Figg's message is accurate. Number 4 did not simply catch fire and slowly burn, it appears to have actually exploded like an idiot Gryffindor or Hufflepuff's potion.
He searches for Potter, growing frustrated when he does not find the brat.
The Asset does not slow his stride as he slips from shadow to shadow, avoiding lampposts that would reveal his location. No witnesses. The mission pounds in his head, almost drowning out the sirens that steadily grow louder as fire engines rush to reach the hopeless, smoldering wreck that was once Number 4 Privet Drive, before the Asset blew up the oven.
With every step he takes, the new mission- turn away, protect Potter- echo in his head. The new orders were not given by a superior, yet they demand obedience as much as the mission.
There is a 10% increase in respiration and heart rate. The Asset cannot follow both orders, they are contradictory to each other.
Civilians are looking out their windows, coming out of their houses to see what the explosion was. The Asset stays in the shadows. If nobody sees him, he will not have to kill more witnesses. Less killing makes the mission easier, in multiple ways, some of which the Asset does not understand. He understands that he does not have to hide bodies and evidence the fewer people he kills, but the part of his mind that objected to the Dursley boy's death thinks that there's some other reason. It is unimportant.
"''s on fiwe." Potter's speech is almost unintelligible through a mouthful of protein bar, although the Asset is pretty sure that young children do not have perfect pronunciation in general. "Why?"
The boy is clearly rattled from watching the house explode. Potter knows the rule about not asking questions, since the Dursley's seemed to have had similar rules to the Asset's own handlers, yet Potter still asks.
"Be quiet." The Asset orders. Potter stiffens slightly in his arms, but the Asset does not correct the boy beyond that. He does not have to slap the child like he would be slapped himself for speaking out of turn.
Some civilians are even stepping outside their front doors to see what is going on and confer with their neighbors for more intel. A couple children, standing in doorways with their parents, are echoing Potter's question.
An old woman walks out from the house the Asset is currently sneaking past, followed by several cats. Threat level: low. The Asset stills, hidden in the shadows. The lady is looking in the opposite direction of the Asset and Potter, distressed at the sight of the fire. She says something about Potter as if she knows him.
A white shape darts out the door of the old lady's house, and runs in the Asset's direction. It turns out to be a feline, and the Asset debates punting the creature away, but that would reveal his presence more than the feline staring at him and possibly mewling for the old lady. It rubs against the Asset's booted feet, purring slightly. The old woman is not a threat, but there are to be no witnesses. The cat does not count as a witness.
"Snowy." It does not seem like a reference to one of his other codenames, the Winter Soldier. The Soldier figures Snowy is the feline's name, since Potter seems to recognize the animal. The boy once again tenses in the Asset's arms, clearly awaiting punishment for not remaining silent, but the Asset does not deliver the correction.
The old lady most likely does not have enhanced hearing, perhaps she's even suffering from hearing loss associated with age. She does not appear to have heard Potter, but it is better for covert movement if the boy remains silent.
The feline's purring increases in volume as it continues rub against the Asset's boots, and the old lady turns around, asking "Snowy?"
The Asset is already slipping away as the boy says an irrelevant statement about a fig, sounding distressed. The old lady had not noticed them, the Soldier notes. If she had been a witness, the Asset would have failed a mission protocol.
The two sets of orders continue to clash.
Once he delivers the boy, he will be wiped, frozen and stored away until his next mission.
The sirens are getting closer, and the boy does not seem to like the sound. He wriggles in the Asset's arms and whines.
The Asset does not stick around for the fire engines to arrive, with their flashing lights that could compromise his concealment in the night. He slips down a street named Magnolia Road that is not as awake at the moment as the streets surrounding Privet Drive.
Two escorts are waiting for the Asset in a car. They are not the usual handlers, but they are still to be obeyed. The man in the driver's seat is drumming his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently, but they both get out when they see the Asset approaching with Potter.
The Soldier straightens, standing at attention in front of his superiors.
"Took 'em long enough." One of the escorts mutters to the other. The Asset is used to being talked to as if he is not there. One does not talk to a weapon such as the Asset, except during mission briefings and debriefings.
There was not a specified time limit for mission completion in the briefing, but perhaps the Soldier will be punished for 'taking long enough'. If he had gone into the house upon arrival rather than waiting for the street to fall asleep, he would have returned with Potter hours ago, possibly as early as 1840 instead of the current time of 2336.
Potter gives a whine and stares at the escorts with wide, frightened green eyes, shoving some of his fingers in his mouth. He looks like he wishes he could turn invisible so the escorts will stop looking at him.
"Mission report." One of the escorts orders, looking at Potter instead of the Asset, as if to make sure Potter is the right child. The Asset would not make a mistake and bring the wrong one.
"Target Harry James Potter acquired with no injury inflicted by the Asset. Injury was inflicted on the target by Vernon Dursley and a broken plate." The Asset recites, tonelessly as always. "The Asset successfully terminated the Dursley's and left no evidence. There were no witnesses. Mission was completed according to instructions."
"Status." The second escort has a bored tone and picks at his nails.
"The Weapon is functioning within operable parameters." The Asset replies, because that is what it is. A weapon. "There is a malfunctioning in the chest: unidentified cause."
"What kind of malfunctioning?" The first escort asks, and mutters that the Asset cannot get heart attacks. He is correct about that, the Asset's enhanced body is not susceptible to heart problems.
"Heat." The Asset answers. "It is gone now."
The escorts share a look that seems almost worried. When the Soldier follows up by reporting that it is malfunctioning by having the vision of an unknown skinny blonde man, the worried, displeased demeanor of the escorts only increases. Weapons are not supposed to have visions. Will it be punished?
"It will go away when you are in the chair. You will be fixed." One tells the Asset. Visions are hinderances to the mission. The chair is required for optimum mission performance.
"Hand over the child." The first commands. Potter whimpers slightly and tries to clutch the Asset's shirt with his bandaged hands, dropping the rest of the protein bar on the ground and hiding his face against the Soldier's flesh shoulder. Potter had only eaten half of the offered rations.
The Soldier does not let go of Potter. The voice in the back of its head, the one that had told it to turn away, had protested killing the Dursley boy, is screaming orders to not hand Potter over.
Perhaps the voice in the head will be gone, too, after the chair, along with the feeling in the chest. Both are mission noncompliant.
Deliver Harry Potter. No witnesses. Those are the orders, that is the mission. The mission does not involve turning around or walking away, or continuing to hold the boy despite instructions from superiors to hand him over.
The new orders in the Soldier's brain did not come from its handlers. The Asset ignores them, it does not turn away from its superiors, no matter what the head says.
The true mission is delivering Potter, but part of the brain protests.
The mission echos in his head, demanding obedience. Deliver Harry Potter.
"Soldier, comply." The first escort orders in a harsher tone than before.
COMPLY. COMPLETE THE MISSION.
"Give me Potter. Now."
The Soldier's sole purpose in existence is to complete any assignment it is given, to obey any order. It was created for that purpose, and is useless if it does not obey. Failure results in correction.
Yet the Soldier's arms do not move. It continues to hold the child, despite knowing that delivering Potter is the true mission.
The Asset is malfunctioning, obeying false orders instead of the true ones given by its superiors. Respiration and heartbeat increase another 5%.
One of the escorts delivers a backhand to the face forceful enough to snap the Soldier's head to the side, but the Soldier does not react otherwise. Potter is yanked from the Asset's arms.
The child, already stressed, starts to squirm and cry. The lampposts on the other side of the street flicker and then explode with a shower of sparks. The Soldier's arm whirs. Functionality of the arm is decreased by 2%, but it does not impede movement.
The child is screaming now, a high, shrill sound that mixes with the sirens a few streets away on Privet Drive. It makes the chest malfunction again.
"Shit, he's going to attract attention." One escort grumbles, and clamps a hand over the boy's mouth, effectively cutting off his cries. Potter's eyes are even more scared, and tears stream down Potter's cheeks.
Chest malfunctioning increases by 4%. The unofficial order, PROTECT, screeches in the Asset's brain.
"Get in," The car door is opened and the unofficial orders protest, the Soldier hesitates. It is shoved in, and Potter is thrust into the Soldier's lap. New orders are given, keep Potter quiet and secured.
One way to silence is to cut off oxygen with a hand around the throat. Instead, the Asset covers Potter's mouth with its flesh hand, and does not squeeze. The child is already silent, there is no need for corrective pain or fear like the escorts had given the boy. The boy sobs spasmodically, face streaked with tears and snot that soon cover the Soldier's flesh hand. Mucus would impede with the prosthesis if it got between the metal plates or into the servos.
As the escorts slam the rear door shut, the Soldier only thinks of how it failed the unofficial mission, even though it completed the official one.
Potter is not anywhere near Number 4, and Severus goes to find Arabella Figg. She has a snowy white cat in her arms and meets Severus halfway between her house and the ruined Dursley residence.
Her job has been to watch over Potter the past years. She reports that she had not seen Potter since yesterday, but she saw the Dursley's son, Dudley, and Petunia at the play park earlier today. She tells Severus that Petunia said Potter was sick when she asked where he was.
Perhaps he was, but August is hardly the time for colds. And why would Potter have been out of the house tonight if he was sick?
He really hopes that the boy, now that he doesn't have any living family, isn't going to come live at Hogwarts. Severus doesn't have to put up with the brat for what should have been almost seven Potter-free years.
He is just asking Arabella where the last few places the brat had been are when the unmistakable scream of a child fills the air, coming from another street. Severus sees the streetlights flicker and die, as if blown up by accidental magic.
Snape sprints to the other street in time to see a man shove Potter into the back of a car and slam the door shut while another man starts to climb into the front passenger seat on the left.
Had these men taken Potter from his home before the explosion, perhaps blown the house up on purpose? It's a lot more plausible than Potter playing on the play park across the street and the men just happening to abduct a random child.
With four quick flicks of his wand and a silent Reducto, Severus blows up all the car's tires, assuring that it will not be going anywhere. The two men whirl around, producing guns from their belts.
Obviously the two men are Muggles, not Death Eaters, which is a bit of a relief. But why are muggles kidnapping Harry Potter? Do they know who he is, or is it just a coincidence? The house blowing up doesn't seem like a coincidence, especially when it turns out Potter was being kidnapped.
Regardless, now is not the time to be pondering this.
Severus casts Expelliarmus on them both, and they two men look shocked when the guns fly out their hands. Before they can attempt to grab their weapons again, Severus hits them both with Petrificus Totalus. Their bodies go rigid and fall to the street.
That was almost pathetically easy.
He stalks towards the car, wand still drawn even though the two men are immobilized. Something- no, someone, someone who is much too large to be Potter- throws open the door and leaps from the interior of the vehicle with incredible speed.
Before Severus can react, he finds himself pinned to the ground with a rather metallic hand wrapped around his throat. The moonlight glints off a knife blade poised above him.
Severus apparates from under the man to the other side of the street where the play park is, quickly firing Expelliarmus at the attacker, who he now notes is a man with long, dark brown hair, a scruffy face, and goggles. But the most noticeable thing about the man is the silver, metallic armor on his left arm that almost shines in the moonlight.
The man is currently shutting the car door, trapping Potter inside, but he does not take his attention from Severus. He does even not react with surprise at Severus' apparition, but briefly glances down at the two petrified men as if awaiting orders.
Still, he dodges Severus' spell almost instinctively, again much too quickly for a person. The third kidnapper is not nearly as easy to take out as the first two. He adjusts to the fact that Severus is now far away by tucking away his knife and drawing a gun in one fluid motion. Severus only barely has time to conjure a shield as the man aims and fires with astounding speed and precision.
Unlike most guns, this one apparently does not have a loud gunshot. Severus barely hears the weapon fire, his own apparition actually sounds more like a gunshot than the gun. Have Muggles invented ways to keep guns silent?
The man continues to stalk towards Severus like a predatory beast, firing a few more bullets in an obvious attempt to weaken Severus' shield while perhaps unintentionally preventing Severus from apparating away or disarming the man with Expelliarmus, like he had with the other two men outside the car. Or the man might be preventing Severus from doing anything but conjure a shield on purpose, since he seems extremely adept at switching tactics at a moment's notice.
He seems more like a highly trained assassin than a standard kidnapper.
The man continues to shoot with his right arm. The plates on the armor of his left arm shift in an almost rippling fashion, and the Potions Master realizes it's not armor at all- it's some sort of advanced prosthesis.
The gun clicks as if it needs to be reloaded, and Severus takes the opportunity to lower his shield and cast Expelliarmus, but the man's metal arm shoots up and the spell actually ricochets off, flying harmlessly into the night sky, so he still has the gun.
That complicates matters, Severus thinks as the man finishes reloading his gun before he can even fire off another spell.
This time, the man rushes Severus with a knife while simultaneously shooting, and he quickly whirls around when the wizard apparates, not even giving Severus a chance to take him by surprise.
Who is this man? He's clearly a muggle, but he's more than a match for a highly skilled duelist like Severus. Snape almost would like to see the Dark Lord face off against this man. The Dark Lord would hate potentially losing to a muggle.
Hopefully Snape doesn't meet that fate.
Perhaps Incendio will take care of the metal arm, Severus hopes. Again, the man dodges the spell, but only barely this time. It singes his long hair.
When Severus casts it again, the man doesn't even let it touch his arm, instead ripping a swing off the swing set and using it as a shield. The next moment, the flaming swing seat is flying towards the Potion Master's head, and the man charges at him, obviously trying to get up close and personal, something most wizards do not do. Severus only just apparates away.
When Severus finally manages to hit the man with Stupefy, the actual armor- which looks nothing like the suits of armor at the castle and instead looks more like a thick cloth vest- takes the impact and the man doesn't even falter for a second, drawing his gun again. Severus throws up another Protego.
With the prosthetic arm, the man somehow rips a teeter-totter out of the ground and swings it like a club at Severus, essentially attacking him in two ways simultaneously.
Severus has no choice but to extinguish his shield and apparate away, even as the man squeezes off another shot, which thankfully doesn't hit him. The Potions Master reappears right behind the man, hoping to catch him by surprise.
The crack of apparating gives Severus away and the man whirls around, grabbing him in another chokehold and hurling him across the play park, hard enough that Severus actually dents a metal slide.
Being a wizard does not mean one cannot be stunned from physical injury, and before Severus can recover, the mysterious man delivers a blow to the side of his head with a metal fist, and Severus' world goes black.
I hope I didn't make Snape seem underpowered in this, but I kind of needed Bucky to win...
Switching from "he" to "it" when the Asset was with the escorts was intentional on my part.
Let me know what you think!