Severus was in a rotten mood, not that this was unusual. He had known he would not like teaching, but not how very much he would hate it, his students, the textbooks, his budget, staff meetings, motivation-building exercises (although, if he had known they existed, he certainly would have expected to hate them), grading papers, progress reports, grant requests, the list was endless. He was beginning to like the taste of willow bark, as it heralded a lessening of his constant headaches.

Today he had been ordered to go check on Harry Potter. Because Mrs. Figg "had concerns". Merlin forfend the spoiled little monster actually ... His mind rolled off into incoherence. And seeing Petunia Evans again. Joy of joys. This day was one delight after another.

Miserable, sterile little suburb. Why is it when people get enough money to be comfortable, they insist on being stiflingly dull? A loft in London over a state of the art potions lab, enough bookshelves to host a lifetime of books (plus the books themselves, of course), a kitchen as well-appointed as the potions lab for culinary experimentation, a rooftop garden and greenhouse, a bleeding-edge, magic-shielded espresso machine, those were things worth spending money on. This? This was just depressing.

That annoying little voice in his head that insisted on looking on the bright side of things pointed out that he was getting fresh air and missing a quarterly budget review. He told it to sod off. Mature adults don't have temper tantrums that would put a two year old child to shame, except in the privacy of their own minds, but here in his own mind he was going to enjoy his tantrum, damn it.

"Well, at least out here in Mundania you can get a decent cup of coffee."

"Erm, all right, you have me there. Decent coffee makes up for a lot. Blasted wizarding world and its insistence on tea or chocolate..."

Severus had decided to walk from the train station. The weather was decent, there was no point in spending money unnecessarily, and it gave him the luxury of time to himself If he wanted to spend it being childish and petulant and ridiculous, that was his business.

Severus sighed internally. He was going to have to speak to Petunia and meet, or at least observe, Harry Potter. The neighborhood had failed to explode as he walked through it, unfortunately, and the earth was showing a regrettable reluctance to plunge into the sun. At least he was well and respectably dressed, as befits a successful academic. He would be polite, he would be urbane, he would be superior without being obvious about it. Take that, Tooney!

And, he was here to observe. So observe he would. He would see Potter's room, and his clothes, and his toys, and his nonexistent chores list. He would see Petunia's perfect suburban horror of a household and report all this cloying perfection back to the Headmaster, and maybe he could reclaim the day with some brewing time this evening.

He raised an eyebrow at the sunburnt urchin mowing the lawn. Ah yes, charity to impress the neighbors, and with just as little interest in actually being charitable. How refreshing how some things never change. At least this urchin gets to use a power lawn mower.

Severus pressed the doorbell. Time to get this over with.


As revenge against James Potter, this was perfect, except, James Potter was not here to see it. The scruffy hair was all James, and the glasses, but the eyes... Those are Lily, and the shape of his face, and the very same "That didn't hurt!" look Lily got whenever she got into an argument with Petunia. Lilly's son, the child she died for, sunburned, dressed in rags, living in a cupboard under the stairs. Not acceptable.

"Thank you, Madame Dursley. I shall be bringing Mister Potter with me for at least the day and the night. You will be contacted tomorrow. Come along, Mr. Potter."

Petunia was probably expressing herself in some way, but Severus was not listening. He and Harry walked out the door and didn't look back.