Chapter 1:

Looking back, it was all Molly's fault.
That woman was one hell of an instigator.
Not that she knew what she had set in motion at all…

Severus Snape was tired. It was a constant source of irritation for him to know that while the Order members knew all the work that was on his plate, not a single one ever offered him any assistance whatsoever. Teaching potions was a full-time job. It was his actual, earn-a-paycheck job; teaching, grading, patrolling, being Head of House. He knew his regular job was tiring enough. God knew, Filius complained enough for all the Heads, and that was where his duties stopped. Not so Severus. He was also a full-time double agent. He also was a leading researcher and developer of Master-level potions in his non-existent spare time. Oh, and he was also an Order member and a Death Eater. Sev never really considered those to be the same thing as spying. He had to do all the things the other members of such groups did…but he had to spy too.

It was exhausting, and no one seemed to give a damn.


The Golden Trio was headed for London after their Sixth Year as students at Hogwarts. As the train chugged on its way, Harry and Ron had decided it would be a rather good idea to follow in the Weasley Twins' shoes. The door of their train compartment was wide open, allowing the occupants to talk cheerfully to the two compartments opposite them, all full of members of the DA.

"There is absolutely no way that she couldn't be elected. I mean who else would do it? That cow Parkinson?" Ginny replied to Harry and Ron's statements. They were of course discussing Hermione Granger and the Head Girl position to be filled the next year. The boys had decided after receiving year end congratulatory gifts from Weasley Wizard Wheezes to start a betting pool on the very same subject. Now hotly debated amongst three of the Hogwarts houses, and not only by the DA, but the majority of the school, the male portion of the Golden Trio had decided to take on the role of bookies.

"You'd be more than surprised to know how many people are putting money on Hannah Abbot. Not only is she responsible and dependable, she's surprisingly well-liked," Harry rebutted. Neville, Luna and Dean all nodded in agreement, while Ron just shook his head in negation.

"Fis for fonney!" he said to Harry, through an obscene amount of Chocolate Frog stuffed in his mouth.

"That's disgusting Ron. How many times have Hermione and I told you how unattractive your eating habits are? Ugh, you'd better hope she doesn't get elected and start up a charm club to teach you some manners!" Ginny said, now turned off the Pumpkin Pasty in her hand.

"Yes well, be that as it may, there are quite a few others that are being betted on now. After Seamus was caught talking to the Patils about it over lunch, it's more than the DA in it now, and not just prefects in the running…" Luna added, turning a misty-eyed gaze at her fellow DA members.

Dean glared at his friend, "My odds on Hermione were way better before you opened your big mouth, you know," he scathed.

A shadow crossed the train's narrow passageway.

"I swear, if you lot are referring to that stupid bet, again, I will hex you so badly at the next DA meeting that you won't be capable of either saying such rubbish, or moving your arms in order to place your bets."

Somehow, the conversation managed to end fairly quickly. Hermione Granger was nothing, if not formidable.

Someone muttered, "Brilliant, but scary" as the train chugged into King's Cross Station.

At Hogwarts, the end of the year staff meeting was about to begin. No one was more relieved to have the students leave that day than Professor Snape. He arrived in his trademark swoop, and landed in a winged arm chair, anxious to get the administrative issues over that came along with the end of term in order to get back to his marking. If there was one thing Snape was, it was efficient. He wanted to get his grades in, and enjoy the freedom of dropping one of the balls he juggled, if it was only temporary. The summer allowed him a certain amount of free-time that he utilized to work on his research, restocking the infirmary, and being able to relax.

Well, as far as a spy could relax. It was easier to spy on Death Eaters when you are visiting their houses for dinner parties and luncheons, as opposed to snatches of legilimency performed at meetings, raids and revels. Snape conjured a cup of espresso as he went over his plans for the next few weeks in his head. He was a bit early for the staff meeting, and had the time. As he thought about which potion experiments would need to be started the soonest, the Headmaster arrived.

"Ah, Severus, good to see you here. I thought I might have to send Minerva down to the dungeons to chase you up!" Albus' eyes were twinkling. Apparently he wasn't as crushed to see his Gryffindors depart this year as he usually was.

"After you send Sybil down last time, I hardly think I would risk being late again, Headmaster," Severus replied, rolling his eyes as he took a swallow of espresso.

"Well my boy, I've never seen you arrive to a meeting so quickly after being summoned! Let's just say I have always felt that a good Headmaster should know how to motivate his staff!" Damn that twinkling was becoming incessant!

"If you're trying to motivate me into a sentence to Azkaban, send her around again, Albus," came the Potion Master's reply.

At this point, the door opened, and the teachers began to file in. As they arranged themselves around the room on various chairs and couches, Albus began the meeting. Filing through standardized grading procedures, (at which he gave a sharp look at Snape), budget reviews for the end of the school year, and any last minute student issues, Albus proceeded to wind up the administration for the year. Just as Snape thought that he would soon escape his peers' company, the Headmaster added a final remark "If anyone has candidates to present for Prefects and Head Boy and Girl, the cut off date will be this Friday."

There was some muffled conversation before McGonagall stated the obvious, "Why, Hermione Granger for Head Girl of course! And I think perhaps Mister Boot for Head Boy…"

Snape's eyes flashed quickly. "Whilst I have no issue with Boot, I'd hate to see that wretched girl in the Head position!"

"Come now Severus! She's the top student in this school! What could you possibly say against her? Such grades haven't been seen in generations…and that includes yours!" McGonagall replied, showing her temperament to match her Animagus form quite well.

"I'm sorry, I was under the belief that the Head was meant to be an example to the student body! The amount of trouble that Granger gets into with her friends is not that which should be admired or put into a position that other students would emulate. Those brats have been downright dangerous the past few years. I ask, is that a model for behaviour?" Snape retorted, glaring at his colleague.

"You know she did them with the intention of helping us against Voldemort! It's not like Granger just parades around, breaking rules!" Clearly, the Transfiguration Mistress wasn't about to allow her protégé to be shunted aside in the nominations.

"She set me on fire in her first year! That was just the beginning! You know those three were behind stealing ingredients and setting off firecrackers in my classroom! They're menaces! I absolutely refuse to see her as Head Girl. It's bad enough that she is a Prefect!"

The Headmaster cleared his throat. "Severus, you know we never found any proof to the identity of the thief, nor to the instigator of the firecracker. Suspicions aren't evidence, my friend. Now, if you two could please put aside your enmity, I'd like to wrap this meeting up!"

Snape looked around the staffroom, wishing he would get some back up, but knowing he'd get none.

Just once, he'd love for someone to side with him.

Later that evening, Snape was scribbling in his grade book when the whoosh of the Floo was heard.

"Severus are you in?" came Dumbledore's voice.

Severus looked up from his marking and answered, "Here, Albus." The Headmaster's eyes turned from looking toward the door leading to Snape's bedroom and settled on his young friend.

"Excellent! Do you have a moment for me to quickly discuss some plans with you?" the head in the fire asked politely.

"Of course. Step through," and with a waving motion he indicated for the Headmaster to take a seat on the sofa across from the fire. Snape stood up from his desk, stretched, and moved to the chair beside the sofa.

"Would you are for tea or something stronger?" he asked as he sat himself down.

"No thank-you. I'll be quick. After the grades have been submitted, and the staff starts to disperse for their annual break, what do you plan to do with yourself?" the older man inquired.

Severus sighed inwardly. Even wrapped in such a polite inquiry, he could feel that his lighter summer load was about to buckle under some new task, before he had even had the slightest taste of a freer time.

"Research, experiment, spy…the usual." And the Headmaster well knew it!

"How would you feel about doing some of that, on the Order's behalf?"

Suspicion arose. It was far too amicable of a query to be either real or simplistic. "In what capacity, may I ask?" Severus replied.

"Well, with the war heating up so much these last few months, and with the overt use of Dark Arts and both the obscure and the obvious of weapons by Tom, I feel that we need to develop new measures of our own. In order to successfully counter-attack in the future, we will need potions, charms and hexes that are unknown to Tom. And we all know how well…read he is. The best way to affect him would be with new attacks entirely."

Snape thought about it. It was logical, and Merlin knew, he was a rational man. He was also a bitter man. What was that quote from Matthew? Ah yes, 'No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other (obviously!) or else he will hold to the one and despise the other (bingo!)'. It was in his own interest to help Dumbledore on this one, even if it used up his 'vacation', it did aid in his eventual freedom from at least one master. The Slytherin in him approved of that. However, Salazar would never be so obvious about his acceptance.

"I understand where you are coming from sir, but let's face it; between brewing for Poppy, continuing with my extracurricular roles, and attending to my school duties, I don't know if I can really get that much done this summer. I am only one man."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, yes…well, there will of course be other Order members working on this as well. It's top priority. That's why I need you at Grimmauld Place this summer."

"What! Headquarters all summer??? Are you MAD?" Clearly, there was a difference between theoretically accepting to help Dumbledore, and the practical application.

"Ah yes…well with both collaboration, and the fact that a good deal or the Order will be there this summer it just seems prudent."

Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. "My lab is here you old goat. If you pushed your spectacles up to your eyes instead of letting them droop down your face you might see this fact for yourself!" Clearly, the idea was getting him more and more agitated as the conversation continued.

"Well, I'm sure something could be set up at Grimmauld Place. And of course, since you have need of assistance, and the most obvious candidate is there as well, I suggest you ameliorate yourself to the idea, or it will be a long, tedious summer." With this statement the headmaster stood up and made to leave the room. As he reached the fire and threw in the Floo Powder, Snape stopped him.

"Just what do you mean by obvious candidate? I said I would help you, I never said I wanted an assistant!"

"Well, you're going to get one. You won't be able to get as much research and experimentation done if you are struggling all summer. Not to mention that valuable time would be used up in the Order meetings if you were to continue to vent to us all as to your workload. So before we even start, let's just get you an assistant."

As Dumbledore started to move into the fire, Snape called out, "Who is this 'obvious choice'?"

Dumbledore looked over his shoulder, grinned and said "Hermione Granger", before the green flames sent him back to his office.

Author's Notes:

Well, here it is: my first fanfic attempt. I've been a reader on the good ship HGSS for years, but have never lifted my metaphorical pen before today. I know the opening chapter is a bit unoriginal plot-wise, with Herms being selected to help Sev with his work. I wanted to be able to take it further though, and look at the development of their interaction in the summer and their last year, which so often gets glissed over in other fanfics. You know what I mean. "They had grown closer over the summer working together...blah blah blah.." I really want to write something a bit deeper, and also really focus on what they make together (aside from any eventual babies!)

So help an author out. Review. Offer come suggestions for "weapons". Hope to hear from you all soon! Oh and before I forget the 2 Masters quotation is from the Book of Matthew, 6:24.