Thank you for choosing my fanfic out of the literally thousands (about 15.4 thousand- I checked) other Dramione M rated options out there! I hope you're ready for a wild ride of daily uploads, inappropriately comedic Ginny, POV's of Hermione and Draco (3rd person, of course), and just a dash of Ron being an idiot. Only a little. Because he's Ron.
This is my first finished attempt at a Marriage Law fic!
If you've read my past HP stuff, I'm sorry. Please believe me: I've grown a lot as a writer since then. No, I won't be finishing them. However, I have a new and exciting policy that hopefully can give you confidence about starting this fic!
I will never again post a fic that isn't finished! Yep! That means this story is 100% finished! I just take the time for one more round of editing on each chapter before posting them.
The uploads will be daily. There may be special occasions where double uploads are in order.
This story will contain a lot of M-rated content in later chapters, but I assume that's why you're here.
This story is 50 chapters long, plus an epilogue.
I would say the main genres are Romance and Comedy, though I throw plenty of Action, Adventure, Horror, and Fantasy into the mix, too.
Again, thanks for reading and enjoy!
Chapter 1: The Article
"This is pointless," Ron blurted, tossing their copy of the Prophet off the table where it landed, crinkling, onto the floor.
"I think what you mean to say is that this is ridiculous- there is very clearly a point to it," Hermione amended, digging the newspaper out from under the table and laying it flat in front of her. She had to read it again. If she read the finalized Marriage Law one more time, surely she would see a loop-hole.
It was barbaric. She knew the Wizarding world was a little behind on the times, but besides the generally degrading Law itself, the smaller details were blatantly androcentric and chauvinistic. For example, the Wizard had to petition the Witch for her hand. "An eligible Witch may maintain up to three petitions for the two week interim period, upon which the final choice will become her de facto husband." The Witch could not petition whoever she chose, and no more than three applications were allowed.
"What if there are more than three?" Ron asked. Hermione didn't realize she had even reread that part out loud, but she rolled her eyes at Ron's comment.
"Haven't you been paying attention? Only three. Anything else won't be regarded as valid. A woman gets only three choices, and none of them might even be her choice- ugh! Absolutely backwards." Hermione was so frustrated she almost threw the paper back to the ground herself, but her fist remained clutched around the wrinkled pages. She needed to read it again.
It wasn't without precedence. The Law was taken, almost word for word, from a document dating back to the 1600's. They had had the same problem with low birth rates among pure bloods, and an increase in squib births. The recommended fix for the problem was obvious: no more inbreeding. This had led to many pure-bloods fleeing England, only returning when the Law was revoked.
Apparently, some genius had also discovered that the highest number of magical births happened in the case of a pure-blood/muggle-born combination. Hermione wasn't sure she wanted to trust the findings of a wizard genealogist from the 1600's, but oddly enough within the magical community even painfully dated discoveries could turn out to be completely accurate.
Hermione sighed, kneading her forehead with the heel of her hand. Half-bloods like Harry had nothing to worry about- for now. The Ministry was only enacting section one of the Marriage Law, affecting pure-bloods and muggle-borns. Hermione suspected this was meant to bring people together after the harsh and nearly genocidal war, so she could in some ways appreciate the decision. Especially when she saw the indignant (and occasionally violent) reactions of the Slytherins as they picked up their morning papers.
The Prophet had been printing hints about the Law's enactment for weeks now, but no one could have suspected it would have gone through so quickly. They had two weeks- that was all. Two weeks, and Hermione was expected to find a pure-blood husband.
The implication for their little group was obvious.
Hermione looked over the edge of the paper at Ron, trying to be covert. He was, as usual, stuffing his face. To his credit, he did have a look of intense concentration on his face, so he wasn't just blowing this off. He was thinking. Good. Hermione wasn't sure she had the courage to breech the subject, herself…she wanted him to do it. Ron was never the king of tact, and she was counting on that now. She wanted him to blurt out the obvious answer to their dilemma.
Not that she wanted to get married at all, but the safest pure-blood she knew was her dear friend. After the war finished, in the summer before they started their belated seventh year at Hogwarts, the two of them had even dated for a time.
It didn't last.
She shook her head, trying to dislodge the annoyed memories of waiting for him to kiss her again, of attempting a proper date, of arguing about every little thing…
The point was, she honestly couldn't think of anyone else she could marry, push come to shove.
"What can they do to you if you say no?" Harry asked, completely focused. Hermione smiled at him, happy that he was at least trying to think outside the box. No one did that better than Harry, when it counted.
"Well, it's not listed here in the Prophet, but it does say every eligible unmarried pure-blood and muggle-born under the age of forty will be receiving a letter with the full details. Here at school, the Headmistress will of course be helping us with all the details, and acting as intermediary..."
Harry shook his head, his arms folded across his chest. His eyebrows were drawn as he stared at the paper in Hermione's hands with unfocused eyes.
He had been acting like that since the Law had first been mentioned in the Prophet a month ago. It wasn't hard to figure out why, either- Harry and Ginny were still very much a couple.
"And it says we have two weeks before they force people to marry?" Harry asked quietly.
Hermione nodded. "Witches can choose from those who apply, or they will be assigned. Harry… the ministry has tried a lot of stupid things in the past. Interfering in people's lives like this… it won't go uncontested. Just wait until parents start getting wind of this… if their kids are seventeen or older, they're of age and therefore "eligible." Hermione's eyes darted to the Slytherin table again. Pansy Parkinson had just spit her coffee all over her robes as her wide eyes scanned the Prophet.
"Some families that had a lot of power before the war won't be so high above Ministry Laws, now," Ron said in between bites of toast. Hermione stared at him, surprised by his insight. It was exactly what she had been thinking.
"But they still have money. Unsurprisingly, money can be a big motivator in politics. This farce of a Law won't make it two weeks… it can't," Hermione insisted. Ron was right- the more powerful pure blood families might have been able to dodge this Law in the past, but not now. Not with a Dark Mark on so many of their arms…
"Kingsly Shacklebolt isn't so easily moved," Harry managed. He was looking at his breakfast in disgust now, and Hermione realized he hadn't eaten a thing. "He seems to want to end certain pure-blood's remaining feelings of superiority, and he won't be bought off. It's the root of so much hate… I can understand where he's coming from."
"We should get married!" Ron blurted, as if the idea had only just come to him. Immediately, the tips of his ears grew very red, and students from a couple benches down looked up and snickered."I, uh, I mean… that's the logical solution, right? Not that I want to marry you. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with you. I mean…"
Hermione held up a hand, stopping his tumbling words. "I know what you mean Ron." She could feel a burning in her own cheeks that matched the creeping redness now covering Ron. "It… does make the most sense. I guess I was too shy to mention it myself. At least, until this whole thing blows over, the two of us can stick together. It's our safest bet."
Harry looked up, then, and Hermione noticed Ginny was making her way over to their table. She wore a huge smile as she waved, and Harry waved weakly back. She hadn't read the Prophet yet.
Just because Harry wasn't included in the Law, didn't mean it didn't affect him.
Her letter came around noon. The owls barged right into their Advanced Potions classroom, a whole flock delivering letters to the large number of Slytherins in class. Several cauldrons were knocked over, their contents sizzling menacingly on the floor.
Hermione was the only muggle-born in the whole class, and she could almost feel the burning eyes of the small group of Slytherins behind her back. As if this whole thing was her idea. The downfall of their pure lines, all thanks to one muggle-born girl. Right.
She shook her head. The very idea of marrying anyone in the room was laughable. Ron would put in the application, and she would choose him, and their lives could basically move forward as usual. Just a bump in the road.
Of course, she did worry about the details that would be enclosed in the Ministry letter. Details like… the obvious reason behind this asinine law: children. God. She hadn't really stopped to think it through, but would she actually have to sleep with Ron!? Probably. That was probably in the letter.
Her heart began to race as she continued on that train of thought. Children. She didn't want children. She wanted education and a respectable career. Maybe, years and years and years from now…and she certainly didn't want to sleep with someone she didn't love.
She took a deep breath. Bravery. That was the attribute of her house. She just had to open the damn letter, and be brave.
She scanned the parchment hungrily with her eyes. The new potions instructor, Professor Mulgick, didn't seem to mind much. It was almost disconcerting, having a Potions Professor who wasn't condescending and breathing down your neck the entire class. Certainly not what she had become accustomed to before Slughorn. In fact, after trying to restart class twice, Mulgick finally released all the students with a sigh, letting them go read their letters in peace.
As Hermione left the room, she noticed something…odd.
Only one Slytherin had made no move towards the door. Hunched over his workbench, his posture sulking and withdrawn, was none other than Draco Malfoy. His pasty skin was maybe a shade paler than usual, and he looked for all the world as if he were about to lose his breakfast.
This was not surprising. A forced marriage was enough to make normal people sick. But for a purist Death Eater family like his, this had to be torture. She tried not to smile at the thought. Maybe it would be good for him, to have to get used to someone who was muggle-born. Of course, the unlucky witch would sure have a tough time…
No, the part that was odd, and frankly unnerving, was the fact that his sharp gray eyes followed her across the room, silently focused until she finally stepped out the door.
She shivered as a horrible thought came to her: would some of the pure-blood boys be willing to choose a wife simply out of revenge? If they had to find a muggle-born, why not a war hero they could condemn to marriage into a family that hated them? Or possibly, meant them real harm….
She sat on the bench, sandwiched between a Hufflepuff 6th year she didn't know and a certain pug-faced Slytherin who refused to so much as meet her gaze. Parkinson looked beyond livid- she kept switching which leg she had crossed, moving her foot in quick anxious jerks. Every time she did so, she ended up kicking Hermione's shin, and it was surely no accident.
Here were the grisly details the letter had informed her of:
Adherence to the new Law would, of course, be compulsory. Those who refuse to wear the ring which would be owled to them would have their wands taken from them and their place in the Wizarding world revoked. Hermione strongly suspected the rings would be enchanted to ensure the other five finer points were observed, as well.
The marriage would occur and be legally binding at midnight, February 28th. Exactly two weeks from today. No ceremony was needed- in fact, they didn't even need to both be together at the time.
Witches could choose from Wizards who had petitioned for them, up to three. If they didn't choose, a choice would be made for them.
The marriage had to be (Hermione cringed at the word) consummated within twenty-four hours of the ring's arrival. The home residence of the (again, she cringed) couple would be decided based on income and family holdings.
The marriage would be ongoing until at least one child was born, at which time they would be granted a divorce if they petition for one. However, there were scores of nice tax breaks and incentives for those who chose to stay together afterwards… fat chance.
And, at that moment to Hermione, the last and most important detail listed:
Petition requests open up at exactly midnight on February 14th.
Today. Petitions had been open for hours and Hermione hadn't even known about it.
This was why she was now trying very hard not to cry, throw up, or beat Pansy Parkinson with her own leg as she waited outside Headmistress McGonagall's temporary intermediary office. Only fifteen minutes after she had secreted herself away in her room to read the Ministry's letter a house elf had appeared with a great "pop!," informing her that her presence was urgently needed at the intermediaries' office.
Of course, the elf was gone before she had a chance to ask where the office was, exactly. House elves tended to leave her presence really quickly after all the years she had spent threatening to give them homemade socks and hats…
By the time she had found the make-shift office near the Great Hall, there was a line. So, she waited.
The only reason she would be called here was if there was something wrong. Someone must have petitioned for her. She held out little hope of it being Ron already- he wouldn't have a chance to work on the paperwork until after classes. In fact, Hermione was sure she would have to write up most of it herself, or risk him getting something wrong…
It didn't matter. She would just refuse whoever it was.
She didn't hold out much hope of this just being a "pep talk" kind of meeting. There were a lot of girls in line, but certainly not every pure-blood and muggle-born in the school. And just girls… no Wizards to be found. This was definitely about petitions.
Pansy was next, and she squeezed through the office door before the last girl could completely leave, shoving her into the door frame with a little squeak. The room was, of course, magicked against sound when the door was closed. But before the door could fully shut Hermione could hear the tirade building from the mouth of the Slytherin.
"Now see here- I already have a betrothal from the day I was born! You can't possibly expect my family to void-"
And the door shut. Silence.
Hermione hadn't actually thought about it before, but she supposed pure-bloods were used to arranged marriages. She had little doubt who Parkinson was betrothed to… probably the stuck up boy she had brought to the Yule Ball. Malfoy.
Hermione couldn't help a small sound of disgust from escaping her lips, causing the Hufflepuff next to her to flash her a puzzled look.
Malfoy wasn't all evil. She remembered his face, the night she had been tortured by Bellatrix. His aunt. He hadn't lifted a finger to help, but he hadn't looked particularly pleased with himself either. A true Slytherin: Not always the bad guy, but not willing to risk his neck for the losing side, either.
His mother, however, had saved Harry's life. She had done it for her own reasons, of course, but still…
Hermione didn't think Malfoy would go so far as to petition for her to hurt her. That was proactive evil, not the exact brand the Malfoy's went for. No, this meeting certainly had nothing to do with that strange look Malfoy had given her earlier. Her dark thoughts were just the result of her needless worrying. No way would Malfoy stoop that low…
Pansy stormed out of the office in a huff, all but hissing in her fury. She aimed a quick searing spell at a nearby suit of armor, blowing off its head with a loud "bang!"
Everyone jumped, and the Slytherin looked a little pleased with herself, smoothing down her robes and moving off down the hall with a deep calming breath.
Then, it was Hermione's turn.