The (Non Marriage) Law
Harry showed his letter to the guard.
"The Minister is expecting you, Lord Potter," the auror on guard waved him in.
Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt stood up as he saw Harry at the door. "I'm sorry to have bothered you with this, but I believe you'll understand why I insisted on calling you here once we finish our conversation." He shook Harry's hands warmly and waved him to a seat before sitting back himself.
Harry could vaguely remember how it all started, about four months after the last battle.
He had just returned from Australia, where he helped Hermione find her parents, restore their memories and bring them back. Hermione stayed with them in their old home. He could stay at Grimmauld Place, but it was still gloomy, despite the renovation Kreacher had done while Harry was away. He went to the Burrow instead, but didn't feel much at home there either. George was finally getting over the loss of his twin, with ample help from Alicia, who practically moved to the Burrow. In preparation for the reopening of WWW, George asked Ron to work at the shop. Ron was forced to accept, after being rejected by the Chuddly Cannons, despite his War Hero status.
Ron and Ginny were also suspicious of both Harry and Hermione. They wouldn't accept their explanations that there was nothing between them but friendship. "You spent two months together on the road, all alone," Ginny said.
"We were all alone in the tent for several weeks, and it was damn cold then and we still slept separately," Harry noted.
It was a no-win situation, as no matter what he (or Hermione) said, either Ron or Ginny would start an argument.
Luckily, school term was approaching and Mrs. Weasley would hear nothing of not going to school or not needing the NEWTs.
Harry, like most others, was also following the trials of the captured Death Eaters. The monstrosities discovered once they were given Veritaserum made the headlines almost every day. It was no wonder that nobody paid any attention to an announcement on an inner page of the newspaper, even though Arthur had mentioned something about "crazy, unfair law".
Three months later, on the sixth of November, all girls at Hogwarts, that were over fourteen, got a letter from the Ministry, requesting them to report if they were already pregnant or explain why not. They were supposed to send their replies within two days or pay a fine of ten Galleons for each day in tardiness.
"That's preposterous!" Hermione huffed. "Who gave them the right to force me into pregnancy? I'm not even married yet! I'm not even dating anybody right now!"
"I thought you and Ron..."
"Nothing. I agreed to let him try it for a few weeks. It was a disaster. Luckily, I didn't let him go any farther than I was comfortable with." Harry interpreted this as no more than innocent hugs and kisses.
She still sent her answer on time and went to the library to research. Harry was sure she would succeed.
Ginny, like most other girls, was also furious. Some of her fury was directed at Harry, though. "Had you been a good boyfriend we could already be married, and then I would not have minded being pregnant."
"I've never promised to be your boyfriends, you know. We even parted after Dumbledore's funeral, as I remember, and never came together again." This didn't help him any.
Hermione came back from the library with the original announcement, dated the sixth of August.
"The Wizengamot has passed an emergency law last night, after being informed that more than twenty percent of the British magical population was killed or exiled during the war. It became clear that without drastic actions, the magical population may soon dwindle and become non-viable and close to extinction due to lack of births.
The new emergency law requires every witch between 14 and 40 to have at least three children within the ten years that the law will be in effect. Age and marital status are deemed irrelevant. Each witch that the law pertains to should get pregnant within the next three months, choosing her own mate(s). Those who will not become pregnant by then with no medical justification, will be assigned a male to impregnate them.
The next pregnancies should come within three years, at most, from the previous ones.
The magical population needs to grow quickly or else it will perish."
"How did we miss that?" Hermione asked, not really expecting an answer.
"What are you going to do now?" Harry asked worriedly.
"Do I even have a choice? I'll try to do all I can to null the law. I may even go to prison. So much for 'War Hero' status!" The bitterness in her voice was unmistakable.
She was not the only one caught unprepared. Practically none of the girls knew about the law and only two were pregnant, due to negligence, when the letters came. Some boys tried to cash on the situation, offering the girls to impregnate them. Their offers were rejected, and not quite nicely.
A week later they started being invited to conversations with Ministry officials. Harry was invited to the ministry.
The minister smiled at Harry. "Let me first clarify. I didn't endorse this law and I still think it is stupid, but the panic within the Wizengamot, once the information was presented, made my protests irrelevant, at best. All I was able to do was to exclude the marriage clause from the law, so that the young people affected by the law would not be chained for life to unwanted mates."
Harry nodded his acknowledgment. "I don't think that any of the girls is going to thank you for that right now."
"Indeed they don't. Still, I was able to let them state who they would like their assigned mate to be. Before assigning mates to the witches, we asked each for a list of five wizards whom she would like as mates, in order of preference. You won't be surprised to find that you're the first on the list for more than half of them; all of them under twenty."
Harry chuckled humorlessly. "So, why did you call me?"
"As many more wizards died in the war than witches, it was decided to let each wizard between fifteen and forty-five choose one or two witches as his mates. The only obligation you have as a mate, is to have regular sex with the chosen witch or witches until pregnancy is achieved. From then on, you have no legal obligation to either the witch or her child. The ministry will take care of that."
Harry shuddered. "Don't you think I'd like to know my children and take part in raising them?"
Shack shrug. "Too many wizards don't care about children, although they may like sex. The contraceptive charms are great in disconnecting the two matters. It was actually suggested to make the contraceptive charms and potions illegal for the duration of the law. Luckily, I was able to prevent that."
"So, I can choose any two of the eligible witches, have as much sex as I like with them until they get pregnant and that's it?"
"Basically it is. You only have to choose from the list, which lists the ones who asked for you as a mate in order of suitability, as judged by the Ministry." He pushed a parchment towards Harry, who glanced skeptically at it.
"You said 'basically.' Is there any problem?"
Shack sighed. "There are three witches who stated clearly that they only want you. They'd rather go to jail than mate anybody else. They're the first three entries on your list."
Harry took the parchment and scanned the list.
1. Hermione Granger, 19, muggleborn
2. Leilani Huston, 14, halfblood
3. Narcissa (formerly Malfoy), 37, pureblood
He was a bit surprised that Hermione wanted him, especially since she could just tell him so in the first place. They had really had many chances to be together and yet… He knew he always thought that Hermione wanted Ron most, and he didn't want to come between them. Her happiness was more important for him than his. He had no idea why she never showed that kind of interest in him. Did she think that he loved Ginny? He had really been obsessed about her during their search, worried for what could happen to her at school. He cared for Ginny, but he didn't actually love her.
"Miss Granger was very explicit about her wish to only have sex with you and nobody else," Shack told him. "I can't say I was surprised."
"You talked with her about this?"
"I wouldn't let anybody else handle the two of you. It was clear to everybody but Molly and Ginny that you two belonged together, ever since your fifth year, if not earlier."
"Oh!" Harry was unsure what to say. He felt thankful that Hermione wasn't subjected to the regular Ministry employees. They weren't known for delicacy or subtlety.
He looked at the list again. "Who is that young girl? I've never heard of her."
Shack smiled. "Why should you? She's just turned fourteen a few weeks ago. She's a nice girl and very smart. Her mother was a muggle and her father was a second generation wizard. Both were killed by Death Eaters while she was at school. I can show you her picture."
Harry expected him to look into one of the folders, but Shack only turned a framed picture that was standing on his desk, showing a girl that looked no older than twelve, with light brown skin, dark curly hair and dark eyes. "She's my niece, twice removed. I've been taking care of her since her parents died."
"Does she really..."
"Harry, I trust you to be good to her. She only wants her first sexual experience to be with you. I don't want to disappoint her."
Harry sighed. That damned "saving people" thing was kicking again. He just couldn't refuse.
"What about Narcissa?"
"She's divorced her husband as soon as he was sentenced, using a clause in her marriage contract, allowing her to claim her dowry back and some compensations. She now looks much younger and happier than I've ever seen her. She said it was the only way she could thank you for helping save her son from the worst."
Harry remembered Narcissa. She had a body to rival any teenage witch, and if her face seemed younger now… It could be a nice experience. Besides, fucking Draco's mother with the ministry's blessing? That was priceless.
"Fine. Assuming I agree, what am I going to do?"
The minister smiled with evident mischief. "I believe you know quite well what to do." He then turned serious again. "You'll get an assignment letter for each witch, naming you as her mate until she gets pregnant. This doesn't need to stop you in case you want to marry any of them or even somebody else. I only ask you to be tender with Leilani. She has no previous experience, not even snogging, as she told me."
"I have no experience either," Harry confessed silently.
Shack's surprise was evident. "You don't? I was sure that you and Hermione, or you and Ginny..."
"Nothing. Hermione is my best friend and I was sure she was pining for Ron until recently. I respected her too much to try anything. As for Ginny – she's a fan-girl. It was nice snogging her and groping her but I can't think of any real future with her, and she's a bit like a sister as well – not one I'm likely to see as appropriate for sex, although she is very sexy."
Shack gave it a thought and then smiled. "In that case, I suggest you start with Narcissa. She may not be very experienced, as her ex-husband seemed to prefer young boys, yet she already has some experience, or she wouldn't be a mother."
"I wouldn't like to visit Malfoy Manor. I have some very painful memories from that place."
"No need to. A part of her dowry, that she got back, was a beach house near Brighton. It is a large and beautiful house that was previously the Black preferred vacation spot. She made it her home for now. If you like, we can make your letter to her be a portkey, or you could use the Floo."