A/N This work is being translated into Chinese on teiba baidu 5361782909. A link will be posted on my Facebook page and tumblr. Thank you to Annabeth G who is currently putting in the hard work to translate.
This summer is blisteringly hot. Hotter than anyone had been prepared for.
Cooling charms are having little effect against the searing heat.
It had been one month since the Battle of Hogwarts.
The bodies had been laid to rest. Buildings rebuilt. Hogwarts was repaired with magic in only two weeks. Only Dumbledore's grave and a memorial were signs anything awful had taken place.
Professor McGonagall has overseen the work herself. She has personally ensured every brick, every window, and every enchantment was returned to how it had been before Dark Magic had permeated the castle.
The heat is making her uneasy.
Minerva's been summoned to the ministry by Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Minister for Magic. The vote to elect him had been unanimous.
As she walks through the Ministry, she usually pauses at the large memorial in the centre of the atrium. The name of every person to lose their life is engraved upon it.
It hurts her heart to see it every time.
Friends, students, and colleagues were among the dead. She's seen too many wars and too much death. It makes her weary in a way she's never been before.
She passes on by with only a cursory glance today. Kingsley had fire-called asking if she could come today.
Her friend was unnerved. Kingsley, who so rarely showed anything other than a calm confidence, was unnerved.
She hurries faster down the corridor to his office. The secretary waves her in straight away despite her arriving early.
"Minerva, thank Merlin you're here," Kingsley greets her sinking into the chair behind his desk. He's installed a muggle cooling device that was failing to usher away the thick air.
She sweeps off her hat unable to wear it a minute more.
The British just weren't built for this type of weather.
Kingsley's desk is littered with letter, rolls of parchment, Arithmancy equations, and most worryingly five prophecy balls.
"You begged my presence?" She asks choosing to stand. The only seat options were dragonhide which, right at that moment was very unappealing.
"It's this blasted heat. I thought the worst of my troubles would be attempting to reunite the wizarding public, dealing with the fallout of the war. However, if these prophecies are to be believed I'm faced with having to tell the wizarding public something that will spark outrage."
Minerva decides that maybe she does need the seat.
"How awful is it? Is it him? Is he coming back?" She asks grasping her chest.
"No. It's not him. It's something our young people will once again have to bear the brunt of. It is unavoidable though. Minerva have you ever heard of 'The Fever'?" Kingsley asks her seriously.
She can't help it. Laughter escapes from her lips. He can't be serious. It's only a legend.
He watches as she has the same reaction he did to that phrase. No one really has ever believe in it in Britain. How could they? So fantastical was the idea. However, every sign was pointing to it. A decision needed to be made.
Minerva brings herself under control.
"Oh Kingsley, you almost had me frightened then. I thought something awful was happening," she chuckles.
"I'm very serious Minerva. I have here five prophecies from five different world renowned seers. Overall we've received almost twenty from around the world and they are all predicting the same thing. The Fever is coming. This heat is the first sign," he sighs dropping his head into his hands.
She regards him coolly, concerned suddenly that this is not a joke. She's never set much store by Divination and prophecies and yet... this heat... it's not a normal summer heatwave. The continent is not facing the temperatures they are. It is... unusual.
She meets his eyes as it dawns on her that this could truly be happening.
"Why have you asked me here?" She asks sharply watching him flinch.
"As far as we are aware, The Fever will set in this weekend. Every prophecy indicates that those aged seventeen to twenty-one will be affected, therefore, unless they are already magically bound to someone, they will feel the effects of The Fever." He sighs slumping into his seat.
"They've been through so much already," Minerva sighs taking in exactly what this means. "Why did you ask me here? To try to stop it?"
"No. I'm afraid there is no stopping it. It's a primal magic that will have its way. No there is something else I need to ask of you and I don't think you'll like it very much," he cringes into his seat.
"You want to use Hogwarts?" She guesses shrewdly.
"The Fever will burn until everyone is... matched. The quicker that happens, the better. The castle is mostly empty. If we send the young people there, they'll be able to find their match so much quicker than if they're left wandering around. I'll issue a decree stating that everyone who meets the requirements must go to the castle until they find their match. It won't be popular but it will be over and done with in a matter of weeks. This heat won't break until the magic is satisfied that enough unions have taken place. The population is severely decimated. We need this or we'll die out," he implores.
She begrudgingly admits to herself that the plan makes sense, however much she'd rather not have her castle overrun by extremely horny young adults.
"Are you requiring the teachers to stay and supervise?"
"No. Not unless you feel it's necessary. Although perhaps the hospital wing should remain available. Just in case."
"Have you told any of them?" She knows the answer, she just wants to see him squirm.
"No. Not as of yet. Although, Hermione was here yesterday demanding to know if heat that rejects cooling charms is a natural or magical phenomena. I told her the Department of Mysteries was working on it and I'd inform her when we knew more. She's quite the scary little witch, that girl," he chuckles.
"I can't believe they're to be forced into this against their will it's almost like ra-" Minerva chokes.
"No," Kingsley cuts her off. "The magic chooses their best fit. Attraction, chemistry, compatibility, and such the magic takes all these things into account. In a way, they're lucky. Everyone will be with the partner who can help them best. The one they should be with. Many spend a lifetime searching for that," he glances down loneliness permeating his voice.
"When you put it like that, I suppose there are worse things," she replies studying him closely. He seems almost... jealous.
"Very well. I'll host your hormone festival at the castle but they have to be gone by the thirty-first of August. I won't have this lingering into the new school year," She states firmly.
"Of course," Kingsley smiles at her. "It's been wonderful to see you. I'll send someone over to take care of the details. Everyone is of age, so no train will be required. We could set up an Apparition point near the gates," he suggests. "Will any of them be staying on with you?"
"The offer has already been sent out. Although what I'm supposed to do with them I haven't the slightest idea," she chuckles. "I'll leave you with one piece of advice though. Those who fought at your side will take it better if they hear it from you and not from the front page of the Daily Prophet."
He groans realising he'll have to call a meeting. Almost every member of the DA will be affected by this announcement. She's right. He does owe them a face to face explanation as to why their freedom to choose not to procreate is being stolen by ancient and powerful magic.
Kingsley made the decision that perhaps sooner would be better than later. He summons each of them to join him at the Ministry for an announcement. He keeps his tone chipper on purpose.
They will be completely blindsided. Perhaps not Hermione. She has always been smarter and more observant than the usual teenager. She's already confronted him once about the heat.
Stunned silence follows in the wake of Kingsley's announcement, once he finishes explaining to the gathering exactly what was to happen.
"No. Put a stop to it. I'm not doing it. Isn't it bad enough all my choices were taken from me as I was manipulated into doing what he wanted. My whole childhood was decided for me by a fucking prophecy and now the decision about who I have my children with is taken too. No. Just no. I won't do it," Harry shouts at Kingsley getting to his feet.
"Harry, I'm sorry but The Fever is coming. There is no way to stop it," Kingsley sighs. "I don't want this anymore than you do..."
"You aren't the one who'll be raped by it," Hermione cuts him off sharply, arms around her own waist.
"It won't be rape. Whoever this person is that you match with is, they will be the most compatible person in Britain for you. It's not just about sex, The Fever, it chooses life partners that are capable of raising happy families. Separation rates drop to almost nothing with couples who find each other through The Fever. There are magical communities that consider it to be the highest blessing that can be bestowed upon them. As soon as the relationship is consummated, The Fever leaves you. After one time, should you wish it, you need not have anything to do with your partner. But you won't want that. The uproar from those affected will be that they have to endure it. The outcry from the older generation will be that they don't get the opportunity to find someone too," Kingsley explains.
"It's still rape. That one time to consummate the relationship? What if I don't consent, in my mind or in my heart, but body does. I've still been violated," Hermione shudders.
"This is not some external force. It's Magic. Your own magic and that that exists in the world around us. If you are truly opposed to finding your soul mate then the magic won't rise up in you. But the chances that you'll ever find them on your own are slim. This person will be your equal, the person that will be everything you've ever dreamed of. Is that a chance you're willing to risk never having?" He wants them to understand. He needs them too. "Of course you could just lock yourself away in a room until the whole thing is over." He shrugs casually.
Hermione shuffles her feet staring at the floor. Her mind racing with worse case scenarios.
What if it's Harry? She thinks as a shudder passes through her. That would be creepy. She doubts it would be Ron. She begins to look around the room, assessing the possibilities.
"Another thing to remember is that you should be drawn to your match. You'll look at them and want to touch them. Depending on your level of self control, you could at that point turn and walk away. You'll be depriving them of their soul mate but at least that's what you chose," he finishes.
Harry studies him carefully.
"You're jealous," Harry gasps.
"A little, yes. While I wish it was not happening, I find that now that it is, I'm considering my own life. Most of my friends are dead, I watched as they fell. I am now responsible for the safely and well being of every witch and wizard in Britain. But I'm still a man. How am I to find the time to meet someone? Especially at my age, I'm not so young anymore. I spent my youth ambitious, always looking forward. Now I'm here, exactly where I've always wanted to be. But I'm here alone," Kingsley answers honestly.
His eyes flicker between Harry and Hermione as he talks. Once they accept it, everyone else will too. His last three sentences are directed to Hermione. As though she's the one who needs the warning the most. She's the most like him, maybe that's why she's his favourite. The one he has trained in many different subjects over the years.
Kingsley watches as tears rise in Hermione's eyes. Silence descends on the room once more.
He watches as a tear tracks it's way down her face.
He reaches over wiping it away.
"I'd spare you this if I could," he tells her gently. "And if I thought that locking you away in a room for the duration would result in your happiness, I'd do that too. But Hermione," he cups her under the chin bringing her eyes to his, "when this is over. You won't be alone anymore. You'll have a partner who can challenge you, someone who can keep up with you, someone you're magic counts as an equal. You know I regard you as if you were my own daughter by blood. Even if this was something you had a choice in, I'd be begging you to take this opportunity before you are so swept away by your greatest you forget to take the time to be happy."
His words sink in. She thinks about her future, one in which there is no Fever, she imagines how it would go. She'd achieve greatness yes. But at what cost? Her heart often ached for Professor McGonagall. So alone in the world. Would that be her? A powerful witch who has achieved much but never really took time for love.
She sees it now, how enticing the possibility of The Fever can be. How it could be considered a blessing. Why people would want it. She feels her heart clench.
Surely love shouldn't be so easy? They shouldn't just get it? Surely, it's something you have to fight for?
A small voice in her head reminds her they all fought for a world in which love was possible. They had fought for love. They'd watched their friends die for it. Their childhoods had been blighted by this war. Was The Fever their gift? A way to bypass all the heartache that came from trying to find love.
"Okay," she whispers. "Okay, I'll do it. I'll go to Hogwarts and accept The Fever. It's about trusting your magic, isn't it? Because that's what's making the choice. I trust my magic." She finishes with a note of finality.
"What about it being like rape?" Harry asks curious about her flipped opinion.
"My magic is me. My magic making the choice is me making a choice. I trust my magic to make this choice. It will probably do better than me anyway. You know how I over think everything. It's terrifying. Trusting in something so wild. But we spent six years at Hogwarts working with our magic to harness and grow it. We know our own magic and it knows us," she smiles. Now she's made the decision to accept The Fever, she's ready to defend it too.
"It's quite exciting really," she grins around at everyone gathered, which is the surviving members of Dumbledore's Army. A larger crowd than she expected. Some stayed away, but most of the group had come when Kingsley called.
Chatter breaks out among them, excited chatter. Hermione was the only one who he had to convince. Once she accepted it, the group trusted her judgement.
She whacks Kingsley on the arm.
"I came to you yesterday about this bloody weather and you fobbed me off," she accuses him.
"We hadn't had confirmation of everything. It was still just conjecture yesterday. But now we have a date..."
"It will hit Saturday," he sighs.
"That's in three days," she hisses at him.
"Yes. Saturday evening at dusk. When the light fades the burning will start."
"That sounds like you're quoting?" She questions him.
"That line exists in every single prophecy we've had. Almost twenty prophecies and every single one has that line," Kingsley tells her.
No one in the room is paying them any attention. Not anymore. Not now they're excited about it.
"I'm still not comfortable with this," she tells him honestly.
"Of course you're not but in a few weeks it will all be over."
"Weeks?" She hisses.
"It will take time for the couples to find each other, even with you all staying in the castle. There is enough of you left that this will cause a population boom not just growth as it usually does," Kingsley draws out a book.
"For you. I knew you'd want to read up. The Department of Mysteries put that together with all the most reliable sources of information and a transcript of each prophecy. See, there are some benefits to unofficially being my adopted daughter," he laughs.
She takes the book and begins flipping through it. It had began when she'd been staying at Grimmauld Place before fifth year. He would quiz her on what she was studying and talk over complex theories with her. Once she turned seventeen, he began to teach her extra skills. She was the first and only protégé Kingsley had taken on. It made her feel proud.
"I'm legally an adult. You can't adopt an adult," she scoffs.
"You're the only person I allow to speak to me in such a way. I'm a very important man these days," he winks at her.
"Oh I know Mr Minister," she teases. "Thank you for the book."
"It should answer all of your questions. If not my door is always open to you. Even when I'm in an important meeting and you take it upon yourself to barge in through several layers of enchantments."
"I like to think of it as you testing to see how much I've learned from you," she murmurs over the book.
Kingsley stands, he knows he won't get any more sense from her, he says his goodbyes to Harry and leaves.
Before the group breaks up for the evening, they arrange to all meet again ready for Saturday at dusk. They can test out to see if any of them matches. Those that do will manage to avoid going back to the castle.
George is praying he matches at the meeting. He can't go back there, he's not ready and he doubts he ever will be.