I am cross posting this fic from A03 and it nearly completed! This was written for the Dramione Fanfiction Writers Birthday GoGo fest as a gift for BiscuitsForPotter. After writing the prologue and the first scene I realized this needed to be expanded. I was assigned an aesthetic (which can be found on my tumblr or the A03 upload, if you're so inclined.) Hope you enjoy!
The Evening Prophet - April 2003
LOWEST BIRTH RATE IN RECORDED HISTORY PLAGUE WESTERN EUROPE
The Minister of Magic spoke in the atrium of the Ministry this morning about the newest plague to the wizarding world. This time around, it's nothing to do dark wizards or the Black Cat Flu.
Next year, Hogwarts is expected to accept only fourteen First Years; the lowest in the schools recorded history. When questioned on what could be contributing to the low Magical births, Minister Shacklebolt introduced Astoria Malfoy; one of the leaders in reproductive healing and studies.
"We can only surmise that the low birth rates are a residual aftermath of the war. Not only did the wizarding world suffer massive casualties; but the survivors seem to be postposing marriage and childbirth until far later than has been traditional in our culture," Greengrass-Malfoy said this morning. "If the birth trends continue in a downward slope, we could see the endangering of our kind within the next few centuries. I have been working closely with a team of researchers on how we can rectify this problem, and hopefully, usher in a new generation of witches and wizards."
OFFICIAL MINISTRY DECREE #1298
Due to the steadily declining birth rates over the past ten years, the Ministry of Magic has entered into a State of Emergency. All witches and wizards of childbearing years are hereby required to read the attached documentation and sign this acknowledgement.
If the census department can not claim an increase in magical births we will be forced to take drastic measures. We hope the attached pamphlet will be enlightening in assisting you in your decision to contribute to the next generation.
"It's completely ridiculous." Hermione's fingers closed on the memo, crumpling it and tossing it to the side of her desk before picking up the pamphlet and glancing it over. The same propaganda that had been shoved down her throat for the last few years: people needed to start having babies— and now.
Well, Hermione really couldn't be bothered with impregnating herself in order to please the patriarchy. She was sick and tired of the endless drabble about her responsibilities to the magical world— she'd paid her dues; paid more than her share, if anyone asked her. No woman should be forced into motherhood and while someday Hermione could see herself being a mother, she was only twenty-nine years old. There was time. Even if there wasn't, she'd make time.
She snatched up the brochure and marched down the hall, flinging Harry's office door open and ignoring the groan he gave at her arrival, tossing his own copy of the new Ministry decree on his desk.
"I know, Hermione," he mumbled.
"They're creating a hysteria—"
Harry winced, leaning back in his chair and folding his lips into a tight line. "I know."
"—completely inventing a crisis where there is none. People will have babies when they are good and ready. They can't mandate this kind of thing! It's— it's— well it's fascist!"
"So you've said." Her raven-haired friend nodded along, bobbing his head back and forth as she ranted, just like he always did.
Hermione began pacing, "I swear, if they enact same kind of… marriage law, I will completely lose my mind. This is why I'm going to run for Minister—"
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes, and Hermione froze her glare darkening at him. "Well, you've got ten years before you can be sworn in and after talking to Kingsley the at dinner last weekend, I don't think you can wait that long. They are going to do something, Hermione, whether you like or not. You need to be proactive before you get matched up and forced to consummate livestock."
Rage swelled in her chest as Hermione stared at her friend in disbelief. "You can't seriously be taking their side, Harry."
Harry rose to his feet, rounding his desk until he was staring directly into her eyes. She searched his emerald gaze for the flicker of a joke, but found only sincerity. "It's not taking sides, Hermione. I know you don't want to believe it, but the world we fought to save is dying. I don't want anyone to be forced into a marriage they don't want, but that's on the horizon— and soon."
"I refuse to believe it," she managed through a tight jaw. "Not until someone is forcing me down the aisle at wandpoint."
Harry chuckled darkly, twirling the gold band on his finger and shaking his head. "As Head Auror, I will happily refuse that job."