A Match Made by Law
Disclaimer: The plot bunny insists this is his story, just not his characters. I still think the bunny drinks. A very late, but highly realistic response to the Marriage Law Challenge.
Cornelius Fudge was pleased with himself as he left his office at the Ministry of Magic. It wasn't often his plans were so complex, so multi-faceted, that they would give him satisfaction on so many levels. But this latest one would finish making him a rich man. Who cared if he lost his place as Minister of Magic next election? He certainly didn't. Let Arthur Weasley have the damned joband the headachesthat went with it.
'Ah, the Marriage Law,' he thought contently to himself as he Apparated directly into his home from the Ministry steps. 'What a wonderful concept!' Since the eugenics report came across his desk stating the so-called purebloods were inbreeding themselves into extinction, he had been wondering how he could work this to his advantage.
In the Wizarding community, it was a fact that the purebloods controlled the majority of the wealth. It was not only gold, but property, art, and jewelry, handed down through the generations. Half-bloods and Muggle-borns were less likely to come from money and those who did, usually kept quite a bit of their wealth in both worlds.
Wealth was his biggest envy as the Fudge fortune had dissipated from generation to generation. Well, until he became the Minister of Magic and met Lucius Malfoy. Malfoy had been quite a meal ticket until he so stupidly allowed himself to be caught in a silly attempt to get his hands on a prophecy and tried killing six Hogwarts students in the process.
Money could and did buy Malfoy so many things. However, not even Malfoy had a fortune large enough to tempt Fudge in the face of public opinion over that fiasco. If he had freed Malfoy, the Wizarding community would have united to throw him out of office. He had explained that to Narcissa Malfoy on several occasions, taking her money then her body on each visit. She had promised him riches, women, whatever his heart desired "when the Dark Lord triumphs" and he had placated her with empty promises and emptier sex.
"If I am removed from office, my pretty," he had told her, "then my usefulness to your lord will have ended."
In truth, he didn't care who won the war. He firmly kept one foot in each camp, taking money from the ones he could and not outwardly supporting either. 'Not bad for a Hufflepuff,' he thought approvingly as he took his Firewhisky glass from the house-elf offering it.
When Malfoy had gotten caught and the money stream suddenly dried up, the unfortunate Minister of Magic was left with a wonderful villa in Tuscany that needed repairs and a half-empty bank vault at Gringotts. What was a greedy man to do?
So he had come down a bit on the Death Eaters while enjoying his visits from Narcissa in the meantime. During the next two years of fighting, he still managed to keep each side assured that he was I almost /I with them and not supporting the other. Fudge had ducked his head and became more determined to survive this thing… somehow.
Luck was with him. Harry Potter defeated He-Whose-Name-Could-Now-Be-Said-But-Still-Isn't. Dumbledore, Fudge's harshest critic, had not survived the battle and Harry Potter became the Boy-Whose-Luck-Ran-Out when he took several curses that rendered him in a permanent vegetative state. The losses were so heavy on both sides, no one seemed to have time to remember poor Fudge of the outstretched hand.
Fudge kicked off his imported dragon hide shoes (120 Galleons and custom-made for his feet) and settled down in front of the fireplace. Placing his feet clad only in socks (15 Galleons and the finest imported arachnidan silk) on the footstool, he wiggled his toes appreciatively.
With the Eugenics report firmly in mind, he began the machinations for Proposition 6755, popularly known as the Marriage Law, which would force Muggle-born and half-blooded witches to marry only pureblood wizards and pureblood witches to marry only Muggle-born and half-blooded wizardsall of whom would be matched at the Ministry's discretion.
What family wouldn't be up to a bribe or two to ensure a good match or find a loophole to save the future of their children?
As an added bonus, he finally was getting back at Severus Snape who cut into his bribes several years earlier by showing him his Dark Mark and proving Voldemort was back. Fudge had listened to the man's rants and barely veiled threats last week when the dark wizard burst into his office and demanded the law be stopped or his name be removed from the rolls.
For a while after Snape's visit, Fudge had been actually frightened. No, not of Snape so much as it was fear of watching all those lovely future bribes suddenly vanish. It had taken hours to decide the best thing to do was increase his own security and use Snape as a threat to those Muggle-born and half-bloods.
He sipped his Firewhisky and laughed to himself. Fudge could imagine how many of the lesser blooded witches would scramble to sell everything they owned including their own bodies to keep from marrying their feared Potions master, the greasy git, the Dungeon bat.
And then today, that infuriating Miss Granger had stormed his office. She had been the last of the Hogwarts crew to drop her demands for his resignation after the war. Minerva McGonagall had been too busy running Hogwarts to keep up the chant; Potter had the cognitive skills of a piece of celery and Ron Weasley had died in a tragic Quidditch accident, choking on the Golden Snitch when it flew into his mouth during his first professional game.
Hermione Granger had demanded he stop pushing this "insufferable, ridiculous, mockery of a law" or he would regret it.
He had silently activated the charm to alert the Aurors and his personal bodyguards while he pretended to ponder the threat. "Miss Granger," Fudge had told her smoothly, "you were such an asset to us during the war"
"You sure as hell weren't!" she flared at him.
Fudge smiled then. Cocking his head, he took a good look at her. She was a powerful, intelligent witch, but not all that attractive. Her hair was an untamed mess, held mostly in a knot on the back of her head by two quills. Her robes were overly-large, ill-fitted and black was an unbecoming color for her. Her shoulders were rounded, proving she still spent a large amount of time hunched over books. In fact, without knowing what she concealed under those robes, her best assets were her large brown eyes and her mind. Hardly something most wizards would marry for.
"Miss Granger," Fudge said smoothly as if she hadn't interrupted him. "It has come to my attention that the Ministry might already have the perfect pureblood wizard for you." She paled at his words, then flushed an unbecoming red.
"In fact, I was just discussing this proposed law last week with Professor Snape." She paled again. "A man of his intelligence might be a good match for you. Unless I have further time or… consideration." If he remembered, her Muggle parents were some sort of professionals. Physicians of the teeth, he believed. Perhaps they could be persuaded to part with some Muggle money to save their only child from the proverbial fate worse than death. The exchange rates were murderous, but he'd just convince them to give more.
And if this threat failed, then as soon as the law passed, he'd make damn sure she and that bat Snape were either the first ones married by it or else tossed out of the Wizarding world with their wands snapped. If married, they would probably spend their time trying to kill each other and if exiled… well, either way they would be out of his hair.
Luckily, at that point in his discussion with the Granger chit, the Aurors burst in or she might have tried to inflict bodily damage to him. It was a good thing visitors were not allowed wands on the same floor as his office.
As they dragged her out of the office, he couldn't resist a parting shot. "Those are child-bearing hips!" Fudge had called and chuckled at her shriek of fury.
Sitting now in his richly furnished study, sipping MacTavish Firewhisky (far more expensive than anything Ogden's distillery could furnish and, therefore, far better), he chuckled again.
"Yes," he said aloud, startling one of his many house-elves. "Life is good."
Life was less good the next day when he began the final arguments before the Wizengamot voted on the law. They were convinced, albeit most reluctantly, that the new law would be the only way to save the British Wizarding world.
Suddenly, the door burst open and Severus Snape strode in, his black robes billowing behind him like storm clouds at sea. Dogging his heels was Miss Granger with her arms full of papers.
"Honored members of the Wizengamot," Snape said in a voice that seemed to reverberate off the stone walls despite his low tones.
"Get him out of here!" Fudge shrieked. "Her, too!"
"They have a right to speak," Amelia Bones declared. As the Head of the Wizengamot, her word superceded even the Minister's in what could be said during a hearing they presided over.
Snape smirked at Fudge before holding up a clear vial of light blue liquid. "There were many things, Minister,"he said the title derisively, "Fudge could have suggested instead of an enforced breeding program. Tax incentives could have been offered for children conceived of parents who could prove a so-called mixed heritage. Educational programs could have been provided to allow children to be more informed and less prejudiced so they could make their own choices in mates. Large families could be given government assistance to encourage their breeding efforts."
The Potions master went on and on with different programs and ideas. Then he turned to the witch by his side who began passing out papers. Hermione Granger spoke up next.
"Also, the paper, which Fudge commissioned on 'Eugenics and Their Effect on the Wizarding World,'" Hermione began, "is seriously flawed. It does not take into consideration the fact that the number of Muggle-born and half-blood Magical stock is actually increasing at a rate that is much higher than the number of stillborns and Squibs being faced by purebloods. Magical nature is more than making up for the shortfall."
Snape stepped forward again. "I call our first witness, Amadia Fudge."
A shriveled, old witch was brought in as Fudge stared in disbelief. "Grandmother?" he whispered as she was helped by him.
"Don't 'grandmother' me, you ungrateful cur," she hissed. "You live in a house that looks like a palace while I rot in St. Mungo's Old Witches Home! It's time the truth comes out!"
"No!" he protested and found himself on the wrong end of Hermione's wand.
Amadia was sworn in and admitted that her husband, Tincture, was impotent and that her son, Martin, was fathered by a Muggle milkman she abducted one day. "I was young and randy." she shrugged. "What can I say?"
"So you abducted him and… had your way with him once?" Snape questioned silkily, trying to bite back a smile.
"Once? Bloody hell, man!" Amadia gave a toothless smile. "I kept him for nigh onto thirty years." She paused and considered. "For all I know, he might still be chained in the basement. I hope the house-elves kept feeding him."
Aurors were dispatched to the site of the Fudge family home and told to talk to the house-elves there.
She was helped out of the room by several Aurors who weren't sure what to do with her. They finally decided until she was formally charged, she should be returned to St. Mungo's. Amadia fought them on their way out.
"No, you bloody imbeciles!" she screamed. "I want to go to Azkaban! There are men there and they've got to be desperate for some shagging and I'm just the witch to do them all!"
The sounds of her screams were fading as Fudge wiped his brow with his fine linen handkerchief (15 Galleons). "Well, there was really no point to that, Snape!" he said. Then in a low voice, he continued, "I hope you have a potion to make that one," he nodded towards Hermione, "biddable and beddable. I'll see you married to that witch if it's the last thing I do!"
Snape only smiled.
It was then, that Fudge felt real fear for the first time.
"Our next witness," Hermione called out, "is Cornelius Fudge."
Fudge sat in the testimony chair. "Even if you believe this rubbish, so what if I have a Muggle grandfather?" he questioned the court airly. When Hermione walked up to him, he hissed at her, "I'll just have Narcissa Malfoy's marriage dissolved on grounds her husband is in Azkaban, and I'll marry her!"
"You can't do that!" Hermione hissed back at him.
He gave a smug smile and crossed his arms. "I am the Minister of Magic. I can do anything I like!"
"Honored members of the Wizengamot," Hermione said loudly, turning to them. "I believe this witness will be uncooperative."
Amelia Bones made a move. Before Fudge could react, he was manacled to the chair. "How could you, Amelia?" he railed bitterly. "All they've done is to allege my father might have been sired by a Muggle. Why should you believe a senile, old witch?"
"Cornelius," Amelia smiled, "I dated your grandfather when he was at Hogwarts. I can vouch he was impotent."
The wizard behind her, agreed fully.
Snape stepped forward. "Honorable Witches and Wizards," he addressed them. "Have we proven that Cornelius Fudge does not meet the criteria he established for pureblooded ancestry?"
The vote proved they had.
Snape then held up a clear vial containing a blue liquid. "Here is my latest potion. It can save the Wizarding World, and no witch will be forced to marry against her will or to bear unwanted children. This potion allows any fertile man to carry a fetus to term. I call it Hermaphroditus Conceptus. " Snape paused to let those words sink in. "As our Minister of Magic no longer qualifies for Pureblood status, according to the proposed law, he may be required to reproduce with Purebloods. In fact, there are already two offers to mate with him."
The door opened. Casper Crabbe and Godfrey Goyle walked in, carrying large bouquets of red roses.
"As Minister Fudge cleared these two of Death Eater crimes, they both decided to bid for him," Snape revealed, a malicious gleam in his eyes.
Fudge screamed, then began sputtering that Snape should test the potion on himself first.
"Oh, I am sorry," Snape said in tones that showed he was anything but sorry. "However, working with potions nearly all my life has rendered me sterile."
"It is Fudge's law," Amelia conceded. The vote cleared. Fudge had no idea he had so many enemies on the Wizengamot... or a clear majority of its members were females who enjoyed the thought of a pregnant man.
He screamed again.
Amelia Bones, as Head Witch had to cast an Imperius on him to make him drink the potion. When his head cleared from the effects, Misters Crabbe and Goyle were arguing over who got him first.
"I do believe the law requires two children over five years," Hermione reminded them. "So if you shared him, it would be four children over ten years."
"Share?" Crabbe mused. "I could do that."
Goyle agreed. "But who gets him first?" he asked casting a hungry eye over the quivering man bound in the chair.
"Share means precisely that, gentlemen," Snape spoke up. "To facilitate matters, I have a nice tooth dissolving potion here. After all, teeth aren't necessary to breed."
"Hey, thanks Snape!" Crabbe said, taking the vial. "Force his mouth open, Goyle, and I'll pour it down."
Goyle began fumbling with his robes.
"Use your hand!" Snape hissed, then found he had to give further instruction. "No, you dunderhead! On his mouth. Pry his mouth open with your hands!"
Once his mouth was forced open, Fudge began screaming in earnest, even as he felt his teeth dissolve.
His screaming woke him. Fudge sat up in his imported Spanish bed (2500 Galleons) that had been carefully made with silken sheets (125 Galleons) and a velvet duve (200 Galleons) and kept screaming until he realized it was just a dream.
Climbing out of his bed, he padded barefoot across the room to his bathroom (you don't even want to know how many Galleons that had cost!). He urinated, thinking how nice it was to still have a working penis without a working vagina. Chuckling, he washed his hands and made a mental note not to eat garlic sautéed hummingbird tongues (55 Galleons a dozen) before going to bed.
Padding back over his luxurious oriental carpeting (priceless, a bribe from someone, but he forgot who), Fudge froze as he looked at his Corinthian hand-carved night table (650 Galleons).
On it, rested a single clear vial of blue liquid.
He began screaming again.
Severus Snape awoke in the private lab of Hermione Granger. He turned on the camp bed and observed the witch who stood in a protective circle marked on the slate floor, still stirring the cauldron of Dreamers' Potion.
Her hair hung lankly down her back, pulled back in a careless ponytail. Sometime during the night, she had shed her black robes and was standing there in a pair of jean shorts and a T-shirt. The T-shirt was wet with sweat and clung to her frame. To a Potions master used to long, restrictive robes, such a sight was more arresting than if she were naked.
"Miss Granger, it is done," Snape said in a low voice.
She turned to him and he noticed for the first time how large her eyes really were. Getting up from the bed, he heard her say, "Finite Incantatum," in a voice of pure exhaustion. He reached her as she collapsed, barely catching her before she hit the floor.
Hermione came to in the arms of her once-feared professor. It had crossed her mind more than once during that long night, that Severus Snape lost his long-practiced scary nature when he slept. In fact, once the scowl disappeared from his face, he wasn't all that bad looking. One might even think he was attractive in a Romanesque sort of way.
If you squinted just right.
'I must be light-headed from the fumes,' she thought, looking up into his black eyes.
"Drink this," he said. "It's your Pepper-upper potion."
Once her ears stopped smoking, Hermione realized she was hot and sweaty and still in his arms. "I, uh, should go freshen up now," she said scrambling up from their position almost on the floor.
'Great,' she thought, disgusted at herself. 'The first man in a year to be close to and I have to be sweating like a horse.'
Severus stood. "I will clean this up," he offered with uncharacteristic chivalry. At her puzzled look, he smirked. "One does help one's allies, Miss Granger."
She smiled then and he was struck by how much a smile changed the angles of her face. 'Miss Granger has grown up very well, indeed,' he thought.
"Allies?" she questioned with a smirk. "I rather thought we were co-conspirators."
"Accomplices," Severus offered.
"As long as we aren't co-defendants," Hermione said wryly.
Severus shocked her by chuckling. "Well done, Miss Granger," he surprised her further. "There are few witches or wizards who could keep focused on the potion that long. Your hard work allowed me to enter his mind effortlessly and make the dream realistic."
She blushed at the unexpected compliment. "Thank you, Professor, but your Legilimens mastery, not to mention your potion, made for our success."
"I believe that together, Miss Granger," Severus told her with pride, "we once again saved the Wizarding world."
She went to shower and he cleaned up the lab with a few practiced wand strokes, even making up the camp bed he had slept on. A thought was forming in his mind, despite his attempts to tap it down. Once he heard the water shut off in the attached bath, he walked to the door.
"Miss Granger, would you care to accompany me to break the fast?" he inquired as formally as possible when considering he was making the invitation to a door. If she said no, he would simply Apparate somewhere so he didn't see the rejection… or hear her laughter.
The door opened a crack and Hermione stood trying to hide behind it as well as she could, clad only in a towel.
"Professor Snape," she answered gravely. "I only go out for meals with gentlemen I am on a first name basis with."
It took a moment to dawn on him that she wasn't rejecting him. In fact, there was some anxiety in those big brown eyes. "Hermione," he began again, "would you care to go out to breakfast with me?"
"Severus, I would enjoy that greatly," she replied with a smile. He turned away as she shut the door thinking she certainly took the shape out of that towel.
While he was waiting for her, he reflected on what excellent timing it was that she had chosen yesterday to confront Fudge. Offended by Fudge's attitude, she had sought out the Potions master. Severus had been brewing a potion to render himself infertile, having concluded he'd see the Snape line end rather than be shackled a witch of the Ministry's choosing. After Hermione had vented her spleen about Draconian laws, she had paused. At length, she said, "The Disubertus potion works on women, too. Please say you're making a double batch."
Instead, he realized they might form an alliance to stop this law. When he proposed his idea to her, she initially objected to using dream interference, a form of Dark Magic. But, their alternatives were fewmarriage by decree, exile, sterilityor resorting to Dark Magic.
Severus made a mental note to thank Hermione for her efforts with S.P.E.W. Even though her cause had failed due to lack of interest by the house-elves themselves, she had learned much about elf magic and motivation. She arranged for Dobby to breach Fudge's defenses, lace his drink with the Dreamer's Sleep potion, and leave a vial on the man's night table. Dobby did all this for a pair of mismatched, lurid socks.
Hermione stepped out of the bathroom wearing a gauzy skirt with matching top. As she slipped on her shoes, Severus thanked her for her efforts with S.P.E.W. and she thanked him for his work interfering with Fudge's dream and complimented him on his quick mind. They Apparated to a new little Bistro for breakfast and sat there talking so long, they eventually ordered lunch, too.
Ironically, the failed Marriage Law proposal championed by Cornelius Fudge created one match. Three years after presenting the Wizengamot with thirty-seven other methods of boosting the Wizarding population, Severus Snape and Hermione Granger married.
Hermione always said that after a joint experiment, they began growing closer, developed a friendship and from there decided they were a good match. Severus, after glaring at whoever had the bollocks to ask, would whisper to her, "And spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other." They would share a look then that was mischievous and sexy.
It was a shame Cornelius Fudge was unaware of their good fortune. The morning he was supposed to present evidence for the new law, he Apparated to the Ministry and ran immediately into Casper Crabbe. Witnesses later said Fudge screamed like a girl and raced away.
The scene repeated itself outside of 'Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes' when Godfrey Goyle walked past, carrying a dozen roses. Fudge eventually resigned when it became apparent some items could set him screaming. It started out as just Crabbe, Goyle, and roses, but later grew to include potions, glass vials, the color blue, chairs, crabs, oil, and a variety of other harmless items. To this day, he's at St. Mungo's where his screams of "Bugger me if you want but don't dissolve my teeth!" can be heard on occasion.
Amelia Bones became the next Minister of Magic and through a variety of clever programs, increased the population of the Wizarding World.
Amadia Fudge did escape St. Mungo's at the age of 137. She was apprehended by Aurors while holding members of the Worthshire Men's Club hostage. Leering at the men, she told them what they must do to be allowed to leave.
"Only way out of here," she smirked, "is through the gates of my love machine!"
Besides the forty-two Muggle men who had to be Obliviated, all the Aurors who responded begged for that simple mercy as well. They were finally able to subdue her and she was sent to Azkaban, just like she wanted.
Escape attempts by wizards incarcerated there went up by 1002 in the first month.
Author's Notes: When the rabid plot bunny bites, I must tell the story. It's a curse, I tell you! A curse!
This is just my take on the numerous fictions based on the Marriage Law Challenge. It is not meant to offend anyone, including but not limited to: People who write/have written, read/will read, love/hate/etc MLC responses; people who have arranged marriages; hermaphrodites or inter-sexed people; corrupt government officials; Potions masters; book-worm know-it-alls; Quidditch players; Hufflepuffs; the elderly; the elderly with sex drives; victims of the elderly with sex drives; or those who suffer from bad dreams.
Disubertus:Ubertus is Latin for fertility so let's pretend Disubertus means 'non-fertility' or sterile.
Remember, tell the plot bunny what you think. Enough reviews and perhaps he'll stop drinking so much. Or maybe he'll drink more. Either way, it keeps him spinning little bunny tails, er, tales.