Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to J. K. Rowling. I'm merely imagining things.
Author's note: This is for Bleodswean, who has been demanding Marriage Law stories involving Albus Dumbledore, rather than Severus Snape.
"Remind me not to make offhand remarks at the Ministry in the near future."
Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall were sitting in his office going through the usual morning mountain of correspondence. Minerva was working her way through the bills and tidily incinerating the advertisements (including Tuppence Tiffendale's Terrifically Transfigurable Teapots), while Albus tackled the more personal letters and Ministry directives. It was the latter that he handed to her now, leaving his hands free to clutch his head in a rather excessive display of frustration.
"What casual utterance have they taken as Divine Revelation this time?" Minerva asked as she took the letter from his hand. Wordlessly he indicated the document in question as he began to massage his temples. Minerva read aloud, "Wizardkind Preservation Decree Number One: All fertile witches and wizards over the age of eighteen, who are not already married, must marry within one month of the date of this decree. Those who are not married by that time will have a spouse chosen for them. Furthermore, all fertile married couples must produce one child, or be expecting one, during the subsequent twelve months. Those who have neither produced nor are expecting a child by that time will be required to submit to comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Couples who have already produced two children will be considered exempt from this decree. Failure to abide by this decree will result in severe penalties including, but not limited to, loss of employment, loss of property, and exile from the Wizarding Community." She looked at Albus, aghast. "What on earth did you say?"
He shrugged helplessly. "We were talking about the declines in Wizarding birthrates during the Grindelwald War and the first and second Voldemort Wars, in light of the newest statistics, which, as you know, aren't appreciably higher. I said, jokingly, that if perhaps there was some kind of incentive for couples to marry and have children, there would be a Wizarding population explosion in five years."
"Well, it would appear that not only does our young Minister lack a sense of humor, he also doesn't seem to grasp the difference between 'incentive' and 'threat'," Minerva observed tersely. "I suppose you'll be off to sort this out shortly?"
Albus nodded. "If Amelia Bones had been appointed Minister of Magic, none of this would be necessary," he commented with feeling.
"Perhaps those who appointed Percy Weasley will finally realize that sycophancy does not equal suitability," Minerva countered pointedly.
Indeed, that very morning The Daily Prophet waxed quite vitriolic upon the subject of Minister Percy Weasley's failings, which had the unfortunate result of causing him and his staff to dig their heels in further, even going so far as to create a list of single witches and wizards, and hand-delivering both the list and the decree to every known Wizarding household. It was at this point that Albus arrived at the Ministry and demanded an immediate audience with the Minister. Naturally, an audience was granted, the results of which appeared in the next morning's Daily Prophet:
Wizardkind Preservation Decree Number One – Revised (changes in bold): All fertile witches and wizards over the age of twenty-five, must marry within one year of the date of this decree. Those who are not married by that time will have a spouse chosen for them. Furthermore, all fertile married couples must produce one child, or be expecting one, during the subsequent two years. Those who have neither produced nor are expecting a child by that time will be required to submit to comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Couples who have already produced two children will be considered exempt from this decree. Failure to abide by this decree will result in severe penalties including, but not limited to, loss of employment, loss of property, and exile from the Wizarding Community. In order to ensure the most accurate count of the current Wizarding population, as well as the most accurate measurements of its fertility, an immediate blood-sampling census has been ordered by the Minister of Magic.
"I thought you said you had taken care of the problem." Minerva scolded Albus over breakfast that morning. "Granted, you've bought everyone some time, but this blood test census is an unprecedented invasion of privacy…"
"…and as such will warrant an automatic full review by the Wizengamot." Albus finished calmly.
Minerva was silent for a several moments, then smiled coldly. "He'll be out of office in six months," she realized.
"Precisely," Albus confirmed.
"How in the world did you get him to propose such a rash thing?" Minerva wanted to know. "Percy Weasley has never been stupid. Misguided, yes, but never stupid."
"I appealed to his sense of efficiency," Albus explained. "I reminded him that not everyone is capable of producing children, and suggested that knowing who can and cannot would save a lot of time and paperwork in the long term. After that," Albus' expression turned grim, "it was merely a question of what type of rope he would choose, so to speak."
"Poor Molly and Arthur," Minerva sighed.
"I wouldn't worry about them too much," Albus reassured her. "I had dinner with them and Amelia Bones last night, during which we discussed possible post-demotion assignments for young Mr. Weasley."
"Oh really?" Minerva was intrigued.
Albus nodded. "We all agreed that what Percy Weasley needs is to fully understand exactly what life is like for the less fortunate among us – not those who must bear the ridicule that comes from having a poor, eccentric, loving pureblood family – but people who truly struggle from day to day."
"Quite so," Minerva concurred. "The Shelter, then?"
"Yes," Albus replied quietly. "He'll need to be disguised and will require constant supervision, but if Percy Weasley has any hope of redemption, as I believe he has, then he must begin his journey there."
They ate in silence for a few minutes, Albus lost in thought, Minerva watching him closely. "Albus," she ventured at last, "what else is bothering you?"
Albus smiled ruefully. "You know me too well, Minerva," he observed.
"I've had nearly fifty years to learn," she replied with a gentle smile. "Now, out with it."
"In order to assure the extension of the marriage and child deadlines, and put our Minister off guard," he began slowly, "I had to make a rather large personal concession." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I myself agreed to abide by the original stipulations."
To be continued…