MARRYING SNAPE- by mypseudonym
Disclaimer: Absolutely none of the characters in this chapter are mine. These are Rowling's characters, and she is kind enough not to sue the pants off of me for playing with them. The only thing I've created here is the Wizarding Parliament, and only because I think the Wizengamot acts more like a high court than a Parliament
AN: This fic is inspired by blackwolf009's "LADFFAL (Live and Die for Family and Love)." Note that I said 'inspired by'. It doesn't parallel much at all, but her fic helped me with the fluffy white tail of the plot bunny. Now, enough of this boring nonsense, on with the main event!
The headline about the newly passed Marriage Law was not on the front page of The Daily Prophet, as it probably deserved. The article was in the bottom corner of page 6, begging that no one notice it until it was too late to do anything about it. This, however, didn't stop Hermione Granger from noticing it as she poured over her copy of the paper during breakfast. Years of studying the daily paper had told her that the most important news of the day would NEVER make the front page.
It was the beginning of the Golden Trio's seventh and final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Gone were their childish tendencies. These days, all three of them ate, slept, and breathed the war. Harry and Ron had even stopped loving quidditch. There was nothing about quidditch to help them in the war, except maybe dodging bludgers. Anyway, Hermione had been following the Marriage Law since it was first brought before Wizarding Parliament. This was her first task as a fully-fledged Order member. The three of them had been given low-key assignments that didn't involve any possibility of violence after their induction the previous year. Albus had been reluctant to initiate them, but the war made it so that everyone had to be prepared. Hermione's job was to keep track of the actions of the Wizarding Parliament and the Wizengamot. Twice a month, more often if necessary, she reported to Dumbledore. He helped her sort out what was truly important so that she could share her information at the next Order meeting without stretching the meeting indefinitely, or losing her head to Professor Snape. Harry, Ron, and Hermione went to every meeting that they could, but Headmaster Dumbledore frequently reminded them that they were students first and warriors second. He refused to allow them to attend meetings when they should be in class or when it would be nearly impossible to sneak them out of the castle. He justified it to the young Order members as a precaution, because it would be highly suspicious if the three of them kept missing classes, meals, Quidditch games, and other activities.
From the meetings that she had attended, Hermione knew what to look for when she read the paper. She read reports of every meeting and session of the Wizarding World's judicial and legislative bodies. She attended some of them as well, under the ruse that she was considering a career in politics and wanted to see the inner workings of her new world at it's best. She wiggled her way into many places in the Ministry where she wasn't supposed to be simply by manipulating frustrated old men, fluffing egos, and sucking up where ever she could. She knew all those men and women looked at her smiling face, bright eyes, and big note pad and thought 'How much harm could this innocent little girl do?' The truth was, of course, that this innocent little girl could do a LOT of harm. She had become a published political analyst, under a pseudonym of course. Marilyn Fitzwalters, alter ego of Hermione Granger, could do many things. She was turning heads in the Wizarding World with her keen sense for character and ability to sniff out lies and foul play. She was well versed in the history of the legislature and the backgrounds of many key members. She made conjectures that the most experience political analysts had only begun to examine. The Daily Prophet had offered her a weekly column on several occasions. Hermione always turned them down, knowing that one or two columns a month was all she could manage while still keeping up on her homework. Newspapers worldwide published her essays when she wrote them. She wondered how the world would react if they knew that Marilyn Fitzwalters was an eighteen-year-old girl still in school.
The Marriage Law had interested Hermione on a couple of levels. For one, she was of an age where she could be affected by the law, if she were chosen as one of the first candidates to go through the process. If chosen, she would be assigned to a pure blooded family and be bound to the family member of their choice. The only qualification for the pure blood was that he must be in the age range where he was currently or would soon be able to produce offspring with the muggle-born selected for the family. For two, Hermione had long suspected that Lord Voldemort had a hand in Wizarding politics. All she had to do for the Order was to find out what name that hand or those fingers went by. She quickly deduced who the key players were in the political game and began diagrams showing each one's sphere of influence, simply by noting who talked to whom in recesses and how the votes came through. Over time, her original lists had been transformed into elaborate tree diagrams, heading in big names like Lucius Malfoy. When the marriage law had been proposed, Hermione found the speaker's name on her diagram and placed a star beside that. This idea had Voldemort written all over it. She took note of everyone who seemed to be in favor of or leaning toward the marriage law. It seemed to Hermione that she was missing one key player. There was someone who sphere of influence stretched far beyond the ones she recorded. Hermione sincerely hoped that the missing player was not Voldemort himself. Hermione could clearly see that the law was an attempt by the dark to divest the light of some of its best female leaders while not hurting the Death Eaters. She suspected that the list of families desiring a mate would be largely composed of Death Eater families and those that vocally supported Voldemort. Hermione initially dreaded herself and many of her friends becoming whores and punching bags to Pureblood families, but that was at the beginning of last year. So much had changed since then. The war aged people quickly, and Hermione now thought of the cause more than herself. Now she dreaded not being able to continue her work and fight the encroaching darkness.
"Hermione, what's wrong with you? You've been staring at that page for twenty minutes now." Ron said, interrupting her train of thought.
"I'm fine. I was just thinking about this new law that just passed. I'll tell you both about it later." She responded, effectively ending any hope of conversation about that particular topic. She put down the paper and nibbled on her dry toast.
Classes had become something that the trio did mechanically. They no longer saw the need to learn things that would not directly help them during the war. Classes still went well enough for Hermione, but they weren't as enjoyable as they once were. The only things she enjoyed these days were physical training, politics, and the few hours of restful sleep she got each night. The trio had taken to training at the beginning of sixth year, using the Room of Requirement as their studio. They learned weaponry and magical defense as well as a bit of darker magic. They sparred regularly at the end of the day, all in utter secrecy. All of the other students knew now that they should not concern themselves with what Harry Potter and his friends were doing. Following them had resulted in long visits to the hospital wing for all involved. Those sent there weren't stupid enough to admit that two prefects and Harry Potter had put them there. The only training that they did where others could see was running. Hermione had become a running addict. Ron dreaded their tri-weekly runs and complained the whole time. Harry ran his regulation amount and stopped. Only Hermione ran every day for strength and speed. Some days, she ran simply to sort out her thoughts and emotions. She found that she could think easier when she ran. On those runs, Hermione would often run 15 or 20 miles around campus without really noticing.
The day when she got her letter was a time for one of those runs. It was a Saturday in October, so it was some time before anyone found her. The letter came after lunch and Hermione took off on her run with the letter clutched in her hand. She told the boys she was going to the library, but that didn't matter now. Everyone had become accustomed to her running addiction and thought nothing of it. Only the faithful Headmaster drew attention to her.
"Severus, Minerva, I'm enlisting you both to help a student in need right now." Albus said somberly from behind his desk. The Potions Master and Deputy Headmistress looked at him questioningly.
"Who? What's the story here, Albus?" Minerva asked.
"I believe the first of the Marriage Law letters came today, and I believe Miss Granger got one. Likely, she needs some counseling." He stated.
"My apologies Headmaster, but I fail to see why both of us are required for this task. I've many things I'd rather be doing and places I'd rather be than here, coddling the little chit." Severus sneered.
"You are both needed, just for different things. Minerva will talk to the girl, as she's a Gryffindor. I'm afraid you, Severus, may be the only one here who is able to catch her before she hurts herself. I'd ask one of her friend, but I doubt Mister Potter or Mister Weasley has enough strength of character to make her come back."
"Come back? Albus, has she run away?" Minerva asked, panicked.
"Now, she wouldn't be that careless. She hasn't set one foot off campus, but she's been moving all day. She's running Severus."
"How long?" the Potions Master asked, now serious.
"Since just after lunch. I thought for sure she'd come in for dinner, but that obviously wasn't the case. She usually doesn't stay out this long." Albus said sadly. He crossed to the window and lead Severus to see the tiny speck quickly crossing the west side of campus as the sun set around her.
"Wait, usually? You mean she has done this before?" the Potions Master asked, his anger renewed and redirected.
"On and off since last spring. I let her run because she always stops. It wasn't affecting her grades or her health, so I had no authority to stop her." Albus said. Severus and Minerva readied themselves for battle with Miss Granger. Severus flooed to the dungeons to put on clothing more suitable for running. He left Minerva waiting at the main entrance. Poppy was at the ready in the Hospital Wing with an arsenal of medical potions in the event that they found her worse than they expected.
Severus sprinted until he caught sight of Hermione. He slowed slightly to keep pace behind her and observe her. The girl was still going at a fast pace, despite the long distance of her trek. She was dressed like him in Muggle swish pants, a Muggle T-shirt, and cross trainers. In one hand, she gripped her wand tightly, her knuckles white. From time to time, angry sparks would shoot from it. In her other hand, Severus noted a crumpled scrap of paper that was clearly the reason they were running. She ran mechanically, as though her mind wasn't really in her body and he watched a shell of Hermione Granger. The middle aged Potions Master sped up a bit to close the gap between then so that he could try to call her back into her body. Stretching his legs felt good, but he was getting tired of this game. In one second, Severus watched Hermione's body trip on a tree root and crash into the earth. She made a couple of feeble attempts to get up before submitting to lie there. Severus stood beside her, wondering if he should summon Madam Pomfrey to the site when the girl's sob filled his ears. He sat down beside her and gathered her into his arms. Severus counted himself lucky that no one could see him here, coddling a student in the darkness. She clung to him desperately, sobbing into his shirt until it was wet from tears instead of just sweat. He stood and braced himself to lift the girl. He greatly overestimated her weight and ended up nearly throwing her in the air. She was much to light for her age. He walked back to the school to find Minerva in the entry way, waiting for instructions.
"Go get a calming draught and two restorative potions from Poppy. Meet us in the Room of Requirement." he ordered. He knew that she should be the one giving the orders, but fetching the student in question kind of put him in control of the situation. Severus entered the Room of Requirement thinking of a quiet and restful place. Somehow, he felt like Hermione was making her own requests for where she wanted to be. Somewhere safe. He walked into a room that looked half like his study and half like something very very different. He placed Hermione on a long black leather couch and sat down in a nearby rocking chair.
Minerva came in a Severus coaxed Hermione to swallow the potions, saving one restorative potion for himself. The girl was so exhausted that she looked nearly asleep.
"Now let's just see what's on this paper that made Miss Granger so upset." Minerva said as she saw Hermione's grip on the paper relax some. She tried to remove the paper from Miss Granger's hand. Before Severus could warn her, Hermione was wide awake with her letter clutched tightly in her hand and her wand at Minerva's throat. Minerva was wide-eyed and holding her breath. Hermione's eyes were slightly glazed over and she breathed heavily as though psyching herself up for the attack.
"Minerva what were you thinking? You NEVER try to touch someone whose behavior is unpredictable. Miss Granger is tired and scared. She doesn't want you to take that from her." Severus scolded as her pulled his colleague backward, slowing and carefully. Miss Granger folded herself back into a sleeping position once they moved a few feet away.
"Well, I wasn't thinking that Hermione Granger would attack me." Minerva answered nervously. She was badly shaken from the scare.
"That's not Miss Granger. The girl you know if hidden somewhere deep inside of her. That is a scared and potentially dangerous young lady whose life may just have left her control. She's not going to relinquish that letter to anyone, at least not in this state. It's best to leave her alone for awhile." Severus lectured gravely.
"What do we do?"
"You will report to the Headmaster and go to bed. I'll stay here and keep watch over her tonight." Severus answered. He pushed the Deputy Headmistress lightly out the door.
AN: Well, there you go, chapter one. This was actually one of the shorter chapters, so I'm going to try to cut the later ones down some. I've got this story written to chapter eight right now, but I'm going to have to break down some of the longer chapters into two or three chapters. Well, let me know what you think. Feedback and constructive criticism are welcomed. I know I started out kinda slow, but it gets interesting. Hang in there with me.