From The Ashes
Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter or anything attached to it, I wouldn't be writing fan fiction would I? So being that I am writing fan fiction, that means I don't own it. I know it, you now know it, and J.K. knows it (as she has all the paychecks) so don't sue me. Please. On with the story….
most things are cannon except Fred's not dead.
Chapter 1: Revelation…..
The sun streamed through the bright yellow curtains in Ginny's room. Like the future, the day was full of promise. It couldn't have been later than six or six thirty am, but Hermione wouldn't have stayed in bed for all the galleons in Gringotts. Life was starting to make sense again, Thanks to the defeat of Voldemort a month and a half prior, she was well on her way to the life she wanted. She and Ron were finally together, something she'd been after for years and she was going back to school to complete her seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What could be better?
The new Minister of Magic, Kingsley Schaklebolt, who was brilliant in her opinion, had decided that the last year really couldn't be considered as a fitting school year so they were redoing it. Everything would be the same, except the new first year class would be in with the old first year class. No big deal. All was right in her world.
Needless to say, there was a definite bounce in her step as she went to get ready for the day. Getting bathed and dressed took her almost no time at all, as she had better things to do than worry about the latest trends in clothes and such. Some jeans, a nice short sleeved shirt and some flip flops, were all she needed. She tried to brush her hair out, but there really was no hope for it. After putting her bushy hair in a high ponytail, she went down stairs to see what else this day could bring.
"Percy wh-wh-what is this all about? And why couldn't it wait for a decent hour?" Fred asked while unsuccessfully trying to stifle a yawn.
"I'll tell you, as soon as Hermione gets down here. It's important, and I only want to tell it once." You could just make out the dark circles Percy had under his eyes.
Walking into the kitchen Hermione was surprised to find that most everyone was awake. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were both morning people, so that wasn't so surprising. But Harry, who was also visiting, and Ron rarely got up before noon if they could help it. Since Harry was there, it was no surprise that Ginny, who usually slept in, was up too. Fred and George must have decided to visit along with Percy and Charlie; but it was rather early for a social call and they all looked half asleep and confused.
"When I went up to get her, she was in the shower, but she should be done by now. I'll go check again." Ginny made to get up from where she was sitting beside a harassed looking Harry.
"It's okay Gin, I'm here. What's going on?"
As she joined the group at the table, Percy launched into what could be considered the most awkward and life changing conversation of his entire career. "Well, it's a Ministry matter that I thought I would give you a heads up on so you could prepare yourselves…" He took a deep breath and continued, "The Ministry has been in an uproar since Harry defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. It's almost the exact opposite of war times, as dad can tell you…" Mr. Weasley, looking grave, nodded and Percy continued.
"Now the purebloods are the one's being attacked and it's getting worse. Yesterday Aldair Radbert was killed."
Gasps and murmurs could be heard from the three eldest Weasley's.
"He lived in Scotland and was part of an old family with some distant ties to Morgana's blood line. He was very prominent, very rich, and most importantly not at all involved in the Dark War. His death was shocking, to say the least. The Ministry is facing a civil war. The pureblood families are threatening to withdraw all their financial support… and that's the last thing we need. So, last night, the Ministry held and emergency meeting of the Wizenagamot. It lasted until four this morning. Now, from here on out, everything I tell you is confidential, until the Ministry releases it, which should be in a day or two." When they all nodded he continued.
"There were a couple of minor ideas thrown out that will be implemented, things like a word trace…"
"You mean like the one they put on the Voldemort's name, and underage wizards?" That little bit of trickery had caused Harry too much trouble for him to forget it easily.
"Yeah, that's actually where we got the idea from. We'll, of course, put a trace on certain words that could prelude Muggleborn/Pureblood violence, but it's too imprecise to rely on completely. We needed something that would keep both sides in check."
"Good luck with that, It's about time some of those uppity purebloods had to dish in a little of what they dish out." Ron snorted, as he picked up a piece of toast that Mrs. Weasley sat on the table.
"Ronald, in case you have forgotten, you're a pureblood." Hermione looked at him, not at all shocked that he wouldn't count himself as a pureblood.
"Yeah, but everyone knows I don't support that blood rubbish; I mean geez, I'm dating you. After talking to you for about five minutes no one would be able to say muggle-borns are anything but brilliant." He beamed to himself as Hermione kissed him on the cheek.
"That's very sweet Ron, but it won't matter. Aldair Radbert was a well known pacifist. He didn't participate in any type of violence towards anyone."
"Hermione's right,it was common knowledge that he barely even carried a wand, and when he did it was only so he could apparate. He was an easy target, and they used it."
"I read somewhere that they could limit that types of magic a wand could do. Why not do that to everyone's; just until all the tempers cool." Ginny looked expectantly between her father and elder brother. It was a fairly easy answer to the problem.
"NO!!" Ron, Fred and Charlie were completely against it. It was sacrilege; it was profane; it just wasn't natural. They might as well walk around defenseless saying 'kill me please.'
"Calm down!" Percy looked rather peeved at his brothers' lack of willingness to help. "They actually did think about it Gin, but it would be too dangerous. One, there are too many spells that can be used for both, like levi corpus can be used to torture or to fish drowning people out of a lake. Or petrificus totalus can be used in dueling or to stop a child from running out in the middle of a quidditch match. The list goes on and on. Plus, doing that would make us completely defenseless against other magical creatures; likedragons, trolls, or even the goblins. It's just too much of a risk. Anyway…In the end the Wizenagamot voted and decided to impose a marriage edict."
"The what!?" Mrs. Weasley could be heard over the other eight voices that had risen. She had never heard of a marriage edict, but it didn't sound like anything she wanted her family or Hermione and Harry involved in, a marriage edict indeed; preposterous. "And what exactly does this marriage edict entail?"
"Well, mother, it's exactly like it sounds, though the divisions are a bit complicated…It wouldn't do to have seventeen year olds married to twenty-seven year olds." He was the only one who found that the least bit funny and his nervous chuckle quickly died out. Clearing his throat, he explained. "yes, well anyway, it was decided that witches and wizards between the ages of seventeen and twenty-eight are most likely to be the ones joining and starting factions based on intolerant ideals."
"What?" Ron was already confused.
"They think that people in our age group are the ones going around attacking purebloods." Hermione clarified quickly, trying to get back to what Percy was saying. As sweet as Ron was, he could be tedious sometimes.
"Because Voldemort was really in our age group." Harry sneered, wondering how anyone could be so stupid.
Percy sniffed indignantly "Carrying on, the ministry has decided that it's best to force some tolerance…for the Magical communities own good, you see. It was agreed that the easiest and most efficient method would be to impose a Marriage Edict."
"So what is that?" Ginny asked.
Percy looked a bit sheepish as he answered, "It's a regulation that requires witches and wizards between those ages to get married…to the individual of the ministry's choosing."
"Are you kidding me!?"
"You can't be serious!!
"That's insane…how could Kingsley do this to us?"
The decibel level rose dramatically as the protests and denials rang throughout the kitchen.
" The Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shackelbolt, was against the marriage decree; but was outvoted in the Wizenagamot….He had nothing to do with it. You can thank the new Senior Under-Secretary Madame Nenet. Supposedly it worked wonders in Egypt." he said dejectedly. He may love law and order, and he may love working with the Ministry, but these were still his brothers and his sister. And this was their lives that were being taken…for the greater good.
"So how does this work exactly, do they toss all the names in a cup…" Fred questioned
"…and hope they get a boy and girl…" George finished with a sneer.
"…that aren't related."
"Good Merlin No!" Percy was affronted.
"Sounds like something the Ministry would do." Harry imputed, ignoring Percy's denial.
"It's going to be a lottery yes, but much…much more organized than that!"
"So how will it work then?" Hermione chimed, giving Percy as much of a smile as she could muster; which admittedly wasn't much. She realized he had to be in a bad position, and everyone's temper couldn't be making it easier.
Percy returned her smile and took a deep breath. "Like I said, it only affects those between the ages of twenty-eight and seventeen and they're breaking that age group into three smaller groups: seventeen thru age twenty will go in one group, twenty-one through twenty-four in another group and twenty-five through twenty-nine in another. That way there will be no major age gaps." When no one commented he continued. "Now here is where it could get confusing, of course boys and girls will then be separated, but they're also separating the candidates by blood status. That way they can mix them up more effectively. No pure-blood will be joined to another pure-blood; likewise with the others."
"That's ingenious" Hermione whispered, a look of horrified awe on her face.
"Excuse me?" Ron thought she may have actually lost her mind.
"Think about it, they can't make everyone pure-bloods, or muggle-borns…but they can make everyone-"
"-Half-bloods" Harry finished for her. But instead of awe there was disgust written plainly on his face.
"How does getting shackled change your blood status?" Ron looked back and forth between his two best mates.
"It's not us, it'll be our kids. They're thinking ahead. Think Ron, if tomorrow you were married to Pansy Parkinson – don't sneer it's a very real possibility – if you were married to Parkinson you wouldn't automatically like her. But if you had children…would you hate them?"
"Exactly, and that's what they're counting on."
"They're trying to eradicate the source…we can't make them resolve their differences; so we take away their differences."
"I get it Percy. It still doesn't make it right." Harry snapped, not at all happy that he did actually get it.
"How long are they going to keep doing this?" Ginny asked softly as her mother idly stroked her hair. Ginny had always been independent and disliked being coddled, but now she found the gesture comforting.
"Until the Ministry deems that it is no longer necessary…Anyone who will be seventeen before the end of the year will be included in this lottery, but wont need to be joined until this time next year. Anyone who turns thirty before the year is out will not be included in this lottery. There is a bright side…sort of." Percy said to the silence. "To honor the war heroes they created a list…the elect 20 list."
Harry closed his eyes, hoping maybe if he didn't see Percy he wouldn't hear him either. He knew what he was going to say and he didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to be given that hope only to have to turn it down.
"The elect 20 get to chose, who they want to be joined to…Harry, you, Hermione, and Ron are on that list."
Hermione's head hit the table with a muffled thud. Harry buried his head in his hands and Ron turned the infamous Weasley red, while looking anywhere but at his brothers. For once he knew what it felt like to be Harry; to be gifted with things when everyone else was left wanting. Being Harry sucked.
"So how does that work. What do they have to do?" Molly chimed in, briskly. She could tell they weren't comfortable with it, but she wasn't about to let them sacrifice what little hope they had.
"They would need to owl in their requested choice of Partner as soon as possible. The thing is that's also on a first-come-first-served basis." Percy's mood took a noticeable turn for the worst, and he fidgeted a bit with his sleeves.
"Spit it out Perce..." Charlie snapped.
"I took the li-liberty of signing them up before I left. I figured Harry would chose Ginny and Ron would choose Hermione..."
"yeah, thanks" they tried to be gracious but still couldn't help feeling like they were abandoning the others.
"Don't thank me yet." He said resignedly. " Harry you and Ginny were approved." Percy spared a glance for the two who were trying very hard not to look at each other. "Ron you and Hermione weren't"
Everyone looked doubly outraged at that bit of news and Percy had to grit his teeth to stop from joining in.
"Why the bloody hell not!?" Ron raged and Molly didn't even bother to correct his language. She was thinking some rather colorful words of her own.
"Like I said, it was on a first come first served basis. Someone else got there first apparently."
"How could they, It hasn't even been announced yet?" Molly questioned.
Hermione looked over Ron to Harry. Their eyes met, and they knew exactly what had happened. Even after everything, the ministry still ran an auction house for its services and apparently Hermione was the prize for the highest bidder…whoever he was.
"Hermione...another eligible member of the favored twenty had already claimed you before I got there." He looked apologetically at the girl whom he'd always gotten on best with. Better even then his own brothers and sister.
"How?" Ron was outraged. "Mums right, how could they have known? This all just happened last night." It struck Ron, that he would have preferred Ginny's idea, and had his wand restricted. Better his wand temporarily then his life permanently.
"I don't know…" Percy couldn't have looked any sorrier if it was his own fiancée'. "I went down to Madame Nenet's office as soon as I received the list, but she said…she said someone else was already approved for her."
"And I don't get a say…a choice in this…Our two votes don't over-rule his one" her voice had taken a hard edge.
"No. Once a match as been deemed acceptable it's written down in permanent ink. There are only two reasons they could nullify a match, death is the second."
"And the first" Fred asked shrewdly.
"Azkaban. They're using a Copula for these joinings, it'll be a permanent joining of the souls…hence the name; if the soul is sucked out and swallowed by dementors then it can't really be joining the two anymore." Percy clarified.
"Ron you can still choose-"
"Thanks" Ron sneered as he rose from the table, slamming the kitchen door behind him. The kitchen was quiet, an eerie quiet. The type of silence that happens when everyone knows there is more to be said, but no one wants to hear what it is.
Breakfast lay forgotten in the center of the table and each of the occupants were lost in their own thoughts. It was silent for a full five minutes. Three-hundred seconds of brooding misery that was only broken by the thumping of Ron as he charged back down the stairs.
He flung the door open again but didn't enter. "Who is he?" he hadn't yelled, but he wasn't quiet either.
Percy didn't pretend to not know what he was talking about. "Hermione?" he asked for permission.
"By all means Percy," her voice was strangely devoid of emotion, detached. She looked at Ron, and wanted to smile at his naivety. There was only one type of person that could have accomplished what he seemed to have done. "Which Death Eater's son has the Ministry sold me too?"
Percy was startled at her clarity and the words she delivered without malice. There was just calm detached acceptance, frankly it was scary. "Draco Malfoy."