Disclaimer: Everything in the Harry Potter universe belongs to JKR.

A/N: Many thanks to my beta, the one and only SouthernWitch69, who is always there for me. Southern did a lot of work on this chapter, which took a lot of time out of her already busy schedule, so Honeyduke's finest to her!

This is a response to Ladyofthemasque's YLC Challenge. See rules at the end of the chapter.

OOOOOO

Prologue

He Who Can Destroy A Thing Can Control A Thing

Hermione quickly ran down the hospital corridor, Remus Lupin fast on her heels. She stopped at the door to his room, taking a deep breath. Why now? After everything that has happened, why now and like this? Please, God, let my father be okay.

When she walked in the room, the first thing she saw was her mum, holding his hand and silently crying. "Mum, how is he? What happened?"

Jane Granger looked up into the face of her daughter. She had been through so much already with that blasted war. She took a deep breath and began by saying, "He was going to stop smoking. He'd wanted just one last pack of fags and that would be the end of it." Stroking her husband's hand, she continued, "He stopped in that little store round the corner from the office. As he was leaving, two men rushed in to rob the place. They shot your father and the clerk. The other man died instantly." Starting to sob loudly, she explained, "He was only eighteen, Hermione! Eighteen! Your age, he was!"

Remus stepped forward and gently took Mrs. Granger's hand. "Would you like to accompany me to the cafeteria for some tea?" He knew Hermione wanted some alone time with her father.

Looking at her daughter once more, Mrs. Granger nodded. As she stood, she enveloped Hermione in a tight hug, and she whispered, "The doctors say if you talk, he can hear you."

As they walked out of the room, Hermione sat on the edge of the bed rather than the chair and lovingly stroked her dad's forehead. She was thankful that Remus had offered to accompany her after the message came. She likely would have splinched herself. Looking into her father's relaxed face, she said, "It ended today, Daddy. Harry defeated Voldemort." She could scarcely believe that only hours before she had been celebrating. "I may have stretched the truth a bit about how dangerous he really was, but it's okay. He's gone for good this time. Professor Snape said so."

"Remember I told you that I was joining the Weasleys in Romania? Well, that wasn't exactly the truth. You see, I went with my friends—Harry, Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna—to find the rest of the Horcruxes. I know you probably don't have any clue as to what that is, but it's something we needed to find and destroy before Voldemort could be defeated." Suddenly, tears started streaming out of her eyes. She was relieved and utterly afraid at the same time.

"Remember I told you about Professor Snape? How he killed Professor Dumbledore? Well, it was not as it seemed. Dumbledore and Snape had planned that. There was so much more to it than we knew about… at first anyway. I suppose I have forgiven Professor Snape since I have learnt all the details, but…"

Her words trailed off as she heard the flat beeping of the monitor connected to his heart. "Dad? DADDY!" Suddenly, she was shoved aside as the nurses and a doctor rushed in. There was nothing to be done. William Granger was gone. Why, oh, why could he not have been taken to St. Mungo's?

The funeral was a cold and dreary day. It was too much. There were too many losses already. Dumbledore, Hagrid, Seamus, Hannah, Neville… The list went on and on. Hermione didn't know how much more she could take.

After the funeral, Ron came to her. "Hermione, Harry and I have been talking. We need to get away from all this for a bit, and we want you and Ginny to come with us."

"You want to go on a holiday?" she asked numbly, not truly registering what he was asking.

"No, we want to stay away for longer than a holiday," he said regretfully. "Too much has gone on. It would do to have a change."

"What? Where? School is starting soon, Ronald. We've only got one more year to finish. Can't we wait and go next summer?" she asked hopefully.

"No. Harry wants to go now," her boyfriend explained. "He needs to do this, Hermione, just as much as I do. He is talking to Ginny about going now."

"Ron, Ginny won't want to go either. She has two more years to finish. We have to think of our futures, love. Besides, I couldn't leave my mum at a time such as this. If you'll just wait until summer, I promise I will go."

Ron sighed, feeling utterly rejected. He wondered if Harry was having any better luck with Ginny and doubted it. "Okay, Hermione. We'll wait."

OOOOOO

Ginny burst into Hermione's room and waved a parchment wildly. "They've gone!" she exclaimed. "Just up and left us after everything! Look! I found this on the table at the Burrow this morning!"

She thrust it towards Hermione. Snatching it away and sitting up, Hermione read Harry's tiny scrawl. Jane Granger hovered in the doorway as her daughter read over the letter.

We know that nobody wants us to leave, but for now, it's the best decision that we could make. I would have gone by myself, but Ron refused to let me go alone. I've given Remus Lupin half of the Black funds and am allowing him to stay at Grimmauld Place. I don't know how long we'll be gone, but if any of you change your minds, please send us an owl. Once we're settled, we'll send more private letters to you all.

Harry

Teary-eyed, Hermione looked up to face Ginny and her mum. "I can't believe they've gone, leaving only a note to say their goodbyes. Ron told me that they'd stay."

Ginny nodded and sat next to her, taking the letter back to read it again. "Harry told me that he'd wait for me. When I went to sleep last night, he was sitting in a chair next to my bed, just staring at me. I should have known that something was wrong."

"I'd told Ron that I didn't want to stay at the Burrow. I wanted to spend my time here with Mum." Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "Surely this is just temporary, Gin. They feel they don't need any certificate from Hogwarts, and it's true. They can get jobs anywhere. So could we for that matter. We just happen to value our education more."

"But I can't be without Harry, Hermione. I love him," she said nearly inaudibly.

"I feel the same way about Ron, but I'll not give up my goals because he wants to go on an extended holiday." She patted Ginny on her back. "This is the rest of my life I'm talking about. What if they decided to come home in two weeks? We'll have missed the start of term. This is our last chance to go back before we're deemed too old for school." When Ginny didn't comment, Hermione played her trump card. "Don't you still want to be a Healer?" The girl had vowed that after seeing so much death and people in need of help that she wanted to become a Healer.

Nodding, Ginny said with sudden determination, "You're right. I'll explain how I feel to Harry when he writes to me. Will you do the same with Ron? Maybe they'll come back."

Hermione grinned. "I will."

Jane Granger added, "Let me make some breakfast, girls. We can talk about the plans you have while eating."

After her mum made breakfast, Hermione said, "I wonder if Professor Snape is truly going to be teaching at Hogwarts again? I'll bet that will be hard for him."

"Murderer," Ginny said snidely, crinkling her nose in distaste.

"What is the story with him?" Jane asked curiously. "I thought he was a hero?"

Hermione sipped her juice and explained, "Well, you know how I explained to you about the Horcruxes last night?" Her mum nodded. "Well, after we found and figured out how to destroy the last one, Professor Snape came back into our lives. We found out that Snape had truly been working with the Order the whole time, and nobody saw fit to inform us about it, saying they were afraid that Harry would try to harm him regardless of his spying. At that point of the game, the man was just too valuable a player to lose, as the Order needed him more than ever in the fight against Voldemort."

"I imagine you all felt betrayed," Jane replied.

Hermione had felt hollow when she learned that Minerva McGonagall had known the whole time what Dumbledore had asked Snape to do. Her mentor had admitted to her that the headmaster wanted to make sure that someone knew so Severus was not charged when the war was over. What everyone didn't know, including Professor McGonagall, was that the curse that burned Dumbledore's hand was slowly killing him.

"I did feel betrayed," Hermione admitted.

"We all did, especially Harry," Ginny interjected.

"It's to be expected," Jane replied. "Go on."

"Well," Hermione began, "they gave Snape Veritaserum, and he revealed that he'd given Dumbledore a potion to slow the process of death. Unfortunately, there was no known cure. He also reluctantly admitted that as hard as he looked, he just could not find or create an antidote in time to stop the poison. On that fateful night when Dumbledore drank down the potion the locket was submerged in, it only seemed to speed up the curse—no matter that he'd taken a potion. He felt like a failure, and when he looked at the headmaster that night, he could tell that he was dying. As instructed by a previous conversation, he lifted his wand and cast the Killing Curse." Hermione shrugged. "Not that it mattered to Harry."

"To any of us," Ginny added. "I'd bet that's why Harry wants to leave. He doesn't want to be in a world where murderers are glorified."

"That's not completely true, and you know it," Hermione snapped. She remembered what McGonagall had told her about Snape admitting that he could rarely sleep at night for thinking of what he had to do to the headmaster and how he'd failed him. Part of her pitied him.

"If Hermione hadn't worked so hard at convincing Harry, as well as the rest of us, we might not have given him the chance to continue helping us." Ginny grinned. "Your daughter is quite convincing."

"I'll say," Jane replied, wiping a few tears from her eyes. "William and I never knew what danger she was in. I am glad that he didn't have that worrying his heart before he died."

"I'm so sorry for lying, Mum."

"Would you mind telling me exactly how things ended for Voldemutt?"

"Voldemort," Ginny said. "My Harry kicked his arse." She slapped a hand over her mouth, though she continued to grin proudly.

Shivering, she thought of the final battle in Hogsmeade. "The Death Eaters and Voldemort had intended to bring the fight to Hogwarts, but thanks to Snape, we ambushed them in Hogsmeade instead. Those that lived in Hogsmeade, who did not wish to stay and fight, left." Tears softly fell as she thought of Neville. He had died that night, but his demise hadn't come before he took Bellatrix Lestrange with him. "We lost many friends that night. Luna, the girl you met at dad's funeral was Neville's girlfriend."

"Honey, if this is too hard…"

"No, it's all right," Hermione said, stiffening her spine. "Everyone in the Order and a few Aurors gathered in a protective circle round Harry, and we fought our way to Voldemort. It was a long and bloody battle, but in the end, good triumphed over evil—Harry being the victor." She smiled ruefully. Victory had such a high price. Things would never go back to normal; she could see that already. Too many mental scars would stay with all of them forever. She saw the horror in her mum's face, and it was then that she realized that her mum could have lost both a daughter and a husband on the same day. Oh, Daddy! I miss you so!

Hermione and Ginny continued to explain things to the curious woman until they realized how late it had grown. "Mum, I've got to go off and get my things for school. I'll be back this evening."

"I don't mind. Would you stop off at the solicitor's for me on your way?" she asked. "I don't think I want to deal with that today."

"Not a problem," Hermione agreed sadly.

Ginny agreed to meet her at the Leaky Cauldron within the hour. When Hermione went to her room to change, she sobbed openly. The tears were for her lost friends, for her father, for her mother, and for Ron and Harry. With them abandoning her like this, it seemed that they had died, too. Once all of her tears were spent, she wiped her eyes and washed her face. School started in a few days. She would take things one step at a time. She wasn't going to let her plans change because Ron and Harry didn't want to face reality. Her father had taught her that an education and a career were important. She would achieve that. It would not only be for her, but it would also be for him.

Five years later

Hermione could hardly believe that only five years before, Harry had defeated Lord Voldemort for good. How can I even think of celebrating this? It was when my dad died as well, and the Ministry wants a big ruddy ball every year! But this year, the fifth, will be the biggest celebration so far. Hermione sighed dejectedly. Victory, for her, was bittersweet. She would worry about the ball at the last minute. Tonight, however, she had other plans. It was her annual drinking night with Ginny, Luna, and the twins. It all started three years prior when Harry and Ron had come back into their lives for the first time since they'd fled Britain.

Feeling restless, she paced to her window and looked out. This day brought back so many painful memories for her. Sitting on the window seat, she remembered how her life had played out after her boyfriend and her best friend had moved away. Hell, when Harry and Ron had left, it had hurt a great deal, but that had only ended up making Ginny and her more determined to not give up as the both of them had. Their determination worked in their favor. Ginny had finished Hogwarts and had eventually apprenticed at St. Mungo's to become a Healer while Hermione had decided to work in the field of Potions.

Hermione was still bitter that Professor Snape had refused to apprentice her, and she had to look elsewhere. She'd ended up at Beauxbatons in France, and after her year of understudy was complete, she went back to London to work for the Ministry of Magic in a new department that had been created.

In the six months after Harry and Ron left, Hermione had frequently exchanged owls with them, not going more than a few days without hearing from either of them. After that, the exchanges were fewer, but a couple of weeks wouldn't pass by without word. The next year, she was off for her apprenticeship while Ginny was studying for her N.E.W.T.s and working as an understudy to Madam Pomfrey in order to prepare her for her apprenticeship. Harry and Ron said that they were trying to start a business, so the further infrequency of letters simply seemed to coincide with everyone being busy with their budding careers. Eventually, there were no letters.

Hermione had known in her heart that something was amiss, but she'd honestly felt that it was nothing that couldn't be rekindled when Ron came home. She'd never stopped believing that he would. Finally, after two years, Arthur received an owl from Ron telling him that he and Harry would be there that Saturday evening, and they wanted the whole family to be there, as they had a couple of surprises to show everyone. Hermione had been thrilled. Although her feelings had lessened greatly, she'd known it would be easy to find her way back into his life, and she'd been certain that it would be the same for Harry and Ginny.

Hermione remembered bitterly how she and Ginny took extra care with their appearance that night, wanting to make an impression on them and hoping they would be able to rekindle what they'd lost. They both had let their hair grow. Ginny's was a silky, red mane, which stopped halfway down her back and had long layers that framed her face while Hermione's was still curly. The length, weight, and aid of a Muggle mousse, however, had made the curls more manageable.

Bursting with nerves, Hermione had gone downstairs with Ginny to await their old lovers. Neither one had even looked for anyone else. For one thing, they were so focused on their careers that they didn't have time to have much of a social life. What a joke to think that Harry Potter and his faithful sidekick, Ronald Weasley, would wait for us! she thought, shaking her head as she recalled the night they returned. They'd heard a couple of loud pops of Apparition, and the whole family turned to face the door.

She laughed loudly when she thought of the shocked and scandalized expressions on everyone's faces at the sight that greeted them. Not one witch or wizard said a word for five full minutes. They were all just standing there gobsmacked, for the surprises that Harry and Ron had brought back with them were two pregnant women with gold bands on their left fingers. Resentfully, she thought, Thanks for the warning, guys! Hermione lost herself in memory, cringing as she did so.

Hermione was surprised by the appearance of the two wizards. Both were extremely tan and seemingly relaxed. Ron had long hair, which he left hanging wildly about his face, and of all things, he'd grown a goatee. He was wearing baggy, blue jean shorts, flip-flops, and a dark blue t-shirt, the front of which had the word "WAX" in large, bold letters. He also had an earring in his ear, though his hair covered it, so Hermione had to look hard to see it.

Harry had also grown his hair long, but he chose to wear it in a ponytail. He had on kaki shorts, flip-flops, and a bright green Hawaiian shirt. He wasn't wearing his glasses; Hermione had learned later that he had gotten Muggle lasik eye surgery. Ginny told her later that she noticed he had a tattoo of a stag smelling a lily on his left forearm.

The woman beside Ron was, in a word, gorgeous. She had very long, blonde hair and big green eyes. She had her arm looped through Ron's and was looking curiously at everyone around the room. The sight of her made Hermione want to vomit. She was everything that Hermione would never be, appearance wise anyway.

Harry's woman had tomato-red hair and big brown eyes. Fred laughed at the sight of her, mumbling that she could have been a Weasley. She stood in front of Harry, and he had his arms around her waist with his chin resting on her shoulder.

Molly was the first to gain composure and rushed to hug her runaway sons. The rest of the family followed suit—all but Hermione and Ginny, who had just had their hearts broken. Hermione felt rooted to the spot she stood on. One look at Ginny told her that her friend felt the same. In the expanse of five minutes, both of their dreams had been utterly destroyed. Though the boys hadn't written lately, Hermione never dreamed they'd been married or had children on the way. Hermione felt a little guilty because she knew that both she and Ginny were equally guilty of not taking the time to write. There had definitely been a letter or two since Ron had found another lover. Why had he or Harry simply not been honest with her or Ginny?

She inhaled an indignant breath as Ron looked directly into her eyes and announced, "I would like to introduce my wife, Samantha Weasley. She is about six months along now with my daughter."

At this point, Hermione let the memory slip away, and she sighed sadly. That had hurt. Out of everything that had happened, that had been the worst of it. Oh, he knew what that did to me, the git! I could still kill him for that humiliation! Everyone there felt my embarrassment and distress.

Hermione snorted. She was not alone in her mortification, for Harry had done nearly the same thing to Ginny. He'd glanced at her quickly, but he'd had the decency to look away before saying, "And this is my wife, Piper. She is about four months."

At least he seemed to have some guilt. Unlike Ronald. She'd often played over those memories in her mind. It wasn't that she still loved Ron, but the way he'd gone about things had hurt her. Harry had hurt her by not telling her what Ron was about or even what he was about. "Did I say that was the worst pain? Maybe not," she murmured as the memory came back to her again.

Hermione almost felt sorry for Arthur as he chuckled nervously and said, "When you boys say surprise, you mean surprise! Where are our manners? Your wives must think we have none at all! Welcome to the family, Samantha and Piper. It's so nice to meet you. Please come to the table and sit down. I believe Molly has prepared a welcome back feast."

When Ron turned to escort his wife to the table, Hermione noted that the back of his shirt had the words, "It's not just for brooms anymore." Rolling her eyes, Hermione made her way to the table. She was only holding on by a thread, and from the expression on Ginny's face, she was, too.

"Oh, yes, I certainly did. Please, everyone sit down and tuck in!" Molly exclaimed, looking worriedly between Harry and Ginny to Ron and Hermione. Everyone always thought that Harry would marry Ginny and that Ron would marry Hermione, including Ginny and Hermione. This is just a bomb waiting to explode, Molly thought. And it didn't take long to prove her right.

Ginny, who had had enough about halfway through the meal, suddenly threw her fork down onto her plate and exclaimed, "This is fucking ridiculous!" Then, looking towards her brother, because she still had not been able to look into Harry's eyes yet, she whispered, "I cannot believe you."

Molly was mortified that Ginny had used such language at the table, especially in front of the new wives. She told her daughter, "Ginevra Molly Weasley! I will not have such language at the dinner table!"

"Fine! I'll leave the dinner table then! Go on and continue to celebrate the return of your lying, cheating sons!" The broken-hearted witch slammed the back door on her way out.

Hermione had no idea how she'd managed to sit down and eat for that long, but as soon as Ginny left the table, she went outside to get away from Ron and his wife. Samantha made Lavender Brown look intelligent. Basically, she was as different from Hermione as you could get, extremely beautiful and not too bright. Perfect for Ron! she thought bitterly. I guess he's making a statement.

And Piper? Hermione thought that Fred wasn't kidding when he'd said she could have been a Weasley. She even seemed to be a little athletic like Ginny. However, while Ginny had spunk, this witch doted and waited on Harry almost like a mother would. Maybe that was why Harry seemed to be attracted to red-haired women. He was looking for his mum.

Hermione was hurt beyond words at Ron and Harry's insensitivity. It wasn't only that Ron had betrayed her by finding another woman, but he'd never said a word. He had to have known how this would affect her. Why couldn't he have simply been honest and told her that he'd moved on?

She wanted to hate his wife, but the American witch seemed to be a very sweet person, who obviously adored Ron. It was also obvious to Hermione that Samantha had no idea of Ron's past relationship with her. Well, it didn't matter now. He was married and gone to her forever. There was nothing to be done for it. Damn it! Though her life had taken a different turn, and her feelings had faded some, she did still love him on some level and had hoped to start things anew.

After only a few moments alone, she heard a noise behind her and caught her breath as she turned to see Ron.

"Hello, Hermione. How have you been?" He was standing very close behind her with his hands jammed into his pockets as if he was trying his best not to touch her.

Hermione snorted and thought, He wants to go this route, does he? She turned to face him and said icily, "Well, fine, Ron, but obviously not as good as you've been doing, what with a wife and child on the way. Your wife is quite lovely. Grand of you to let me know you'd found someone else. What part of America is she from?"

Ron sighed. He knew he had hurt her terribly, but he honestly hadn't known how to tell her. It was wrong to just spring it on her like this, he knew that, but he wasn't sure of what to say. He honestly had no idea that she and Ginny were still waiting for him and Harry. Their letters over the past year had all seemed friendly only, and there weren't all that many. Not like when they'd first left. Hell, they figured they'd moved on, too. When the girls refused to go with them, the boys had felt betrayed, especially Ron. He'd felt that when he needed his woman the most, she'd not been there for him. "Both Samantha and Piper are from California. Harry wanted to go someplace sunny and be a beach bum for a bit." Ron smiled slightly at the memory.

"Will you be moving back here? I know Molly would hate for her," she choked back a sob, "grandchild to be so far away."

"No, we are only here for a couple of weeks. Harry and I opened up our own t-shirt shop on Venice Beach called The Beach Bum with a Quidditch supply store in the back for wizards. It's called The Golden Snitch, and we need to get back. Maybe you and Gin can visit us sometime. We have missed you two. You look really good, Hermione."

Hermione didn't trust herself to speak, so she didn't say anything. Moving even closer to her and putting his hands on her shoulders, Ron said, "Really good. I didn't know seeing you again would affect me this way, Mione. God, but I've missed you." Then suddenly, without realizing it, he leaned down and kissed her.

She leaned into him at first, missing his touch, his scent. It didn't take her long to realize that this couldn't be. Hermione shoved Ron back and slapped his face with all her might. "How could you? Have you lost what little you have left of your mind, Ronald Bilius Weasley? You are married with a child on the way! Just… stay away from me!"

Hermione started running down the path to the front gate where she ran into Ginny, who was also crying. "What happened, Gin? I thought you were flying."

"I was. Harry decided to follow me. What a happy little reunion that was." She snorted. "He went on about how happy he was to see me again, how he missed me, and how sorry he was that he didn't tell me about Piper. Then, all of the sudden, he gathered me into his arms and tried to kiss me, so I left. I swear… I hate those two! How could they get married and not tell us?" She violently threw her broom to the ground, picked up a stray garden gnome that had wandered from the garden, and flung it as hard as she could. Spinning back towards Hermione, she said, "Let's go to the Leaky Cauldron and get pissed! What say you, Mione?"

"I say let's go!" Hermione said, having heard the best idea all day.

She had to laugh at the memory. They had Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron and proceeded to get extremely pissed. They'd been sitting at the bar, singing loudly and off key when Fred and George found them. Instead of making them leave, the twins had joined them.

Both boys had known that their sisters were hurting, and they'd felt it would be best just to let them get things out of their system. Shortly after the twins had arrived, Luna walked in. Ginny had called her over, and after hearing about what Ron and Harry had done, she'd decided to join in, too. She'd revealed later that she was still missing Neville and doubted she'd ever stop mourning.

Hermione remembered that Luna had started running her father's paper, The Quibbler, not long after she'd graduated from Hogwarts, and that left her little time for a social life. Not that she cared to have one. She admitted to Hermione that she was working really hard to get rid of the nickname Loony, and slowly but surely, she felt that she was accomplishing that.

After the Leaky Cauldron had closed that night, the three witches Flooed back to Hermione's flat and passed out. Padma and Parvati Weasley had come to collect Gred and Feorge, as Ginny had taken to calling them, to take them home. Padma was married to Fred, and Parvati was married to George.

After waking up the next morning, Hermione, Ginny, and Luna had decided to make this a yearly thing, so Hermione owled the Weasley twins to let them know that they wanted to meet with them annually. Thus, the annual drinks and dinner at the Leaky Cauldron began. "Which is where I need to be right now! Shite!" Hermione said, jumping up from her window seat.

Oh no! I have to hurry or I will be late! I want to get to the Leaky Cauldron before the twins do at least!

OOOOOO

Christy's Notes: Well, there you have it: the first chapter to my YLC challenge. Please take a moment, and let me know what you think!

The chapter titles are quotes from science fiction author Frank Herbert. And the funny thing is… I've never read any of his books, but GinnyW assures me that at least the first few are very good.

Southern's Notes: Another great start on a story. I'm quite excited that someone else has taken up the YLC challenge.

These are the rules to Ladyofthemasque's YLC challenge on WIKTT

Rules:
1. This is a Severus Snape/Hermione Granger fic. Other characters may also be involved, get tested, get married, etc., but the main pair who ends up getting tested and marrying must be Severus/Hermione; they must be central to the story.
2. One or both of them may get tested, either jointly or separately, with or without knowing about the other's testing--the results of the tests are NOT dependent on both parties being registered with a particular agency, unlike Muggle dating services. However, the results of that testing determines their future marital/lifestyle status:
a. If they use the YLC, the YLC declares them as highly compatible, whatever anyone else says.
b. If they use another agency, they can be declared compatible or incompatible, at the author's discretion. (This is so that those who want to write a "let's elope and run away to Pago Pago" story can do so.)
3. Hermione MUST be 18 years or older (Severus, too, for that matter) when tested for compatibility, as must all who are tested for Geneamorological compatibility. It is up to the author to determine whether this means the physical age of someone being tested (Hermione's age including the time added by the Time Turner from her third year at Hogwarts), or their chronological age (counting only the number of birthdays, and not the actual number of days lived). This minimum age limit is also required for getting married--only Muggles in Scotland can get married as young as 16, but those are Muggles, not wizarding-kind.
4. The rating may be any level, from G to NC-17.
5. There should be a valid, hopefully plot-driven reason for the testing/marriage to take place. Here are a few examples: Hermione and Severus are already in love but are nervous about whether or not they're compatible; an inheritance on one side or the other is at stake and marital status is a factor; marriage is necessary to safeguard one or the other; the marriage is meant to deceive or distract the enemy somehow; Hermione is pregnant (the author may decide who the father is); one of the two owes the other a serious debt, perhaps even a life-debt, and marriage is the price being demanded in payment; one of them is marrying the other for revenge (if this option is taken, and if the compatibility rating is deemed favorable, then getting married for revenge should backfire on the vengeance-seeker and the pair fall in love); some form of ancient, ritual magic is required by the Order, and it requires a marriage to be consummated (most common ritual ploy is the gathering of the blood of a virgin bride), and so on and so forth.
6. The story can take place before, during, or after the fall of Voldemort. If it takes place before or during the downfall of the Dark Lord, the question of Voldemort's reaction to their marriage must be addressed: the marriage must somehow be kept a secret; or it's part of some nefarious plot assigned by the Dark Lord; Severus has been outed as a spy and can now do whatever he pleases with his life; or whatever reason the author can suitably justify.
7. As this is an Alternate Universe (AU) challenge to begin with, Sirius Black and other characters whom have perished or vanished according to canon may be dead OR alive, at the author's discretion.
8. The nature of the testing is up to the author, whether it's a multiple-choice test or some fancy form of Divination, but it should include a format for testing one's compatibility with a specific person, and for a broad-based search, with questions for the witch or wizard being tested to indicate what sort of mate they're looking for. Examples include questions about whether they're looking for a Muggleborn, a Pureblooded, or Does Not Matter; whether Fertility is Important (they definitely want children), Fertility is Unimportant (they could take or leave children), or No Children (they don't want children, duh); and Region To Be Searched. In this latter option, any searching done within Great Britain would be presumed covered in the initial testing price; anything outside of Great Britain would probably come with an extra service charge, but testing for a mate in Europe would be far cheaper than searching for one in Australia, due to the distances involved.