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A marriage not much forced

The thunder clapped, the windows, shook, and the fire flared a most familiar green, giving the room a rather disturbing glow. Albus unfurled himself, not even bothering to dust the soot from his robes. The weather raged, but he seethed as his thoughts drifted back to his earlier meetings. Dread flared through him as he moved across his office and though the door to his private chambers. The heat from the fire washed over him, relaxing stiff muscles and draining away what little energy he still had. He looked up at the soft gasp that slipped past her lips; apparently he did look as bad as he felt, and a soft snort slipped past his lips at the thought.

He shook his head slightly as she stood to meet him, grasping his hand to pull his further into the room. The dread returned; he could feel his hand tremble in hers, and she squeezed it tightly in response. "Minerva, please," he muttered, pulling her back down to sit beside him on the sofa. He sank into the burgundy cushions with a sigh. He could feel her warmth through her robes as their thighs pressed together, making him swallow thickly. He could see her worry in the set of her shoulders and the tense line of her lips, but this was one time he couldn't alley her fears. It had been such a long day full of negotiation, reasoning, and utter blackmail. There was nothing left to be done. Her fingers tightened around his, and the lump in his throat grew, cutting off his air. How could he tell her?

He slipped off into his own world, and the reality hit her; it was done. Her heart wanted to break free of her chest, and the cry of outrage tried to claw its way up her throat. The pressure of it was almost too much as the faces of a thousand men flashed through her mind in an instant. She didn't understand how any rational person could be so hideously stupid. She remember what he mother said when she returned from her first year of Hogwarts. After a year of History of Magic, one resounding question had battered her mind. Tucked into the side of her mother's body one night, it finally found a voice.

"Mum, why have there been so many wars? You always say to talk out my problems, but our History class was nothing more than war after war. Why do so many people need to die before they start talking?" Her mother's fingers ran through her hair, a habit which soothed the mother as much daughter. "Oh love, I wish I could tell you. Sometimes it's for land, sometimes money, sometimes ideas. And sometimes, you just find a person who likes the violence, the sheer devastation it causes. But," she said, pulling Minerva closer, "there's something you have to realize, and I want you to listen to me, because this is important. People are odd creatures, capable of the most awesome acts of mercy and debauchery. A single person is, normally, a rational, caring thing. People can be the stupidest entity on the planet as they let the mass take responsibility for individual action. But, frightened people are the most dangerous animals on the planet. They react out of fear or pain without thought to what their actions may mean. So, they pass laws, they fight, they kill, and it's only when that fear is replaced by something greater that the fighting can stop and the talking begin. Unfortunately, wars are sometimes necessary love, to protect those whom you love and things in which you believe. Never condemn a person for their fear Minerva, try to understand it and work through it. Save your anger for those who want to harm for the sake of harm. Do you understand?" Minerva looked up at her mother and nodded before curling up again.

It had taken years, but Minerva had finally truly understood as the war began. So many people had died, so many had fled, and so many had betrayed themselves to that fear. Another war had come, and then another, and there were so few of them now. The people were petrified, but that didn't make it right. "You're tired Albus; you should rest." She was surprised to find her thumb running along his knuckles, taking comfort as much as offering it in the gentle caress. He was so tired, so worn. He had aged twenty years since breakfast, and the sight broke her heart for reasons she strictly refused to acknowledge.

He shook his head. "It isn't much, but I was able to extract a few concessions. I have never seen such a poorly written law move so quickly. There were no exemptions, no releases. They wanted to marry off our students Minerva, our children. It wasn't until I pointed out you needed a job to support a family that they were willing to amend it. The dole lines would have been monstrous, and the last thing the Ministry wants to do is pay for their stupidity. Here," he said, pulling out a roll of parchment from his robes, crumpled and worn around the edges. "It's going to be posted in the Prophet in the morning." She took the scroll and unrolled it, tilting it toward the fire.

MA102-9A: Common Marriage Act

Effective from 26. October, 2003 all members of the wizarding society of Great Britain are required to marry within one year of the individual's 21st birthday, with two children to be produced by this marriage within 5 years of the marriage date.

Those persons unable to produce children, through age, disease, or infirmity are exempt, as are those who have already produced the required two children. Appropriate documentation is required. Please contact the newly created Office of Marital Affairs for a complete list of exemptions and requirements.

Those persons that fail that fail to meet these requirements will face including, but not limited to, 5,000 Galleon fine, 3 years in prison, or banishment from the wizarding world. Exemptions for reasons other than those posted in the Office for Marital Affairs will not be considered.

M.O.M.

"Well," was all Minerva could think to say. "Indeed. I'm going to send Fawkes in a few hours to those relevant professors. I don't want them to find out about this at the breakfast table. This isn't something one should learn about over their eggs." He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, trying to will away the headache he could feel building behind his eyes. "It's going to be a quiet morning. Thankfully, most of the staff fulfilled the requirements long ago. Severus and Hermione were heading in this direction anyway, and Robert is still quite dead. So that just leaves Thomas, Sybill, and,"

"Me." Minerva's voice was quiet. She tried to smile, but even she could tell it was more of a grimace. Almost eighty years old, and she was going to be treated like livestock, little more than a brood mare. Between her work and the war, there had been little time for socializing. Most of the men she knew were already married, and the rest she would likely murder in their sleep. She would throw herself into the Themes before she would marry Mundungus. A rare moment of self-pity washed over her as her future began to take shape. "There's no one," she whispered, more to herself than anything.

She felt him shift, pull away slightly, and she was hit by the feeling of loneliness that the loss of his warmth brought about. She was a Gryffindor; she would manage. But his heat returned as he leaned toward her, his hand hot against her cheek. He turned her face toward him, but she refused to heed his voice calling her name, focusing on the rug instead. But, he wouldn't let her hide, not from him. He ducked his head down, resting his forehead against hers, his hand still holding her in place, eyes searching hers. They drifted closed for a moment as he seemed to find the answer, and they opened again with a flash. "Not no one Minerva." His lips glided over her temple, her hairline, as his own tear slipped down to join her own.

There had been too many emotions, too many thoughts in far too short a time. She couldn't think, and for only the second time in her life, Minerva allowed her feelings to dominate. Her hands fisted the front of his midnight blue robes, securing him to her as his lips found the shell of her ear. His breath was hot in her ear, and his heart sped beneath her fingers. "The boys," she gasped out.

His hands slipped up her waist, playing her ribcage like a piano. "I love my sons, but Eliza may complain and Ewen cannot have you."

His voice rumbled through her, his tone stoking the furnace while his words equally soothed and excited her. The questions raged and her blood thrummed; but, she had to be certain. There could be no questions, no doubts. Anything short of complete understanding would kill her.

"Ewen isn't my type…ohhh…not old enough." It took everything she had when he found that one spot on the underside of her jaw, his tongue tracing the slight scar left from a nasty quidditch accident. "Albus…I can't ask…uh god… I can't ask you to do this." She pulled herself away from his lips, the chill racing down her spine only matched by the growl from his throat and the clenching of his hands on her hips.

"You didn't ask." He slid closer still, his warmth overwhelming her as they fell back against the arm of the couch. He surrounded her, completed her, enthralled her. She wanted more. He looked down at her, his eyes the deepest blue and smoldering. A single finger trailed along her cheek, detouring to trace the swell of her lip, before continuing down the slope of her throat. She was flushed, hot, perfect. "Say you'll have me."

In that instant, there was peace. Her heart slowed, her mind calmed, and her hands steadied. The questions no longer mattered. Her fingers curled into the base of his neck, surprised by the heat and the slightest of tremors she felt there. Her other hand reached up and plucked the spectacles from his nose, brushing the softness of his beard as she reached out and dropped his glasses beside her own. Her lips quirked and her eyes shone in the firelight as she pulled him closer. "Don't forget to owl the boys in the morning."

AN: I hope everyone enjoyed that. I haven't decided if it's going to stay a one-shot or if I'll continue.