Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my own creations. I have borrowed the characters of J K Rowling and made my own little happy universe.
Author's Note: This story will be completely AU as Severus Snape is alive and kicking, as is Albus Dumbledore. Making full use of the creative licence, the war against You Know Who and his followers was waged and won at the end of Harry, Ron and Hermione's sixth year. Severus Snape was acquitted of all charges and returns to Hogwarts to teach. The Golden Trio also return for their last year.
This will be my attempt at a twist on the Marriage Law Challenge. I'm no an expert on the British education system, so this fic presumes that no student would be 18 years of age and still at school.
So with all that aside, enjoy ...
I, Zacharias Pummleton, Minister for Magic, being of sound mind, body and spirit, do hereby declare on this twenty-ninth day of the seventh month of the year 2003 the Marriage Law with all its stipulations, enacted.
The intention of the Marriage Law is to limit the increasing numbers of squibs born into the magical community due to copious interbreeding. The Marriage Law applies to all Muggle-born witches aged between eighteen and forty years of age, to be henceforth known as the childbearing years. Such witches are required to marry a wizard aged from eighteen years by the end of the ninth month of 2003.
Magical children are expected to be produced from all marriages. Failure to do so will result in an immediate abolition of the marriage and subsequent remarriage of the Muggle-born until the necessary children are produced. The first offspring must be produced or conceived by the end of the first year of marriage. The second offspring must be produced by the beginning of the fifth year of marriage. The obligations for childbearing end after the two necessary children have been born.
The selection of potential marriage partners will be through the process of petition. If more than one petition is received, the Muggle-born is given the option of selecting her husband. If no petitions are received, the Ministry will select a suitable husband.
All petition notifications, marriages and notice of the production of children will be recorded at the Hall of Magic for safekeeping.
Newly arrived on the Hogwarts Express, feeling an age since she had last had last stepped foot in Hogwarts, Hermione Granger was surprised to find herself summoned to the Headmaster's office, but headed their immediately nonetheless.
The gargoyle had orders to let her in, and she made her way up the winding staircase to Professor Dumbledore's office. Stepping into the round room, she is surprised to see that she was not the only person there.
'Professor Snape!' she said in surprise, noting the man still dressed in his customary black. 'When did you arrive?'
'Yesterday,' he responded tersely before he turned to the headmaster. 'What is the meaning of this meeting?'
Dumbledore ignored the question, instead waving Hermione over to take a seat. His smile never faded and his eyes forever twinkled as he offered a sweet to the silent people before him. 'Lemon drop?'
'No thank you,' she said politely, itching to demand to know what the meeting was about just like Snape had, but good manners held her silent.
Dumbledore placed the dish back on his desk and the twinkle in his eye dimmed just a little as he faced his small audience. 'I assume that you have both heard about the new Marriage Law just passed by the Ministry of Magic?'
'A marriage law?' asked Hermione in confusion. Surely she hadn't been away from the magical world long enough to have missed a momentous announcement such as that?
Snape's answer held no confusion, accentuated with a curt nod. 'Yes.'
The headmaster explained for his confused student's benefit. 'At one minute past midnight early this morning, the Ministry of Magic proclaimed a marriage law. I won't bore you to death with the drivel of it all, but the essence is that all Muggle-born females over the age of 18 are required to marry and produce two magical heirs.' He raised a hand to halt her questions. 'You are of age, and as you are at school, all your petitions have come to me. You will now need to pick a husband and...'
Good manners be damned. 'What? Excuse me?' she interrupted. 'I'm not 18 yet.'
'I'm sorry my dear,' said Dumbledore sadly, 'but your use of the time turner has aged you. You're eighteen years and two days.'
As Hermione struggled to process this information, Snape had a clarification of his own. 'Albus, I fail to see what this has to do with me?'
'Read.' Dumbledore passed two pieces of parchment to the potions master. It took Snape a split second to realise what he was seeing: Miss Granger's petitions. Already? His lips purse as he read the list: Lucius Malfoy and Persephone R. Relletin.
Recalling the latter with distaste, the reality of why he was present hit him.
'I don't understand,' said Hermione softly.
'Miss Granger,' he said sharply and was pleasantly surprised when her head raised and looked at him. 'Your petitions thus far indicate that your current marital choices are Lucius Malfoy or a 78 year old man. I would not wish Malfoy upon anyone, and that old man has very little hope of conceiving a child-' A child, she said softly. '-and could not possibly be an enjoyable experience for you. It would appear that this mad hatter's solution is for me to marry you.'
To her benefit, she did not fly out of her chair and run around screaming, pulling out her hair, but instead, blinked several times and contemplated what she had just been told. 'Let me get this straight: I have to marry because I'm Muggle-born.' She checked off her fingers. 'My choices are an ex-Deatheater, an old pervert or my Potions professer.'
Dumbledore nodded his head. 'I'm afraid so.'
'I don't have much time, do I?'
'I'm afraid not,' apologised the old wizard. 'Malfoy had been pushing his petition, and unless you pick another husband soon, the Ministry will have to bow to his wishes.'
'Well,' she said philosophically. 'I thought I'd had everything thrown at me, but it looks like the Fates have something else left. Right.' The girl – nay, young woman – sat upright in her chair and spoke clearly. 'Severus Snape, I'll marry you.'
Her prospective husband was not so accepting of the circumstances, though he let her use of his first name slip. 'Don't I get a say in this too?' he protested, a scowl apparent on his face.
'Severus,' chided the headmaster with that damn twinkle back in his eye. 'This is nothing but positive for you: you will gain an heir, intelligent conversation and a beautiful wife. What more do you need?'
Now what could he say to that?
'Hand me the blasted papers.'
Next chapter: Baby Number One.