A/N: This is my first Harry Potter fan fiction. After reading a few at TWCSL, I realized I really liked the Dramione pairing. I also liked the whole marriage law thing, so I've decided to combine the two. I want this to be a fun filled story (though this chapter is not quite filled with silliness), as some of the marriage law fics seem to be really serious. Hence, I'll love it if you all would suggest something funny that you would like to see played out. I've also decided on the major pairings (which I'll not reveal in this chapter), but suggestions are welcome too.
Now, on with the story. Hope you all like it :).
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
The five students walked together as they made their way from the Gryffindor common room to the Great Hall for breakfast. All were lost in their own thoughts, except for Hermione. She looked at her friends and noticed that not everyone was as somber as they were pretending to be. Harry and Ginny did look a bit a sad, but the sideways glances, furtive looks and the hint of a smile on their lips suggested that they were at least glad that they were finally able to be together without any hindrance. Neville actually looked quite happy, although he was trying his best to not show it, probably still savoring the triumph of having killed Nagini and hence making it easy for Harry to defeat Voldemort. It was only Ron who seemed all lost and unhappy. He had not taken Fred's death well.
Hermione's heart went out to him. She loved Ron more than any other boy she had ever loved. However, although ecstatic at having kissed her during the great fight, Ron had slowly withdrawn into himself once the war was over. He had never kissed Hermione after that. In fact, he had not even shown any indication that he was interested in her anymore. Then again, Ron was not interested in anything anymore. The only times he smiled these days were when he beat Harry in homely Quidditch matches between the two. Even then also, there seemed to be an evil quality to his happiness. It was as if he was sneering at the boy-who-lived-and-finally-fulfilled-the-prophecy-of-killing-the-dark-lord for loosing at a game between the two.
Hermione sighed. Although everyone kept saying that Ron was just upset over Fred's death, she couldn't bring herself to believe it. So what if Ron had lost a brother? Every student attending Hogwarts had lost someone or the other in the great war. Hell, some students lost their own lives in the hands of the evil lord. Cedric Diggory, Colin Creevy...the list was endless. And moreover, Ron was not the only one who had lost a brother. Ginny did too, but she didn't go around brooding or being nasty to her friends. In fact, she and Harry had grown closer over the summer due to all that they each had to face during the war. Why could not Ron and Hermione do that too?
Just then, Luna came bouncing up to them.
"Hey guys! Going for breakfast?"
"What do you think?" Ron sneered. Harry's eyes widened, while Neville looked shocked.
"Ron!" Hermione and Ginny admonished at the same time.
Ron huffed angrily, and left them all as he went into the great hall alone.
"Luna, I'm so sorry..."
"It's okay, 'Mione. Ron's upset. I already knew that."
"How?" Neville asked curiously. Harry and Hermione were at the Burrow during the whole summer when they got their invitations to come and finish their seventh year at Hogwarts. However, Neville was not there to witness Ron's personality change, and had no idea what had happened to his usually-jolly fellow Gryffindor. Naturally, he was aghast by Ron's behavior. After the war, he thought a secret bond of eternal friendship had formed between the six of them.
"It's the Nargles," Luna replied dreamily.
Harry and Ginny tried to suppress their smiles, where else Hermione looked relieved that Luna's feelings were not hurt. She wrapped her arms around the strange girl and hugged her.
"They are the best, Luna, your Nargles are."
Neville looked over at Harry and Ginny, and simply shook his head thinking that Luna was a mystery that he would never be able to solve. The five of them then slowly made their way to the great hall.
There were more students this year than the previous ones as all those who went hiding during the war had returned. While Luna went and joined Terry Boot, Michael Corner and Cho Chang at the Ravenclaw table, the rest four went at the Gryffindor table and sat beside Dean and Seamus. Although all four noticed that it was only the seventh year students that were present in the great hall, they were more worried about their friend. Ron was nowhere in sight.
"He's at the far end, near the teachers' table, if you want to know," Seamus said as he saw Hermione craning her neck to look for Ron. "And I'm mighty glad for that. Man, he was ready to bite my head off, and all I asked was where the rest of you were." Seamus scowled.
"So, what's gotten into him?" Dean piped up. Harry, Ginny and Hermione looked at one another. Neville gave them a long look.
"I'd like to know that too." He said as he sat down. "'Cause, you know, I don't have Nargles to inform me about his mood swings."
Dean and Seamus started at the same time.
"What the hell are Nargles?" Dean questioned.
"Mood swings? Isn't that what girls' get when they are PSMing?" Seamus asked, confused.
Hermione giggled at Seamus, Harry went a bit red and grabbed a nearby goblet, and Ginny rolled her eyes.
"It's PMSing, Seamus, not PSMing. It stands for Pre Menstrual Syndrome." Harry choked and spluttered the pumpkin juice he just swallowed, while Dean scrunched up his nose in disgust. Seamus looked confused, as did Neville.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake!" Ginny threw up her hands and looked angrily at Seamus and Neville. "Considering the amount of time you spend secretly reading Skanky Bitches' secrets revealed, one would think you would know all about girls."
Again, both boys started talking simultaneously. This time, it was Seamus and Neville.
"Hey, how did you know about that?" Seamus cried indignantly. "And it's Hot Witches: Secrets revealed, not Skanky Bitches' secrets revealed."
"I don't read Skan..whatever you said. I live with my grandma, for Godric's sake." Neville replied, looking horrified.
"Sorry, Neville." Ginny muttered, glaring at Seamus, while Hermione continued, "Just because you cover them with a text book, it doesn't mean we can't see what you actually read while sitting in a corner of the Gryffindor common room, Seamus."
Seamus looked surprised to find that his secret was not a secret after all, and answered in a reverent voice, "Wow, Hermione, you truly are the Brightest Witch of our Age." Hermione narrowed her eyes at Seamus to see if was making fun of her, but when she found Seamus still looking at her with wonderment, she simply shook her head. Harry and Dean grinned at Seamus.
Just then, the headmistress stepped up behind the golden owl, and called for everyone's attention.
"Welcome! I'm glad to see you all here." The headmistress gave them all a sad smile. "It's a common knowledge that education is a nation's backbone. With this belief, despite having offers from prestigious posts and astounding salaries, he had remained at Hogwarts and dedicated his life to ensure a better future for his pupils, for his country. I want to take this moment and remind you all of the greatest wizard who had ever lived - Albus Dumbledore."
Immediately all eyes went to the Slytherin table. By now, everyone knew that Dumbledore himself had planned on Snape killing the former headmaster, and what with Snape being murdered, all was forgiven, especially when Snape's double-crossing of the dark lord became public knowledge. However, the students were not quite as generous towards a certain blond boy as they were towards the former head of the Slytherin house.
Harry, Ginny, Neville and Hermione didn't look though. If they had, they would have found Parkinson, Nott, Goyle and Zabini glaring at everyone else in the class. However, the person whose attention the rest of the room were seeking showed no emotion. The boy who was dubbed the Slytherin Prince, stared sideways, at the current headmistress.
"Albus Dumbledore may not be with us today, but I want his mission to continue. He would want me to continue what he had started. When I talk about education, I don't mean it academically only. Dumbledore wanted each of his students to not only be an intellectual individual, but he also wanted them to be whole - a person without prejudice, a person without bias, and more importantly, a person who was happy." At this the headmistress's eyes filled with tears, as did a lot of her students', because this was something they all knew - Dumbledore had always looked happy. Wiping the tears from her eyes, Minerva McGonagall continued.
"Dumbledore followed the rules of this school, hence he sorted all newcomers to different houses. However, personally, he never favored anyone. To him, every student was important." Harry and his friends knew this better than anyone. Dumbledore valued them all, hence he wanted Snape to kill him instead of Draco Malfoy, so as to save the soul of the latter from being scarred.
"During the war, we had personally seen how true Dumbledore's beliefs were. All of you, despite being in different houses, have fought together for your freedom from a maniac self-proclaimed tyrant." Again, this was something Harry and his friends knew better than anyone. Fighting together with someone from a different house was not quite astounding as was having Narcissa Malfoy lie to the dark lord, risking her own life to save Harry's.
"And now, even the Ministry of Magic believes it to be true." At this, McGonagall frowned a little, and looked sideways. It was then that Harry, Ginny, and Hermione noticed the figure standing in front of a door at the corner from the teachers' table.
"Kingsley?" They all muttered together, giving each other questioning looks. The headmistress faced the students again, and continued.
"The Ministry, however, have come up with a different way of uniting you all. According to the Ministry, this new system will further ensure that prejudices are put aside, and a new bias-free world is born. Personally, I'm not so sure, so I'll let the minster take it from here. Mr Shacklebolt, if you will?"
By now, everyone had noticed the Minister of Magic, and were murmuring among themselves.
"This can't be good," Hermione said in a nervous voice to Harry and Ginny, both of whom looked worried.
"Students!" The minister bellowed. "Welcome back to another year at Hogwarts." Shacklebolt said with a smile. "I know there have been many changes in your personal lives, as many of you have lost close family members during the second great war. It has been a few months since the dark lord was defeated and killed, and hopefully by now, most of you have learned to cope with your loses."
Harry, Ginny, and Hermione all looked at where Ron was sitting, and then looked at each other.
"What you must have also noted that change is inevitable, and sometimes there is just nothing you could do about what happens in your lives. I know this is quite soon, but another change is upon you now - something permanent."
By now, the great hall had quieted down as everyone glanced anxiously at one another. Not having fully recovered from the emotional scars left by the battle with Voldemort, the students were a bit scared about what Kingsley Shacklebolt was about to say.
"Voldemort may have been defeated, but he had also caused great damage to the wizarding world before his death. Nearly seventy percent of Great Britain's witches and wizards have been killed. Also, the divide between the purebloods and muggle-borns still remain as both parties are not aware as how to behave now that the dark lord has fallen."
Once again, except for the Slytherins and the teachers, all eyes in the the great hall were at the boy-who-almost-killed-Dumbledore. Once again, Draco Malfoy sat still and emotionless.
"Before I reveal what is this change that will soon befall you, I must warn you all that if anyone denies to comply with the ministry's new law, sever consequences await that witch or wizard. And when I say severe, I mean it. Only with a Dementor's kiss or death could anyone hope to avoid this law. There are no other ways out."
At this, everyone in the great hall gasped, all horrified at what the minister had just said.
"And now, the new law that the ministry had passed secretly yesterday - the marriage law. According to this law, all witches and wizards aged seventeen or above will be required to get married. The ministry hopes that through marriage, the divide that had been created between the different classes of the wizarding population would somewhat lessen, and as the marriages will eventually lead to having children, hence the tension about the decimation of witches and wizards could also be lowered to a tolerable level."
The three Gryffindors, along with their friends and everyone else in the great hall, sighed in relief. During the summer, they have all heard whispers of this new marriage law. They heard it was the ministry's last resort at their attempt at uniting the wizarding population. Harry, Ginny, and Hermione supposed this was the reason why only seventh years were present for breakfast. After all, in the wizarding world, seventeen was the age of consent. Hermione was a bit shocked that she had not noticed that everyone bar the seventh years were not allowed in the great hall this morning. She supposed that all her worries about Ron had distracted her.
"This, I'm sure, you already knew." Shacklebolt said loudly, breaking up all the conversations that started to take place after the minister's last sentence. "The law however, is more serious than you all think. For starters, when I said everyone above seventeen has to get married, I didn't mean that you could get married whenever you wanted. You all need to get married - before classes end this school year."
Again gasps broke out in the great hall. In some cases though, like Harry and Ginny's, the students didn't mind as much as most of their friends.
"You all will also need to produce a child within a year after your marriage," the minister continued.
This time Harry and Ginny were not as happy as they had been a few seconds ago. Sure, they loved each other and wanted to get married, and also have a few babies in a few years time, but they were not quite ready to become parents before they turned twenty.
"Finally, the one condition I really feel bad about forcing on you, but according to the different ministers and also some of Dumbledore's close associates, this is for the best." As he said it, Kingsley Shacklebolt really looked bad, especially as his eyes settled on his fellow Order members at the Gryffindor table. It was as if he was pleading them with his eyes for them to understand the predicament he was in. It was as if he was sure that after he made the next announcement, he would end up being the most-hated wizard of the Great Britain.
He was not wrong.
"As age differences, personalities, intellectual levels and backgrounds have to be taken into consideration, for the ministry have all these information about each and every witch and wizard, the final stipulation of the marriage law is that... it is the ministry that will decide who will be married to whom."
Silence fell over the great hall as the students found themselves shocked into being speechless. The only sound came after what seemed like ages from the mouth of none other than one Ronald Weasley.
A/N: What do you all think? Suggestions are welcome as to how to make this story an enjoyable one :).