Title: Harry Potter's Reaction to the Marriage Law
Summary: After the war, the Wizengamot passes a law requiring all young wizards and witches to marry, and the Ministry will assign the partners. How do Harry and his friends react? (H/G, but not overly so)
(A/N: A plot bunny bit me recently and didn't want to let go. So here's my version of this obligatory plotline. Assume book7 happened, except for the Epilogue. My thanks go to Wolfs_Scream for beta'ing this story.
Note, the "Harry Potter universe" belongs to someone commonly known as JKR. I am not her. Everything that looks recognizable as hers, is; the rest is mine. This is all for fun and not for profit.)
Harry Potter's Reaction to the Marriage Law
It was Friday of Harry's first week of his seventh year. He couldn't help but grin to himself as he walked into breakfast that day. He, Ron, and Hermione had decided to return to Hogwarts for their seventh and final year, despite the fact they were a year older than the rest of the seventh years students. That year "lost" was actually a bonus as it put Ginny in his classes for the first time.
Over the summer, the two had decided to resume dating. Ginny had been exceedingly gracious and forgave him for breaking up with her at the end of his sixth year. He was under no illusion about what would happen if he broke up with her again as he did at the end of his sixth year; he was certain that she would not give him another chance with her. The cute redhead was walking beside him and occasionally bumping his shoulder with a teasing grin as they walked. It was fun and innocent and part of everything a "Voldemort-free" life should be.
Harry knew that just because he had permanently ended Voldemort's existence a few months ago, that did not mean that all of his worries were completely gone. Some of the Death Eaters, like the Malfoys, had escaped justice - again. They were also working their way back into the Ministry where they could try to influence things their way. Harry hoped Minister Shacklebolt could prevail in that "war". Harry had decided he would not be fighting any of those battles any time soon, if ever. He felt he had done his duty for the world.
He took a seat next to Dennis Creevey, who had fortunately lost most of his exuberance about Harry, although some of that change had come from the loss of his brother a few months ago. The-Boy-Who-Won began to eat breakfast with his girlfriend on his other side and his two best friends across from him. Conversation was light with teases and jokes being tossed around; again, it seemed like the perfect day. He didn't even pay attention to the head table or the Slytherins, who had been much more subdued this year.
Midway through the meal, the usual morning barrage of owls entered the Great Hall. Several letters were dropped in front of him, but he pushed them to the side. He received from one to eight letters a day from random people thanking him for what he had done a few months ago. He would look at them later.
A loud gasp from across the table caught his attention and he looked up sharply. He was surprised to see a look of horror on Hermione's face as she stared at the Daily Prophet in front of her. A couple of seconds later, Ron's expression matched hers as he looked over at her newspaper.
"What?" he asked. Hermione's look was so severe; he knew it must be dreadful. A horrible feeling hit him and caused him to lose his appetite.
"Tell us, Hermione," Ginny told her - no, commanded her.
Hermione was shocked into silence and could only manage to turn the paper around to face him. In the silence that was now gripping the Great Hall ever more tightly, Harry stared at the headline in his own shock.
Wizengamot Passes Mandatory Marriage Law
Just like every other student there, Harry sat in silence.
The scraping of a single chair was extraordinarily loud and caused every head to turn to the head table. Headmistress McGonagall slowly stood, looking visibly older than she had at dinner last night, not to mention upset. Beside her, Professor Flitwick, the new Deputy Headmaster, didn't look much better.
"As you can see in the Daily Prophet," she said with much effort, "the Wizengamot passed a new law late last night. Minister Shacklebolt has informed me of it," she briefly head up a letter she had just received, "and that he has not been able to find a way for any of you to avoid it. Although this is news to me as well, I trust his analysis.
"He said that because of the large loss of life in the recent war, the Wizengamot wanted to make sure the next generation is not lost. Therefore, each and every one of you will be assigned a marriage partner who is within a few years of your age, and everyone who has taken their OWLs will be required to marry within the next thirty days. Each married couple will be required to have your first child within the next two years, and have at least three children."
Several shrieks echoed loudly in the large room as angry murmurs arose. The Headmistress did nothing to quell them. From her expression, it was obvious she felt the same way.
"You will each receive a letter from the Ministry on Monday telling you who your chosen partner is, and you will have until Friday to sign the accompanying form and return it. I am…" McGonagall paused as she broke down for a moment with shudder and a distasteful look. "Your generation has already given so much. I am so very sorry and I feel that I have failed you even though I had nothing to do with this. Classes are canceled for the day." She wearily sank into her chair and just sat there, ignoring her empty plate and her drink.
Harry slowly turned and looked at Ginny. She looked as emotional beat up as he felt. Having lost his appetite, he said, "I need to go think," as he stood up. His three closest friends stood and followed him out of the Great Hall. The four Gryffindors weren't the only ones leaving. It wasn't hard to notice that everyone had a look of anger or despair, except for a small group of Slytherins. While they weren't Malfoy and his close gang - who weren't going to school this year - they were children of Death Eaters or those who had supported the self-styled Dark Lord. That grated on his nerves so much, Harry wanted to draw his wand and hex them, but he refrained. Instead, he walked out the front door so fast he was practically dragging Ginny, who had grabbed his hand.
A few minutes later, he found a relatively private spot near the lake and sat down against a tree. He noticed a distraught looking Ginny standing and staring expectantly at him. It took a few seconds, but he finally figured out what she wanted.
"You can sit in my lap or sit beside me, whichever you prefer," he said, almost without emotion.
Ginny squatted down and then sat sideways on his lap. As she put an arm around his shoulders, he encircled her waist and pulled her close. She dropped her head down to the side of his and then started to softly sob.
He knew exactly how she felt. He was under no illusion what would happen. As the hero of the war and the last Potter, there was no way in hell he'd get to stay with Ginny. He'd be a trophy for someone.
Hermione and Ron sat down as well, but each against their own tree. Since the war ended, they had been going through a series of on-again and off-again periods of dating. They were presently in an "off-again" mode.
"Does…" Harry's voice broke, so he paused to clear his throat. "Does the article tell us anything else that's useful?"
Hermione unrolled the clenched newspaper and flattened it out enough to read. No one said anything while she "researched". A few minutes later, she threw the newspaper down beside her in a fit of anger.
"What?" Ron asked timidly.
A part of Harry's brain thought the look on Hermione's face indicated she was about to curse up a blue streak. He would have laughed had the situation not be so sickening.
"Besides what the Headmistress said," the brunette replied in a very controlled and angry tone, "it says that the Wizengamot will put together a committee to create the arrangements for all single witches and wizards between eleven and twenty-nine. The committee will be made up of only Purebloods, since they know the most about our society," she said derisively. "It also says that in any arrangement, if one of the couple is not a Pureblood while the other is, then the Pureblood will be in control of the family; and if both are Purebloods or both are non-Purebloods, then the male will be in control. Finally, no marriages are allowed except those approved by the committee."
That caused a new round of sobs from Ginny and for Harry to hold her tighter.
So softly that Hermione and Ron had to strain to hear it, Harry said, "I didn't fight him for this. I fought and defeated him so my friends could enjoy life, but I not do it for something like this."
"Harry," Hermione called sadly, "even though we all know it's a power-grab, it's the law now. We don't have a choice."
He continued to hold his girlfriend tightly and rock her gently. "An unjust law is no law at all."
"Hermione, not now. I need to think." He closed his eyes to concentrate better, and to hide what he really felt.
As images of ideas ran through his mind, he continued to hold and rock his girlfriend, feeling the warm tears run down his cheek, not knowing if they were hers or his.
"Harry? It's time for lunch."
He came out of thoughts and opened his eyes, but the first thing he paid attention to wasn't the voice. No, the very first thing that caught his attention was the warm and sweet-smelling girl who was sleeping in his arms. That was quickly followed noticing the numb feeling in his bum and a numb strip up and down his back where he was leaning against the tree.
"Ginny?" he called softly to her. She moved slightly and then slowly stretched. She wasn't big in the bust, but his eighteen year-old eyes had to watch her seventeen year-old chest as she moved. He noticed that she blushed when she realized what he was watching, which caused him to grin.
When they had gotten back together over the summer, they had each wanted to take things slowly, almost afraid to jump in too deep and too fast. They had each also been very reluctant to discuss the year they had been apart. Ginny had sworn she was still a virgin and would remain that way until her wedding night, and Harry had agreed that would probably be best. However, he had also received her promise to a short engagement, so the pressure to have sex before marriage wouldn't be too bad when they got that far along in their relationship, assuming they did.
Ginny stood and then reached down to steady him as he stood up, for which he was grateful. He stretched and reached back to rub some life into his bum, which produced an interested look from Ginny.
"I'm sorry, you were saying, Hermione?"
"I said it's time for lunch." His brunette friend was standing, as was his male redheaded friend.
"Right, thanks." He took Ginny's hand and slowly started walking her into the castle.
"Did you fall asleep too, Harry?" Hermione asked, sounding disappointed in him.
"No, I was thinking the situation through … well, after I managed to curb my anger enough to think straight," he sheepishly admitted.
"I don't know how you could do that, Harry. I'm still angry," Ron spat. "They won't care about me or what I did. They'll probably assign some ugly Slytherin cow to me," he said bitingly.
Harry looked over at Ginny and they shook their heads together. This was a classic example of why Ron had trouble keeping Hermione as a girlfriend. He had learned how to apologize, but he still hadn't fully learned to think before he spoke. Harry didn't need to look at Hermione to know she'd have an angry look on her face, and that it wasn't about the new law either.
"Did you come up with any good ideas?" Ginny asked him quietly.
He could see the look of hope in her eyes. He did not want to disappoint her. He knew without a doubt that his girlfriend, who had turned even prettier in the last year, would be given to a Death Eater's son, probably someone like Theo Nott. Harry knew he'd kill the boy if he ever laid a hand on Ginny.
"I do have one," he admitted.
"What?" he heard Hermione ask firmly, demanding to know.
Since they were approaching the main doors and nearing other students, he calmly said, "After lunch and in a much more private place."
Ron and Ginny nodded. Hermione looked put out at having to wait, but she held her tongue, obviously understanding the need for security from their days of Horcrux-hunting.
Lunch was a quiet and tense affair, and not just for the quartet, but the for whole student body. Even the Slytherins who were pleased with the law kept quiet, understanding spells would fly if they made a scene - and the Slytherins were vastly outnumbered.
After an unappealing but needed lunch, Harry guided his friends to the seventh floor and the Room of Requirement. He paced back and forth and desired to have a secure and comfortable place to talk. When he opened the door, they found a room much like a miniature version of the Gryffindor common room. When they were inside, Harry was not surprised to see the door disappear into the wall. He and Ginny took the couch there. Hermione and Ron each took a wingback chair.
Hermione was looking at him pointedly and expectantly. Ron was doing a little better, but he was still staring at Harry. Ginny was holding his hand and giving him an encouraging look - as if she knew he could do this. He was grateful for her support.
"There is really only one thing we can do, well, do and get away with. Personally, I'd like to see them all drop over dead, but I don't expect that to actually happen."
Ron snorted. "Yeah, don't we all wish that!"
Hermione rolled her eyes at his sarcasm and returned to staring at Harry.
"They have a fear and we need to use that to our advantage. They fear losing the next generation and having no one to replace them and we need to make that happen to take away their position of strength and power," he said simply.
There was silence for all of three seconds until "that look" came back over Hermione. This time, she gave into the desire. "Bloody hell, you really mean it, don't you?"
"What?" Ron asked, surprised to hear his sometimes girlfriend actually swear.
Harry looked at his girlfriend and saw her tilting her head at him, trying to figure it out. He watched the dawning look of comprehension slowly come over her in the form of a grin that he normally only saw on her twin brothers. And now only on George, he thought sadly.
"I am coming with you this time," she told him, her tone brooking no argument.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, my Ginny," he replied very caringly.
Her look of fierce determination melted and she moved over a few inches and kissed him soundly.
"Aww, my eyes!" her brother exclaimed. It didn't deter the kissing couple. When they broke apart, Ron asked, "So, what's your plan really like?"
Harry spent a few minutes outlining it. In having to explain it, he came up with a few new parts and changed a few others, making them simpler and thus more likely to succeed. Hermione added a few bits to help out.
When Harry felt they understood basically what he planned to do about this insanity, and they all agreed to it, he led them back to Gryffindor Tower. There, Ron and Ginny started very carefully talking to the other students to find out their feelings on the law and recruiting where possible. Hermione retrieved a few things from her room and changed clothes before she went up to Harry's dorm room.
In his room, Hermione quickly applied a few glamours to herself and to him. They both had donned Muggle clothes.
Harry pulled his Firebolt out of his trunk and opened the window. He mounted his broom and looked at her. Hermione took a deep breath before crawling on behind him with a look of great fear and trepidation, causing her to hold him very tightly around his middle.
"Hermione," he said softly. "If you feel sick, be sure to turn your head. If you barf on my back, I may need to do a loop to toss you off."
"Harry!" she admonished him with some of her fear turning into anger.
"Just teasing, Hermione. Gee, lighten up. I'll make this as gentle as possible and we'll be back on the ground shortly." As smoothly as possible, he flew out the window and accelerated towards the front gates. A short time later, he brought the broom to a gentle touch-down. "See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"Only because I had my eyes shut the whole time," she said, her voice quivering slightly.
He couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him, earning him a glare. "Do you feel well enough to Apparate? Or do I need to take you?" He shrunk his broom down and put it in his pocket.
"I can do it. I'll meet you on the Muggle side of the Leaky Cauldron." She scrunched up her face in concentration and left with a crack.
Harry smiled and Apparated away as well.
They walked into the Leaky Cauldron and headed to Gringotts bank, careful to talk to no one. Harry was pleased their disguises held. They only had to wait for a few minutes to talk to a teller.
"Do you have branches in other countries?" Harry asked.
"We have branches in all major cities in Europe," the goblin said frostily.
"Is there a fee for transferring my vault contents to one of those other branches?" he persisted, ignoring the unfriendly looks of the goblin.
"It's two percent of the amount of gold transferred. We do not transfer any items that might be in your vault; they would be your own responsibility."
"What about bank drafts?" Hermione asked.
The goblin gave her an unfriendly look. "They are ten Galleons for up to 1000 Galleons. Over that amount there is a two percent charge."
Harry nodded and pulled out his money sack. "I need all of this converted into Pounds." The goblin did so for a small fee, but without any comment - good or bad. Hermione suggested he refill his money sack and she accompanied him to his small vault so he could do that.
His business done, he pulled her out of the bank and over to a side wall of the Goblin building. He pulled out a piece of parchment and showed it to her and started a whispered conversation. "This is what is in my vaults as of about a month ago. I know I'm not the richest person, but two percent of that is over four thousand Galleons, which I consider a lot for such a simple task. Can you think of any other way to move it? I don't want to leave my money here as I fear the Ministry might try to confiscate it."
"I understand and that is a lot just to transfer money," she said thoughtfully. Pulling out a quill, she started doing some calculations.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to figure out how much space you need to move this … there. I think you'll need about 1500 cubic feet, but shoot for 1700 to be safe. It really is unfortunate that Galleons can't be shrunken," she told him. "Let's go look at trunks." She pulled on his sleeve and they headed out.
They went to the shop where Hagrid had bought Harry's original trunk years ago.
"Look over here." Hermione pointed to a three compartment trunks that wasn't too expensive and promised to be the same weight no matter what was in it. They could be resized down to the size of a loaf of bread. They also had a warning not to put them inside another dimensional storage unit. Hermione pointed out that meant you could not put them inside each other or in something like her special bag. Each compartment held 56 cubic feet of space, or 144 cubic feet per trunk. "That would mean you'd need twelve of them."
Harry frowned. That was too many trunks to carry, even if they did shrink to the size of a loaf of bread.
"May I help you?" the store owner asked as he walked over.
"Yes, we're looking for a trunk to carry a lot of things in," Hermione answered. "He needs about 1700 cubic feet of space."
The propriator's eyebrows raised in surprise. "That's a lot of space. You'll need my largest model ... and two of them." He led them down the aisle. "These also stay a constant weight. For a fee, we can make them self-shrinking with the tap of a wand as well." He stopped in front of three trunks that sat away from the others, although they looked just like any other trunk. "This model has three extra large compartments that are twenty feet deep, and include a ladder in each. The other four compartments are the slightly oversized four feet deep. Altogether, the trunk offers a little over 900 cubic feet. If you buy two, you will have your space requirements, assuming what you're transporting can be split over multiple compartments." He gave them an appraising look as they examined the trunk and the price tag.
"How much for the self-shrinking charm and can you do the work immediately?" Harry asked, pleased with the product, even if it was more than he had planned on spending on trunks.
"Fifty Galleons each and it will take about ten minutes to do both."
"I'll take them." Harry looked at Hermione as he handed her all of his Pounds. "You can start on your task. I'll take care of this and meet you outside."
She nodded and left.
Ten minutes later he had two new trunks and a normal backpack, all charged directly to his vault. The total cost was about one percent of his vaults' worth - a significant savings over what the goblins wanted.
Plan in mind, he returned to Gringotts and asked to be taken to each of his three vaults: the Potter family vault, his trust vault, and the Black family vault. In each one, he packed away all the money into his new trunks, separating them by currency type. He also left one compartment for the few items that were present. When he was done, there was a single Knut in each vault, so they would not show as being "closed". The goblin accompanying him did not look pleased, not that Harry cared in the slightest.
Back up in the lobby, Harry went to a teller and changed most of his Knuts into Pounds, not really wanting to deal with the small coins. He knew he'd need more Muggle money as well as some extra space in his trunk. Finishing his transaction, he put the trunks in the backpack and then Disillusioned his backpack before he left the bank.
On his way to find Hermione, he walked past Quidditch Quality Supplies and got an idea. With a grin, he walked into the store. Using up many of his Sickles, he left with a new Firebolt in their place.
When he walked back through the Leaky Cauldron into Muggle London, he looked up and down the street, searching for his friend. He saw Hermione not too far away sitting on a bench and writing in a small notebook with a pen while she talked on a cell phone. He walked over and joined her, waiting patiently until she hung up a few minutes later.
"Glad to see you found a phone so quickly."
She slipped the device into her pocket. "I paid more for it than I should have, but I agree with you that time is presently more important than money. I bought two of them and a thousand minutes for each; that should be enough for later too."
"It wasn't until I called the fourth tour company that I was able to get what we wanted. We paid a premium for the short notice, but we have a tentative reservation. I'll need a credit card by tomorrow morning to confirm and hold it." She paused. "I'm sure I could convince my parents to help," she said hesitantly.
He couldn't help his chuckle. "After what you did to them and them still in Australia trying to decide if they want to come back? I wouldn't begin to ask that of them considering what you're about to do, going back on what you told them. Besides, I have enough money for what we need to do if that's required, not that my plan requires it."
She still looked worried. "It's still a lot of money…"
"True," he said with a shrug, "but it won't be mine paying for most of it," he said with an evil grin and wiggling his eyebrows.
"Do you know what will happen to us if we're caught? It'll be prison time, Harry," she almost screeched.
"Shush," he hushed her quickly, "do try not to draw attention to ourselves, Hermione. I really don't think that'll happen. He does stuff like this all the time so it won't attract attention; and for me, it's a great bit of revenge. Besides, even if I'm caught, I can Apparate away. Can you get back to school by yourself or do I need to return long enough to fly you over the gate?"
"I'll manage. Harry, please be very careful," she told him, worry written plainly in her expression and body language.
"Always," he told her with a lopsided smile. "Now, go back and help Ron and Ginny. I'll be back late tonight."
Hermione gave him a quick hug before walking to the doorway of the Leaky Cauldron, to avoid Muggle eyes, and leaving with a faint crack. He walked over to the same doorway and also left the area.
A moment later, he was on the front porch of his godfather's house. Even after all of this time, he still couldn't think of it as his house. He hated to walk in it, but he was on a mission. Unlocking the front door, he hurried in - although quietly to avoid waking the portrait of Mrs Black - and went straight to the library. There, he shrunk all the books on the shelves and put them into his empty trunk compartments.
His task there complete, he immediately left the old house and appeared in front of Shell Cottage. It was early evening now and he hoped his friends were in. As the door opened, he canceled the charm on his bag to make it visible and took it off.
"'Arry!" Fleur exclaimed and pulled him into a hug, a hug that was to be enjoyed like a guilty pleasure.
"It's good to see you again. Is Bill in too?"
"Oui, please come in." She closed the door behind him and led him into the kitchen and eating area. Bill was there writing something in a book.
"Bill, look who came by."
The redhead looked up and grinned when he saw who it was. "Harry, damn good to see you. Pull up a chair." He closed his book and put it on shelf behind him. "What brings you this way? I thought you were in school."
Harry chuckled. "I am, except that McGonagall canceled classes for the day." He set his bag against the wall and took a seat at the table.
"Oh? You 'ave time to join us for dinner?" Fleur asked.
"That would be great," he told her. He need to kill a few hours as his next task didn't start until at least ten o'clock tonight.
"So what brings you this way?" Bill asked again, leaning his elbows on the table as Fleur set glasses on the table to provide refreshment while she cooked.
Harry's expression fell. "I assume you saw the Prophet this morning?"
Bill's expression darkened to almost match Harry's. "Yes, those idiots. I don't understand why they would do something so stupid. Don't they understand this will ruin us? I mean, people won't take this lying down and I don't know what the backlash will do to our society."
A slow grin crept over Harry. "That's an interesting way to put it."
Bill relaxed a little. "Just what is that look for, Harry. I can tell you're planning something. Oh, you need our help too, don't you? Just ask, Harry, and if we can do it, it's yours."
Harry felt much relieved. "Thanks. In fact, I was hoping to get some of Fleur's help and probably yours too."
"Oh? What did you need, 'Arry?" she asked from across the room as she worked on dinner.
"I need for you make a contact for me." Harry spent the next ten minutes explaining what he had been doing and what was planned. He also explained their small parts in it all.
When he finished, Fleur smiled prettily at him. "I'd be 'appy to 'elp, 'Arry. I'll go ask tomorrow. And if I can't get you that 'elp, I'm sure my father can."
"Thanks, Fleur!" Harry turned to Bill.
"I'll take care of my part tomorrow too by contacting George and the others," the older man said.
"Thanks. I do need one other small favor. Can I leave my backpack here for a few hours? I should be back before midnight and I don't want to risk losing it while I take care of something."
"Not a problem. Tomorrow is Saturday and we don't have work so we can stay up an extra hour. I'm sure Fleur will think of something for us to do while we while away the time," he said with a roguish grin and a wink for his wife, who didn't blush at all as she gave him a knowing look and smile.
Harry did his best to ignore the byplay, knowing exactly what they were alluding too, as it was what he'd like to do with Bill's little sister - some alone time on a comfortable couch and lots of kisses.
After a very tasty dinner, Harry Apparated back to Diagon Alley. A few minutes later, he walked into Knockturn Alley with wand in hand. It didn't take long for him to find what he wanted: a Potion shop. Three hundred Galleons later, he had three doses of the Polyjuice base potion and an empty phial with no questions asked.
He next went to a house in Little Whinging that he had planned never to return to. After a Disillusionment charm, he made himself comfortable in the place where his minders used to hide in years past. It wasn't until half past ten that the last light went out in the house. He waited another half hour to be safe.
Hoping everyone there was asleep, he crept over to number four and unlocked the front door with his wand. He walked inside and pushed the door closed and locked it back. Taking care to avoid creaky steps, he made his way up to his aunt and uncle's room.
While tempted to put some very creative spells on his relatives, he restrained himself and instead cast a sleeping spell on each of them to make sure they did not wake up for the next several hours. He needed no one to even guess he had been here and done what he was about to do. Quietly closing their door, he turned on a small light to begin his search.
A few minutes later, he found his uncle's wallet. Inside, he pulled out the company credit card and a business card. Some very careful transfiguration work turned the business card into a credit card just like the original. Another business card became a duplicate ID card. He put the original cards and wallet back, pocketing the duplicates. A dozen hairs from his uncle's head went into the empty phial. Searching the closet, Harry found an old polo shirt he'd never seen his uncle wear and a pair of trousers, a black pair that was just like the four other black ones hanging up.
Turning off the light and opening their door, he returned downstairs and Apparated back to Shell Cottage. There, he pulled the new Firebolt out of a trunk, then put a handful of Galleons on the table before he told a relaxed Bill and a giddy Fleur thanks for the help and that lunch was on him when they traveled tomorrow.
Apparating back to the front gates of school, Harry mounted the broom and flew to his window in Gryffindor Tower. It opened easily and he entered into the dimly lit dorm room.
It took some doing, but he managed to get his new backpack into his old trunk. He'd had to shrink a number of items down to make room. He then stripped to his boxers and pulled on a T-shirt before he was ready to climb into bed after an exhausting day.
It wasn't until he was about to open the curtains on his bed to climb in that he realized they were closed and shouldn't have been. Grabbing his wand from his nightstand, he opened them a foot and peered in, a Shield spell already going through his mind. He was very surprised to find a person lying on his bed, and she was very cute in her nightgown.
She put her finger to her lips and motioned him in. When he climbed in, she lifted her wand and wordlessly cast a privacy spell to keep the area totally silent.
Not sure what else to do, Harry laid beside his girlfriend, each lying on their side, noses a foot apart. "What are you doing here?" he whispered, despite the fact that he didn't need to. It just seemed like the right thing to do when your girlfriend sneaked into your bed, especially when her brother was sleeping only about eight feet away.
"I wanted to know how it went," she said in a soft voice, not bothering to whisper.
He gave up the whisper, but kept his voice low, as she had. "I got everything I needed done and a few extra things as well."
"So we're all set?"
"Yeah. How did it go for you?"
She reached over and laid her hand on his. "Well, I think. Almost all of the Gryffindors are in. Hermione had to Obliviate two who didn't agree with the idea in any form. She also created a contract, as she did for the DA, and made everyone sign it. It says they promise to keep quiet about it until we're finished with this in a few days. Hermione said the consequences are dire, but wouldn't say exactly what they were. Once she mentioned the word 'dire', everyone promised they wouldn't breathe a word until we were done." She quietly chuckled.
He chuckled with her and played with her hand for a moment. "And the other houses?"
"We talked to the DA members in the other houses. They all agree and are quietly recruiting. Hermione taught the Obliviate spell to a couple of seventh years in each house to make sure this doesn't get out. They'll sign the contract too. Don't know about the Slytherins, but I don't believe there would be many who would want to join us. The problem is we aren't sure about how to find the ones who might want to join us. Hermione pointed out there are no Muggle-borns or orphans in Slytherin, so they all have families to help them if they don't like the new law."
Harry thought about that. He didn't want to leave anyone behind, but he didn't want anyone who might betray them involved either. It was a difficult balance that gave him some mental anguish.
Ginny must have been able to tell because she moved over a little and kissed him gently. "We'll save as many as we can. It'll all work out, Harry."
"Thanks." He appreciated her soothing words. "By the way, I got you a present today."
"You can buy me presents whenever you want, Harry," she told him with a hint of excitement in her voice, "but what's it for?"
"It's an 'I'm sorry for being a git last year and leaving you behind' present," he mumbled apologetically, afraid she'd be angry at him.
"Oh? You mean like chocolates?" she asked a little more excitedly.
He was relieved that his fear was unfounded. "Err, no. I got you something a little more practical - like a Firebolt."
Ginny gasped sharply. "Seriously?" she squeaked.
"Yeah, it's in my trunk…"
She cut his explanation off as she grabbed his face and kissed him long and hard. When she stopped, she told him breathlessly, "You really didn't have to do that, Harry, but thank you anyway."
He grinned at her. "I thought you'd enjoy it and we could also spend time together with it."
"I can hardly wait," she told him with a big smile and then kissed him again. "Now, get under the covers and hold me. I want to feel safe after our shock from this morning," she said as she crawled under the covers.
"And my holding you while you sleep makes it all better?" he teased her as he crawled under too.
"Exactly. Now, don't you try anything, Mister, or I'll show you why my brothers are afraid of me." She turned over to face away from him and moved so her back was against his front.
He put an arm over her and held her tight. "I love you, Ginny."
She put her arm on his to hold it there. "I love you too, Harry. We'll get through this together."
"Together," he softly echoed her, putting all the misery of the day behind him and reveling in the smell and feel of his girlfriend.
Saturday went as planned, along with a few minor adjustments, such as Harry making a trip to Diagon Alley in disguise to purchase some potion ingredients.
Sunday was similar, except that Harry got a brief note from Bill and Fleur. They merely said all was well there and hoped Harry and Ginny were well too, and they looked forward to the next time all of them were able to get together. There was also a number in the bottom right corner written so small he could barely read it. Harry appreciated them being discreet.
Hermione sneaked into the Forbidden Forest for a few minutes that afternoon and Apparated to Edinburgh, where she could make her cell phone work for a quick phone call to the tour agency to add Bill's number to their reservation and give them a credit card number. She was happy her family had visited the Scottish city a few years ago. Other than that little trip, she spent the afternoon working on a Transfiguration project. A couple of seventh-year Ravenclaws helped her.
Most of Sunday was also spent in the Room of Requirement, brewing potions. That effort was led by Ginny. She was assisted by eight other students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.
All the tension of Friday returned Monday morning. It was a very quiet Great Hall at breakfast, with conversation rarely rising about the level of a murmur to one's neighbor. Harry picked at his food as he waited for the proverbial shoe to drop, or perhaps it would be an anvil like in the cartoons on the telly.
Everyone tensed with arrival of the morning mail; however, there were far too few owls winging their way into the large room. This left Harry and a number of others very confused. He still had a few letters from well-wishers, but nothing from the Ministry.
Just as everyone was starting to breathe a little easier and thinking the Ministry wouldn't really do what the newspaper had said, a middle-aged man with a box under his arm walked in through the open double-doors of the Great Hall. With confidence in his step and even a snooty air, he walked up the middle between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables to the head table. Everyone was quiet and all eyes followed him. Worried looks were abundant.
"Headmistress McGonagall," he said imperially.
"Mr Davenport. I assume you are here on official business?" McGonagall directed her sternest look towards the man, who seemed to throw it off with ease.
"I am. We felt my bringing the letters would be easiest. Would you have them handed out? I will address everyone in a moment." He handed the box to her before he turned around and surveyed the students, like a general would his troops.
Behind him, McGonagall opened the box and pulled out stacks of letters. She handed several handfuls to each teacher and let them give them all out. The teachers had to go to each table, as they were not sorted by house. The Ministry man stood and watched emotionlessly the entire time. No one opened their letter; it was as if the group's collective fear prevented it. Even the Slytherins were affected.
Harry stared at the envelope in his hands with his name on it. He wanted to destroy it like a Horcrux, and felt it was about that evil. If he had known wandless magic, he was sure he would have incinerated it already. A quick glance showed Ginny to be looking at hers with great distaste as well. Even though he knew he had a solution for this problem, the letter made the horrible law more real and caused him to want to know what the Ministry thought it could do to him.
Davenport cleared his throat, bringing all eyes from their letters to him. "In your envelope, you will find two pieces of parchment. The first is a letter of information about who you have been assigned to marry. There will also be an address for the location of your future spouse so that you may write him or her to coordinate the wedding and work out the details of where you will live. For most of you, that address will be 'Hogwarts' as we did try to assign someone who was within a few years of your age. If you have already taken your OWLs, I would suggest that you speak with or write your future spouse today, as you are expected to wed within the next thirty days.
"The second parchment is a form that you must fill with the requested information. If you are one of those who must marry within the next thirty days, you must fill in your wedding date and time, as well as where it will be held. All of you must mail this form in by the end of the week such that we receive it by next Monday. The Ministry will send an official to the location of your wedding at the appropriate time to seal the marriage and record that you have fulfilled your duty.
"We do know that some of you do not wish to do this and object to it. However, I will remind you that the Wizengamot has made it law and you must follow it. Failure to follow this law will result in a stay in Azkaban to reconsider your compliance. The Wizengamot did not make this decision lightly, but did so to preserve our heritage and way of life. If there was an error and we accidentally assigned you to marry a first or second cousin, please notify the Headmistress today so that she can contact us and we can change the arrangement.
"I bid you all good luck and many years of happiness," the man said emotionlessly. He turned and nodded at McGonagall before he headed for the door and left.
It wasn't until he no longer heard the man's footsteps that Harry came out of his mental fog at hearing all of that, aware that it was reality and not a nightmare, no matter how much he wished it was a bad dream. With slightly fumbling fingers, he slowly began to open his envelope. His friends around him started to open theirs as well.
Pulling the letter and form out, Harry opened them and read. He shook his head in shock. Murmurs started to rise as students read their letters. Across the hall at the Hufflepuff table, he heard "No way!" being shouted. He had the same feeling.
Looking to his side, he saw Ginny with the expression as if she was about to be sick and lose what little breakfast she had eaten.
"Let me guess, Theo Nott?" he asked. He figured she'd be assigned to a son of a Death Eater, and probably someone fairly prominent as revenge against him. His "choice" certainly looked that way.
Ginny didn't say a word and only held out her letter to him in a shaky hand. The second line that held her "spouse's name" indicated that this was definitely for revenge and had nothing to do with saving Wizarding society. She had been assigned to Draco Malfoy.
Not knowing what else to do, he held his letter out to her and let her read the name of Pansy Parkinson. A look of anger came over her face and he understood. If Draco laid so much as a fingernail on Ginny, he'd kill the Death Eater bastard and preferably with his bare hands. Ginny seemed to feel the same way about Pansy.
"Oh, hell no! I am not marrying Millicent Bulstrode!" Ron exclaimed from across the table.
Harry looked up and saw rage on his best mate's face. He looked at Hermione and wasn't sure he had ever seen her look so angry. "Who?" he softly asked her.
"Gregory Goyle!" she spit out. "I wonder how big the bribe was."
Harry thought that was a brilliant question and part of him was already grimly laughing at how little it was going to matter. "We'll talk about this later." She nodded angrily.
"If I may have your attention?" McGonagall's voice sounded old and tired, much like how she looked. I believe I will cancel classes for the morning to give those who need to see me about the assignment of a close cousin a chance to do so. For the rest of you, please take this time to write your letters or else speak with your assigned partner if he or she is a student here, and start filling out the forms. Lunch will be at the normal time and classes will resume this afternoon."
Harry leaned across the table towards Ron and Hermione. "I hope it doesn't rain before ten." He received a pair of nods and he readied to leave. It was a code phrase they had worked out. It meant they were to pass the word to the DA members to bring others who were on the contract to the Room of Requirement sometime before ten, and they weren't to all come together to avoid being noticed.
Grabbing Ginny's hand, Harry led them out of the Great Hall, after stopping to pass the coded message to a few other Gryffindor DA members that were helping out. The couple took a slow stroll through the castle, meandering their way up. Breakfast had been early enough that they arrived at their special room by nine.
At half past nine, others started to trickle in. A few minutes after ten, Hermione and Ron came in and locked the door.
"I had to Obliviate a few others who followed our group here," she said guiltily.
Harry put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I know you don't like doing that, but thank you for doing it anyway."
She gave him a small smile as a thank you for absolving her. The memory of what she had done to her parents still ate at her, even if she'd been sure it was the only way to keep them safe.
Harry grabbed a wooden chair and stood on it. All of the nearly two hundred students immediately quieted and gave him their undivided attention.
"Now that you've all seen your letters and who you've been assigned, does anyone wish to stay?" He looked around and saw most had an angry or disgusted expression.
Several people shouted at once. "No!" "No way!" "Never!" "Please get me out of here!" The last caused a few nervous chuckles.
"You've all had the basics explained to you so there's no need for me to go over that again. If anyone here has a vault that is in your name at Gringotts, please stay after I'm done." He explained a few last minute changes before letting them leave. "And be damn careful no teacher or someone who isn't going catches you doing any of this!"
"Language, Harry!" Hermione shouted from the back of the room, causing a ripple of true laughter.
Ron stood at the door with the Marauder's Map in hand, letting them go in small numbers with a few minutes between each group, just as they had when evading Umbridge in their fifth year. Ginny made sure each received and left with a potion that had been brewed yesterday. Hermione handed out the appropriate and "newly minted" Muggle documents to each student, using a spell to cause each student's picture to appear inside.
There were six students with vaults. Harry advised them to do what he had done, lest the Ministry try to confiscate the contents of their vaults. One student would need a single three-compartment trunk. The rest only needed a single compartment trunk, but most decided to get a three-compartment trunk to make taking other things easier.
Harry helped the six of them out of the castle and they Apparated to Diagon Alley, each under a few simple glamours. Only one of the students was not a seventh-year, and Harry Side-Along Apparated him. An hour later, they all had their trunks and had emptied out their vaults, except for a single Knut. A few of them also went home and sneaked into their bedroom to grab a few important things, being careful not to run into family.
The afternoon passed slowly. Each student was thinking what they were about to do. Harry and Hermione were giving it more thought than most, worrying they had forgotten something important in their planning. None of the teachers removed points or assigned detentions for inattentiveness; they thought they understood why the students weren't doing their best.
Just before dinner, Harry got ready for the night's activity. He pulled on comfortable blue jeans and a shirt, then put his over-robes on. His special potion and transfigured passport were in his pocket. He packed everything he had and shrunk his normal trunk and put it in one of his multi-compartment trunks, putting both of them in his backpack. Last, he conjured a trunk that looked just like his old one and put the backpack in there for the moment to make everything look normal.
Looking around, he saw his roommates in various stages of doing the same process. Happy with that, he went down to the dorm rooms of some of the younger students to help them. The other seventh year boys joined him a few minutes later.
The two Gryffindors who were not joining the rest were put to sleep and laid out on their beds.
Soon, it was time for dinner. After retrieving his backpack and Disillusioning it, Harry took his special potion. It had an aftertaste like mint, surprising him as one of the few potions he had ever had that hadn't tasted gross. As he walked towards the Great Hall and dinner, he really hoped the potion did what Ginny said it would.
Ginny was waiting for him in the Great Hall, as were his other friends. When he joined them, he leaned towards her for a quiet conversation. "Did you get it all arranged?"
She nodded. "Yes, the elves were willing to help after I swore to them no one would get hurt. They were just like Fred and George told me years ago."
He looked around, feeling a little nervous as the time came closer. "Wait, where's Flitwick?" he suddenly asked when he noticed the head table had an empty chair.
"Luna told me just before you arrived that Flitwick will be sleeping for the next few hours," Ginny told him. "I don't know what happened, but apparently she had to take some sort of action."
Harry chuckled in his relief. "I've always heard that you need to watch out for the quiet ones, that they'll surprise you when you least expect it."
Ginny grinned at him.
Barely ten minutes later, a number of students and all of the teachers started to lean forwards and practically fell face first into their plates. A few slid off their bench and onto the floor. There were a few gasps and several Stunning spells cast at those who had joined dinner late and for whom the sleeping potion had not had enough time to take effect.
Harry stood up. "Everyone, please make sure those who fell asleep are able to breathe, then let's head out!" He pulled out a letter and placed it on the head table in front of the Headmistress, sure she'd find it later.
He watched Hermione and Ron lead the group out of the Great Hall and the front door at a fast walk. Most of the seventh years went to the front while the sixth years waited for the back of the line, with Harry and Ginny taking the very end. He felt that he should be the last to make sure everyone made it and to cover them in case one of the teachers somehow woke up and came after them.
At the front gates, Harry saw eight stiles over them. He and Ginny Vanished them after they had climbed over the steps. Phase one was complete: they had left the school. Now came the trickiest part, he thought.
Continuing their fast walk, they hurried into Hogsmeade. There, they saw a few sixth and seventh years along the path with their wands out. None of the curious onlookers was stopping the long line of students. The older students guarding the procession were acting as an effective deterrent.
At the Three Broomsticks, Harry and Ginny drew their own wands and headed in. Four seventh years stood covering the dozen or so people in the pub as the guards used the Floo network to leave.
"Madam Rosemerta," Harry said with a nod to the owner of the pub. "My apologies for barging in like this, but it seemed like the safest thing to do, as well as the fastest. Here's something for all the Floo Powder we've used," he set a stack of Galleons on a table, "and feel free to buy a round for everyone on me." That produced a smile on everyone's face there.
"Thank you, Mr Potter, that's very gracious of you," she told him. "I can guess what's happening and you have my sympathies. I know that if I were your age, I would be most upset."
Harry watched the last of the younger students leave via the Floo Network and nodded at the last few older students to go ahead. He pulled out another stack of Galleons and set them down. "If I buy a second round for everyone, can I have your promise not to call anyone for the next hour and tell them about our passing through?"
A chorus of "Aye" filled the air.
Madam Rosemerta pulled her wand. "I'll even seal the Floo and say you did it before you Apparated away," she told him with a conspiratorial smile.
"Thank you for your usual excellent service," he said with a bow as Ginny left, leaving him as the last. He gave a wave and then left through the Floo Network as well.
He arrived in the Leaky Cauldron, rolling out of the fireplace and jumping up, ready to fight. Surveying the pub in London, he saw George Weasley and Neville Longbottom holding their wands on Tom the barkeeper, who was sitting in a chair. Ginny was looking very amused at all the patrons in the pub who looked frozen, including two Aurors.
"Hi Harry, so nice of you to join us," George told him jovially.
"I was wondering when you were coming, Harry. There were a lot of people before you," Neville added.
"Well, a lot of us don't like the new law, Neville. I think it's time to go before we're left behind. Is the way to the Alley sealed?" Harry asked as he turned to the Fireplace and sealed it with a spell before he removed his over-robes and stuffed them into his backpack. Ginny stuffed her robes into the backpack as well.
"It is," George answered as he looked to the barman with genuine compassion. "Tom, I'm dreadfully sorry about this my friend." He hit the man with a sleeping spell, causing him to slump over. "Let's go!" he cried as he led the way out of the pub.
Harry continued to go last and sealed the outside door to the pub when he was on the sidewalk. He grabbed Ginny's hand and they ran after George and Neville to the car park with the last bus. As they entered the bus and saw an expectant looking driver, Harry said, "I'm the last; you may go." With a nod, the driver closed the door and started driving them to their destination.
Looking around as he took a seat next to Ginny, he saw that the bus was only about half full. Still, this was the sixth bus and that meant they had a little under 300 people on this adventure.
"This is really nice, Harry. The seats are quite comfortable too," Ginny told him as she looked around the bus. "I didn't know they made anything like this."
Harry chuckled. "I think you'll find the Muggle world is full of surprises. How do you feel about learning about a lot more of the Muggle world?"
Ginny was silent for longer than he expected, so he looked over to her and watched her give his question intense thought for a long moment. "I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the idea, but as long I'm learning it with you I'll do it."
He reached over and grabbed her hand and squeezed it as he gave her a loving look. "Together?"
She smiled brightly back at him. "Together."
George, who was in the row in front of them, turned around in his seat and looked over the top if it at them. "If I didn't have Angelina, that would be sickening, it's so syrupy and sweet."
Ginny rolled her eyes at her brother. "Shush you, we're still working things out."
"I thought you two were a done deal?" he asked surprisingly serious.
She looked at her boyfriend for a moment before looking back at her brother. "Probably, but we're not in a huge rush. We need to finish school first and we want to take time to ensure we want to make this permanent."
George shrugged and sat normally again, talking to Neville beside him.
Ginny looked at Harry. "Do you think you want to spend a lot of time in the Muggle world?" She watched him closely.
He was pleased she was asking about this. It made him feel they were trying to make their relationship really work. "I don't know that I want us to live in the Muggle world, but I think I'd like for us to live in a mixed world. Why can't we find a place where Muggles and Wizards live side by side, having the best of both worlds?"
"Sounds like good dream, Harry, but I've never heard of a place like that."
"But if we found a place like that, or if we started a place like that, would you live there?" Now he watched her consider the question. He also studied the light freckles on her face as he waited. She was so cute.
"That might work well as we could have the Wizarding parts, but slowly learn the Muggle parts without pressure." She smiled coyly at him. "I'd be willing to try it with you."
He couldn't help it after an answer like that. Harry reached over and gently pulled her to him and kissed her - over and over as they traveled through London to the train station.
Harry wouldn't have stopped kissing her when the bus came to a stop if Neville hadn't gotten his attention by calling his name. George had ignored them as he got up to leave the bus, for which Harry had been grateful. He knew George liked him and trusted him with Ginny, but he also liked not having to deal with George's occasionally snarky comments.
As they made their way to the train station on the English end for the Chunnel Train, Harry saw what looked like his Uncle Vernon directing students towards the entrance, with Hermione standing right beside him. He walked up to the large man with Ginny's hand in his. She didn't seem inclined to let go, probably for fear of getting lost in the Muggle area.
"Dennis, I really appreciate this. I thought you'd have an easier job of this because you were raised in the Muggle world."
Vernon/Dennis looked at him. "You should appreciate this, Harry," he said a little sarcastically. "I can't tell you how gross this is or how large I had to make my boxers and shoes and socks to fit on this body."
"Thanks again. Did you have any trouble with the tickets?"
"No, they took the credit card just fine. Did you know we bought nearly half the seats on this train?"
Harry grinned. "Nope, but better the train be twice as large as we need rather than half too small. I really don't want to be around once the Ministry figures out we're doing a runner."
Hermione turned to the couple. "We're the last ones. Here are your tickets. Do you have your passports?"
"I do," he answered as he took the two tickets. Ginny fished her fake passport out as did Harry. "Vernon" and Hermione went through security followed by Harry and Ginny, still taking up the end position. He did his best to keep looking around without trying to be conspicuous about it. He also listened very carefully for the sound of Apparition arrivals. Fortunately, no wizards suddenly arrived by the time he boarded the train and they took seats facing Ron and Hermione.
Ron and Ginny were amazed at how smooth and quiet the train was when it started moving, comparing it to the Hogwarts Express. Hermione and Harry exchanged knowing smiles.
Harry also felt very relieved when the train started moving, knowing they couldn't be stopped now.
Harry felt even more relieved when the train entered the Paris station. Slinging his backpack over his shoulders, now he and Ginny took the lead and let Hermione and Ron take the tail position of the group.
It didn't take long for him to find Fleur waving at them, nor to see the rather tall and broad woman in an older style dress standing next to the part-Veela, who was dressed quite fashionably in a Muggle dress.
"'Arry! Welcome to Paris!" She gave him and then Ginny a hug. Harry was pleased to see that Ginny looked more approving of her sister-in-law now, although Ginny still had her moments when she wasn't completely nice to Fleur.
"Thanks, Fleur; it's really good to be away from there."
"Monsieur Potter, it is good to meet you again," the large woman greeted him with a regal nod.
"Madam Maxime, you are looking well and it is good to see you again," he returned genuinely happy.
"I understand you need some 'elp?"
"Yes, Headmistress. If you could allow almost 300 of us to stay at your school for a few days, and then about half of that to attend this year, we would be most grateful. Even if none of us can attend your school, letting us stay there for a few days while we work out where to go would be an enormous help." He gave his best pleading look and hoped.
The half-giant gave a booming chuckle. "Monsieur Potter, do not waste your efforts on me; I would be more than 'appy to 'elp and show your stupid Ministry how civilized people behave. I 'ave many Portkeys for your group to use and we 'ave extra rooms for those who want to transfer to Beauxbatons. Come, bring your group to a nearby private meeting room that I have reserved and you can leave from there." She waved to the growing crowd of students and led them away, with Harry and Ginny leading the pack.
"I told you there would be no trouble, 'Arry," Fleur told him teasingly as she walked along.
"You did," he agreed good-naturedly.
"It's all because of your good idea and planning." Ginny played up her boyfriend's part purposefully.
"I may have had the idea, but it was a group effort," he said a little bashfully. "But the important part is that the stupid law is behind us and we have a new life in front of us."
"Together?" Ginny asked with a hopeful smile.
"Together!" he agreed, relaxing more and more.
That evening as they were all getting settled into a hastily created dorm room, Luna Lovegood came to find Harry and handed him large, thick, and very old looking book.
"I think you'll want to contact some of the people in here," she told him expressionlessly as she slowly blinked.
"Err, what is it and where did you get it?" Harry asked as Ron, Neville, and George came over to look as well.
"I took it from Professor Flitwick's office. I didn't think they really needed it anymore. I do hope he didn't hurt himself when I stunned him." She pulled her wand out of her hair and used it to scratch her back as she looked around the room, as if making sure it was secure from something.
"You stunned Flitwick?" Neville asked wide-eyed. "I didn't think that was possible. He was a dueling champion."
"It's always the quiet ones you need to watch out for," George said with a smirk, while Ron was merely shaking his head.
Harry opened the tome and it creaked. The first page showed "1457" and contained a list of names. A few of the surnames were recognizable, like "Black", "Bones", "Potter", and "Smith".
Luna reached over and flipped it to the last page. It was labeled "1998" and had only about twenty names on it, none of which he recognized.
"What is it?" Harry asked again.
"It's the magical birth book. You won't need to contact the Pureblood families, but the Muggle-borns should be warned, especially those children older than five." She wound her hair around her wand and put it across the top of her head to hold her hair up again while she slowly blinked owlishly at him.
As Harry figured out what he held, he flipped back to "1980" and sure enough, there was his name along with everyone else in his "first-year class". There were also some names he'd never seen before. He pointed at one, "What about this one: Lane, Cynthia? I've never heard of her."
Luna shrugged. "She went somewhere else, or maybe she was homeschooled." She tilted her head a little. "Or maybe she's with your parents and my mother."
Harry slowly closed the book and reached out to grab one of her hands. "Thank you, Luna. This is very considerate of you. We'll work out a way to reach those who don't know about the law so they can decide what to do before their children turn eleven."
She gave him a small smile. "I knew you'd do the right thing; you're Nargle-free." She squeezed his hand before she left.
Harry turned to Ron. "Do you suppose your Dad would be willing to covertly contact the Muggle-born parents of younger children? He should know who the Pureblood and Half-blood families are and who doesn't need to be contacted."
Ron chuckled. "I'm sure he'd love it, Harry. Think of how many Muggles he'd get to meet that way."
Feeling better about how they had dealt with the stupid law, Harry put the book away for now. He'd see that the names made their way to Fleur and then Arthur Weasley.
Some of the Hogwarts students went out in small groups to the edge of the wards of Beauxbatons and used the cell phones Hermione had brought with her; there was a cell phone tower on a nearby mountain top. These were mostly Muggle-born students along with the occasional Half-blood whose family lived in a Muggle house with a telephone.
For those whose family didn't have a telephone, owls with letters were sent.
In all cases, explanations were given about why the student was no longer at Hogwarts and how the family was to meet up again. The number of homes and businesses for sale in Britain rose suddenly over the week.
Over a hundred of the escapees left Beauxbatons a few days later for Australia, led by Neville Longbottom. Fleur's father had been very helpful in contacting the Australian Ministry of Magic, who were bending over backwards to help the refugees. Neville and the others who had finished school headed for the Land Down Under to begin Harry's dream. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione stayed at Beauxbatons along with about 175 others to finish their education. All of the escapees got to marry as they desired.
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall led all of the senior staff into courtroom ten in the Ministry of Magic. They had been summoned by the Wizengamot because of the mass exodus of students four days prior. She knew this would be a "witch hunt", figuratively speaking. She was also fairly certain that neither she nor none of her staff could be charged with anything. Or at least she thought that was true as long as normal sense prevailed - which was not guaranteed, given the recent law they had enacted.
She couldn't fail to notice that the courtroom held the full Wizengamot, the stands were full of Ministry employees, and there were no reporters to be seen. McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Slughorn, and Jordan took a seat at the table facing the Wizengamot. McGonagall felt sympathy towards Wendell Jordan, the new head of Gryffindor and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He was not quite thirty and had little experience in dealing with the Ministry of Magic.
Chief Warlock Adrian Parkinson (father of Pansy Parkinson) called the assembly to order and began the proceedings. "Headmistress McGonagall," he started, fixing her with a disapproving expression. "Nearly two hundred students left your school four days ago and from what we can tell, have also fled the country in direct violation of the law. Please explain to us what happened and why you and your staff should not be charged with aiding them as accomplices."
The majority of the Wizengamot was intently scrutinizing her, as if expecting her to be unable to answer. The only friendly face before her was Minister Shacklebolt, whose hands were figuratively tied in this matter.
"Chief Warlock, my staff and I not only did not know the event in question was to happen, but we are willing to take an oath that we had no knowledge of its planning, execution, and had no way to prevent it from happening."
Angry murmurs arose. "You expect us to believe you were unable to stop them?" Wizengamot member Donald Greengrass shouted at her from the first tier of seats.
McGonagall fixed him with a steely look. "You do realize, do you not, that the leaders of this movement were Hermione Granger, considered the brightest witch of her generation, and Harry Potter, the defeater of Voldemort?" At the mention of the Dark Lord's name, many gasps were heard and Greengrass flinched. She smiled. "You, who can not even stand to hear a simple name, would not be able to stand up to Harry Potter. I can tell you that I would not be able to stand up to Harry Potter in a fight, although I never had the need to try. They took every precaution to ensure that every teacher and every student who was not going with them was unconscious when they left. How were we supposed to prevent their leaving if no one was awake?"
"Why were you not awake?"
"Because they brewed a sleeping potion and put it in everyone's food. While I can't prove it, I believe they were able to get away with it because they took an antidote before dinner, so they could eat the very same food and not be affected," McGonagall explained. "After we were all knocked unconscious, it was child's play for them to leave the school's grounds, where my responsibility ended."
"And no one detected this potion in their food?"
With a look from the Headmistress, Slughorn fielded that question. "They used a potion that is clear and almost undetectable by taste alone. If you ingested some by itself, you would notice a slightly salty taste, nothing out of the ordinary in food. In fact, this potion is regularly given to children because it is so easy for them to take."
"What happened after that?" Lucius Malfoy asked from his seat in the Wizengamot.
"You would need to ask the Aurors. As I pointed out, my responsibility ends at the school gates," she replied frostily.
"Mr Gowen, we will hear your report," the Chief Warlock called out loudly.
An older man with graying hair stepped out of the visitor's gallery and took the empty seat next to McGonagall. The newest head of the MLE didn't look happy to be there.
"Chief Warlock and members of the Wizengamot. In our investigations, we found that the students who left Hogwarts entered into the establishment called the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Some of the older students held those present captive at wand-point until Mr Potter came, accompanied by his girlfriend, Ginevra Weasley."
In the gallery, Arthur Weasley grimaced. This would probably not go well for him, he thought. He wondered if Minerva needed a new Muggle Studies teacher.
"All of the students, including Mr Potter, used the Floo Network to travel to the Leaky Cauldron establishment in Diagon Alley. They were able to do so because they were joined by a few of the recently-graduated students who had already entered the establishment and secured it for them. The students and former students all left together." Gowen's voice held steady, although his expression did not and turned sour. "They even stunned two Aurors who were present, although they were not on duty at the time."
Derisive sounds filled the air, causing Gowen to wonder how long he'd be keeping this job.
"All of the students left the establishment by way of the door to Muggle London. We don't know what became of them after that. Efforts to find them all failed until yesterday when a message came from the Ambassador for France, who has said the students were safe in France and that France has offered them asylum as well as safe passage to any country they liked, or immigration to stay in France. All of it was within the rules laid down by the ICW; therefore, there is nothing more the MLE can do. Were we to try to retrieve the missing students, it would be considered an act of war and the majority of the ICW nations would be against us."
Angry looks abounded as angry conversation rose noisily. The Chief Warlock cast a Cannon Blast charm as he slumped into his seat looking very defeated.
McGonagall cleared her throat loudly before she called out, "Chief Warlock, Mr Potter did leave a letter behind. I can read it if you like."
Parkinson sat up straighter and looked very interested, as did many others. "What did the young rebel," he said derisively, "have to say for himself?"
The Headmistress thought that was totally uncalled for, considering what the Wizengamot had done. Nevertheless, she held her retort as she pulled the letter out and unfolded it. Everyone in the large chamber quieted to hear what was about to read.
I deeply regret putting you in the position I have left you and the all the other teachers in. If all has gone as we've planned, you will find most of the students have left Hogwarts and Britain. We also renounce our British citizenship and leave behind all claims the British Ministry of Magic and the Wizengamot have over us. We're sorry we couldn't tell you about this beforehand, but as Hermione pointed out, we couldn't tell you as you would have then been obligated to stop us or become accomplices if you helped us, and we didn't want any of you to get hurt with either action.
On the other hand, none of us have any regrets about inconveniencing or even hurting the Wizengamot and the Ministry of Magic for trying to take away our freedom. They are reaping what they have sown. I did not fight Voldemort - the self-styled Dark Lord - for us to be treated like this. It is obvious to us from the way this was handled and by the so-called partners picked for us that this misbegotten law had nothing to do with rebuilding our society, but that it was yet another attempt by the Purebloods to sieze more power. To that, we say: May the Bigoted Purebloods join Voldemort and all rot in hell!
While there are some in the Ministry of Magic for whom we have a great deal of respect, the fact that the Ministry did not protect us from this power-grab has shown us that it is either in collusion with those who are destroying our society or entirely ineffectual.
Therefore, we've left Britain and saved as much of our generation as we could. The Wizengamot said they didn't want to lose the next generation, but their actions say just the opposite - that they don't care about us.
They have lost us and we're not coming back.
Headmistress, you and the other teachers still have our respect. If any of you want to leave Britain and join us, you'll be welcome. I'm sure you can find us in the future if you try.
As she finished reading the letter, chaos broke out again in the chamber. The letter was also jerked out of her hand with a Summoning spell; she watched it fly across the room to the Chief Warlock. He read it while shouting echoed in the room, and then laid it down wearily when he had finished verifying that it was as she had read.
When it quieted down, a very old Ezra Smith (great-grandfather of Zach Smith) spoke up. "Chief Warlock, I have a question for the head of the Department of Records."
Before Parkinson could call her, an elderly graying lady stood and walked down from the gallery. Gowen stood and gave her his seat, retreating to the gallery to escape scrutiny.
"Madam Davies," Smith called in a strong voice despite his age, "can you please tell us how many children will be starting Hogwarts next year? How many will we have to replace those who have left?"
The woman looked very fearful and hesitated for a moment before she finally answered, "I don't know. You would need to consult the Book of Magical Births at Hogwarts. The Ministry gave their copy to the school after theirs was destroyed in a fire several decades ago and our copy was never replaced."
Attention swung back to the professors.
"I'm afraid that is not an option," Flitwick replied. "In their escape, the book was taken."
More angry shouts and jeers were shouted at the teacher's failure, but Flitwick ignored them all in a stoic manner until quiet returned.
"We can create a new one, but it will take several months of fulltime research and testing on my part as well as a search for someone to create it," Flitwick told them.
"Please explain that," Smith called out.
"The original Hogwarts Book of Magical Births was not replaced when lost because we didn't know how to create one. No instructions were ever recorded from the creation of the original two, as it was believed we'd never need more. I have spent some spare time over the last ten years considering this problem. I believe I know the theory of how to create one, but since I never have, it will take some time for me to do so successfully. Also, the Arithmantic equations I have generated indicate it will take someone very powerful to cast the charms to bind it to our land. When the book was lost, Albus Dumbledore would have been selected, had this been a priority task. You-Know-Who also would have had the power, although I don't believe he ever would have helped us. If asked who could do it now, I would have suggested Harry Potter, but he has no reason to help us after being driven out of the country." Flitwick knew he might have just ended his career here, but he really didn't care - not after what the Wizengamot had recently mandated. A large number of people owed him favors and he had standing offers of work, some not in this country.
Most of the Wizengamot glared at the short professor, but he didn't let it bother him any more than the other unfriendly looks from earlier.
"Professor Flitwick," the Chief Warlock said imperiously, "the Wizengamot hereby commands you to immediately start work on recreating that magical book for the benefit of our society. As soon as it is recreated, you will deliver it to the Ministry so that we may find the children who are about to turn eleven and bring them into protective custody."
"I'm afraid you misunderstand the magic of the book, sir," Flitwick argued. "It will not be immediately up to date, but will only show the births from the time it is created. Therefore, if the work is completed on the first of January of the new year, then only children born after that day will appear in the book. All names of magical children born for the last eleven years are lost to us without the existing book."
More shouting and arguing broke out. Flitwick looked at McGonagall and they shared a knowing look, fully realizing what it all meant, and each agreeing to the obvious path with a slight nod.
When the shouting quieted down, Ezra Smith stood. "Chief Warlock, in case it is not obvious to you or anyone else here, with the leaving of such a large percentage of our children and bluntly put, breeding stock, not to mention not knowing who will replace them and the fact that I've noticed a significant number of businesses owned by non-Pureblood families closing in the last couple of days, I can safely predict that our society as we know it today is doomed. Therefore, I resign my position on the Wizengamot as my family will also be leaving Britain to join a more viable magical community." He turned and slowly started to leave.
Pandemonium and chaos overtook the room. The Hogwarts professors took the opportunity to leave and no one stopped them. Flitwick started to mentally calculate how much space it would take to pack up the Hogwarts library as he walked out.
Everything said and speculated on in the courtroom was in the next day's Daily Prophet thanks to a beetle that had been present. The slow exodus of Wizarding Britain had begun.
Ginny walked into the front courtyard of Beauxbatons with her trunk floating behind her. Spotting Harry sitting on a bench and enjoying the warm late spring day, she walked over to him. With an impish grin, she set her trunk down on the ground and then sat herself on his lap.
"Are you ready to travel?" she asked. His relaxed look belied his excitement to everyone except those who knew him well, as she did.
"I am. You know we need to wait for the others, no matter how much you want to go," he said teasingly.
She leaned down and lightly kissed him. "Are you sure we're making the right decision? Dad says that there are so few Wizards left in Britain that it would be easy to start a new government and do it right this time."
"He also said that most of those left are those we'd least want to work with too." He shook his head and sighed overdramatically. "No, I like the idea of going east and joining Neville and the place they've set up. I still can't believe how helpful the Aussie magical government has been to them. They have their own good-sized island off the northern coast and it's hidden unless you're practically on the beach. It's also integrated with nearly a third of the thousand people living there being Muggles or Squibs. Even Hermione's parents let her settle them there over Christmas after they forgave her for the memory charms and for changing her living plans again."
Ginny nodded. "It does sound Utopian. Do you really think it will live up to everyone's hopes and dreams as a model for the new world? That sounds so difficult when I think about everything required."
"It will be difficult," he agreed, "but very few wonderful things are easy to do." He stroked her head and moved a few stray hairs back from her face, earning him a smile from her. "I'm willing to try and make a go at it. I think we need to as well. I believe it won't be too long before the Muggles find out the Magical World and we need to be able to show them that we can live in harmony with them. I think it will happen in our lifetime."
"Are you going to continue to feed Dad the names of the Muggle-born so he can locate and inform them that they're magical?" she asked, looking a little worried. "I know you said you would, but that was before we decided to go to Australia."
"I will. I don't understand your parents' unwillingness to leave there and join us, but I'm glad he's willing to help the new Muggle-born."
"It's Mum, you know. She's the one who won't leave The Burrow. At least Dad was able to convince her to come visit us occasionally." Ginny leaned against Harry, making herself completely comfortable. "Good thing most of my brothers are waiting for us. I do wish Bill would come, but he and Fleur are determined to stay as well. I think it's Fleur's fault," she stated with a slight frown.
"Hey, don't get upset that Fleur wants to stay somewhere near her family. She's not wanting anything you're not," he scolded her slightly, and then kissed her cheek to remove most of the sting. Ginny had mostly accepted Fleur, but the occasional resentment surfaced. He still wasn't sure why Ginny didn't like the part-Veela, and she could give no good reason when he asked.
"I suppose," Ginny said wearily, not getting upset with him.
"So where are you going to live for the next few months? Have you stopped changing your mind and finally picked a place?" He watched her profile with curiosity.
Ginny harrumphed and frowned slightly. "Harry, I'm a woman. I'm allowed to change my mind."
She lifted her left hand and gazed at the diamond ring on her finger. "I've decided to move in with you. You'll need someone to help decorate. You may be able to cook as well or better than I do, but your decorating skills are pants."
He chuckled and squeezed her waist for a few seconds. "I won't disagree on the decorating, but I thought you didn't want to have sex until we were married? I only planned to buy one bed for now."
"I think I'll move the wedding forward to a month from now. You don't mind do you?" she asked coyly.
He snorted. "Ginny, if you wear any of those 'little outfits' I caught you in once when it's just the two of us in a house alone, we won't make it a month."
She sat up so she could twist his face towards her a little and kissed him soundly. "Thank you, Harry. Then I guess I'll need to save those 'little outfits', as you call them, until after we're married. I can wear long gowns to bed for the next month."
Harry looked upward as he pleaded, "Help me survive." He received a chuckle and a light slap on his chest for his cheeky comment.
Ron, Hermione, the rest of the other British recent graduates, and three Beauxbatons graduates walked into the courtyard with their trunks floating behind them. Harry couldn't help but notice that Henri was standing next Hermione again and that Hermione seemed pleased when she glanced at him. Another woman who couldn't make up her mind, he thought with amusement.
Headmistress Maxime stood at the back of the group and addressed them. "I see you are all present. I 'ave enjoyed 'aving all of you 'ere this year. I also wish you the best of luck now that you 'ave finished your education. You 'ave already made an impact on the world," she looked at Harry a little longer than she had the others, "and I am sure you will continue to do so. As former students, you are always welcome to come and visit." She gave them each a very gentle hug, with Harry and Ginny needing to rise to do so.
"'Ere is your Portkey to Athens Greece. They will give you a Portkey for the next leg of your journey to join your friends. Although I doubt it will be necessary with Professors McGonagall and Flitwick recently going ahead of you, please write for advice for your new school if you need it. I will be 'appy to 'elp where I can. Good luck," she ended with a nod to the group.
Harry grabbed the rope Portkey and his trunk. When all the other new graduates had too, Headmistress Maxime touched the Portkey with her wand to activate it and send them off.
She mentally wished them luck again, though she had no doubt they would do well in whatever they did. After all, they had already killed a Dark Wizard and toppled a backward society. Their new settlement and society off the coast of Australia was already the talk of the ICW and academic circles. They had vision and freedom, and she had no doubt they would show the world what they could do with it all.
(A/N: I don't think Ron and Hermione ended up together, but I left it open ended so you could decide on your own. I hope you enjoyed this little bit of fun that didn't want to let go of me. - Kevin)