AN: Wow! What an amazing response. You guys are awesome! Thank you so much.
Sorting It Out
It was two weeks after the thirty day deadline had expired when a rather elegant jet black eagle owl soared over the countryside. It's destination...
The home of the Weasley clan was the current location of the person addressed on one of the parchments Digby had clenched in his massive talons. Spotting a perch outside what must be the kitchen window, the majestic owl gracefully swooped down spreading out his beautiful wings to their full span. Seeing the approaching bird, Errol promptly let out a horrified screech and flew to a nearby tree.
At his age, he figured that discretion was the better part of valour. An imposing bird such as the one fast approaching would be given plenty of space. Better that than be torn to shreds by the evil looking creature. Besides, he knew Mistress Molly could never replace him.
The Great Hall at Hogwarts was buzzing with hundreds of conversations. The majority of which were centered on the uproar caused by the marriage law. The seventh years were particularly upset due to the fact that each and every one of them would be married within one month of graduation.
The ministry had graciously granted them that little bit of leeway.
A rather nasty growl from the Headmistress hadn't hurt either.
Minerva McGonagall surveyed the students as a whole; a sad expression watering her deep emerald eyes. These young people were the future of the wizarding world. Their deeds would shape history to come. How many of them would not be able to reach their full potential due to the fact that the ministry was forcing them to breed like cattle? How many futures would be changed forever?
Filius Flitwick had been paying rather close attention to the Headmistress of late. Actually the entire faculty had been paying close attention as Minerva was the one who would be the greatest affected of the staff. The rest of the professors had already been paired...
He and Pomona had been married for years. Rolanda had Henny and were currently trying to decide just who was going to get pregnant. Poppy and her husband had begun taking fertility potions in addition to hoping that the new Viagra Potion would help him along. Hagrid had proposed to Olympe Maxmine. Her only stipulation was that she was NOT going to live in his hut. Their wedding was scheduled for the weekend.
Aurora Sinistra had accepted Amos Diggory. The wizard had lost his wife a year after loosing his only son to Voldemort. Flitwick smiled as he thought that the gentle and kind Astronomy Professor would be perfect for the still grieving Diggory. The only member of the staff not matched was Minerva.
They cared for the fierce witch with a loyalty that ran deep. Perhaps deeper than that of Dumbledore as the majority of the staff had not forgiven the old schemer for manipulating Harry Potter and by extension them, prior to the events that led to the great battle.
Filius turned his head to face Rolanda Hooch as she addressed the Headmistress.
McGonagall focussed her penetrating gaze on the flying instructor, "Yes?"
"It'll be alright you know."
A quizzical eyebrow rose, "Indeed? And just how will it be alright?"
Taking a deep breath, Hooch replied, "The sorting hat knows you perhaps best of all. It will not place you with a wizard who isn't compatible."
A sardonic snort erupted from the Headmistress as she replied, "It will not place me with a wizard at all!" With that, she placed her napkin on her empty plate and gracefully rose from her seat. Staring out at the students, she added, "If you will excuse me, I must fetch said hat and floo to the ministry for a meeting with Kingsley." The ministers name was said with a touch of venom lacing her speech.
Watching the powerful witch elegantly glide to the staff exit, Hooch leaned over to Flitwick, "Whut does that mean?"
Filius sighed, "Due to an injury she suffered at the hands of Grindlewald, she is unable to bear children. Half of her potential mates would be eliminated because of that." The small professor stared into the yellow eyes of Rolanda Hooch as the realization of his statement hit home.
Rolanda's mouth fell open as Flitwick's words became clear, Shaking her head in consternation, she whispered "Oh Merlin..."
Minerva McGonagall had to be paired with a witch.
Gasping, Hooch blurted out, "But she's straight!"
Nodding Flitwick replied, "Indeed."
Digby ruffled his shiny feathers and let out a soft hoot as he spied the Mistress of the Burrow.
Molly smiled as she noticed the great owl waiting, "Well now, who do we have here?" She waved her wand at the window and watched as the enormous bird carefully flew inside and landed on the kitchen table. The large creature stuck out it's leg showing her the parchment he'd brought.
"Well alright then." She said as she carefully untied the message. Reaching for the warming platter that held the beginnings of the breakfast she was working on, she plucked a sausage from the pile and gently offered it to the owl.
Digby carefully speared it from her hand with his razor sharp beak and let out a greatful hoot as he promptly gulped the meat down. Giving a small bow, the owl then promptly flew out of the window and set off for the ministry. His job was done.
"Such a nice owl." Molly muttered as she stepped back to the stove.
A disgruntled hoot sounded from the still open window as Errol settled back on his perch. Smiling, Molly plucked another sausage from the platter and said, "No owl could replace you my sweet bird."
Mollified, Errol took the offered sausage and gulped it down. With a soft hoot, he then proceeded to preen his feathers.
Minerva stared up at the shelf that held her future. Quite literally actually as that particular shelf was the home of Hogwarts sorting hat. Although the ancient article had no eyes, the older witch couldn't help but think it was staring back at her.
"You know I cannot bear children do you not?" Her question was directed at the hat. It didn't utter a word but the portraits that decorated her office certainly did.
"So that's why you never married?"
"You can't have children?"
"Oh Tabby, just because you cannot conceive does not mean you cannot become a parent."
That last statement was made by her late dear friend Albus. A single tear trickled down a high boned cheek as the Headmistress took a deep, shuddering breath.
Without uttering a word, Minerva reached up and pulled the hat off of the shelf and placed on her own head. Almost immediately the hat began to speak...
"You carry a heavy sorrow within you my dear but fear not. Sorrow will soon turn to great joy for I know exactly who you belong with. I shall not say it now, oh no that would not be fair. To you or the young lady in question."
Minerva growled, "In case you did not realize, I am NOT A LESBIAN!"
The hat chuckled, "I did not say that you were. However, you have a piece missing from your soul and this young woman possesses it. Without her, you shall go on feeling empty and alone for the rest of your days. No you are not a lesbian per se, but you will mate with this woman and produce a child. You must."
Troubled, Minerva walked to the window and gazed out at the Black Lake. The hat, still perched on her head asked, "Tell me what burdens your heart."
A shaking hand wiped away another tear as the great witch felt her shoulders sag, "How can you be so sure that my true mate is a woman? I have never even looked at another woman let alone considered one for my wife."
Another soft chuckle erupted from the hat, "I am not speaking of just any woman. I am speaking of your soulmate. Your one true love. This woman will complete you Minerva McGonagall. You only have to let her."
"Arthur! Hermione! Come down here!" Molly bellowed in her best mum voice.
A thunder of footsteps could be heard bumbling down the many stairs of the burrow. Apparently more than just the two people Molly had summoned were coming. The entire group, which included every living soul in the burrow including Crookshanks, stumbled into the kitchen.
"What is it dear?" Arthur queried as he untangled himself from the group.
Molly was standing at the sink holding two pieces of parchment. With shaking hands, she raised the first piece and recited, "Dear Arthur and Molly Weasley. Due to the prolific nature of your marriage and the amazing courage and fortitude of your offspring, you are hereby commanded to produce more."
"Whut?" Arthur was dumbfounded.
Molly nodded, "There's more. It says here that partners that have already produced children and are still within the prescribed age limit are required to produce a child within a year of receiving this letter. As an added bonus they are offering a stipend of one hundred galleons per month for each additional child produced after the required first one up till that child reaches the age of seventeen."
Steam could be seen puffing out of Molly Weasley's nostrils as she screeched, "I've birthed seven children and never got a single knut let alone a galleon and now they want to pay me to reproduce?" She angrily tapped her foot as she added, "You wait till I get my wand on Kingsley Shacklebolt!"
Arthur stood in the middle of the kitchen, his mouth open. A sound was coming from his throat. Sort of a cross between a hiss and a sob. Like someone had just let out all the air in his body.
George moved over to his father. Patting him on the back he whispered, "Alright then?"
Arthur's mouth moved but no words came out.
Shaking his head, George asked, "What's in the other parchment?"
Molly glanced down at the other envelope, "Oh, this one is for Hermione." She searched the crowd for the lovely young student. Seeing chocolate eyes gazing at her in trepidation, she sighed and said, "Your sorting day is this Saturday. You are to report to the Wizengamot Chamber at nine a.m. sharp."
That Saturday at precisely nine in the morning, the imposing wrought iron doors of the Wizengamot Chamber opened to allow the first one hundred people summoned for the sorting. For many of them, this meant it was just a preliminary meeting with the hat. It would be folly to assume that the hat would find you a mate the first time around. Many people were anticipating a return invitation.
Hermione Granger gazed around the immense chamber with a combination of resentment and awe. Yes this is where centuries of wizarding law had been made but this was also the place where the marriage law had been enacted. She felt a huge amount of annoyance bubbling up in her stomach over this whole affair.
As she moved to find a place, she spied many familiar faces in the room. One face she desperately hoped to avoid.
Cormac McClaggen eyed the dark eyed witch with a certain greedy gleam in his eye. He had wanted Granger for years. Now he finally had a chance to have her!
Minerva McGonagall entered the room hoping to blend in. She'd left her trademark hat at the school and was clad in navy blue robes instead of her traditional green. Quietly, she found a seat near the door. Secretly she was hoping to be able to make a break for it should she be matched with someone unsuitable.
Draco Malfoy entered the chamber with a snarky expression on his aristocratic face. A single eyebrow rose as he scanned the room for familiar faces. He smirked when he saw Granger. Moving to a spot high up, he continued to seek out familiar faces. A lovely blonde witch caught his eye. Grey eyes took careful inventory of the slim yet curvaceous build, the small hands, the lovely face...
That's Luna Lovegood!
Rolling his eyes, he sat back with a snort.
The tall, muscular form of Kingsley Shacklebolt made his way to the podium set up on a small platform. Raising his hand, the dark skinned man waited as the crowd quieted itself.
"Today is the first session of sorting. For some of you this will be the first of many sessions. For others, you will leave here today with your partner." His deep brown eyes fell on the regal features of McGonagall. The emerald eyed witch shot him a withering glare. It would be a long time before the Headmistress deigned to speak to him again.
Sighing, he continued, "As your name is called, please come up and allow the hat a chance to assess you."
One by one people were called to the floor and the sorting hat was placed upon their heads. When it came time for Cormac McClaggen to have a turn, he sat still as Kingsley placed the hat on his head. As the Minister walked away, the young man whispered, "If you don't mind, I should like Hermione Granger as my wife."
The answering laughter that erupted from the hat echoed throughout the chamber, "Surely you don't think yourself worthy of such a witch do you boy?"
Cormac's face flushed beet red.
Snickering, the hat continued, "You need a witch who has simple tastes yet isn't afraid to knock you down a peg or two." There was a pause, then the hat exclaimed, "I know! Millicent Bulstrode!"
Cormac McClaggen had to be carried out of the chamber as he had fainted. Young Bulstrode trotted beside her soon-to-be husband's gurney as he was levitated from the room.
Hermione's relieved laughter bounced around the room like one of George Weasley's fireworks. She spied Malfoy looking her way and sent a shrug in his direction.
The sorting hat bellowed, "Luna Lovegood."
The crowd watched as the willowy blonde skipped to the podium. As the hat was placed upon her blonde head, she whispered, "I hope you don't have any cootiliums or narglets. Especially after being on Cormac's head."
A snort could be heard from the hat as it replied, "I'll have you know madam I am infestation free thank you very much." There was an offended tone in it's voice.
Luna smiled dreamily, "Oh I don't mean to hurt your feelings but you can never be too sure about these kinds of things. Especially about narglets. They get everywhere. Daddy once got them in his underpants. He couldn't sit for a month." She let out a giggle.
If the hat could raise an eyebrow, it would've. "Indeed. Now young lady are you ready?"
"Oh yes Mr. Hat."
Sighing, the hat screeched, "Draco Malfoy!"
All eyes fell upon the tall, slim platinum haired wizard as he stood and stared down from his place at the top-most row in the chamber.
Luna removed the hat and placed it back on the podium. Holding her hand out, she stated, "Come dear."
Tittering could be heard as young Malfoy slowly made his way down to the podium and his new wife. Those nearest him could swear his bottom lip was quivering.
When it came Hermione's turn, she pulled on her Gryffindor face and wrapped her courage around herself like a cloak. Proudly she marched to the podium giving Kingsley the "fish-eye" as she passed.
"You'd think I had narglets from the look you just gave me." He bitched as he placed the hat on her head.
The hat sat upon the wild mane of the Granger witch for a long moment. When he finally spoke it was to her alone, "You are a remarkable witch. Powerful, intelligent, magnificent. What kind of person are you looking for?"
Hermione was surprised that the hat was asking, but was grateful. "Well I guess I want a wizard who I can have a conversation with. Someone who enjoys the same things I do... um a man whom I can grow old with I suppose."
She heard a soft chuckle as the hat asked, "What if that person were a witch and not a wizard? How would you feel?"
Hermione was taken aback by the question, "Um well... I've never really found myself attracted to witches but that's not saying if the right one came along I wouldn't give it a go. My generation seems to be a bit more open minded about such things."
The hat sounded joyful as it replied, "Well my dear, I think the right one has arrived. Your mate is indeed a witch." There was a pause, then the hat bellowed, "Minerva McGonagall!"
A wave of stillness swept over the room. Witches and wizards sat agape and wide eyed at the revelation. After a moment of complete silence, the only sound was the clack of an ebony wand as it slipped from numb fingers.
Shocked emerald met surprised chocolate as both witches froze as if suddenly stupified.
-to be continued.