The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
AN: Just reposting this story- no new chapters. Had a power fluctuation while I was editing and it went wonky on me.
Although it was barely into a new year, it was a day to be remembered. A day to be forever marked in the minds of the students of Hogwarts as the day that Hermione Granger; Gryffindor, Head Girl, know-it-all, and erstwhile War-Heroine, had been stricken speechless. Regardless of the fact that her silent state was short-lived, only lasting a minute… but still… speechless.
With a shake of her head, sending her riotous curls into a frenzied halo, Hermione jerkily stood from her seat and walked toward the Head Table, where the Headmistress and staff of the venerable school sat muttering amongst themselves about the very thing that had disturbed the hard-to-frazzle Hermione.
"Professor McGonagall? Would you happen to have a full transcript of this… this… excretal piece of legislation?" the Head Girl asked, high color flooding her cheeks.
"Miss Granger! Language, please. I understand you are upset, but you must calm yourself. Others will be looking to you at this time. Yes, I was sent a full copy of the law. I will make a copy for you and give it to you at dinner," the stern matron said, waving her hand in dismissal.
Hermione glared at the table for a moment before turning on her heel and returning to the Gryffindor table. Without stopping, she grabbed her bag and stalked off towards the doors. Her best friends, Harry Potter, Ron and Ginny Weasley, immediately rose from the table and followed in pursuit.
"Hermione! Where are you going?" demanded the Boy-Who-Lived-Yet-Again.
"The library! Where else, Harry!" came the low growl.
"Are you going to look up the law? The library may be good, but I don't think they'd have it in just yet," said Ginny, in an amused tone.
"No… I'll read the law later. Right now I'm going to look up non-extradition treaties!"
The two Weasleys exchanged confused looks, not ever hearing the term before. Harry stopped short and gaped at the receding figure of the furious brunette. Ron turned to Harry, "What does that mean?"
"It means that 'Mione is going to look for another country to move to if she can't get out of this…" he replied, still stunned.
"She'll move to another country. You could do that?" came a quiet voice from the Ravenclaw table.
"Non-extradition means that if you break a law in one country, you move to another one that won't enforce the law or make you leave," came Harry's soft reply. A few girls from the tables, barring the Slytherin one, got up and pushed past the trio of Gryffindors to follow the rapidly-moving Head Girl.
"They're all seventh year muggleborns…" Ginny said in a whisper.
Harry shot a look back to the Head table over his shoulder. He caught the black look on the Headmistress' face and snapped back around. Grabbing the arms of his redheaded friends, he pulled them out of the Great Hall. The three friends missed the flash of glee then later flash of consternation that went across a pair of stormy silver eyes.
"McGonagall looks fit to be tied! I hope none of this comes back to hurt 'Mione."
"Harry.. I don't think she could be hurt any worse at this point," Ginny said sadly.
"Honestly, I don't get why she's so bothered by this. So, she'll just get married before we graduate instead of after!" Ron said, scratching his chin.
Harry glared at his obtuse mate. "Ron… there may still be arranged marriages in the wizarding world.. and maybe getting married at seventeen isn't that big of a deal either… but neither has really been done in the muggle world for at least a hundred years!"
"So? Hermione's muggleborn, in case you have forgotten! And so were all those other girls that just got up and left for the library. You think they, or their families, are going to be keen on being forced to marry, and marry so young, especially when both those things are severely frowned upon in the world they grew up in?" Harry asked in amazement of his friend's thickness.
"Ah!" Ron exclaimed, the situation finally dawning on him. "I do sometimes forget that you and Hermione grew up muggle. Is it really looked down upon? Arranged marriages and all that? Don't see why… I mean, my parents were arranged to get married right out of Hogwarts. Ink wasn't even dry on their diplomas and look at how they are! How can that be bad?"
"It's not 'bad', but it's looked down on because individual freedom carries a lot of importance in the muggle world, I guess. Women can marry whoever they want to when they're of-age, but most wait until they're done with university or they're more financially stable.. that's if they get married at all. These days, more and more women choose not to. And forcing someone to do something is illegal, more often than not. A law like this would never get passed in the muggle world because it would be seen as taking away someone's rights."
"Our parents said they'd never set up an arranged marriage for us, but a lot of families still do it," Ginny said. "Its just the way its always been. I don't think that whoever wrote the law took the muggle point of view into consideration."
"And that's why this whole thing might very well blow up in their faces if not handled carefully. You think all those parents aren't going to cause a fuss?"
"Well, enough gabbering on… let's go find 'Mione and see how she's holding up!" Ron said as he continued on toward the Hogwarts library.
They found Hermione surrounded by the other muggleborn girls in the History section of the huge library. The Head Girl was taking book after book off the shelves, scanning them quickly, then handing them off to another girl with instructions to read a section more thoroughly.
"Any luck, 'Mione?" came the soft question from her bespectacled best friend.
"So far, according to precedents and what is generally followed whenever the Ministry passes a civil law, France, Spain, America, and Italy appear to take on a stance of non-enforcement and non-extradition. They only extradite for criminal matters. I'll have to read the law thoroughly to see if there are any criminal charges for non-compliance. In that case, the only real resort would be Switzerland. They don't extradite for anything; although, due to the nature of the law, America might not extradite either, if someone requesting amnesty pleads their case."
"Okay… I got 'Switzerland was good', out of that…" Ron mumbled.
"Well, I think that's all I'm going to find out for now, until I read the whole transcript of the law. Merlin!," she yelled, slamming a book down on the table; an action that shocked everyone that knew of the Head Girl's love of books. Even Madam Pince looked beyond stunned. "I can't believe that ruddy Ministry would even think of passing a law like this! It's bloody archaic and discriminatory beyond belief!" she shrieked, and was answered with furious nodding from the girls surrounding her.
"We were talking on the way here," Ginny said, indicating Ron, Harry, and herself, "and we think that the Ministry may not really know what they're doing in this case."
"Obviously!" came the harsh bark.
"We meant it in more of a… cultural gap, kind of way," Harry said.
"Yeah, what he said," Ron piped in, earning a glare from Hermione. "We mean that getting married at seventeen and having it all be arranged is just the way a lot of families do things in the wizarding world. The Ministry may not really realize that muggles don't do it that way anymore," he offered sheepishly.
Hermione calmed slightly as she took this into consideration, but shook her head once more. "Be that as it may, it still doesn't excuse the fact that the only people this law directly affects are muggleborn women! Not any purebloods, or halfboods… or even muggleborn men… just muggleborn women! The narrow focus of the law is the very definition of being discriminatory! It's unjust! And it is beyond disgusting! Marrying us off to the highest bidder and turning us into breeding stock!" she screeched, losing her composure and beginning to hyperventilate.
"Hermione!" Harry said, as he ran to her side and helped her sit down. He wrapped his arms around his friend and began to gently rock her back and forth as she broke into loud sobs. The other muggleborns looked as if they were about to break down as well.
"'Mione.. it will be alright. You'll look for a way out of this and we'll help you. We'll all help you. Merlin, I'll even cash in on my twice-damned 'Boy-Who-Lived' status and beat down the Ministry's door!"
"It's just so unfair, Harry," came the broken whisper from Hermione. "One of the reasons why we fought Voldemort was so that blood wouldn't make a damned difference anymore… so muggleborns would have the same rights as everyone else…so that everyone could go on and just live their lives. And now this? Can't we ever just have a normal year?"
"Where would be the fun in that?" Harry asked dryly, causing Hermione to sniffle and laugh softly.
"Thank you, Harry… now, I think I'll go to my rooms and write to my parents. See if there is anything they can think of. You all should write your parents and let them know about this ridiculous law. As soon as I find out more, I'll let you all know… or, we could just plan to meet again here after dinner in two days. I'll have been over the law by then… is that alright with everyone?" Receiving consenting nods, Hermione let her friends help her to the Head Girl's common room. She unceremoniously plopped down on a couch and let her face fall into her hands.
Ginny had gone to the small kitchenette off of the common room to make everyone some tea and grab some snacks. Tea helped everything.
"It won't be too bad, 'Mione," Ron said around a couple of biscuits he had shoved into his mouth. "Either me or one of my brothers will petition for you."
"That's not the point, Ronald," came the seething reply. "There shouldn't be any petitions! No one should be forced to marry… this law shouldn't exist!"
"Anyways, Ron, don't you think that Katie, Penelope, and…oh,yeah, 'Lav Lav' might get upset if you, George, or Percy petition for Hermione?" Ginny snapped, rolling her eyes. "Not to mention that you won't get Charlie to leave his dragons for anything."
"I still don't see the big deal. What's wrong with marriage? Don't all girls want to get married?" Ron asked. There was a moment of dead silence before he got pummeled on both sides by two pillow-wielding, angry young women.
"You asked for that, mate," Harry said, getting out of the way.
"There's nothing wrong with marriage, you daft git! I wouldn't mind being married some day… after I graduate… after university… when I'm older and have a career… and, I don't know… when its my own bloody choice to!" Hermione yelled, punctuating her rant with a pillow blow.
She dropped the feather-filled bludger and sank back onto the couch, completely exhausted. "I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't get out of this, guys," she muttered.
"Like I said, everything will work out. Might take a while to get there, seeing how blind the Ministry can be at times… but it will get there. You're not going to tackle this thing on, alone, you know. We'll all be there with you, every step of the way. You've never left my side, and I'm not going to leave yours," Harry said earnestly, taking Hermione's small hand in his.
"Me too," Ginny said, throwing an arm around the Head Girl's shoulders.
"Why don't you just marry Harry, then?"
Three glares fixed on the rumpled redhead. "Oh.. this one is all mine," mumbled Ginny, who promptly sent a bat-bogey hex at her brother. He ran screaming from the common room. "Honestly.. he must have been dropped on his head when he was a baby.. it's the only excuse!"
Turning to look at her friend, Ginny said softly, "Why don't you go take a bath and a nap, 'Mione. We'll come back and wake you up for dinner."
"Alright," came the mumbled reply. "It's a good thing it's a Saturday. If I missed classes on top of everything else…" Harry just chuckled, feeling slightly better that his friend had regained a bit of herself. Harry and Ginny then watched Hermione drag herself off to her bathroom before taking their leave.
"Merlin.. this is so messed up…" Harry said sadly.
"My parents will probably be jumping to help out, as long as we make it clear to mum that Hermione won't be marrying any of my brothers," Ginny said with a small smile.
"Yeah.. your dad's and Shacklebolt's connections with the Ministry will probably help in some way. Until we get a full copy of the law, I don't know how we can begin to attack it though. All those girls might just have to get married or end up leaving the country."
"Hermione will figure that part out, I have no doubt. She's not the brightest witch of the age for nothing!"
"If Dumbledore were alive this stupid law would never have passed!" Harry said, emphasizing his point with a smack to the wall with an open hand.
"You don't know that," Ginny said softly. "He was kind of stuffy and old-fashioned in a lot of ways, and if he thought it was for the 'greater good' in the end, he probably would have gone along with it."
Harry stopped for a moment and shook his head. "You're probably right, Ginny. Dumbledore would often forget who got trampled or left behind in the quest for the 'greater good'."
A few hours later, Harry and Ginny escorted Hermione from her rooms to the Great Hall for dinner. Although she had taken a nap, it did not prove restful for Hermione at all. Dark circles were evident under her eyes, but they still flashed with determination. She sat in her usual spot and fixed her gaze upon the Heads' table. Not taking anything to eat, Hermione stared at the Headmistress for some minutes, before a pale hand beckoned her forward. The brusqueness of the gesture was matched by the annoyed glint in McGonagall's eyes.
"No need to stare, Miss Granger," she snapped at the Head Girl who was normally her favorite student, "I said that I would give you a copy." She handed a small bundle of parchment to Hermione who then turned and left the Great Hall.
"She's not going to eat?" Ron asked in amazement.
"I say she's got quite enough on her mind right now," Harry said. Turning to Ginny, he whispered, "We should stop by the kitchens and nick something for her."
Hermione made her way back the Head Girl dorm, her cloak billowing behind her in a way reminiscent of her former Potions Master, Professor Snape. The dark look on her face would have reminded anyone looking of Snape as well. She barked out the password to the portrait guarding her chambers and slammed the door behind her, causing the painted denizen to screech out as she was jolted out of her chair. Hermione paid no attention; her entire focus was on the bundle in her hand. She sat down on a couch, threw the parchment on the coffee table in front of her, and took out her wand, several pieces of blank parchment, and a quill and ink. Creating a copy of the law transcript, she bundled it up and attached a quick note to her parents, before sending it off to them with an owl. Then she settled in to read the law in its entirety.
After going through it several times, she screamed her frustration to the room; her cries resounding off the stone walls.
"'Mione? Are you alright?" came the soft call from the opened portrait-door.
"No... not really," came the muffled reply as the Head Girl covered her face with her hands.
Harry and Ginny entered the room with a pitcher of pumpkin juice and a tray of sandwiches. "We brought you something to eat. You left without any dinner," Harry said softly as he places the items on the coffee table and took a seat next to Hermione. "So... what did you find?"
"Oh Harry.. Its... Merlin, its going to be impossible to get out of for most girls... And if we don't comply, they'll send us to Azkaban until we do!"
"That bad?" Ginny asked, paling slightly.
"I read it several times... when the damned law goes into effect October first, which is barely two weeks away, any of-age, British, muggleborn witch petitioned will have thirty days to accept a petition, another two months after that to get married, then have one child within the first two years, or two kids within five. If she doesn't accept a petition, the Ministry will do it for her, and if she still declines, she will be imprisoned until she does. This basically means that anyone who declines will be criminally charged, so at this point, the only place a muggleborn witch can go is Switzerland. I'm going to write to the American Ministry and see if they'll accept witches seeking amnesty for this law. Considering American legal history, there's a good chance that they will as this law violates their civil rights. I just wish that there was another place to go for these girls… either place will be too far for their families to go easily. And I don't think they can just leave the wizarding world and go back to being a muggle, either. The Ministry would probably look at the Hogwart's enrollment records, then send Aurors to the witches' homes to get them."
Harry looked like he was about to explode, before finally calming when he felt Ginny's gentle touch on his arm. "Too bad France extradites on criminal charges; it would be the best place to go as it's the closest," Harry said after he finally regained control.
"I've sent a copy to my parents as well… hopefully they can find something that I've missed or another loophole. Here, could you help me make more copies of this? I should give a copy to each girl this will affect."
The friends sat in silence as they made numerous copies of the law for Hermione to hand out at the meeting scheduled for after dinner the next day. The Head Girl also wrote out a basic outline of the law, noting the points without the legal verbiage, so that the other girls and their families would understand it easier.
The friends stayed up through the night, talking and comforting one another. Shortly before curfew, a sheepish and apologetic Ron knocked on the Head Girl's door and was let in. "I'm sorry, 'Mione… I guess I just had a hard time looking at it from your point of view. I'll help you out in any way you need."
Hermione just hugged him and went back to staring at the flames in the fireplace. Luckily, Ron had brought Harry's invisibility cloak so the friends could return to Gryffindor tower without getting caught being out after curfew. They left a sleeping Hermione around one in the morning.