I was sitting in a compartment with Ron, Harry and Ginny on the way to our 8th and final year at Hogwarts, one of the sad things about returning to Hogwarts was that many of our friends and professors had been killed in the war.
I looked over at Harry and Ginny for a moment only to see that they were gazing at each other sappily their hands locked together. My eyes darted over to Ron who was sitting in the corner of the compartment glaring at Harry and Ginny, desperately trying to avert his gaze from his sister and his best friend. I chuckled quietly at Ron's scrunched up expression.
The compartment door suddenly opened to reveal a grinning Neville hand in hand with Luna.
He said chirpily greeting us one by one with a pleasant smile and then finally casting his gaze back to Luna.
"Hi Neville, Luna."
Harry said smiling at the besotted pair. Harry gestured for them to come in and share the compartment, which they did gladly.
"Do any of you know about this program? It all seems rather mysterious don't you think?"
Harry, Ron and Ginny all shrugged and shook there heads clearly not having the answer to Luna's question. I didn't know anything about a program, which was odd for me considering I normally made it my business to find out about anything and everything.
Every head in the compartment turned to me confusedly as if to say how do you not know about something for once?
"Didn't you read about it in your letter Hermione?"
I tried to think back to the day I had received my letter and the contents of it. I remembered reading the list of required books and of course my appointment to the position of Head Girl. I stared down at the gleaming badge pinned onto my charcoal robes for a second and smiled contentedly.
I suddenly remembered the small paragraph of italic writing that came after the sentence about my appointment to Head Girl. I must have forgotten to read it because I ran down to tell the rest of the Weasleys straight away.
"No I must have missed it. What was it about?"
Ginny put her book down to devote her full attention to informing me about this 'program'
"Well basically the 8th years are starting some kind of program at the start of term and it said something about having a partner for it. I'm surprised you haven't heard about it most of the 8th years have been talking about it."
I had heard a few chattering voices and I think they were saying something about a program but I don't really understand what all the excitement would be about I am sure it would be something purely academically based.
"Oh, ok, thanks."
Neville, Ron and Luna had struck up conversation and Harry and Ginny seemed to be pretty occupied so I decided to get on with my book. I peeled back the old weathered pages until I reached my bookmarked page and settled into the hundreds of pages before me.
"Hermione wake up we're here."
My eyes slowly opened and I blinked at the sudden exposure to bright light and I winced slightly. I could no longer feel the chugging motion of the moving train and the scenery was no longer whizzing past the window in a colourful blur.
"Come on Hermione everyone is getting off the train!"
The cacophony of noises rang through my ears as everyone fought for an exit off the crowded train. I got up quickly causing my vision to black out for a moment or two and I subsequently grabbed my now closed book and my bag off the carpeted floor and left the empty compartment.
Harry, Ginny and Ron were still standing just outside the compartment unable to move through all the rushing students.
"Honestly you'd think they'd move for 8th years"
Ron muttered crossly as a bunch of unruly first years ran past us almost knocking us to our feet. Finally when the crowds had dissipated we were able to find the nearest door and stepped out onto the platform.
Once the crowds of students were lead off Harry, Ron, Ginny and I followed them and boarded the thestral drawn carriages.
"So are you nervous about the mysterious program Hermione?"
I looked at Ron with a confused expression. What would give me cause to be nervous about whatever this program was?
"Why would I be nervous?"
I asked curiously whilst eyeing Ron searchingly. Did they know something I didn't?
"Well, let's just say that rumours are going round that this is what you might call a rather intimate program."
Ron waggled his eyebrows at me suggestively and I groaned out of frustration.
"Why on earth would they enrol us in a program if it wasn't purely academically based or beneficial?"
He threw his hands up at me defensively in a rather sarcastic manner and smiled at my outrage.
"Well we'll just have to wait and see won't we?"
I was pleased to see that it soon shut Ron up when Ginny and Harry started holding hands and kissing each other lightly on the lips every now and then. We soon arrived at the castle and Ron got off in rather a bad mood and charged ahead of us into the Great hall.
Ginny and I shared an amused glance at each other at Ron's obvious overreaction and we followed the rest of the 8th years into the Great hall.
As we filed in I looked up at the sky to see there were glistening stars suspended in the conjured onyx skies, with small planets spinning around in the darkness. The room was bright with the hovering candles which emanated a warm glow illuminating the large space.
Once we were all seated we began chatting with our fellow students and inspecting the newly appointed teachers which were seated at the linear table at the head of the room.
All the noise began to die down as the 1st years filed in behind Professor McGonagall each of them with a nervous expression plastered on their faces, I remembered when that was Harry, Ron and me and I smiled fondly at the memory.
Soon after the doors to the Great hall were closed and Professor McGonagall began to call out names from the line of terrified 1st years.
A very small girl with long brown plaited hair stepped forward and reluctantly sat down on the stool before her. The slightly battered sorting hat was placed on her head and soon after call out Hufflepuff.
The Hufflepuff table started cheering and clapping as the seemingly pleased girl sat down at the table.
An olive skinned girl with jet black hair confidently marched up to the stool and perched on the edge. The sorting hat only had to hover over her head before making its decision.
The Slytherins clapped and cheered just the same as the Hufflepuffs had done moments before and the girl smirked deviously as she sat down at the Slytherin table. When I looked at her closely I could see she looked like a Slytherin, she definitely had their signature smirk.
The rest of the students were sorted followed by eruptions of cheering from each of the houses and once all of them had been sorted the tables were covered with an array of different foods, which soon cheered Ron up.
I gazed at the abundance of food before me and selected a few things to put onto the silver plate in front of me. Ron's plate had about 10 times as much food as mine and Ginny's had put together and my eyes widened at the sheer amount of it.
We continued to chat and joke amongst ourselves until Professor McGonagall stood at the intricately detailed podium adorned with a golden owl and clapped her hands signalling us to be quiet.
"Now first and foremost welcome back to Hogwarts and I' sure you will all join me in giving a warm welcome to our new professors"
She went on to introduce them one by one and then went through the usual lectures about rules and prefects and so forth. I had almost fallen asleep again when I heard professor McGonagall begin the introduction to the program for the 8th year students.
"Now I am sure that all of the 8th years are aware that they will be enrolling in a new program and I am sure you are all curious as to what it's about. I'm afraid all I can tell you for now is that the program has been enforced by the ministry and it is compulsory for all 8th year students."
We all groaned at the anticlimax, all of us expecting to find out what it actually was.
"But you will not have to wait for long you will be informed fully about the new program tomorrow during your first period. All affected students will meet in the Great Hall."
Ginny grinned at me happily obviously excited about tomorrow. I was delighted that Ginny had been moved up to 8th year after the war she was my best friend and it was going to be really nice to get to spend more time with her seeing as we had spent most of our Summer together.
All the food was soon cleared away and we were all headed up to our common rooms after receiving the new password for the term. We all bustled into the familiar Gryffindor common room the burgundy and gold tapestries hanging from the ceiling, the fire roaring away happily and abundance of plush sofas and armchairs scattered around the cosy room.
The new Gryffindor first years all hurried upstairs to inspect their new dormitories whilst choosing the people they wanted to share it with.
"Hey Hermione aren't you going to check out your new room?"
Harry asked as he collapsed into one of the armchairs closest to the blazing warmth of the fire. I had completely forgotten I had been given my own private accommodation, as Head girl. I was suddenly curious as to what it would look like.
"Oh yeah! Hey Ginny will you come and check it out with me?"
Ginny nodded excitedly and followed me as I hastily made my way up the small flight of stone steps to the girls' dormitories. I scanned my eyes over the golden italic lettering that adorned the large mahogany doors searching for Head Girl.
We reached the end of the corridor and finally came to the door that read Head Girl and eagerly stepped inside. Ginny and I raced up the steps that lead into my room and as I saw it I gasped slightly.
Ginny whispered quietly, stunned by her surroundings, as was I. There was a large marble fireplace with lions carved into the mantelpiece; a large sofa was positioned in the middle of the room covered with plump golden cushions and blankets, beautiful tapestries hung from the candlelit room and luxurious rugs were splayed out on the dark, polished wooden floor.
"This is amazing."
I stuttered as Ginny and I walked into the room enamoured by the beauty of the room. Ginny started running around opening the different doors and seconds later I heard her shriek something from what must have been the bathroom.
"Wow this bath is like a bloody swimming pool!"
I laughed at Ginny's amazed tone and I came to inspect it myself seeing that her reaction was perfectly valid and justifiable. The bath was absolutely enormous and it also had twin washbasins, a large shower room and a cabinet filled with shampoos and shower gels.
It felt more like an extremely expensive apartment that a room or a dormitory especially once I had seen the bedroom. Once Ginny and I had chatted by the fire a little we both decided to go to bed not wanting to be exhausted in the morning.
I climbed into the large four poster bed and pulled the soft quilt over myself as I rested my head on the silken pillows. I lay for a few minutes just thinking about the fact that this was my last year at Hogwarts and basically the last year of my childhood. I felt a wave of sadness wash over me as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up the next morning really rested and satisfied as I rolled over and sighed deeply into the crimson sheets that lay beneath me. I reluctantly left the warmth of my bed and walked over to my trunk pulling out my uniform carefully.
After having a shower I put my uniform on and tied my hair back in a sleek ponytail. Over the summer I had changed significantly, my hair was no longer a frizzy mess but had been tamed into long dark curls, I had grown about 3 inches, my skin had turned a honey colour that glowed in the sun and I had gone up about two cup sizes.
I gazed into the large wooden-framed mirror and applied some mascara and a touch of lip gloss. I then left through the portrait hole in my common room and slung my bag over my shoulder languidly.
All the girls were rushing out of their dorms hurrying down to the common room and out of one of them came Ginny, her fiery hair clearly depicting her from the sea of blonde and brown.
Turning to see who had said her name her eyes met with mine and she smiled warmly and waved for me to hurry up. She stepped back into the doorway so she could wait for me barge my way past all of the frantic girls without being trampled to death in the process.
"So enjoying the perks of being Head girl?"
I smiled at her nodding tentatively and we descended the stone stairs to the common room.
Harry and Ron were slumped across the arms of the large sofa in front of the fire, waiting for us to come down.
"Finally, I'm starving! Can we go to breakfast now?"
I giggled at Ron's ever increasing appetite and followed him out of the common room followed by Harry and Ginny, arm in arm.
Once we had entered the Great Hall the four of us walked over to the Gryffindor table to resume our usual places. Before we had even properly sat down Ron was already piling egg, sausage, bacon and toast onto his plate.
"Got enough there Ron?"
I asked teasingly as I looked up from his ever increasing heap of food and smiled, the buttery toast crumbs gathering at the corners of his mouth.
At the end of breakfast Professor McGonagall stood up at the head of the room and reminded all of us staying behind in here for our first period. Everyone began to get up and leave leaving only the 8th years behind waiting anxiously.
Once everyone had left the Great Hall Professor McGonagall cleared the house tables to the side and summoned us to come to the front of the room, a jumble of students from all the different houses waiting eagerly.
"Well, first things first this program has been enforced by the ministry and is to be carried out every year by the new 8th years. This program is basically to address the recent depletion in the wizarding population."
I looked over at Harry for a moment and he stared back at me, what could she possibly mean? He seemed to answer I have no idea with his penetrating emerald orbs. I was beginning to get a little bit nervous now and remembered what Ron had said, what if he was right? The whole of the Great Hall filled with chattering students as they all tried to work out what she could possibly mean.
"Everyone please quieten down!"
Once everyone had stopped talking amongst themselves McGonagall continued to explain.
"What I am about to tell you all isn't easy, Hogwarts has done everything to avoid this but it had proven to be unavoidable. Before I tell you all, I would just like to say we have tried to make this situation as bearable as possible for I forewarn all of you it will affect our female students the most."
I could feel a lump slowly building in my throat and I could see the worry on every other girls face in the room including Ginny's.
"Each of you has been given a partner from Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff and that partnership will consist of a male and a female. The female member of each partnership will be expected to produce a child by…um… conventional means."
I felt the lump leave my throat as it was replaced by my heart, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think and I couldn't focus on anything else but what was going through my head. My head felt it weighed about a thousand tons as it began to process what had just been said, my palms were sweating profusely.
At the sound of the sudden uproar erupting from everyone I turned to Ginny only to see she had exactly the same expression on her face as I imagined was on mine.
"All of you be quiet now! Thank you. Your partners have been selected based on optimum genetic potential."
Everyone looked around the room completely and utterly confused and bewildered by what Professor McGonagall was saying.
"For example we would pair the two most intelligent students together to produce offspring of the highest intellectual standard and so on and so forth many other contributing factors being taken into account."
What! We didn't even get any say in who our partner was? This was absolutely absurd they couldn't be serious. What if I got paired with someone I'd never even met? Everyone started protesting a bunch of angry and hormonal teens wasn't the best combination. I couldn't find my voice to protest verbally, the roars and shouts just going in one ear and out the other. I just couldn't take it in; I couldn't have sex with someone unbeknownst to me and then have their child. This was all wrong, this year was supposed to be a great year and now, it had been turned into a nightmare that I didn't think I was going to wake up from.
"I realise this isn't easy and I assure you that no marriage law will be enforced and there will be something available for each pair afterwards if they wish it to forget... If they so wish. Now, I won't prolong this so I will begin informing you of your partnerships and then you and your partner will have your own apartment, but you are not required to spend all of your time there, a minimum of 2 nights per week."
My stomach was twisting into painful and uncomfortable knots as I contemplated the idea of having to share an apartment with someone, and more. Why was this happening? My palms were sweaty and my fingers were tied tightly around each other.
I looked around the room to see the expression of horror and disbelief mirrored back at me.
"Now, you must… um…con… conceive before the end of this week due to ministry protocols."
I could see how uncomfortable and awkward professor McGonagall felt but it was nothing compared to the thoughts running through my head. I wasn't ready to sleep with anyone, no matter who it was.
She cut me off with a stern wave of her hand.
"I am sorry Miss Granger but there is no room for exploitation or manipulation in the ministry's scheme, believe me myself and the rest of the teachers here at Hogwarts have tried to find away around this."
I sunk back at her words knowing I would have to go through with this.
"Now, I will take groups of 10 behind that screen and inform you of your partner"
She called several people and lead them behind the ominous screen that stood in the corner of the room with now a very foreboding demeanour.
I was pulled out of my state of shock by Ginny's slightly shaken voice.
"Are you alright, you're as white as a ghost."
No bloody wonder I was as white as a ghost, my life had basically just been unhinged in the course of 10 minutes.
"I…I can't… b… believe this is happening, it can't be happening."
Ginny's lips had curled into a sympathetic smile as rubbed my arm affectionately for a moment.
"I wouldn't worry too much Mione, I'm sure you'll get paired will someone in Gryffindor, probably even Ron."
Like that made it any better, Ron was my friend and I adored him but I didn't want to have sex with him or have his baby. I would never be paired with him anyway; no offense we were being paired off based on intellectual ability and let's face it Ron wasn't really up there.
"Ginny it doesn't matter if I do get paired with Ron. I'm not ready to have sex, let alone a baby. Besides we are being paired off based on our intellectual compatibility and there is no offense meant by this but, Ron isn't well…you know."
A small smile crept onto Ginny's mouth at my blatant insinuation.
"I know you Mione, I know you're not ready for this just like every other normal person here. But everything will be ok."
I wanted to ask her how everything would be ok but I realised she was probably using this to decrease the fear that she was feeling, so I thought against it.
"Dean Thomas, Pansy Parkinson, Harry Potter, Blaise Zabini, Lavender Brown, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Ron Weasley, Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger."
My breathing had almost stopped completely as I heard my name being called. Ginny pulled on my arm gently to follow her behind the… screen.
The list of people she had called were all now standing behind the screen nervously. It was a small room, there wasn't much in it apart from a filing cabinet and a small table with hundreds of what looked like application forms and a quill.
"Ok, I am just going pair you off and then you both have to sign these forms and you will be lead up to your apartments. Oh and the compulsory pregnancy checkups will be taking place next week."
Oh Merlin this was it, the moment my future was about to be signed away and it was going to be signed away to Dean Thomas, Blaise Zabini, Ron, Harry or…Draco Malfoy. Merlin forbid I would be partnered with him, surely they would never even consider doing that, just the idea was ludicrous. I was going to have to face up to the fact that it would be one of them though, but which one?
"Ok, Dean you will be paired with Luna Lovegood."
I examined their faces searching for their reaction but they just smiled weakly and without much meaning whilst stepping forward to sign the form.
"Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter."
Their smiles were much more evident as they stepped forward and did the same. I saw Harry clutch Ginny's hand as they left.
"Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson."
They stepped forward, a look of grave disappointment on Pansy's face probably due to the fact that she hadn't been paired with Malfoy. I glanced over to the impatient blond in the corner and watched him as he sighed in relief and I couldn't help but smile.
I saw Ron glance at me and smile; I felt my insides shrivel at the thought of sleeping with him.
"Lavender Brown and Ron Weasley."
Ron's face sank and he turner a rather unhealthy shade of white as he stepped forwards. Lavender on the other hand was far more than satisfied. Suddenly I felt sick as I realised who the only person left was. No this had to be a mistake they was no way they had paired me with Draco Malfoy. It felt like the tears were moments away and my heart had jumped into my mouth.
"Finally, Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger."
McGonagall looked at me sympathetically clearly knowing how this would affect me.
I tried desperately to will her to change this when I took a moment to look at Malfoy. His eyes were dark and he looked shocked and like he wanted to protest but all in all he didn't look anywhere near as shocked as I did or as scared.
"I'm sorry Miss Granger I know that this is a fragile situation but these pairings have been signed off by the ministry and they are all past alteration."
My world was literally over I had never felt more miserable. I was going to loose my virginity to Draco Malfoy in a matter of days.
A/N: New story I hope you like it the next chapter will be up tomorrow. I have just got back from holiday and have had this story pressing on my mind for a while, so it's literally reeling out of me. Please review they make my day. Thank you for reading.