Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Six years after the war, Wizarding London was still trying to rebuild itself. Not only were wizards and witches restoring the remnants of their lives and physically rebuilding the structures that were harmed during various battles, the magical population was dwindling; the female populace in particular.
The twenty-year war, ending in a Battle at Hogwarts, had severely depleted the witch public. It was discovered, after the demise of Voldemort, that he had cast a spell over the witches in Europe. No one believed him to be that powerful at first, but quickly realized their underestimation had cost them greatly.
Many witches died at the hands of this wizard, but this spell had further limited the number of feminine life expectancies as well as brutally hampered the female deliveries. The ratio, years later, stood at 100 witches to every 1000 wizards and it didn't seem to be getting better.
Initially, when the statistics began to show a significant dwindling of witches, the Ministry had consulted world-renowned Artithmancy experts as well as proven Seers. It was to the surprise of the Ministry officials that both party's predictions were very similar. Each had 'seen' the near-extinction of magical humans in Europe within three to four generations.
The Ministry had enacted incentive-based baby proclamations in an attempt to boost birth rates and increase the witch population, but nothing seemed to work.
Potioneers and Healers worked together to narrow down the precise time when fetus' changed from girl to boy. They had, as yet, been unsuccessful and the majority of births were still male.
The panic that spread resulted in families writing betrothal contracts immediately upon the birth of a witch to secure the continuation of family lines, which drastically diminished the chances of already grown wizards to find a mate. It also led the Ministry to instate an Incest Prevention Clause. Pureblood families had to prove that that the children to be betrothed were no closer than second cousins in blood relation.
"Are you ready?" Lucius asked the faces staring back at him. This was the last and most important part of the ritual and the sixth hour in which they'd been at it. It had been a very exhaustive and emotionally taxing day for them. The spell required complete concentration and a focus on exactly what they wanted. There was no room for loose interpretations.
They nodded and started to chant.
The magic swirled around the men, making the air dense and the climate warm. Beads of sweat formed on their temples, over the tops of their lips, in the middle of their backs and across their shoulders. Their muscles were tense and the force of the spell was straining their magic at a brisk rate.
On the third verse, they paused and looked to Lucius for guidance. Pulling a platinum blond hair from his head, Lucius dropped it into the cauldron. He then took a blade, silver and etched with runes, and sliced his forearm, bleeding into the brew. "With my body, I call to you." The potion bubbled and popped, expelling smoke and sending steam hissing from the top. He pulled a small torn parchment from his robes and smeared the corners with his blood. Written on it was what he wanted in a companion; in a witch. His whispered spell set the parchment on fire. Waving the burning paper in the steam from the brewing potion, it burst into a purple light, disappearing.
Each wizard, in turn, pulled a hair from their head and drew blood with the athame; each repeating the phrase and repeating the process with their parchments.
When it was done, they chanted as one. "I call you to me in sickness and in health until death do part us. I call you to me for richer or for poorer until death do part us. I ask the fates to send me my mate; a mate born from magic and who balances my weaknesses with her strengths."
It was ancient magic, born from desperation. Lucius had searched for the spell far and wide. The journey had taken eighteen months, leading him to foreign countries and back again. In the end, he'd found the book he was looking for in a Romanian village, buried with a witch who had died twelve centuries prior.
A week ago, Lucius had called this group together and told them of his find. They'd eagerly agreed and tonight gathered again to perform the ritual.
The air was still heavy and the tension emitted from the wizards was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Lucius ladled the potion into seven gold goblets, also marked with runes. He handed one to each wizard. Together, they drank the muddy colored substance, each making a face at the smell and then again at the taste. Lucius wanted to gag, but swallowed it down, every drop.
Nothing happened at first.
Just when one of the wizards opened his mouth to speak, they heard a pop, along with a blinding white light. They closed their eyes to keep from seeing spots and then felt the impact of the spell. Pain seared through their bodies at a rapid pace, rendering them helpless to its torment. It felt as though their magic was being ripped from their essence, leaving the tattered remains of half a soul. It left them panting and sweating and doubled over with a powerful ache pulsing through their muscles.
When the pain subsided, the smoke cleared, and the light faded, ragged moaning could be heard from the floor near the couch.
Lucius opened his eyes in time to see seven bright stars circle in the air and unite as one then plunge into a small being curled and lying on the floor.
The being let out a blood curdling scream with pain as the pieces of souls forced their way into the helpless recipient, forging a new home for eternity, and fusing with her own.
Lucius widened his eyes, this wasn't supposed to happen. There was supposed to be seven, not one. The thought was fleeting as a moment later, her head was thrown back, and pieces of her soul shot through her parted lips, and raced into their hearts with the force of an aggressively thrown Quaffle.
Hermione sat behind her desk at St. Mungos and looked over her paperwork. She was bored.
She would turn twenty-seven soon and Kingsley had just owled her, yet again, urging her to marry and start having babies. Pursing her lips, she conjured a steel bowl, set the parchment inside, and whispered, "Incandesco." Hermione watched it burn for a few seconds before extinguishing the flame and vanishing the bowl. She adored the man, but boy he could be a nag!
She understood his motivation for doing this, and even sympathized with the wizarding world's plight for increasing the numbers, but she refused to be a brood mare. To ease her guilty conscience, Hermione worked with Healers in her off time to find a cure for this epidemic, but they hadn't made anything resembling progress as of yet.
Hermione herself hadn't found any wizard with whom she connected enough to have children. It was selfish, she knew, but she couldn't make herself. She'd read too many tales of love and devotion to let herself be contracted to a wizard for the purposes of repopulating the wizarding world. She knew that no wizard would come and save her from the evil queen, but she did want love, compatibility and someone who would care for her.
She'd entertained the idea of… No, they were friends; purely platonic.
Shrugging, she straightened a stack of parchment. She had plenty of time to settle down and have children. Witches could safely reproduce well into their seventies. She, of course, had already been evaluated by a Healer to ensure that she had not been infected with the Spell Voldemort had used. Hermione's bits were baby ready.
Hermione looked out the window. Then back at the pile of paperwork on her desk. She was feeling unmotivated today. Her gaze shifted back to the window. It was dreary and cold and she wondered if she shouldn't just go home, take a bath, and curl up with a good book. She'd been feeling morose and a bit under the weather for much of the day, but during the last hour, it seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. She had a sense of urgency, but had nowhere to go, no plans she'd made; just felt a push to leave.
As if her thoughts provoked the fates, she began to perspire. She felt queasy and faint. The on-set of dizziness made her put her head on her desk and breathe deeply. Before she knew it, she felt the familiar squeeze of Apparition.
Lucius half walked half stumbled over to the small form and knelt down. He swallowed hard when he recognized the unmistakable mass of wavy hair. Hermione Granger. How could this be? he wondered. He could sense what felt like a ward of magic surrounding her person. Her body had an ethereal glow; an aura about her and her hair was standing on end with sparks running through it. It reminded him of a Muggle production he once saw with Draco.
They'd been in Muggle London 'accepting Muggles' and had entered a movie gallery. They ended up watching some movie about a romance between a man and a woman who looked like a person, but was really a robot. After a major battle scene – which brought too many memories to the forefront of Lucius' mind – the robot woman was left broken and dirty with sparks flying about her while the man told her he loved her, but not enough to stay. Lucius thought it was ridiculous. Draco had returned twice to see it again.
Trying to open her eyes, Hermione felt like she'd been beaten with a Bludger. Her entire body was screaming at her not to move and her stomach was turning over like she'd just been riding a dragon. Her head was pounding and she couldn't see straight.
Moaning, she tried to stand, but found that it took too much energy on her part at the moment.
She thought she heard hissing, but couldn't be sure. Her ears were ringing.
The others now surrounded her, all watching with astonishment. Lucius cleared his throat. "Miss Granger?"
Hermione recognized the voice. She'd heard him speak at least once a week at the board meetings. "Mr. Malfoy?" she croaked. She blinked trying to clear her blurred vision and was surprised to find her lashes wet from tears.
She felt large warm hands pull at her shoulders. She tried to aid the effort and pushed herself up to a half sitting position. The movement proved to be too much and her stomach revolted. "Mr. Malfoy, your loo?" she asked right before she slapped a hand over her mouth and made to rise, but couldn't seem to move of her own accord.
She felt strong arms pick her up, swing her upwards, and bounce her out of the room. Neither the swinging motion nor the bouncing was helping.
The last thing Lucius thought as he watched the wizard carry her out was that he hoped she didn't vomit on his newly purchased Persian rugs. They cost him a fortune. They were a perk from his travels when searching for the book containing the spell.
She landed near a toilet and heard the door shut behind her. She took that opportunity to promptly empty the contents of her stomach. Sinking down, resting her head on the seat and not worrying about what other body parts had occupied the space, she sighed.
The porcelain was cool to the touch and welcomed.
Eyes closed, she wondered, what in the world am I doing here? She went over the day's events, checking for black outs; anything out of the ordinary. Noting chronological milestones during the day, but nothing stood out.
She was healthy as a horse. A horse who Apparated out of its office and into her secret crush's home; a horse who was being hounded by the Minister of Magic to have babies; a horse who was slightly depressed with the way her life had peaked seven years ago with the end of a war then seemed to devolve into monotony; a horse who put enough magical and Muggle hair product in her hair to …well, kill a horse.
Her breath hitched. She was comparing herself to a horse. Shaking her head and once again ridding herself of the remainder of her lunch, she plopped back down and let her mind flow freely with thoughts.
Recently… well, if she were honest, in the last couple of years, Hermione had found herself not only lusting after the elder Malfoy, who was a St. Mungo's stakeholder and contributor, but after the young Malfoy and all his friends when she saw them. She would sit at lunch by herself in the park and watch the passersby; mostly Draco, Blaise, Pucey, Flint, and Theo and fantasize about one of them having secret feelings for her. She knew Pucey was gay, but wasn't sure about the others. She didn't think Draco was, nor Marcus.
They all said hello to her every time they saw her.
She worked with Theo and Blaise; they were fellow Healers and they donated time towards 'The Baby Chronicles' as it was referred to in the Prophet, along-side her and some other intellectually advanced magical beings.
Draco worked at the Ministry in Sports and Games with Marcus as an inspector for new products. She'd seen them both often enough after tests with new products had gone awry. They were all on a first name basis now, but still she watched them wink and smile at witches. She watched the witches flutter around like pretty butterflies at their attention. She wanted to be a pretty butterfly. Even in this dire time of depleting witches, she knew she was no butterfly.
She rolled her eyes at herself and sniffled. After everything she'd done, all the people she'd helped; here she sat, on the marbled floors of Lucius Malfoy's loo, with her cheek on his toilet seat.