Title: Ten Too Many
Author: RobinL (flibbins)
Pairings: Hermione/Multi (Arthur Weasley, Lucius Malfoy, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Rodolphus Lestrange, Severus Snape, Cormac McLaggen, Gregory Goyle, Draco Malfoy, Neville Longbottom, and Harry Potter)
Summary: Voldemort was defeated, but he left a parting gift. The Purgatio was designed to eliminate the unworthy, but ended up taking most of the population and almost all of the witches. Desperate to salvage their world, the Ministry takes drastic steps. Hermione will find if her heart has enough room to love ten husbands.
Disclaimer: 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.
Story Warnings: This story will contain mature content with regard to sexual situations and language. It will be edited to conform with an M (R) rating on this site. The MA (NC-17) version of this story is posted on GrangerEnchanted and you can find a link in my bio page. Those chapters which differ will be marked.
That awkward moment when you find out you're marrying your boyfriend's father.
Hermione sat in the basement kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place, staring at nothing. Her hands were wrapped around a mug of coffee that had long gone cold, but she probably shouldn't drink it anyway. Her nerves were already on edge.
Though it was still early, Harry stumbled into the kitchen, rousing Hermione from her thousand-yard stare. "Morning, Mione," he mumbled as he shuffled to the coffee pot. Neither of them were much use before they'd caffeinated in the morning.
Harry was in a pair of pajama bottoms and sporting a bad case of bedhead. By now, Hermione hardly noticed that he was half naked, though most mornings she could appreciate that he had a nicely muscled chest. Nor did she feel awkward in her tiny tank top and sleep shorts, even though she wasn't wearing a bra. Months of living in close quarters with the boys had made them all quite comfortable with each other.
Even now that the war was over, and Voldemort finally defeated, the three of them were staying together in Harry's house. Well, Ron had moved back home a few weeks ago and she would probably be leaving after today. Though she wasn't certain where she'd be living tomorrow.
"Today's the big day, isn't it?" Harry settled into the seat across from her, sipping his hot drink.
Nodding, she took a sip of her own and immediately wished she hadn't. It was ice cold.
Of course she'd been sitting there for over an hour, long before she normally rose.
Today was the big day.
The Ministry was sending the owls out today that would seal her fate. The wait was agonizing.
It had been over a month since all of the surviving witches and wizards submitted a blood sample to the Ministry for matching. Two months ago the hotly contested law, which would see her married and pregnant long before she was ready, had been passed through the new Wizengamot. Three months ago the asinine idea had been introduced in the first place. Four months ago, the news that the British wizarding population was severely endangered and faced extinction without drastic action had leaked in the Daily Prophet. Six months ago, a cure for Voldemort's parting gift had finally been created, but it wasn't before thousands had died of the mysterious illness. And it was almost a year ago that Harry had stood over Tom Riddle's dead body, shaking in the aftermath of the adrenaline rush.
The final battle had been bloody as had the months leading up to it. That alone would have severely impacted the population.
But that isn't where it stopped. Voldemort's last act, before Harry killed him in a bloody final encounter, was to unleash a plague upon the wizarding world. When it was finally countered, the population had been decimated. Hit the hardest were children who had not yet reached majority. Of the five-hundred students that attended Hogwarts the prior year, only twenty were alive to return. Or rather they would have returned if Hogwarts were in any condition to house them.
In addition to the children, the illness took a large number of adults, almost all witches. After all was said and done, between the war and the plague, the population was reduced to a small fraction of its previous size, and wizards now outnumbered witches by more than ten to one.
That was the reason the Ministry enacted the new legislation, waiting just long enough for the world to mourn their losses, though many would never be the same.
The law was necessary. Hermione knew that, but that didn't mean she liked it. It didn't mean she wanted to give up her aspirations to become a bride and a mother before she was twenty.
Harry liked to say that the law was her idea, but only if he wanted her to start ranting about the misogynistic, backwards society they lived in. And if he wasn't careful, she'd start to threaten to find a way for wizards to carry the unborn children and see how much they liked it.
That always shut him right up, though Hermione had spent several long, fruitless nights in the Black library, searching for dark spells to cause male pregnancy.
In a way, Harry was right though. The new law had been inspired by an off-hand comment she made during an informal gathering of the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix. She'd said there was a documented trend in the Muggle world that birth rates increased dramatically directly following wartime. Kingsley Shacklebolt had heard that assertion and started thinking. As the newly appointed Minister for Magic, a job he didn't particularly want, he was now saddled with the myriad problems that faced his world.
The most pressing was the fact that even if every witch produced two children, the genetic pool would be so shallow that the population would be on the brink of extinction within fifty years.
Shacklebolt did not want to be known as the Minister who allowed the British wizarding world to crumble into dust.
The brightest minds left, including Hermione, had run the arithmantic calculations, looking for a solution. But just because she'd been part of the solution didn't mean she liked it. It might have been their best hope, but that didn't mean it was a popular idea.
In fact, she had been the most vocal opposition to the law that essentially turned the remaining able-bodied witches into baby factories – a term that never failed to confuse the wizards of the Wizengamot. But no matter how many times the equations were run, the answer was the same.
So now Hermione was waiting to find her fate, to find out her matches. Harry was too, of course, but even he admitted the witches had the raw end of this deal.
The equations had been clear. Every witch would need to be bound to no fewer than five wizards and bear each of those wizards no fewer than two children in order to have any hope for a future. Of course since that was the bare necessity and it was likely that some witches would have difficulty successfully bearing ten children, even with potions to increase fertility and to accelerate gestation, the law would require a witch to take ten husbands instead.
Ten husbands. Twenty children. She could hardly fathom it.
The letter with the names of her ten wizards was probably already on its way.
She fervently hoped none of them was really old. It was a frivolous concern in the grand scheme of things, but it was a concern nonetheless.
All of the living witches of reproductive age, from 15 to 70, had to marry. Wizards over the age of 15 were all eligible, though it was unlikely that any wizard over 125 would be matched, just because of the viability of his little swimmers.
There wasn't enough lust potion on the planet to make Hermione interested in a centenarian. She shuddered at the thought. She'd almost rather end up with one of the Azkaban prisoners than someone as old as Dumbledore.
Involving convicted criminals was another controversial part of the law, but the plan needed a percentage of the new children to be fathered by wizards currently residing in the world's most secure prison, Azkaban. Some of the oldest bloodlines were carried in the Death Eaters who had been captured at the end of the war.
It took a great deal of work to convince the members of the governing body that this was feasible. It took even more work to convince the public. After much debate, both public and private, a couple dozen prisoners who were still healthy enough to reproduce were offered an opportunity for a more lenient sentence.
Actually, it was full parole, but with a few important concessions. The technology already existed to bind a wizard's magic, but it was highly restricted and only worked if the magic was given up voluntarily. The selected prisoners had to agree to have their magic permanently bound, but it would give them a chance to live.
If Dolohov weren't already dead, he probably would have ended up on her list. That was just her luck.
"I wonder how the Weasleys are doing," Harry said, interrupting their silent vigil.
If Hermione wasn't drowning in her own misery, she would have acknowledged that the situation was worse for the Weasleys.
The family was still struggling with losing Fred in the battle, and then Ginny to the sickness only a few weeks later. Percy had fallen ill, as had Fleur. Somehow Percy managed to hang on until the counter-curse was worked out, but Bill's bride and unborn child hadn't. After all of that, now their family was going to be ripped apart. Molly and Arthur had gathered all their remaining children close in the past few weeks to savor their last days together. Once the owls went out, the Weasley marriage would be dissolved.
In a contentious move, the new law called for all current unions to be disbanded. Even the Weasleys, who had been happily married for three decades, and borne seven children, were being forced apart. The excuse was that many bindings included fidelity clauses that could not be overcome unless the marriage was dissolved, but there was also concern that established couples would not be able to adapt to the new arrangements and the new husbands wouldn't be given equal consideration. This aspect of the law, controversial and passionately contested, was eventually passed by the interim Wizengamot, the majority of whom were single or in a few cases not all that opposed to the chance of being partnered with a new, younger witch.
It seemed like the worst sort of crime for a couple to have successfully survived both the war and then a deadly plague, only to be separated from their beloved for "the greater good."
This morning, though, Hermione could only worry about how these things might affect her. How many of her new husbands would be pining for their former spouses? How many were like Harry and had only recently lost the one they loved?
Though it had been ten months since Ginny had gone, she knew Harry still missed her. When it first happened he was already numb from the losses they'd endured during the battle, but now he seemed to be moving forward the best he could. He hadn't talked about his feelings, and she hadn't seen him cry, but every day he seemed a little brighter.
There were still moments when the horror of the recent past caught up with all of them, but at least Harry didn't seem to be dwelling.
Still, it was all happening so fast and yet the minutes seemed to be dragging this morning as they sat in the silent kitchen, both caught up in their thoughts.
A tapping at the little window, high above the sink, meant the wait was over.
She froze, staring out at the pair of nondescript Ministry owls. Perhaps she could refuse to take the owl. If she never opened it, she'd never have to marry the list of strange men inside.
But it was too late to run.
She might have gotten away before she submitted her blood sample. For a moment she'd considered going back to the Muggle world and forsaking her heritage to avoid the fate that was watching her impatiently from the kitchen window. But the Ministry had been adamant that all able bodied citizens were required to participate and failure to do so would make her an enemy of the state. In that case she'd be hunted down and forced to participate. Meaning that she'd spend the next several years incarcerated in a special ward in St. Mungo's and forced to bear her quota of babies anyway. After that, she'd have to spend some time in Azkaban.
But the idea of slipping away to find her parents in Australia was so tempting, especially now that time was up. Of course her parents didn't even know who she was and with the restrictions on international travel imposed to prevent illegal defection, Hermione wouldn't have the opportunity to restore their memories any time soon, maybe not ever. But if she was going to end up with 20 kids, maybe it would better to leave them be. It certainly wasn't the life they envisioned for her.
It wasn't the life she envisioned for herself. She'd planned to work for the Ministry after graduation, perhaps advocating for those beings that were marginalized in the wizarding world. But now there would be no graduation. Hogwarts was closed for the foreseeable future and she'd been absent from her final year to support Harry's quest for the horcruxes. And there would be no career either, not for years at least.
At one time, Hermione had considered marriage and children, but the only person she'd ever seen that way was Ron. Once the heat of battle faded, so had their ardor. The days and weeks after were a time of mourning and then growing terror as more and more people fell ill. Now she didn't even know if she was going to match with Ron and she wasn't certain if she really wanted to.
There was only one way to find out who she was stuck with, though. Harry finally opened the window and the owls dropped off their letters, an envelope for each of them.
Hermione's was much thicker than Harry's, but that made some sense since she had ten times the number of spouses as he did.
For the longest time they didn't move. When Harry went to open his, she reached across the table and stopped him.
Her hand trembled on top of his. "Promise me, Harry, that we'll stay close. No matter who you end up with. Please don't abandon me."
Harry turned his hand over and squeezed hers in a comforting gesture. "Never. Even if I get stuck with some pureblood princess, she won't be able to keep me away. Even if your husbands lock you in a tower, I'll find you. Always."
A tear slipped down Hermione's cheek and she quickly dashed it with her free hand. "I'm sorry, Harry. I'm just scared."
"Me too, Mione." He was serious for a moment, but then he grinned. "I mean, I could be stuck with Pansy Parkinson, or…dear Merlin…Dolores Umbridge." The grin had turned into a grimace.
"Don't even joke about that, Harry."
"The worst would be Mrs. Weasley. She's practically my mum."
"I hadn't even considered that." She pulled her hand back and turned over the envelope in front of her. The matching would prevent anyone closer than third cousins from marrying, which meant most of the purebloods would have to be matched to half-bloods and Muggleborns. But there was no way for it to account for the kind of relationship Harry shared with the Weasley matriarch.
"Guess there's one way to find out." Harry turned over his envelope and broke the wax seal.
Encouraged to act, Hermione opened hers as well. While there were some older members of the Order than she considered mentors, unlike Harry, none of them replaced her own father in her mind.
Still, it would be rather awkward…
Hermione unfolded the thick sheaf of papers, scanning over the cover sheet. It was a form letter with instructions and deadlines associated with binding the marriage, requirements for setting up a household, how to apply for Ministry sponsored housing, and where to acquire potions some of which were mandatory, others recommended. But the page didn't give her the names.
Impatiently, she shuffled the pages and discovered a sheet with a biography of her first match.