A/N: Many thanks to Muggle Jane and Krissy for looking this over. Thank you all so much for the kind and encouraging words! xx
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.
"Albus, what are we going to do?" Minerva asked, pacing back and forth in the Headmaster's office.
Albus's expression became serious. "I'm not sure, Minerva. Until I know what Tom is planning, I can't counter anything."
"Severus?" Minerva asked, turning to the brooding figure in the corner.
"The Dark Lord wishes for a Death Eater to marry her, believing it would lead to Potter's downfall," Severus explained after a few minutes of silence.
Albus nodded. "I suspected as much. Is there any way to counter it?"
Severus was quiet for a moment, a pensive look on his face. "I believe that Miss Granger would have to marry someone else immediately. The person would have to send her a proposal, and she would have to accept it and send her choice to the Ministry, but it would have to be timed so the vows would be said immediately afterwards, that way no one could prevent it. It would be too late for anyone to interfere."
The three of them were quiet for a moment, each lost in their own thoughts.
Minerva swallowed her pride and turned to Severus. "Would you marry her?"
Severus's eyes widened. "Me? You want me to marry her?"
Minerva nodded. "You could protect her, Severus! It makes sense."
He shook his head venomously. "There's no way I'd ever marry that girl," he sneered.
Albus let out a small chuckle. "Nice try, Minerva, but Severus is a Half-blood, and I don't believe he is eligible for a multitude of reasons."
Minerva let out a huff. "What do you suggest we do then?"
"Well, you have the right idea. We need Miss Granger to marry someone who can protect her, meaning someone from the Order who is also a Pureblood," Albus said.
"Okay, well, out of all the people who are in the Order who could protect her, the choices would be between Kingsley and Sirius," Minerva said.
Severus let out a small laugh.
"Is something funny, Severus? Because I fail to see how this is a laughing matter," Minerva hissed, sending a glare to the Potion's master.
Severus shook his head. "Oh no, I was just imagining Miss Granger's face if she knew you were discussing her entire future without her."
Minerva became silent. Severus did have a point. "Hermione will understand that we're doing this to help her. I promised I wouldn't let anything bad happen to her, and I meant it."
Severus held his hands up in defense. "Retract your talons, Minerva, I meant your cub no harm."
Minerva gave him a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry, Severus, it's just that this whole ordeal is so stressful. I swear I'll be grey by the time this mess is sorted out."
"Minerva, I think we should get back to the task at hand," Albus said, giving them both a smile. He knew Minerva and Severus argued, but it was harmless bickering, like that of a mother and her child.
Minerva nodded. "What do you suggest?"
"Well, I believe between Kingsley and Sirius, Sirius would be the better option. Hermione's had more interaction with him, and I believe he'd be more comfortable with the idea. Besides, if Kingsley were to marry Hermione, it would compromise his position within the Ministry and I need him there," Albus explained as he gave Fawkes a pat on the head.
Minerva nodded. "If that's what you think is best."
"It is. Sirius would be able to keep her safe."
Minerva nodded. "You're right." She knew Sirius could be a good dueler when it was needed.
"A lot of the seventh year girls and a few of the sixth years also will be affected by this law, so I think it would be prudent to have a meeting with those students. Maybe even set up a class regarding married life and parenting, and also have Poppy freshen up on her midwife knowledge," Severus added.
"Midwife knowledge?" Minerva asked, her voice going up an octave, scandalized by the suggestion.
Severus rolled his eyes at the older woman's antics. "Obviously. They'll be having sex weekly; there will be pregnant students."
"Perhaps we should look into having separate dorms for the married couples," Albus mused.
Minerva nodded. "I believe that might be prudent."
Severus let out a hiss, clutching his arm.
"Severus?" Albus asked, moving towards him.
"My mark," Severus hissed through clenched teeth. "I need to go." He started to move towards the door.
"See Poppy once you return," Albus said.
Severus nodded, disappearing from sight.
"Will he be all right?" Minerva asked worriedly.
Albus nodded. "He should be. Hopefully he'll return with some new information."
Minerva collapsed into a chair. "This is a mess."
Albus took sat down in his chair. "It is, and there is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening."
"I just wish this war was over."
Albus nodded, lost in his own thoughts. "I believe it hasn't even started yet."
Minerva groaned. "Oh, don't say that."
Albus chuckled. "Why don't you let Miss Granger know that we've picked a suitor for her, but don't tell her who it is just yet. We can't allow that information to fall into the wrong hands."
Minerva nodded, standing. Reaching into the glass bowl on Albus's desk, she pulled out a lemon drop. Popping it into her mouth, a sigh escaped her lips. "I do love these," she said, a smile on her face.
Albus chuckled. "It's why I keep them around."
Minerva blushed. "Well, I should go. Will you contact Sirius?"
Albus nodded. "I'll Floo him tonight and tell him the plan."
"I'll see you in the morning, Albus. Keep me posted on Severus."
"Good night, Minerva."
Minerva smiled before swiftly exiting the office. She made her way to her chambers, her head swimming with thoughts. She hoped to Merlin that everything would work out.
It was cruel for the Ministry to enforce this, even if Voldemort did have some influence. Surely there were some people on the Wizengamot who weren't under his control? Surely there were some who had voted against the law.
But what if there weren't? What did that say about the wizarding society?
Minerva shook her head, not quite sure that she wanted to know the answer.