Hermione Granger starred at the man standing in her parents doorway. Professor Albus Dumbledore was chatting casually with her parents in her front hallway.
"Headmaster," Hermione said surprised as she walked down the stairs and toward him.
"Ah, Miss Granger," he said nicely. "How is your summer going?"
"Fine, Headmaster," she said as she joined her parents. "And I take it the repairs at Hogwarts are coming along?"
"Slowly, but we should be up and running fine for the new term," the Headmaster smiled at her. "For you to finish your studies."
"I look forward to it Headmaster," she smiled at him.
"Miss Granger, I wonder if I might borrow you for a few hours this afternoon, there's something regarding the upcoming school year that I would like to discuss with you."
Hermione smiled at him. She just knew this meant she was going to be appointed Head Girl.
"Of course, Headmaster," she smiled at him.
"Thank you," he nodded for her to follow him. "Nice seeing you again Drs Granger."
"Have an excellent year Headmaster, and we'll see you for dinner Hermione," her mother said.
Hermione followed the Headmaster out and around the side of her house, disapparating with him right into his office.
"Well that's quite convenient," she smiled up at him as she took in her surroundings.
"Being Headmaster has its privileges," he joked. "Have a seat Miss Granger."
Hermione took a chair and waited for him to begin speaking.
"Have you been keeping up on your wizarding news this summer?" He asked.
"I get the Daily Prophet," she admitted.
"So, you know about the marriage law that some members of the Wizangamit are proposing?"
"Yes, but that'll never pass," Hermione laughed. "It's just a bunch of..."
She stopped speaking when she saw a look pass over Dumbledore's face.
"It is going to pass," he said softly. "Against all my protestations and those of other members."
"Ex...excuse me, sir?" She asked, surprised.
"Some members are very...robust in their call to duty," he said with a sigh. "It's the wizarding world's marital version of conscription. Everyone has to do their part and other such nonsense."
"So...so they are going to force people to marry against their will?" She asked stunned. "It's preposterous!"
"I'm afraid so," he said as he took a piece of parchment off his desk and examined it. "Which is why I have brought you here today."
"I'm sorry?" She asked, still shocked.
"The law will be passed at the end of September making you one of the first Hogwarts students subject to the law," he said. "You and two others; Josiah Bates, and Clarice Mumford."
"Have you met with them already?" She asked.
"Later this afternoon, but I wanted to meet with you first."
"Yes, I have an opportunity for you that I am not going to present to the others. Please hear me out before you make a decision."
Hermione nodded in agreement.
"When this law is passed I have it on good authority that you are going to be a sought after witch. Because of your close association with Harry, your talent during the final battle, and your intelligence you are quite the catch."
Hermione became indignant. How dare she be vied for like cattle!
"Unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons in most cases," Dumbledore explained. "You see, you are a prize to be won my dear, and neither you nor I want that to happen to you."
"Noble houses will want you to restore their good name, Pureblood families will want you to change the public's perception of them, and some families will just want the publicity that comes along with you."
Hermione was mortified.
"You are nothing more than a 'thing' to them Hermione, something that is of great use in the post-Voldemort world. Under the law, you are subject to your husband's rules and demands. Your education could be cut short, the number of children you have could be...indeterminate. All of these ridiculous rules and regulations meant to save the wizarding community are going to be its downfall and no one seems to be seeing it." Dumbledore said as he banged his fist.
"And so?" Hermione asked.
"Neither Harry nor Ronald is old enough to marry under the law, the other Weasley brothers are..."
Hermione shook her head in the negative.
"I thought so," Dumbledore smiled at her. "You need to marry someone older, who is also subject to the law but can be trusted to allow you to continue your education and keep you childless for as long as possible."
Hermione's eyes grew wide. Dumbledore was not proposing she take off for distant lands, or polyjuice herself into a new person, he was proposing she actually marry someone.
"Sir, aren't wizarding marriages for life?" She asked.
"The new wizarding law makes allowances for divorces after a decade," he said with a grimace. "With any luck Miss Granger the law will be repealed within months or a year and it won't get that far."
"So you are thinking marriage is my only alternative?" She asked, stumbling over the words.
"It's either that or give up your wand and..."
Hermione shook her head vigorously.
"I didn't think so," he said as he smiled at her.
"I also don't wish to be married to a stranger and pregnant before my time," she emphasized. "It's like legal enslavement."
"I propose you marry someone else who is in the same circumstance as you. A man who is being salivated over by a female set with the same ulterior motives as the males who are vying for you. A man who will receive a list of interested witches that he must choose from, just as you must choose from your list of wizards. In short Miss Granger, by marrying each other you can save each other from a horrible circumstance."
"Who is this?" She asked, sure already that he was the best option.
"The most famous spy in the wizarding world, Severus Snape," Dumbledore said seriously.
"Pro...Professor Snape, sir?"