A/N: Obviously, nothing belongs to me; everything/one but Ceridwen (and maybe another OC or two later) belongs to the brilliant Jo Rowling, I'm just playing with them :) And with that said, this is my first marriage law fic and I'm a bit nervous, so if anyone is feeling generous, please leave me some tips :)
Prologue: Bumping Heads Already
Ceridwen was leaning her chair back on two legs, as was Sirius on her right, listening to the rest of the Order have a heated discussion about the next attak on the Death Eaters. The Golden Trio was to her left, the remaining Weasley siblings across from them, and the others, with the exception of Snape, who had his arms crossed, looking thoroughly annoyed at being there, were standing near the opposite end of the long table in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place. No one was able to agree on whether or not they should carry out the attack, one half arguing that if they did it within the week, the targeted Death Eater nest would still be weak, and the other claiming that they would probably have extra forces in place in the event of a second attack. Remus and Arthur, though on opposing sides, were the only people participating in the debate who kept cool heads.
The Order's owls arrived then, thankfully breaking up the argument for the moment, the short main story would send everyone into some sort of fit once again.
Ministry Announces Marriage Law!
Due to a severe drop in numbers during the Second Wizarding War and pure-blood inbreeding, the Ministry of Magic has passed a marriage law applying to any witch and wizard between the ages of 17 and 65. The terms of the law state that engagements must be approved by the Ministry by the end of this month, August 31st, and weddings must take place before January 1st. Anyone who has not gotten an engagement approved in the allotted time will be matched with someone. Couples will be required to be expecting a child or to have already bore one by the following New Year.
The Marriage Law also states that pure-bloods may not marry other pure-bloods unless the Ministry is able to confirm that the witch and wizard are not closely related enough that their union will be considered inbreeding, and that muggleborns must marry either a pure- or half-blood.
Widowed witches and wizards are exempt from all parts of this law, and any of-age student of Hogwarts is exempt from the conception aspect until graduation, after which he or she will have one year to conceive or bear a child.
Surprisingly, Remus was the first to lose his temper, slamming his copy of the Daily Prophet onto the table, and Tonks gripped his arms and murmured that it was going to be okay, gradually settling her husband down. Arthur took a deep breath and gripped his own wife's hand, not too worried about his own children because they were all spoken for, but shaken nonetheless.
Sirius disregarded the story completely, as he was in his first steady relationship ever after returning from the Veil. With a grin, he decided to tease his old rival, Snape. "Got a lady on your mind, Snivellus?"
The Potions Master sneered, ignoring the man.
Remus took it upon himself to take charge of the situation as the papers were passed around and nearly everyone made some sort of noise conveying shock, outrage, or dismay.
Ceridwen had just let the paper fall to the table and dropped her head onto her arms, which had remained on the wooden surface. Sirius patted her shoulder good-naturedly while Harry squeezed one of her hands, attempting to offer comfort. She squeezed it back.
"Alright, are there any students in the Order who are unspoken for?" Remus called, bringing the room's attention to him.
Ceridwen raised the hand that wasn't holding Harry's, forcing her head up as well. It was sorely obvious that she was the only one. She held back a groan. Fantastic, she thought as people immediately began to fire off names, not paying any attention whatsoever to who spoke.
"Fred can marry her, right?"
"Sorry, mate, Cho might hex me."
"What about George."
"Blimey, mate, I've only been with Angelina since my fifth year! She'd Avada Kedavra me for sure!"
"Is Neville with anyone?"
"How about Ron?"
"Oi! I'm right here!" She couldn't help recognize Hermione.
Ginny repeated Hermione's indignant reminder.
Sirius was the one to point out the only remaining option, whose head was bent as he pinched the bridge of his nose, having already come to the conclusion that he was it. "Snivellus," he said, voice falsely sweet, "got any ideas, old friend?"
Ceridwen whipped her head right to stare, wide-eyed, at the Professor, and Snape wordlessly jinxed Sirius' chair's legs to break. "When will you learn, Black?"
Sirius picked himself up off the floor, charming his chair to fix itself and warily settling on it again—and left all four legs touching the ground.
"Severus," Molly chided, "that was uncalled for!"
"That would be a matter of opinion, Madame."
"Close your mouth, love, you look like a fish," Ginny quietly suggested from across the table.
Ceridwen's mouth closed with a soft crack as she clenched her teeth. The Order unconsciously disregarded anything she might have to say on the matter after that point, and she found that she no longer wished to hear them discussing her fate as if she were their collective child and Teddy's age rather than seventeen years old. She knew, however, that no one would let her leave, so he let go of Harry's hand and crossed her arms, vaguely noticing that Snape was being equally ignored.
After a full ten minutes, the man who was now supposedly her fiancé spoke up, tired of listening to the gaggle of fools debate his life away. "Do any of you dunderheads give a damn about either of our opinions on this, or are you going to continue to act as if we're just willing to accept it so quickly?"
Silence fell. As Snape had
expected, they turned to Ceridwen rather than him, but he forced himself to be patient; it was only logical that it be her decision, in the end.
But she had frozen under the sudden pressure of so many eyes watching her, waiting for a response of any kind.
He sighed. "Well done, everyone, you've turned her into a bloody frightened deer."
"Well, then, you should be perfect for each other, doe-boy," Sirius quipped, annoying everyone with his insensitivity.
Severus only jinxed the man's chair to break again as his heart gave a painful lurch, triggering everyone to go on talking again as if they'd never stopped.
"Oh, will you all just shut the hell up!" Ceridwen shouted, her voice managing to echo slightly.
Severus snorted, amused when her amber eyes once again widened with all eyes on her. "Speak up, girl, you have no excuse to be shy now," he sneered when she didn't speak.
She whipped her head in his direction again, causing her night-black hair to fly into her face, actually impressing him with the glower she aimed at him. "Don't start with me, Professor."
The twins sniggered, tossing in some rather rude but also rather funny comments. Well, funny to nearly everyone but Severus and Ceridwen.
"My apologies, dear," Snape drawled, much to the further amusement of the room's inhabitants.
"Well, I gave you fair warning," she muttered with a sigh. "Langlock," she said with a quick wave of her wand.
Oh, bugger me. Damned girl.
"Cat got your tongue, Snivellus?"
Snape reminded Padfoot once again that the chair-breaking jinx was wordless, and the man crashed to the floor for the third time in half an hour, muttering a string of obscenities.
"Was there something you wanted to say, Ceri?" Arthur asked kindly. He and Molly thought of her as one of their own, along with Harry and Hermione.
The girl took a deep breath. "Is there any other option for us? I don't relish the idea of marrying my professor, much less having children with him, and I'm sure he's sitting there plotting revenge on me for that little trick already, besides trying to figure a way out of this…arrangement."
"Well," Remus began, furrowing his brow and leaning on the table, supporting himself with his hands placed flat on its surface, "since you're a half-blood, you could really marry any man you want, but I know you see the sense of marrying within the Order or its allies, yes?"
"Good. The only problem, and I mean no offence, is that Severus is the only male member of the order who is included in this ridiculous law who is single."
Harry clapped a hand over her mouth.
Severus rolled his eyes, wishing like hell that the damn spell would wear off so he could speak again and glaring at the girl with everything he had.
When she saw it, she glared right back before a slow grin turned up her lips. "Speechless, are we? Surely I couldn't have offended you that badly." Expecting his jinx, she rose before her chair collapsed. "It's ruse to jinx a lady's chair."
"Severus Snape! Behave yourself!" There was Molly again, playing mother hen to the lot of them.
The dark wizard was glad to feel the spell fade. "She's not a lady, she's my student."
"I'm you're sodding fiancée, Snape."
"That's Professor or sir to you, girl."
"My deepest apologies, sir, for offending you so." She stood once more to sweep his a low, disrespectful bow.
He bit his tongue.
"Looks like you're gonna have your hands full, there, Professor," George piped in, dissolving into more sniggers with his brother.
"She's right wild, that one," Fred added.
"Thank Merlin I have experience breaking wild spirits, then," he hissed.
Ceridwen quirked an eyebrow at him, arms crossed again. "I'd say you're getting rusty, then, Professor, seeing as you haven't managed to come anywhere near succeeding with me."
The rest of the Order just watched them bicker, heads moving back and forth as if they were watching a tennis match. Sirius vacated his seat to avoid the line of fire, taking up a spot next to Tonks and Remus.
"At least I live up to my House."
She rolled her eyes. "Have you not met the Golden Trio and the Weasleys? Not to mention Padfoot over there. Obviously, I live up to mine as well as you do."
"Fine, then. You're just a willful, foolish girl."
"Better than a cradle-robber."
Snape's eyes turned to black fire as the others in the room either gasped or tried to hide giggles of laughter.
Ceridwen bit her lip. "I'm sorry. That wasn't fair."
"Gold-digger," he snapped, a mischievous glint replacing the fire.
"Alright, you two, that's enough. Can't have you killing each other before you're even officially engaged."
The arguing pair groaned at the same time, making those who heard, which was nearly everyone, laugh again. "For the sake of my sanity, Remus, do not utter that word," Severus ordered.
"I second that," Ceridwen added.
"Already obedient, are we?" Severus provoked.
Ceridwen quirked an eyebrow again. "Not even in your dreams."
"Nobody wants to hear about his dreams!" the twins chorused.
"I imagine not," Snape retorted, "as they'd likely send you running for the nearest cliff."
"That dirty, eh?" George said.
"Goodness, Snape, did you plot the whole thing to get the pretty Gryffindor to your bed?" Sirius finally chimed in.
Ceridwen blushed, and her friends minus Harry glared daggers at the man. "That's a bit much, Padfoot, you know he's not like that."
Severus turned on her, though, rather than his old rival. "I do not need to you to come to my rescue, girl."
"Seems to me you did, or would you prefer Missus Weasley yelling at you again for hexing him?"
"I can fight my own battles."
"Oh, shove off and just accept help for once."
They went off on another tangent of bickering as the rest of the Order rolled their eyes, no longer amused at the "couple," and Remus summoned a piece of parchment, a quill and an inkwell to start on their engagement proposal, sending his owl off with it a few minutes later. When he returned to the kitchen, no one had bothered to interrupt Severus and Ceridwen's arguing.
"Bumping heads this much already; this is going to be a disaster," Tonks predicted quietly.
"They'll kill each other in a week," Remus muttered in agreement.
Sirius snorted. "I give them a day."
A/N: lots of dialogue, I know, but that's just how it came out. Please review! :)