A little background: This story takes place in 1997-98, the trio's seventh year. This is therefore AU in which Dumbledore didn't die, and there was never an assignment for Malfoy to kill him. Essentially what would happen if the Trio went to Hogwarts their seventh year and things were a little more drawn out...

It was a drastic meeting of sorts. Albus liked to think that Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape were two of his most trusted allies, despite what people tended to say about the latter.

Severus sat stiffly, as usual, with his black robes neatly arranged around his thin form. Minerva sat beside him, her hat perched precariously, Her lips pursed in anticipation.

"Well it has to be someone from the Order," the older woman said in tight voice, "I won't allow her to marry anybody else in these times. We can barely trust anyone as it is, and who knows who the Ministry can get to!"

Albus nodded, examining his steepled fingers with intensity. He looked up. Severus had been quiet throughout most of this meeting. "Severus, what do you think?" he asked, turning to the quiet man.

Severus seemed vaguely irritated, "I could honestly care less about what you do with the girl. Go ahead, marry her off to someone in the Order, just don't expect Molly Weasley to not put up a fight. Even I have noticed how focused she is on having Granger marry her youngest boy."

Albus considered this. Molly would definitely protest if he married Miss Granger off to another Order member, but it seemed like something they had to do. The young Mr. Weasley was not an option, and neither was Harry. The law had its absurd age requirements, and it seemed that it had been put into effect only a few days after the girl turned eighteen. Quite suspicious.

Minerva piped up, "I think this is all too unfair for Hermione. She deserves to know about this before we decide her fate in such a manner."

"Yes, I agree, Minerva," Albus observed, "perhaps we ought to bring her here? Surely she's heard about the law already."

"I'll fetch her," the Gryffindor Head of House said, standing up and retreating from the office.

"I doubt you'll be needing me much longer, Albus, and I must prepare for my morning classes," Severus breathed, standing and nodding at the man across the desk.

Albus was lost in thought. He waved Severus off and retreated to the back of his office, where the shelves held many interesting trinkets he had acquired over the years. His eye caught when the morning light glimmered over one trinket in particular…

Hermione had been innocently eating her toast in the Great Hall when she heard the news. Apparently all the other students had found out via Prophet. She used to always read the Prophet in the mornings, but as of late it had been too irritating to pay any attention to. The wizarding newspaper was often a source of slanderous and silly remarks about Harry, Dumbledore, and various others.

It was because of her ignorance to the Prophet that she found herself quite confused at the amount of tension around the Great Hall. Ron and Harry were still sleeping, as was their customary Sunday routine, so she was unable to ask them if they knew what was going on.

Looking around, Hermione noticed that nearly everyone was reading the Prophet, and some of the older students, including most of the Seventh years, seemed to be very distressed at what they saw.

Hermione spotted Seamus and Dean, who were sitting down the Gryffindor table a few seats from her. She scooted down and asked what was going on.

"The Ministry's decided to bring back a Marriage Law," Dean exclaimed, as if excited that he was able to relay such monumental news.

Hermione furrowed her brow, "may I see?"

He handed the paper over. She scanned headlines and articles briskly. Most were focused on this apparent Marriage Law. She barely had time to get far into the paper before a hand fell on her shoulder.

"Miss Granger?' McGonagall's voice called. Hermione turned to see her Head of House wearing a grim expression. "The Headmaster and I would like to have a word with you."

"Oh," she hesitated for a moment, and then nodded. She had a feeling that Dumbledore wanted to speak about this strange new law, and that could only mean bad news. Her stomach dropped.

"Please follow me," McGonagall voiced, turning towards the exit of the Great Hall.

As Hermione followed her Transfiguration Professor, Seamus muttered a quiet realization to Dean, "She's eighteen already, remember? That means she's eligible for the law."

Albus had retreated to the back of his office, where he stood in front of a small case. Within, it held an ornate gold locket. The previous night, he had consulted said locket shortly after hearing of the new law.

Now, he consulted it again.

The Headmaster opened it gently. Within were two hollowed out golden hearts, shining in the streaks of sunlight that cascaded through a nearby window.

"Hermione Granger," Albus said, watching the hallowed heart with great caution.

The face and shoulders of the young woman appeared, slightly foggy through the unpolished gold. Her hair was bushy and she wore a Head Girl badge proudly over her Gryffindor robes. The smudged gold distorted her face slightly, but it was still unmistakably Hermione Granger.

After a few more seconds, another face materialized in the opposite half of the locket. Albus smiled at the sight. It was the same face as he had been shown the previous evening.

Perfect, he thought to himself.

"Albus?" Minerva called into the large, decorated office. He had been sitting at his desk just a minute ago.

After a moment, one particularly jolly looking Albus Dumbledore re-entered the front area of the office. "Ah, Miss Granger, I'm glad you could join us," he chimed, smiling at the young witch.

Minerva noticed a slight twinkle in the older Wizard's eye. How odd… she hadn't seen much of that expression lately, what with the looming war and all the stress it had been placing on the Headmaster.

"Is this about the Marriage Law?" Hermione asked, her shoulders set rigidly.

Albus exhaled, "Yes, I'm sorry to inform you that it is. As you have surely figured out, this law pertains to you."

Hermione nodded once, her mouth pulled tight. Minerva examined the girl closely.

"Please, sit down," Albus said, motioning to one of the chairs across from his desk.

Minerva watched Hermione take a seat, and then moved to sit in the adjacent chair.

"Now," Albus began, "How much have you heard about this law, Miss Granger?"

"Not much at all," Granger murmured, "I'd only just looked over what the Prophet said about it when Professor McGonagall came to get me."

Albus nodded in understanding, and proceeded to explain the law in depth. Minerva watched the girl carefully, noting the way her already ashen face fell even more when the Headmaster explained the age minimum. She had obviously been thinking that she could get away with marrying Weasley or Potter.

After Albus had explained everything, Hermione looked more distraught than ever. She glanced to her left and Minerva gave her a reassuring smile.

"Now, as I'm sure you know, this law will apply to many students at Hogwarts," Albus explained, "but there are reasons why it pertains to you in particular."

"The Death Eaters still have their hands in the Ministry," She finished. Minerva was surprised by her insightfulness, but really, she ought to have expected this from the girl all along.

"Yes," Albus said solemnly, "Our attempts at weeding out the Death Eater sympathizers have failed. They have come up with a truly clever way to interfere."

Her lips twisted into a frown. "But how could they have gotten this approved?" She asked, eyes lighting up, "Wizarding Marriage Laws of any sort were abolished in the 1700's."

Albus nodded, "Manipulating the Minister of Magic is a very powerful thing."

Minerva gave Albus a sharp glare. It wouldn't do to have him spilling all this information to the girl.

"Scrimgeour's one of them?" She questioned, outraged.

"No, no, I don't think he has any Death Eater affiliations," The headmaster assured, "but I fear that they have found a way to blackmail him, or that another Death Eater is in a high enough place of power to work around him."

Minerva watched as Granger nodded calmly, absorbing the information. She was obviously trying to put up a calm front.

"Who are they trying to get to with this law?" She asked.

"I'm afraid that I'm not completely sure of that, Miss Granger, though Professor McGonagall and I do have our suspicious."

"Who?" she asked, looking to Minerva, then back at Dumbledore.

"You," Minerva said gravely, "and all of the other Muggleborns or Half-Bloods that they can get their hands on."

Hermione seemed to lose her calm for a split second. Her expression broke into one of despair and fear. Then she was composed once again. She nodded as the evidence dawned on her, "Purebloods have exemptions from the law."

"Yes," Albus replied, "Purebloods are allowed a month to choose a spouse, Muggleborns and Half-Bloods are only allowed a week to marry before a partner is chosen for them."

"And if we wait a week," she said roughly, "they'll pick a Death Eater for me to marry."

"Yes, that will likely happen," Minerva said solemnly.

She took a deep, shaking breath, "But the marriage proposal must be approved by the Ministry. How will I get any marriage approved when they want to marry me off to a Death Eater?"

Minerva recalled the earlier conversation she had exchanged with Albus and Severus.

"Severus," Albus sighed wearily, "You must go to the Ministry and find our contact. Make sure he will approve whomever we propose for Miss Granger to marry. We need our contact to intercept the proposal before any Death Eater associates can."

Severus appreared to disapprove of the plan, but he nodded.

"Severus, remember that she is essential to the cause," Albus said calmly, "this marriage must be arranged correctly."

"Of course," Severus intoned.

"Trust me, Miss Granger," Albus began, "I will make sure that is taken care of. The proposal will be approved."

The fight seemed to leave the girl. She slumped back in the chair. "So who can I marry?"

Minerva sighed. She opened her mouth to explained, but paused as Albus caught her eye. The twinkle had returned to his expression. He hid it well, but Minerva had known him for years. She was bound to pick up on the hints of mischievousness in his eyes.

"We feel that it would be wisest for you to marry a member of the Order," Albus said calmly, "That way you would be as protected as possible."

She nodded slowly. Minerva watched as the girl's eyes then fell to the floor. She seemed disappointed, and it once again seemed that Hermione's sights had been set on Potter or Weasley.

There was a long moment of silence as the young witch gazed at the ground. The poor girl, she didn't want to get married. She especially didn't want to marry a near stranger from the Order. But perhaps it could be one of the older Weasley boys, Minerva thought, surely she wouldn't mind that too terribly.

"Is there anyone you would prefer, Hermione?" Minerva asked softly.

She waited a second before shaking her head, "I- I don't know. I've never considered anything like this before."

"That's alright, dear," she replied, patting the girl's arm, "Don't fret, we'll figure this out."

Hermione seemed only marginally consoled. Minerva looked to Albus, who still held that silly twinkle in his eye.

"Miss Granger," Albus begun, "why don't you go and take the day to yourself? Professor McGonagall and I will find someone suitable and have you back here this evening for your opinion."

Minerva watched the girl nod, sigh deeply, and then stand from her chair. "Thank you, Headmaster, Professor McGonagall, I appreciate what you both are doing for me."

She exited the room slowly, leaving Minerva surprised by her tremendous maturity, but really, she ought have expected this much from the girl. Hermione Granger had truly grown into a mature and brave young woman. Perhaps the responsibility of being Head Girl had done her well this year.

Albus was smiling when the door closed behind Hermione. "And just what are you grinning about?" Minerva quipped.

"I think I have a perfect partner for Miss Granger," Albus proclaimed, "and he happens to be right here at Hogwarts…"

Author's Note: I've got a lot planned for this Fic, and I plan on updating very soon. This was only a short preliminary chapter, it'll get longer as we go. Also, reviews are my lifeblood.