Hermione Granger lay on the dust-sheet covered sofa in the living room of her parents' house. The millennium was a day old, replete with possibilities. Bright shiny and new. Hermione did not feel bright or shiny or indeed new. Mostly what she felt was stunned.
Part of that was the aftermath of a truly stupendous New Year's Eve party at the Burrow, from which she had emerged yesterday afternoon dazzled as a mole to slink back to her childhood home. She wanted everything nice for her parents. Today she would have spent tidying up, uncovering the furniture and airing the place. A plastic tub of cleaning supplies stood ready in the kitchen.
And importantly, far far more importantly than anything else, two glass spheres filled with what looked like quicksilver nestled in a carry case in her father's safe. All that her parents' had been rested in those pensieve globes. She had kept them safe for years while Monica and Wendell Wilkins enjoyed Australia.
The wait had not been easy. She had missed her mum and dad so much. She needed them. She had cried for them. But because you do not just turn off a war, she had delayed their return until she could be sure it was safe. There had been no question of her not going back to Hogwarts for her NEWTs, which would have meant months away from her newly returned parents. That would have been cruel, to all three of them. So she had promised herself she would bring them home after graduation.
It had been hard with them not there. She had to duck off to the loo to cry even though she had been deliriously happy. Her mum and dad would have been so proud of her. She had taken photos of everything and had even tried to use a camcorder so they would not miss a moment of the celebrations once she had them back where they belonged.
The restoration spell had taken longer for her to perfect than she had expected. It was complex and it had to be perfect. Hermione would not settle for anything less than total precision. But now she had the rite, the pensieves and the incantations exactly as she needed them. Waiting for the supplies she required had been nerve-twangingly frustrating. That last delay had been the worst of all.
She had spent Christmas in a variety of disguises following her parents to make sure they were alright. They were. They'd had a picnic on the beach then a lovely dinner out with friends. Her dad had got her mum a Season Pass for the symphony orchestra and her mum had got her dad a set of golf clubs. With the time zone difference, Hermione had celebrated her Christmas with the Weasleys. With Ron, in increasing degrees of awkwardness.
She had avoided him in the week between Christmas and New Year's, spending those days sending Howlers to suppliers who had not lived up to their promises. The last parcel, a tincture of Tuscan blue rosemary pressed under the full moon, had arrived on the 31st.
Getting absolutely plastered had not been part of her plan. A few drinks, some dancing and some chatting in the kitchen had been her expectations. But she had been so relieved to have everything finally ready that she had got a tad carried away. Whatever had been in those Goblets of Fire cocktails George had mixed had been potent and quite resistant to sobriety potions.
Last night she had slept in her own room, in her own bed, in blissful certainty she knew what the future held. This morning had proven it was just as well she had quit Divination class because she had no precognition whatsoever. Hermione considered that she could probably find some reserves of murderous rage still in her subconscious, leftover from the war.
Yes, very probably. Right now Apparating to the Ministry and personally rendering the Wizengamot down to their component molecules sounded a pretty good plan. Not terribly effective long term, true, she mused, but really appealing in the aftermath of shock.
There had been quite a few owls waiting for her when she'd woken. Most were routine, confirmation of deliveries and effusive job offers. Some were scrawled notes from her friends on the theme of 'whoar, what a party'. One was from the Ministry notifying her the Reconstruction Bill had passed with a few amendments.
Hermione had given a long interview early last year at the request of the new Minister. Kingsley Shacklebolt had wanted her opinion on how the wizarding world should move forward to heal and repair. She had been honoured to be consulted. So as well as the interview, she had submitted several feet of suggestions. What had that earned her?
An engagement to a pure-blood wizard of the Wizengamot's choosing.
One of the amendments tacked on between restitution orders and provisions for orphans was a nuptial clause. The Ministry had helpfully included it when they had sent the notification of her pending marriage. Hermione had read it, twice, and stared at it now.
Broadly, every unmarried pure-blood witch or wizard between the age of twenty-one and fifty would be matched with a Muggle-born. The arranged marriages carried a lengthy list of caveats, all designed to keep the pure-bloods from wriggling out of the decree. Their options were to marry, to surrender their wands and live as Muggles or to emigrate to a nation that did not have a reciprocal legal arrangement with the Wizengamot.
The Ministry had been ridiculously generous to the Muggle-born partners. Large bonuses, tax rebates and free child-care were just a few of the big ticket incentives. Hermione smirked at the 'free child-care'. That was another little sting in the legislation. The pure-blood partner could only petition for divorce after two children had been produced from the marriage, and they faced hefty fines for children born out of wedlock. Not so for their Muggle-born spouse.
So the Wizengamot had finally found a way to break the old wizarding families. The pure-bloods would either submit to having their heir and a spare be half-bloods or die out. The age limit was a nice touch too. It neatly caught anyone likely to have been actively involved in the support of Voldemort, while leaving those who had been under-age at the end of the war with the threat hanging over their heads.
There would be an exodus of pure-bloods. Hermione thought idly of which countries did not have a Gamut Treaty with the United Kingdom. There were not many. She would have to look that up for her own curiosity. At least the Ministry was not vindictive enough to annul existing marriages between pure-bloods. There were also criteria for exceptional circumstances, most notably 'service in the defence of Muggles'. That would give an escape clause for the Order of the Phoenix and their allies.
Nicely done, really. The Wizengamot had brought the pure-blood families to their knees. Oh, certainly they could appeal the legislation. But that would take years. Years in which young pure-bloods were not marrying. For a section of society with already low birth-rates, having their youth forcibly chaste might cripple their chances of children. Or they could pay the illegitimacy fines and spend years trying to gain legal acknowledgement for their base-born heirs. The Wizengamot had them over a barrel.
Hermione felt sorry for them. She did. Plus courtesy of the Time-Turner, she was within the age group for Muggle-born spouses, which she hoped the Ministry had not realised. But that was not what made her angry. What made her bloody furious was that in 1937 her grandmother had been banned from marrying the man she had loved by an edict very similar to the one Hermione now held.
She was not going to bloody accept it. This was not what she had fought for. Sitting up, Hermione hunted for a scroll and quill. She had left her bag somewhere. Rummaging through the house, she found her trusty satchel still transfigured into an evening bag on the hall table.
When the doorbell rang, Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin. Her head gave a warning throb. It was still punishing her for the New Year's Eve party. At least her mouth no longer tasted of petrol and old socks. She wrenched the door open, trying not to swear. If it was someone door-knocking for charity they were going to be sadly disappointed.
Tall, dark and handsome stood on her parents' doorstep. Shoulders squared, arms resting at his sides with hands clenched, face grim and ready to beard a lioness in her den. Hermione glared at him. He stared levelly back at her, cloak rippling in the cold breeze.
"Good morning, Granger." The words were careful, spoken through his teeth. Straight teeth now, she noticed.
"Come in." She stepped aside so he could enter. "We have a lot to talk about, Flint."