Title: Quiet My Heart
Disclaimer: Captain Fangirlhumper… err, J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter universe. Wish they were mine so I could do utterly retarded things to them and watch my bank account get steadily larger, but sadly not mine. Neither is the Hellboy universe, in either the comic or movie forms, the latter of which being what I'm using here. Not mine, don't sue, etc.
Summary: When the Ministry passes a particularly inane law, Hermione decides she too must obey… the letter of it. The spirit of it? Pfft. Based on the moronic 'I can't think of a real reason to ship someone with an evil character' marriage law challenge. Barely.
Joe's Note: Despite the occasional 'pretty pic' and all that you guys post, my sister goes largely unappreciated for all the help she gives me with my stories (not just art, but beta-reading and general advice) and so this story goes out to her as a great big thanks. Not that it comes anywhere close to balancing the scales, but it's a start.
'Right here in the moment I'm given,
I'll treasure the breath that I'm breathing.
And I'll rest in you,
You quiet my heart.
Somehow every second that's passing,
Is filled so much meaning,
As I wait here with you.
Quiet my heart…'
"…you cannot be serious."
"No, he's dead, remember?" Hermione Granger gave Harry Potter her best glare for that one and her friend winced before holding his hands up in an attempt to pacify her. "Hey, you're not the only one who'd be affected by this new law if the Wizengamot passes it and I sign it into law. Muggleborns and half-bloods, remember? I'll be fair game too."
Hermione rolled her eyes at that, sitting back in her chair as she eyed the current Minister of Magic. "For what, the ten minutes it takes you and Pansy to hash out a suitable contract and find a blood quill to make everything official?" And she still couldn't believe that her best friend and the ex-girlfriend of their former nemesis had been dating since the war ended three years previously. Or that Pansy Parkinson was a halfway decent person once you got her away from Draco Malfoy.
Grinning sheepishly at that, Harry shrugged. "Actually, we're almost done with it already. Since we know it's coming, we want to be ready. The only things left to agree on are the number of children and their names. Pansy wants four and I only want the two, and while we're both okay with flower names for the girls, we can't agree on what to name any boys. Although the more I think about it, I suppose she's right: we have the money and it's not like I'll be the one carrying or caring for them, so she could have two or ten and it'd affect me about the same…"
"Well, I'm so glad things are working out for you." Crossing her arms over her chest, Hermione scowled at him. "I'm still not going to participate in this… this farce. And I can't believe you're allowing this to happen. I mean, I have nothing against Molly Weasley… well, other than being intensely uncomfortable with her obsession with trying to get me to date her soon-to-be-engaged son… but I have things to do with my life. Things that don't include being a housewife with seven children."
Harry sighed and leaned forward, pushing a piece of parchment across the desk towards her. "It's not that bad. You just need to have two children minimum and with how… assertive… you can be, I'm sure you can probably even talk your husband into being a stay at home dad so you can keep your career. You know how purebloods are; like they'd pass up a chance to do nothing with their lives. And it's not like we're going to draw names out of a hat or let them buy you at auction or something. You can have your pick of husbands."
Ah yes, just what she needed: a century of more of being glued to a differently shaped Ron. And what did she have to pick from, despite his assurances? Thinking back to the purebloods she knew from Hogwarts, Hermione struggled to think of one she'd want to tie herself to as part of this mockery of what marriage was supposed to be about. Neville had died in the final battle, Ron was Ron, and she didn't really want Molly as a mother-in-law and so even Ron's single brothers were out. Well, they were out primarily because she didn't like any of them that way but even if she'd gotten on well with Charlie or George, Molly was enough to make her keep the entire family at arm's length. Ernie Macmillian was a singularly unpleasant little bastard, she barely knew Stephen Cornfoot apart from sharing an Ancient Runes class with him, and then there were the Slytherins. Malfoy, Nott, and Zabini had all survived the final battle and managed to wriggle their way back into society, but she'd let them snap her wand and emigrate to the muggle world before she let any of those three near her. Her mind wandered to the years bracketing hers, but she really didn't know any of the boys from them. Not well enough to be comfortable with the idea of marrying them, at any rate.
Picking up the bill in question - at least as it stood; there was always the possibility of last minute alterations before the final vote - Hermione's eyes slid back and forth over the densely packed legalese. Suddenly, something hit her and she skipped two paragraphs back up in the document. They weren't that stupid, were… oh, it was the wizarding world, of course they were. Suddenly, a wide grin spread over Hermione's face. She didn't have a solution to the mess yet, but she had a path to a solution. A solution that would allow her to give the wizarding world and its pureblooded puppet masters a great big kick in the butt for their misogynistic tendencies. Granted she'd have to find someone crazy enough to help her pull it off… but she couldn't possibly be the only malcontent out there who would be outraged with this new attack on the personal freedoms of witches and wizards nationwide. She looked up to find Harry squirming uncomfortably in his seat. "Fine."
"Really? Because this is going to be hard enough to sell without the Senior Undersecretary - who's also a decorated war hero and very important person to British magical society, might I add - refusing to go along with it." Harry let out a sigh of relief, running his hand through his unruly hair. "You know that if I had a choice, I'd stop this, right? But if I do… it'd be like if I actually freed the house elves. I can do it, sure, and then the purebloods will get me booted out of office because they still hold the Wizengamot, and the new Minister will undo it. Or do it, in the case of this law. And then we're left with someone with a decent head on their shoulders out of power and Merlin knows who sitting in this office…"
Hermione nodded, placing the parchment back on his desk as she rose from her chair. "I said it's fine, Harry. I'll do it. Now, if you don't mind, I have work to finish before the end of the day. Some of us actually have to work to earn our galleons, after all."
"Save it for someone who doesn't know what your schedule looks like."
Two days later, Hermione found herself sitting in a corner booth at the Leaky Cauldron, significantly less excited about the soon to be enacted marriage law than she had been in Harry's office the day she'd read it over. Flipping through the post in front of her, she scowled. No. No. Had she been hit by too many Cruciatus curses during the war? No. Not even her pen pal from France who desperately wanted to come to England to study transfiguration as McGonagall's apprentice was willing to take her offered shortcut through immigration by way of a Ministry-licensed bonder.
So much for her brilliant idea, she thought with a scowl. The only question left was did she want to turn in her wand with her resignation letter tomorrow, or keep it and begin looking into emigrating? Then a voice she hadn't heard in several years startled her out of her thoughts. "Hmm. Your mood is almost as black as my outfit. Or Dante."
Hermione looked up and let out a little shriek of surprise, flinching back in her seat as she found herself staring at a very large Doberman, his front legs resting on the table and his mouth open in what looked suspiciously like one of Padfoot's old doggy grins. Then she looked a foot to the right and… "Luna? Luna Lovegood? Is that you?"
"Well I'm certainly not Hermione Granger. That's you." Hermione broke into a wide, genuine smile at that; she'd heard more than a few students at Hogwarts fall victim to that in their time at school, as if Luna was someone who could suffer from a case of mistaken identity. Then again, these days she was decided un-Luna looking, if Hermione did say so herself.
She wasn't quite sure what Luna looked like. Her dress was halfway between the puffy cute dresses her schoolmates' dolls had worn back in primary school and a frilly French maid's outfit. Except neither generally came with torn fishnet stockings, or were accessorized with black nail polish, black lipstick, heavy black eyeliner, or silver cross earrings and a matching necklace. And while barely showing anything, the outfit managed to accentuate Luna's femininity in a way that made it very clear that Luna had left England a girl and come back a woman.
Hmm. Luna had always been one to cling to unusual and sometimes outlandish beliefs. While she personally didn't believe in the 'Rotfang Conspiracy' that Luna was convinced the Ministry was engaged in - or half of the other things that came out of the quirky blonde's mouth - Hermione wondered if she could perhaps convince Luna that the impending marriage law was a part of it and that she knew a way the blonde could strike back at the organization. Not that she thought she could outright trick Luna into anything - nor did she want to - but perhaps properly framing her proposition would increase the odds of Luna accepting it.
The law's wording was fairly simple: all she was required to do was negotiate in good faith with anyone who made an offer for her hand in marriage; since she was the one being 'generous' enough to donate her genes to the continuation of the wizarding world, the burden of courtship fell on the pureblood. If she rejected an offer, the pureblood could request she be brought before the Special Department of Emergency Repopulation where she would be forced to justify her reasons for rejecting the offer. Once she accepted an offer from someone, there were a host of other rules that came into play such as the requirement that they birth a minimum of two children, but the section regarding offers being made was the only one that mattered at the moment.
Luckily for her, the wizarding world - in their typical laziness - had framed everything in gender neutral terms so they could save time and space and create a singular section of the law that governed both pureblood women who would be courting half-blood and muggleborn men, such as the case of Pansy and Harry, as well as pureblood men who would be seeking muggleborn and half-blood brides. But it was in this laziness that her potential salvation lay, so she wasn't going to complain.
Children would be a bit more problematic… the new law specified that the matched couples would need to have a minimum of two, lest they be hit with a small annual fee for their 'selfishness and unwillingness to assist the greater good', but there were plenty of methods - both muggle and magical - that could build a bridge over that river when the time came.
And, quite conveniently, Hermione knew that with the death of her father during the war, Luna had become the sole surviving member and head of the Quirky and Most Ancient House of Lovegood… and now was a member of the 'priority' pool for purebloods under the marriage law, representing the potential end of a major pureblood line.
The only real question was… as hypocritical as it sounded even to her, it was one thing to ask a casual female acquaintance to join her in this mad experiment to circumvent this insane new law and an unhappy marriage. In Brigit's case, she would have even gotten something extra from it: immediate British citizenship, so she could finally go to Hogwarts and learn from one of the world's preeminent transfiguration mistresses. But did she really want to trap a real friend, one of the few she had, in a loveless union to save herself? Luna's voice now held a bit of an American accent; she'd probably been over there for the past few years and could return there if pressured by the Ministry. Return there and meet someone who she actually wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
On the other hand… nothing ventured, nothing gained. She could always make the offer and leave it up to Luna to decide whether or not she wanted to help. If she didn't, Hermione was right back where she started. And if she did… then Hermione was saved. But she wouldn't know if she didn't ask. "You know, Luna, I was just sitting down to have some dinner. Why don't you and Dante here join me? My treat. Maybe hearing about what you've been up to will cheer me up…"
"Actually, I'm just passing through because I don't remember where the Alley's apparition point is and didn't want to splinch myself. I need to pick up something I ordered last time we were in London and then get back to work." Oh. Well that certainly proved that Luna had an alternative available to her if she - like most reasonable women - didn't want to be chained to a man by Ministry decree and forced to breed. On the other hand, it meant that Hermione was back at square one. Hmm. Maybe Luna's employers were in need of another witch? "You can come with us, if you want. I was going to stop at The Frying Scotsman after so Dante can have a snack. We can eat and talk there?"
Hermione hesitated. This was her last chance to walk away from this insane course of action, at least when it came to Luna. She could claim she was just stopping by for a quick meal before returning to the Ministry and make her escape. But… well, she was curious. Curious where Luna had been for the past few years and what she'd done since leaving Hogwarts and abruptly disappearing. Curious if she could actually talk Luna into helping her. Curious what Luna needed in Diagon Alley. Curiosity could kill the cat… but she'd met some pretty darn tough cats in her life. Should she… yes. She'd risk it. After all, Gryffindors go forward. Flicking her wand, she gathered up her post and directed it into her briefcase before closing it and rising to her feet. "So, where are we going?"
"Ollivander's Wand Shop."