"Hermione!" Harry shouted. Hermione was on Platform 9 3/4, about to board the Hogwarts Express, when she saw Harry, Ron, and Ginny running toward her.
"Hi, guys!" she exclaimed cheerfully.
Because of the war, many Hogwarts students who had been in their 7th year had not gotten a proper last year of Hogwarts education, so Professor McGonagall had owled all the former 7th years that they would be returning to Hogwarts to redo their final year at the school. Hermione was excited to finally have a peaceful year at Hogwarts, without any Voldemort or Death Eaters showing up and killing people. The war had hit everyone hard.
"Blimey, Hermione! Where'd you go this summer to get that tan?" Ron said.
"Oh, I went to Spain with my parents!" Hermione replied.
"So you undid the memory charm?" Ginny said.
"Yes, thank Merlin. I nearly lost my head when I did. I started sobbing and they had no idea why!" The train whistled, signalling it's coming departure.
"We'd better get a compartment," Harry said. The group made their way through the crowded station, squeezing onto the train and taking the first empty compartment. They sat down and chatted about how glad they all were to get a redo of their last year. They talked and caught up on details about their summer the whole way there.
When they finally arrived at Hogwarts, they were starving.
"I hope there's lots of turkey and pudding," Ron murmured, licking his lips.
"Do you ever NOT think about food?" Hermione laughed and slapped him playfully. Ever since Ron had left her and Harry during their search for Horcruxes, their relationship hadn't been quite the same. They had decided that they felt for each other as siblings did, and Hermione was perfectly fine with that.
As they took their seats in the Great Hall, they waited for McGonagall to stand up and give a little speech. She did, saying how she was glad to see her students back for another year and blah, blah, blah.
"Just let us eat, woman!" Ron whispered as Ginny told him to shut up.
Suddenly, the food appeared on the golden plates, something Hermione would never get over. She helped herself to a bit of turkey, ham, vegetables, and pumpkin juice, and for dessert, she ate treacle tart. Afterward, she felt very full and sleepy and inwardly hoped that McGonagall's "good night" speech would not be long.
"Ahem!" Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. "I have some important news, but first, first through sixth years, please go to your dormitories. Good night. Yes, all of you. No, Mr. Finnegan, 7th and 8th years are staying here," she said as Seamus attempted to leave with a group of Gryffindor sixth years.
"I'm tired, woman!" Hermione heard him shout.
"Why is she keeping us?" Ron asked. Hermione shrugged. Once they had all gone, McGonagall resumed her speech.
"Because of the loss of wizard population inflicted by the war, the Ministry has enacted the Marriage Law, which states that anyone ages 17-30 must be married immediately. " Her words were met with loud groans from all sides of the room. "I do not agree with this law, but there is nothing I can do. You will each be given a form to fill out, and this will be owled to the Ministry, where they will assign you your partner based on your description. I will do everything in my power to help you, but I cannot change this law. Here are your forms, you have ten minutes to fill them out." She waved her wand, and forms settled themselves in front of the confused and furious students. "You may begin."
Hermione was distraught. She didn't want to marry someone ASSIGNED to her. That was practically an arranged marriage! She didn't want that. She wanted to marry for love, she wanted to find her true love, someone who understood and loved her for who she was. Sighing, she began to fill out her form. When she finished, she read it over again to make sure that what she had written was true.
McGonagall collected the papers and bade them all good night. As the Gryffindors trudged up to Gryffindor Tower, they complained bitterly.
"What if I get stuck with someone I hate?" Ron whined. He eyed Lavender warily.
"What if I'm not paired with you, Harry?" Ginny whispered.
"Don't worry, Gin! We're meant to be!" Harry assured her. He kissed her on the lips.
"Ugh, get a room!" Seamus called, and Hermione noticed that Dean was watching Ginny with a look of longing. Hermione guessed that he had never quite gotten over the fiesty, red-haired beauty. The latter rolled her eyes.
But Hermione was no longer paying attention. She was terrified. What if she was paired with someone who treated her like nothing? She didn't want that! She climbed into her bed very distressed.
The next morning, she woke up with a searing headache. She hadn't slept well at all because she was too busy brooding over what her fate would be. She hastily threw on her school robes and did her hair in a quick french braid.
"Morning, 'Mione," Harry yawned as they all climbed through the portrait hole.She nodded, feeling too sick to respond. She needed Ginny. She spotted her red hair not too far way, chatting with Parvati. "Erm, Ginny, can I talk to you for a second? Sorry, Parvati," Hermione said. Ginny nodded knowingly and the two dropped behind the pack.
"What's up?" Ginny asked concernedly.
"Well, I'm just absolutely petrified about the Marriage Law. What if I get paired up with someone awful?" Hermione moaned.
"You won't!" Ginny exclaimed. "Don't worry! The Ministry, while they are a load of dimwits, are not stupid enough to pair you up with someone who isn't meant for you! The pairing is based on compatibility. So whoever you get is someone you will likely get along with."
"Exactly! Likely! And I'm not even looking to date let alone get married any time soon!"
"'Mione...." Ginny groaned. "It'll be fine." Hermione shook her head. The girls' conversation had done nothing to help her.
They all ate breakfast in silence, all too worried to speak. Finally, McGonagall stood up and told the first to sixth years to leave again. Once they did, she spoke. "I know you're all wondering who you are going to be paired with. Here are your letters from the Ministry. In them you will find your partner. Your partnership cannot be changed. If you ever divorce from your husband or wife, the consequences will be severe." With that, she sent the papers flying to their owners. Some tore theirs open immediately, others more slowly. There were shouts of joy, cries of sadness and anger.
Ginny and Harry opened theirs together. Ginny shrieked with joy, and Harry kissed her full on the mouth. Of course...they had gotten each other. Hermione inwardly slapped herself. She was happy for them, but also a bit jealous. Slowly, she ripped hers open and shut her eyes tight. Finally, she opened them and read the small paragraph within.
"Dear Ms. Granger,
You and your future husband scored high with nearly 100% compatibility--the highest score of any of your fellow Hogwarts classmates. Based on your description of your desired partner, we have decided that it is fitting that you be paired with...Draco Malfoy.
the Ministry of Magic"
No, this couldn't be! Hermione burst into tears. Her life was officially ruined.