â€˜The Apprentice and the Necromancerâ€™ by JunoMagic
â€˜A marriage law?â€™ Harry crumpled the edge of the paper as he waved the Daily Prophet angrily around. â€˜Donâ€™t they have anything better to do just now?â€
It was six months after the last battle. The dead were buried, but there were still Death Eaters on the loose.
Hermione looked up from her plate, grateful for the distraction. Kreacher behaved as if he had to win a cooking competition at each meal, but she had less appetite than ever.
â€˜Well, at some point things have to go back to normal,â€™ she said. Normal. How could anything ever be normal again? she thought. â€˜What do they say?â€™
â€˜Something about squibs and jea-ns and precautions and bloodlines,â€™ Ron mumbled around his toast.
Hermione turned to the third of the trio and frowned. â€˜How do you know about that? Since when do you read?â€™
Ron had the grace to blush. He swallowed convulsively, then cleared his throat. â€˜I donâ€™t actually. I overheard mum talking about it.â€™
â€˜Give me that, Harry,â€™ Hermione demanded. â€˜I bet it wasnâ€™t â€œjeansâ€ you heard mentioned, but â€œgenesâ€.â€™
Harry rolled his eyes, but handed over the paper. Hermione pushed her chair back from the table, and disappeared behind the paper until only the top of her head, a wisp of bushy brown curls remained visible. After a few minutes she put down the paper, shaking her head in a bemused manner.
â€˜You know, this actually makes a lot of sense,â€™ she said at last. â€˜The Ministry must be losing its touch.â€™
â€˜What?â€™ Harry stared at her. â€˜Whatâ€™s sensible about coming up with a marriage law when there are still Death Eaters running around?â€™
â€˜So what are those jeans?â€™ Ron asked.
â€˜Well â€“ basically itâ€™s a law against inbreeding. Just think of that tapestry,â€™ she waved her hand towards the door and the rest of the house, â€˜and how everyone among the pure-blooded families is related to everyone else. Magical ability is tied to our genes, Ronald. Oh, donâ€™t look at me like that. Iâ€™ve told you about them before. How a baby gets red hair? Remember? Information encoded in the cells of our body?â€™
Ron ducked, wincing.
Ashamed, Hermione bit down on her lip. She really shouldnâ€™t get that impatient with him. She knew how frayed her friendâ€™s nerves still were. But did he never really listen to her? Did he never remember a single thing she told him?
â€˜Anyway, inbreeding is bad for the genes. If you have a tiny, stagnant gene pool, the risk of â€œbadâ€ genes â€œmeetingâ€ and combining unfavourably is much higher than in an open society. Basically, if purebloods kept on marrying purebloods and got no new genes from outside, you might end up with a bunch of crazy squibs when all is said and done. The Ministry has bespelled the genealogies of all wizards and witches so that only those persons may marry and procreate â€“â€™ She did not even sigh at Ronâ€™s clueless look. â€˜â€“ have babies, that is, who wonâ€™t be mixing up bad genes. Basically, they want to prevent Draco from marrying his sister and producing another generation of lunatics.â€™
â€˜But Draco doesnâ€™t have a sister,â€™ Harry said, widening his eyes innocently.
Hermione stuck her tongue out at him. At least heâ€™d understood her. â€˜So you see, Harry,â€™ she went on, â€˜this law actually has something to do with â€“ with clearing up the situation â€“ some â€“ some more.â€™
Ron rubbed his nose thoughtfully, finally wrapping his mind around Hermioneâ€™s explanation. â€˜And how exactly are they going to do that? That law-thingy?â€™
â€˜Well, if you want to marry, you have to apply to the wizarding genealogy offices. They take blood samples of your blood and your prospective wifeâ€™s and run tests, comparing them to the combined bloodlines of the wizarding world. If they come up clean, you may marry and have babies. If not, you wonâ€™t get a licence. And â€“â€™ Hermione snorted, â€˜if you try to have illegal unprotected intercourse, the men wonâ€™t be able to function.â€™
Both Harry and Ron went pale. Their hands jerked. Hermione felt the corners of her mouth twitch with amusement. If she hadnâ€™t been there, theyâ€™d have probably touched their bits just to make sure they were still attached to them. Men! Really. Thinking always of one thing and one thing only.
â€˜So what else is new?â€™ she asked, picking up the paper again.
â€˜Snapeâ€™s trial is about to begin,â€™ Ron muttered.
â€˜What?â€™ Harry and Hermione shouted together.
Ron flinched again, paling slightly. â€˜I â€“ I heard â€“ someone at the Ministry talk about it yesterday, when I went there for the Wizard Wheezes files …â€™ Ron didnâ€™t read anymore than he used to, but he was getting better at listening to people. With one notable exception, Hermione contemplated.
â€˜But.â€™ Harryâ€™s voice sounded strained. â€˜Heâ€™s not well enough for a trial. What the hell are they thinking?â€™
Snape was still in St. Mungoâ€™s, Isolation Ward. Hovering on the brink of death for weeks, the healers still were not sure if he would ever be able to talk again or what other permanent damages the snake venom had inflicted on his body. Additionally, the memories he had given Harry hadnâ€™t been extracted with the normal spell, and could probably not be restored.
That Snape was alive at all was mainly due to Hermioneâ€™s quick reaction. She shuddered, thinking back to those hectic minutes, when sheâ€™d somehow managed to get the blood flow staunched with magic and then had kept him breathing and his heart beating, using Muggle First Aid. Sheâ€™d ended up in St Mungoâ€™s for two weeks herself, just from coming into contact with his poisoned blood.
â€˜He wonâ€™t even be able to defend himself,â€™ Hermione whispered, horrified.
Harryâ€™s green eyes flashed dangerously. Snape had always been a touchy subject with him. But since Snapeâ€™s continued loyalty had been revealed, guilt and shame had been added to the already volatile mix of Harryâ€™s attitude towards the Potions Master.
â€˜Then we will have to defend him,â€™ Harry announced.