(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Having reached the advanced old age of twenty-five without marrying, Hermione finds herself subject to the mandatory wizard custom of speed dating—which in the magical world involves living with various wizards for short periods of time (at least a week, maybe longer). After a number of failed attempts, Hermione is matched with Severus, and… (HG/SS, also NO non-con, please).
Summary: Hermione has yet to find her match in many ways, but leave it to the Wizarding World to force the issue.
Hermione was sitting at the table in the rebuilt Weasley home six years after the war's end, enjoying some tea and cake and talking to Molly and Ginny about, well, nothing much, really, just the sort of stuff any young woman would talk to her mum and sister about, when the rather officious owl started to tap at the window.
Ginny took the letter and handed it to Molly, who blanched, then handed it to Hermione. Molly nodded to Ginny which sent the younger woman scurrying out of the room to find her father.
Dear Miss Hermione Jean Granger,
It has come to the attention of the Office of Magical Statistics that you are nearing the end of your bonding age. Due to the power loss that would result from your demise due to an unsuccessful bond, we would remind you of the magical contract you signed as you entered Hogwarts. You MUST at least forge an attempt to find a proper match to bind yourself to in the next six months or face expulsion from Magical Britain.
Your first binding attempt will be with Draco Malfoy, you should pack a bag for a week and take up the enclosed Portkey to an undisclosed safe house in five hours.
Director, Office of Magical Statistics
Hermione looked up from her letter questioningly, only to find Arthur standing there with Molly.
"Did you have a question, Hermione?" Arthur asked.
"I have a lot of questions, Pa," she said. "But, I guess, I should start with the important ones, right?"
"That would be a good start," he replied with a smile.
"Isn't the Office of Magical Statistics part of the Department of Mysteries?" she asked.
"Yes, it is."
"What do they mean by 'end of my bonding age'?"
"It means they had an Arithmancer do some calculations based on your known magical strength and your tests based on your NEWTs and OWLs and upon entry at Hogwarts, and decided that if you had not grounded your magic in a binding marriage by the time you reached a certain age, your magic would end up poisoning your blood. We've had a few witches not believe this and refuse their Portkey, and they end up being returned to the Muggle world with what their healers believe to be a case of uncurable blood cankers, I think the word is," Arthur responded.
"Blood cancer, you mean, leukemia. How horrid. But why me? I mean, Ginny's a witch's witch. She's never going to ground her magic in a binding marriage. I know what they mean by that. It means a wizard, and one at least as powerful as she is."
Molly looked at Arthur and nodded. Arthur smiled and left the room. "That is simple enough, dear. In her experimenting at Hogwarts, one of the young men she, well, let's say practiced, with must have been at least as powerful as she was. It is why the patrols at Hogwarts are so lax for the most part. It keeps things like this from happening."
"I'm not a virgin, Mum."
"I figured as much, dear, but none of the young men must have been powerful enough to ground your magic. And since it grows and matures along with you, now you need a binding. The choices of partners will also be based on Arithmantic computations, so you don't need to worry that their power levels won't be up to par."
"That isn't exactly what I'm worried about. I mean, Draco Malfoy? I know he isn't the world's most evil ferret anymore, but I'm going to an undisclosed location for a week?" Hermione's voice was starting to get louder and higher.
"It said safe house, dear. That means nothing untoward will happen unless you want it to," Molly said reassuringly. "Now, go pack. I'm not going to lose you to stubbornness. This family hasn't lost a willing witch in, well, Merlin, ever."
"Don't worry, I'll go. But it doesn't seem fair that the wizards aren't punished, now does it?"
Molly laughed. "It seems like it, doesn't it, sweetheart? But most powerful wizards are either bound, homosexual, dead or idiots. The ones that don't bind soon enough usually find themselves in stupid situations, like Sirius Black. The ones that are homosexual, well, that pretty much speaks for itself. And the idiots? They feel themselves above it all, and end up banished, never to be allowed among magic users again after seven attempts. They get two more because men take longer to learn their lesson than women, I imagine.
Hermione laughed and headed upstairs.
Ginny shook her head at the information and ran upstairs to help get Hermione packed.
"Don't worry, Hermione, you'll be fine. I'm sure you'll find the man of your dreams out of this," Ginny said.
Hermione shook her head. "I doubt it. They may be the Department of Mysteries, but I don't think they can bring back the dead."
Ginny got a thoughtful look on her face. "Sirius?"
"Oh, please don't tell me you were interested in Professor Dumbledore!"
Hermione's eyes bugged out then she collapsed onto the bed in gales of laughter. "Oh, Merlin! No!"
"I'm going to figure this out, you know."
"I'm sure you will, Gin, I'm sure you will."
Once Hermione packed, the family spent the rest of the five hours talking, the stories of prior bindings and banishments getting more and more outlandish as the time got closer and closer.
Hermione touched down lightly, and after casting a few spells, realized she had absolutely no idea where she was, and probably wouldn't until she either found herself a man her magic could deal with or gave up entirely.
"Don't worry, Granger, there can't be that many men who are as magically powerful as you or moreso, and still single. I would have thought you had slept wi--"
"I didn't have sex with Harry! He's the brother I never had. I know blood is everything to you morons, but don't you understand familiy of the heart?" Hermione began to pace frantically.
"Peace, Granger." Draco said. "I was going to say Krum, not Potter."
"Oh!" Hermione whirled around mid-pace. "No, I was too young fourth year, too much of a naif, then later, well, I was too young for him, and too much of a naif. Now would be good, if he wasn't with, well, um…"
"That big a secret? Interesting. Fine. I'll let you keep that secret if you agree to keep mine," Draco said.
"I'm engaged to Astoria Greengrass. I couldn't turn this down, Granger, it establishes how powerful I am. But I really don't want to bind to you, nothing personal, not really, not anymore. You grew into your looks, you've always had good manners, and a binding ordered by the Office of Statistics establishes a new house, but I fell in love. Stupid, I know, right?" Draco looked at her earnestly after asking his final question.
Hermione laughed. "Not at all, Draco, not at all. So, what are we going to do for a week?"
As the week ended, Draco packed up his notes, and the new contract for some potions and Charms work that Hermione had helped him with for Malfoy Industries. "Good luck, Granger. Don't settle."
"I won't!" Hermione called out as Draco whirled out of sight.
Similar peacefully enlightening weeks happened with Neville Longbottom, Oliver Wood, and Charlie Weasley.
"Mum will be sorry that you won't officially be family, but I think she'll get over it," Charlie called over his shoulder as he whirled off.
Hermione shook her head. This final man would be it. Her last chance. She knew that she would rather snap her wand than settle, but none of the prior men were enough to make her want to bind herself and her magic forever. She sighed at herself in the mirror then went to bed.
She woke to the smell of coffee. Good coffee. She stumbled out of bed, and put on her comfy robe.
"Hello? Who's here?" She called out, stumbling sleepily into the kitchen.
"Miss Granger?" a deep voice responded.
That woke her up completely. "Professor? You aren't dead?"
"You haven't lost the ability to state the obvious, have you?" Snape responded with a sneer.
Hermione nodded to herself. "Make yourself at home for the week, Professor. You won't even know I'm here." She headed back to her room. She had a lot of preparation to do if she was going to die soon.
Snape looked startled. He was expecting an argument, some sort of pleading, not, well, nothing. Hating the fact that he didn't have control over the situation he followed Hermione to her room.
"No begging or pleading? I know I'm the final wizard. I was told so by the Office."
That made Hermione look up. "Arthur and Molly said something about that. If you were told that, then you will be banished if this doesn't work out." She sat quietly to think.
Then, startling Snape with the suddenness of the movement, she stood up, snapped the notebook she was writing in closed with a thwap and looked at him. "Bugger. I don't want to coerce anyone into anything, but I don't want my inaction to be the cause of your banishment either." She started to pace quickly.
"Oh, for Hecate's sake, woman, stop pacing. I feel like I'm watching Wimbledon," Snape said.
Hermione stopped. "At Wimbledon, or on the telly?"
"The telly of course. I'm so bloody pale, they'd probably think I was an advert for one of those silly zombie shows."
Hermione giggled. "I used to watch Wimbledon with my father. On the telly. He felt going to the actual matches was pretentious. And anyway, the men were boring and the women were going to lose to the Williams sisters."
"Too true. Well, you should come back to the kitchen and have some of the coffee that lured you out in the first place, and we can discuss our month here," he said.
"It isn't a week?"
"I take it the owl hasn't arrived?"
Just as he finished speaking, a rather officious Ministry Owl tapped at the bedroom window. Hermione took the letter and gave it a treat. It sniffed at the treat, grabbed a biscuit out of Snape's hand and took off.
Dear Ms. Granger,
After a long discussion with each of the prior men and considering the cantankerous horrid nasty difficult personality of the final gentleman and the fact that he is also on his final attempt to bind, we again ran the numbers and have decided to give you two a month. Primarily because the loss of both of your bloodlines would be a devastating blow to Wizarding Britain.
Our only caveat is that this match produce at least one child
Director, Office of Statistics
Department of Mysteries
Snape snatched the letter out of Hermione's hand. He sighed deeply, crumpled the paper and threw it into the fire.
"Well, Granger, what say you?"
"I already said. And I'm not about to have sex with someone who calls me Granger with such disdain, much less bind with him!"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake! You have a month before you become magically ill and die and you are being picky?" Snape asked incredulously.
"Yes. If I've managed this long, and I managed against the Snatchers and Bellatrix and Greyback, and no one has broken my spirit and my mind and my beliefs, then why should I change my mind now?"
"Change your mind about what? And what would you have me call you?"
"Hermione, please. I want someone to care about me. Not my power, not my mind, not my body, me. The rest of it should be easy then, don't you think?" she responded.
"Severus, then. That seems to be a lovely fantasy. I should just pack my bags for my banishment and be done with it, I imagine." He snorted.
"Why? Why do you say that?" she asked.
"Are you blind, witch? I'm pale and gangly, my hands are stained, my nose is too large and I have bad teeth. I won't begin to talk about my hair, or my, what were those words again, personality," he responded.
"I can fix your teeth, if you wish, I've learned how. Your hair and hands are a result of your work, and I have designed some potions for that, because the same happens to mine after too long in the lab, and if you think fine hair looks bad in protective grease, you should see mine, and the best of my friends call me bossy boots, so it isn't like I wouldn't know what you were talking about," she responded.
Severus opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when she held up her hand.
"As for the rest, you have the most amazing voice, and as long as tab A functions well enough to fit snugly into slot B, we should have no issues, regardless of height, weight, freckles, skin tone, knobby knees or lack thereof."
She looked at him expectantly.
He raised an eyebrow.
She raised both of hers.
He held his hand out to her, and she looked at his face, and apparently liking what she saw tentatively put her hand into his.
Severus quirked up the side of his lips in what someone could call a smile, then whirled them around dramatically, barely making a sound when he Apparated them away.
Eleven Years Later
Minerva McGonagall smiled as she read the names of the incoming First Years. Although the Weasleys had told her that both Severus and Hermione were well, the fact that they weren't in Britain most of the time frightened her after she found out about the letters from the Office of Statistics.
"What is making your smile, Headmistress?" asked Professor Luna Potter.
"Just that William and River Snape will be attending Hogwarts this year. I have their acceptance letters here," she replied.
"Those two aren't too bad. But when Kirk and Willow and Leonard get here we are in trouble," Professor Harry Potter said.
"I wonder where they got those names," Minerva said.
She had no idea what was so funny when Harry started laughing.