Hands to Hold You

Preface

This is my first attempt at any form of writing for others. I hope you enjoy. The biggest Thank You ever to Space Librarian for all the hard work Beta reading this story for me so everyone can enjoy it to its fullest. You are the greatest!

If you have heard it before, it is the work of the great JKR and I bow to her expertise and imagination.

The Ministry of Magic of Great Britain

London, England

1 August 1998

Dear Fellow Magical Community Brethren,

After the tragic events of 2 May of this year, several issues have come to light as the Ministry was reestablished. These concerns have led to additional worries that we feel need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Immediately after the dust settled from the Battle of Hogwarts, our most critical needed was to know what members of our magical community were left. This prompted the census completed by every magical person in June of this year. These surveys allowed us to establish the existing situation across our country, where the greatest needs existed and where our resources should be focused. At that time, the newly overhauled Ministry determined the areas of greatest concerns were the continued care of those wounded in the battles, the reopening of Hogwarts in September, and the reestablishment of the Departments of Magical Law Enforcement, and Health and Social Care. All of these needs are currently being handled and met by the Ministry and other outside organizations.

One thing became apparent during the completion of these questionnaires. Our losses, incurred through deaths, imprisonments and emigrations, were far greater than we anticipated. Furthermore, our squib population has increased at a greater rate than previously projected. These losses would be of lesser concern had this not happened three times over the past century. If you cannot believe such an issue exists, please consider that in one 24 hour period on May 1 and 2, the number of witches and wizards killed equaled the approximate number of students in years one and two at Hogwarts. Several more of our brethren were killed prior to the final battle as well. Additionally, several prominent members of our society have been found to be in league with the now dead Dark Lord and are currently in hiding or imprisoned.

The remaining members of the Wizengamot have debated this issue behind closed doors for the past month and have developed a plan that was voted on and approved as of midnight last night. It should be noted that the vote was not unanimous and that Minister Shacklebolt was not in favor of this measure. He has, however, reluctantly agreed to the enactment of the law and its enforcement due to the majority vote that was acquired after several considerations and concessions were included in the final measure.

Effective as of this date, the Wizengamot and the Ministry of Magic will enact and enforce a repopulation law across the British magical community. Enclosed is a brochure of the law and its requirements in full. These requirements are briefly outlined below.

Members of the magical community between the ages of 17 and 40 shall be subject to the repopulation requirements. All witches and wizards within this age range will be subject to medical exams to verify their ability to reproduce. Members that are deemed sterile will be exempt from the requirements of the law unless medical treatment is available to correct the issue.

Magical members of the community that are currently married shall not be subject to any time limits to produce children but are encouraged to procreate at the time established between the couple when they were married. Please complete form A and attach a copy of your marriage license as proof of marriage. For couples married in secret during the war and were not able to complete the registry, please complete an affidavit from the officiant if they are available or a written statement from at least three witnesses to the marriage if the officiant is not available or has died as a result of the war.

If you are engaged and are actively planning a wedding, you are allowed to continue your plans as established. Couples are required to produce at least two children over the next ten years. Please complete form B including the proposed date of your wedding, and officiant, if known. Please include any contracts for venues, caterers or other professionals to verify that you are actively planning your nuptials.

If you are currently dating and are in a serious committed relationship that is actively heading to an engagement, please complete for B1. Please attach a copy of the receipt for the engagement ring, if purchased. A written statement from friends that have discussed plans with you about the engagement or a written statement from your future father-in-law stating that you have acquired his blessing and are saving for the engagement ring or just waiting to pluck up the nerve to ask are also allowable. Please note that the proposal must be taking place within the next six months and the proposed marriage must take place within three years of the date of said proposal. Couples are required to produce at least two children within 10 years of their date of marriage.

Couples currently sharing the bed and board who do not fall into either of the above two categories are requested to complete form C. Please attach a copy of your current lease or mortgage showing both parties as leasees, a sublet agreement showing the same, or a written statement from friends or family confirming your current living arrangements. While the Ministry encourages marriage prior to producing children, they also understand that current society does not deem this a necessity and will give allowances to this arrangement. Couples are still required to produce two children within the next ten years to fulfil the requirements of this law. This timeline may be extended if the couple decide to move into any of the arrangements outlined in item 4 and 5 above.

Couples who are currently dating are required to complete form D. This form must include a written statement from at least three friends or family members that state why they believe the couple should be allowed to continue dating to see if the resulting relationship will progress to a marriage. This form will be reviewed by Department of Magical Health and Social Care for approval to continue your relationship as it exist. Documents will be reviewed and a decision will be mailed to the couples prior to 10 October. Please complete these requirements as soon as possible as this decision will affect your future requirements if your current relationship is deemed not allowable by ministry officials. Couples found to be in a situation that allows for the natural progression of an existing relationship to see if it progresses to marriage will come up under review by this department three years from the date of their approval if they have not achieved the situations outlined in items 3, 4 or 5 within this timeframe.

Couples in alternative lifestyle relationships (playing quidditch for the other team, etc.) are requested to complete form E. Please complete subsection E2 if you are in a committed relationship. Meetings will be scheduled with these individuals and couples within the next year to see what, if any alternatives exist for your compliance with the law. Currently, there are several war orphans without homes. Please take time to consider this option prior to your interviews.

If you are subject to an existing marriage contract, please complete form F and attach a copy of said marriage contract for review. Contracts must be submitted not later than 15 August to allow for adequate time for review by ministry officials for validity and allowability by the Ministry. Interviews will also be conducted of the members of said marriage contracts to determine if they are entering into said contracts of their own free will. If not, and if one or both fall into items 4 through 8 above, this individual will be allowed to complete the necessary forms and submit proof at that time. A determination will be made by 10 October. If marriage contracts are valid and both parties are in agreement, you will be required to progress as outlined in item 5 above.

If you do not fall into any of the above items 3 through 9, please complete form G. Also complete form G1-outlining your current living situation, and form G2-current and future professional goals and form G3 - personality survey. The ministry will compile all this information and match you to your future spouse utilizing these documents. Failure to complete these documents will result in the ministry sending and requesting said forms by your closest living relative, usually your mother, or your prat brother that will intentionally fill them out so you end up with a troll.

As the Ministry has no jurisdiction over the muggle population, we cannot mandate their participation in this law. Therefore, any members of the magical community who are in any relationship outlined in numbers 3 through 9 must indicate this situation on their forms. If the relationship is approved, mandates for a second child will be waived, but still encouraged, to account for your muggle partner.

Members of the magical community that do not comply with the law will have their wand snapped and will be expelled from the magical community. Hopefully you have taken muggle studies and know how to live out there. Please note that the British Ministry of Magic will forward the name of any individuals that have been expelled from our community to all other ministries worldwide. All ministries have an international commitment of understanding of expulsion and will not allow expelled members access within their community.

Currently, less than 2000 members of our magical community fall under the regulations of this law. It is our hope that most of these individuals fall within items 3 through 7 or in item 8 and are willing to reproduce or raise children with alternate solutions. For members in the situation outlined in item 10, every effort will be made of find an individual that is compatible with you and your lifestyle. Hence the importance of the enclosed forms.

Multiple concerns have been considered and we hope that this will allow for successful outcomes. The original plan did not take into account any current situations other than marriage. Alternate lifestyles were added late in the consideration. Timeframes for producing your first child were extended from the originally proposed two years after consulting with Hogwarts Headmistress McGonagall who asked if the whole Wizengamot had fallen off their rockers and if they had ever considered that they were contemplating having future classes entering Hogwarts of 500 per year as opposed to the average 85 that now were at the school. As the requirements now stand, entering class sizes are expected to double starting in eleven years and continue for 15 to 20 years to follow.

We hope that these requirements will allow for our community to flourish and grow back to its previous size and prosperity. The law is not indefinite. It has a repeal clause in effect for a date to be established in the future when our population has been reestablished and stabilized.

We look forward to your responses. All Howlers should be directed to the Wizengamot.

Yours in fellowship and growth,

Percy Ignatius Weasley

Undersecretary

Office of Family Development

Department of Magical Health and Social Care

Percy collapsed back into his couch and groaned. The letter had taken the better part of last night and this morning to write. The final draft had been approved at noon by all parties. His boss had decided late in the morning that Percy should be the one sending the letter as he was also subject to the law. It would give them a feeling of comradery. Maybe.

He hear soft footsteps behind him. Smooth hands ran through his hair and began to rub his shoulders. He groaned again and laid his head on the back of the couch. Audrey smiled back at him upside down. She lowered her head and kissed him on the lips.

"So, Mr. Weasley. The letters have started to arrive. How have things been?" She asked.

"As well as can be expected. Horton forwarded all the howlers." He laughed.

Audrey hummed. "Anybody shockers yet?"

"Actually," Percy sat up and looked over the couch at her, "The alternate lifestyles. A few couples came in already and handed in their paperwork. They also requested to be put on the list for adopting war orphans. Several of them were overjoyed to have an option. Just because they physically cannot have children together, doesn't mean that they don't want them. One couple, a pair of very nice ladies, told us about a muggle procedure that required what she called a hand job and a turkey baster. Not sure what one of those is though."

Audrey grinned. "The hand job?"

"Oh, I sure I know what that is, courtesy you and the shower as recently as a couple of weeks ago." Percy pulled her over the couch and kissed her soundly. Audrey responded quickly.

After a few minutes they pulled apart and she curled in his arms. "Maddie flooed earlier. They want to have the usual crowd get together on Friday and have a paperwork party."

Percy looked at her perplexed.

She continued. "We all need to complete the forms. And have witnesses. Maddie thought that if we all got together, it would save time. We could all work on each other's responses and have them ready to submit for Monday. She thought if you were agreeable, maybe you could take them all in with you. Besides, Mister Undersecretary, even you have to complete a form."

Percy grinned patting his pocket. "All set. Mine had been approved already."

"Overachiever much?" Audrey sarcastically asked.

Percy laughed, but did not answer. His own form had been laying on his desk after lunch, completed by his secretary awaiting his signature. Little known to Audrey, his secretary had completed form B1. The receipt for the shiny new ring he had purchased four months prior was attached, as well as three witness statements from coworkers that had walked in on Percy practicing his proposal. The comment on plucking up enough courage to ask had been directed at him from his boss. She had been one of the witness statements as well as the approving official on his request.

"Well, Mister Weasley. Most of the peasants have yet to complete their paperwork. How about Friday? You can write statements. And you will not have to read as many to start approving if you are there. Maybe you can bring your approved stamp and just approve them on site." Audrey considered.

Percy laughed. "And what if I don't think they should all be approved?"

Audrey looked at him concerned. "Who wouldn't you approve?"

"Maddie's boyfriend worries me. He is such a prat." Percy answered truthfully.

Audrey sighed. "But he is her prat. He makes her happy."

Percy didn't comment right away. "I guess, we will have to give couples like them the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully she sees him for what he is and changes partners before the three years are up. What do you mean 'her prat'? Are there other prats?"

Audrey laughed and kissed him again. "Well, there is Maddie's prat and my prat. I personally think I have the best prat in the world."

Percy rolled his eyes. He knew some of their friends thought him too stiff for the fun-loving Audrey. He regularly agreed. But for some reason, she loved him. Opposites attract, he guessed.

"Let me talk to the Secretary Stewart. Maybe she will let me approve them as they are completed at the party. It will save time at the office for someone to read through them for discrepancies since I know them all and what their status will most likely be."

Audrey smiled. "I'm sure our friends will appreciate that. I'm sure most people will be nervous waiting for an answer."

"I know. Some of my family has already been in contact." Percy replied looking into the flames of the fire remembering his mother's anxious face.

"Are you concerned about any of them?" Audrey questioned him worriedly.

Percy sighed again. "Bill is married and it is registered, so they are automatically approved. I think Fleur is pregnant. I caught her throwing up last Sunday after dinner. She asked me not to say anything. We will be approved once your paperwork is handed in. I will not be able to sign off on yours, so it will need to go to Mrs. Stewart for approval. Angelina has been staying over the shop with George trying to help him out. I don't think they are a couple yet. They are living together trying to recover from losing Fred. It's too soon for either of them, so I may have hinted that maybe they want to submit their paperwork that way to give themselves time. I would never have suggested it, but the spark is there. It's just going to take time for the both of them to see it. Ron and Hermione are dating. They are leaving for Australia in a week. Ron told dad that when and if they found her parents and reversed the memory charm, he was going to ask her father for permission to marry her. Ginny and Harry have been dating since her fifth year. They may have taken a break while he was on the run, but they never really gave up on each other. Besides, who is going to deny the petition of the man who saved us all?"

Audrey looked at him waiting for him to continue. Percy dropped his head.

She sighed. "They all won't be easy. You have six siblings. One was bound to be an issue."

Percy looked into the flames again. "Mum went spare. Dad had warned Charlie that they were debating the law. He said he would rather be burnt to a crisp by a Fireball or bit by a Peruvian than get married. They don't know what will happen when he gets the letter. He has really good friends in Romania. Dad is just hoping one of them is more than just a friend and he just hasn't been saying anything to keep mum off his back. She wouldn't approved of sharing the bed and board, and I wouldn't envy Charlie if he had to tell her he had been living with some bird for a while now."

Audrey laid her head on his shoulder. "Your mom realizes that I live here more than at my apartment. Right?"

Percy smirked. "Mum like to think we are all still innocent as the day we were born. Dad is a little more realistic. He just plays along with all of our stories. Charlie was always getting caught with some bird or another at school. He and Dumbledore had an agreement after the first letter home that Dumbledore would send the post to dad at work. Trust me, Charlie had the broomstick and broom cupboard speech at an earlier age than any of us. Mostly because he had been caught with his broomstick in the cupboard already. I'm sure it was more of a "here is how you do the preventative charms" lesson than anything by the time dad got ahold of him. He even beat Bill to the finish line on that one. I remember Charlie giving Bill pointers on what a woman likes and what they could do in return."

Audrey laughed. "It fits his personality. Always playing with danger."

"And the exotic. He is a dragonologist." Percy added.

Audrey looked into the flames and considered Percy's predicament. "At least you will be able to help guide the selection. Get him someone he can tolerate."

Percy shook his head "I don't know if there are going to be any blind, deaf, mutes that are nymphomaniacs out there, Audrey."

Audrey laughed and kissed Percy again. The kisses became more heated. She pulled away and removed her jumper. Percy looked at her with hooded eyes. Friday, during the party. He would ask her Friday.