It was an evening about halfway through Hermione's seventh year that Ginny pulled her aside to talk in private. Most of the other students had gone to sleep - or at least to bed - but Hermione was still in the common area, deep in her arithmancy book. She was surprised to see Ginny in her dressing gown, looking about conspiratorially. Finally, when she was convinced that no one else was about, she sat in a chair nearby and huddled in close.
In a hushed voice, she said, "Listen, Hermione, this is somewhat awkward, but your the only girl I know of in Gryffindor who could help me out here... God, this is awkward," she repeated.
Hermione looked at Ginny suspiciously. "Well then, just spit it out. I can't help you if you won't tell me what you need."
"Fine, it's... contraceptive spells."
Hermione gave the other girl a scathing look. "And what makes you think I know anything about that?"
"The fact that I've got eyes in my head? It's not like I don't have some idea of what you and Ron have been about."
"We haven't..." she said in a hurt tone, then dropped her voice again, "We haven't been doing anything like that!"
"Oh, give me just a little credit, would you? Even if you haven't - and I really, really don't want to know if you have - I know you well enough that you would have snuck into the locked library the minute you thought you might. I'm guessing that must have been what, three years ago?"
"Three and a half," Hermione sullenly retorted.
"God, you always were an early start. I don't think Ron even knew you were a girl three and a half years ago."
"It wasn't just because of Ron! I was curious!"
"I'll bet you were. Besides, you were still interested in Harry back then, I'll bet."
She sighed. "I know you think I used to have a crush on Harry, but to be honest, I never really did. I was awed by his... well, being Harry Potter, I guess. You know what he's like! Better than anyone, I'm guessing. But I've never really thought of him except as a friend, and that's the truth."
"Well, I suppose I can't get upset with you not being after him. Anyway, I... god. I just want things to, well, go a bit further with him, you know? But I don't know how far it will go, and I want to be, well, ready."
"Why can't you talk to your mother?"
"Why couldn't you ask yours?" Ginny spate back. Then with some contrition, she added, "Damn, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. What I mean is... you know the Weasleys are a pureblood family? Mostly, anyway. Right?"
"Oh." Hermione said, "The Future Generations Laws."
Ginny stared down at her feet dejectly. "My father is with the Ministry, Hermione. If it got out that a Weasley woman was using contraception... I know that my father is very progressive, but there are some things you just don't do."
"It's more than that. Our family is one of the few pureblood lines that isn't dying off. Malfoy was right the time he said we all have too many children for our own good. But that's the problem! Mostly the Weasley family have men. Too many to split the family fortune over.
But the Weasley women... there aren't many of us, and the other pureblood families beg us to marry into them. Good breeding stock." She snorted in disgust. "I don't want to end up like my mother!"
"Harry's from a good family," Hermione replied cheerfully, then frowned. How had she come to buy into the Wizarding world's concepts of family purity? She shuddered in disgust. "I mean, your family all love him. Except maybe Percy."
"Oh, yes, Percy. I guess that the other boys lucked out with him, didn't they? Gayer than a tree full of parrots, he is... I wouldn't want to be in his shoes when they make him get married."
"All right then, I'll help you out. But only because..."
"Ginny, you're a year younger than we are. If you want to talk about scandals, that would a far worse one than contraception, wouldn't it? The school would be humiliated..."
Ginny shook her head. "You just don't get it, do you? It wouldn't matter. Any child I and Harry have would be a pureblood wizard. There are a lot of our folk who wouldn't see past that. Even in Gryffindor. Even in my family. The only question would be whether they could arrange the marriage in time for the baby to be legitimate."
"I... I didn't know," Hermione said flatly, "I mean, I hear of that sort of thing about the Slytherin families... I remember Draco's face when his engagement was announced... but I never imagined..."
"You'd better start, because you'll be in it soon enough yourself," Ginny said archly.
"What? That's ridiculous!"
"Why? You're a witch, pureblood or not. You're going out with a pureblood, and our family approves of you just as much as they do of Harry." she sighed. "I can't say I'm surprised that Ron didn't talk to you about that, he's always been a real git about that sort of thing, but surely you must have figured out some of this yourself?"
Hermione shook her head slowly. "I knew about it, I guess. I just never..." her voice trailed off.
"Never thought it would apply to you?" Ginny said with a sympathetic smile.
"Well, no! I mean, not all witches end up as, as... brood mares. Look at Professor MacGonagall!"
Ginny smirked at her friend's naivety. "Professor MacGonagall has nine great-grandchildren at Hogwarts right now. Including me and Ron."
"Did you think she was some old spinster? She's over ninety years old, Hermione. She had her family so long ago even she doesn't know who all her descendants are, I'll bet."
"But she's your own great-grandmother? And you never talked about it?"
"Not every family spends all there time fussing over genealogies, like the Blacks do... er, did. The wizarding world is just too closely related. It's hardly polite to bring up family ties when half the school can do the same. God, just imagine if every one of Dumbledore's great-great-grandkids had tried that!"
"I'm not sure I want to think about him having grandchildren... and besides, he's gone now."
"That's not the point. Even as a Muggle-born witch, you'll be expected to raise a family of new wizards and witches as soon as you can marry. Some families even prefer that, they think a lot of the reason the purebloods are dying out is because they're all inbred. I'd imagine that our own parents are happier with Ron seeing you than if it had been someone like Lavender Brown or Chertsey Eilling, you know."
"That's... god, that's disgusting! You can't tell me that I'm going to be expectedto put my life aside for twenty years or more just to raise a family... it's not fair! Besides, Trelawney hasn't... er, she's doesn't have any children, does she?"
"I expect she must... and keep in mind, the boys are just as trapped, or almost as much anyway. The male teachers all had their families too. You've seen that little trollop, Busby Lockheart, right?"
Hermione chuckled. "You could probably have gotten a decent answer out of her about contraceptive spells," she quipped. "She probably knew some even before cominhg to Hogwarts. Didn't fall far from the tree, that apple."
"You know, we really ought to get back on the topic, here. Will you help me out with those spells?"
"Now that I know what's at stake? Of course."