"Well, that's the last of it," Scrimgeour said. "If I may say, lad, you've been very brave in all this."
"Thanks," said Draco, adjusting the cuffs of his finest business robes.
"Tough luck," the Minister said.
"It's not so bad," said Draco, dipping the quill into the fine black ink on Scrimgeour's desk and signing the bottom of the long, curled parchment with a flourish. "There you are," he said. "New wing at Mungo's and orphanage both."
"A whole new wing for cursed maladies… I hope you've managed to keep something for yourself."
Draco's lip quirked. "Why, Minister; one would almost think that Wizarding Britain doesn't even want my filthy blood money."
Scrimgeour stared a moment, then huffed a laugh. "Very brave," he repeated, stroking his short beard. "Well."
"Well," said Draco, replacing the quill and sketching a bow.
Draco still flinched a little bit when he heard the name. He couldn't seem to help it.
"Have you ever given a thought to what you might do after you graduate?"
He turned at the door, hand along the frame: steadying himself. "I was pretty sure I'd be fertilizer, sir."
Scrimgeour tilted his head to the side. "I'd say you have a future in politics, especially if you stick by the Potter boy. I've never seen anyone's reputation shift so fast as yours has. However did you manage?"
"A matter of putting myself in Potter's shoes," Draco said. "If you'll excuse me, Minister."
Potter was waiting for him outside, hands shoved into his pockets, face lightly glamoured. Anyone who knew him well wouldn't be fooled, but it kept people from poking each other and pointing as he passed. He drew up swiftly when Draco emerged. "He imply you could run for Minister someday, with the right connections?" Potter inquired.
Draco looked up in surprise.
"He wants you under his thumb," Potter commented.
"I know," Draco said. "But I also kind of like him."
"That's how they get you," Potter said, pushing the button for the lift.
"Likeability," said Draco, solemnly.
"Yes," said Potter. He glanced at Draco out of the corner of his eye, lopsided grin overtaking his face. His skin was sun-dark again, and his eyes sparkled with merriment. "I might've heard a rumour you grow rather fierce about the people you like."
"You of all people should know not to fall prey to rumourmongers," Draco said, primly.
"That's me told."
The doors opened and the two climbed onto the lift, next to an ancient witch in medirobes who barely reached Draco's shoulder and a burly Unspeakable twice her size; they fell silent for fear of getting the full-on Mister-Harry-Potter-sir! experience.
"You going to come with me?"
"You came with me," Draco replied shortly. "Am I so faithless?"
"I'd never say so."
"An interesting reply," Draco mused, arching a brow.
Potter rolled his eyes. "Merlin. You know what I meant."
They exited ahead of the small Mediwitch and finally found the office of Head Auror, with its gleaming gold letters on the door.
Potter lifted his wand and took a breath. He cancelled the glamour; to Draco's eye, very little shifted but it seemed that Harry's features grew inescapably familiar… it was still a bit like watching a mirror come to life.
"What're you staring at?" Potter demanded. Then, worried: "have I got something gross on my face?"
"I'm not even going to accept that opening, Potter, it's too easy. Are you trying to butter me up or something?"
Harry scoffed, then straightened; two women were elbowing one another and pointing at them.
"Plebians," Draco sniffed, and took Potter's arm. "Come along, Potter, before the vultures descend."
"Come in with me," Potter said, looking suddenly anxious.
"Please," Harry said. "Look, I know I shouldn't be nervous, but I am. You'd be doing me a favour."
"Well, you know how much I enjoy –"
"Just come on," Potter growled, grabbing his arm and dragging him forward. Draco stumbled through the door and they faced Kingsley Shacklebolt, a tall, grim, dark-skinned man with a shaved head. "Kingsley," Potter said, because of course Harry addressed the Head Auror by his given name.
"Harry," said Kingsley. "I thought I'd be seeing you sooner rather than later. And… Mister Malfoy. What an unexpected visit."
"Uh," said Draco.
"Malfoy and I would like to sign up for the Academy," Potter said.
Draco turned to stare.
"Mister Malfoy will have a hard time of it," Kingsley said bluntly. "You know that he will, Harry, and I'm not sure that –"
"Both of us played an instrumental role in the Defense Association. Malfoy taught it with very little input from me, for most of this past school year." Potter withdrew a folder from his knapsack and placed it on Kingsley's desk. "These are the Defense spells I would count on anyone in our group knowing."
Kingsley reached for the folder with economical, deliberate movement, flipping it open. Draco watched his eyebrows climb for a flash of an instant before he could school his expression. "Well," he said.
"And we'd like to keep our group together," said Potter.
Kingsley shook his head. "You have to know how that would look. Potter's Army, right underneath our noses? They wouldn't like it."
"You're 'they', sir," Potter pointed out. "Who's going to complain to you… the Minister?"
"Your co-workers," Kingsley said. "You should integrate into our pre-existing structure, Potter, not waltz in as some conquering hero and his coterie."
Potter smiled. "But, Kingsley. I am a conquering hero. And so is Draco Malfoy."
Kingsley blinked, once.
"I'm not saying I'll be in charge of anything. Just ensure that we stick together, that's all. We already know how to work as a team, and it's not smart to put all that time and effort to waste. Think about how cohesive we'll already be – what a useful fighting unit – from day one."
"And you'll protect your Mister Malfoy from whatever nasty Aurors figure they owe his family a little payback," Kingsley said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"And I'll protect my Mister Malfoy, yes," Potter replied, and Draco coughed.
"Well," said Kingsley. "All right. Now, you understand we have partners within the Auror corps –"
"That'll have to be me or Ron Weasley," Harry returned.
"And that it's entirely up to the Head Auror to pair you," Kingsley said firmly, but the edge of his lip was quirking. "And when we have fighting units, that's still only six. How many in your little group?"
"There were about twenty in our year. Though I'm sure they're not all going for the Auror program," Potter replied.
"So we'll have to divide everyone up carefully, eh? Come to my office the week before training starts and we'll sort everyone out," Kingsley said. "Now, is that it, Mister Potter, Mister Malfoy? Or did you have any advice on how to get Robins to do her paperwork in triplicate like she's supposed to?"
"No, sir," said Draco, swiftly. "Thank you, sir."
"Well! You do speak after all," said Kingsley. "Now, get out of my sight."
When the door closed, Draco hurried over to the lift and pressed the button with trembling fingers. Harry had forgotten to renew the glamourie, so there were increased titters and side-eyes until they slipped into the empty lift.
"Merlin, Potter," Draco cursed the moment the doors closed behind them. "Did you even think to ask me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life?"
Harry laughed, the bastard. "You're wearing that jacket in the dead of summer. I'm not blind."
Draco turned bright red. "And anyway, what were you thinking, demanding all of that like you were owed?"
"Being famous. I told you," Harry replied.
Draco turned to face him.
"I'll be the next Head Auror, and you'll be the next Minister for Magic," Harry Potter said intently. "Just think: the Hero of the Wizarding World and the Reformed Death Eater's Son the guiding light of a new age. You said we could do politics. This is me taking you up on your offer."
Draco looked him up and down. "You sure there isn't a bit of me left in you?"
"Ha bloody ha," Potter said, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Look, the way I figure it, I'm famous, you're infamous, and there's not much we can do about it short of moving to the woods and living our lives as a pair of hermits. If people are going to insist I'm important, I'm going to bloody well make sure I do some good in this world. Don't you feel the same?"
Harry's features were more solemn than the flippant tone of his voice suggested, and he worried a bit on his lower lip as he awaited Draco's answer.
Draco gave a little hitch of his shoulder. "I suppose I do, at that."
"Well, then," said Harry, suddenly looking a great deal more at ease. The lift tinged and they stepped out of the doors into the sunlit Ministry entrance together. "Then I think we can make it happen. I'm the Harry Potter, after all… And so were you."
A/N: Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. Like it, awesome! Love it, review! Adore it, rec it! And join me next time for A Game of Chess, my first story primarily from Ronald Weasley's point of view.
Keep reading and keep writing, everyone!