Title: Minister Scrimgeour Does Not Approve

Disclaimer: The characters and settings in this story do not belong to me. J. K. Rowling and associates own them. Nor am I making money with this story.

Summary: The Ministry has regulations preventing Aurors who are lovers from being partners. Minister Scrimgeour knows that Aurors Potter and Malfoy are having an affair, and once he catches them at it, he can sack Potter. But they are being extremely tricky about it.

Rating: T/PG-13 for language and the Minister's dirty, dirty mind.

Genre: Humor/Parody.

Warnings: Post-war, spoilers for Half-Blood Prince, Harry/Draco, Harry/Ginny in the background, much "innuendo."

Minister Scrimgeour Does Not Approve

Minister Rufus Scrimgeour was not accustomed to having his own plans turn on him. He was a smart man. He had survived the War as much thanks to his own skills with a wand as thanks to the skills of his bodyguards. He had maintained control during a tumultuous period of transition that would surely have unseated Cornelius.

When something did go wrong, it usually had to do with Harry Potter. Rufus had never imagined he would have sympathy for You-Know-Who, but it would have been a quieter world, there was no doubt about that, if the Potter boy had died doing his duty during the War.

He hadn't. He'd lived, as he had a nasty habit of doing, and insisted on joining the Aurors. Rufus had been inclined to permit it, feeling generous and complacent in those immediate heady days of freedom, even though Potter hadn't sat his NEWT's and therefore technically didn't have the scores to join the most elite body of wizards in Britain.

Then Potter had insisted that his best friend Ronald Weasley be granted the same exception, so that he could join the Aurors. Rufus had tried to protest, but Potter had threatened to go public with their private bargain if he refused Weasley entrance. And in that moment, with the Daily Prophet taking a breathless interest in whether Potter sneezed, Rufus knew his life would be made miserable if the infuriating young man so much as hinted at something scandalous involving the Minister.

The wizarding world needed his guiding hand. Losing control due to a fight over another Weasley wasn't worth it.

Rufus had taken his revenge, of course. Since he'd thrown open the entrance requirements to Potter and Weasley, he could hardly refuse Draco Malfoy, as he'd said innocently to Potter when the latter stormed into his office a month later and demanded to know what a Death Eater was doing among the trainees.

Potter had eyed him, and then stormed out again without a word. Rufus had chuckled to himself, confident that, irritant though he might be, Potter had enough of a brain to know when he was beaten.

He didn't, however. He questioned the training methods of the Aurors, often and in a loud voice. He insisted on being partnered with Weasley even when it was shown that he worked more effectively with others. He continued to call himself Dumbledore's man even when the old Headmaster had been dead for a number of years—and as a result, a group with the same name sprang up. Rufus was sure they plotted against the Ministry. It didn't matter that they claimed they were an informal club that met once a week to "discuss" politics, and no more. If they had a name like Dumbledore's Men (or Dumbledore's Wizards once Hermione Granger made a fuss), they were plotting against the Ministry.

He had taken his revenge, again, by assigning Malfoy to Potter when both were finished with training and required a partner.

And again his revenge gave him a headache. Potter and Malfoy proceeded to work together well on extremely difficult cases, so well that they were soon at the top of Kingsley Shacklebolt's list of effective teams—

And, when not on cases, argued vociferously about everything from the right kind of tea to drink to whether former Death Eaters should have been freed from Azkaban if they'd helped the Order of the Phoenix. Constant hexes, constant shouting, or constant freezing silence prevailed between them at all times, and made every Auror who was within a hundred feet miserable. Disciplining them did nothing to stop the quarrels, and since they were so good in the field, Kingsley was reluctant to discipline them too much anyway. The man had always been too soft, Rufus considered.

Now, though…

He settled back in the chair behind his desk and gave a thin smile. He still had five minutes before Aurors Potter and Malfoy were due to arrive. Potter, taking advantage of his consistently high reputation, was never on time.

Rufus's scheme had borne the fruit of revenge in a way he'd never dreamed. It seemed there really was a thin line between love and hate, after all. Potter and Malfoy were shagging each other, he was certain of it. And thanks to a regulation passed by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement after the infamous affair between Septimus Prince and Ella Weasley nearly one hundred years ago, Aurors could not remain partners once they were lovers or married. Rufus was about to get rid of his Potter problem once and for all.

He only had to catch them at it.

Ten minutes past the time when he'd ordered Potter and Malfoy to show up, someone rapped on his door. Rufus shook his head, sat up, straightened the paperwork on his desk, took a look around to ensure that his office was as neat and as intimidating as ever—photographs of his many captures of Dark wizards, and framed copies of his several Orders of Merlin, covered the walls—and then turned towards the door and said, "Come in," coolly.

Potter strode in first, as was his habit, his chin up and his eyes hard. A straggling line of beard around his jaw rather ruined the effect. Malfoy came behind him, much more neatly groomed. Rufus eyed him approvingly. Malfoy still carried the Dark Mark, yes, but he understood his position in society much better than Potter. He'd served the right side during the war, and since then he'd been awfully quiet, not throwing the Malfoy weight around nearly as much as his now-deceased father had.

Being partnered with Potter had made him loud again, but no matter. He'd finally taken one risk too many.

"Gentlemen." Rufus inclined his head, and then waited patiently until they stopped giving each other murderous glares and deigned to look at him. "I called you here because observations have convinced me that you have something to say to me about the state of your—ah, relations towards one another."

He paused. Certainly Malfoy would have understood his insinuation even if Potter hadn't, thanks to being cool- rather than bull-headed.

But both men simply frowned at him. Then Potter raised a hand to scratch his ragged beard and opened his mouth as if to say something.

Malfoy interrupted him before he could.

"Poking after fleas again, Potter?" he drawled. "I daresay you need to bathe in anti-itching spells after spending one night in that Weasley nest."

Potter swung around to face him at once, so red that he only needed a slight change to hair color to look like a Weasley himself. Rufus nodded wisely. Malfoy was openly bent and went from sexual partner to sexual partner without a qualm, but Potter had a long-standing engagement to Arthur Weasley's only daughter. No doubt it troubled Malfoy that his lover had to visit their house often for the sake of keeping up the pretense that he was straight.

"Believe me, Malfoy," Potter said, voice deep and eyes full of loathing, "the only reason I might need to bathe would be to get away from the taint of Dark magic that you still carry around with you like a disease."

A lover's quarrel, Rufus thought, and coughed delicately. "Gentlemen—"

It was as if he had ceased to exist. It was always like this whenever Potter and Malfoy went after each other hammer and tongs. They'd already stepped closer, and now stared full-force into each other's eyes, chests heaving with their panting breaths. The vicious crackle of dammed magic—Potter's, mostly—was circling around their heads like a swarm of flies. Rufus sat back, and prepared to gather the evidence with his own eyes.

"You know as well as I what I did to help you during the war," Malfoy whispered.

"Of course I do," Potter said in a bored tone that only his burning eyes contradicted. "Rather hard to miss that you never set foot on a battlefield."

"I was brewing potions, without which your little Order couldn't have survived—"

"Come off it, Draco."

No doubt he's had experience moaning that name in the height of passion, Rufus noted.

"We both know that the only way you can strike is from behind, and with a hell of a lot of preparation." Potter laughed softly. "No guarantees that you can do that when you're facing an enemy in the midst of war, hmmm? And no Snape to come up behind you and save your lazy arse."

Would he be referring to his arse if they weren't lovers?

Malfoy's face was so pinched that it looked as if he were trying to prevent tears from coming. "How many times have I saved your arse in the field, Potter?"

"Three," Potter said with no hesitation. "The rest of the time, you just assume I'm Snape."

Rufus cut off Malfoy's building growl with a wave of his hand. "That's enough," he said. " I must warn you both that if you can't curb your arguing, you'll spend several weeks suspended."

Potter focused on him again at last. "You can't do that!" he protested. Rufus waited a moment for him to remember whom he was addressing, but he added no title of respect. He never did. "We're the best Aurors in the Department, and—"

"And you regularly disrupt Department functioning with these stupid fights of yours," Rufus said crisply. Then he paused, and pretended to think things over. "But it's true that you do some good as far as the Ministry's reputation goes." He saw Potter give a complacent grin. He believed Rufus valued the Ministry's reputation even more than the Ministry's peace and quiet. He would learn better, but not right now. "I suppose that I can let you have the trial of another month." He would use that long to monitor them and gather evidence for their state of affection towards each other, so that no one could question his desire to sack Potter.

Potter clenched his jaw, but nodded. Malfoy folded his arms behind him and glared as though he could melt holes through Potter's back.

"Dismissed," Rufus added, and turned to pick up his paperwork.

As they went through the door again, Rufus could hear them already beginning to argue about whose fault this latest debacle was. He shook his head. He had heard that many couples used bickering to express sexual tension. That Potter and Malfoy's could be thick enough to need it after they spent much of their time outside work screwing each other…

He put it out of his mind as best as he could. He'd made the first steps towards peace and quiet. He wouldn't ruin the chance by acting too hastily.

Rufus walked carefully through the Auror offices. He had cast a Silencing Charm and a Disillusionment Charm on himself, so he was likely to pass unnoticed, but Potter had an uncanny habit of noticing hidden criminals that Mad-Eye Moody had supposedly taught him. It was better to be safe.

Of course, when the tracking charm he'd set on their office had informed him that Potter and Malfoy had returned late to the Ministry after they were already supposed to be safely at home in their respective beds, Rufus simply couldn't resist. If he could snap photographs of them canoodling in the Ministry, he wouldn't need to wait the entire month. He patted the camera that swung on its strap from his wrist.

He paused outside their office, and cocked his head to listen. To his frustration, their voices were soft for once, and he couldn't make out the words. He drew his wand and unobtrusively tested the locking charms on the door, but they were thick enough that taking them down quietly would require several minutes. He shook his head.

And then Malfoy's voice soared into one word, "Mudblood—"

And then there was a sharp cracking sound, an odd thump, and silence.

Rufus raised his eyebrows. He was not sure what had happened, but he knew that he had the perfect excuse to enter the office now. Anyone who was passing and heard that would recognize the sound as something unusual and want to help.

He called out Alohomora several times in a strong voice, and the locking charms dissolved at last. Rufus stepped in and looked keenly at the two men.

He smiled. Their faces were flushed, and Potter's hair stood on end even more than usual, as if Malfoy had been running his fingers through it. Malfoy was lying on the floor next to his desk, his face bloodied in a way that would have made Rufus think Potter had punched him in the mouth if he didn't know the truth, and Potter was stooping over him.

They must have had enough time to put their clothes back on. Or perhaps I interrupted them before they could get to the main event. Rufus shook his head. And obviously, Potter's had enough time to heal his mouth from their snogging, and Malfoy hasn't.

"Good evening, Aurors Potter, Malfoy," he said, with nods to each of them. "I was passing by and heard what sounded like a struggle. Are you all right?" He paused, then added, "I hope I don't need to tell you what will happen if you've been fighting again."

Even though I know that's not what you were doing.

Potter's spine stiffened, and he shot Malfoy a look Rufus couldn't catch, since Potter stood in profile to him. Malfoy nodded back, and then sat up, massaging the nape of his neck. There were shadows around his throat, Rufus realized after a moment of staring—the marks of fingers.

He stifled a little shudder of disgust. He could have lived without knowing that his most troublesome Aurors enjoyed breathplay.

"No trouble," Malfoy said, his voice hoarse. "No struggle. Nothing that can't be solved by a few minutes of hands-on interaction."

They're flirting in front of me. Rufus wished he felt free to roll his eyes and call an end to this farce. But Potter and Malfoy had just made a major arrest yesterday, capturing Bellatrix Lestrange, the last of the Death Eaters in hiding, and their public reputation was high as per usual. Not even the scandal of Potter's infidelity and true sexual orientation was enough to drown it out right now.

"Oh, yes," said Potter, his voice vicious, probably from the strain of having been interrupted just as his blood started boiling. Rufus couldn't help himself, and gave him a look of muted disgust. Potter didn't notice, just stared at Malfoy as if there were no one else in the world for him. "Just a few minutes."

I didn't need to know that about their stamina, either.

"Do try to control yourselves, gentlemen," Rufus murmured, and departed. He touched the camera ruefully. He was sure that he would have another chance to use it, though. If Potter and Malfoy had progressed to snogging in offices, during a period in the evening when Potter's fiancée would surely miss him, then it couldn't be much longer before they'd attempt something even more daring, and get caught.


Rufus rose to his feet in alarm. Nymphadora Tonks stood in the doorway of his office, swaying back and forth, her nose bloodied. Normally, given how clumsy she was, that would have been no cause for alarm, but she also had smoke rising from the back of her hair, which itself stood on end in violent red spikes.

"Are you all right, Auror?" Rufus asked her.

"Yes." Tonks gave a distracted nod. "But—it's Potter and Malfoy again, sir. They've lit half our paperwork on fire."

Rufus took only a moment to cast a nonverbal Summoning Charm, pulling his camera to him from a hidden drawer, before he came briskly around the desk. "Do you know who started it?" he asked hopefully.

"It's always Malfoy who takes it up to hexes first, sir," Tonks said, trotting beside him as they headed towards the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Rufus nodded in resignation. It was. If that wasn't the case, then he could have sacked Potter for causing endangerment to others long ago. But he wanted to keep Malfoy, who was more easily controlled, given his past, than Potter with his heroic reputation.

The Auror offices took on the aura of a battlefield even several hundred feet from Potter's and Malfoy's office, streaming with smoke, the air crackling with the lightning-like charge that came from enough accumulated magic, and other Aurors stooping over those who'd been burned or jinxed or accidentally Transfigured into something, or dashing about to rescue their burning paperwork. Rufus issued several crisp orders that his people darted to obey at once. Sometimes he thought he should take the management of the Aurors away from Kingsley, but he simply didn't have the time to tend to them himself anymore, since he had become Minister and had all the duties of that position.

He counted three under his breath, then struck open the door of the offending office. He caught a glimpse of Potter and Malfoy rolling on the floor together. Either they'd forced the wands out of each other's hands, or they'd decided to go for fists immediately.

Then Rufus chided himself for forgetting the truth he alone seemed to have noticed. Of course they couldn't keep their hands off one another, and the passion that drove them to do this was nothing like so clean as anger.

"AURORS!" he bellowed.

Malfoy, who was on top at the moment—and that told Rufus other things about their sexual closeness he didn't want to know—froze. Then he turned his head to glare at the door, as if Rufus and Tonks were the intruders. But he didn't move from his position on top of Potter. Rufus grimaced. If he would be faced with an erection when Malfoy stood, he was just as content for them to remain still.

Potter spat blood and craned his head back so he could see Rufus. "Yes?" His voice was remarkably calm.

"What have I said about what would happen should you fight?" Rufus demanded.

"We, ah, weren't fighting," Potter said quickly.

Malfoy stared at him. Rufus felt like doing the same thing. What else could Potter be preparing to admit but the truth?

"I find that extremely unlikely, Potter," he contented himself with saying.

"Well, it's the truth," Potter said, with his unconsciable arrogance.

"Then what, pray tell, were you doing instead?" Rufus took a step forwards, his blood thrumming. He was glad he'd put the camera in his robe pocket. He wasn't going to need it. He made sure his eyebrows were up, his face fixed in a faint frown of the this had better be good variety.

Potter uttered a gabbled noise, and then grabbed Malfoy's head and kissed him, hard, on the lips.

Malfoy gave a shocked gasp, which of course let Potter stick his tongue in. For a moment, they just lay there, kissing, and Rufus laughed aloud.

Tonks goggled. "You and Draco—you're boyfriends, Harry?" she whispered.

Potter pulled back from the kiss with a sharp shake of his head. "No," he said, with an unsteady rasp in his voice. "What happened was that I—uh, I kind of, um, fancy Malfoy, and I, uh, told him so, and he didn't appreciate it, because he has a, um, a boyfriend, and I got upset, and my magic got out of control, and my hair was on fire, and we were rolling around on the floor trying to put it out and save my life." His voice had dropped the stammer by the end of the sentence, and strode on firmly, as if he hadn't just told the most ridiculous lie Rufus had ever heard in all his born days. He rolled out from under a Malfoy who seemed permanently stunned, and nodded, patting a circle of singed hair on the back of his head. "So, that's it. It was my fault. I'm sorry, sir."

Rufus clenched his teeth together.

The problem was, everyone in the Department knew what Potter looked like when he lied. His eyes went far too wide, and his smile was far too earnest and frantically charming—the way it was now. Tonks would never believe that Potter and Malfoy really were lovers, and this looked enough like a fight that it was just simpler to assume it was and that Potter had been lying to avoid a suspension.

Accuse them now, especially since Malfoy just stared at Potter and seemed to have no intention of contradicting his mad story, and Tonks would want to know why in the world Rufus believed Potter. And he still didn't have enough proof to suspend them—since everyone in the Department also knew of his personal dislike for Potter.

They were safe, again.

Rufus could relieve his feelings, though, and he did. "A week's suspension without pay, Potter," he said coolly, "and a session with a Mind-Healer from St. Mungo's. You need to control your temper better. Someone could have got seriously hurt."

Potter nodded earnestly. "Yes, sir. I understand, sir. I'm sorry, sir."

"I think you should apologize to your partner," Rufus snapped.

Potter muttered, "Sorry, Malfoy," without looking up from the floor, and then hurried out the door of the office.

Malfoy just stared after Potter, gaping like a fish. Probably unable to believe he hadn't stayed to finish the job, Rufus thought sourly, and then turned away to finish ordering the clean-up of a half-burned, half-hexed, totally traumatized Department.

His tracking charm called him again one evening a week later, just as he'd finally finished drafting a speech he had to give to the Wizengamot the next morning. Rufus cast the Silencing Charm and Disillusionment Charm on himself without pause, and then snatched his camera. This was the first day Potter had returned from his suspension. They just couldn't wait, could they? Especially since Malfoy could have much more safely visited Potter at his flat without anyone suspecting a thing; he'd been on lighter duty since he'd refused to work with another partner on the latest bizarre murder case. One of them evidently had an exhibitionist kink as well, or a fondness for being shagged over a desk.

Rufus felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle unpleasantly. He had never wanted to learn so much about the sex lives of his Aurors.

He caught them outside their office this time, standing in the corridor where anyone could have come upon them. Malfoy had Potter pinned to a wall, holding on to his shoulders. Rufus, breath nearly held with his excitement, cast a nonverbal spell that would prevent them from noticing the click or flash of the camera, and then held it up to his face, waiting for the moment he could take a picture of them kissing.

They weren't, yet. Instead, Malfoy just studied Potter's face for the longest time. Potter stared back, managing to look both nervous and defiant. Rufus frowned. Perhaps just Malfoy had the kink for buggery on the Ministry desks, then.

"Listen," Malfoy breathed at last.

Rufus hoped they wouldn't. It was just possible that the Silencing Charm hadn't been strong enough, and they would make out the shuffle of his feet or the swish of his robes.

"That kiss in the office last week—" Malfoy shook his head, and then leaned forwards, one arm resting against Potter's chest now.

Oh, God, Rufus thought, deciding he'd be sick in a moment. Please don't tell me I have to watch them choke each other.

"I'd never thought about you that way before," Malfoy said, and his voice was—shy? Rufus again had to revise his assumptions about who the kinkier bastard was in this disgusting sexual affair. "But—I'm not adverse to thinking about it a bit more. Or doing a bit more about it," he added, and his voice had deepened.

Rufus shook his head. If he didn't know better, he would say that he was spying on a pair who hadn't shared anything more than that one kiss. But since he did know better, God knew what it was. Perhaps Potter would whip open his robes to reveal a corset in a moment.

"I—" Potter said, and swallowed.

Then his hands came up, and threaded their way into Malfoy's hair. The expression on his face was odd, distant, full of something that looked like wonder. Rufus rolled his eyes. It's the same face you see every day of the week, for the love of Heaven.

"I started thinking," Potter whispered. "Why did I choose that distraction tactic, out of all of them? I could have done something a lot simpler than kissing you."

Sliding down his chest and sucking his cock, probably.

"And we work well together," Potter went on. "It's only in the office that I hate you. And I noticed—well, I noticed—"

"Spit it out, Potter," Malfoy said, but there was an odd gentleness in his voice. Rufus shook his head. They used each other's last names in bed, too? All he needed now was to find out that one of them had a schoolboy fetish.

He tried, unsuccessfully, to scour that image out of his brain before Potter spoke again.

"I've noticed that I'm always angriest when you brag about the latest fuck you've had," Potter breathed. "And you always snap at and insult the Weasleys most viciously. And all that tension—well, shite, it has to go somewhere, doesn't it? Maybe we should try a new outlet." He leaned closer, his hands sinking deeper into Malfoy's hair, and kissed him again. This time, Malfoy moaned, grabbed him around the torso, and dragged Potter close enough that Rufus could hear their chests and teeth collide.

Shuddering, he snapped several pictures of their kisses, and cast another spell that would record a few of the hungry grunts and groans. He turned and departed when they started to pull each other's robes off, though.

Let them think themselves undetected for one night. He had his proof, and in the morning…

Rufus permitted himself a private smile.

Tomorrow, he would be rid of the Potter problem once and for all.

Malfoy had arrived alone this time, several minutes before Potter. His eyes had an unusual brilliancy to them, and now and then his cool mask wavered and threatened to break into a smirk. Rufus, sitting behind his desk with a piece of parchment covering the damning pictures, surmised it was because he had got away with shagging his boyfriend in the Ministry last night.

Never again, Rufus thought, and looked up eagerly as the door opened. Potter stepped in, and he had time to see that the boy sported a bit of a black eye before Malfoy shot towards him and obscured the view. His voice was a howl of outrage.

"Harry! What happened to you?"

Daring, aren't they? They've never used each other's first names in anyone else's presence before.

Potter answered with a laugh in his voice. "Oh, don't, Draco, it's worse than it looks. Ginny didn't take it well when I told her the engagement was off. She prefers vases instead of Bat-Bogey Hexes now, though, and I almost think she didn't mean to hit me."

Malfoy stopped moving. Rufus inched to the side to see what his face looked like. He had Potter's chin gripped in his hand, but his expression was shocked instead of angry now. Then he began to smile, and his tight hold on Potter's face became a caress, just as if there weren't anyone else in the room.

"You broke up with her," he whispered. "She's gone. For me."

"Yes." Potter grinned up at him. "I know what I want now."

"Thank you," Malfoy breathed.

They might have started to snog right there, for all Rufus knew, but luckily he had the presence of mind to clear his throat. Potter turned to look at him. Malfoy seemed too intent on stroking Potter's hair and staring into his face to bother.

"You know the regulations," said Rufus, and he couldn't quite manage to keep either his revulsion or his glee from his voice. "Aurors who are lovers cannot be partners. And I'm afraid that I have quite some convincing evidence. Auror Potter, I'm afraid that I must announce your immediate—"

"Change to another partner? Yes, sir." Potter dug into a pocket of his robes and removed a sheaf of parchment—with some difficulty, since Malfoy still wasn't letting go of his chin. "I went to see Kingsley about it this morning. I'm partnered with Tonks from now on."

Rufus stared at him for a long moment. Potter looked innocently back, cocking his head as if he couldn't see what the problem was.

Then Rufus found his voice. "You and Malfoy have defied Department regulations for months," he said. "The regulations—"

"We did not, sir," Potter said, and now his eyes glinted devilishly. "We only became partners in a new sense of the word last night." He cast Malfoy an affectionate glance, and finally stepped away from him. "And I'll be willing to say as much under Veritaserum. I must say, if you didn't sack us for fights that tore up half the Department, you'd have an extremely hard time sacking us for spending one night together, after working hours, and then taking immediate steps to obey the rules. The papers would be very interested in what motives you might have for sacking the Man Who Lived to Defeat Voldemort."

Potter took delight in saying that name just to watch him flinch, Rufus knew. He drew himself up. "I have proof—"

"You can't." Potter regarded him calmly. "Veritaserum, remember?"

"You're bluffing."

"Shall we go and fetch some now, sir?"

"Kingsley won't let his best team be split up like this," Rufus hissed. "I'm sure he'd rather have you both celibate for the rest of your natural lives than working with other partners."

"Oh, didn't you hear?" Potter's eyes widened. "Kingsley is reorganizing the Auror Office. He thinks that partnerships aren't the best means of working anymore, not when some teams solve so many more cases than others and the Daily Prophet is starting to accuse him of wishing death on those people whose loved ones get kidnapped or hexed and then have to await rescue by someone other than Draco and I. We'll be working in squadrons of four from now on, and the term 'partner' will be retired." And then Rufus was treated to the sight of the grin he was sure You-Know-Who had seen in his last living moments. "He's assigned the first squadron already. Me, Tonks, Hestia Jones—" He paused agonizingly. "And Draco."

Rufus bared his teeth, but there wasn't much he could do. Almost worse than Potter's not-quite-muffled laughter was the smug look Malfoy cast back at him as he steered Potter out the door with an arm around his shoulders.

And then they snogged in the corridor!

Minister Rufus Scrimgeour was becoming accustomed to having his plans turn on him. It had happened when Dumbledore was alive. It had happened during the War, when some of the attacks he ordered did not go off as planned, and it turned out that Stan Shunpike was innocent of being a Death Eater after all and had been sent to Azkaban on wrongful charges. It happened all the time with Harry Potter, who was now both Dumbledore's man and Draco Malfoy's lover—defiantly, in sight of the entire Ministry, and with Kingsley's bland approval on a technicality of terminology, especially since both their fieldwork and their personal relationship to each other in the office had improved enormously.

Of course, he could wait. Potter would have to make a mistake sooner or later, and then Rufus could sack him.

Meanwhile, though, he had to deal with the inconvenient rumors that Potter intended to run for Minister next time an election was held. It was ridiculous, of course. Potter would be the youngest Minister in the history of the wizarding world even if he did win, and he didn't have the political acumen to plan something like that.

Just as he had been the youngest Seeker at Hogwarts in a century. Just as he was certainly the youngest wizard ever to defeat a Dark Lord.

And perhaps he didn't need political acumen of his own when he had an ambitious, rich, power-hungry, cunning Malfoy behind him.

Grimly, Rufus Scrimgeour settled down to plan.

And to pray.