Thank you again for all the reviews!
This is the end of A Determined Frame of Mind, and, with it, the Frames of Mind series. (I may write a prequel detailing Harry's time under the Cassandra Curse or Draco's invention of Psyche-Diving, but those would be gen, and probably wouldn't be written for some time anyway). I do intend to keep posting other stories after I finish my current WiP, I Give You a Wondrous Mirror. Thanks for reading!
"And it is the verdict of the Wizengamot—"
"I could give him a rotting disease. Just enough to take the fingers of his right hand. That wouldn't be vengeance for what he did to you, but it would be a start." Draco's voice was low and urgent in Harry's right ear.
"Will you hush?" Harry snapped back at him, making sure to keep his voice low enough that no one would glance at them disapprovingly. Draco might not care about looks like that, but for Harry, the entrance into public life was still too recent for him to be happy about making a fuss. Disapproval of his relationship with Draco didn't matter. Disapproval of him as a person reminded him too much of what it had been like under the curse. "This isn't convincing me to give you back your wand, you know."
Draco made a horrid face. Harry turned away from him, wondering for a moment if the interruption had been enough to make him miss Scrimgeour's fate. But the Wizengamot member reading from an elaborate scroll had paused, as they always did, to restate Scrimgeour's crimes, just in case there was someone in the crowd who had managed to miss them.
They were sitting in the courtroom that Harry remembered with such intense unfondness from his trial for using underage magic before his fifth year began. Scrimgeour sat in the chair this time, with the Wizengamot staring down at him from their high places. Harry had to appreciate the symbolism. Until recently, the Minister would have had the right to stare at criminals like that. Now he was less than an insect to most of those involved.
The trial had gone speedily. Harry was wise enough to know that that wasn't because of Scrimgeour's particular crimes, but because of his own name. He felt uneasy about it. On the other hand, no amount of speeches trying to convince the Wizengamot to ignore who he was would be effective.
He touched the silver ring on his finger, which bore the Malfoy crest on its simply-cut green stone. Already that had become the calming gesture that touching his bandaged wrists had once been.
Draco's hands came into view, settling on the balcony railing beside him, and then picking up and rubbing his fingers. Harry smiled. It had taken some digging for him to recover the Potter crest that had appeared on his father's schoolbooks and his late grandparents' home, but he had finally found it, and Draco bore that crest on a red stone. His ring was of gold.
Draco had not even protested the colors, which showed how much he approved of Harry's public declaration of their relationship.
"Almost done," Draco whispered near his ear. "They won't dare not sentence him." He paused, and then added, "Of course, if you would let me have my wand back, then I could make sure his life is even more interesting after this."
"Not a chance," Harry retorted. He had taken Draco's wand away from him the moment he first pointed it at Scrimgeour, or tried to point it at him, under the cover of the crowd. "Now hush. They're about to give the sentence."
"—the Wizengamot has decided," the witch concluded, with a stoic dignity in her voice that she no doubt thought appropriate to the occasion, "that the former Minister Rufus Scrimgeour will be sentenced to Azkaban for life."
Harry huffed out a breath, and blinked hard. There were no Dementors in Azkaban anymore; the final battles against Voldemort and the hunts afterwards, armed with new spells that the Order of the Phoenix had invented during the war, had dissipated or scattered them completely. But still, spending the rest of his life on a storm-lashed rock was a humbling fall for the man who had once hoped to control the British wizarding world.
And though Scrimgeour was in his seventies, that didn't mean nearly as much for a wizard as for a Muggle. He might live fifty years or even a century yet if he was unlucky, bound there.
For a moment, Harry was tempted to call out and protest the sentence. But then he turned his head and saw that Scrimgeour wasn't staring at the witch who had read the sentence, or even at the rest of the Wizengamot, as if to ask how they could have betrayed him like this. He was looking at Harry instead.
The hatred in his eyes was insane.
Harry made himself stare back, but it was hard. Even now, he knew, this man would have liked nothing so much as to see him dead and bleeding, preferably by his own hand. If he was free in any manner, he would continue to make Harry's life a misery. He seemed to have decided that his one mistake was in allowing the curse to be discovered. There was certainly no sign in his face that he regretted his actions.
Harry felt Draco's hand on his shoulder. He leaned close to him for strength, not caring if Scrimgeour saw. The Minister's great weakness, after all, had been that he saw others solely as tools to further or threats to challenge his position. He had no conception of cooperation or the rewards that might come out of it.
Scrimgeour had the opportunity to make a speech at the end. He said nothing. He was simply taken away in chains, and Harry began to breathe a little more easily the moment he was past the courtroom door.
He groaned when he realized that several of the Wizengamot members and a good portion of the crowd were heading towards him. Since the announcement of the Cassandra Curse and Scrimgeour's fall from grace, the country seemed to be competing to see who could shower him with the most solicitous attention and send him the most extravagant gifts. Draco thought the gifts were hilarious and insisted that Harry keep all of them, if only to resell later, but he was the one who dealt better with the public attention. Harry gratefully let him take over for the moment, while he closed his eyes and fixed Scrimgeour's stare in his memory.
That was what hatred looked like.
Harry was never going to forget again. He doubted that Scrimgeour would be the last person to hate him like that, as he had not been first; that dubious honor belonged to Voldemort.
If he felt the sentence was too severe, that was a tribute to his own fine sense of justice, Harry reckoned. But he would not ask for it to be reduced, or protest it. Scrimgeour had passed beyond any sense of moderation. He would not just target Harry if he had the chance to attack again. He had to be locked away for the good of others.
Even if he was the instrument of our coming together, Harry thought, as he leaned his head against Draco's shoulder and felt the soul-bond start up like a contented kitten. I wonder if he ever realized that?
Draco knew he was better at smiling than Harry. He was also better at looking into the eyes of many people at once, and at making ambiguous comments that would sound like assents and compliments at the time and only give the people asking the questions some doubts or misgivings later.
"Does Mr. Potter intend to return to the Ministry?" asked one of the older members of the Wizengamot now, a witch with immaculately groomed gray hair and sleek green robes Draco had to admire.
"The site of his curse?" Draco raised his eyebrows. "Mr. Potter has not shared, as of yet, his plans with others."
And Harry hadn't. Draco saw no reason to hurry him about it. He doubted that Harry would want to be an Auror again, but Harry was always surprising him—he had surprised Draco when he asked for a ring, and again when he asked for it in Slytherin colors—so he might. Since Draco had already found a few wealthy patients to Psyche-Dive for, he could keep them both in comfort without stint until Harry was ready to make his decision.
Meanwhile, it was quite refreshing to always have someone in the house ready and willing to shag, or be shagged, or have a row, or have a row while shagging.
"Does Mr. Potter intend to seek vengeance against anyone who might not have treated him well while he was under the curse?" asked a voice from the side.
Draco turned his head, and found himself looking full into Eugenie's face. Understandably, she was a bit pale.
Draco smiled. "Of course not," he said. "He understands that they were subject to the malicious nature of the curse and not entirely themselves."
Eugenie closed her eyes and nodded. Draco looked carefully, and smiled more widely when he made out the faint dark scab on the side of her left hand.
Harry had been quick to take Draco's wand away from him, but not quick enough. Draco had seen Eugenie among the crowd that morning as they made their way to their seats. A swift curse, and she was infected with a rotting disease which would slowly make her uglier than one of the magical creatures she worked with. It was indistinguishable from a number of unfortunate illnesses which sometimes showed up on their own. Eugenie might suspect the truth at last and try to tell it to someone, of course, but Draco doubted that she would have a tongue left by the time she tried.
The disease would not kill her. But it would force her to retire, and it would certainly lessen what influence she had managed to gain through her cleverness and appearance. Draco thought the price just high enough.
If Harry finds out and protests, I can always point out that using that spell on Eugenie sapped my anger, and now I don't have any reason to visit Azkaban and try to do something else to Scrimgeour, he thought happily, and turned to answer the next question.
Harry sighed as they made their way back into sunshine again. "I can't wait until that dies down," he murmured.
Draco laughed and put an arm around his shoulders. "Forget it, Harry. You were their hero once. Now you're their martyr, the beautiful and tragic figure who was nearly condemned to eternal loneliness—"
"Tell me you're quoting the Daily Prophet, please." Harry buried his head in his hands.
He felt Draco kiss the top of his hair. "Of course I am. You should read the articles sometimes, they really are quite educational."
"Why are you keeping them?" Harry dropped his hands and looked quizzically up at his lover.
Draco's face went unexpectedly serious, and he cupped a hand beneath Harry's chin. Harry stared steadily back. He no longer felt unequal to arguing with Draco. Draco was quite good at it, but they were too different for his reasoning to make sense to Harry most of the time.
"Because I never want to forget," Draco whispered. "Not what we fought for, or what we almost lost." He bent closer and laved his tongue along the corner of Harry's jaw, then touched his golden ring to Harry's silver one. A spark of magic leaped between them. The jeweler who made them had been somewhat puzzled why they wanted such elaborate tracking and defensive spells built in, but she had done a marvelous job. "I am rather sensitive when it comes to my memories of you, you know."
Harry closed his eyes to make sure he wouldn't do something ridiculous, and then stretched up to kiss Draco briefly. He wasn't blind to the small winces Draco made as he walked.
"Too hard a shagging last night?" he asked innocently.
"I can take anything you hand me, Potter." Draco was using his superior Psyche-Diver tone now, and the snotty expression on his face said all too clearly that he could read people's souls and Harry could not.
"I wasn't questioning that."
Draco's eyelids lowered in the pleased look Harry was coming to know and adore.
And I'll have years more to learn everything I can about him.
The slightly soiled feeling that had come from gazing into Scrimgeour's eyes was already fading. Harry took a deep breath, shook his shoulders, and walked smartly beside Draco towards the Apparition point.
I don't ever want to forget, either. I don't think I can, but it's good to be reminded.
He was thinking of both the struggle and the success, of the year under the curse and the warm pressure of Draco's hand in his, as they went home.