If it had just been the mission, Draco could have handled it.

That's what he told himself, anyway. It was certainly a comforting thought, even if it was an enormous lie and, deep down, Draco knew it. The mission on its own was dangerous and insane and completely impossible and his parents' lives were hanging in its outcome – but this.

This was worse.

Or at least it felt worse. Draco felt like he was physically falling apart, on top of everything, on top of the mounting tension from the Dark Lord's impossible mission and the looming fate of his parents and the shreds and tatters of his nerves, he was falling apart.

No, not falling apart – collapsing. Draco was so hollow that all the bones and muscles and sinew were caving in from lack of support. There was this dreadful, aching void inside him and Draco was absolutely sure that if it was not filled he was going to die.

He knew what this was, in the sense that there was some portion of his conscious brain that recognized the symptoms, but it was almost completely drowned out by the raw, animal portion of his hindbrain that was screaming fuck want need fill please please please please please.

His clothes were too hot, despite the fact that they were charmed to be light and breathable; they were too scratchy, despite the high quality of the fabric. He could feel wet heat running down the backs of his thighs, bleeding through and ruining his trousers, and his heart was slamming in the side of his throat. Everything – his robes, his skin, his ribs – was just too tight.

He'd meant to go to the hospital wing, or that's what he'd decided when he first realized what it was, but halfway there it had all become too much, far, far too much, and he pushed his way into the bathroom halfway between the Slytherin commons and the hospital wing because he was burning up and he needed cold water on his face more than he needed his next breath. He stumbled in and over to the nearest sink, turned on the tap, wetted his hands, and spread the cool water on his face.

It was wonderful, and the heat of his skin almost made the water sizzle, but it wasn't enough, it wasn't enough, he needed, he needed


The voice came from behind him and Draco spun around.

It was Harry Potter – but more importantly, it was his scent, and oh, Merlin, yes.

The scent was incredible: heady and thick and aromatic exactly what he needed. The conscious part of his brain was screaming something about how this was completely mad and (more relevantly) Harry fucking Potter, but none of that mattered because he was here and he was going to make everything all right.

"Potter," he rasped.

The expression on Potter's face was one of abject astonishment, tempered with a bit of terror and want. "What's that smell?" he asked, and his voice was tight, throaty.

"It's me," Draco answered, and he wanted to add come here, breathe deeply, fix this, fix me, please, you're the only one who can, but he wasn't quite coherent enough.

Potter started walking forward. The muscles of his legs seemed stiff and awkward, but he was closing the gap between them, he was going to make it all better, Draco was absolutely sure of it.

"It's incredible," Potter said, with the sort of tone that made Draco think he hadn't meant to say it out loud, but that was fine, Potter didn't have to say anything, he just had to fix it and make Draco fine again. "You smell incredible."

He was so close, and the scent was thick in the air, gorgeous and wonderful and making Draco's cock strain against the front of his trousers.

"Malfoy, why do you smell so good?"

Potter was within arm's reach now and Draco grabbed him sharply by both shoulders and yanked him close. Potter's entire body jerked as they pressed together and (Merlin, yes) it felt so good, it made Draco's skin come alive with electricity.

"Malfoy," Potter said, and he was speaking into the side of his neck. "Christ, Malfoy. What's going on?"

"Shut up," Draco answered, and he kissed him hungrily.

Potter shut up.

The kiss was all teeth, rough, possessive, savage. Draco ripped at Potter's robes, at his tie, at the buttons of his shirt, he needed more skin, and so did Potter by the way he was doing the same to Draco. The whole process of undressing was taking entirely too long, Draco thought, and he wanted to grab his wand and cast a disrobing charm but at some point it had fallen out of his sleeve and rolled away somewhere.

Potter made a grunting sound and gave Draco's trousers a sharp yank and Draco whined and jerked his hips, shaking the fabric free as fast as he could because he needed Potter's mouth or his hands or his cock or literally anything at all and what was going on, why was Potter stopping?

He had stopped, Draco confirmed, and that was completely unacceptable. He looked at Potter, whose eyes were locked firmly on Draco's thighs, at the wetness drizzling down his skin and catching the light.

"Potter," Draco said sharply.

"You're wet," Harry commented. His voice was hungry and wanting, but more than anything, confused.

"I'm wet," Draco agreed, and he snaked his hands through that gorgeous rat's nest that Potter called hair, and he stared at the lovely lines of Potter's chest, and he bucked his hips wantonly. "I'm so wet, Potter, please, I need you."

Any remaining confusion on Potter's face evaporated at Draco's words, replaced entirely by wanting, and he crouched down in front of Draco.

"Open," Potter said roughly, and Draco leaned back on the sink and spread his thighs wide open in eager compliance. "This is impossible," he continued, and he grabbed one of Draco's thighs, jerked it up, and buried his face in Draco's slick, wet hole—

—and (oh, Merlin, oh, fucking Merlin yes, yes) Draco did not so much moan as scream and throw his head back. Draco's cock was straining against the skin of his stomach and despite the awkward, painful position against the sink, he was writhing and squirming and begging Harry for more in high, desperate wails.

Potter's tongue was hot and fast and thick, and it felt like he was trying to lick up every drop of wetness, like he was trying to memorize every inch of him, and it was the best thing Draco had ever felt in his life, and he wanted more of it.

"You taste as good as you smell," Potter moaned, speaking directly into his skin, and Draco almost sobbed from the sensation of Potter's tongue leaving him. "Malfoy, I…"

Draco really hoped that he wasn't about to ask another stupid question, because he did not have time for a biology lesson or Potter's stupid bloody moral compass, he just needed that gorgeous tongue of his back inside him before he killed something or possibly himself from sheer, desperate want

"I need to fuck you," he finished, voice low, rumbling into Draco's pelvis. "Can I?"

That last vestige of Draco's conscious mind was shrieking at him, almost loud enough to drown out his hindbrain and the roar of his instinct. This whole thing wasn't a coincidence, at least not entirely – if Potter fucked him, if he came inside him—

—but Merlin, Draco's hindbrain moaned, that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted Potter's cock, his come, he wanted it so badly, every instinct he had was telling him so, screaming that there was nothing else in the world he wanted other than exactly that.

His hindbrain was louder.

"Yes," Draco said through his teeth, like there was no other answer, "Merlin, Potter, yes, you can fuck me—!"

Potter growled again and it was such a territorial sound that Draco shuddered. He stood up, grabbed Draco by both arms and pushed him down so he was bent forward over the sink, thighs spread open.

And Draco could hear fabric rustling, and he could (oh, fucking Merlin and Circe) feel Potter's hot, thick, pulsing cock, sliding along his thigh, smearing Draco's wetness. Potter's hands were splayed across his back, his breath ghosting across Draco's neck—

"What are you waiting for?" Draco whined, and if there was any part of him that was embarrassed by the raw desperation in his voice, it was drowned out by everything else.

"You really want it," Potter purred into Draco's ear, and the words went straight to Draco's cock. "Look at you, wanton and desperate, you're aching for it—"

"Please," Draco sobbed, grabbing the sink tightly with both hands.

"—you're gorgeous like this, and you're all mine—"

And Potter shifted his hips and sank in and (oh fuck oh Merlin oh Merlin it's so good so fucking good) pliant and wet as Draco was, Potter's cock pushed in with one long, even stroke, and it hurt because it was just a bit too long, too thick, too hot, just bad enough to hurt in the best ways, to fill that aching void in Draco completely.

"You're mine," Potter hissed into Draco's ear, his hand fisting in Draco's hair, "say it."

"I'm yours," Draco whimpered, because he was, he was all Potter's, and Potter started to move, and his too-long, too-thick, too-hot cock moved with him and it was exquisite torture. "I'm all yours."

"No one else gets this but me," Potter said into his ear.

"No one else," Draco managed, though his voice was strained, he was only Potter's, no one else would ever have him.

He was moving faster now and (fuck oh fuck Merlin it's so good I can't take it) Draco could feel heat boiling in his stomach, the torrid roll of nearing climax as Potter staked his claim.

"All mine, Malfoy," Potter said, and his voice was also getting taut – how long had they been fucking now, a minute, a decade? – and his hands were gripping Draco so tightly he was sure there would be bruises, marks that showed Draco belong to Potter and no one else (no one else only Potter's oh Merlin I'm going to come I can't take it).

In French it was called la petite mort, the little death, and when that boil of near-climax became too much to handle, Draco at long last understood why. The world went white and Draco's heart stopped; he came with such intensity that for a split second there was nothing, absolutely nothing, except the blinding, deafening pleasure.

It wasn't for several long seconds, or possibly a hundred years, that Draco finally regained his senses. Potter had stilled as well, buried in him to the hilt, and deep in Draco's pelvis, there was liquid heat pooling, growing with each pulse. Potter was coming inside him and he could feel every drop of it.

Draco shuddered and moaned, wriggling his hips against Potter's with what little strength he had left.

But soon the world was fading around him – did he drop or was he pushed? Did he fall asleep or fall unconscious? Potter was pulling out of him and Draco would have felt disappointed if he weren't so tired…

The only way this was going to make any sense to Harry was if he broke it down into manageable parts.

First, Harry lost his virginity. Not a big problem in and of itself, he decided. He certainly didn't have any ridiculous ideas of losing it on a bed of roses with his one true love that the incident had dashed.

Second, he'd had sex with a bloke. Also not a big problem, not really. It was surprising, he supposed, but not bad. Harry was hardly a homophobe, and even if this was his first indication of being bisexual, it was definitely not the worst thing to happen to him.

Third, it had been good. Really good. So good that he couldn't get it out of his head, couldn't stop thinking about how impossibly, mind-bendingly, earth-shatteringly excellent it had been. Harry had never come so hard in his life. Just thinking about it set Harry's heart beating a bit faster, his blood running a bit hotter. Harry had trouble imagining that, on its own, as a bad thing.

Fourth, it had been with Draco Malfoy, and that was where it got complicated.

Because, really? Draco Malfoy? After years of hating him and months of stalking him, trying to figure out what he was up to, this was how it culminated?

Fifth, and most pressingly, the whole thing had been weird, and not just because it had been sex with Malfoy. That incredible scent Harry had first detected in the hallway – the ambrosial, smoky-woody-floral smell that had bypassed his brain and went straight to his cock – what in God's name had that been? Why had Harry felt so out-of-control, and yet at the same time more in-control than he'd ever felt in his life? Why had he said the things he said? Why had he been overcome with the desire not just to fuck Malfoy, but to claim him, to thoroughly and completely own him?

And more to the point, did this have anything to do with Voldemort and whatever task he'd concocted for Draco? Was this part of some elaborate plot? It didn't seem like the Dark Lord's modus operandi, but then there were wild cards among the Death Eaters who might do something like this, sickening as the idea was.

The big problem was that he needed answers, didn't know where to find them, and therefore had only one option: he had to talk to Ron and Hermione.

"Mate, I think the one silencing charm will be enough," Ron said. A few hours had passed, filled mostly with Harry pacing and thinking and fretting, and it was past dark now. The library was mostly empty, but Harry wasn't taking any chances, and cast a third silencing charm just to be sure.

"Is everything all right?" Hermione asked, quicker to pick up on Harry's motives.

"I don't know," Harry said. "Something happened."

He sat down across from him. Hermione seemed very concerned, but Ron seemed more confused than anything.

"I saw Malfoy," he began haltingly, and this whole thing was beyond embarrassing, and he really didn't want to talk about it even though he knew he had to. "In the hall, I mean. I followed him into a bathroom because he was walking strange, sort of staggering, and I noticed…"

Ron leaned forward. When Harry's sentence fell off, he prompted with, "Yeah?"

"There was this smell," Harry said, swallowing his embarrassment. "This – God, this amazing smell. It was coming from him."

That hadn't been the direction Ron had been expecting the story to take, clearly. "Smell?"

"It's hard to explain," he said, feeling his face flush despite his best efforts. "It was really strong. He was shaking – he looked awful, like he was sick or something, but everything just happened really quickly and when he saw me I just – I couldn't keep away from him, I felt like I had to… and then we sort of… we just…"

He really couldn't bring himself to say it, not out loud, but Harry was pretty sure they got the general idea. Their faces spoke volumes.

"I didn't – this sounds daft, but I didn't mean to," Harry insisted. "I felt like I couldn't even control it, like neither of us could! It was some – some weird magic! Please believe me!"

Hermione, of course, seemed baffled. But to Harry's surprise, Ron had a look of clarity.

"Oh," Ron said. "Mate, that's not a – I mean, it's not a problem."

"It isn't?" Harry asked.

"It isn't?" Hermione repeated.

Ron looked between both of them. No doubt Ron was also noticing how strange this was, that Hermione was in the dark and he was the one with the answers.

"No, it's fine," Ron assured him. "I mean, it's – yeah, it's weird, it's Malfoy – but it's not your fault. You said you smelled him?"

Harry nodded.

"Was he all sort of—" Ron coughed, flushing scarlet before saying, "—uh, wet?"

Harry's eyes widened. "Yes! I mean – yes. Yes, he was. How'd you—?"

"It's fine," Ron said again, more certain. "Malfoy must have been in estrus."

"Estrus?" Harry asked. "What, like a cat?"

To his surprise, Ron laughed, though it was sort of nervous and awkward. "No. Well, I mean, yes, a bit. I guess you wouldn't know, neither of you, you were both raised with Muggles."

"What are you talking about, though?" Harry asked. "How can Malfoy—?"

"He must be an omega," Ron said. "It's – it's sort of hard to explain. It's really rare. A long time ago, there was this outbreak of dragon pox, and witches and wizards magically evolved this – this sort of thing to deal with it—"

"Oh!" Hermione said suddenly, straightening in her chair. "I read about that!"

"Thank Merlin," Ron sighed, "because I really shouldn't be the one to explain this."

"It is very rare," Hermione said, turning to Harry, "but it's not unheard of. Ron's right, about a thousand years ago, wizardkind was close to dying out, and they started magically evolving secondary sexual characteristics."

"Secondary—" Harry stammered, "—what?"

"It used to be very common, but now that the population is back up it's all but disappeared," she continued. "These days they'll only show up in people from really old, pureblood lines."

"Like the Malfoys," Ron supplied.

"Basically, people started having two sets of sexual characteristics instead of just one – they were either alpha male, alpha female, omega male, or omega female," Hermione said, and Harry wondered how on earth she remembered all this, and he tried not to think of how this was more than a little bit awkward to hear from his best friend. "Omega males and alpha females gained sexual characteristics of both men and women – they could both sire and carry children. Alpha males and omega females had their primary sex exaggerated, making them hyper fertile."

Harry opened his mouth. He would have liked to ask a question but nothing managed to work its way out of his throat.

"It was a really necessary evolutionary advantage at the time," Hermione assured him. "With so few wizards and witches, the extra capacity to sire and carry children was integral for the magical gene to survive."

"What – what does this have to do—" Harry began.

"I'm getting to that," Hermione said. "As part of their secondary sexual characteristics, omega men and women evolved to go into estrus once a month. It was part of the whole stimulating-population-growth thing."

"So you're saying…"

"Malfoy must be an omega," Ron repeated, and he let out a bark-like laugh. "Which is sort of funny, if you think about it…"

"It's not that funny," Harry said severely.

"But it can't just be Malfoy," Hermione said. "Not just anyone can smell an omega in estrus, or – ah – react like you did, Harry."

Harry wasn't sure that 'react' was quite the right term for it, but that wasn't his biggest concern. "What do you mean?"

"Only an alpha reacts like that to an omega in estrus," Hermione said. "Harry, you must be an alpha."

"It makes sense," Ron said. "I mean, your dad came from a really long pureblood line, didn't he? Only an alpha can sire an alpha, and only an omega can birth an omega – so he must have been an alpha, too."

It was rather more than Harry cared to know about his father, and he rubbed his forehead.

"He probably didn't know," Ron continued. "Lots of alphas never know they're alphas unless they go out of their way to find out, or come across an omega. But omegas have that whole once-a-month estrus thing, though there are potions now that can stop it."

"Why wasn't Malfoy using one?" Harry asked. "If there are potions."

Ron shrugged. "Maybe it was his first estrus. He's about the right age."

Somehow, the idea that Malfoy had come into it just as blind and unprepared as Harry had was comforting. Not that comforting, though.

"I'm just glad it wasn't part of whatever Malfoy's up to," Harry said miserably, rubbing circles into his temples.

There fell a moment of silence. Harry looked up at them both.

"It wasn't, right?"

"I'm sure it wasn't," Hermione said.

"But," Ron interjected, leaning forward with a grin that was, Harry thought, altogether too wide, "you could use this whole thing to your advantage."

Harry wasn't entirely sure he liked the new direction this conversation was taking. "I could?"

"Now that Malfoy's presented as an omega, he'll react to your scent really strongly," Ron said. "It's a biological thing. I bet you could use it to get answers out of him."

"Ron!" Hermione said, aghast.

"What?" Ron countered.

"That seems sort of manipulative," Harry said.

"Bollocks to that, the prat's probably taken the Dark Mark and he's up to something bad; we all know it!" Ron said. "Who cares if it's manipulative? It's not like you're going to be really hurting him – and besides, all's fair in love and war."

Love and war. Harry wondered if that was an intentional joke, decided to treat it as if it hadn't been any sort of joke, and looked away, out into the quiet, empty library.

His mind was telling him not to do this, that it really was very manipulative in the worst sort of way, that he was above that sort of thing.

But a small part of him – a quiet part, far in the back of his mind – told him to do it, for no other reason than he wanted that scent again.

"Mr. Malfoy?"

He blinked open his eyes and then immediately regretted it when the too-bright lights of the hospital wing glared down at him. He squinted and turned his head away.

Every single part of him ached, and as his mind rose up through the various layers of consciousness, the pain only got sharper. He groaned, despite himself.

"Mr. Malfoy, I know you must be feeling terrible, but you have to wake up."

He recognized the voice as Madame Pomfrey's. He pried his eyes open and looked up at her as his eyes struggled to adjust to the light.

"You went into your first estrus," she told him, in that clinical, businesslike way of hers, and though he wouldn't have admitted it he found it very reassuring, especially when he was in this much pain. "I need to know if you had intercourse."

Oh, fuck.

Panic hit him like an oncoming train and he sat bolt upright in bed – then immediately fell back again because pain was radiating in every possible direction through his body. Draco almost screamed and felt for a moment he thought he might vomit.

"You shouldn't move," Madame Pomfrey said sharply. "I gave you a suppressant to end your estrus prematurely, but when these potions are taken late, they have side-effects."

The term was so casual that it almost felt vindictive. Draco was in so much pain that he couldn't even sit upright, and it was just a side-effect?

"Please answer the question, Mr. Malfoy," she said. "Did you have intercourse?"

He screwed his eyes shut. He was nauseous again, but not from pain.

"Yes," he croaked, and he couldn't meet her eyes.

"Male or female?"


He didn't need to see her to know that she had that look of hers – the one that hovered somewhere between disappointment, pity, and exasperation.

"I've given you a routine screening," she said after a pause. "You haven't contracted anything, but if your partner was male, you really should take an emergency contraceptive."

At once, Draco's arms wrapped around his stomach. He wasn't sure if it was a gesture borne of nausea or protectiveness, and frankly, he was in no condition to analyze it.

His instincts were in the back of his head telling him not to take a contraceptive, that why would he ever want to, but with the suppressants they were very easy to quash. Maybe his instincts wanted him to be pregnant, but everything else in him most certainly did not.

"Yes," Draco said. His voice, at least, was firmer, surer. "Please."

Madame Pomfrey click-click-clicked away, to her desk on the far side of the room, where he could hear her rummaging through a tall cupboard.

Draco's first thought – past the overwhelming, nauseous terror of it all, of course – was the was that his father might somehow discover that he'd presented as omega.

Immediately following that thought was a painful jolt of emotion. Father wasn't even around to find out, not since he'd been dragged off to Azkaban last year.

Hogwarts, though – there was very little he could do about word spreading through Hogwarts. If he acted quickly, he might be able to do some damage control, though there was a good chance he was already too late.

He did not have time to feel this sore.

"Drink this. It's the emergency contraceptive."

Draco lifted his head. Madame Pomfrey was back at his bedside again, holding out a small crystal phial, unlabeled, half-full of a bright blue draught that smelled like mint and vinegar. Draco once again quashed down his instincts telling him not to drink it, held his nose, and downed it in one fast swallow. It tasted just like it smelled.

"You'll be feeling wretched for a few more days," Madame Pomfrey said. "The bulk of your symptoms are suppressed, but the estrus will still be going on, and until it ends you'll be sore."

"The suppressants—" Draco began, but Madame Pomfrey cut him off.

"When you start taking them regularly, it will stop hurting," she assured him. "Likely, you won't even notice them, though some omegas have reported mild flu-like symptoms during suppressed estruses."

Draco released a breath. He could handle mild flu-like symptoms.

"But the suppressants might be hard to come by these days," she continued. "There aren't very many omegas anymore. I had to have Professor Snape brew you your first dose."

"He brews them for my mother," Draco said vaguely, and Madame Pomfrey nodded. "Do you think I could talk to him?"

"You really shouldn't be moving—"

"In the interest of long-term self-sufficiency," Draco lied. He could learn to brew the suppressants later; right now he needed to know how many people knew he'd presented as omega.

She sighed. "I'll see if he can come here," she told him. "Wait here."

She click-click-clicked out of the room again and with a great concentration of will, Draco rolled slowly onto his side so he could curl around himself. Normally he found the hospital wing oppressively hot – granted, Draco was a creature of winter, and he found most places not outside in the snow oppressively hot – but for some reason he felt very, very cold. He wondered if it was another side-effect.

And in the deathly quiet of the empty room, aching and weak and freezing, Draco's mind went back.

You really want it.

Draco shuddered, curled tighter around himself. Damn his body and damn his treacherous mind.

Look at you, wanton and desperate, you're aching for it—

And damn Potter, while he was at it.

The worst part was that there wasn't really anyone to blame for this. Draco felt like his entire world had been flipped on its head and there wasn't someone he could set on fire as retribution. Potter was an alpha, Draco was an omega – an omega in estrus, no less – and there was no other way it could have ended.

But still, damn Potter. It may not be his fault, but damn him, just in general.

—you're gorgeous like this, and you're all mine

He shuddered again, and moaned entirely against his will. Despite the suppressants and despite the pain, Draco's blood rushed toward his pelvis. He could almost feel it, feel Potter's hands burning into the skin of his back, feel his cock pushing into him—

"If it's practical advice you want, I'm afraid I won't be of much assistance."

Draco's eyes flew open, but despite the surprise he was very glad for the distraction.

Professor Snape was coming towards him, black robe billowing around his feet, pointed features put in sharp relief from the overhead lights of the hospital wing.

"I don't want practical advice," he said, though he didn't bother trying to sit up (Slytherins didn't make the same mistake twice). "I need to know how many people know."

Snape stopped at his bedside and looked down at him. He was frowning.

"Well, you were discovered by Violet Buckley."

"Oh, fuck."

"Language, Draco."

Violet Buckley, prefect of Ravenclaw and biggest gossip in the school. If Violet Buckley had found him, everyone in the castle knew by now. "I can't believe this is happening. As if this year could have gotten any worse."

"As in all things, the key is to maintain poise."

"To hell with poise. What does poise matter? Word will eventually get back to Father."

Draco didn't need to look to know that Snape's frown had deepened. "He is in Azkaban, Draco."

"And what if—" (Draco stopped, spared a look at Madame Pomfrey, and when he confirmed that she was out of earshot, continued) "—if the plan works? If it works, if it all goes like His Lordship wants, my father will be released."


"He'll be released. It happened to Mother and it would happen to me—"

"You are the sole heir to your house, Draco."

"—they aren't too old, Professor; they could have another child! You know what happens to pureblood omegas. I'll be sold off to whichever alpha offers the most."

"I'm sure he wouldn't," Snape said, but the doubtful tone of his voice betrayed him.

"I'm sure he would, because it's tradition, and Merlin forbid we break tradition."

The weight of Draco's own words was starting to settle into his bones, chilling him from the inside out. He curled more tightly around himself – he could already picture it: a life as a trophy for some awful old pureblood alpha, nothing but a toy for fucking and a womb for carrying heirs. Not for the first time since waking up, Draco was overwhelmed with nausea, this time as a result of utter terror.

"I can't," Draco whispered, hot tears stinging at his eyes. "I can't be sold. I can't live like that, Professor, I can't—!"

Snape produced his wand from his sleeve and gave it a flick. A chair against the far wall skittered over, and Snape sat down.

"Draco," he said, with a surprising gentleness, "look at me."

He did – or at least he tried; it was hard to see much through the tears blurring his vision – and Snape looked back at him with soft eyes.

"I will do everything in my power to make sure that does not happen," he promised. "Even if the worst should come to pass, you will not be abandoned. I will not allow that so long as I am living. You are my godson."

The comfort of his words was hollow. Draco knew that if his father decided to sell him off to an alpha, there was nothing Snape or Mother or anyone could do to stop it. His father was an alpha, a pureblood, and a staunch traditionalist: in his eyes, an omega's only function was to be bred.

Fate was closing in on him and it was all too much. Despite Snape's promise, Draco felt, in the truest and blackest sense of the word, abandoned.

Harry knew by day three, beyond any lingering doubt, that the incident in the bathroom had been Malfoy's first estrus. He also knew that Malfoy presenting as an omega was a very big deal, though he couldn't quite figure out why, beyond the fact that it just was. He'd also learned that Malfoy's absence from classes was due to the fact that he was riding out the last of his estrus in the hospital wing.

Harry knew all of this because no one in the entire castle would shut up about it.

Apparently he was the only omega in Hogwarts (or at the very least, the only omega anyone knew about), which only made it more interesting. Everyone in school was swapping stories and theories about what omegas were like and how incredible it was that Malfoy of all people was one.

But no one, thank God, was drawing anything back to Harry.

By the time Malfoy was finally discharged from the hospital wing, four days had passed, and when he came into the Great Hall for breakfast, every conversation seemed to suddenly hitch. His appearance certainly hadn't silenced the room, but it had definitely drawn attention.

From his usual spot at the Gryffindor table, Harry watched. Malfoy certainly didn't look any different – just as pale and pointy and neat as ever – but for the way everyone was staring one would have thought he'd caught fire.

Harry had to admit that he admired Draco's poise and grace, given the circumstance. He kept his chin up and his gait even as he strode right down the aisle and took a seat next to Blaise Zabini. He filled his plate with food and his goblet with juice and that was that.

"You're staring," Hermione said.

"Everyone's staring," Harry answered.

"What she means is you're making cow eyes," Ron said.

"What?" He turned sharply. "No, I'm not."

"You are a little bit," said Hermione.

"I'm not making cow eyes at Malfoy."

"No judgments," Ron said. "I mean, all the books and things say that shagging between an alpha and omega is almost a religious experience. I reckon that doesn't stop being true even if the omega is a Death Eater prat. You're allowed to make cow eyes."

"I'm not making cow eyes!" The religious experience thing wasn't far off, though, Harry thought.

"Just remember, no matter how good it was, he stepped on your face."

Harry glared at Ron, which, thankfully, got him to shut up. Then Hermione brought up the History of Magic essay due next week and they dropped the subject.

But after breakfast, Harry lagged behind and let Ron and Hermione go on without him. He followed Malfoy off toward one of the towers, and even though it wasn't the first time that Harry had followed him (not even the first time this year), he couldn't help but feel like it was different somehow.

When Harry followed him around a sharp corner leading up to the owlery, he stumbled back when he saw Malfoy was right in front of him, glaring at him and blocking his path.

"Potter," he said, "there is absolutely nothing you have to say to me."

Harry regained his bearings quickly.

"Really? Because I can think of a couple things worth saying."

"Let me rephrase: there is absolutely nothing you have to say to me that I would give a damn about."

Harry frowned. "God, you're such a git," he said.

"Oh, and you've been such a bloody gentleman! You know what they say about casting the first stone, Potter – you've been stalking me all year!"

Harry leaned forward. He'd meant to snarl something about Katie Bell and the cursed necklace, but he forgot it all when Malfoy's scent flooded his senses.

It wasn't as strong as it had been four days ago, and it didn't have the same overpowering effect on Harry, but it was unmistakable, and still the most gorgeous thing he'd ever smelled in his life.

Malfoy, he noticed, had tensed up significantly.

"Potter," he said, and Harry saw right through the flimsy veneer of resoluteness and into the core of wanting.

"You really are a git, Malfoy," Harry said. "I like you so much better when you're begging me to fuck you."

Malfoy shuddered and Harry took a profoundly deep satisfaction in seeing it.

"I was in estrus," Malfoy said. His voice was starting to tremble. "I was out of my senses. I would have begged the same of anyone with a cock—"

Harry fisted a hand in Malfoy's hair and pulled back sharply. Malfoy yelped, and the long lines of his throat stretched out under Harry's mouth. The temptation to lick and bite was strong, but he resisted.

"You're not in estrus now," Harry muttered.

"Potter," Malfoy said again, and this time the wanting was obvious.

"What are you up to, Malfoy?" he asked, keeping his hand tight in Malfoy's hair, keeping his lips inches away from his throat. "Has Voldemort got you on a mission?"

Somehow, Malfoy tensed up even further.

"Skulking around Borgin & Burke's, secret meetings with Snape, cursing Katie Bell at Hogsmeade, using the Room of Requirement for God-knows-what – what's the endgame? What are you trying to accomplish?"

"Stop," Malfoy hissed, eyes screwed shut, head turned away.

"Tell me."

"Stop it. Potter, stop it. You don't know what you're asking."

"I know exactly what I'm asking," Harry said. His grip in Malfoy's hair tightened and he pulled again. The sound Malfoy made in response – a gorgeous little whimper – went straight to Harry's cock. "And you're going to answer me."

"I'm – I'm not going to do whatever you want just because you're an alpha, Potter—!"

"No," Harry answered, "you're going to do whatever I want because I'll give you what you want if you do."

Another whine escaped Malfoy's throat, and Harry closed the remaining distance between them. Malfoy's body was hot, trembling with want, and Harry could feel the outline of his cock straining against his robes.

"Because I do know what you want, Malfoy. I know it like I know how to breathe. I can taste it on your skin, smell it on you."

Harry pushed his palm into the soft fabric of Malfoy's robes, groping heavily against the outline of his cock.

"Fucking Merlin," Malfoy hissed, and his hips bucked forward against Harry's hand.

"I know what you want and I know just how you want." Harry's voice was low, strained under the weight of his own arousal. "I want it, too."

Harry could tell that Malfoy was swiftly approaching inarticulacy. His hips were rolling against Harry's hand, completely responsive and utterly desperate. Harry really did like Malfoy better when he was begging.

"Tell me everything and I'll give you exactly want you want."

"P-Potter, we're in the middle of the hall—"

"I could hold you against the wall and fuck you with my fingers. How does that sound?"

Malfoy moaned throatily and his cock twitched against Harry's palm.

"Get you so wet that you ruin all your lovely tailored robes," Harry continued. His face was buried in Malfoy's hair so he could breathe in his scent as it grew stronger. "Keep going until you're shaking and coming around my had."


"Or maybe since you're not in estrus anymore, I could just fuck you proper. Would you like that, Malfoy? Right here in the middle of the castle where anyone could walk by and see me fucking you, see you loving every second?"

Malfoy was starting to shake all over. When Harry had found him in estrus, he'd been unabashedly desperate, but this was new – he was hanging on to his last shreds of restraint, even when his body had obviously turned against him utterly. It only spurred Harry on, because all of a sudden there was absolutely nothing in the world he wanted more than to see Malfoy submit.

"Answer me, Malfoy. Would you like that?"

He gave his hair another sharp tug and Malfoy keened.

"Yes!" he wheezed. "Yes, Merlin, I w-want it – need it—!"

"You don't care if anyone walks by," Harry said. "You just need me to make you come, don't you?"

"Y-yes! Please, I need it!"

"God, you're gorgeous like this," Harry said, because it was true; Malfoy was absolutely delectable when he was compliant like this. "Say it again."

"I need it."


"I need it, Potter – I need your cock, I need you to fuck me, I need it, more than I need air, please, Potter, fuck me—!"

Malfoy's hands were scrabbling at Harry's robes now, trying to tug off his tie, but with what was left of his self-control Harry grabbed both Malfoy's wrists to stop him.

"I will," Harry said, "if you tell me what you're doing in the Room of Requirement."

Malfoy's frantic movements abruptly stilled. His eyes met Harry's, and for several long seconds, the only sound that came was their breathing.

He had lovely eyes, some distant part of Harry's brain noticed – slate gray with flecks of silver and a dark ring around the outside. His pupils were blown wide and Harry could detect, under the wanting and desperation, a look of terror. Harry wondered what he was so scared of.

A new instinct twisted inside him, one that was telling him to protect. Consciously, Harry knew it was counterintuitive – protect Malfoy? – but the longer he stared, the more apparent Malfoy's fear became, the stronger the instinct grew. Of course he had to protect Malfoy. He clearly needed protection from something, and Harry had to find out what.

"I have to go."


He shoved Harry away and fled the hall like a bat out of hell, leaving Harry achingly hard, desperately confused, and freshly determined. His instincts raged within him: protect, they said, and Harry would. He had to.

Hogsmeade in May was far too sunny for Draco's tastes. Despite the fact that there was more than a little French blood in him, Draco was quite thoroughly an Englishman, and as such he preferred clouds and rain to sun and heat. He only ever survived the warmer months by reminding himself that they were heralds of winter.

He heard the crack of Apparation and knew that it must have been her. He'd skipped out of potions to meet her specifically because he knew Hogsmeade would be quiet and mostly empty, and they could have privacy.

The bell on the café door jingled as she entered. La Virage was a quiet little shop, miles above the other fare of the village in terms of quality but half as big as it should be. Still, Draco liked it – expensive though it was, they made some of the best pastries Draco had ever tasted – and more to the point, Mother liked it, too.

He couldn't help but smile when he saw her. "Mother."

She turned towards his voice, and the blonde of her hair shone in the sunlight flooding the shop. "Draco, darling."

He rose as she approached and kissed her cheek, then embraced her tightly. He couldn't help but think how much easier this whole thing would have been if she'd been here earlier, but he banished the thought quickly. There was no good that came from dwelling on could-have-beens.

"I received your owl," she said as she sat down across from him at the corner table. The shop was almost claustrophobic for how small it was, but at least it was empty. "I'm so sorry you had to go through this alone."

Draco sighed. En lieu of answering, he slid over the puff pastry he'd bought her, and she smiled reassuringly.

"I trust Severus brewed you your suppressant?"

"He did, yes. I had to suffer through three days of agony, but I suppose the alternative would have been worse."

He watched as she took a delicate bite of her pastry.

"Mother, is he going to sell me?"

She suddenly became very still. It seemed like it took a lot of effort to swallow her mouthful of pastry.

"I… I'm not sure, darling."

Draco's throat became very tight. He knew full well that her delicate non-answer meant yes, if he gets the chance. "I… I couldn't bear that."

"Oh – oh, Draco, please, it's not – it wouldn't be that bad. I'm sure he would choose someone respectable."

"How can you say that? It happened to you."

For a moment his mother's face was drawn in lines of perfect sadness. Her eyes were unfocused, cast to one side, as though she was recalling a tragic memory. They had never really spoken of her marriage, due in large part to the fact that they both knew it was a delicate matter.

"There never could have been anyone for me but your father," she said after a moment. "It's true that our marriage wasn't borne of love, but the strongest marriages are always built. And in any case, it brought me you, so I could never say I regret it."

She smiled, but Draco knew there was more than a little sadness to it.

"Besides," she continued, "there's still the bond. It may not be love, but it's very much like love. If you're ever intimate with an alpha, you'll feel it for yourself."

Abruptly, panic rang in Draco's head. He had been intimate with an alpha. "Bond?" he said. "What sort of bond?"

"The alpha-omega bond," she answered, and there was a strange, vague smile on her face as she spoke. "It's steady and deep and strong. It keeps you coming back to each other, whatever happens. It awakens an alpha's desire to protect and an omega's desire to nurture."

"So it goes both ways?"

"Oh, yes, dear. People often make the mistake of assuming that an alpha always has control in the relationship, but nothing could be further from the truth. An alpha will never know they're an alpha if they never meet an omega; we define them, not the other way around. And as strong as an alpha may be, we will always have a much deeper power over them."

Draco was doing his best not to panic. "And this… Mother, this bonding – is it permanent?"

"Well, these days, it might as well be," she said. "Back when alphas and omegas were commonplace, alphas could challenge one another over their bond to an omega. But now that alphas and omegas both are rarer, those barbaric days are behind us. Draco, are you all right?"

His hands, he realized, were shaking around the cup of tea he'd completely forgotten to drink. An effectively permanent instinctual attachment to Harry Potter?

"Draco, you're so pale…"

She reached out and touched his cheek, and when Draco looked up at her, she saw the fear and dread in his eyes and sucked in a breath.

"What's wrong?"

"Mother," he croaked, "when I presented – when I went into estrus, I…"

A look of terrible clarity fell onto his mother's features.

"Who?" she asked.

He tried to answer only to realize that his breath had fled him. It took a concentrated effort of will just to drag in a ragged scrap of air and rasp: "Harry Potter."

Her hand on Draco's cheek flew over her mouth.

"Potter is an alpha?"

Draco nodded. His chest was tight with fear. "Does – does prolonged separation hurt? I mean, does it…"

He didn't quite know how to finish the sentence. Luckily, his mother did.

"I… yes," she said carefully. "Since your father was taken away, I've… it's been hard, of course, but—"

"Oh, Merlin, Mother, that's why you've been sobbing every night!"


"There must be some kind of potion – something to reverse it! I can't be – be bonded to Potter, not with everything! Not with the plans and attack and the Dark Lord—!"


Her tone had changed. There was the light of eureka in her eyes, and all of Draco's words and panic fell off.

"That's it!"

"What's it?"

"That's our way out," she said. She reached into the sleeve of her robe and cast a silencing charm, despite the fact that the café was still empty. Draco knew that could only mean one thing. "It's our way out of the Dark Lord's clutches."

Draco swallowed. Their waning loyalty to the Dark Lord was something they both understood but didn't speak about, the perpetual elephant in the room. It had started in Draco's fifth year when the Dark Lord had moved into the Manor and culminated when he'd given Draco his impossible mission – find a way to get an army of Death Eaters into Hogwarts and kill Albus Dumbledore – and even though it went unacknowledged, Draco knew beyond any doubt that his mother felt just as he did: the Dark Lord was insane, and they had made a grievous error.

"I don't…"

"Think, Draco. If you really are bonded to him, he'll feel a natural impetus to protect you. He has connections within the Order of the Phoenix – he could get us out. Both of us!"

Draco swallowed. "Earlier, he… since the year started, he's known that I've been up to something, and earlier today, he cornered me and asked me what my mission was."

"That's even better!" she said, gripping his hands again. "Make it an exchange of information. He won't be able to help himself, darling. If he's bonded to you, he'll feel like he has to do everything he can to make sure that you're safe."

It seemed like a very good idea. More than anything, he wanted out of his situation, and if there was anyone in the world who could do that for him, it was Harry Potter.

"But what about after?"


"After it's over. Even assuming the best-case scenario. After everything is said and done, I'll still be bonded to him. What then?"

She frowned. It took a moment for her to put her answer together.

"I don't know, darling," she finally said. "I suppose one must always remain optimistic. Perhaps something could be worked out… if nothing else, an amicable arrangement. Or perhaps we could find a spell or potion to reverse the bonding."

Draco despised the idea of hanging his future on so precarious an idea. But really, what other option was there? Especially under the circumstances. He was making progress on the cupboard that would be able to transport the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, but what about Dumbledore? Draco hated the old bat, but he knew, deep in his bones he knew that he couldn't kill him. He couldn't kill anyone.

He thought back to Katie Bell and the necklace, how sickened he felt, and she hadn't even died. It had told him everything he'd needed to know, that he was not and never could be a murderer, not really.

But if he didn't, what would become of him? Of his parents? The Dark Lord would kill them.

As with most things, his mother was right. He had to get out, they all did, and Harry Potter was the only way.

"Do you really think it will work?"

She smiled. "You'll find a way to convince him. You are an omega, my dear, and your power must never be underestimated."

Despite himself and the situation, Draco smirked. That was a comforting thought.

For the rest of the day and the first half of the next, Harry looked for Malfoy and avoided explaining why. He wasn't at breakfast, though that wasn't too surprising, given that the gossip surrounding him was thicker than ever. He also wasn't anywhere in or around the dungeons, or at least not that Harry saw.

By midday, Harry was starting to get frustrated trying to find Malfoy, and that was when Malfoy found him, quite abruptly and in the middle of the hallway.

Harry jumped at first, because he'd just sort of appeared when Harry had rounded the corner.

"Blimey, Malfoy, give us some warning."

"We need to talk."

"We do?"

Malfoy grabbed him by one arm and pulled him away. Thankfully, there was no one around to notice.

When they stopped, they were in an abandoned classroom on the fourth floor, and by the layer of dust that had settled, it hadn't been used in years. It was lit only by occasional shafts of sunlight slicing through the gaps in the curtains. Malfoy shut and locked the door with a quick spell.

"I want to make a deal."

Harry turned sharply. In the quasi-darkness, Malfoy's features were indistinct, and Harry had to move closer to study his face and know he wasn't kidding.

"A deal?"

"You want to know what I've been doing all year," Malfoy said, "and I want something in return. So let's make a deal."

No, Malfoy was definitely not kidding. In fact, Harry noticed, his hands were shaking faintly, and he looked frantic – like there was a lot riding on this conversation, like he was desperate.

"What are the terms?" Harry asked.

"I'll tell you everything," he answered. "Everything I know. Everything about – about his plans, about what his next move is. And in return, I want protection for myself and my mother."

"I'll do it," Harry said without thinking.

Malfoy seemed startled. "You will? That's it? No cajoling?"

Harry opened his mouth, realized he didn't know what to say, and snapped it shut again. Now that it had been pointed out to him, agreeing that quickly probably did seem a bit strange.

But it didn't feel strange. Harry wanted answers, yes, he wanted to know what the Dark Lord's plans were, but he also wanted to protect Malfoy in whatever way he could. In a very basal, instinctual way, he wanted that more than he wanted Voldemort's plans.

"I won't lie, Potter, I was expecting more of a fight."

"It's a good deal," Harry said after a moment. "I can find a way to protect you."

"Until he's dead," Malfoy said, and Harry nodded.

"Of course until he's dead," he answered. "I wouldn't let him hurt you. I won't let anyone hurt you, not ever."

The words seemed to surprise both of them. There fell a lapse of silence between them.

"I can put you and your mother both in an unplottable house somewhere until the whole thing blows over," Harry continued after a moment. "I'm sure someone in the Order will know of one."

Malfoy stepped forward slowly. "And it will be under the Fidelius Charm."

"Of course," Harry said at once.

"And you'll be the Secret-Keeper."

"Of course I will, no one else should be trusted with it."

When had Malfoy gotten so close? He was near enough that Harry could smell him again, that incredible smoky-woody-floral scent that made everything else in the world seem completely unimportant.

"He's planning an attack," Malfoy whispered.


"June. I've been… he ordered me to find a way to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts. That's what I've been doing in the Room of Requirement."

Harry knew he should be listening, but it was hard. Malfoy was so close and smelled so good that it was hard to concentrate on anything.

"There's a Vanishing Cabinet that I've been altering," he said, though his voice was starting to get breathy. "I'm nearly done."

Without quite knowing why, Harry reached up and brushed his thumb across one of the lines of Malfoy's throat. The gesture drew a long shudder out of him.

"He ordered me to kill Dumbledore," Malfoy said, his voice getting tight. "He said he'd kill me if I didn't. Kill my parents."

Harry felt rage inexplicably bubbling up inside him at the mere idea of anyone threatening Malfoy with death. His other hand came up and joined the first on Malfoy's neck and he yanked him forward so they were body-to-body.

"No one's going to hurt you," Harry whispered, and Malfoy released a delicious, shuddering moan. "No one is going to hurt you. Not Voldemort, not anyone. Do you understand?"


"I'll protect you," he said. "I'll do anything to protect you—"

Malfoy abruptly silenced him with a ferocious kiss and Harry was perfectly content to forget the rest of his sentence. He hadn't even realized how badly he wanted Malfoy until he was pinning him down on one of the dusty, disused desks and kissing down his throat.

"Merlin – Potter—!" Malfoy gasped, and Harry tugged sharply on his tie, ripped open his shirt, shoved aside his robes.

"No one will ever hurt you, Malfoy," he said into the flushed, heated skin of Malfoy's chest. "You're mine and no one will hurt you."

"I'm yours," Malfoy groaned as Harry's mouth trailed down his stomach, and the words went right to Harry's cock. "Only yours. Oh, Merlin, Potter, I need you—"

"Only mine," Harry agreed, giving Malfoy's trousers a firm pull. He hadn't really gotten a good look at him the first time around in the fog of Malfoy's estrus, but God, he really was gorgeous. Expanses of soft, pale skin pulled tight over long limbs – a lovely, slender cock below a dusting of silvery-blonde curls, and his thighs were already slick with fluid. "Jesus, you're incredible. Look at you…"

"I'd thank you to do more than look," Malfoy said, and his hands were suddenly on Harry's robes. "I need you so badly that I feel like I'm going to break apart at the seams."

Harry released a hiss of breath and helped Malfoy take off his robes.

"I want to taste you," Malfoy said against Harry's mouth, and it was the best idea Harry had ever heard in his life. Malfoy suddenly pushed his hands over Harry's chest and sank down, off the table and onto his knees.

And— "Fuck!" —was that Malfoy's tongue or was it pure satin given life? Harry braced both hands on the edge of the desk just to keep himself upright. His eyes fell shut and he lost himself in the feeling of Malfoy's tongue, Malfoy's lips, the heat of Malfoy's breath, the painfully slow movements up and down, on and off. "Malfoy… oh, God…"

He spared a look down at him, which was a mistake, because Malfoy looked so incredible bobbing on his cock that the sight of it nearly did Harry in right there. Gray eyes stared back up at him as Malfoy opened his mouth and took the whole head of Harry's cock, which also very nearly finished him off. He took several deep breaths, knotted his hands in Malfoy's hair, and let his eyes fall shut again.

Malfoy's mouth was incredible, like liquid fire that spread across his skin and consumed every part of him. It was mounting so quickly – or at least it felt quick, because time had sort of become meaningless, and for all Harry knew it had been years since Malfoy had first dragged that lovely tongue of his up Harry's cock – and Harry didn't want it to end, at least not like this—

When he used his grip in Malfoy's hair to pull him back, it elicited a whine. Malfoy's lips were swollen and pink and shiny with saliva, and there was only one thing Harry wanted more than to shove back in and come down Malfoy's throat.

He grabbed Malfoy and pushed him back down onto the table. Malfoy, at least, seemed to be on the same page, because he spread his thighs at once and Harry's cock nudged forward against the slickness that had coated his thighs.

"So wet for me," Harry said, low and appreciative, into the side of Malfoy's neck. "Just for me."

"Just for you," Malfoy agreed in a high, desperate voice. "Potter, please—"

"No one else will have you like this," he whispered. "You're only mine. No one will have you and no one will hurt you."

Malfoy whined desperately and arched his back off the desk. "Only yours," he said, squirming, bucking his hips against Harry. "Please, please, please—"

Harry grabbed both of Malfoy's wrists, pinned them to the desk above his head, and pushed forward – with one long motion, he sank to the hilt inside of Malfoy and the sensation that followed so powerful that it felt like a head rush. Malfoy screamed out in desperate wanting.

"Only mine," Harry repeated, burying his face in Malfoy's hair to breathe in the scent of him. "Say it again."

"I'm only yours."

Jesus. Harry's hips started to move, and every nerve in his body caught fire. He wanted to fuck Malfoy so thoroughly, embed his own scent so deeply, have him so completely that no one would ever challenge his claim. Harry barely understood his own desires and it didn't matter at all.

He moved faster, and Malfoy's body was like a wet, silken vise. Sweat beaded along Harry's back, and he could see Malfoy starting to writhe, feel him clench up. Malfoy was nearing orgasm, he could tell, and Harry was overcome with the desire to wring it out of him so thoroughly that he wouldn't be able to move for a month.

"You're close, aren't you?" Harry whispered against Malfoy's throat.

"Yes," he rasped, hips bucking frantically against Harry's thrusting. "Oh, Merlin, yes."

"Then come, Malfoy," he said, his grip on Malfoy's wrists tightening as his own climax loomed. "Come for me."

"I – I'm – oh, M-Merlin, Potter, I—!"

The sensation of Malfoy coming around Harry's cock was incredible, as though his whole body was tightening, and there were stars in his vision and Malfoy's hot release on Harry's stomach and Malfoy was his, he was no one else's, no one would ever have him and no one would hurt him.