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Puppy Breath and Money

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Harry Potter had spent the last three years terrified for Draco Malfoy.

Everyone knew what it meant when Malfoy didn't return to Hogwarts for his fifth year. Harry had done a spectacular job at denying it at first, of course. Tried convincing himself that it was just because Voldemort was back. That the Malfoys probably just ran off with their Dark Lord, or, what he had hoped most, had run away from him. It wasn't until Hermione gave him that look that said that if he didn't pull his head out of his arse soon, he was going to be absolutely knocked, that he had to accept it.

Malfoy hadn't returned to school because Draco Malfoy had presented Omega.

Harry had been there when Malfoy’s body was beginning to change.

He remembered the smell.

Malfoy was furious, of course, adamantly denying it, declaring that the smell coming off him was not omega, that he was going to be an alpha, just like his father, and told everyone where they could shove it.

Yet, Hogwarts Express at the end of fourth year proved Malfoy wrong. Harry had barged into the loo, thinking it wasn’t occupied. Malfoy was there – shaking, scared, and in full-on heat. Harry remembered the look on his face when Harry came in and the quiet, “Fuck, I didn’t lock the door.”

Harry was paralyzed. Just standing there.

Eventually, the frightened omega asked, “Is he really back? The Dark Lord?”

That knocked Harry out of his daze, and he nodded, heart breaking a little for that arrogant, vile prat.

Malfoy had closed his eyes, obviously devastated, and whispered, “I’m so fucked.”

“Do you have somewhere else you could go, besides home?” Harry asked – barely catching up to the logical thoughts being pushed out of his mouth – because of the smell.

His smell.

Malfoy.

He was so thankful he wasn’t really reacting to the omega-in-heat smell and hoped that was a comfort to Malfoy, even if the arousal was so thick around Malfoy, Harry could practically taste it. He himself wasn’t presented yet, but he knew damn well what could happen if an alpha, or even beta, with questionable morals and old-fashioned beliefs got a whiff of Malfoy like that.

It made him pull the loo door almost shut – not enough to shut them in and seemingly trap Malfoy, but enough to block the brunt of smells inside from escaping.

Malfoy shook his head at Harry’s question, wrapping his arms around himself.

He looked so small. So vulnerable.

Harry swore under his breath. “What can I do?”

Malfoy blinked at him, then scoffed, seemed to have remembered himself, and roughly pushed Harry out of the loo, slamming the door in his face and locking it.

That was the last time Harry saw Malfoy.

He stood there, right outside, mind racing and wondering how he could help. He hated Malfoy, but no one deserved what could happen to him if he went home and Voldemort was there.

Purebloods traditionally treated omegas sacredly, yet not equally. They were thought of as property, of course. The majority of the wizardry world was way more progressive, but of course, not purebloods. To them, an omega’s alpha was in control of them, but they were generally supposed to treat their omegas with great care and respect. Something to be praised and worshipped. It was an odd dichotomy; one Harry knew for a fact that Voldemort didn’t share.

Omegas were almost worse than muggles to Voldemort.

Eventually, Malfoy yelled at Harry to go away, that he couldn’t stand Harry’s scent and what he was going through was hard enough without Harry stinking up the place, and Harry left, feeling unsettled and uneasy. He never told anyone about the encounter, but it stuck with him.

He also never admitted that he was pretty sure Malfoy’s heat triggered Harry to present earlier than he probably would have. Only magical people had secondary genders, the result of some werewolf/wizard crossing that happened centuries back. The Dursleys were absolutely petrified of the alpha suddenly in their house. Sirius and Lupin had to pick him up immediately to take him to Grimmauld Place, so he could ride out his first ever rut in peace.

Merlin, it was awful.

And if he thought about Malfoy and Malfoy’s scent a lot while going through his rut, he never would admit that either. After all, it was rut. His first one. Not like he had a lot of control where his mind went.

So, when Malfoy didn’t return to school, he knew. Didn’t want to accept it, but he knew. Pureblood omegas often stopped going to school once they presented. They were to stay home, out of the way, quiet and obedient until some alpha or beta agreed to take them on and mate with them. Malfoy wasn’t the first omega to not return, though occasionally Dumbledore could talk some pureblood families into letting their child return despite their secondary gender, promising to keep them safe and alone during heats and whatnot. Keep them ‘pure’.

Made sure they ‘behaved’.

It was so… Dark Age… Middle Age, whatever, kind of thinking, but there it was. In normal circumstances, that was what happened within pureblood families, no matter how appalling.

Malfoy wasn’t in the usual circumstances, however. Voldemort was back, and the chances of Malfoy being able to just strut around his own wing in Malfoy Manor waiting for his parents to find him an acceptable alpha or beta were very low.

That was the difference. That was the thing.

That was what stung.

Harry thought about Malfoy every day, actually.

Some thoughts he could acknowledge, others he couldn’t. The ones he couldn’t, though, were always there, just underneath the surface, simmering with his animal within.

With Alpha.

They were the thoughts that made Harry jump back when Cho tried to kiss him, everything in him yelling wrong – wrong smell – wrong mate.

They were the thoughts that caused his animal within to rage at any conscious thought of how attractive Ginny was, screaming betrayal! The thoughts that stopped him from even trying to see if there could be something with him and Ginny – because his inner alpha growled at the mere idea of betraying a more suitable mate.

The thoughts that made themselves known with pure pleasure and delight during his ruts.

Yes, he never acknowledged those thoughts.

Instead, he admitted to thoughts like, where Malfoy was, if he was okay, if his parents were protecting him, and the need to see for himself that Malfoy was alright. Safe. Happy, even. Just because that was what any kind and nice human being would want.

Three years without seeing Malfoy made Harry forget more and more of what a horrible person he used to be. He was just a child, after all, functioning on and believing whatever his parents told him. Harry remembered the fear in his eyes on the train that day. Malfoy went into heat, and Harry just knew that the old Malfoy he used to know - who would call him and his friends horrible names and treat them awfully - was gone.

A whole secondary part of him was born.

In the old Malfoy’s place was someone completely new, and Harry hated the idea of what that new person was being taught now.

Being done to him now.

He would have nightmares occasionally, of Malfoy being horribly beaten and raped, and he would wake up with an insane and intense need to protect Malfoy, fix it, save him, comfort him, hold him, scent mark him so no one else dared ever to touch him again.

When that happened, Harry would carry that need around with him for days, sometimes weeks after.

He talked about Malfoy every so often, always the same - whispering to one of his friends if they thought Malfoy was okay, and them always looking conflicted and pitying and answering an equally quiet, “I don’t know.”

‘Course, there was Ron who would say, “You haven’t seen him in forever, Harry, let it go. Who cares? He was git.”

He growled once at that. Completely out of nowhere, he couldn’t explain it, and he was thankful only Hermione heard him. Though she did look at him funny for a while after that.

Harry had the wild urge to ask Lucius Malfoy about him in the Department of Mysteries; if Malfoy was alright, where was he, who was with him, who was protecting him? Did he need protecting? That disturbed him more than the growl did, and Harry filed that under the thoughts he wouldn’t acknowledge.

Harry got up the nerve every now and again to ask a few of his teachers if they knew anything, but none of them had any information. Except Dumbledore, once, when he told Harry that Voldemort had moved into Malfoy Manor, and that he feared Voldemort would use Malfoy as a way to punish his father for the events at the Ministry.

The nightmares picked up after that.

Harry almost asked Snape once. Almost. During sixth year, as he eavesdropped on a conversation between Snape and Nott. Having spent the term being suspicious of Nott, he took the opportunity to follow him during Slughorn’s Christmas party and heard them mention Malfoy in passing.

In fact, Harry had to work hard to stay still and not go charging after them, demanding to know. His inner alpha was snarling the whole time.

He thought about what was said constantly, though. Snape snapping at Nott, “I have my hands full enough with Draco –“ and Nott interrupting, incredulous, “Why, he’s just a bitch?!” then shrinking under Snape’s absolutely seething glare and mumbling, “Sorry, sir.”

If Harry hexed Nott the next day, well… no one needed to know. It wasn’t like Nott knew it was him, and he only spent two days in the hospital wing – Madam Pomfrey was right there anyway. Besides, Harry didn’t even know what that spell did, and anyone who had the nerve to call an omega a bitch deserved to bleed some.

He could admit, after a slight argument with Ron, that Harry did get a bit obsessive after that, constantly debating out loud what Snape could have meant, and wondering if he should just go ahead and send Malfoy an owl, asking if he was okay.

Voldemort was living at the Manor by that time, though, and Harry didn’t want to risk Voldemort thinking Malfoy was in secret contact with Harry and get punished or something.

“Damnit, Harry!” Ron had yelled. “Don’t you think we have way more important things to worry about than Draco sodding Malfoy!”

He stopped talking about it after that, but he didn’t stop thinking about it. Especially while on the run, after Snape killed Dumbledore, because he had been under the impression from Snape's statement that Snape was keeping Malfoy safe – but Snape was just as bad as the rest of them.

He shuddered at the thought Snape could have done something to Malfoy. Sometimes, when left alone on watch in the forests outside their tent, Harry’s imagination would run away with him, creating scenarios that Snape meant, ‘hands full enough with Draco,’ as he had knocked Malfoy up or something. It was unusual for a beta to do to that to a male omega, but not unheard of.

He learned not to let himself think that way while wearing the horcrux before they destroyed it. After, well, it was free reign, wasn’t it?

So, when the Snatchers got them and dragged them to Malfoy Manor, Harry’s body was positively thrumming in anticipation. When Bellatrix requested Malfoy to join them to identify him as Harry Potter, Harry thought his heart was going to beat out of his chest. He actually held his breath while they waited for Malfoy, literally had to remind himself to breathe.

The door opened, and Harry could smell him before he could see him. That unmistakable scent of Draco Malfoy that he hadn’t smelled in three years. He surprised himself in realizing he had missed that smell – like a forest just after a spring rain, and linen warmed by the sun, and just a little bit of puppy’s breath and money.

Of course, the omega scent was there, too, this time. Less intense than when he was in heat that time on the train, but still an added element Harry couldn’t ignore. It heightened the rest immensely.

Malfoy came in and froze at the sight of him. Harry could see his nostrils flare, knew he was smelling Harry – knew that he could know Harry’s scent anywhere just like he would know Malfoy’s anywhere. They stared at each other; Malfoy frozen at the door, and Harry, on his knees, tied up, but paralyzed by the sight of him, not the ropes. He slowly took Malfoy in, searching his whole person with his eyes. His hair was shorter than he remembered, a bit wild but still an elegant mess on top of his head and still that white-blond. His face was thin, pale, sunken in a little, and he looked terrified.

He smelled terrified.

Harry inhaled again, and he was so relieved to smell just Malfoy from the man. He wasn’t mated. No one had scent marked him. He couldn’t help himself, he looked down at Malfoy’s stomach and wholly sighed in relief that he didn’t seem to be pregnant. Then sighed again at seeing no mating bite on his neck.

“Go on, Draco,” Bellatrix encouraged. “Step closer. Take a good look. Is it him? Harry Potter?”

Slowly, Malfoy came forward and kneeled in front of Harry. They were close. Very close. Harry could have probably seen other colors than silver and gray in Malfoy’s eyes if he had better lighting.

“Malfoy,” Harry whispered without moving his lips, so quietly he wondered if Malfoy would even be able to hear. “Thank god you’re okay. I’ve been so worried.”

Malfoy’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. So, he could hear him. “What?” he breathed.

Harry gulped. He didn’t want to risk speaking again. Still, he inhaled deeply, taking in Malfoy’s scent, eyes slipping closed just for a moment in the sheer reassurance that Malfoy was there – right there, in front of him, and was okay. Not mated. Not scent marked. Not pregnant and didn’t smell as though he had had any other children or anything either. All those horrible things he dreamed were happening to Malfoy apparently didn’t happen.

That didn’t mean other things didn’t happen, but the worst of Harry’s fears didn’t.

When he looked at Malfoy again, Malfoy’s eyes were wide, and he looked flabbergasted. That was when Harry realized he had been blatantly scenting Malfoy. If it weren’t for his restrains, Harry probably would have had his nose pressed against Malfoy's neck. A quick look around the room showed no one else noticed, though, which was good.

Malfoy’s scent started to turn bitter. He was terrified and completely in distress. Harry could taste his conflicting emotions, and even though it could very well get them all killed, he had to comfort this omega. Had to soothe him.

“It’s okay,” Harry whispered so only Malfoy could hear, but he allowed his lips to move this time. “It’s okay. Do what you have to do. I just want you safe.”

Malfoy’s distress grew, and he whimpered.

“Well?” Lucius snapped. “Smell him or something! Is it him?”

Malfoy leaned in closer, sniffing, and Harry tried to push out calm, safe, comfort as much as he could.

Malfoy whimpered again, shot up, and backed away quickly.

“Well?” Bellatrix and Lucius said together.

Malfoy stood tall, eyes downcast, and with a flat voice, he lied, “No. That’s not Harry Potter.”

“Liar!” Bellatrix roared, and Malfoy flinched something awful, dropping right down onto his knees, hands behind his back, bowing his head.

A very old-fashioned omega pose to show complete and utter submission, docility, and obedience, that Harry had only ever seen in old text books from the times during the Middle Ages.

The growl that was ripped from Harry’s throat was not human. He had never heard himself sound like that before. It was a loud, threatening warning, and it made every candle in the room flicker. Bellatrix snapped her head toward Harry, completely shocked, then threw her head back and laughed.

“It is Potter! Ooh, how cute, going big, bad alpha over our little, cockslut bitch. This will be fun,” she laughed, pointing her wand at Malfoy.

What happened next was a bit of a blur for Harry because all he really could see was red. He somehow was able to rip free from his ropes, somehow got to Malfoy, somehow got a wand – Malfoy’s wand, and then suddenly the drawing room was alit with duels, Ron and Hermione somehow freeing themselves and getting wands too.

Harry and Malfoy were behind a turned over settee for cover when their situation became more desperate. Harry’s scar burned, and Harry knew – saw – Voldemort had been summoned. They had to get out of there. He pulled out the broken fragment of Sirius’ mirror and yelled for help at the blue eye he saw.

Almost at once, Dobby appeared.

Next thing Harry knew, Dobby was aiding in their escape. He got Ron and Hermione out of there first. Then Malfoy told Harry to go, asking if Dobby could take the prisoners to wherever Harry told him to take Ron and Hermione.

Harry nodded, threw some more spells over the settee, then asked Dobby to grab the prisoners first. Malfoy grumbled but didn’t say anything.

When Dobby returned, Harry said, “Malfoy, come with me.”

“What?” Malfoy breathed.

“Please. Don’t stay here. Come with me.”

Malfoy looked so conflicted for a moment, Harry wasn’t sure what to do. He just felt it in his bones – he couldn’t just leave Malfoy there. But then, Malfoy nodded, and Dobby transported both of them to Shell Cottage.

...

Potter was an alpha.

Of course, Potter was an alpha.

Draco had figured he would be, that day on the train. Potter’s hormones, the way they smelled and reacted to Draco’s heat, that look in Potter’s eye… Not an aroused look, no, it was the other kind, once Potter got over the shock of a newly presented omega in heat standing in front of him. It was the other kind that Draco had seen other alphas give their mates when they were in danger or peril. The protect-protect-protect look when Potter growled, “What can I do?”

Draco had wondered over the years if Potter even knew he growled that. That if he knew he was running off of pure animalistic instinct. That if Draco asked, Potter probably would done anything for him at that moment.

Which was why Draco had to get Potter away from him. Potter wasn’t even presented yet, for Merlin’s sake. He could have fucked up his own biology.

Yet, looking at Potter in the drawing room, Draco realized that, that moment on the Hogwarts Express was the last time he felt safe. Truly safe. Because during that moment, Potter would have done anything to make sure Draco was safe – and not just because he was an alpha-to-be. No, because he was Potter, the stubborn, determined beast of a man who would move heaven and earth if he set his mind to it.

His inner animal whimpered at seeing that look in Potter’s eyes again. The exact same protect-protect-protect only a million times stronger now that Potter was a full-blown alpha.

Draco was pretty sure he himself actually whimpered out loud.

Potter smelled safe. Draco had never smelled that before. On anyone. Not even his mother when she was alive.

It led to Draco disobeying for the first time in over a year.

When Potter growled, for a brief panicked second, Draco thought he was in trouble. His brain screamed bad omega, and it physically hurt to smell angry alpha – that it was replacing the safe smell was incredibly painful to even think about.

But… the safe smell only grew. It completely enclosed around him, and the next thing he knew, Potter was right there, shoving Draco behind him, practically claiming him – stealing him right in front Aunt Bella, who had so many plans for Draco.

Protecting him.

Draco didn’t know what else to do. He surrendered to the safe smell, surrendered to the protection, and did the only thing the omega in him knew to do. He shoved his wand into Potter’s hand, surrendering the one thing that protected him to his new protector. His omega even gave away some of the wand’s allegiance to Potter, so it was loyal to both of them, the way omegas did with their mates.

He didn’t even think that was possible without actually being mated.

Somewhere between that moment and his old house elf showing up, Draco pulled himself out of the omega mindset he fell into – the one he was supposed to stay in but never could.

The reality of the situation hit.

He had to get Potter out of there. That was the only solution, really. He had already chosen his fate, hadn’t he? His only hope was for Potter to escape and hopefully defeat the Dark Lord before Draco died. It was likely. The Dark Lord liked to drag out his punishment, and the betrayal Draco was doing? He shivered just thinking about what his punishment was going to be.

Not to mention the punishment his father was going to receive for not controlling his omega bitch of a son. His was going to be much worse.

Then Potter asked him to go with him.

“Please,” he had said. “Don’t stay here,” he requested. “Come with me."

Draco didn’t want to leave his father, but he knew if he left, his father would run. He was only staying there for Draco anyway. He would get the hell out of there, as fast as he could, and the chances of finding a Malfoy who didn’t want to be found? The Dark Lord wouldn’t even waste much effort into that impossibility.

It would mean he probably wouldn’t ever see his father again, though. That hurt, but Potter was offering safety.

Omega or not, Draco’s self-preservation would always win out. He had learned that the hard way. It didn’t make him a good omega, but maybe he could learn to be a better one for Potter.

So, he nodded, and they left.

He was surprised that they landed on a beach. They were both a little singed from the spells from Aunt Bella and the one Snatcher that stayed after Potter’s alpha-display, so the breeze felt nice.

His father, of course, didn’t join the fighting. He was waiting by the door, probably waiting to see what Draco would decide, Draco had to immediately tell himself to calm down some. His father was probably the only alpha walking the halls of that place to truly respect and cherish omegas. Of course, he would wait for Draco’s lead. He would have seen when Draco left, and he would have left right after. He was the master of the house, after all. His father was the only one who could Apparate within its wards.

Not that he, his father, or his mother when she was alive, ever let the Dark Lord know that little bit of information.

Draco would get a Patronus when his father was safe. Only then would Draco send one back to let him know he was safe too. Otherwise, it was too risky.

Safe.

What a beautiful word.

“Are you okay, former little master Draco?” Dobby asked, pulling Draco from his thoughts.

Draco smiled at the elf. Ha, he thought. Dobby was higher up in society than he was now, being a free elf and all. Draco found that he was happy for the damn creature. “Yes, Dobby. Thank you,” he bowed.

Dobby sucked in a breath of surprise, but Draco kept his head down and bowed until he got the okay to stop.

It took a moment, then Dobby squeaked and ran up to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “That’s enough, former little master Draco! That’s enough!”

Draco straightened but kept his eyes down.

“Oh, former little master Draco,” Dobby cried, jumping on Draco and hugging around his middle. “My poor former little master Draco! Do not submit to Dobby! Former little master Draco is a free omega, like Dobby is a free elf!”

Draco flinched at his words, but patted Dobby’s back all the same.

“Er,” he heard from his left.

Draco jumped. Fuck. It had only been three sodding minutes, and he was already being a horrible omega. He backed away from Dobby, who thankfully let go, and Draco kneeled down on one knee in front of Potter, head bowed and hands behind his back. “Thank you, too, Alpha. Please, my sincerest apologies, I should have thanked you first. I know that – I do know that – “

Potter made a noise, interrupting him, and pulled Draco to his feet by his upper arms. “Don’t do that,” he barked. “You are a free omega, Malfoy. Snap out of it.”

Draco blinked then slowly looked up to meet Potter’s eyes. Most of the stinging hex had worn off, he saw. Very hesitantly, he gave Potter a small smile. Testing the waters. He had no idea what kind of alpha Potter was, and he needed to learn quickly so he could be the best omega for him. Otherwise, he might just drop Draco off back at the Manor and be done with him.

He didn’t expect to be Potter’s real omega, of course. Not a mate, but he could be enough of an omega to be getting on with. If he tried harder.

Merlin, he was truly a horrible omega.

Potter smiled back, bright and big, and Draco sighed in relief. Friendly alpha, then. He probably wanted a happily compliant omega instead of a fearful servant one like Greyback wanted. Of course he would, he chastised himself. It was Potter. Merlin, he should have had already known; it hadn’t been that long since they knew each other.

Had it?

“Right, then. Okay,” Harry breathed, looking around. “We’re at Shell Cottage. Ron’s older brother, Bill? He lives here with his wife, Fleur.”

“Fleur?” Draco asked before he could stop himself. His hand flew to his mouth, and he mumbled an apology behind it. Stupid. Happily compliant didn’t mean he could speak whenever he wanted. Happily compliant still meant he only spoke when spoken to. Nothing meant he could just speak, unless the alpha needed to punish something.

He knew that, solidly, for at least a year now. This whole night messed him up – seeing Potter again, seeing Granger and Weasley. Seeing Dobby. It threw him back in time. He knew better.

Potter frowned at him, clearly confused. He was confusing the alpha. Oh, this was already terrible. He needed to keep his eyes downward.

“Er, yeah,” his new alpha said. “Remember her? From the Triwizard Tournament?”

Draco was so thankful the alpha knew how to re-establish things. He could answer questions all day long. Answering, yes, he could do that.

Thank Merlin.

He nodded obediently, keeping his eyes down. “Yes, Alpha.”

Potter made that noise again and said, “Don’t call me that. I’m not like that, Malfoy. None of us are. You can be yourself – it’s okay.”

Draco frowned this time, keeping his eyes down and shaking a little, so confused. He didn’t know what Potter meant.

He was Omega.

That was who he was.

He didn’t understand. He didn’t know what the alpha wanted – he hadn’t experienced this. He didn’t know what to do.

Potter was going to take him back to the Manor for sure.

...

Dobby pointedly cleared his throat. “Harry Potter, Dobby thinks we must get former little master Draco inside.”

“Right,” Harry jumped a little. He forgot Dobby was there. He was too busy trying to figure Malfoy out. A little bit of the Malfoy he remembered shone through when he grumbled about Harry wanting the prisoners to leave the Manor before Harry, but that it so far. The Malfoy before him was…

Oh, it made Harry sick. The Malfoy before him was desperately trying to find a way to please the alpha in front of him. Harry was confusing him. Harry could tell he had already tried approaching several different ways, not knowing what Harry – no , the alpha – wanted. He could just kill Lucius for letting Malfoy become this.

He shifted some on his feet, not knowing where to go from here.

Dobby cleared his throat again. “Harry Potter should instruct former little master Draco what to do.”

Right. Fuck. He could smell Malfoy’s distress spike at Dobby words, and before Harry could stop him, Malfoy was on his knees again. “I’m so sorry, Alph-… I… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t need your instruction. I – “

Harry cut him off by dropping to his own knees and pulling him into a hug, wrapping his arms tight around his waist and baring his own neck. Malfoy was close to panicking now, and Harry’s inner alpha was howling. “Breathe, please, Malfoy. Breathe. Just breathe.”

Giving into his alpha instinct worked.

Malfoy nose was right against a pulse point on Harry neck, and he took long, deep breaths, his hands coming up to rest very softly and tentatively against Harry’s elbows as Harry held him. His smell changed almost immediately. He was calming. Harry knew his own calm, safe, comfort smell was surrounding them, and he tried to push out some good omega, proud of you, omega type smells. He never had to before (omega was the rarest of any gender anyway), but he remembered what he learned in one of the very few History of Magic lessons he could stay awake in – because he was absolutely horrified by the treatment of omegas. But, the bottom line, an omega that had been conditioned as it seemed Malfoy had – like they had been back long ago in literally the Middle Ages – needed to know they were…

Merlin, it made him sick.

That they were succeeding in their duties as omegas.

He hated himself a bit by not thinking of this possibility the last three years. Of all the countless days, the mornings, afternoons, and nights that he just literally sat and worried about Malfoy, he never thought…

Malfoy was always just so strong, and bull-headed and stubborn and arrogant and too much of prat to succumb… or so he thought. He always thought that if those pureblooded, horrible, bigoted Death Eaters did anything, it would be against Malfoy’s will. Malfoy protesting the whole time. Insulting all of them. Of him being pushed down after fighting tooth-and-nail, bitten, and forcibly controlled.

Not conditioned to submit.

Just the thought made Harry’s arms tighten around Malfoy.

Not anymore. Not anymore.

As Harry had to actively and with more will power than he ever had to use before to keep his thoughts from leaking into his scent, posture, or anything else, he made a silent vow to get revenge.

Starting with Voldemort but going from there, one… by… one… Ending with Lucius.

The alpha in him hummed approvingly at the idea.

Harry kept holding Malfoy, enveloping him with every good feeling Harry could think of and push out, which was admittedly not very much. At one point, Ron’s head poked out of Shell Cottage’s back door, and Dobby, who had just been hovering by their side, volunteered to update the others.

He volunteered quietly, as to not disturb the omega, and then silently walked over and whispered in Harry’s ear that he was going to stick around for a while, to help ‘former little master Draco’ adjust.

Harry nodded, knowing that was for the best. Dobby clearly seemed to know more than he did about, well, this.

The sound and breeze from the sea grounded him. Mostly, though, it was Malfoy’s smell that grounded him – told him what to do.

Sodding Malfoy’s smell.

That puppy’s breath and money.

Like… like it always did – when Malfoy was supporting him.

Oh, holy hell.

It was what abruptly surrounded him at his weakest moments from first year through fourth. Always, without fail.

Kind of there first year, but fully there during ‘Duel Club’ when Harry was facing off that snake and suddenly the entire school turned against him. Yes – that was the first time it completely surrounded him. As Finch-Fletchley backed away from him, puppy’s breath and money tried to comfort him.

Fuck. It was literally there every Quidditch match. Every fight. Every standoff. Every class. Almost every time Malfoy and he were together. Almost every time he was around Malfoy unless Malfoy was really, truly furious with him.

That smell.