Today was Izuku's birthday.
Today, the tribe would gather around the bonfire to celebrate his coming of age with food and song.
Today, he would be claimed by the strongest Alpha to compete for his hand.
Despite his best efforts, Izuku had never had much control over his life.
When he turned four, he was told he could never become a mage because he had not inherited his sire's powers.
At twelve, he was told he could not become a warrior, because he was an Omega.
And now, as he turned twenty, he was told he could not live alone and make choices for himself, because Omegas are weak and irrational creatures who need a strong Alpha to protect them.
He wished he could at least have a say in who he would be forced to spend the rest of his life with.
Izuku glared at his reflection in the mirror as his mother and the Omega priestess prepared him for the ceremony, drowning him in silks and jewels that felt more like shackles than shiny trinkets.
"Don't worry Izuku," said the priestess as she painted ceremonial markings on his arm. "It's normal to be anxious about your mating ceremony, but the gods will choose the perfect mate for you."
"I thought strength would determine the winner," Izuku said as neutrally as he could as he watched her movements reflected in the mirror. "I don't think being strong automatically makes you a good mate."
"Ah, but that's what the trials are for." She patted his hair affectionately when she got up and around him to do his other arm. "The gods will favour a good Alpha over a bad one and give them their blessing. If an Alpha wins, it means the gods are on their side."
Izuku's mother piped up before Izuku could open his mouth and say something about the gods that might offend the priestess.
"You know, Izuku, if you favour someone, I still have the token I gave your father on the day of my own mating ceremony. I'm sure Yū will agree to bless it before the trials begin."
Yū drew back to assess her handiwork. She hummed, pleased with the results before locking eyes with him in the mirror. "I could do that if you wish. If your heart is set on someone, the gods will take it into consideration."
Izuku averted his eyes. He knew why nobody had asked him before, even though most Omegas prepare their tokens months in advance. His distaste of Alphas and his stubborn unwillingness to be mated were well-known in the tribe. They all assumed there was no one he liked... but. There was someone.
"Well... There might be someone..." he bit his lip midway, hesitant.
His mother and the priestess whipped their heads up in surprise, suddenly sharp as hawks about to sweep down on prey.
"I'm not sure if he'll be able to take part in the trials, though..." he finished, shoulders tense and hunched over.
"Did you not discuss it with him in advance?" his mother asked, softly. Izuku wasn't sure if the sad look in her eyes was pity or disappointment that he did not speak to her about it before today.
"If he loves you as you love him, he will fight for you! If he doesn't, then he's undeserving of being your mate, and you have nothing to regret!" the priestess said with passion.
Izuku sighed tiredly and rubbed at his stinging eyes. His mother gently pried his hands away from his face, and he realized belatedly that he'd probably smudged his makeup.
"He's not from our tribe, is he?" she asked him quietly, carding her fingers through his wild hair.
He tried to blink the building tears away before they could bead and ruin his makeup any further. His throat felt tight and his heart ached in his chest.
"I- no..." A shaky breath left him. "He's from the Fire-Blood nomad tribe."
Inko's movements stilled at the revelation.
The Fire-Blood nomads crossed their lands twice a year and usually stayed a few weeks near the border of their territory, trading goods and stories with their tribe. They traded heavy furs on their way South at the end of summer, and exotic spices and fabrics when they made their way back North in the early spring.
Their tribes had been on friendly terms for many years, so if a Fire-Blood Alpha wanted to compete in the trials, they could. In theory.
But Izuku's birthday was in the middle of summer, when the nomads were far North.
She met Izuku's wet eyes, who had turned around in his chair to watch her reaction. His mouth a wobbly line and his hands a fidgeting mess.
"Oh Izuku," she murmured, hugging him tightly. "Why did you not tell me?"
He said nothing as he returned the embrace, his tears falling like warm summer rain on her shoulder.
She could understand why he would fall for one of them. The Fire-Blood nomads attached much less importance to gender than any other tribe. It was mostly excused and ignored when they stayed near the village because they are barbarians and because they are powerful barbarians, said to be descended from dragons.
Her Izuku had always had more ambition than what their tribe would let him achieve as an Omega. He refused to fit into the mould and to obey tradition. It made sense, really, that he would fall for an open-minded Alpha, who could offer him a much freer life in a more accepting tribe.
Izuku could have had the life he had always wanted. To have that hope ripped from him... Inko should have seen it, should have realized sooner.
Yū had been watching them with a contemplative look on her face, her brows furrowed.
"The Fire-Blood nomads, you say?" she asked, twirling her blond hair around a finger. "I think the chief received a letter from them recently. They wanted to send someone for your coming of age. I didn't think much about it at the time, you know, but after what you said..."
Her lips pulled up in a delighted smile. "Looks like he will fight for you."
Inko felt hope bubble in her chest at those words. She let go of Izuku when he loosened his grip on her and pulled back from the hug.
"Do you hear that Izuku?", she said excitedly, taking his face in her hands and wiping his tears with her thumbs. "What wonderful news!"
"Yes!" Yū continued, grabbing a soft cloth to clean off his ruined makeup. "Let's finish with your clothes and makeup, and then we'll get started on your token, okay?"
Izuku nodded and put on his brave face. Inko didn't know if she imagined it, but his smile seemed a little strained.
He did not dare tell her the truth.
When the sun reached its zenith, Izuku was escorted to the chief's dais. He was supposed to just sit and look pretty while the Alphas who would be competing for his hand gathered in the clearing.
His mother sat by his right and the Omega priestess would sit between him and the chief when she was done with her preparations. Had his Alpha sire still been among them, he would have been sitting by the chief's left, with the tribe's best warriors.
Izuku let his eyes wander over the small crowd gathered in the clearing. It was made up mainly of familiar faces, Alphas from his tribe who sneered at him and beat him down whenever they caught him in his attempts at teaching himself swordplay or hunting.
What a joke.
They despised and ridiculed him for his dreams, and yet they would be competing to own him. Maybe they thought they could break him. Maybe they thought they could tame him. Or maybe they thought they could fuck him into being a proper Omega.
Izuku's eyes searched the crowd, looking for a familiar head of spiky blond hair, or a flash of red eyes, sharp as flint and vibrant as shimmering rubies.
Izuku still hesitated on what he would do if Katsuki didn't show up... or if he wasn't allowed to compete... Even worse yet, if the truth came out and he was denied his claim despite a win. He could run away, but his mother would likely be ostracized if he broke tribe rules. He wasn't sure he could survive on his own yet and he didn't want to make things even more difficult for his mother.
He could feel hungry eyes on him, and he had never felt so much like prey than he did sitting on the raised dais, hair and arms dripping with carved beads and precious stones and his bare neck on display.
He caught his mother's concerned gaze and realized he was probably emitting distressed pheromones. He took several deep breaths to try and get a grip on himself.
The crowd had thickened a bit with a few unfamiliar faces. Looking at their clothes and markings, Izuku concluded that all the neighbouring tribes had sent at least one representative. It was common practice between tribes who were on friendly terms, a way to introduce new blood into the tribe.
Yū sat down next to Izuku, handing him the blessed token with a smile. He barely had time to thank her before she turned towards the chief to exchange a few hushed words. Izuku's stomach felt tight with knots. The ceremony would begin soon.
The clearing was lively as ever. A circular area had been cleared for the fights, demarcated by a wide ring of softwood logs, which would fuel the bonfire after the mating ceremony. Some members of the tribe had already begun to settle around the fighting area, laying colorful rugs on the ground or sitting down in the soft grass.
Still no sign of Katsuki.
Izuku's hands fiddled with the token, a simple green ribbon made of soft fabric that his mother had bought from a travelling merchant when she was young.
His mother took his right hand into her own, squeezing firmly.
"It will be alright, honey," she said, with a tight smile and slightly wet eyes.
The joy from earlier had quickly run dry as the beginning of the ceremony drew closer and closer with no signs of the Fire-Blood nomads.
Izuku turned away, well aware that if he saw her cry he would dissolve into a miserable puddle of tears himself. She seemed so apologetic, so heartbroken, that he knew she had no hope for him.
She thought Katsuki wouldn't come. That Izuku would end up stuck in this small village forever, tied down to some Alpha who didn't respect him and whom Izuku could never love.
He gritted his teeth and glared resolutely at the tree line, determined not to lose faith in the one person who ever made him feel worthy of his dreams despite who and what he was.
His gaze was lost in the pine trees and his mind wandered down the path of sunny memories. A confident, sharp toothed smile. Dappled lights pouring through foliage, shining along a freshly whetted blade. Gentle hands in his hair, and a soft mouth on his own. Bravery and triumph in black ink. His very own image of victory.
The faint smell of forest fire and burnt honey tickled his nose, carried by the warm afternoon breeze.
Izuku's eyes snapped back into focus.
Inko could not stop worrying.
She was trying to be strong for her son, but she could not help but feel anxious about the whole situation. She felt like a bad mother, for not having tried harder, for not knowing.
Doubt plagued her mind. Why did he not tell her about this mysterious Alpha who had seemingly successfully courted him? Why hadn't they agreed on what to do for the trials? Something felt off.
In the corner of her vision, Izuku suddenly perked up. She followed his line of sight and spotted a group of raucous young people breaking through the tree line and into the clearing.
A blond man was leading the way, striding confidently into the clearing as if he owned the place. Probably an Alpha. His muscular arms were covered in warrior tattoos and a blood-red cape lined in fur swayed in his wake.
He was followed by four other people. A dark haired man with a bow strapped to his back and a quiver at his hip. Another blond man, wearing mage robes and the sigil for lightning painted on his forehead. And, finally, a strong looking man and woman with prominent draconic features.
Their clothes and markings revealed them to be Fire-Blood nomads. Inko watched them as they cut through the fighting area to greet the chief.
The closer they got to the dais, the more details she could see. She wondered which one was Izuku's secret lover. Maybe the draconic man? He seemed very open and easygoing, broadcasting a cheerful -- if sharp-toothed -- smile.
As the group approached, the blond Alpha's gaze snagged on Izuku, roving over his form appreciatively. Izuku tilted his head playfully, exposing his bare neck in a provocative way.
Inko grabbed her son's arm in a burst of shock, surprised and scandalized in equal measures. The barbarian looked very pleased.
Izuku turned slightly to face her, seemingly unbothered by the vice grip she still had on his wrist. His eyes sparkled with joy and his smile was much more genuine than it had been in weeks.
She let go of him, understanding washing over her before he even uttered the words:
"It's him, mom." He whispered, almost reverently. "Kacchan came for me!"
He seemed overtaken by emotion, utterly relieved and restless with excitement. Hope bloomed on his face like woodland flowers unfurling in the sun. His attention didn't stray away for long, focusing back on the blond Alpha, who was greeting the chief in the customary manner.
The Fire-Blood Alpha's head was tilted in respect to their tribe's leader, in such a way that anyone could tell was purely performative and almost disrespectful. His arrogant posture and cocky smile ruffled Inko's feathers.
The small group of Fire-Bloods deposited thick, soft-looking furs and expensively dyed fabrics at the feet of the chief, as a token of gratitude for letting them into his territory and allowing their own leader to participate in the trials. The sheer quality of the gifts mollified the old chief into disregarding the insolent attitude of the young Alpha entirely.
Inko didn't quite know what to think. On one hand she was happy beyond belief that Izuku had finally found an Alpha he liked after so long. On the other, she couldn't fathom what he could have possibly seen in such a haughty and brutish man. To her, he looked and acted like a typical, arrogant Alpha.
This man was nothing like what she had expected when Izuku told her he liked someone from the nomadic Fire-Blood tribe. She had imagined an open-minded, gentle Alpha, who would be supportive and kind.
Instead, she saw a conceited beast with a permanent scowl etched onto his face. Well... when he wasn't smirking in an openly condescending way.
She wondered how he would be different from the awful young Alphas who pushed Izuku around as soon as the elders had their backs turned.
Yet Izuku was enraptured. His eyes were glued to the barbarian, and his scent had sweetened with relief and warm affection, shifting from the high stress, pungent smell of storm and ozone into that of spring rain rolling off mint leaves.
He seemed calmer and almost relaxed. It did lift her own spirits a bit to see him suddenly feeling much more comfortable. Maybe she shouldn't judge his choice so hastily. Her Izuku was a smart boy after all, even if he was too reckless and dismissive of his own well being at times.
The subject of mating and Alphas wasn't one he treated lightly however, and he had earned himself a reputation for being as stubborn and vindictive as a mean-spirited swan. He wouldn't submit to just any Alpha. If he had chosen this one, then he must be worth it. She just had to wait and see what made him so special in her son's eyes.
With every competitor present, the trials could finally begin.
The Fire-Bloods left their leader's side to go sit with the spectators outside the ring. They smiled and waved amidst a joyous chorus of "hellos" as they passed in front of Inko and her son. Izuku waved back shyly.
The competitors gathered in front of the dais, congregating near the Chief and priestess.
The Chief held a hand up to command silence and almost immediately a hush fell over the boisterous crowd.
"Today," he started, eyes sweeping over the people in the clearing, "we celebrate the coming of age of Izuku Midoriya, Omega son of Alpha warrior Hisashi Midoriya."
"I would like to thank our sister tribes for their interest in one of our own. It is an honour to any Omega to have so many fine and upstanding suitors competing for their hand."
At those words, half the tribe sent unsubtle glances at Izuku's face, trying to gauge his reaction and half expecting him to make a scene.
Izuku, however, was locked in a smiling match with the blond barbarian. A serene air about him as he went on ignoring the world. He was like a moth drawn to a campfire, except the flames smiled back.
The Chief continued. "The trials for young Izuku's hand will consist in two successive battles. The first, to test your physical strength, and the second to show off your technique."
The crowd of Alphas cheered loudly, their aggressive pheromones rising in a spicy cloud as their thirst for battle grew.
"I will explain the rules before the trial proper. For now though, I believe Izuku has prepared a token for one of the competitors. Priestess?"
Yū spoke next, poised and regal as ever. "Indeed."
Incredulous murmurs spread through the crowd like wildfire. Izuku? Favouring an Alpha? Impossible! And yet the priestess called:
"Katsuki Bakugou of the Fire-Blood nomads, please step forward."
The blond barbarian, Katsuki, marched confidently towards the dais amidst the whispering of Izuku's tribemates.
He approached Izuku who was fiddling with the green ribbon. Katsuki's eyes were drawn to Inko's for a second, and he inclined his head in a far more respectful manner than he had with the chief.
She was so surprised that she almost jerked back but in the span of a blink his attention had returned to Izuku.
The Alpha gave his wrist to Izuku, who tied the ribbon into a neat little bow. His fingers lingered, trailing gently along Katsuki's outstretched hand.
"Are you surprised to see me?" the barbarian asked, voice teasing and warm. Izuku didn't answer. "I told you I would take care of it, you idiot."
"Yeah," he breathed. "Kacchan's amazing after all."
A slow smile stretched over the Alpha's face, revealing sharp canines. They stared at each other for a moment, before the barbarian spoke again.
"Ain't you gonna give me a good luck kiss?"
"You don't need luck to win."
"Fuck no I don't." His sharp claws curled at his side. Inko thought she heard the crackle of a flame. "I'm gonna blow all these sorry fucks to pieces. But you could at least humor me."
Before Inko could say anything, Izuku leant in and placed a quick kiss at the corner of his mouth.
Scandalized gasps rose from the crowd amidst a few shouts of "he's not yours yet!"
"Izuku!" she hissed. "What are you doing?"
She had never seen him act so bold, or so shameless! While she didn't personally mind, she worried about what the tribe would say. If this one Alpha didn't win the trials, Izuku would be in a very uncomfortable position.
Izuku blushed bright red and ducked his head to hide his flaming cheeks.
Katsuki, meanwhile, looked delighted.
The crowd of Alphas in the fighting ring less so. A few growls and snarls rose in the clearing, directed at the barbarian who had dirtied their prize.
His eyebrow twitched as the smile slowly slipped from his face, replaced by murderous rage. He whipped around and a mighty roar ripped from his throat, momentarily silencing the group of angry Alphas.
"Listen up, assholes" he bellowed, "He's as good as mine! I'm gonna crush you all puny insects, I'll wipe the floor with your sorry hides!" He spread his arms, hands facing skywards and spitting dangerous sparks. "Because I'm the best!"
The Chief rose from his seat to silence the booing of competitors and spectators alike. Tensions were running high and it was time to let it all out.
"The first trial will begin," he announced. "All competitors regroup in the fighting area."
The warriors spread out across the fighting ring.
"You will now fight until only eight of you are left standing. Magic is not allowed, only weapons and brute strength. Leaving the demarcated fighting area is considered a loss."
"May the best warrior triumph."
The fight was violent, as they always are during such ceremonies.
Alphas are territorial at the best of times, but thrown together in a fight for a much desired prize, unnerved and spurred on by each other's aggressive pheromones? It was a terrifying and awe-inspiring sight.
Inko watched the fight unfold in the clearing. Amidst the chaos of clashing swords and shields, the howls of pain and rage and the rising musk of Alpha pheromones, her eyes found the savage figure of Katsuki Bakugou.
Tearing through his opponents at a brutal pace, he seemed more beast than man. His gleaming sword in one hand, already stained a deadly ruby colour in the warm afternoon sun, he had foregone a shield in favour of his steel-sharp claws.
One opponent down. A flash of his feral, delighted grin as he threw himself at the next. A pained yowl and another Alpha down. His face sprayed with blood that was not his, his wild eyes searched for the next target, claws flexing in anticipation.
Soon, the fighting was over.
With only eight Alphas left standing in the ring, the Chief announced a break to treat the wounded.
Unsurprisingly, Izuku's barbarian was among the winners of the first round of fights, unscathed and showing little signs of fatigue.
Her nose still tingling from the sickening iron smell of bloodshed, Inko turned to her son.
He was still vibrating with excitement and second-hand adrenaline.
"Did you see that? He's really strong, isn't he?" he said to no one in particular.
The Omega priestess sighed in delight.
"See, Izuku? I told you the gods would influence the trials -- he clearly has their favour. Aren't you happy you were able to give him your token?"
He nodded vigorously, for once agreeing with the priestess where he would usually roll his eyes or smile with barely hidden derision.
"And he kept glancing your way throughout the battle, it's really cute!" the priestess continued to gush.
She was a traditionalist at heart, Inko knew. Clearly, the barbarian's attitude problem didn't bother the priestess, but it made Inko uneasy. If he won the trials, she would be handing her only child over to this man. She needed reassurance that he was more than the embodiment of Alpha violence and entitlement. She had not seen that yet.
Lost in her thoughts as she was, she didn't notice the subject of her worries approaching the dais once again until she caught his scent on the wind.
He had a surprisingly sweet scent for an Alpha -- maybe that's why she didn't notice him sooner.
The draconic woman was by his side, shifting on her feet excitedly, her black and gold eyes trained on Izuku in curious wonder.
It occurred to Inko that she was appraising him as a new packmate ; eager to get to know him, and absolutely certain that he would be theirs by sunset.
The Alpha, Katsuki, addressed her.
"Midoriya-san, would you allow me to speak with Izuku in private?"
Izuku and Yū had gone quiet beside her. Izuku looked at her with pleading eyes. The priestess broke the silence.
"It's not very appropriate for an unbonded Omega to be alone with an Alpha, can't it wait until after the ceremony?"
Izuku's face did a funny thing, a small amused smile tugging at his lips despite his anxious expression.
The barbarian's frown deepened under Inko's disapproving stare.
"Look, I understand your concerns," he said, trying and failing to to keep the scowl off his face. His fiery gaze switched between her and Izuku. "That's why Mina will be staying with us. She's a bonded Omega, she can act as a chaperon."
The woman pointed to the Omega sigil tattooed on her shoulder as she bared her sharp dragon teeth encouragingly. "I'm a strong warrior ma'am, I won't let him do or say anything untoward."
"Please, mom," Izuku pleaded. "I trust him."
But I don't, she wanted to say.
And you've given me nothing to work with. How should I trust him if you've never said a word about him until today? When all I've seen is his arrogance and his bloodlust?
Her silence was getting too long, she realized as the others started exchanging looks and the atmosphere grew tense.
"Alright," she said. "But I want him back here by the next mark." She gestured to the time-measuring candle burning in front of the Chief.
Relief washed over the Alpha's features, his insufferable smirk slipping back in place now that he had gotten his way.
She jabbed a finger in his direction.
"And I want you to swear in front of the priestess that you'll renounce your place in the trials if you don't keep your word."
"Hah?!" he squawked, indignant.
Inko could see him struggle to remain calm, grinding his teeth and clenching his fists tight to smother involuntary sparks.
"C'mon Kacchan," Izuku intervened. "She's just worried. We'll just hurry up and come back."
Inko watched the barbarian's features soften as he listened to Izuku.
"We'll have all the time to catch up after you win the trials, right?," her son added.
The Alpha huffed as the tension left his body.
"Okay," he relented, side-eyeing the burning candle. "I swear on my rights to the trial that I'll bring him back by the next mark, and that we'll stay under the watch of our chaperone at all times."
The priestess nodded her head in acknowledgment.
Izuku was on his feet before Katsuki had even finished talking, the jewels and bangles around his ankles clinking together as he hurried off the dais to join two the two nomads.
He looked like he wanted to hug the Alpha now that they were standing so close together, but he had the mind to restrain himself after the scene he had caused earlier.
The draconic woman stepped in between them, catching each of their wrists and dragging them off.
"Come on boys, we don't have much time! Let's get moving."
Inko watched Izuku steer them towards the tent he shared with her, and the three of them stepped in for privacy. She waited a few seconds before getting up as well.
She walked through camp, pretending to check how preparations for the feast were going.
The Betas and Omegas who were not interested in the fights had gathered in between the tents to prepare the game brought back by the hunting party.
Inko watched them cut the meat, dip it in oil and herbs for flavor and exchanged a few words with them.
She commented on the nice skins made to dry, and how it would make great tent flooring for Winter.
All the while, she sneaked glances at the tent entrance. The Omega woman had poked her head out a few times, scanning the surroundings as if checking that nobody was close enough to hear what went on inside.
Inko bit down on her lips anxiously, worry bubbling in her stomach.
When the woman went back in, Inko took the opportunity to loop around and approach from behind.
The thick canvas was enough to keep scents in, but she had sharp ears. She leant closer, and focused.
"... -at if they find out? They could invalidate your claim if they learn the truth!"
Her son's voice. She didn't have to strain her ear too much to catch that. His voice was loud and high with stress.
"What would we do then?" She could hear the tremble in his voice.
"Depends on their reaction, I guess." Was the gruff response from the barbarian.
"But there's one thing I know for sure." Shuffling. A low rumbling growl. "You're mine and I'll kill anyone who tries to get in our way."
"Hey!" The woman's voice. "Hands off loverboy, what am I gonna tell his mother if he comes back with your scent all over him?!"
"Fuck you, Pinky!"
"And why are you so fucking scared about that shit anyway? I told you not to worry about it, that I'd handle it."
"Stop it with your buts and your what-ifs! Why are you so afraid of people's reaction?" A deep growl. "Fuck people! Since when do you even care about their shitty opinions!?"
Furious pacing. Footsteps coming closer to the back of the tent and then away.
"What is it then, don't you trust me?" A pause. "Are you ashamed of me or something?!"
She strained her ear.
Quiet sniffles. A half stifled whimper.
"Seriously, Bakugou?" The woman, reproachful.
"Hey..." The barbarian's voice had considerably softened. "Look at me, I'm sorry okay? I'm sorry I yelled. I-" Hesitation. "All these alpha pheromones are just fucking driving me crazy. I shouldn't have taken it out on you."
"No, I'm sorry too... I-I shouldn't have made you feel like I was doubting you or l-like I was a-ashamed of you. I'm not! I could never!" A deep, shuddering breath. "You're amazing, Kacchan! You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Then, a whisper she could barely hear.
"I admire you so much, sometimes it hurts."
For a moment she couldn't hear anything. Her hands started to fiddle on the knotted threads lining her shawl, spinning them anxiously around her fingers in the same pattern as the unease twisting her gut.
They were hiding something.
Something that could turn the whole tribe against them, something that could strip an Alpha of his claim.
She could think of few acts heinous enough to warrant such a drastic punishment. The thought alone made a cold sweat break out on her back. She pulled her shawl tighter around her body, trying to fight back the shivers travelling down her spine.
She could feel herself slipping.
Her son's voice snapped her back to the present, small and meek through the canvas, but still audible in her frazzled, hyperaware state.
"I think I'm just worried about mom's reaction..."
"Yeah we noticed that you didn't tell her." The woman spoke. "It was pretty weird to have this kind of suspicion thrown at our resident Lord Explosion Murder. He was completely thrown off."
"Why didn't you tell her?"
"I think I was afraid she wouldn't support my choice if she knew... Still am, to be honest."
Inko swallowed. Her throat felt very tight. Her baby, her only son, was hiding something from her.
Because he didn't trust her.
Because he didn't trust her to trust him.
Even now, here she was. Doubting his choice of Alpha, spying on his conversation.
But she was just worried. He was all she had. The only family she had left. Her only child, her pride and joy. The new, bright life she had created with Hisashi.
And he would be taken away from her, by this man, who must have committed such a heinous crime that the tribe would turn on him if they knew of it.
Maybe she was wrong for doubting her son's choice. Maybe it wasn't her place to meddle in his future. But she would not have been forced into this position if only he had spoken to her. If only he had told her the truth.
She wanted him to be safe.
Izuku spoke again.
"I know she's just trying to protect me, but she puts a lot of importance in what the tribe may think..."
"She loves you, right? From what you've told me you two are really close. She'll put your happiness above the tribe's shitty opinion."
"Time's almost up. Let's go Izuku, or Grumpyface can't compete and we'll have to kidnap you instead!" The woman cut in cheerfully.
She knew it had to be a joke but the words still made Inko freeze and her breath hitch.
Now that these barbarians had latched onto him, would she even be able to protect him? Was she doomed to watch, powerless, as her son was taken from her?
If this kept up, she worried they might soon be able to sense her distress pheromones.
The woman spoke again, sounding strangely sheepish, especially for a dragon:
"But, uh... please try not to look like you've been crying, honey. I don't want your mom to wring my neck."
They left, the sound of Izuku's bracelets clicking against each other receded into the distance until it was drowned into the bustling of camp.
She stayed there, eyes lost into nothingness, a tight ball of anxiety and guilt growing into her chest, crushing her lungs.
She took some time to breathe in and out, deeply. To put herself back together.
She made her way back to the dais, where Izuku was already waiting. He looked startled when she sat next to him.
"Where were you?" he asked her.
"I was checking the preparations for the feast," she lied.
He seemed convinced enough.
She noticed the faint burnt honey scent clinging to him. That Alpha's. No one else must have paid attention because it smelled sweet like Omega, but she knew.
"Kacchan and Mina brought me back on time. You can ask Yū."
"I knew they would." Another lie. Maybe, deep down, she was hoping they wouldn't.
The look on his face hurt to watch.
His eyes were still red-rimmed, although she could have overlooked it if she didn't know he'd been crying. And he seemed so... hopeful.
He just wanted his mother to approve of his choice of Alpha.
She looked at him with the knowledge that he'd been hiding something from her for a long time. That he didn't trust her enough to tell her what was weighing on his heart.
She blinked back involuntary tears, and brought a hand in front of her mouth to stave off the sudden, rising nausea. She felt like an awful mother.
She knew it must be her fault for not supporting him enough. For being more worried about the tribe's opinion than his dreams, but she had her reasons.
An Omega without a place in the tribe was a dead Omega. She didn't want him to be ostracized for his difference.
How long would they tolerate such a headstrong Omega running around, defying Alphas left and right?
What would happen to him if no Alpha claimed him?
These thoughts had plagued her night and day in the months leading to Izuku's coming of age ceremony.
She remembered with vivid clarity the stories her own mother used to tell her when she was little, to frighten her into being a good Omega.
About banishment, about surviving alone in the wild, about Omega slavers and breeding caravans. About death or a worser fate.
She was just trying to protect him, but in the end, she failed him.
In truth, she was afraid to part from him, to no longer be able to protect her child. To leave him in the care of a stranger who would have absolute, gods-given power over him.
What would happen if he was claimed by a bad Alpha?
She'd been so hopeful, so excited when he told her about this secret lover from the Fire-Blood tribe. She didn't know much about their culture other than their migration patterns and dragon ancestry, but she knew that their Omegas had much more freedom and agency than in her birth-tribe.
When Izuku spoke of this Alpha he liked, she imagined someone kind and sweet. A reasonable, level-headed Alpha, who would treat Izuku like an equal, or at least hold him in a higher regard than any Alpha here ever would. Someone that wouldn't look down on him because his ambition didn't fit his Omega nature.
Seeing Katsuki Bakugou for the first time had been like a slap to the face. He was nothing like what she had imagined -- brash and rude, quick to anger and animalistically violent. He embodied all the worst Alpha traits crammed in a compact, bloodthirsty package.
But Izuku had chosen him, didn't he? Here's an Alpha that will claim him. Here's an Alpha that Izuku trusts. Isn't that enough? Isn't that exactly what she wanted?
Izuku kept glancing at her worriedly, sensing her distress. She extended her hand towards him and he laced his fingers with hers.
If they shared so heavy a secret and Izuku still trusted this man, then she ought to trust him too. Her boy was smart, and he would fight tooth and nails for the future he wished for.
"You know that I love you, right?"
He looked confused at first, but soon a blinding smile took over his face.
"Of course. I love you too, mom!"
It didn't matter if Katsuki Bakugou didn't match the idea she had in her head of what would make Izuku happy. What mattered is that he did make him happy.
She squeezed her son's hand and he squeezed back.
It didn't make any sense, but she would accept it, because Izuku deserved her trust.
The eight Alphas who emerged victorious in the first round gathered in front of the dais among the chatter of Izuku's tribemates.
Their attention was split between the Chief and Izuku, who was back to sitting prettily next to the Omega priestess and his mother.
At the sight of these fuckers ogling his Deku and drooling all over themselves, Katsuki felt a low growl start to rumble deep in his chest.
The stupid Alpha standing next to him started to growl in response. Katsuki whirled on him and snapped his teeth, a shower of sparks fizzling off his hands. Weak ass loser scooted away from him with his tail between his legs.
Fuckers sure knew how to put a damn frown back on his face.
Looking back to the dais, Katsuki was relieved to see that his mother-in-law had stopped glaring daggers at him.
He exchanged a glance with Izuku, who smiled warmly at him. It made his chest feel very light and warm. He bared his sharp teeth back in a winner's smile.
Frankly, Katsuki could have done without the emotional drama back there, but he was glad they were on the same page now.
He'd never felt ashamed before. He was proud of who he was, and he would blast anyone's teeth in for implying he was less because of it.
This is what had brought the two of them so close together. This fighting spirit. This burning determination. Despite being beaten down again and again, Izuku never gave up.
They stoked each other's fire, and together they would burn hotter and brighter than the sun.
Katsuki had been a fool to think Izuku could have gotten cold feet about this. That he could have been ashamed of him.
They were meant for each other, after all.
Katsuki was lucky enough to have his tribe and his parent's support in everything. Izuku did not have that, and still, he got back up and kept fighting.
And Katsuki would watch his back while he pulled himself up.
The Chief rose and addressed the crowd.
"Congratulations to the eight winners of the first round! You have all demonstrated your strength and adaptability in fighting several opponents!"
The crowd cheered, still buzzing with the excitement of the first round of fights, and eager for the next.
"For this second round, you will fight one on one until only one Alpha is left standing," the old man declared. "Magic and enhanced weapons will be allowed. Give us a good show, and may the best Alpha win!"
The crowd roared in delight at the promise of bloodshed and a show of magic.
The first match opposed two of Izuku's tribemates. They puffed up and circled each other, snarling and growling in a cheap ass intimidation tactic. Overall decently built Alphas, twice as bulky as Katsuki, but without a single damn drop of magic or ingenuity in them.
They were but pebbles on his road to claiming Izuku as his.
Katsuki sat to the side with his bunch of idiots to watch the first match. Mina was hanging off his shoulder like a bloodsucking leech and Eijirou had his other arm in a vice grip.
The other two chucklefucks kept a running commentary that was at least mildly entertaining and made the whole boring ordeal more bearable.
Katsuki's eyes kept straying from the fight to land on Izuku, who always managed to catch his gaze and smile back discreetly.
Fucking nerd looked very pretty today.
Katsuki let his eyes roam over his figure, from his wild hair, adorned with small braids and shiny beads, to his wide hips and strong thighs. Katsuki just wanted to burrow into his arms and smell the rain and mint on his skin. To kiss his face and hear his heart beating against his own. And to wring the neck of every damn Alpha fucker who dared look in his direction!
The next match was another of Izuku's tribemates against a female Alpha from the eastern steppes. She was relentless and honestly a bit creepy. She had to be pulled away from her opponent before she could gore him into a sad little puddle of entrails.
Katsuki shot up and practically hurled himself into the ring when his turn came to fight. He was up against another one of Izuku's shitty tribemates.
No wonder they couldn't handle a strong Omega like Deku if all their Alphas were pathetic little bitches.
Katsuki took to prowling back and forth around the makeshift arena until the opposing Alpha gathered the guts to step in and face him.
An Alpha easily twice his size showed up, forcing him to reluctantly tear his eyes away from where they had once again found Izuku's.
The man cracked his knuckles and drew to his full height, towering over Katsuki as if that would intimidate him.
A nasty grin pulled at the Alpha's lips.
"Always looking at him, huh? So you're the kind of Alpha he likes? Kinda disappointing."
He rolled his eyes as a loud, threatening growl ripped out of Katsuki.
"I'm just here to discipline him, y'know. I hate unruly Omegas, they deserve to be put back in their place."
He crowded into Katsuki's space, and leant down to whisper in his ear.
"I'll fuck this bitch into submission and then I'll lend him to the others. Let's see if he can still defy us Alphas after that. If you like him so much, maybe I'll sell him to you once he's been well use-"
Katsuki was at his throat before he could even finish.
That man was a fucking beast!
Mizuno had not expected much competition when he decided to try his luck at Midoriya's coming of age trials.
Midoriya was not a typical Omega and Mizuno had thought his unruly nature and plain looks wouldn't attract many competitors.
And how wrong he was!
Sure, there weren't as many competitors as other, more submissive Omegas would usually attract, but damn if the competition wasn't terrifying!
The current fight opposed one of the foreigners to the strongest Alpha in their tribe.
Mizuno was supposed to face the winner in the next round. He did not look forward to that, but he would still try. An Omega was an Omega after all.
At least this fight should be entertaining.
The foreign Alpha came from the Fire-Blood tribe, and if that wasn't scary enough, he'd fought like an animal in the first round. But you know, the smart and nasty magical kind. Like dragons.
Fuck, aren't these guys descended from dragons? His eyes flitted towards the other Fire-Bloods, sitting by the side of the ring, cheering their leader on. They did look the part.
Mizuno heard a scream of pain and his attention snapped back into the fight. He watched in muted horror as the newcomer sank his sharp teeth into the jugular of the strongest Alpha of their tribe, ready to tear his throat out.
His manic grin and cruel laugh as he was pulled off still resonated in Mizuno's ears.
His barely restrained magic sent sparks flying from his hands, lighting small patches of grass on fire.
He was completely off his rocker, snarling and snapping his teeth, ready to slaughter someone on the spot.
That man was a dangerous animal
The worst though, was that when he was forced back from his defeated opponent, the crazy Alpha's eyes landed on Midoriya.
That deranged Omega was leaning forward on the dais, watching the scene with awe and affection in his sparkling eyes, smiling sweetly at his favoured Alpha.
Mizuno will never forget the way the murderous Alpha's face softened instantly, his lips pulling back into a loving, but bloody smile.
Mizuno wanted absolutely no part in this.
He was too young to die.
He got up to tell the Chief's right hand that he was withdrawing from the competition.
That freak Omega Midoriya wasn't worth it.
The next fight was intense enough to help Katsuki calm down some.
The two Alphas were magically gifted. One of them wielded fire and ice, while the other could summon strong winds.
The spectators understood early into the fights that they should relocate farther from the edge of the ring to avoid disaster.
Soon after the beginning of the match, a Beta woman approached him with a jug of water.
She stumbled over her words and refused to meet his eyes, so Mina handled that interaction.
He huffed in annoyance. It's not like he was gonna rip her head off for talking to him, but he guessed she probably wouldn't feel that way if there wasn't a literal fountain's worth of blood drying from his mouth and down the slope of his neck.
Mina handed him the jug to rinse the blood off his mouth.
"Your mother-in-law sent her, apparently," she said as he handed the jug back to her.
"She probably doesn't want you to kiss her son with a bloody mouth!" She laughed.
He hummed as he sloshed the water around in his mouth. When he spat it back out, the taste of blood had almost washed off completely.
He looked at the dais, and saw Deku's mother looking at him. She inclined her head in his direction before turning her attention back on the current fight.
"That's good, man!" Kaminari exclaimed. "She must be starting to like you!"
"Yeah, maybe it'll help her take the news," Sero added. "Well, if you do decide to let the truth out, that is."
A slow grin crossed his face.
"Of course I'll show them. I'll let everyone know! I'll make Deku mine and then I'll show them all why they should be afraid of us."
Kirishima clapped him on the back.
"You go, Bakubro! Your mating ceremony is going to be so manly!"
"Yes but first, let me wipe away that nasty Alpha blood," Mina interjected, sliding in front of Katsuki to wipe at his chin with a wet cloth.
Katsuki had half a mind to slap her hand away and do it himself, but he knew that her heat was close and that she needed to baby someone a little.
He could understand that, so he let her.
The fire and ice bastard won the match, but both Alphas looked wrecked, and so did the clearing.
Katsuki was hardly surprised when the last contender from Izuku's tribe withdrew from the competition.
To be fair, he really did a number on his last opponent, hah! Asshole would bear the scars for the rest of his life. And Katsuki could not wait to add insult to the already nasty injury.
That said, Katsuki sure as hell did not expect the half-and-half bastard to just fucking forfeit.
"What the hell?!" he barked, feeling insulted.
Icy-Hot was the strongest Alpha in the lot. How was Katsuki supposed to prove he was worthy of Izuku if the only respectable opponent withdrew without a fight?!
The stone-faced bastard turned towards Izuku, ignoring Katsuki's outburst.
"It is clear to me that Katsuki Bakugou has your favour. I do not think it is my place to challenge your choice, so I humbly withdraw from the trials."
The Alpha inclined his head in respect to a floundering Izuku.
"It was an honor to fight in these trials, I wish happiness to the both of you."
Izuku was blushing furiously, unused to dealing with an Alpha who actually respected his wishes -- without prompting, even!
The rest of the tribe looked equally befuddled.
When Izuku finally recovered enough to answer, his face was beet-red and he smiled brightly at the forfeiting Alpha.
"Thank you, Todoroki-kun. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this, but know that you have my gratitude. I wish you all the best in the future."
They nodded at each other as if they were old friends who could share a thousand thoughts with a handful of words, and Katsuki felt burning, irrational jealousy surge through him.
Before he could work himself up into a rage, the final match was announced by the tired-looking Chief.
Katsuki only had to defeat this bitch and Deku would finally be his.
They stood in the ring, waiting for the Chief to signal the start of the match, appraising each other.
Katsuki stared at her coldly. She too was drenched in blood that he was not her own.
Despite what he said about Icy-Hot being the only viable competition here, he'd best not underestimate her either.
She had almost eviscerated a man after all, and he was well versed in the consequences of underestimating an opponent.
The signal had barely passed the Chief's lips and she was already shooting towards him. He threw an arm up and blasted her away, ignoring the panicked screams of the crowd.
If she weren't so agile, the shockwave would have blasted her clean off the ring and sent her flying until she slammed into one of the trees lining the clearing.
As it was, she managed to sink her razor sharp claws into the ground to absorb the shock, scarring the earth over half the length of the ring.
She pushed herself up, flushed and grinning, and threw herself back at him.
He braced himself to withstand the recoil and raised one arm. Another explosion burst forth from his palm.
She ducked and kept low to the ground, slipping under his outstretched arm and right through his guard.
Or so she thought.
She pulled her arm back to strike.
A shriek. She jumped back, deep bloody gouges carved into her face.
He grinned at her, waving his other hand mockingly, his sharp dragon claws dripping red.
She growled in frustration, a murderous glint in her eyes.
The crowd cheered as Katsuki got up, his opponent lying prone one the ground, still glaring murder at him.
The fight had been more intense than he expected, which was rather pleasing.
It had taken bashing her head into the ground a few times and threatening to blast her skull into mush before she finally gave up.
Katsuki wiped the sweat away from his forehead.
She had given him a few scrapes but nothing too major. At least he got to show off while fighting her, she was a worthy opponent after all.
Satisfied with this fight, he felt in a generous mood, so he extended his arm to help her up.
She batted his hand away with a hiss and made a point of getting up on her own before scampering off to lick both her physical and proverbial wounds.
The crowd was chanting his name and he reveled in it.
The Chief rose from his seat, his palms facing the sky.
"The strongest Alpha has emerged victorious!" He exclaimed to be heard over the din.
Katsuki had proven his worth as Izuku's mate.
Izuku watched as his tribemates cheered at Katsuki's victory. The crowd of spectators was still riding high on the excitement of the fight, chanting Katsuki's name, whistling and clapping each other's backs in rowdy celebration.
Izuku was quivering with excitement. Kacchan had won! Of course he had! He was always victorious.
They could finally be together, for real.
Izuku's mother squeezed his hand and he turned his attention to her.
She smiled, and it seemed genuine. Her face was relaxed and her eyes crinkled at the corners.
"Congratulations, Izuku!" She said, her voice thick with emotion. "Oh I'm so happy for you!"
She drew him into a hug and he felt tears start to build in his eyes. Warmth spread all over, he felt full of hope and joy.
She held him so tight that he could barely breathe.
"I'm sorry if I made you feel like you couldn't speak the truth to me" she whispered into his hair, her warm breath tickling his ear.
Does she know?
"I love you more than anything Izuku. If you are happy with this man, then I am happy as well."
She kissed the top of his head, rocking him slightly, like she used to when he was a child.
"Your happiness is my only concern. I trust your choice."
That was all he needed to hear from her. He let out the breath he was holding, finally relaxing in her embrace.
"Thank you, mom."
The Omega priestess let them have their quiet moment, sitting silently beside them until they separated, both tearful and so, so happy.
The priestess herself looked giddy and impatient.
Izuku knew what she must be thinking -- How romantic it was, to have your chosen Alpha win the trials. How poetic. How it must be the work of fate.
He hoped she wouldn't change her mind.
She stood and held her hand out to help him up. He took it and she led him down the dais and into the ring, where Katsuki was waiting.
When his feet touched the grass, he launched himself at Katsuki, swift as an arrow and unable to contain the nervous, joyous energy buzzing underneath his skin.
Katsuki caught him and lifted him up easily, spinning them both around and making Izuku laugh in gleeful delight.
When Kacchan put him down, Izuku's head was swimming. He felt dizzy, high on this feeling of love and wonder, and pure unadulterated joy. He smiled wide and couldn't help it, his cheeks hurt with it but was unable to stop.
The look on Katsuki's face was startling, Izuku had never seen him in such an emotional state. His grin was still sharp and confident but a little wobbly with restrained emotion, and his ruby red eyes shone bright underneath a thin layer of unshed tears.
Izuku burst into tears.
"Oi nerd, don't cry!"
"Sorry, Kacchan! I-Im just so happy!"
Katsuki grabbed Izuku by the hips to pull him closer. His hands felt pleasantly warm through the silks, still burning with the power of his explosive magic.
Katsuki leant in to kiss his face. Tracing his freckles with his thumbs, wiping the tears away. Katsuki trailed soft kisses along his cheeks, on his nose, and pushed away locks of his wild hair to end his journey with one last kiss to Izuku's forehead.
Izuku laughed and squirmed under his attention.
He let his hands trail up Kacchan's strong arms, idly tracing the tribal markings before slipping his arms around Kacchan, drawing himself closer still. He rested his head against Kacchan's heart. Enveloped in the comforting scent of burnt honey, he felt safe.
He felt Kacchan rest his chin on his head, returning the embrace, a pleased rumble radiating from deep within his throat. Izuku closed his eyes and let the soothing vibrations wash over him.
The priestess cleared her throat and they reluctantly broke apart, still connected by their hands clasping each other tightly.
"The gods have spoken and their champion stands victorious," she announced to the tribe at large, her voice carrying loud and clear.
A hush fell over the crowd. The ceremony had begun.
She turned to Katsuki, her face serious despite the small smile curling her lips.
"Bakugou Katsuki of the Fire-Blood Nomads, you have shown your strength and your determination in the trials. You have proven yourself worthy in the eyes of our gods and tribe."
Izuku's tribemates roared and cheered.
"Do you swear, Bakugou Katsuki," the priestess continued, "to protect this Omega with your life, to provide for him and for your children, and to remain by his side so long as life courses in your veins?"
"I do," he said. His eyes found Izuku's, and he squeezed his fingers tightly in his callused hands.
Izuku squeezed back in encouragement, sensing that there was more Kacchan wished to say.
Kacchan leant closer, his warm breath ghosting over Izuku's cheek.
"I swear to you and to the gods above," he whispered into Izuku's ear, "that I will encourage you to follow your dreams, that I will protect you but not coddle you, and that I will stand by your side till death wrenches me away from you."
Izuku found himself fighting back tears once again, a warm feeling blooming in his chest, boisterous and free.
The voice of the priestess rang, startling him from the intimate bubble they had once again created for themselves. He looked at her and she smiled.
"Do you submit to this Alpha's claim?"
Izuku closed his eyes and did what was expected of him.
Growing up, he never thought he would ever do so willingly.
Izuku titled his head, offering his bare neck to Kacchan.
Their eyes met and Izuku offered him a reassuring smile.
To anyone else, Kacchan was exuding easy confidence but Izuku could see he was a bit nervous, just hiding it well under his tough exterior.
Kacchan stepped forward, drawing Izuku into a loving embrace. His nose tickled Izuku's jaw before he moved down, his mouth tracing the fragile curve of his neck.
Izuku shivered in anticipation, his pulse quickening.
Kacchan's fangs hovered over his skin, feather-light. He had stopped at the junction of his neck, awaiting permission to bite.
Izuku thought his careful hesitance was quite endearing, seeing as Kacchan had almost torn an Alpha's throat out, just this afternoon.
Izuku brought one hand up, cradling the back of Kacchan's head, his fingers buried in soft blond spikes.
"Go on, Kacchan," he said into his ear. "Make me yours."
Kacchan sank his sharp fangs in, and pain sparked up, radiating from the punctures in sharp bolts. Izuku whimpered and a soothing purr started in Kacchan's throat in response.
Soon, the pain morphed to pleasure as the claiming venom entered Izuku's system, binding him forever to his mate.
Kacchan's fangs slipped out and he licked the wound tenderly, preventing the beading blood from spilling over. The healing properties of his saliva would help the wound close faster.
He drew back, eventually, when he was sufficiently satisfied by the state of Izuku's neck.
They stared each other in the eyes, feeling giddy and empowered by their new bond. it was thrumming in the air between them, under their skin and within their bones.
Kacchan landed a quick kiss on Izuku's waiting lips, a predatory smile curling his lips.
"Together we will achieve greatness."
Izuku's tribemates had started playing music in celebration of the new mated pair. The steady beat of drums and the graceful melody of wooden flutes slowly rose from the edges of the ring, among the excited calls and whistles from rowdy Alphas and Betas.
Inko watched the ceremony unfold with teary eyes, trying to reign in her emotions.
Her baby was claimed by a strong warrior, and the soft looks they kept giving each other warmed her heart.
She had been afraid Katsuki would be a brute, but she could now see how wrong she was. He was so gentle and caring, she felt reassured in her decision to trust Izuku.
The priestess stepped forward, a bowl of paint in hand, to complete the ceremony.
She had them both lean down to draw the mark of the Mated on their forehead.
She clasped her hands in front of her chest and closed her eyes, reciting a binding incantation in the language of Old.
"The gods are pleased by this union!" she declared as she opened her eyes.
The tribe erupted in cheers.
"Priestess," Kacchan called. "My people's mating practices are very different from yours, so there are some things I would like to clarify."
"Of course," she nodded eagerly. "You may ask me anything."
"You say the gods are pleased with our bond. How do you know?"
"They let you win the trials, because they thought you would be the perfect match for Izuku," she explained. "The trials are the tribe's way of knowing who the gods favour."
"So what you're saying is that the gods chose me as Izuku's mate, and that our bond will be recognized by the tribe no matter what happens?"
"Yes! Nothing can undo this blessed bond. Not years, not distance, not even death."
"Alright, thank you."
He undid the golden clasp holding his cape with one hand, the other still resting on Izuku's hip.
The heavy fabric fell to the ground, pooling at his feet like a puddle of blood.
At first, Inko didn't notice anything amiss.
She heard the gasps first, then the eerie, deafening silence falling shroud-like over the crowd, voices and music snuffed out like weak candles in the storm.
She saw the stunned faces, the frozen smiles, the confusion.
Her gaze went back to the newly mated pair, standing in the middle of the ring.
Inko brought her hand in front of her mouth, stifling a shocked gasp of her own.
She had thought Katsuki wasn't the kind of Alpha Izuku would have been attracted to.
She understood now.
On his back, tattooed in bold black ink, was the symbol of Omega.
This was... unheard of. Impossible. Completely insane!
An Omega, defeating Alpha after Alpha in combat, to win the right to claim another Omega?
An Omega, making his opponents cower by his intimidating presence and fighting prowess?
An Omega so fierce he would be mistaken as an Alpha despite the evidence?
The barbarians began to cheer boisterously from the sidelines and slowly, tentatively, her tribemates joined in again.
Their gods had blessed this union after all.
Could this be a message from above?
After all these years of struggle, Izuku's worldviews were finally given the merit they deserved.
That an Omega was capable of so much more than they were allowed to be. That he could achieve his dreams, despite his nature.
Soon, the celebration was back in full swing, despite a few Alphas glaring dagger at Katsuki and her son.
Thankfully they were in the minority, and contesting the will of the gods would be ground for harsh punishment.
She exchanged a look with the Chief, who nodded to her.
He would support this -- whether because of his pious nature or his friendship with her late husband, she did not know.
What mattered was that they had his support.
No one would dare defy their bond.
Not that the boys would let anyone get between them. Clearly, Katsuki would sooner kill than let her son go.
He had already shown he was willing to maim for him.
And it seemed to her that Izuku would go to great lengths to remain by his side, too.
It felt reassuring, in a way.
She found them after the ceremony.
It was dark but the chorus of cicadas could still be heard around the edges of the clearing. People were singing and dancing around the bonfire, the celebration still going wild.
They were tucked away in the curves of a giant oak's roots, conversing quietly, whispering in each other's ears.
They quieted when they noticed her approach. Izuku smiled, radiating happiness. Katsuki was a bit more reserved, probably still wary after their last interaction.
He shot to his feet, to greet her perhaps. She didn't wait for him to speak.
She hugged him.
He startled, almost flinched, as she put her arms around him. After a short moment, he relaxed and returned the embrace.
She didn't see them exchange a smile over her shoulder, but she could imagine it.
"Take good care of my son, Katsuki."
"I know," she said. And this time she wasn't lying.