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Dare Seize the Fire

Chapter Text

“You could have asked more questions.”

“Yes, that would have been so wonderful and easy to do when the Dursleys had taught me not to ask them.”

“But no one was telling you that you couldn’t ask them once you came to the wizarding world—”

“Oh, no. Just not volunteering things about my parents, even things that they would probably have known I wanted to know. Or keeping secrets because they hated my father. Or telling me cryptic shit because they couldn’t bear to tell me about the prophecy and the Horcruxes before I was fifteen. Or—”

“All right, all right, I take your point.”

“Good. Because consider the ways I can actually make it in your skin now.”

*

Harry sighs and touches the back of his neck, rubbing slowly. It seems to feel good and cool when he touches himself there, which is a relief. Otherwise, the burning sensation of a low-grade fever moves under his skin everywhere.

Of course it does. Only a few days after September 1st, into the new term that’s meant to replace their lost seventh year, and Harry’s sick. He would be, he supposes, in the one time that was meant to be relatively stress-free, compared to the summer of funerals and trials and rebuilding the school.

“Are you all right, Harry?”

Harry gives Hermione a tired smile. They’re in Slughorn’s class, surrounded by bubbling cauldrons and green smoke and purple fumes. The potion they’re making isn’t a complicated one, at least not according to Hermione. Harry supposes he should be concentrating more, but the heat under his skin is a constant, niggling distraction.

“I’m fine,” he responds, and tosses a handful of powdered leaves into his cauldron. He’s lost track of what plant they’re from or what potion he and Hermione are supposed to be brewing right now. The important thing, he thinks, while his jaws part around a yawn, is that the instructions said he was supposed to toss them in right then.

“I think you ought to go to Madam Pomfrey.”

Harry shrugs. “There’re no symptoms.” He doesn’t even feel as if he has a fever, when he thinks about it closely. Not the serious kinds of fevers he had and could ignore at the Dursleys. Then he got chills and his head ached and he knew he was sick because there was a flush in his face, which always got hotter than anywhere else. This time, his face is the same temperature as his feet and his arms and the back of his neck.

“Hmmm.”

That means Hermione will be looking things up and foisting books on him before too long. Harry honestly doesn’t mind that much. He shivers, yawns again, and blinks his eyes at the cauldron in front of him. He might worry about ruining it, but when he and Hermione are partners, she always does everything right.

“Malfoy’s staring at you again.”

“How nice for him,” Harry mutters absent-mindedly. Really, he doesn’t see why Hermione has to keep bringing it up. Harry made a private vow that he was going to stay away from Malfoy this year, not stalk him or worry about him, and Hermione nodded when he told her that. But now when she mentions Malfoy all the time, she’s—what? Testing Harry’s commitment to his vow? It makes no sense.

Harry can, in fact, feel Malfoy’s eyes like nails being shot into his back. That only makes him all the more determined not to give the bastard the satisfaction. He didn’t say thanks when Harry returned his wand, only looked at him and made a little sniffling sound with his nose. He didn’t say thanks for Harry testifying for him and his parents, to ensure that Lucius is only under house arrest and he and Narcissa are free to do whatever they want. That’s when Harry decided Malfoy’s only got quieter since the war, not changed in any real way.

Hell, for all Harry knows Malfoy still hates him, and only refrains from attacking him in the corridors because it wouldn’t be politically expedient to attack the Boy-Who-Lived right now.

But the point is, Harry doesn’t know because he’s staying away from him. And he wishes Hermione would stop remarking on Malfoy’s every little move.

“All right there, Mr. Potter?”

Professor Slughorn stands over him with a jolly look on his face. He wasn’t pleased when Harry started demonstrating lesser skills in Potions this year without the Prince’s book, but he’s back to normal now. “Yes, Professor, thank you,” Harry says, and smiles at him, and waits until he moves away before he turns to Hermione’s nudge. “What?”

“Malfoy is coming over here.”

Which means Harry is going to get his resolve tested. He scowls into the cauldron and says, “Isn’t there anything that needs shredding? Or crushing?”

Hermione pushes over a cube of some kind of pink meat and a tiny silver hammer. Harry snorts and picks up the hammer to crush the cube. He vaguely wonders why the hammers weren’t part of their Potions kits before this year. Probably because it’s fun to smash the hammer into the table and Snape didn’t want them to have too much fun.

“Potter.”

Malfoy’s voice feels like nails scraping along the back of his neck, too, and the small coolness Harry has managed to put there flares up again into itchy heat. Harry closes his eyes and continues crushing the cube with his hammer. No need to turn around. Malfoy will give up and go away when he sees that Harry’s ignoring him. 

Potter.”

Now Malfoy is leaning down near him, and Harry can literally feel his breath on the back of his neck. He shoots Hermione a glance that asks for help, and she’s smart enough to read it. She rises to her feet with her hands on her hips in her best bossy manner. “Go away, Malfoy. Harry is busy with his potion.”

Malfoy ignores Hermione as if she’s the one he’s trying to pretend doesn’t exist. “Potter,” he says again, somewhere between a grumble and a sigh, which is a weird sound any way you try it, and places one hand on the back of Harry’s neck.

Harry gasps and hunches forwards. It’s as though the heat under his skin turned a corner and suddenly Harry saw it for the full, magnificent fire it really is. The itchy feeling is gone. Instead, the fire blossoms up into glowing, crawling color. Harry stares down at his arms. They’re turning red, flushed. There are actual white and blue lines pointing down to his fingers, as though there’s a fire blossoming under his skin in all truth.

“What is going on?” Harry asks, and he doesn’t care if his voice is high and shrill. After Voldemort’s death, he thought he was done with shit like this.

Harry! Oh no!”

Harry wheels towards Hermione, because in her voice is knowledge, and that’s what Harry needs more than anything right now. But Malfoy gives another grumble-sigh that turns into a roar, and leaps over the table to land between Harry and Hermione. Harry tries desperately to shove his way around Malfoy, even opening his mouth to yell, because fuck his ignoring Malfoy policy if this is what happens—

And then darkness is what happens, the heat swelling to unbearable proportions. The last things Harry sees before he passes out are a flash of fire, and Malfoy’s eyes, glowing with the reflection of that fire.

*

“You should have asked me right away when you woke up.”

“Why?”

“Because I was the one who had the answers you needed.”

“How was supposed to know that?”

“Anyone raised in our world would have—”

“Not raised in the wizarding world, remember? And no one ever told me about the effect a war has on alphas and omegas.”

Please let me kill them.”

“I don’t even know where the Dursleys are.”

“I could find them. All it would take would be sniffing your scent until my nostrils are full, and then looking all across England for echoes of that scent. Your aunt must smell the same, she’s got your blood in her veins—”

“Yeah, aside from the fact that I’m never going to let you do that, there’s the little problem that every time you get a nose full of my scent, you end up wanting to pin me to the bed.”

“…Point.”

*

Harry shifts slowly to the side. His arm hurts as though he’s broken it playing Quidditch again.

Skele-Gro? He thinks the words vaguely, drifting through what feels like a very hot sleep. Maybe he did have a fever after all. Maybe the manifestation of fire he had in Potions class is the first symptom of some rare wizarding disease. It wouldn’t be the first time something near-impossible has happened to him.

“Mr. Potter, can you hear me? Mr. Malfoy!”

That’s Madam Pomfrey’s voice, but the words she’s speaking and the snarl that follow them both make no sense. Harry moans a little in pain and opens his eyes, unwillingly letting the heat take him. Now it combines the worst aspects of both fevers, the itchy feeling from before and the real heat—including more blue and white lines under his skin—that happened after Malfoy touched him.

He’s lying on his side in a too-familiar hospital bed, and his arm is pinned beneath him. At least that means it isn’t broken. At least, Harry is fairly sure.

When he sees Malfoy standing hunched over in front of his bed, arms spread and raised as if he’s Goyle deciding to catch a broom, Harry thinks that might be the only good piece of news he’ll get.

Madam Pomfrey hovers over near the infirmary wall, holding a whole tray full of potions, her wand, and something that looks like a feather duster with a soft plume of fire blooming from it instead of feathers. She catches Harry’s eye and frowns.

“I must check Mr. Potter out, Mr. Malfoy. This is his first heat. The signs of fire are so advanced that he’ll probably need a full mating now.”

“Mating what?” Harry snaps. He’s already decided that he’s not interested in that kind of thing this year, and not just because the papers would immediately pounce on any rumors of him even dating someone. It’s as though the desire he had when he kissed Ginny died an ignominious death sometime this summer. That’s the main reason he never got back together with her.

“Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey says, and manages to catch his eye and smile reassuringly even as Malfoy’s growl climbs higher and higher. “You are a rare subspecies of wizard called an omega. That means you go into heat when you need to mate, among other things. Malfoy is a subspecies called an alpha. They’re meant to mate with and protect omegas.” She frowns at Malfoy then. “An omega’s first heat can be dangerous until the mating actually takes place. I’d like to examine you, but Malfoy seems to have chosen you and won’t move out of the way. Can you calm him down?”

Harry lies there staring for an instant, then starts to laugh hysterically.

Malfoy and Madam Pomfrey are both trying to talk to him, but honestly, Harry can’t listen. He just rolls over and holds his stomach and laughs on. Even the heat brewing under his skin doesn’t bother him as much as it did earlier.

Of course this would happen to him. Of course. He would end up as something rare, and only Malfoy would have the power to cure him or whatever, and he would end up with a partner who’s not of his choosing.

I should have started dating Ginny when I had the chance.

That thought calms the laughter, and Harry rolls over, wipes some of the foam off his mouth, and speaks as rationally as he can to Madam Pomfrey, ignoring Malfoy just like he’s been doing all year. “Why haven’t I heard of this before?”

Madam Pomfrey has taken the chance to ease nearer the bed, but she pauses when Malfoy whips around to her and growls. She answers, “Usually, in times of intense stress like warfare, omegas and alphas don’t show their innate traits until it’s over. I don’t really understand why, but there are lots of theories—that omegas and alphas inherently require peace to express their soul-bonds, for example, or that it would be too easy to kill a lot of wizards simply by taking their soul-bonded one away and torturing them to death from a distance.”

Harry’s abruptly sober. “So if Malfoy gets hurt, I’ll feel it?”

“Not in the sense that you’ll feel every little scrape and stubbed toe.” Madam Pomfrey laughs, then looks warily at Malfoy when his growl ramps up. “But intense pain would indeed come through to you, like a broken bone. And if Mr. Malfoy is tortured to death, you would die too.”

Harry’s sense of the hilarious comes back again. He turns to Malfoy and shakes a finger at him. “No professional Quidditch for you. What would happen if you fell from your broom or something and I died?”

Malfoy turns to face him. His own skin is white and cold, as if he has frostbite. “And no Auror work for you,” he says. His voice is deeper than usual, and he sounds a little detached from the words, as if he isn’t really thinking about what he’s saying. “I’m not having my mate in danger.”

Harry stares at him for a second. Then he leans around Malfoy to look at Madam Pomfrey, ignoring the way Malfoy immediately tries to move so he’s in the center of Harry’s line of sight. “Is it normal for alphas to be overprotective arseholes?” he asks.

Madam Pomfrey looks like she wants to tell him off for language, but maybe gets the impression from Harry’s wide and staring eyes that it’s not a good idea. “Yes, it is,” she says. “At least, overprotective by the standards of wizards without the traits of either subspecies, who are usually called betas.”

Harry sighs. “And those would be the people without soul-bonds and destined mates and heats and all the rest of it?”

Madam Pomfrey nods. “Yes. I am a beta.”

Harry sighs again. “Let me guess. This is something that wizarding families usually tell their children about? And I missed out on it by not being raised in the wizarding world.” A shudder goes through Malfoy when he hears that, but Harry has had about enough of Malfoy and his tantrums. “How common is it?”

“As common as a combination of blue eyes and left-handedness, is the way I’ve heard it put,” Madam Pomfrey says promptly. “I’ve heard that in some countries and communities, it is rather more. For example, supposedly the incidence of omegas is higher in Bulgaria, and the incidence of alphas in Spain. But it’s not something people can easily study.” She hesitates, then continues, “Among other things, alphas are likely to hide their omegas away from attempts to study them.”

“That isn’t happening, blondie,” Harry tells Malfoy at once. “Just so you know.”

Malfoy looks at him, and reaches out and puts his hand on Harry’s cheek.

Harry shivers and moans. Suddenly the sensation of heat is all concentrated in his face, and it’s changed again. Harry feels the urge to lift his legs and lie back and quiver in desire, and let Malfoy do—whatever he will do. Whatever an alpha wants to do. Harry still isn’t sure.

“You’ll let me do whatever you want when I’m touching you like that,” Malfoy promises in a guttural voice. “Omegas can’t resist their desire.”

And that sparks a deep, contrary idea in Harry, one that goes even deeper than the heat, one that goes back to long evenings of lying there and learning not to cry, and feeling hungry and enduring it, and falling off his broom with his arm broken and not shedding a tear, and facing down Voldemort even when he thought he was dying.

Harry grits his teeth and sits up. He sees Malfoy’s astonished expression, and that makes it all worth it. He turns around to face him and grins a little.

“Here’s one omega who can,” he says.

“That’s—not possible.” 

Malfoy is still staring at him with chill eyes. Harry wonders if the alpha equivalent of the heat is cold. He says, “Where have I heard that before? Oh, right, when people wondered how I could survive the Killing Curse,” and he turns and looks at Madam Pomfrey. “Can you tell me where I can find some more information on this?”

“I—” Madam Pomfrey looks just as flustered as Malfoy does, without the frostbite thing. She clears her throat. “I’m afraid that part of what he says is true, Mr. Potter. When he’s claimed you, he does have a legal right to you.”

“What does this claiming involve? Sex?” Harry counters. He does have to bend double when a particularly eager hot leap in his belly follows that word. Malfoy groans and starts towards him. Harry sits up again.

“You can’t—resisting their heat hurts an omega.” Malfoy is still staring at him.

“So? It’s just pain.”

Malfoy gapes, and Harry doesn’t think he’s going to find the sight of his tonsils attractive no matter what kind of bond supposedly prevails between an alpha and an omega. “Anyway,” Harry continues, and he’s gasping a little as he forces down the heat and the agony and turns to look at Madam Pomfrey, “he’s not having sex with me until say so.”

“He touched your neck, Mr. Potter.” Madam Pomfrey is almost wringing her hands. “He drew out your heat. That means he has first claim to you.”

Harry snorts. “It’s not like I’m intending to run out and shag the first person I see.” Then he groans, because apparently he shouldn’t have said that, because his head rings and his hands move underneath his legs. He wants to lift them, spread them, show off—

Madam Pomfrey is still here.

That’s what saves him. Harry’s embarrassment at the thought of doing that is worse than the pain at the thought of not doing it. He shakes his head and yanks himself roughly back to the real world. “Fine. Can you show me some of the written information you give students who find out they’re alphas and omegas? There must be some, right?”

Madam Pomfrey nods, her face still pale and anxious. “Yes. There are pamphlets I send to the parents of Muggleborns who show up as alphas and omegas. But—”

“Then I’ll take them and be going.”

Harry starts to hop down from the bed, but Malfoy crowds him in a second close to the bed, his head lowered as he sniffs at Harry’s throat. His breath provides the touch of coolness that Harry’s hand did earlier. Harry finds himself lowering his head and twisting his neck to the side, letting Malfoy close.

He’s not bloody getting closer until he mends his manners.

Harry shoves back against the instincts and the pain, both, and stands upright again. Malfoy hovers next to him, looking lost. Harry gives him a grimacing smile and says, “I need to find out more. Then I’ll decide what to do about this.”

“Mate with me.” Malfoy’s response is instant as he slides closer, his skin turning an even clearer and more translucent white. “Let me take care of you for the rest of your life. That’s what alphas are for, Potter. That’s a truth that’s more important than anything you’ll find in any of your readings. Alphas are there to shield and protect omegas and give them pleasure and anything else they want.”

Harry hesitates. He has to admit it sounds tempting, especially after some of the times that he’s spent working alone, running for his life, fighting for his life.

But there has to be more to it than that, or Malfoy wouldn’t have blocked Madam Pomfrey from coming near him. She only wanted to help him, and Malfoy should care that Harry gets healed and checked out after the heat, shouldn’t he? But he didn’t want to let her near.

Alphas are probably possessive bastards, Harry concludes. He hasn’t really experienced any of his fans or friends being possessive over him, but he knows the emotion, or can imagine it, from being in Voldemort’s head. Voldemort was possessive of everything, from his Horcruxes to his plans to his Death Eaters.

And Harry’s temptation withers and dies at the thought of being an object of that interest. He’s not a Horcrux anymore.

“Let me go, Malfoy.”

“Potter—”

Let me go read about it.”

Potter! Let me love you!

Harry feels the blast of hot air across his face, and feels the urge to roll back over and spread his legs and let Malfoy touch him all over until he’s calm and quiet. Anything to make his alpha happy—

Except that Harry catches himself in the middle of leaning back on the bed, and feels his body spark with betrayal. 

“So loving,” he tells Malfoy, with an undercurrent in his voice he’s never heard before. “To scream in my face like that.”

Malfoy abruptly leans away from him, standing so he almost vibrates on his feet. Harry watches him, silent. For all he knows, Malfoy can make Harry act in accordance with his stupid omega instincts if he pushes things.

But Malfoy just bows his head and whispers, “Stay safe, then. And don’t touch anyone else,” before he walks out of the hospital wing.

“That was remarkable, Mr. Potter.” Madam Pomfrey’s voice is soft. “I’ve never seen an omega handle an alpha like that.”

Harry sighs and leans back on the bed. “Can you give me the potions? And make sure you don’t touch me,” he adds. “Since Malfoy seems so insistent about it.”

He grimaces a little at how right those words feel in his mouth. But he doesn’t want Malfoy to take his mood out on Madam Pomfrey, who was only trying to help him, or anyone else.

“A good idea,” she agrees at once, and begins to float Potions vials across to him. “Do you think you can handle this, too, dear?” She holds up the feather duster. “It measures the level of your heat.”

Harry has no idea how to use it, but he reckons she’ll tell him. The potions do nothing other than reduce the streaks of fiery colors on his skin a bit. The feather duster, on the other hand, which Madam Pomfrey tells him to take and position next to his ear, throbs and sends a hot blast through Harry’s head.

Harry tenses, thinking about Malfoy feeling that and rushing back here, but it’s over in a second, and Madam Pomfrey winces when she sees the numbers that show up in front of her. Harry stares at them. Unlike the numbers on a Muggle thermometer, he has no idea what’s normal and what’s not.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey says, her voice gentle, “that your plan has to suffer one modification.”

“What’s that?” Harry tries not to cross his arms and pout, but he really, really wants to.

“You’re in such high heat, if you go out of here, some other alpha is going to try to mate with you,” Madam Pomfrey tells him. “Mr. Malfoy is the one who can make first claim; he’s the one who noticed your heat, which not all alphas would. But now they will, and unless you want…” She trails off.

Harry can guess. Yeah, he can just bloody guess.

“Fine,” he says, and flops back on the bed. “Then will you please get a message to Hermione Granger and ask her to bring me all the books she can find in the library on this? And give me those pamphlets? Thank you,” he adds.

Madam Pomfrey scurries off to do his bidding. Harry closes his eyes and just drifts for a little while. 

So much for a normal life.

*

“You would probably have accepted it a lot more easily if I hadn’t fought with you for the past seven years.”

“And on the opposite side of a war. And against my friends. And if you hadn’t insulted Hermione. And if you hadn’t decided that insulting Ron for being poor was worthy of—”

“Yes, yes, I get the point.”

“I resented that more than you knew.”

“Which part?”

“The last part. I grew up poor. Or, I mean, I was poor, even if the Dursleys weren’t. They gave me Dudley’s old clothes, and told me I was taking money out of their mouths when I fed me. They didn’t even bother buying my glasses new...Draco, you’re growling.”

“I want to find them and bite them into tiny pieces and—”

“They wouldn’t taste good. Save your mouth for my neck.”

*

Harry reads all the books that Hermione sends in (along with having a visit from Hermione and Ron where they stay on the other side of the hospital wing and he has to talk Hermione out of going to the Ministry of Magic and Ron out of finding and beating up Malfoy). It’s a lot of information.

It’s also depressing information. Once they mate and bond, then Malfoy has the legal right to Harry, yes. He decides where they live, he decides who Harry can be friends with, he decides whether Harry can have money or own property, he can even face down someone who wants to touch Harry. He’ll fight other alphas who want to claim him. He can get away with slapping or biting a beta, apparently.

It sounds, to Harry, like going back to the cupboard for the rest of his life, even though the books try to make it sound better by gushing over what wonderful, pampered, decision-free lives most omegas have.

The pamphlets that Madam Pomfrey gives him are a little more cheerful. They’re meant to reassure Muggleborn parents whose children suddenly turn into something else that they’re still human, only a little different now.

Omegas have heats every six, twelve, or eighteen months depending on the strength of the bond…submissive to their alphas…alphas as strong protectors…lack of equality ingrained and natural…legal right of an alpha to his omega lasts until the omega dies…omegas cared for because they hold their alphas’ hearts in their hands and can always crush them…dream of every young wizard to be an omega or alpha, so they can find true love…heats dangerous if omegas are left unclaimed for too long…alphas suffer from the cold if they can’t claim the omega they love…

The soul-bonds apparently let them feel each other’s pain, just like Madam Pomfrey said, and ensure they love each other, and make the sex better. Harry sighs and shakes his head. He’s not sure that a lifetime of good sex is payment for a lifetime of slavery. In fact, he’s sure it’s not.

Malfoy comes by several times, prowling up and down the corridor outside the hospital wing, sniffing, letting Harry see him. Each time, the heat is worse, although it’s not that bad as long as Harry can’t see another alpha. Each time, he wants to lie back and let Malfoy just take him. Each time, it’s harder to send Malfoy away.

But this afternoon, something is nagging at Harry. He flips through the pamphlets again, frowning. He knows he’s missing something, skipping over something. Something that could be his, could help him, if he just thought a little more about it.

The pamphlet resting on his stomach right now is one of the Muggleborn-parents ones that explains the legal constrains of the heat again. Harry picks it up, ignoring the slight charred corner where it came in contact with his skin, and flips through it again.

(He knows Madam Pomfrey is getting more and more concerned, from the way she looks at him, but Harry still refuses to rush into something he’ll regret for the rest of his life).

The pamphlet brags that faint echoes of the idea of alphas and omegas passed down to Muggles, who used them as the legal basis in some societies for husbands owning wives. Harry snorts. He doesn’t see why that’s something to be proud of.

He skims through the pages, thinking he’ll know what he wants when he finds it.

And then—there it is, a sentence he’s read before, but last time it didn’t seem to leap off the page the way this does.

The legal right of an alpha to his omega lasts until the omega dies.

Harry’s eyes open, and he cackles. He can almost feel Malfoy coming to startled attention somewhere across the castle.

Harry gets out of the bed, and dances. Madam Pomfrey walks in and eyes him sideways. Harry thinks she probably thinks he’s gone mental, or maybe this is some new manifestation of his heat.

“Mr. Potter? Do you need me to get your alpha?”

Yes, she does. It doesn’t matter. Harry spins around and smiles at her. 

“He could have owned me!” Harry announces cheerfully. “Until the omega dies. But he doesn’t!”

“Mr. Potter, if you are suicidal, then I’m afraid—”

“But he can’t,” Harry laughs at her, and winks. “Because I’ve already died!

Madam Pomfrey’s eyes widen. She doesn’t immediately say anything to refute him, and Harry thinks that’s the best evidence so far that what he says has to be a real means of changing the bond.

“So, yes, call my alpha,” Harry says, and leans back against the bed, and beams. “Tell him he’ll have to court me like anyone else who wants to get into my pants, because he can’t just assume a legal right to me.”

Chapter Text

“I did want to court you, you know. I always did.”

“What kind of courtship is insults and threats and trying to tell me that my mother was a Mudblood?”

“That’s not what I meant. I meant I wanted to court you after I sensed your heat and realized you were my omega.”

“Well, that makes a little more sense. I don’t know if I can accept the implied tribute, but thank you.”

What implied tribute?”

“That I’m so irresistible and enticing that you forgot about all those years of us fighting and decided you just had to court me to get my attention.”

“I do mean that. Let me show you exactly how enticing I find you. And how irresistible am.”

*

Malfoy’s reaction, after Madam Pomfrey has called him to the hospital wing and Harry has shown him the law and the loophole in the law, isn’t what Harry expected.

He almost immediately comes up and lays his hand on Harry’s cheek, then turns his head back and forth. Harry blinks at him irritably. “Checking how strong my teeth are, Malfoy?” He reaches up and clenches his fingers down on Malfoy’s hand, just enough to let Malfoy feel the marks of his nails. “I’m not some horse you can buy.”

“No,” Malfoy breathes. “I didn’t absorb it before, that you did die and pass away from life. I was too busy thinking about other things. I want to know…” He lets his voice trail off for a second. “I want to see how it affected you. To know what I can do to help you recover.”

That not only isn’t what Harry expected, he doesn’t know what to do with it. He blinks and leans back against the bed and asks the first question that pops into his mind, ignoring how the itchy heat under his skin flares and dances with delight at Malfoy’s touch. “If you want to help me recover so much, why didn’t you let Madam Pomfrey near me earlier?”

“Because you were in the first waves of your heat then, and I didn’t want anyone else to touch you. I barely wanted to touch you myself.” Malfoy’s voice is low and precise. “I thought I would break you.”

Harry reels back, in his head if not in body. This is something he hasn’t thought about, another side to the alpha possessiveness. He was thinking in terms of being owned and broken, the way Dudley treated his toys. He wasn’t thinking in terms of being cherished and protected.

Malfoy catches his eye and seems to sense some of his change of mood. Hell, maybe he can smell it. He smiles and bows his head to sniff delicately at the side of Harry’s throat. “May I?” he asks.

The urge to lean back and let him do whatever he wants is very strong. But Harry got into trouble that way more than once before. He thinks of Tom Riddle’s diary and how he trusted it blindly, and forces the question out of his mouth. “Do what?”

“I want to bite your neck. To start the claiming process.”

Harry knows more than well enough what claiming means now. The pamphlets Madam Pomfrey got him were cheerfully vague and not all that descriptive, but the books were a lot more so. He shakes his head and holds out his hand.

“Not yet.”

Malfoy snarls and grabs his wrist. When he turns it, Harry can see the cherry-red skin that only starts cooling with Malfoy’s touch. Malfoy’s fingers, meanwhile, are flushing from salt-white back to a more normal color.

“Look at this,” Malfoy hisses at him, and shakes Harry’s hand again. “Every day we wait, the heat gets closer and closer to doing permanent damage to you. The cold to me. We’re meant for each other. Let me bite you.”

Harry draws in a breath that feels thick with the heat. With smoke, like he’s choking on the debris of a forest fire. Yes, he wants to do what his instincts are insisting on and let Malfoy bite him, claim him, bond him. No point denying that, when only his own strong will keeps him from leaning back and flipping up his legs.

But they haven’t done it yet. And that means they can resist. And Harry still has questions about the soul-bond that his own reading and Malfoy haven’t answered.

“Do you really think you can like me?” Harry says quietly, and catches Malfoy’s eyes, and doesn’t look down even when Malfoy snarls. Yes, he has all these instincts that say he shouldn’t defy his alpha. On the other hand, he can’t go through life like that.

This is his life. Maybe because he spent so much time fighting for it and actually lost it and got it back, Harry feels pretty strongly about it.

“Of course I like you.” Malfoy grabs Harry and pulls him close, and Harry can feel the erection in his pants. Harry gasps as his own rises to meet Malfoy’s, and Malfoy growls in triumph and turns Harry around. His teeth are right next to Harry’s carotid, and Harry knows what happens if Malfoy bites down on that. Or even the back of his neck, the place he touched to release Harry’s heat.

“I don’t mean—that.”

“You don’t spend enough time thinking about that,” Malfoy says, snuggled behind Harry and grinding into his arse now. “And you deserve time off from thinking. You deserve to lie back and take whatever you want, whatever I can give you. Beautiful Harry.”

Harry forces himself back away from the edge. He has more questions.

“Since when do you think I’m beautiful?” He gets the dangerous part of his neck away from Malfoy with another twist, although he doesn’t manage to pull free. Malfoy snarls softly and struggles against him. “Is this really what you want? I know I’ve been thinking more about spending the rest of my life in a bond I didn’t choose, but what about you, too? Do you want to spend the rest of your life being my alpha because you happened to be the first to notice my heat?”

Malfoy pauses with his head down. Harry can hear his nostrils twitching, which is more than slightly disturbing. On the other hand, maybe the change into an omega gave him keener senses to match the ones Malfoy seems to have.

“There’s a reason I noticed your heat first,” Malfoy breathes out, and Harry shivers and sighs, “before any of the other alphas.”

“Really? What’s the reason?”

“What?”

Malfoy sounds a little dazed with his nearness. It’s for both of them that Harry twists again and puts his hands on Malfoy’s shoulders, holding him still. “What’s the reason?” he repeats. “Some of these books and pamphlets talk about a destined edge to the soul-bond, but I don’t think you believe that. Do you?”

Malfoy shakes his head, and his eyes clear. “I do want to make my own decisions,” he whispers. “But there’s a reason I was the first to notice your heat.”

“What do you think the reason is, then?” Harry lifts his head and studies Malfoy’s eyes from as close as he can, the first time he’s really had the chance to do that since he first saw Malfoy’s eyes flash with a reflection of Harry’s fire in their Potions class. “You, I mean. Really you, not what the books say.”

“I don’t want to resist this as badly as you do.” Malfoy snarls, showing his teeth, and Harry feels a weakness in his knees. Harry breathes out slowly and shifts, and Malfoy seems to realize what he’s doing and glances away. “That it’s always been meant to be and that this shows we’re compatible is enough for me.”

“Fine, granted,” Harry says. “But would it have been enough for you with anyone? Do you want it to be me? Or would you like to back off and find a way to claim someone else?”

“That would mean someone else would claim you.” Malfoy speaks with a single-minded, frightening intensity. “That won’t be happening.”

His growl swells on the last word, and abruptly he tackles Harry onto the bed, and Harry gasps at the warm weight on top of him. Malfoy twists his head to the side, and twists Harry’s with it, since he has the top of his head tucked under Harry’s chin. Harry whines, and then whips his neck free and head-butts Malfoy.

That makes him tumble off to the side, swearing, although he doesn’t fall off the bed. Harry sits up and runs shaky fingers through his hair and down his neck. He can’t find a trace of the claiming bond, though.

“Stupid, stubborn omega!” Malfoy is still swearing, but those are the clearest words.

“Stupid, stubborn Potter,” Harry counters, and rolls over to stare at him. “Listen.” It’s hard to say the words, to force them between his teeth. It fills as if his mouth is full of melted sugar, and he could share some of that sugar with Malfoy if he would just stop being so stubborn. “You would have called me Potter once, instead of omega.”

Malfoy only glares angrily at his face, and hungrily at his neck, and doesn’t answer.

“This is as much about giving you a choice as it is me,” Harry says. It’s easier when he looks at Malfoy’s eyes instead of his teeth. “Do you want to be bonded to me for the rest of your life? Me. Not the omega whose heat you sensed. The rival who beat you at Quidditch and turned down your hand on the train and caused you a whole lot of trouble during the war. Is that who you really would have chosen for a soul-bond? Do you think that we can ever be happy? Compatible? Meant for each other?”

Malfoy sits up slowly. “You wouldn’t be resisting so hard if you were the alpha and I was the omega.”

“Yes, I would.” Harry shakes his head again when Malfoy glares at him. “Listen, stop assuming for a second that I feel exactly the way you would, all right? Think about it. This really is as much for you as for me. Even if I was the alpha, I wouldn’t want to be bonded to someone who hates me except when he’s burning up and I’m cold.”

Malfoy frowns at him and twists his head to the side again. “But I would want to be bonded.”

“To someone who hates you? To someone you hate?”

Malfoy lowers his eyes and mumbles something. Harry dares to reach out and put a hand on his shoulder, even though it might mean Malfoy ends up springing for his neck again. “What was that?”

Malfoy looks up, and his eyes are wide and bright, and his cheeks are stained with color. Harry relaxes. It’s a good sign that Malfoy’s emotions are strong enough to fight the alpha chill in his face right now, he thinks.

“I wouldn’t mind being bonded to you, no matter what. It gives me a chance to—have something more than friendship with you. To make up for mistakes. To have you make up for your mistakes towards me. Whatever you want to call it.” Malfoy sits up a little straighter. “So I don’t know if you feel exactly the same as I do, no.”

Harry blinks. He blinks again, and considers for a second simply walking out the door and letting another alpha claim him. That would put an end to all this strangeness.

But it wouldn’t solve the problem, and Harry being an omega unbonded around alphas is a problem. He folds his arms and says, “So. I give you a chance. You’ll take that chance because you think being bonded to me is worth it. All right. But you still have to show me why you would be a good partner, Malfoy, not assume I’ll bend to your will because you happened to draw out my heat.”

“You’ll give me a chance?”

Harry sighs a little at the hope in Malfoy’s eyes. He heard nothing except that Harry would give him a chance. Harry knows a hopeless situation when he sees one. Malfoy wants him so badly he’s ignoring all the warnings that must surely be coming from the rational part of his brain, not his alpha instincts.

But he also hears something else, Harry realizes. Malfoy is waiting on his word, eyes on him. It means a lot to him that Harry would give him a chance at all, instead of just fighting him every step of the way.

“Yes,” Harry says. From somewhere, he doesn’t know where, he finds a saucy smile and tosses a wink at Malfoy. “Impress me.”

He turns and saunters to the door of the hospital wing. “But you’ll need to do it out there,” he says, nodding to the corridor.

“It’s not safe out there! Some alpha could—”

“But it’s allowed for me to strike back at them, right?” Harry asks smoothly. “To fend them off in non-fatal ways?”

“Yes.” Malfoy watches him almost blankly, as if the suggestion of an omega defending himself is ridiculous. “It would usually be your alpha doing that.”

“Defend me in creative ways,” Harry says. “I’d like that. Ways that don’t get me in trouble with the press or have people screaming that I take too much attention away from the real heroes of the war.” There’s been a few articles like that in the Prophet ever since Harry started trying to draw attention to what people like Ron and Hermione did to help him. It seems that the wizarding world can cope with one hero or a lying one, but not both.

“I will.”

The sound of Malfoy’s voice makes Harry rapidly turn around, his heart suddenly crushing in his ears. Malfoy purred the words, and his eyes are fixed on Harry’s face as if it’s everything he’s ever wanted in the world.

It’s kind of flattering to be wanted like that, Harry has to admit. And especially from someone who acted like your worst enemy until a few days ago. 

He gets the last word, or at least the last sound, by turning his neck provocatively to the side before he slips into the corridor. Malfoy’s groan seems to echo for a long time as it follows him.

*

“You almost drove me mad those few days that you pranced around outside my control.”

“If I wanted to, I could be outside your control now. You know that, right?”

“I never said you couldn’t.”

“Then why contrast those days and the time now? That implies I was under your control after those few days.”

“No. Now you’re willingly with me. Back then, you hadn’t settled your mind if you wanted to be with me or not.”

“Well. No, I hadn’t.”

“It was torture, I tell you.”

“Oh, nonsense. I thought you handled yourself well.”

*

“Mate,” says Ron in a tiny strangled voice.

“What?” Harry knows Malfoy is coming towards the table, if only because he can smell Malfoy now, a thick, husky scent that makes his mouth water the way the scent of meat at the Dursleys’ used to do. But he’s decided not to look up. He’ll just concentrate on demolishing the crackers and cheese in front of him, ignoring Malfoy and the hungry stares of other alphas elsewhere in the Great Hall alike.

“Why is Malfoy bringing you lilies?”

Harry looks up before he can stop himself, his face brightening. He didn’t know Malfoy was going to bring him flowers at all, but if he’d had to guess, he would have thought it would be roses. But lilies have the association with his mother’s name, and they have the association with death, which is appropriate if Harry really is the Master of Death. It’s probably at least partially Malfoy’s way of acknowledging the loophole.

And these are rather special lilies. Some of them are streaked red, and some gold, and some of the golden ones have been worked into fluttering replicas of the Golden Snitch. Harry even sees a cluster of five in the center, from the bunch overflowing Malfoy’s arms, that are turned towards him and have the individual letters of his name picked out in different colors, one for each flower: red, gold, green, silver, blue.

“That’s…a courting gift,” Ron says, in a voice that makes it clear what kinds of words he’s eliminating.

“Yes, it is,” Harry agrees, and rises to his feet. Malfoy lays the lilies on the table in front of him and looks up at him with melting eyes over them. Harry smiles at him and opens his mouth to respond.

“A tacky courting gift, is what it is!” Some Hufflepuff boy Harry doesn’t know, but thinks is in Ginny’s year, is bulling up to the table. He has brown hair and brown eyes and smells in a faint, uninteresting way of alpha, at least to Harry’s nose. “You want someone who can take care of you like a real man, Potter, and doesn’t give you girly gifts.”

Harry shakes his head at him. Not only is the boy’s scent fainter than Malfoy’s, he doesn’t have the special cool breeze that Malfoy seems to carry with him and which brushes the heat from Harry’s forehead. “Not interested. And this gift means something.”

“A tacky something!”

“At least I have a larger vocabulary than one adjective, Carmichael.”

Malfoy has an edge to his smile that Harry finds familiar, and is sure he’s never seen before, at the same time. A second later, he realizes what the difference is. He hasseen it before, but never from this angle. It’s the smile that Malfoy usually turns on Harry, the superior sneer.

It makes Harry’s heart beat a little faster to see it employed in defending him. Malfoy has changed. Well, of course he has if he dared to bring this mass of flowers to breakfast and didn’t even care about what people would say, but it’s nice to have some other kind of confirmation.

“At least I would never bring flowers like a girl, Malfoy!”

“And at least I know more than one insult.” From everything Harry’s read about alphas, Malfoy ought to be bristling and snarling and leaping at Carmichael across the table by now, but maybe the flowers are in his way. Then Malfoy turns to Harry with a melting smile, and Harry knows what it is, or at least what Malfoy would say it is. He’s behaving nicely in front of his omega.

“And I can focus on my omega instead of my rivals,” Malfoy adds, softly, cuttingly, his eyes never leaving Harry.

Harry can’t help it. He blushes. 

Well, with the flush to his skin, no one might be able to see it. But Malfoy seems to know it’s there, to detect the small changes in Harry’s body and scent the same way Harry can detect them in his. He bows his head a little, floats the lilies into the air, binds them into a bundle, and hands them to Harry with another bow. Then he leaves.

“That’s—pretty serious, mate,” Ron finally says, when Carmichael has also stalked off, probably because Harry won’t even give him a glance.

“Yeah,” Harry says, and lets his eyes follow Malfoy. There’s pleasure in his instincts coinciding with his thoughts, for once. “It is.”

*

“I won you after the flowers.”

With the flowers. And other things. The flowers helped, but they didn’t make me decide to get on my knees for you.”

“What did?”

“The way you handled Carmichael helped, too.”

“You still haven’t told me what made you surrender.”

“What makes you think I ever have?”

*

Malfoy finds Harry next in the library, where Harry’s gone to escape both less-than-smooth alphas and people who want to gawk at the new omega. And to study. Can’t forget that, lest Hermione swoon.

Malfoy sits down at the same table as Harry. Harry bristles a little, turning to him. Malfoy didn’t even ask permission, and he might be presuming a little much, now.

But Malfoy bows his head, and murmurs, “Forgive me if I approached you when you were in the throes of studying. I didn’t think you were, though.” 

He cocks his head, and his eyes glint, and Harry’s mild anger slips away. No, he wasn’t, and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. He lays his hands flat on the table, but he doesn’t intend to make it easy for Malfoy. “What do you have for me then, Malfoy? Another gift? I can’t smell it.”

“Leather isn’t easy to smell unless you’re close,” Malfoy murmurs, and slips something out of his robe pocket. Harry thinks for a moment it’s a book, but it’s rather oversized for that. Malfoy lays it beside Harry’s hands and waits, immobile with interest, until Harry picks it up.

When Harry opens it, he freezes. There are small pockets inside the book, each of them sewn expertly into the binding, but fronted with glass. It must be enchanted, Harry thinks, and sure enough, when he touches his fingers to the glass, it softly sparks and leaps, showing the magic woven into it.

Protective spells, Harry knows they are. And when he looks at the pockets, he discovers what’s inside them—at least the first few.

Pictures. Photographs of Harry turning around and waving madly at his friends, probably taken when he was unaware. One that must be from this morning, of Harry smiling over the lilies. They’re on the left-hand page.

On the right-hand page are pictures of Draco, baby pictures and one where he looks about eleven, proudly clutching his new wand, and one of him with his parents in the aftermath of the trials and one where he’s leaning longingly forwards across a Potions bench. That last one has been arranged so that he at least seems to look longingly at one of the pictured Harrys.

“Where did you get all these?” Harry whispers, letting his fingers dance for a moment across the pictures. The Dracos in the photographs all turn and look up at him. “I didn’t see you with a camera this morning. And I think I would have noticed.”

“I have a spell that can freeze certain images into a photograph,” Draco whispers. It sounds intimate, even though they’re still in the library, in the open, and a few people are staring at them as if trying to work up courage to approach Harry. “I had to get someone else to give me the image of me in Potions class when you went into heat. And one of the house-elves gave me the memory of me with my parents and my wand. But I wanted to give them to you. To show that you can belong with me, that we can make a future together.”

He reaches out, one hand heavy and satiny on top of Harry’s. Harry finds himself sighing, appreciating the coolness like ice cream. Draco gently uses their conjoined hands to flip the next pages. The rest are all blank, the enchanted glass containers apparently awaiting photographs.

“Pictures of you and me,” Draco whisper-hisses to him. His eyes are dilated and his skin cold the way it was when Harry woke up in the hospital wing for the first time. “My family and yours. The future.”

It all sounds seductive. Harry wants a family, wants a place to live. He’s always wanted that. But he has to know something, lest his future take away his past. “And Ron and Hermione can have pictures there, too?”

Draco pauses for the briefest instant. Harry starts readying himself to draw away. No matter how good it feels, how good it sounds, he can’t have a life in which his friends aren’t welcome.

Then Draco shakes his head and mutters, “Merlin knows how this is going to work out. But yes, Harry.” He lifts his head, and his eyes cut Harry’s like a hawk’s piercing through mist. “Being polite to them and ignoring the history my family has with Weasley’s is a small price to pay for having you.”

Harry’s heart bounds and rebounds in joy, and he lets Draco turn a few pages with their hands joined together, while Draco whispers the name of distant cousins he can introduce Harry to, cousins who have equally distant Potter relatives or relatives by marriage that can link Harry into a larger family.

It’s all much, much more enticing than Harry has thought Draco Malfoy ever could be. And so is the feeling of Draco’s hand on his.

*

“What would you call what we have, if not surrender?”

“Partnership.”

“Ah. I can see the…merits of that. Especially when I pin you to the bed and do that thing you like so much with my tongue.”

*

Harry still goes back to the hospital wing at night. Madam Pomfrey insisted. Harry didn’t give in until she told him that being in Gryffindor Tower would make it hard for Malfoy to break in and rescue him, and he might have an alpha who could sneak into his bedroom and try to molest him there. Harry supposes it’s just good sense to rest in a hospital bed, behind curtains that no one but Madam Pomfrey and Malfoy can get through.

And it’s not Madam Pomfrey who would open them while making almost no sound and bow to Harry with the glitter of gold in his hands.

“If you got me Galleons, Malfoy, you ought to know I have plenty of my own.” Harry puts down his Potions book. “And if you got me a collar, I’m not interested.”

“As though I would do that. I know you better than that. Don’t the album and the lilies prove I know you better than that?”

Harry nods. He has been pleasantly surprised by what Malfoy’s done for him so far, and he never expected to put “pleasantly” and “surprised by what Malfoy’s done” in the same sentence. He turns around to see what the gold is.

Malfoy holds up a key. Harry blinks. It’s slender and looks as though it could fit any number of locks. Other than the fact that Harry knows it’s not a Gringotts key—and Malfoy’s already made it clear that he’s placing all the contents of all the vaults he has at Harry’s disposal, anyway—he has no idea about it.

“What is this?”

Malfoy slides to one knee and holds up the key in his hand like a knight with his sword. Harry sits still and looks down on him and tries not to show how intensely his heart is beating, beating, beating away. For some reason, that simple motion and Harry’s closer to surrendering to his instincts than he has been since Malfoy actually pinned him against the bed a few days ago.

“It’s a key to a house I’ve bought,” Malfoy says. “And planned for you. The plans can be changed, of course, if you don’t like them.” He waves his hand, and a parchment covered with intricate lines seems to unfold from his palm. It’s done like a conjurer’s trick, not a spell, and Harry finds his intrigue increasing. Malfoy turns the parchment and offers it on a flat palm to Harry.

Harry manages to brush his finger over Malfoy’s palm as he takes the book from him. Malfoy’s eyes flash, but he doesn’t lunge.

Harry stretches the plan out and stares. There’s a huge Quidditch pitch outside; he can see that. Small figures move inside other rooms that might be indistinguishable otherwise, acting out motions of what the rooms are for. It rather reminds Harry of the Marauders’ Map, and he wonders for a minute if his dad and the others used architectural plans as a model for the map.

There’s a dining room. A small library, with a frizzy-haired figure sitting in the chair nearest the fireplace. A kitchen with only two house-elves happily working away. An obvious secret passage behind one of the bookshelves. Four bedrooms.

Harry traces the outline of the bedrooms—they all look the same, other than the one in the center having a bigger bed—and looks at Malfoy. He answers without even needing the clue of spoken words from Harry. “One bedroom for guests. One for each of us, when we want to spend some time alone.” He leans nearer, his eyes brilliant. “One we can share.”

Harry stares down at the house again. Malfoy’s left space for Hermione in the library. The house-elves might be free. The secret passage leads out to the Quidditch pitch, meaning he’s thought about both what kinds of games Harry likes to play and the fact of safety and where he’d need it. And sleeping together and apart, with one bedroom that might welcome Ron and Hermione now that they’ve started dating…

Harry closes his eyes. The heat is flaring under his skin. It feels closer to the surface now than it ever has.

But it’s not itchy and uncomfortable the way it was in Potions. It’s separate from him instead, a floating, colored curtain of flame. Harry opens his eyes and finds himself gazing at Draco through it.

Because he’s Draco now, not Malfoy. Draco who makes crazy extravagant gestures like the ones with the lilies and the house. Who buys a house for someone they just like a little? Or just want to fuck? 

Draco who’s shown that he knows Harry and is willing to accept friends he might have disliked even more than Harry and who faced down another alpha with witty words instead of attacking him. Draco who’s shown that he doesn’t want to be bonded to another omega. 

Harry swallows. He’s still not sure how much control he might end up giving up, and if he’ll be able to ignore all the omega laws. But Draco took his loophole seriously enough to court Harry instead of simply asserting his legal rights.

That’s a good enough sign for a beginning.

“Come here,” Harry whispers, and opens his arms.

Draco rises from the floor in a graceful rush.

*

“You never know how to speak when I’m done with you.”

“You have a…persistent way about you. Doesn’t mean it’s persuasive.”

“It is for you. Omega.”

“Alpha.”

*

Having Draco make love to him is like being embraced by a firestorm.

It’s not tender, or at least not tender in the way most people would understand it. But it’s what it has to be to soothe Harry’s heat and Draco’s chill. It’s Draco’s cock inside him and hands on his shoulders, shoving him into the bed, and teeth on his neck, biting down, biting.

Now Harry understands why Draco was constantly looking at Harry’s throat all the time, before he would look away. 

Harry cries out. He’s being swept by waves of fire, waves that can’t hurt him. There’s one that comes from Draco’s teeth, and one from Draco’s fingers, and his nails cut Harry, and his cock pumps pleasure into him. Harry can’t rise from his position on hands and knees, firmly held there and fucked by Draco.

It’s hot and sexual and thrilling. Harry didn’t want to just be held down and raped by any alpha with a taste for it, but when he and his instincts are acting in concert, it’s justfine.

Draco’s hands grab his and hold them in place when Harry starts to reach down to his cock. Harry whines. It’s so hot now, but the waves are radiating out and then bouncing back in, concentrating themselves in Harry’s groin. He wants to touch and relieve and smooth himself into orgasm.

Instead, he has to hold still because that’s what Draco wants him to do, and Harry bucks strongly, his will slamming against another’s the highest thrill of the whole thing.

“Hold still,” Draco whispers, and releases his hands.

Harry does it because of the feeling that races through him when he does.

Draco pushes harder and harder into him, breathing like a racing bull. Harry arches his back and does something complicated and instinctive with his muscles, and Draco hisses at him. Harry grins. He wants to make his alpha feel good, too.

Draco eases off him, no longer caging Harry with his body, and pumps his hips. Harry screams suddenly. It feels so much more intense, so much better. He doesn’t know what Draco did, he just knows what he feels.

And he can’t even touch his damn cock because Draco told him to hold still.

“Think about making yourself feel good, not about me,” Draco orders him into his ear.

And it’s all Harry can think about, the ways he could stroke himself—if his hands could move—and he could fuck himself on Draco’s cock—if his arse could move—and how even touching his hair would feel good right now.

He moans. And Draco chuckles into his ear, and goes back to fucking him, but with slow strokes now.

He’s denying his own need, Harry knows, because he wants to stretch out Harry’s and tease him. He’s repaying Harry’s teasing, making his omega work for it. Harry burns with the need to resist and the pleasure that comes from not resisting.

He closes his eyes and thinks, because he knows it can’t last forever. Sooner or later, Draco will surrender to his own instincts and his own need to have Harry, and then he’ll start hurrying.

And that’s what happens. Harry never knows if it lasts as long as Draco meant it to, but that’s really not important. Draco subtly begins to move faster, and then suddenly he bursts through a barrier of some kind and fucks Harry so hard that his hair gives Harry’s shoulders a burn like stubble. Harry whimpers and throws his head back.

He can move because Draco wants him to move more than he wants Harry to obey his earlier order. Harry twists around and tries to shove himself backwards, to find that spot of intense sensation that Draco already introduced him to.

For a second, Harry can’t find it, and he almost screams in frustration. But then Draco takes pity on him, or their bodies connect in the right way, or the firestorm rises to a higher pitch.

And then there it is, flooding him, shaking him, tossing him so high that Harry’s flying without wings or a broom and can no longer see the ground beneath him.

And then Draco bites down on his neck, and Harry feels as though someone has thrust a spike of ice through his heat, dissipating it, leaving only normal human sweat and excitement, and he knows this is the claiming.

And…

And the thought of being bound to someone who knows him and can even command him and wants him to feel this good is wonderful.

Harry’s world bursts into stars of light. 

*

“I can still surprise you.”

“Yeah…you can.”

“Look at you. All worn out.”

“Yeah.”

“I love you when you’re blissed out like this, Harry.”

“I love you…all the time.”

*

Harry opens eyes that feel as though they weigh as much as pianos. Then he turns slowly over in the hospital wing bed, and sees Draco asleep at his side, hunched around Harry’s body as if he’ll protect him even then.

Harry watches him for a little while, and then shakes his head. It must be the alpha instincts that transformed Draco so completely when it came to Harry. Harry honestly can’t picture the boy he knew during the war wanting to be friends with him, let alone mate with him, no matter how much he would have been thrilled to have Harry’s attention.

But if Harry changed when he became an omega, Draco must have done the same when he became an alpha. 

For the first time, Harry wonders about that change. It couldn’t have been so overwhelming that Draco forgot everything about being human, or he simply would have asserted his legal rights and raped Harry whether Harry wanted it or not. Perhaps it was enough to get him past some of the initial barriers.

And then his desire could have done the rest.

And the most important thing is that, although Harry has his loophole, he may never need to test it. He trusts Draco not to try and make Harry do things he doesn’t want to do simply because he could. Draco-the-alpha isn’t the same person as Draco-the-spoiled-prat, any more than Harry-the-omega is the same person as Harry-the-war-hero.

Draco’s stirring. Harry leans back to watch him wake, content to know for now that he’ll watch him wake up many times in the future.

Not every time will be as peaceful as this. Draco may try to do certain things in the future that Harry doesn’t like. In fact, of course he will. Harry can’t expect this relationship to be free of the problems that would plague him if he had a human partner. Alphas and omegas aren’t a fairy-tale romance and they aren’t a worse alternative.

But for now, watching the way Draco’s smile widens and the way he immediately tries to shield Harry from sight when Madam Pomfrey begins to pull on the curtains, it’s pretty great.

Harry leans over and steals a kiss, just because he can, in the instant before Draco bundles him under the sheets.

The End.