“Pathetic,” Grindelwald’s voice was cold as he looked at the plate placed before him. He threw it to the floor, the delicate slices of meat and gravy fell with a dull slap while the potatoes cracked and rolled around. The silence after the shattering of the plate seemed never ending. Standing next to the table Percival swallowed thickly as he watched the food on the floor.
“Don’t just stand there like some dumb alpha, clean it up! I trained you better than this,” the admonishment was accompanied by the crack of a lightning whip which struck across Percival’s shoulder. Immediately he was on his hands and knees, picking up the foods and the shards. “Give the food to the nundu, she’s been behaving nicely recently unlike some.”
From the floor Percival nodded, his eyes not rising from his task. An apology dropped from his lips quietly and he was kicked in the ribs for using his voice. He didn’t make a noise as the foot connected with his visible ribs. After everything he could pick up with his fingers was in hand he shuffled out of the room hunched over. The nundu took the food and growled at him, she was perhaps a little less starved than he was. Temptation to take even a bit of the spoiled meat was strong but Grindelwald would know and would punish him for that. Despite his stomach cramping with hunger Percival resisted the urge. It had been so long since he’d eaten something as delicate as what he’d cooked that it was almost easy to step over his own hunger. Still, his eyes lingered on the food until it disappeared into the growling nundu. Just because he could ignore it didn’t mean he didn’t desire it. The small shard of potato sat heavily in his palm. It had been the cleanest piece, one not covered in dust and dirt. A few flecks of gravy tinted the golden outside brown. Just a taste of what real food tasted like. Opposite him the nundu growled.
“Give her the last piece,” Grindelwald’s voice was almost singsong behind him. Percival’s eyes slipped shut in defeat and he let the potato take a low arc through the air and the nundu snatched it up. His shoulders dropped and as he turned he dropped to his knees in apology.
Head bent forward Percival could only hear Grindelwald approach him until a pair of shiny shoes stopped in his field of vision. The sickly sweet stench of artificial omega flooded his senses. It should have lulled him, relaxed him to be in the presence of a perceived omega but it all smelled wrong. The chemical tang made him want to growl and move away from the impostor, a beta masquerading as a caregiver. Instead Percival stayed put and fought down the urge to cower. He’d grown to hate the stench of an omega, learnt to fear it for it meant pain and suffering. Everything that society said an omega wasn’t but an alpha was. Grindelwald tutted above him.
“You disobedient buffoon. Were you going to deny the nundu some of her meal? Take it for yourself like the selfish alpha I’ve tried so hard to beat out of you?”
Percival shook his head in denial but it was no use. The scars on his back throbbed in anticipation of another beating to come.
“I tried to be kind, I tried to help you be better than your nature. I told you that eating so much will only feed the alpha in you. Don’t you want to look more like an omega? Want to be a part of civilised society?” A gloved hand tipped his chin up so his eyes couldn’t count his protruding ribs anymore. Grindelwald’s mismatched eyes gleamed at the prospect of punishment.
“You know what this means?” Percival could only nod and Grindelwald let him go as he stepped back. On his hands and knees Percival crawled to the nearest wall where a handle protruded for him to grip. He was so incapable of following rules that Grindelwald had to install a grip in every room. Head hanging between his shoulders Percival braced himself for the lashes which would split his skin open. If he let go he knew he’d be punished more. After six searing lines across his back his arms trembled. He didn’t want to let go but he still had another nine to go. At least Grindelwald didn’t want him to count them out loud this time. Agony laced through him and he cried out, three more strikes to go and it would be over. Tears dripped down his cheeks and on the last strike his sweaty palm slipped off the lacquered grip. Behind him Grindelwald growled about useless weak alphas and a quick series of strikes rained down on Percival’s back without warning. When they stopped he could barely suck in a breath. Shoes appeared in front of him and a hand curled cruelly into his hair to force his head up.
“I don’t know why I ever expect anything from you,” Grindelwald hissed in his face, “it’s obvious you’re beyond rehabilitation. I should have you culled like all out of control alphas. You’re lucky I have a soft, nurturing side and I will try to help you. We just need to starve the alpha out of you. Maybe you’ll be able to pass for an unrulier beta one day. No dinner for you tonight.”
If Percival hadn’t felt sick with bile burning his throat he would have felt the hunger cramps in his stomach. As it was he fell to the floor when Grindelwald shoved him away and tried to breathe.
That night he curled up in his cage under a ragged blanket and tried not to make a mess of his bedding. He didn’t want to clean up blood and other fluids oozing from his back the next day. Percival’s eyes lingered on the sign mockingly hung on the door of his crate – Caution Alpha’s Den. He was just grateful that at least the collar and muzzle had not been brought out again.
The next morning Percival’s back burned and pulled if he moved wrong so his chores took so much longer. By midmorning Percival was ready to crawl back into his crate, his hands were shaking, body covered in a sheen of cold sweat while his stomach felt hollow. Every few steps he had to stop and steady himself with a hand on the wall and will his vision to be clear of black spots. He didn’t want to think of the punishment for fainting when Grindelwald had told him he had an important meeting so everything had to be ready. So Percival soldiered on, brought delicately cut small sandwiches to the parlour, put out the finest bone china cups. They all screamed the refined softness of an omega and he worried that handling them in his brutish alpha hands would damage them. Grindelwald had been right, life would have been so much better if he’d been born anything but an alpha.
When the doorbell went Percival moved out of sight. Nobody needed to be put off their visit by having a lumbering monstrosity of an alpha opening the door. Usually Grindelwald himself answered the door with a demure smile. The omega pheromones the man doused himself in drifted into the hallway where Percival was to remain in case something was needed for the meeting. The collar was tight around Percival’s neck, cuffs around his wrists chafed and he knew that Grindelwald wouldn’t hesitate to use the shock function if he so much as blinked in the wrong moment. He listened to Grindelwald’ welcoming spiel and despite himself Percival scented the air. There was no sweetness of the expected omega to mingle with Grindelwald’s scent. However there was a musk, subtle and warm in its strength. It wasn’t the neutral scent of a beta and Percival quivered at the prospect of having another alpha in the house. He hoped they would escape before falling to the same indentured fate he had. So lost in his thoughts he didn’t hear the first call and the low tingle of electricity which threatened to bite brought him back to his station.
“There you are,” Grindelwald’s sickly sweet smile didn’t hide his sneering contempt. Percival stumbled in and tried not to stare at the alpha sat opposite Grindelwald, no collar, no fear and looking healthy. Without a word Percival poured the drinks and watched as the alpha’s hands curled gently around the delicate cup.
“I must admit I was expecting your brother for company,” Grindelwald said and Percival tried not to eaves drop.
“My brother is a very busy man and I’m the one who works with creatures Mr. Grindelwald. He just so happens to help me make contact with hard to reach people,” the auburn haired man replied but his eyes never left Percival. “Now I came to talk to you about the nundu I hear you’ve been keeping. They’re worth a pretty penny on the black market but I’m willing to offer you one million.”
Percival tried to leave the room quietly as another wave of darkness threatened to blanket his vision. He caught the doorframe before his knees could give out and a sharp shock from his collar pulled him back from the brink. The silence from behind him meant he hadn’t been quite as successful at hiding his stumble as he wanted to be.
“And I’ll give you double that for your alpha,” the stranger announced. Percival scurried out of the room before he could hear more. His job had been done, tea poured and he didn’t think Grindelwald would want him making more of a fool out of himself. No matter how much he hurried he still couldn’t help but hear Grindelwald’s disbelieving guffaw.
“You wouldn’t want that useless, mindless fool for a fraction of that let alone two million.”
“Then you shouldn’t mind parting with him for that sum,” the stranger’s faint reply drifted after Percival. He didn’t know whether to be relieved that he might be spirited away from his awful life or be terrified that he’s being bought. It never crossed his mind that it was another alpha buying him. Instead he curled up in his cage and tried to will the panic and the pain away. Falling asleep hadn’t been his plan.
It was the splash of cold water drenching him and his bed that woke him with a jolt. Grindelwald towered above him outside his crate with a bucket.
“Up, out,” the ordered were barked at him and Percival crawled out. Roughly Grindelwald hauled him to his feet, nails dug into the thin flesh of his arms. As he stood another buckets of water was thrown over him and Percival shivered. A coarse sponge ran over his body roughly, its scrape across his back was agony but Percival held his tongue. His master seemed in a bad enough mood that he didn’t want to draw any more attention to himself. Deemed clean enough a small plastic cup was shoved at him.
“Drink it,” Grindelwald instructed. The liquid in the cup smelt vile, it was a clear bluey-green. Percival took a deep breath and downed it. Its bitter chemical taste burnt his throat in a familiar way. A sedative then and a fast acting one at that. The world wavered as he woozily let Grindelwald shove him into a coarse top before a muzzle was attached to his face. Percival whined and was pinched in the side viciously for it. Nothing made sense anymore, his eyes drooped shut as he was bustled none too gently into a wooden travelling crate with a few air holes drilled into it. The crate slammed shut behind him and Percival lay curled up in the hay as he was jostled somewhere. Part of him wanted to panic about what was going on but another part of him was too tired to feel anything and that tiredness had nothing to do with the sedative.
The world was hazy for the next few hours. Percival had vague memories of his crate being opened, the auburn haired alpha smiling down at him, of gentle hands easing to muzzle off him, the collar being taken along with the cuffs. Percival whined at that. It had been so long since he’d had nothing around his neck that he felt naked and lost without it. Instead of reprimanding him, the alpha had gently shushed him and covered him with a warm, weighted blanket. For the first time in a long time Percival fell asleep not quite afraid.
Voices drifted in and out of his consciousness and Percival was content to lie where he’d been left.
“You bought an alpha,” a new voice said, disbelieving.
“I couldn’t leave him, look at the state he’s in,” that voice belonged to the alpha who had bought Percival.
“Newt, you went to get a nundu, bad enough that you’d try to rehabilitate an apex predator but you come back with an abused and malnourished alpha,” it smelt like an omega, an angry one at that.
“So now you’re saying he’s dangerous just because he’s an alpha?” Newt’s voice turned cold and harsh. It made Percival want to shrink into a dark corner and disappear. He whined in distress and the tension in the room drained.
“Now look what you’ve done,” Newt said. Footsteps approached Percival and he tried to pry his eyes open. Two similar looking men peered down at him, the tall, lanky alpha who had visited Grindelwald and a taller omega who reached for Percival. He’d smelt so angry, frustrated by Percival’s presence that Percival couldn’t help but flinch from his touch. Grindelwald had never touched him with kindness, especially not when angry. Rather than strike him for his cowering the hand was withdrawn with a sad sigh.
“We’ll talk more about this later Newton,” the omega said and left.
“We’ll talk when you remember how to be an omega and start caring again,” Newt hissed but when he looked down at Percival he smiled gently. “Ignore him, he’s just mad because I spent his money. Sleep a little more for now, you look like you could use it.”
It was easy to slip back to sleep, the sedative still coursed through his body and Percival was exhausted. When he woke properly at long last he scrambled out of the comfortable bed. He watched with horror how the bedding had been soiled, a gash on his back had split open again and oozed all over the linen.
The smell of the distress alpha brought Newt over. He took in the scene and tried to find the words to reassure Percival that it was okay. However it didn’t seem to work, Percival’s anguish lingered and eventually brought the omega in too. The smell of the approaching omega was too much, Percival’s panic peaked when the door opened and the other man stepped into the room.
Never in his life had Percival been defended by another alpha. Yet Newt stood between him and the omega, bristling with simmering annoyance.
“I need you to leave,” Newt growled low in his throat. The omega advance puzzled. “Theseus, get out now. You’re not helping.”
Wordlessly the omega turned and left. Once the door clicked shut behind the omega Newt turned but he didn’t touch Percival. Instead he offered him a lopsided smile.
“I know my word doesn’t mean much right now, but I promise he won’t hurt you.”
The silence of the other alpha helped Percival’s nerves settle. Together they stripped the bedding and put fresh ones on. When Percival gathered the soiled sheets and looked around a little lost Newt laughed at him but not unkindly. The sheets were taken from him and a bowl was pushed into his hands instead. It was warm porridge and Percival looked at it bewildered.
“Eat, just take it slow so you don’t hurt your stomach,” Newt said and left. Percival stared in disbelief at the food, the spoon in it. He wondered whether he’ll be punished for falling for such a ploy. Grindelwald had been known to put food down next to him and when Percival broke and eaten it he’d been cruelly punished. After a few mouthfuls Percival heard voices through the door.
“He’s terrified of omegas. You saw his wounds. That is not an out of control alpha in there!” That was Newt’s voice defending him and the porridge soured in Percival’s mouth.
“You can’t protect everything and bring it home. I don’t care how much you feel the need to.” The omega Newt had called Theseus yelled back.
“For someone who claims to be progressive you sure as hell sound like a cushy omega right now who sneers down at alphas like the brutish breeders society wants them to be,” Newt yelled. Percival put the porridge down and tried not to think about what was going to happen to him. At least with Grindelwald he knew the boundaries, knew his role as a way for the other man to thrash out his frustrations on. In this unknown home with an omega who didn’t want him there and on another alpha’s territory he felt very insecure. Despite his best efforts Percival’s mind drifted to slavery auctions. His only time at such a thing had been awful. Grindelwald had put him up for sale, he’d been with the man for about a year then, abducted from the streets on his way to work. In that year he’d been broken in, forcibly shown his place and ground down into a hopeless existence. He’d stopped trying to run, the shocks and punishments took their toll on his body and he’d been too broken to run. At the time Percival had hoped he was over the worst. Then he’d stumbled when Grindelwald shocked him for looking at a guest for too long. In that instant Grindelwald had dragged him out of the room with profuse apologies to his guests and locked Percival up. Once the guests were gone Percival had been bundled into a crate and taken to an auction house. There he was inspected, paraded up and down and shown off like a prized cattle. The words “virgin tight” still haunted his dreams. It had only been Grindelwald’s desire to flash his status and need to be in control that meant the man had bought him back, grinning widely as he handed over a frankly pitiful sum for Percival’s return. Percival didn’t want to get auctioned off again. The stench of so many alphas in emotional agony coupled with the sight of them all strapped down, muzzled and collared had been impossible to forget.
The door opened and Percival braced himself. Newt ambled in and he looked at the barely touched bowl with a frown.
“Would you like something else instead?” he asked and Percival shook his head. Newt nodded and put down a few pieces of fruit next to the bowl. “In case you change your mind.”
“Who are you?” Percival croaked out and braced himself for the berating that was sure to come for speaking out of turn.
“Oh, sorry, I guess I forgot. I’m Newt, my brother is Theseus. And you’re welcome to stay with us for as long as you want. Find your feet and all that.”
“Why?” Percival’s head began to spin with confusion.
“How could I leave a fellow human being behind in such conditions? Our natures do not define us and you shouldn’t be treated as anything less purely on biological luck.”
A hand guided Percival to lie back on the clean sheets. He wanted to resist but once again he was gently quieted and tucked in. It was hard to fight the scraps of kindness thrown at him after being starved of it for so long.
“Sleep a little more, eat when you’d like and I’ll be back soon,” Newt promised.
Waking proved to be difficult. The bed was decadently soft and warm. Percival burrowed in and tried to enjoy it for as long as he could. A low chuckle from behind had him shooting up. Theseus sat in a chair against the far wall of the room.
“Relax,” Theseus said, “Newt said you might not want to wake alone but thought I might be too much if closer. You belonged to Grindelwald?”
Percival nodded and tried not to clutch the blanket like a shield. Now that he was paying attention he could smell the sweetness of the omega. It was nothing like Grindelwald had been, it didn’t overwhelm his senses, there was no sickly cloying artificial stench.
“He’s a sadistic bastard. And I’m glad Newt got you out even if he didn’t clear it with me,” Theseus offered and Percival nodded. He watched warily as the omega rose from the chair and couldn’t help but tense up in anticipation of pain.
“I’m only coming closer to give you a chocolate bar. Doubt you had some in a long time. But tell you what, I’ll leave it on the nightstand and you can get it when you’re ready. I promise not to touch you,” Theseus said. Despite his words Percival still tensed, all too aware of the pain that would be wrought by an irate omega without any physical contact.
No pain came as Theseus placed a wrapped chocolate bar on the bedside table and retreated back to his chair. The chocolate stayed untouched until he left at which point Percival scrambled to taste the treat. His eyes closed in appreciation as he savoured each bite.
His room became his haven ever after Newt reassured him that he was allowed anywhere in the house. A few trips out of his room left his exhausted both emotionally and physically. Percival never realised how vigilant he had been until suddenly he no longer had to be. On one visit Newt introduced him to his animals, all rescued and rehabilitated. It was such a curious thing for an alpha to do until it was Theseus who offhandedly explained that Newt was protecting those who couldn’t fend for themselves. His natural alpha instinct kicked in every time he heard of a creature in need of a rescue.
It came as a mild shock to discover that Theseus was some bigshot at the ministry, a high ranking omega with an alpha brother who defied all expectations of societal expectations. One quiet night Theseus admitted in a low voice that if he hadn’t occupied the position he did then Newt would have been under a lot more scrutiny and restrictions but Theseus could offer him nepotistic protection. It went unsaid that the news of him acquiring another alpha had caused quite a stir but nothing would be done about it unless Percival truly was out of control.
There was scarring on Percival’s neck and wrists from the collar which often shocked him to the point of damaging his skin and the cuffs which chafed him raw. His back was an uncontrolled lattice work of scars as his wounds healed and while Newt gave him an ointment to rub on them to ease the pain reaching them was still difficult. The first time Theseus offered to help him it had caused Percival to panic and flee from the room. Nobody chased after him with admonishments for refusing help and he twisted miserably to try and reach everything. A few nights later while Newt was busy grooming the nundu Percival approached Theseus timidly. He expected to be mocked and told to get back to his room because he had rejected the offer so spectacularly before. Percival didn’t think warm hands would delicately rub the ointment over his back, fingers gently digging into tense muscles until he relaxed and turned to bare his throat to be rubbed too. It was only when he was back in bed that he realised the way he’d tipped his head in invitation could have been misconstrued. The next night he tried to show a little more self-restraint but his eyes slipped shut as Theseus delicately rubbed his wrists.
The growing restlessness was unexpected. Percival found himself at a loose end, the house didn’t need cleaning, food was prepared by one of the brothers and Percival could help if he wanted. Occasionally he could help out Newt with the creatures but it didn’t help him find his place.
“Come to work with me,” Theseus suggested one evening as he massaged Percival’s shoulders even though the ointment had long since dried up. Uncertain about the prospect Percival hesitated before he nodded. The next day Theseus pressed a bag of food into Percival’s hand before they set out.
“I usually take a packed lunch and thought you might enjoy it too,” the omega shrugged. Together they made their way to the large building and Percival stuck close to Theseus. Nobody said a word about the sudden appearance of an alpha in Theseus’ company. It was overwhelming for Percival, so many omegas in the building but even the ones who were betas on omega pheromones didn’t set him off in a wild panic. At the end of the day Percival fell into his bed utterly exhausted.
The days carried on like that, Percival accompanied Theseus to work, sat quietly while the man worked. At some point he was given a book to read and he was grateful for the consideration. He didn’t know what he was doing, why he was expected to go with Theseus but it felt good. There were meetings Percival didn’t go to but for those hours he was given the key to Theseus’ office and could curl up in the man’s leather chair with his books and snacks Theseus had packed for him. It was nice but something always settled and eased in him when the man returned.
It had been a fair few months since Percival found himself bought, resettled into a family where he was treated as an equal. His ribs no longer protruded but rather were hidden under a light layer of fat and muscle. Meals were eaten as the three of them at a table where they talked, shared stories even though Percival didn’t yet have many of his own. It also meant that he was privy to discussions between the brothers about the threats the ministry had been receiving, employees threatened. Percival didn’t think much of it, unsure of how imminent or real the danger was. He should have known better. One evening Theseus was leaving the building and Percival had stopped to adjust his spats so he wasn’t next to his friend. A group in hoods descended on Theseus, arms raised, baseball bats in hand. Despite his usual bluster Theseus’ step faltered as he took in his would be attackers. The flicker of fear Percival saw in his face blanked his mind. He didn’t remember much after that. Just snatches, the feel of a growl in his throat, Theseus’ wrist in his hand as he dragged the man behind him, a baseball bat coursing through the air towards him. The feel of a crunching bone in his hand, the flutter of rapid heartbeat as his hands curled around a throat. Then it was Theseus’ voice, the hooded figures running in the distance. Percival shook his head to clear the haze and looked at the omega sheepishly.
“Sorry,” he said. Theseus laughed and Percival didn’t flinch.
That evening their dinner was a fascinating affair. Newt fussed over Theseus, worried about the attack. On his part Percival was happy to sit back and watch until the brothers turned to his as one. They both looked over him, fussed at the redness of his palm where he’s snatched a baseball bat which Theseus took great joy in describing.
“You know, the way you moved I’m going to guess you had some training before Grindelwald,” Theseus looked at him assessing. It made Percival stop and think, it had been so long ago, any thoughts about it dredged up unwanted and punishable emotions in him that he stopped remembering. But in that instant, with two warm stares directed at him Percival let himself remember.
“I used to be in law enforcement,” he finally said. The brothers nodded and muttered about it making sense. It was one of the few jobs alphas were deemed suitable for along with sentry and guarding.
“Would you want to go back?” Newt asked curiously and Percival took a few minutes to think before he shook his head.
“They never cared enough to come and find me.”
“That’s understandable, you can stay with us,” Theseus announced and pushed away from the table. Percival caught Newt’s knowing smile and tipped his head to the side in a query only to have a head shaken at him.
News of Percival defending Theseus spread through the ministry rapidly. People began to acknowledge him, nodded at him in the corridor while a couple gave him a wide berth. Whispers of Theseus’ alpha were rife but Theseus didn’t let it affect them in any way, he still stalked through the corridors like he owned them just as before. He still made Percival lunch, subtly fussed over his clothes, warmth, comfort. It was nice until Newt showed Percival his fwooper pair. One fussed over the other incessantly, plucked stray fluff off the other’s head, continually brought more bedding for their nest so it was soft, flew the best bits of the food to its partner and fed them to it with such care. From the corner of his eyes Percival caught Newt watching him and knew his realisation had been spotted.
“Now you understand,” Newt said and patted Percival on the shoulder. It took him a few days to decide what he wanted. Newt told him his brother would never push him into anything untoward and would let Percival decide for himself. Still, it was slightly embarrassing when Percival went to Newt and asked for help in returning the courtship as an alpha would.
To start with Percival wrapped is own scarf around Theseus’ throat on a chilly morning. The omega flushed with a pleased smile but didn’t react. Instead they went to work and a few people cast them curious glances. Nobody dared say anything. There was the morning when Percival pushed his own crude attempt at assembling lunch towards Theseus.
“I can do it too,” Percival had mumbled and Theseus grinned widely. Still he didn’t push and Percival ran with his tail between his legs back to Newt. He courtship wasn’t going well, Theseus didn’t respond in like so he might as well give up before the omega stops humouring him. Instead of agreeing with him Newt let out a put upon sigh.
That evening they were reading quietly around the warmth of the fire. Newt was in his armchair while Theseus and Percival were sat on the sofa. Slowly Theseus slipped to the side until his head was on Percival’s shoulder, feet tucked under himself. Uncertain, Percival glanced down and Theseus looked up at him.
“This is the point you put your arm around my shoulder,” he prompted and Percival dumbly obeyed. It was nice, Theseus’ scent lingered on his side that night as he went to be and for the first time in his life Percival didn’t mind having the smell of an omega cling to him.
The next night they were in a similar set up but Theseus flung an arm around Percival’s shoulder and tugged him. Obediently but slightly bewildered Percival let himself be pulled until he head was in Theseus’ lap. Fingers carded through his hair and the book was all but forgotten in the moment. Something rumbled deep in his chest like a growl but not quite. Shocked, Percival shot up and stared at his chest horrified.
“What was that?” he asked and watched as Newt smiled into his book while Theseus stared at him with soft eyes. Nobody seemed to want to answer his question until Newt rolled his eyes.
“An alpha purr. You never had that before?” Percival shook his head and blushed. He felt like he’d forgotten so much while in Grindelwald’s care. Shame flushed his cheeks red.
“None of that now,” Theseus said and tugged him back, fingers returned to tangle in his hair. “An alpha purr is completely natural. It means you feel at home with a compatible omega. Guess you didn’t have much of a chance to experience that.”
“Sorry,” Percival whispered. The fingers lightly scratched along his scalp and despite his embarrassment he relaxed a little.
“Nothing to be sorry for, it just means you’re home,” Theseus reassured him gently and picked his book up. The low rumble of a purr started up again a few minutes later and the brothers shared a look. Quietly Newt left the room to let the lovebirds get better acquainted.