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All You Want

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Eighth year at Hogwarts was going to be Hermione’s.

She had given six years of academics to Harry and Ron and now she was going to have a year that was all her own. Voldemort was dead. Most of the Death Eaters were imprisoned. Harry and Ron were training to become aurors, and Hermione was going back to school where she could give herself entirely to her education in the manner which she had always aspired to.

A whole year she could devote herself to extracurriculars simply because she wanted to; and not due to a pressing need to save Harry or the wizarding world.

She could tell, based on some of the looks she was getting, that people were feeling sorry for her. They thought she was going to school as a way of running away or hiding. Imagining that there was some sort schism between herself and her best friends. All the news rags were screaming it. Proclaiming that the Golden Trio had had a falling out. That they weren’t speaking. That she and Ron had broken up, and Harry had sided against her.

Rubbish.

She and Ron had hardly been together. They had discussed it and considered it, but in the aftermath of the war they both felt like they needed space to find themselves as individuals before trying to build themselves into a couple. They had mutually decided to wait for a year and revisit the matter. Hermione would have completed her NEWTS by then and chosen her mastery and Ron would have wrapped up the most intensive part of auror training.

They would both have a better idea of what they wanted.

The fact that most of the wizarding world expected them to have gotten engaged at seventeen was just absurd to Hermione. Despite the surprisingly good gender equality Wizarding society was bizarrely antiquated in some ways. Since she was attending school rather than immediately getting married the tabloids were convinced it must be because the Golden Trio had been shattered by something utterly salacious.

The mere thought made Hermione scoff inwardly and toss her head.

She had spent months living in a tent with her best friends. They had saved the world together. She was not going to become permanently attached at their hips in order to reassure an overly inquisitive public.

She was not interested in becoming an auror. She had fought her battles and she had no desire to have camping or dueling be a part of any future careers.

She wanted time to herself. To study. To not worry about keeping anyone alive or unexpelled. And to decide what she wanted to do purely for her own sake, because of her own interests.

Eighth year was hers. And hers alone.

She hugged Harry and Ron and kissed each of them on the cheek at Platform 9 and ¾ before practically skipping onto the train.

She found an empty compartment, bustled in and pulled out all her textbooks for review. She had read them over the summer, but rebuilding had made everything so chaotic she really hadn’t felt as though she’d pre-read things as thoroughly as she would like.

Ginny stopped by and poked her head in to say hi, her Head Girl badge proudly pinned onto her uniform. Molly had been nearly hysterical with tears of joy when Ginny had received it.

Hermione had experienced only had a moment’s envy at missing out on the position she had so coveted in her younger years. It hadn’t been a surprise. Minerva had visited Hermione and discussed the matter. Ginny and Neville had demonstrated such exceptional leadership qualities at Hogwarts under the Carrow twins but by all rights the position should have been Hermione’s during the previous year.

Hermione declined it. She was already getting cross-eyed trying to find a way to accommodate all the classes she wanted to take. Quite honestly she wanted a quiet academic year. She wasn’t interested in having a leadership position.

So the position of Head Girl had gone to Ginny.

Minerva had offered Hermione a prefect position and Hermione had declined it as well.

The journey to Hogwarts was well underway when the door to her compartment abruptly slammed open and Draco Malfoy dove in and proceeded to disillusion himself on the bench across from her.

He had just finished disappearing when the door slammed open again and Daphne and Astoria Greengrass peered in.

“Granger,” said Daphne stiffly, pursing her lips faintly as she stared down at Hermione. “Did you see Draco pass this way?”

Hermione stared for a moment.

“I’ve been reading,” she said.

“Oh,” Daphne sighed and rolled her eyes before turning to leave with her younger sister.

Hermione dropped her eyes back to her page and continued reading her arithmancy textbook until their clipped footsteps faded away into the click of the train wheels. Then she raised her eyes and raised an eyebrow at the empty space across from her.

The emptiness rippled and then Malfoy slowly bled back into view.

“Lying for me, Granger?” he drawled. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

Hermione shot him a pointed glare and then proceeded to do a double-take. Malfoy was considerably bigger than she remembered him being, and she had seen him only three months ago while testifying at his trial.

He was noticeably larger and broader and more muscular than he had been then. And even if he had since started engaging in the world’s most rigorous fitness regime, it failed to explain how he had grown taller, or why his voice had dropped an additional half octave.

She blinked at him repeatedly before recovering herself.

“I didn’t lie at all,” she said primly. “I simply said I was reading.”

“A lie by omission is still a lie,” he said in a voice so low it seemed like he was growling at her. Hermione found her entire body grow slightly warm.

She fidgeted in her seat, feeling suddenly uncomfortable with his presence. Her neck felt tense and tingled slightly.  Why was he growling at her? It was very disconcerting and peeving.

“Also, how are you not even a prefect?” he asked, eyeing her. “I assumed you’d be shoe in for Head Girl. I thought I was the only one stripped of position. Even Parkinson has been permitted to keep her prefect status, and she actually tried to hand Potter over.”

Hermione flushed a deep shade of scarlet and squirmed under his gaze. It was as though she could feel his grey eyes as they moved across her body. She had never felt so weirdly uncomfortable around anyone. She started to sweat. An inexplicable heat began steadily blooming in her lower abdomen at the sound of his voice.

She tried to ignore it.

“I didn’t want any leadership positions this year,” she said, her voice shrill as she crossed her legs. “I have a lot of classes that I want to take. It’s not as though I need it for my resume. If someone wants to know why I wasn’t prefect for eighth year I can always show them my Order of Merlin.”

Malfoy chuckled and it was like chocolate and velvet, and she could practically feel it against her skin. She made a strangled noise and crammed herself into the opposite corner of the compartment.

Malfoy stared at her with narrowed eyes.

“What’s got you so bothered, Granger?” he asked, and Hermione could swear she was somehow feeling the vibrations of his timbre collect in her spine and proceed to set her on fire.

Her eyes grew round and she suddenly found herself desperate to get away from him. Something deep inside of her warning that something very serious would happen if she did not.

She jumped to her feet and snatched up her satchel.

“Nothing,” she found herself hissing. “I need to go.”

Then she turned tail and bolted from the compartment before Malfoy had a chance to open his mouth again.

She rushed into a bathroom and splashed water on her face and neck. Trying to cool down while she sought to make sense of what had happened. Something about Malfoy deeply unnerved her to an extent that she couldn’t explain.

She prided herself that she had a fairly good head on her shoulders. She was not the sort of girl who blushed or turned missish just because she found a boy attractive. But she had quite literally noticed Malfoy had gotten fit, proceeded to half-melt into a puddle at the sound of his voice, and then snap at him and run away.

It was as though being in proximity to him had awakened some slumbering creature in the back of her mind. At the sound of his voice it had started stirring and turning her into a mindless, irrational, lascivious pile of unwanted hormones.

Over Malfoy, of all people.

Historic arse. School bully. Brainwashed pureblood elitist. Even if he were the most physically attractive man on earth, that would not make up for his general absence of spine, or lack of character.

Her crushes had always tended to start with character first, appearance second. Gilderoy Lockhart she had admired for his alleged accomplishments. Viktor Krum for his sincerity and sweetness.

Which was not to say that she had a crush on Malfoy! Not at all. He was simply—attractive. It was perfectly normal for a girl to occasionally appreciate a man on a purely aesthetic level.

That was all that it was, she told herself firmly. There was no reason to act bitchy toward him because of it.

She straightened, changed into her school uniform, and then went and found a new compartment.

It turned out, Malfoy wasn’t the only eighth year male that had somehow grown dramatically during the summer. Hermione found herself slightly bug-eyed when she laid eyes of Neville Longbottom for the first time. As well as Anthony Goldstein.  And also Theodore Nott. And several other eighth year boys whose names she didn’t recall.

From her seat at in the Great Hall she stared at each of them feeling slightly aghast. While the boys all had obvious admirers, most of the other students did not appear nearly so discomfited by it as Hermione was.

“Hermione, could you pass the ham?” Neville asked her in a low purr.

Hermione nearly toppled out of her seat at his voice and swiveled to stare at him with her mouth agape. No one else even looked up. As though men having voices that physically vibrated the air around them were a normal occurrence.

Neville stared at her with confusion.

“What—did you just say to me?” Hermione choked.

“I asked for the ham,” Neville said, his voice again low and full of vibrations  

Hermione gasped faintly and grabbing the tray she shoved it quickly toward him before standing up.

“I need to use the loo,” she muttered.

Hermione remained hidden in the girls bathroom trying to cool down for half an hour before fleeing to the library. She couldn’t understand what was going on. She couldn’t conceive of any way to account for what was happening to her.

Why did it seem like she was the only one at a loss over the mysterious growth spurts? It was bizarre.

The library was discouragingly unhelpful. There was no information about it in books on growth patterns. All the books on wizarding reproduction were in the restricted section and she wasn’t sure that she was curious enough to approach any of her professors for a permission slip. She wished she had Harry’s cloak of invisibility.

She decided to wait for a bit. It wasn’t urgent. In the meanwhile she would simply avoid Malfoy, Nott, Goldstein, Neville and the others. She had a lot of academic work to focus on anyway. It wouldn’t even be hard.

As it turned out, it was slightly hard.

Even when she heard their voices down the hallways she was start slightly and break out in a sweat. She was barely able to keep from panting as she fled. She had to avoid the library and the common areas like a plague.

She cast repeated cooling charms on herself when she shared a class with any of them, sat in the back of the room, as far away as possible and refrained from answering question because her voice often came out shrill and wobbly.

She acted so painfully uncharacteristic of herself that Malfoy proceeded to corner her after potions during the third week of class after she blew up a cauldron for the first time in her academic career.

“What is wrong with you, Granger?” he said. He asked it in a low, demanding voice that made Hermione shiver. She wanted know what it would feel like if he growled like that against the side of her neck. She nearly moaned as she tried to force herself to back away.

He was so close she could smell him. And he smelled positively edible. She wanted to run her tongue along his neck and the inside of his wrists and see if he tasted equally perfect.

Her neck felt so overly sensitive. Her wrists started throbbing faintly too.

“Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me,” she said forcefully. She skittered away from him as she rubbed her wrists against each other to try to relieve the inexplicable tension.

He stepped toward her, breathing in a sharp sigh and then stopped short.

His eyes locked onto hers and he shook his head faintly before his expression twisted into shock. He clamped his hand over his nose and mouth as though he were about the be sick. Then without another word he turned and rushed away.

Hermione stood staring after him dazedly. Then she confusedly sniffed her shirt, trying to determine what had abruptly nauseated Malfoy. She smelled fine. Maybe faintly musky. But only if she practically buried her nose in her clothing.

Malfoy was so spiteful. He had probably just faked it in order to make fun of her.

Her face twisted slightly and she straightened.

She started for the library but as she reached the door she heard Anthony’s voice. She promptly turned around and rushed to the Gryffindor dormitory.

Her neck was aching slightly and she massaged it. It was as though there were a tension building up there and nothing could relieve it.

When she got to Gryffindor tower she squared her shoulders and made her way up to the top of the girl’s tower. As Head Girl Ginny had her own private room.

Hermione knocked softly and then fidgeted, feeling already uncomfortable.

The door opened and Ginny smiled at her.

“Hermione, is there a student issue?” Ginny asked, pulling the door open and inviting her in.

“Oh, no. Um. I had a question,” Hermione said awkwardly. “I don’t know if it’s somehow weird for me to ask this, but I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“You don’t know something? Well, then I don’t know that I’m going to be much help,” Ginny joked, sitting down on the edge of her unmade bed.

“Have—,” Hermione faltered. “Has Neville and some other boys in eighth year grown rather dramatically over the summer? I feel like they have but it seems like I’m the only person confused by it.”

Ginny’s expression immediately became slightly cagey.

“Well, they had their final growth spurts,” Ginny said vaguely. “You probably just never noticed that it happens because most wizards graduate before they get it.”

Well, that made sense. Malfoy and Neville and the others were eighteen. It wasn’t as though Hermione usually encountered that many eighteen year old wizards.

“Is that usual?” Hermione asked, “Do wizards normally have growth spurts that late?”

“Some,” Ginny said.

Hermione furrowed her brow and frowned slightly.

“But Harry and Ron didn’t.”

“Well, as I said,” Ginny’s voice seemed tight and her expression looked slightly defensive. “Some. Not all wizards do. It’s pretty arbitrary. Like Bill and Charlie did. But most wizards don’t and that doesn’t make them any less. It’s not as though it happens because they deserve it.”

Hermione stared. “I think I’m missing something,” she said.

“It’s—“ Ginny started and then waved her hands in the air. “It’s a pureblood thing generally. It’s not really something that people talk about.”

“Oh,” Hermione said. So people were intentionally turning a blind eye to it.

“Basically it’s something random that happens to some wizards.  But it doesn’t usually mean anything. At least it doesn’t mean anything to you or me or probably anyone we know. So just—ignore it.”

“Right,” Hermione said.

Touchy, touchy wizarding subject. She made a mental note to broach the subject very delicately if she got desperate enough to bring it up with McGonagall.

The next day she woke up with a fever. Her whole body felt heavy, her lower abdomen ached, and she was really horrifyingly horny. The base of her neck itched and throbbed so much that she felt tempted to try rubbing it against the bedposts to try to relieve the ache. Her wrists felt similar. She ground them against each other to try to lessen it.

She pressed her thighs together and tried not to pay any attention to the growing sense of emptiness inside her.  It was so overwhelming. She felt like the world’s skankiest scarlet woman. Good heavens. What was wrong?

She must have caught something. Some wizarding disease that made her neck and wrists ache, and made her whole body sensitive to deep vocal timbre, and made her feel like she might die if she didn’t immediately have sex with some boy with the largest male anatomy humanly possible.

She bit back a groan and tried to drag herself out of bed to go see Madam Pomfrey. She crawled to the door and then proceeded to half stumble down to the common room.

“Hermione?”

The voice rippled down her spine and she bit back a moan as she turned and found Neville staring at her from across the room.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

She mutely shook her head.

She suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to rub herself against him. If she pressed her wrists against his neck, she somehow felt sure that the ache would stop. She was dying to feel his lips against her neck. She could crawl into his arms and her body would stop hurting.

And then they could shag. Somehow she was certain that sex with Neville would be mind-blowing.

What?

She shook her head sharply trying to clear her mind.

“I’m sick,” she rasped, backing quickly away and huddling against the wall. “It’s probably contagious. You should send for Madam Pomfrey.”

Her wrists aching so intensely and her body felt so oversensitive she began unconsciously rubbing her left wrist against her sternum.

Suddenly Neville’s expression shifted and Hermione could see his eyes darken from across the room until they were almost black. The gentle, open expression that was usually on his face vanished. His expression became predatory in way she found deeply attractive. He was suddenly powerful and dangerous, and she felt the ache between her legs suddenly sharpen. His eyes were locked on Hermione and he was suddenly moving rapidly across the room toward her.

“Come here,” he said in a voice so low she could barely decipher it. Her whole body grew warm and she turned toward him giving a small keening sound.

“I’ll take care of you,” he said. “Let me take care of you.”

She started to reach for him.

Then a thought occurred to her.

Neville was dating Hannah Abbott.

A wail wrenched itself from her as she abruptly recoiled and huddled again. Hunching her shoulders up around her desperately sensitive neck.

“No,” she said fiercely squeezing her eyes shut.

She could feel Neville’s breath against the back of her neck and bit back a moan.

“Let me take care of you,” he was murmuring and it made her whole body shake with want. He nuzzled the base of her neck and she whimpered and arched her head over without thinking.

“No…” she muttered, struggling to think.

Neville’s large hands were on her body, and he was nuzzling more firmly against the back of her neck. Breathing deeply against her skin. It was sending fire into her brain. She couldn’t think beyond the desire that was steadily wrapping itself around her.

“Ohhhhh,” she shuddered. Neville was pressing her against the wall and his hands were starting to roam across her aching body. She arched her back and tilted her head back submissively for him.

“Good girl,” he muttered against her skin. Something deep inside her thrilled at the words.

She’d do anything. Anything he wanted. She’d please him and he’d take care of her.  

Her wrists were pinned against the common room wall, she could feel his stubble against her skin as he started licking and sucking on her neck. Her whole body spasmed under him.

“What on earth? Oh my gosh!” Ginny’s horrified voice suddenly cut through the fire and fog. “ Stupefy!”

 

Chapter Text

Neville suddenly fell backwards off Hermione.

Hermione slid down the wall and looked up at the flabbergasted Head Girl.

Everything was so—her whole body felt like it was screaming,  as though Neville’s touch had brought her all the way to the edge of something earth-shattering and then left her there.

She felt suspended and left dangling helplessly.

She wanted to press herself against something. She wanted hands and lips and a tongue to touch and tease her sensitive skin. She wanted a hard, muscular body to hold her down while she arched against it.

She wanted to hear Neville’s voice telling her what to do. That he’d take care of her, because everything was so confusing. She didn’t know what was wrong.

Now that he wasn’t touching her anymore everything just felt all wrong.

“Ginny, I don’t know what’s happening to me,” Hermione forced out.

“How is this even possible?” Ginny was shaking her head faintly in shock.

It was a blur after that. Ginny made some of the younger year boys levitate Neville up to his room and then took Hermione to Madam Pomfrey personally.

Hermione was feeling too overwhelmed and borderline hysterical to keep track of what was happening. She didn’t want Ginny to touch her. Ginny’s hands were too small and pokey. Ginny’s voice was too high-pitched. Every time Ginny said anything Hermione wanted to plug her ears to keep the sound out.

Then Madam Pomfrey’s voice sounded like operatic vibrato being belted into Hermione’s ears. Everyone smelled oppressively sweet. It made Hermione want to gag.  

Her whole body felt as though there were ants crawling on it. The feeling made her writhe and twist, trying to calm herself and get away from the edge she felt she’d been taken to.

But there was no way to get down from it. She was stuck there, just waiting on and on. People kept trying to ask her questions and she couldn’t figure out how to answer them. She didn’t know how to explain what was happening.

The ache between her legs had sharpened into an overwhelming throbbing sensation and she kept pressing her thighs together trying to relieve it.

She felt so helpless so helpless and bewildered and out of control that she started crying.

People stopped trying to talk to her after that and just spoke to each other.

There was something that was impossible. And maybe something about a specialist.

Anne O’Megga.

Hermione thought was the name she kept hearing, but it was very hard to keep anything straight. Her brain was feeling very determined to not think.  The only remotely coherent things she could contemplate were her memories of Neville’s hands on her body, his mouth against her skin and how she wished he had picked her up and run away with her before Ginny interfered.

No, she didn’t.

She did.

No.

She kept whimpering and asking for him.

Neville had smelled so nice. So comforting. And his hands on her. She’d never wanted anything so much. The sensation of his mouth on her neck—-

She was sobbing for it.

Ginny looked milk-faced and kept saying that she was sorry and that she’d had no idea. And Hermione got so irritated with the Head Girl that she growled and tried to bite her. When that didn’t work Hermione hexed her.

And then they took away her wand!

After what felt like hours Poppy Pomfrey forced a potion down Hermione’s throat and she fell asleep.

When she woke she found herself in a hospital bed surrounded by quarantine wards with Minerva McGonagall beside her.

She felt less feverish. The feeling of being suspended had faded and the throbbing between her legs had reduced itself to a dull ache. The tension on her wrists and neck felt faintly ticklish. When she touched there it made her whole body tingle slightly.

Hermione sat up.

“What do I have?” she asked the Headmistress.

“Nothing. You haven’t contracted any diseases.”

“Oh…” Hermione said in confusion glancing at the wards. “Was I poisoned?”

“No.” McGonagall said, shifting uncomfortably.

Hermione stared at her steadily. “What’s wrong with me?”

“You—have reached adulthood,” McGonagall said and her Scottish burr came through due to the level of discomfort she appeared to be suffering under.

“I have already been an adult for nearly two years. I’m turning nineteen tomorrow,” Hermione pointed out.

“Yes. Well. There is an aspect of wizarding development that is—well, it’s not usually particularly pertinent or covered in Hogwart’s curriculum. Especially given that  you were understood to be a Muggle-born. It never crossed my mind that it would need to be brought up with you.”

“Understood to be a Muggle-born?” Hermione repeated in a cold tone. She took great pride in her origins. She was not interested in having anyone try to steal her accomplishments by attributing them to some alleged blood status.

“Well, it appears that your parents or at least your grandparents may have been squibs,” McGonagall said.

Hermione gripped the blanket across her lap and squinted at McGonagall.

“You are a very rare type of witch called an Omega,” McGonagall said after a moment. “It’s a manifestation found solely among old wizarding blood. Which is why we have reason to believe that you must have squib blood from a near relative.”

“An Omega?” Hermione echoed, her mind doing a rapid mental cross-reference. “I’ve never heard of those before.”

“Well, they’re very rare. I’ve only known a handful in my life. And it’s not a subject that is considered to polite to talk about in public.”

“Is it—,” Hermione started and then hesitated. “Is there something wrong with me?”

“No! Not at all. It’s simply somewhat sensitive,” McGonagall said quickly. Then she took a deep breath. “I apologize Miss Granger, I had never expected to have this conversation with anyone. It’s left me somewhat at a loss. Miss Weasley mentioned that you have noticed the physical changes among your male classmates this year.”

Hermione nodded carefully.

“It’s a related phenomena,” McGonagall explained. “In wizarding society there is a biological hierarchy that occurs, outside of blood status. The primary group is made up of what are termed Betas. Mr Potter, Mr Ronald Weasley, Miss Weasley, most of your classmates and myself, we are all Betas. Less common in wizarding society are what are called Alphas. Mr Longbottom, Mr Nott, Mr Malfoy, and Mr Goldstein are Alphas. As are Charlie and Bill Weasley. When they turn eighteen they have a final growth spurt that causes a hormonal and physical change to occur. It causes them to become more dominant and—attractive, some would say. Lucius Malfoy was a very typical Alpha male. Sirius Black and James Potter were too. Alphas have a talent and confidence that makes it easy for them to get their way if they choose to lean heavily into their dominant traits. Although most decent Alphas are careful not to abuse such a thing.”

“And where exactly do Omegas fit into all this?” Hermione asked suspiciously. Nothing McGonagall had said had sounded like something scandalous or inappropriate. But none of it had covered Hermione’s bizarre reaction to Alphas either.

“Omegas,” McGonagall said, growing visibly uncomfortable again, “are the rarest of the three. As I mentioned, I’ve only known a few in my lifetime. They occur very infrequently. They are—“ McGonagall choked slightly and turned pink. “They’re submissives, to the Alphas.”

“They’re what?” Hermione said, there was a hint of a growl in the back of her throat.

“You are aware that wizarding families have extremely low birth rates,” McGonagall asked, appearing to switch tactics.

Hermione nodded, beginning to seethe inwardly.

“Magical pregnancy is extremely traumatic and difficult on a witch’s body. Most witches have multiple miscarriages before they carry a child to term. That is why you will rarely find a wizarding family with more than two children. It’s simply too hard on them physically and magically. Some witches lose their magic entirely during the pregnancy because they’re so drained by it. Often times a birth can be so traumatic they can’t have more children. Reproduction is a tremendous risk for witches.”

McGonagall straightened.

“That is not the case for Omegas. Magically speaking they are uniquely designed to bear magical children.”

“Really?” Hermione’s voice was dripping acid.

“Molly Weasley is an Omega,” McGonagall said. “You’ve surely noticed the unusual size of the Weasley Family in comparison to any other.”

Hermione nodded begrudgingly. “So, I’m a magical broodmare?” she said with false calm. “I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait. I am not interested in having children for at least six years.”

“I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that,” Minerva said gently.

“Why?” Hermione asked. A feeling of vulnerability and dread swept over her and she stroked her wrists absent-mindedly trying soothe it.

“Omegas have only been known to be born into wizarding families. Halfblood or pureblood. At birth the magical hospitals test all children as a matter of routine to find out their designation. That way the parents are aware and can prepare their children for what will happen. Males present as Alphas at eighteen but females are slightly delayed and present on their nineteenth birthday. Most families see to it that an Omega is already married to an Alpha before she turns nineteen. Or if she is unwilling to marry an Alpha, she gets pregnant before that point, the way Molly did.”

“Why—,” Hermione choked.

“As I mentioned,” McGonagall said, blushing an even deeper shade of pink,” Omegas are unique in their ability to have children. When they turn nineteen they—they—gowinntoaumheatstate,” McGongall’s words turned abruptly indecipherable.

“Hmm?” Hermione’s eyebrows shot up. “They do what now?”

“Omegas go into heat,” McGonagall said in a thick voice.

“Into heat? Like a dog?” Hermione’s voice grew dangerous. Her mind turned back to her interactions with Neville and Malfoy and she felt herself pale as the room started spinning slightly.

Oh dear lord, this was not happening to her.

“I’m truly sorry, Miss Granger, if I had any idea I would have explained all of this to you sooner so you could have had more options.”

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked trying to keep her voice steady.

“We have dosed you with a potion suppressant to help ease the presentation so I could explain what was happening. But when you turn nineteen you are going to go into heat. It may last up to a week. All the Omegas I have known of got married beforehand, in order to have a chosen Alpha to see them through the heat. They seal the marriage with a soulbond and that keeps the Omega from drawing in any other Alphas. Omegas are so rare, Alphas nearby cannot stop themselves from trying to reach them during a heat. That is why, traditionally, everything is arranged before the Omega presents. So that she cannot be manipulated by her submissive nature or physical needs. Due to the dynamic a sense of trust is important.”

Hermione felt like she were about to be sick.

“A heat is not something for an Omega to endure alone,” McGonagall said firmly. “It’s terribly destructive for them. The toll it takes is severe. You don’t need to get bound but you’ll need some Alpha to see you through it. Would you like me to send for Mr Longbottom? I’m sure he would be happy to help you.”

Hermione remembered the feeling of being pinned to wall under Neville and the sensation of his mouth along her neck. Heat abruptly started pooling in her lower abdomen. She shifted in the bed and pressed her legs together, trying to think straight.

”Do you mean to say that I need to find someone to shag all week and you’re suggesting I just proposition Neville?” Hermione asked, trying to be certain she understood what her Headmistress was proposing.

McGonagall blinked. “Well, yes. Alphas are made to want Omegas in the same way that Omegas want them. Alphas can be dangerously possessive at times, but their interest is always in protecting and caring for Omegas. There are so few Omegas born. There are not many Alphas that even have a chance.”

Hermione wavered slightly before firmly closing the door on such an option.

“Neville is dating Hannah Abbott. Harry mentioned he’s even started looking at rings,” she told the headmistress.

“Mr. Goldstein then? You were in DA together.”

Hermione grimaced. Something about Anthony Goldstein had always disagreed with her. Which was very unfair because he’d fought quite bravely during the Battle of Hogwarts. But there it was—she didn’t like Anthony.

“Can’t you just lock me in a room for a week? That’s what my neighbors always did with their dog,” Hermione said.

“You are not a dog, Miss Granger. You are a witch, and despite the fact that what is happening to you is beyond your control, it doesn’t mean that it won’t affect you emotionally and mentally to try to endure such a thing alone. It is quite simply not done.”

“I don’t want some boy I hardly know having sex with me because I’m in heat,” Hermione said stiffly. “I’m already a Muggle-born Omega. Doing an additional thing that is “not done” will be fitting. I’m not interested in having you haul in the nearest available Alpha to pity shag me. It might just be sex but—for me—I’m not the type for that. And I’m not interested in changing my attitude because I’ve “presented” into some bitchy baby machine.”

McGonagall sighed in resignation.

“I am not going to force you into anything. If that’s what you really want I’ll have it arranged for you. Poppy dosed you with a contraceptive earlier, so if you change your mind please call a house elf so that I can send someone to you.”

“I won’t,” Hermione said firmly.

“Very well. I’ve had a private room prepared for you. If Miss Weasley were not Head Girl I’d put you in the Head Girl room in Gryffindor Tower, but there are some guest dorms in another wing of the castle that will do just as well. I’ll go see if it’s ready and then we’ll transfer you there. Here is a book. I imagine you have more questions than I’ve answered.”

Minerva stood up and then passed through the quarantine wards. Leaving Hermione with a narrow volume to read.

Hermione stared at it. Omegas and Their Breeding Habits by Cornelius Erstwhile.

She balled her hands into fists and punched the mattress repeatedly.

“Bugger. Bugger. Bugger,” she muttered to herself feeling nearly hysterical. How had this happened to her? She wanted to cry but she was afraid that if she started she would never stop.

She swallowed her horrified frustration and opened the book.

“Omegas, the natural sexual submissive to the dominant Alpha, are small females designed for procreation as well as the sexual pleasure an Alpha. Until bonded they are of a wanton nature and have a natural tendency toward subservience toward any Alpha they encounter. Prior to soulbonding such traits can be somewhat suppressed by certain potions and become resolved when the witch reaches the end of her fertility…”

Hermione’s jaw clenched and magic danced at her fingertips so furiously she nearly set the book on fire. She forced herself to read on.

She wanted to believe that Cornelius Erstwhile was merely a sexist pig with a condescending view of Omegas. But her personal interactions with “Alpha” males made her terrified that the information contained in the book was unfortunately accurate.

According to the book she was, for all intents and purposes, about to turn into a bitch in heat. She would be nearly mindless with her desire to mate with an Alpha male. Apparently it was a itch that was impossible to have scratched by herself or by any beta males. She would want an Alpha and only an Alpha would do. Their anatomy was uniquely...sized to meet her apparent—needs.

She would go into heat every three months until she was pregnant. And she would draw in any Alphas not tied up in a marriage bond as though she were a lobster trap. Without quarantine wards to keep the scent contained they’d be able to smell her from miles away. They would quite literally scale walls and fight each other to get hold of her. It was instinctive. They weren’t capable of being rational about it. Wizarding society had ancient laws in place protecting Alpha from prosecution over behavior provoked by an Omega.

Apparently Omegas had no such laws protecting them. The assumption was that they would have an Alpha responsible for all their behavior.

Hermione was so enraged that her glass of water exploded.

It was so animalistic she could scarcely believe it. It was as though her belief that the wizarding world was a normal and largely civilized society had all been an illusion. Behind a veil of civility wizards were just waiting for a certain smell to turn them into wolves.

Cornelius explained in pompous language that traditional means of protecting society from the provocations of a wanton Omega was to get them married off to an Alpha in the year prior to presenting. Keeping the whole issue of heats and Alpha behavior private and sanitary behind closed doors.

Although Omegas could easily have more than half a dozen children they generally refrained from having more than three in order to avoid making it obvious what they were.

It was probably the reason why the Weasley’s large family was seen as somewhat scandalous. It shoved Molly’s Omega status in everyone’s face. Bringing to mind an aspect of Wizarding sexuality and reproduction that most people would prefer to ignore.

It explained why Ginny had seemed defensive when Hermione had tried to bring up the subject of Alphas.

The whole thing was just—shocking. The existence of Omegas felt like a mockery to the ideals of a civil society. One female was capable of reducing every Alpha male within miles into a hormone-driven beast who couldn’t think about anything but the need to shove her down on a mattress and shag her for days.

And she would want them to.

Hermione wanted to punch something. Preferably an Alpha.

She forced herself not to throw the book and instead read about Heats.

They ranged between five to seven days. Although they could be brought on prematurely if an Omega was exposed to multiple Alphas’ hormones.

She was going to be just wild with lust and desire for an Alpha.

The quantity of fluid involved was embarrassing to even read about. It was obscene. Within a few hours of the heat starting Hermione was going to become a veritable fountain of what was termed “slick.” She would be just drenched with arousal. Cornelius Erstwhile mentioned repeatedly the necessity of staying hydrated to make up for the vast quantity of lost fluid.

Hermione felt ready to die of mortification just reading about it.

In addition to apparently getting just soaked with arousal until she was slippery as an oil spill she had also developed what were termed “scent glands” upon her person. On her neck and wrists. The tension and itching she had been experiencing had been caused by their final development. Due to her constant exposure to Alphas the process had been slightly accelerated although the scent wouldn’t fully manifest itself to identify her designation until her first heat started.

The glands enticed Alphas and enabled them to identify her whether or not she was in heat. And they were sensitive and stimulated by touch. Alphas would obsessively lick and stroke them in order to layer their own scent onto her as a means of claiming her.

The pages of the book smoldered faintly.

Cornelius began describing what happened with an Alpha and an Omega during a heat.

When an Omega was in heat an Alpha exposed to her hormones reacted by going into his own heat, termed a rut. It was apparently necessary in order for the Alpha to keep up with the neediness of the Omega. The Alpha would essentially...mate the Omega—again and again. For days on end.

The quantity of sex sounded physically impossible.

And it was not just any sex. Alpha and Omega sex involved a insemination process called knotting. An Alpha’s genitalia swelled and bulged in a way that physically locked him inside the Omega. An Alpha would come for whole minutes and then remain there for up to half an hour.

Hermione wanted to throw the book. She also found herself uncomfortably aroused. Her rational side found it revolting but somewhere else inside of her she found the idea of being mindless and at the mercy of an anatomically implausible male something desirable. Something she wanted.

She looked up at the clock at the wall. It was already late evening. She could feel the potion suppressing her start to become stretched thin. The mind-numbing edge from that morning kept pushing to break through. She felt it growing and growing. Eventually it would swallow her.

She shifted nervously in the bed and rubbed at her wrists. The book lay forgotten on her lap.

She steeled herself. She didn’t need anyone. She could endure a week of horniness all by herself.

It would be fine. Just a week.

She nervously glanced up at the clock again.

Chapter Text

Draco Malfoy was skulking in an abandoned wing of Hogwarts.

He admitted it freely. Well, not if anyone were to come across him; he would deny it vociferously then. But—to himself—he freely admitted that he was skulking.

Generally speaking skulking would be considered something degrading and unacceptable for Malfoys to engage in. But, in Draco’s opinion, considering the long list of unfortunate and embarrassing things he’d done in his life the degradation of skulking barely registered.

His reasons for skulking were many.

For one, Daphne Greengrass was very aggressively in pursuit of him and dragging her sister along with her. She had sent him a letter out of the blue telling him that she had heard about his library. That it was regarded as one of the largest libraries in Britain and that she and Astoria would love if they could be invited to come and see it. That they would be honored.  

It was unexpected to say the least.

He had never heard of anyone using a library as a sexual euphemism. He ignored the letter. She sent a second one.

He asked Theo if he had any idea why the Greengrasses were writing to him about his library and Theo just smirked faintly and said they had written to him too. Theo said he’d already invited them to his manor earlier in the summer and both girls had spent an afternoon exploring it. Theo also mentioned that they’d written and been invited to Blaise’s townhouse for a day.

Largest library in Britain indeed. Draco ignored the letters.

But when he got onto the Hogwarts Express Daphne had immediately found him and asked about whether he’d gotten her letters and inquired if it was at all possible to maybe see his library over the Christmas Holidays. Draco had flatly said that as a general rule he did not just show his library to any witch who wanted to see it.  Then Daphne had gotten miffed and said she knew that Pansy had seen it anytime she wanted to and that Daphne couldn’t understand why he was unwilling to let herself and Astoria see it at least once.

Draco had awkwardly fled.

Having the Greengrasses’ ill-concealed whatever-it-was as the primary exception to his status as a social pariah was not really consoling. With the exception of Blaise and Theo the rest of his classmates made no effort to conceal their contempt of Draco and his family. He was damned on both sides. The Malfoys were either spineless traitors or spineless Death Eaters.  

He had gotten very talented at wandlessly casting shields due to the quantity of hexes shot at his back when walking down the halls.

Blocking hexes and avoiding other students was all he was allowed to do. He suspected that there were quite a few seventh and eighth years trying to provoke him into doing something that would get him expelled. Too bad for them; he was not going to give anyone the satisfaction.

He had returned to Hogwarts, per the conditions of his probation, and was determined to complete the year with his head down, grades to rival Granger’s, and not so much as a toe over the line. Because said toe could result in his expulsion, a violation the terms of his probation that could get him packed off to Azkaban to join his father.

Ergo, he was skulking in an abandoned wing of the castle trying to avoid everyone.

It was an exercise in self-preservation. The one and only talent everyone could agree that Malfoys possessed.

He pulled a textbook out of his bag and set to reviewing it. He’d had arithmancy that day. Granger had been mysteriously absent. It had been obvious because Vector had been assigning pairs and Granger, being absent and unable to protest, had the misfortune of being paired with him for the upcoming project.

He had been instructed to inform her. A conversation he was dreading.

Granger had been avoiding him like he was a contagious disease ever since she’d seen him on the Hogwarts Express.

Not that they were friends, or even cordial acquaintances; but the Golden Trio had made overtures of forgiveness toward the Malfoy Family. They’d all testified at both his trial as well as his mother’s and gotten him sentenced to probation rather than time in Azkaban. Granger had been downright decent to him after his trial, even though he had never given her any reason to do so in his entire life.

But whatever accommodations she was willing to afford him as a member of the Golden Trio she was clearly disinclined to carry over into her private life.

Which was understandable. He couldn’t imagine testifying on behalf of someone who had watched while he was tortured in their house.

He made a mental note to approach her in the Great Hall next time he saw her. He expected she’d just chose to endure the assignment. If not, he’d talk to Vector about extra-credit options to make up for the failing grade.

He honestly wasn’t sure which scenario he was dreading more. He’d rather not endure having it spelled out that she would prefer to get her first failed assignment. But on the other hand, working together on homework could be potentially problematic.

He was still adapting to all the changes caused by the abrupt growth spurt immediately following his eighteenth birthday. He hadn’t yet gotten used to his suddenly heightened senses.

The things he could hear and smell were distracting enough to make him want to set something on fire.

He had never, ever had the desire to smell a witch’s fertility but now he couldn’t stop himself from detecting it. At its height it smelled like ripe peaches. Which had permanently ruined peaches for him for forever.

When they were bleeding it was so obvious he could practically taste it in the air.

It was clear why wizarding education traditionally ended at seventeen. Trying to live in close quarters with several hundred fertile females was so overwhelming it wasn’t even arousing. Especially when the grand majority of the said witches were younger than him; some barely pubescent. Which made the knowledge distinctly depraved and vile-feeling.

And he knew exactly who was shagging whom. Every illicit and non-illicit relationship greeted him like a slap in the face. Anthony Goldstein was apparently using his newfound personality to try to shag his way through the sixth, seventh, and eighth year female population.

If he never smelled Goldstein on another witch it would be too soon.

Even without Draco’s general status of pariah and the attention of the Greengrasses he’d still be avoiding common areas devoutly.

If he’d come into his Alpha traits a few years earlier he probably would have been preening about and abusing his dominance right alongside Goldstein. In fact, two years prior, he had been planning on it.  

But having Voldemort live in his house for over a year had a severe damping effect upon his personality. Having an instinctive sense of power and influence over people felt uncomfortable to him. Also, the ministry was breathing down his neck and waiting for him to slip up so they could seize his inheritance and sentence him to a life in Azkaban.

Being an Alpha with a suddenly intrinsic need for control felt very unfortunately timed.

No one had warned him about how awful most teenage wizards smelled, nor about the quantities of body sprays, perfumes, and shampoos that witches like to bathe themselves in in addition to to their fecund peachiness.

Not to mention all the noise. He could hear a pin drop down a hallway. He was especially attuned to high pitches. Crying females especially. Even with muffling charms around his bed he could hear homesick first years sniffling in their beds.

The noise and the smells had all been thrust upon him for the purpose of aiding him in tracking down an elusive Omega like a hunting dog. Because apparently Alpha biology couldn’t be a bit more magical and a little less animal. No scrying mirrors or divining dreams for Alphas.

And it would never stop. Even when he was married he’d remain attuned to it. He would suffer with smelling every damn witch’s fertility for the rest of his life despite the infinitesimally small chance that an Omega would even appear in the near future.

The only ones he even knew of were Molly Weasley and his grandmother.

It was all annoying and futile feeling. But manageable.

Or rather it had been manageable until he made the mistake of talking to Granger four days earlier.

She had seemed off ever since the beginning of the school year. Skittish. She’d dash into the Great Hall and scarf her food down before fleeing again. She was never in the library. She’d stopped answering questions in classes. And when she’d blown up a cauldron in potions she’d seemed more distraught that several of the boys in class were swearing loudly in surprise than because she was dripping with sloth brain slime.

It had all be outré enough that Draco had felt driven to find out why. It was as though testifying at his trial had made Granger’s life his business.

Somehow his brain had thought an excellent means by which to check on her would be by aggressively approaching her until she was stumbling backwards trying to get away from him.

Seeing her get skittish and wide-eyed had made something inside him rear its head and so, rather than do the logical thing and step back and give her space, he decided to get closer.

In the process of doing so he discovered to his astonishment that Granger did not smell like peaches.

She smelled like—he couldn’t even describe it. Divine. He’d immediately wanted to know if she’d taste as good if he licked her.

He had an overwhelming impression that if he snogged her she’d stop looking scared. Because obviously if a boy bullied a girl for years and then tried to kiss her she’d be into it and not immediately attempt to castrate him in the middle of the hallway.

To stop himself to doing anything spectacularly stupid that might result in ending his family line Draco had turned tail and fled to his room.

He still couldn’t understand it.

He wondered if Muggle-borns just smelled different.

He hadn’t had many means by which to investigate whether the smell was a Granger thing or a Muggle-born thing. Most Muggle-borns had fled during the war. The only Muggle-born witches at Hogwarts aside from Granger were first years. If any of them had already gone through puberty he honestly didn’t want to know.

As for the kissing bit—well, he wasn’t quite sure what had abruptly come over him in regard to Granger. Becoming inexplicably and overwhelmingly attracted to her was a horrendously bad idea. So bad he could easily produce a bar graph to illustrate the various reasons why. Highpoints would include that bit where he had bullied her for seven years, been a Death Eater, and that time his insane aunt had tortured her in his drawing room for nearly an hour while he stood by and watched.

He shuddered faintly and tried to block the memory with occlumency. Of all the moments in the entire war that particular memory haunted him most. He had nightmares about it constantly. And sometimes he swore he could still hear her crying when he was alone.

As he sat in the hallway trying to block out the memory he almost thought he could hear it. The helpless, agonized sobs. It was as though they had burrowed into his eardrums and he was incapable of ever escaping them.

He groaned and smacked himself across the forehead with his arithmancy textbook.

Add hallucinations to his post-war trauma.

He would almost swear the sound was real. Faint wails echoing off the walls of the hallway.

He ground his teeth and forced himself to keep reading.

After half an hour he felt on the verge of losing his mind. The sobs were almost indiscernible but they sounded real. They would fade away and then suddenly start again. Every time it felt like a knife being driven into him and then twisted. He was getting completely overwhelmed by the urge to go save her.

There was bitter irony to abruptly developing a sense of chivalry after the war was over.

Unfortunately his Alpha instincts could not be convinced that they weren’t real cries. No matter how firmly he reminded himself that the sounds were hallucinations he couldn’t rationalize away the growing need he felt to respond to them.

He ground his jaw and kept rereading the same page of his arithmancy homework.

Finally he couldn’t take it any longer. It were as though his continued choice to sit and read was steadily corrupting something intrinsic to his nature. He felt as though he were going mad from it.

He shoved his book angrily into his satchel and set out to prove to himself that Granger was not crying in pain anywhere in an abandoned wing of Hogwarts.  

He strode quickly down the hallway in the direction of the sound. After walking to the end of the hallway and taking a left he nearly stumbled as he realised the sound had grown louder.

He hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should go get help. Heroics really weren’t his thing.

But it could take an hour before he’d find a professor or prefect who’d believe him and come. It would require him to turn and leave, heading in the opposite direction of wherever Granger was crying. The idea of walking away her at all was too horrible to even consider.

He broke into a run.

She was hurt. She was somewhere alone. He needed to get to her immediately.

It was all he could think about.

There was a desperate need to find her—to reach her—that made it very difficult for him to think about anything else.

As he progressed further down the hall her crying started growing fainter. He turned and went back. Going back and forth until he finally zeroed in on where the almost indiscernible sound seemed the loudest.

There were wards. A veritable mountain of them. Repelling wards. Muffling wards  Bedazzlement and disillusionment. He forced his way through them by sheer willpower until he finally found the door he had passed a dozen times. It was locked from both sides.

Whoever had hidden Granger had gone to considerable lengths to keep her from being found.

They had imprisoned her.

They were torturing her.

In Hogwarts.

Draco would have probably felt sick if he weren’t so preoccupied with being enraged.

He was going to kill them. Whoever they were, he was going to tear them limb from limb and then go to Azkaban with a smile on his face. It didn’t matter if he and Granger weren’t friends.

She had been tortured in his house while he stood and stared. Then she’d voluntarily testified on his behalf.

He owed her.

The only reason he’d even found her was because he knew what her sobs sounded like. The inflection of them had been tattooed into his brain. In a roomful of wailing he’d be able to pinpoint Granger apart from any other witch.

He tried breaking through the door and when it failed to give in under a Bombarda Maxima he proceeded to blow a hole in the stone wall.

As soon as he broke through the wall he was slammed by the overwhelming scent of her. It was as though someone had bottled her into a perfume and then drenched the entire room with it.

He barely paid attention.

He surveyed the room. There was an unmade bed. A couch and a table and no Granger. He followed the continued sobs down a hallway and found a bathroom.

She was huddled in the shower under a spray so frigid he could feel the cold mist from across the room. She was weeping and rocking on the floor and hugging her knees.

“Granger?” he rasped.

Her crying abruptly ceased and her head shot up. Her huge eyes immediately locked on his face. She gasped with relief and stretched out a hand toward him.

He immediately moved toward her and into the freezing water.

“Granger? What happened to you?” he asked.

She grabbed ahold of his school robes and then dragged herself into his arms, burying her face into his neck.

As she did so a detail that the endless streams of water had concealed suddenly became clear to him.

Granger was an Omega. And she was in peak of a heat cycle.

He had no idea how he knew but he was more certain of it than he was of his own name.

She was naked. And she had just climbed into his arms and started desperately licking the glands on his neck.

Before he had time to register his astonishment a wave of blinding arousal dropped down on him and smothered his ability to think coherently. His instincts rearing up and swallowing him.

He gathered her into his arms and pulled her out from under the spray of cold water. Pressing his nose against her neck and breathing in her scent. He ran his tongue across her skin and the combination of her scent and his was just positively, mind-bogglingly perfect.

He kissed her and she shuddered and kissed him back.

He slid his hands along her body.

His Omega. His. He had found her. She had been all alone and in pain and he had found her.

She needed him. He needed her.

He started running his hands over her icy skin to warm her. She was so cold. He could feel it radiating through his school uniform. He breathed along her shoulder and she pressed herself closer to him. She was shivering and grasping at his robes as though she expected him to disappear.

It had never occurred to him that he would ever actually find an Omega. It had been a total fantasy. They were so rare. Not even his father had found one. Even as a conceited little snot prior to the war Draco had never had the audacity to assume such a thing. Not even he had been that delusional.

But there she was.

He kissed her. He wrapped her legs around his waist and dragged her against himself. Her lips were so soft and sweet. Her face was pale and cold. He lifted his hands up and cradled her cheeks, trying to warm them.

Granger’s hands were tugging desperately as his buttons. He reached down and ripped his robes and shirt open.

Ever since he’d presented his temperature had run hot.

She pressed herself against him with a sigh. She was so cold. Her nose pressed against him felt like an ice cube. Her tongue, lightly running over his pectorals, felt like fire.

He cast a drying charm on her hair and kept running his hands over her back and shoulders, muttering warming charms. Even his hands dwarfed her. Her skin was silken to touch. He slid his fingers over her neck until she gave a sharp gasp of arousal and arched her neck to give him better access.

He dropped his head down and breathed her in. She smelled divine. A sweet, floral scent that had a slightly matured, spicy complexity that had been absent before.

She hadn’t fully presented that day in the hallway. That was why he’d hadn’t instinctively understood why she smelled different.

He ran the tip of his tongue along her neck and then made a slow, broad lick across her scent gland. She tensed and a deep moan rolled out of her as she arched against him. Her hands splayed reactively across his torso.

She was trembling with arousal.

Her body was steadily warming itself; burning quickly through the coldness she’d inflicted upon herself. As she burned he could feel himself rapidly rising to meet her heat.

He was getting flooded with hormones. He could fuck her for as long as she needed him. No matter her wants he’d match them perfectly.

He picked her up and carried her to the bed. As he laid her down he could feel his magic closing over the room, creating an impenetrable ward unlike the ones that had failed to keep him out.

His little Omega. He wouldn’t let anyone near her when she was so vulnerable.

Granger was writhing in his arms and scenting herself against him desperately. The desire the rip off his remaining clothing and drive into her was so powerful he was growling against her throat at the thought.

“Pleaaase…” she kept whimpering and panting in his ear. Her fingers were on his belt and then opening his trousers. He felt her wrap her fingers around his cock and he nearly bit down on the scent gland he had been dragging his tongue over. She slid her hand from base to tip, and guided him toward her burning core.

He hissed between his teeth and jerked in her hand.

His.

He was going to fuck her.

Sink every inch of himself into her tiny body and watch her take it. Knot inside her and then empty himself until he was bone dry.

His.

He’d fuck her and care for her through her whole heat. She’d keen at every touch. He’d scent into her skin until every Alpha in Britain knew she was his; that he’d taken her.

His Omega.

Perfect, perfect Granger.

He slid his hands lightly down her body, ghosting over her skin. Her breasts were firm and her nipples taut and peaked. Her whole body shook.

She was so sensitive. So needing.

He slipped his fingers through her slick and brought them up to taste. She wailed and bucked against his hand when he reached out to lightly touch her again. Her eyes were wide and locked on his face.

She was so fucking wet.

When she wasn’t so sensitive he was going to lick her cunt until she screamed.

He shoved his pants off and climbed onto the bed. Kneeling over her. Memorizing her.

He leaned down and kissed her as he aligned his hips. She spread for him desperately, open and submissive. He could feel her heat. She hooked her heel around his hips as he start to sink into her.

She needed him. Wanted him.

He was going to take her.

His. His Omega.

Except not...

He suddenly hesitated.

It was Granger. She was a perfect, needy Omega and she was not for him. Not by a long shot. He was poison. He was a Death Eater. She’d been tortured in his house.

He was not someone to dominate her.

As soon as her head cleared from her heat she would be panicked and horrified to find him over her. In her.

He ground his teeth, groaned, and jerked away from her.

Her hands darted out to stop him and he pulled further away. She sobbed and sat up.

“Don’t you—don’t you want me?” she said, her face devastated.

“Fucking hell, Granger,” he said and clamped his hand over his mouth and nose so that he’d stop smelling her. Stop tasting her.

It didn’t really help. The smell of her heat was already on his skin. “This is not—Let me get someone else.”

He deserved a monument for what he was doing.

Merlin, he wanted to know what she felt like—

He forced himself to refocus.

“Do you want Longbottom?” he asked.

She shook her head. Looking like she was about to cry.

“Goldstein?” he asked, clenching his jaw and struggling valiantly not to drag her back under him.

He might just die if she started smelling like a wanker like Goldstein.

She twisted her face and shook her head.

“Theo?”

If his best friend got to take Granger through her heat he was probably going to kill him later. It would simply be too unfair to endure.

“Who?” Granger said dazedly. Her hands kept inching toward him and he kept dragging himself further away. Trying to think straight. Trying not to notice the arousal slicking her inner thighs. Or how swollen and ready she was. His hand twitched as he fought against the urge to press his palm between her legs and feel how engorged and sensitive she’d become. He wanted her to grind against him.

“Theodore Nott?” he repeated. He struggled not to stare at her breasts. The nipples were flushed deep red and pebbled with arousal. If he slid his thumb across them she’d probably wail collapse onto him. If he could just touch her.

Fuck, he wanted her.

“We’ve never even spoken,” she said and took advantage of his daze to climb on top of him and take his cock into both her hands. She slid her fingers up and down the length of him and the sight made his brain short-circuit. “Please. I want this inside me. Take care of me.”

Her final words reached inside and activated something instinctive in him.

He couldn’t—

He surged up and flipped her under him. Aligning himself until the tip of his cock brushed against her slick, swollen folds. He shook, trying up hold back for an extra moment. She gasped and her eyes rolled back briefly as she squirmed down and tried to impale herself.

“Are you fucking sure?” he ground out.

“Yes. Yes. Please take me. Please take care of me, Alpha. ” She keened and bucked her hips to make him sink deeper.

His.

His to take care of.

“You’re mine. My Omega. You’re mine now. Every inch of you. No one else will ever touch you. You’re mine. Every heat you’ll be under me. It will be my seed inside you. My knot,” he growled the words against her throat as he pinned her under himself.

Her wrists were locked in his hand. Her slick, wanton body pressed under him. Perfect. His Omega. His.

“Ask me. Ask me to take you,” he ordered. His voice vibrated through her and she shuddered and arched under him.

“Please. Please,” she said.

He sank inside of her. She gasped and nodded and begged him to go deeper.

She was so small. It should have been impossible for her to take him but he drove in every inch and she wailed with pleasure. When he was all the way in they both froze as they experienced the sensation.

Perfect.

So perfect.

He hadn’t known anything could feel so good. It was—

Exquisite.

Divine.

If he weren’t a wizard he would have immediately proclaimed faith in any religion that could lay claim to the utter perfection he was experiencing. She was so good.

It was like she was made for him.

Velvet and molten heat. She felt as soft as liquid beneath his body and so small. He would break her if he weren’t careful.

His jaw clenched and his whole body shook as he tried to contain the pleasure surging through him. He had never been so hard.

Granger looked like she were going into shock. Her eyes were wide and her expression dazed. Her hands were gripping his shoulder and tangling in his hair and dragging him closer as she arched her hips and tried to achieve the friction she wanted.

He kissed her. He dragged her so tight against his body it was impossible to say where either of them ended or began as he started moving his hips, driving into her.

“Mine. You’re mine now,” he growled against her lips.

Her mouth tasted like honey. He couldn’t stop kissing her, touching her, running his fingers across her breasts.

As he felt himself start to grow inside her he dropped his head down to lick and suck and gently slide his teeth over her glands. It made her clench and tremble around him.

The sensation was unreal. She got tighter and tighter and her face showed exaltation. When he was fully locked inside of her he felt his balls tighten and a tension radiate across his lower back as he started to come against her cervix.

He muttered promises to her. Anything, he’d give her anything. He’d never stop taking care of her. He told her how perfect she was. He told her that she was his; that she’d always be his.

Granger’s eyes grew bigger and it felt as though she were imploding. A deep shudder rolled through her whole body. Her gasps shivered over the sweat on his skin. She gripped him so tightly it became hard to breathe. Her burning, clenching cunt contracted like a vise around his knot as he jerked inside of her. Filling her with his seed.

She thrashed, bending backwards so rigidly he was afraid she’d break. He dragged her closer to himself, holding her wrists with one hand while he kissed and stroked her, telling her that she was perfect. He wanted to remind her that she was his .

Draco kept coming inside of her for minutes. Theoretically he knew it was possible, but the actual experience was mind bending. It was like feeling the rebirth of a universe. His whole world simultaneously exploded and reduced itself to a single point. It went on and on and on until his entire brain was alight and felt like he must be coming apart at a cellular level.

When it finally eased he slumped down and kissed her.

It was—bliss. He hadn’t known it was possible for anything to be so impossibly sublime.

“Good girl,” he muttered against her mouth.”Good girl. You’re such a good girl. I’m so pleased with you.”

The words were like magic on Granger. Her expression flooded with pleasure and relief and she burrowed against him. They were still tied together. He shifted off her so that they were both lying on their sides. She was so small he could move her any way he wanted. He arranged her in his arms and slung her leg over his hip so he could slide his hand along it. He would never forget the precise way her body fit under him.

He tangled his other hand in her hair and brushed the curls aside so that he could run his thumb against the gland on her neck. She arched her neck and buried her face into his chest and seemed to be breathing him in the same way he was breathing her. The air smelled like them. And sex. And sweat. It was all so mixed it was impossible to differentiate. It was just one smell. Of them.

They were one.

Granger was exhausted and her whole body grew limp against his. He gathered her closer to himself and felt her fall asleep in his arms while he kept scenting on her and touching her lightly.

He memorized her breathing patterns and the sensation of her skin and ran his hands over all her curves. He should probably have stopped licking her but he couldn’t  help himself. He had an insatiable need to taste her.

He wanted to bite her. He wanted to make his claim on her permanent.  He wanted to ensure no one could take his place. Then she’d only want him.

But even in the height of a rut he was aware that it crossed a line that he had no business going anywhere near.

However, when the swelling finally eased enough that he was able to slip out of her he reached his hand down and gathered some of his seed and spread it over the glands on her neck and wrists. Lightly massaging it into the skin.

She was his. If any Alpha came near her they wouldn’t be able to ignore that Draco was there first. Not that it would stop them. Every unmarried Alpha in Britain and potentially most of Europe will try to get ahold of her if given half a chance.

But they’d all know he was with her first. That he was the one caring for her during her heat.

An hour later when he had finally licked and caressed and held her to a point that he was capable of thoughts not based on pure instinct it occurred to him that he had specifically thought earlier in the day that being interested in Granger was a terrible idea. That he shouldn’t be there.

He banished the thought.

He tried. He fucking tried. He literally offered to personally go get Goldstein to see her through her heat. If there was anything else he should have done he was at loss as to what it was.

He wasn’t going anywhere. She was his. She needed him.

He had to keep her warm and safe and fed. He had an overwhelming sense that he shouldn’t leave her, even briefly. It might have merely been his own possessiveness but he couldn't tell.

He wasn’t risking it.

When she’d been alone, she’d cried like she had when his aunt was maiming her.

He nuzzled against her neck and breathed in her heady scent. She burrowed closer to him with a sigh. His.

Chapter Text

Heat began burning into Hermione’s exhaustion and reaching her consciousness like tongues of a flame. A growing need steadily started to encroach upon her dreams until she became aware that she was writhing, trying to find friction and a sense of satisfaction.

Something hot and wet wrapped itself around her nipple and then there something pressed between her legs right where she wanted it. It was hot and firm and bearing down against her so she could grind her pelvis up into it.

It was not enough. The need kept growing larger and larger but she couldn’t seem to reach the edge. It kept darting beyond her.

She arched up and felt ready to go to pieces with frustration.

Suddenly the teasing heat on her breasts vanished and she was pinned down, her wrists held above her head. Hot skin was pressed against hers. Heavy. Safe. She could feel the faintest touch along her neck and moaned.

“So perfect.”

She heard the words growled against her throat and it made something inside her shudder. A tongue slid up her neck and she spasmed, writhing and wrenching at the hold on her wrists.

She felt lips lightly playing across one of the glands on her neck as something slid between her legs and slowly caressed her clitoris. She opened her legs further and lifted her hips.

She was so close.

So close.

She could barely breathe with wanting.

She felt a light touch glide over her labia and it was so swollen and over-sensitive she felt as though she were on fire. About to die. There was a hollowness inside of her that felt as though it were eating her.

She sobbed.

She felt a long finger slowly sink into her and she clenched around it as a broad thumb pressed lightly against her. Stroking. Teasing.

She felt ready to shatter. A second finger slid into her. And she felt two fingers roll her over-sensitive nub gently between them as the mouth teasing along her neck suddenly closed over one of her glands and sucked hard.

She shook and exploded.

Her whole body spasmed and shuddered as she rode through her orgasm. When she stopped shuddering through the aftershocks she felt the fingers withdraw themselves from her and the hold on her wrists vanish.

She opened her eyes dazedly and looked up at Draco Malfoy.

The need—the edge driving her—had been momentarily dulled.  She felt somewhat coherent as she stared up at him.

She had already known it was him. The nerves in her spine had already memorised the vibrations of his timbre. And his perfect scent had been wrapped around her like a cloak.

But seeing him still felt surreal. As though it defied a universal law of some sort.

She studied his face. She’d never before seen the expression he currently wore. He looked—reverent.

“How—how are you here?” she asked dazedly. She reached up and touched his cheek to reassure herself that he wasn’t an illusion.

“I heard you crying,” he said, studying her carefully. “I was afraid you were hurt.”

“Oh, she said in bewilderment. Something in the back of her mind felt as though the answer made no sense. But most of her was just overwhelmed that he was there. He was with her. She wasn’t trapped alone in a state of unassuageable misery.

He seemed to be searching her face for something.

“Do you—,” he started and his eyes flickered slightly. He clenched his jaw as though he were swallowing something bitter. He opened his mouth to start again when Hermione reached out and pulled him down on top of her.

The feeling of his weight on her made her hum with satisfaction. She breathed in against him. He smelled like her. She nuzzled along his neck and traced her tongue up to the spot at the juncture of his shoulder where one of his scent glands were.

She knew exactly where to find it.

When she laved her tongue across it he shuddered and gripped her tightly beneath him. She sighed in response.

“You’re mine,” he muttered into her ear.

It’s a reminder; something he’d already said to her before. She could feel it. It was as though he’d buried the promise in her heart and when he repeated the words it unfurled itself like a golden snitch and fluttered.

She pressed her lips against his shoulder and lay beneath him relishing the sensation. Safe. Warm.

It didn’t seem possible to be close enough to him. She pressed herself against his chest wishing she could sink into him. If she were somewhere under his ribs, by his heart, that would be about close enough.

As she lay there, crushed beneath him, feeling his hand sliding through her hair, and his breath against her neck she felt—

Belonging.

Like she’d found a place for herself that was made for her.

The feeling unspooled a tension in the back of her mind that she didn’t even know she had.

But before she had much time to enjoy it the feeling began to fade away, as though she were parchment and someone had held a burning match against her. She slowly began catching fire. Heat. It started prickling across her skin and robbing her of the peace she’d found.

She shifted and jerked slightly as she tried to ignore it. She fought to control it. Tamp it down and ignore it.

It kept growing.

She hated it. She was growing too hot.

Her neck. Her lower abdomen. Her wrists. Everything was becoming overly-sensitive.

Trying to keep still and endure it felt harrowing.

She needed to relieve it.

A cold shower, she thought to herself. If she were cold enough then the pieces in her mind might have time to rearrange themselves. She’d remember how to think. There were things she was overlooking. She felt certain.  She’d find a solution if she took a shower.

There was something off that she couldn’t place.

She pushed at Malfoy and tried to climb away. He shifted off but didn’t let go.

“Shower,” she gasped. “I need to cool down—too hot. Fever.“

A strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her back.

A corner of her mind was chanting something but she couldn’t understand it.

She was so thirsty. Hot. Everything was too hot. Her whole body was growing agitated by the urgent need for something.

She knew—at some point she had known what was going on—but her fever had burned it away.

“I need—,” she tried to explain but her voice trailed away.

She didn’t know.

It was all lost. Her mind felt like a burned out building. Full of traces of things she couldn’t identify.

The loss of control made her feel hysterical. She didn’t know what she was supposed to hold onto when the whole world felt like fire.

She panted and tried to get up again.

A shower. Surely a shower would help.

Malfoy wouldn’t let her leave the bed. He wrapped another arm around her and dragged her into his lap.

”I’ll take care of you,” he murmured against her neck. The vibrations of his voice sank into her and she stilled for a moment.

“It’s so—,” she started, trying to explain what was happening. She could barely breathe. Even inside of her lungs it felt like fire. Why was it so hot? She started to pant rapidly, trying to breathe.

She felt trapped between a sense of instinct and her mind. On both sides she felt that she had the answer to what was wrong with her. That she knew what she was supposed to be doing. But caught between instinct and reason—caught on fire—she couldn’t remember.

She felt so helpless.

She started crying.

Suddenly she found herself lying on her back on the bed. Malfoy was kneeling over her, her wrists were pinned under one of his hands while his other slowly slid along her body. Distantly she realised that they were both naked. However the feeling of his hand ghosting over her sternum and along her stomach felt more urgent than her clothes.

She arched up and Malfoy kissed her.

Oh.

His lips were gentle against hers, his hand cupped her breast, and she felt her whole body melt under his touch. The fire coiled and slipped away from her skin and gathered into a pool in her lower abdomen. She could feel it overflowing. Hot liquid was slipping out between her legs.

Malfoy deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue along her lips and then delving in and caressing her tongue. Hermione moaned against his lips and twisted her body trying to press herself against him.

He drew away from her lips.

“I’m going to take care of you,” he said in a low voice. His eyes were almost onyx as he stared at her. She whimpered and arched her head back to expose her neck where it had started throbbing.

“Good girl,” he said.

He dipped his head down and breathed in along her skin. The mere sensation of air across the sensitive spot made her tense and a fresh wave of liquid heat gathered inside of her. She keened and pressed herself against him.

She felt his hand leave her breast and reach down between her legs. She felt his fingers sliding through the liquid and the heat and the unbearable need. The mere touch made her vision suddenly vanished.

A deep moan was torn from her.

“Merlin, Granger, you’re so ready,” Malfoy said, his voice sounded choked as though he were overwhelmed. “You’re so perfect.”

Hermione felt herself slide toward instinct. The chant in the back of her mind that she hadn’t understood grew louder.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

She spread her legs and arched her head back further.

Malfoy let go of her wrists and moved between her legs.

She stared up at him in a daze. He was so reassuring to stare at. His smell and weight and strength…

It was like he was made for her. Like she was made for him.

He was staring at her and his face grew predatory and possessive in way that thrilled something deep inside her.

He ran his hand over her abdomen and caressed her hip before sliding along her thigh. Opening her. His eyes were fastened on her body as though he were drinking her in.

“You’re mine. All of you,” he said, his voice was deep and unyielding, as though it were grabbing hold of something inside of her. She could feel the heat inside of her grow white hot and he began caressing between her legs as he spoke. Sliding his fingers through the slick flooding out of her until the hollowness in her lower abdomen grew almost agonizingly sharp. But his touch calmed her and his fingers glided up toward where she needed him. Her skin could have been set on fire again but she’d stay perfectly still if he kept touching her and talking to her. “You’re always going to be mine. No one else will ever touch you like I do. My perfect Omega. I will never let anyone hurt you again.”

Her whole body started trembling with want and he rested his warm hand over her pelvis.

“You’re so patient. Such a good girl,”

Then he leaned forward and she felt something impossibly large prod between her legs, sliding into the heat.

She spread her legs further for him.

He pushed in and she could feel her body shifting to accommodate his. He kept pressing in. Deeper. And deeper. And deeper. It shouldn’t have been possible. She felt impossibly full; moulded around him until there was no room left but he still kept sliding in deeper

As he continued pushing in, he leaned over her until his chest crushed hers. He gathered her into his arms and kissed her deeply.

“You’re so perfect,” he told her. “You have no idea—“

He finally was buried to the hilt inside of her and she lay limp beneath him. Her mind felt as though it had ascended into a different plane. There was just fullness, the most perfect sensation of fullness. His voice and scent everywhere as though he had planted his soul inside of her they were permanently entwined.

“This—this is so good,” he said, as he started moving. “You have no idea—oh Merlin, Granger, you are so perfect.”

Hermione wanted to tell him—something. There were things she thought she should be saying back but she couldn’t force them out. Her body felt as though she had been dropped into a pool of pure magic. As though she were glowing like fairy light.  The sensation was otherworldly.

Everything. Everything was building inside of her as though Malfoy were drawing her up into some kind of ascendance. Under him, filled with him, he was leading her somewhere—somewhere transformative.

He dropped his head down to her neck and ran his lips over the scent gland as he picked up his pace. He was driving into her with hard, deep strokes and she wrapped her legs around his hips.

The most delicious pounding sensation driving her rapidly upward.

But then the pounding grew abbreviated. Not as deep. She could feel him expanding inside her until they were tied together. She twisted in frustration. She’d been so close—so close to something—

She didn’t want to be teased. She needed—

He pulsed inside of her. The sensation of hot, liquid bathing the inside of her and suddenly all the driving, building, burning sensations contracted down inside of her and she shattered.

Waves of pleasure shot through her and her body was arching and shaking and everything, everything was blindingly white. She—there were no way to describe it, even in her mind. Just sensation beyond anything her body could contain.

The pulsing sensation went on and on until she felt like she must be dying. Her whole mind was alight with an explosion. It was dying. It was rebirth. It as went beyond her body, as though her magic and very soul were on the verge of shooting out of her like a shock wave. She heard herself sobbing.

“You’re so perfect. So good. My perfect, perfect girl. I’m always going to take care of you,” Malfoy was saying as though the words were being dragged out of him. She could feel all the muscles in his chest and arms straining and taut as he ground himself down against her. “Perfect little Omega. You're mine .”

It is the most incredible thing Hermione had ever experienced. It felt supernatural. As though it defied the bounds of the human body. She’d never known anything could affect her so wholly. As though it hadn’t been merely a physical experience, but also mental and emotional and even spiritual.

She didn’t know where she ended and Malfoy began. Everything was so instinctively synchronized between them. As though they bled over into each other.

Malfoy slumped down against her body and kissed her as he cradled her head in his hands and they both panted and tried to recover.

Then he rolled onto his back, carrying her with him and arranged her atop him. Her head was nestled under his jaw where she could easily smell and lick him.

She lay on him for several minutes while her heart rate slowed, feeling the sensation of him still locked deep inside of her.

Gradually her head cleared slightly.

There was no more fire or burning sensations, just a delightful afterglow. Malfoy’s chest radiated heat into her.

Hermione paused as a thought which hadn’t been able to fully occur to her finally made itself to the forefront of her mind.

She lifted her head and stared dazedly into his face.

“How are you here?” she asked.

Had she asked the question before? It felt familiar but everything in her mind was heavily blurred. He had been with her for a long time. She could feel it. Smell it.

His touch was something she knew intimately.

“I heard you crying,” he said, studying her carefully. “I was afraid you were hurt.”

“Oh,” she said resting her head against his chest and lightly tracing her fingers over his scent glands. She could feel him pulse slightly inside of her at the touch. “Have I asked you that question before? It feels like I keep asking it and then forgetting.”

He rested a hand lighting between her shoulder blades and she arched slightly into it.

“You ask me every time,” he said.

“How many times is that?”

“I’ve lost count,” he admitted.

“Oh,” she said and blushed and buried her face in his chest.

“You’re more lucid now though,” he said. “Your heat is probably almost over. The first heat is always the hardest because your body doesn’t know how to regulate all the hormones yet. You’ll stay more aware the next time you have one.”

“Oh,” she said again. “I didn’t know. I only found out a little bit before it started. So, I didn’t really have a chance to read about it.”

She felt like she should say something else. That there were things that she and Malfoy should be discussing. Significant mental leaps that she had taken in regard to the current situation that she felt she should be strongly objecting to.

But Malfoy’s mouth was mesmerizing and his voice vibrating through her chest felt like a bed of crushed velvet. And the feeling of him still inside of her made something in the back of her mind feel deliriously happy.

He was staring at her as though he belonged to her.

She ignored the things and kissed him instead and he gathered her close and kissed her back.

He felt familiar under her hands. But consciously she felt as though it were the first time she had kissed him. She slid her hands across his chest and up into his hair and kissed him until her lungs felt on the verge of exploding.

When they broke apart she stared at him panting and sighed.

“You smell like me,” she said. It felt like an odd thing to say but the thought made her happy. As though she had a kneazle in the back of her mind that was purring in possessive satisfaction.

His eyes glinted faintly as he stared back at her.

“You smell like me,” he said.

“I know,” she said smugly, melting against him and sighing happily.

She didn’t think she had ever felt so good physically. She hadn’t even known it was possible to feel so delightfully happy.

Her mind was dozing. She just lay and basked in the sensation of his warmth while he ran his hands over her.

Eventually he rolled her onto her side and starting caressing and licking along her throat. It sent ripples of pleasure through her body down to her toes.

He was still scenting on her when their bodies finally unlocked from each other and she felt him slide out of her.

A sense of wistfulness came over her but before she could dwell on it he had her pinned beneath him started dragging his tongue down the inside of her wrists.

“Oooh,” she shuddered out. “That’s so good.”

After several minutes of lying and feeling overwhelmed by him he drew back.

“You need to drink something,” he said and reached over and grabbed a goblet of pumpkin juice from a table nearby. He pulled her up and into his lap so that she was leaning back against his chest as though he were her throne. Then he slipped the goblet into her right hand and lightly ran his fingers up and down her left shoulder and arm while she drank it.

He couldn’t seem to stop touching her, she realized. He was keeping her as close to himself as he possibly could.

There was something oddly surreal about it but Hermione couldn’t think of what it was. It was just—nice.

She didn’t want him to stop touching her. If he stopped—she didn’t know—

It felt like something horrible would happen to her if he weren’t touching her anymore.

When she had finished two goblets of pumpkin juice she rested her head against his chest and listened to his heartbeat while she dozed against him. He slid his fingers along her sternum and she felt the heat from them seeping into her bones.

Then the burning started again.

She felt less at a loss when it stirred her from her happy daze, as though the intensity had eased. It seemed as though she were getting closer to breaking through the surface and back into her mind.

Malfoy seemed to have sensed she was burning again because when she looked up at him he was already staring down at her with hooded eyes. When her eyes met his he slid a hand up into her hair at the base of her neck and kissed her for a long time before pushing her down and sliding into her.

Her mind finally felt aware. The present was a haze but it finally felt thinned enough that she understood what was happening. She was in heat. The burning feeling that kept swallowing her was her heat. Malfoy cooled it. Calmed it. Held her down and drove into her until she came apart and then steadied her through the inferno.

She lost count of how many times they had sex.  

Each time the heat was a bit less. The sex was slower. They could both tell they were almost to the end. Hermione’s mind felt more free of the haze each time.

She discovered there was a language between them that felt fundamental. When he came inside of her promises and praise poured from his lips. The same ones each time.

Anything, he’d give her anything. He’d never stop taking care of her. He told her how perfect she was. He told her that she was his; that she’d always be his.

The words all coiled inside of her and made her mind blur happily, drawing out promises of her own. Promises that she was his. She told him that he was perfect, that he took care of her so well. She told him that he was hers. Her Alpha. Her perfect Alpha.

During the last time—she could tell it was the last time—reality pressed through the fire and fog more clearly then before. As they were both lay panting and entwined with each other she looked up at him and it abruptly struck her why it was surreal feeling that he was there.

Because it was surreal.

Because he was Draco Malfoy and she was Hermione Granger and he had never liked her. He hadn’t even considered her worthy of attending school with him. He’d thought her blood made her undeserving of having a wand and being a witch.

As the realization struck her she felt it cut something deep inside of her. She felt the blood drain from her face as she stared at him.

He was studying her intently and immediately seemed to see the shock in her expression. A bitter smile ghosted across his face.

She grasped for a way to express her bewilderment, trying to reconcile the recent past with the rest of the past.

She was so tired. She could feel her mind slipping away with exhaustion. He was still knotted inside of her. She tried to formulate which question she was supposed to ask.

The pressing question she had kept re-asking him and the answer that he had given made the least sense to her. She had kept asking, how was he there? And he’d always said it was because he heard her crying and thought she was hurt.

“Why—why would you care if I was hurt?” she finally managed to ask.

He stared at her for so long she could feel her eyes starting to droop. She tried to keep looking at him but her head dropped down onto his chest.

“I owed you,” she finally heard him say. “You testified for me.”

She felt something heavy take up residence in her chest.

“You protected Harry,” she said quietly. “You had every reason not to but you refused to identify him, of course I testified for you.”

“I didn’t protect you,” he said.

“I never expected you to,” she said drowsily, “And what could you have done anyway? There was nothing you could have done to protect me.”

“I know,” he said and his voice sounded hollow.

If he said anything else Hermione didn’t hear it. She slipped into a deep sleep against his chest, breathing in the scent of him.

Chapter Text

When Hermione woke Malfoy was gone. She could sense his absence before she opened her eyes. The scent of him in the room was fading; it was hours old.

She knew she shouldn’t feel hurt but she was.

She rolled over and scolded herself internally. Did she expect to wake and find him still next to her? That he’d decide he didn’t care about her blood status and they’d decide to date each other because the sex was amazing?

She snorted.

As Hermione sat up and surveyed the room she began to vaguely remember him trying to leave. Trying to go get someone else. She had an increasingly distinct recollection of him trying to fight through his instincts and stay away from her.

She had proceeded to climb on top of him and started to give him a handjob.

Hermione hid her face in her pillow at the memory.

After that there had been a lot of incoherent sex that she could only partially recall. They’d both been swept up in the Alpha-Omega dynamic, full of words and promises that stemmed from somewhere instinctive.

Malfoy had probably remembered himself again the moment her heat ended, once his head had cleared from all the hormones and instincts she induced in him. The bitter smile that had appeared on his face as the fog finally faded stood out starkly in her memory.

Hermione still hadn’t wrapped her mind around it all.

Hormones or not, she wanted to die of embarrassment.

The worst part was that if it were to happen again, she wasn’t sure she could have done anything differently. Despite her initial resolve to endure her heat alone she had quickly discovered that resolving to do so was one thing. Actually trying to endure it was another matter entirely.

It had been awful.

And she categorized it as such with the authority of someone who had been crucio’d repeatedly by Bellatrix Lestrange.

Her body had felt like it were burning. Every inch of her attuned and over-sensitive in anticipation of something that wasn’t happening. Everything hurt her skin. Her clothes. Water. Even the sheets. Her state of arousal was unassaugeable. Anything she did to try to relieve it just increased the frustrated, all-consuming need.

The physical anguish had only been a part of it. It was the mental aspect of it that had nearly broken her.

She wasn’t supposed to be alone. The isolation provoked an overwhelming sense of wrongness in her at an instinctive level.

Someone was supposed to be there. Someone was supposed to be with her; to help her, soothe her.

But no one was.

She had been all alone. No one was there for her.

It had made her nearly hysterical.

She was hurting inside and out and no one was coming to make it better.

It just got worse and worse. Hour after hour.

When she had moments of not crying and trying madly to find someway to relieve the all-encompassing misery she was experiencing, she had wanted to call for McGonagall to send for someone, but there wasn’t anyone she could think of. She wasn’t going to ruin Neville’s relationship with Hannah by having a week long orgy with him. Goldstein, she—she didn’t know. He just felt—wrong.

She hadn’t wanted some stranger coming and touching her and shagging her. The thought had made her shudder.

Charlie Weasley was days away at a dragon reserve. Not to mention that having sex with Ron’s older brother seemed inappropriate.

Malfoy had not even entered her mind as an option.

Until he was there.

Then he was all she wanted.

He had tried to get away.

So she had climbed on top of him.

Oh god. She groaned and buried her face in a pillow.

Granted he seemed to have enjoyed it. Surely he could have left sooner if he’d wanted to. He had seemed like he had wanted to be there. Touching her. Scenting on her over and over again. He’d barely let her leave his grasp.

Perhaps it had all been due to instincts and hormones. An Alpha thing. He had seemed more lucid than she was in the brief moments she could recall clearly but maybe that was only in contrast to her utter incoherence.

She never wanted to show her face again. The entire situation was just too embarrassing and inappropriate feeling to endure.

However she was desperate to get out of the room. It was thick with the smell of sex and Malfoy’s scent. It made her feel like she was pining for him.

Being all alone in the aftermath of a heat felt horribly vulnerable.

She rubbed her wrists subconsciously, trying to comfort herself. Then she squared her shoulders and went to the bathroom to take a shower. A hot shower.

The closest thing to relief she had found before Malfoy’s appearance was sitting under numbingly cold water. It dulled the heat and made her so uncomfortable in a different way that she was less attuned to how aroused and wanting she was. Then she’d just had to handle the psychological aspect.

She stepped under scalding water and scrubbed herself from the top of her head down to her toes until her skin was rosy. Trying to get Malfoy’s scent out of her skin. But when she stepped out and started toweling off it was still there. As though he’d imprinted himself into her.

She stepped back under the water and tried four more times. It lessened somewhat but was still inescapable and her skin felt nearly raw. By whatever means it had ended up there it it wasn’t removeable with soap. She tried casting freshening charms and scourgifying charms on herself. It wouldn’t budge.

She gave up and dressed. Then she walked back into the bedroom. The room smelled thick with Malfoy.

She cast several cleaning charms over the room and bed. The quantity of staining on the sheets was mortifying.

Then she hurried out. Malfoy had apparently taken down almost all the wards McGonagall had set up and damaged the wall significantly in his haste to get away.

She made her way directly to the Headmistress’ office.

“Miss Granger,” McGonagall greeted her, eyeing Hermione carefully. “You’re seeming more yourself.”

Hermione flushed. She could only vaguely recall being extremely aroused and emotional when she was placed in the room while McGonagall was warding the door. It was not, generally speaking, her finest moment. In fact it had been rather one of the most mortifying things that had ever happened to her.

“Yes. It’s over now,” Hermione said, staring down at her hands.

There was a long pause.

“Mr Malfoy—“ McGonagall began in a tentative voice, “disappeared for several days. I discovered the wards on your room were replaced. Since I didn’t send him, I’m assuming he entered by himself.”

Hermione looked up wide-eyed and nodded cautiously. The Headmistress’ expression tightened.

“Given your history together I cannot imagine you solicited his company. While the law may be inclined to overlook anything an Alpha does around an Omega in heat, I am not. If it was not consensual that is more than sufficient ground for his expulsion.”

Hermione started slightly. Attending Hogwarts was one of the conditions of Malfoy’s probation. Expulsion would mean he’d violated them. He could be sent to Azkaban for it.

“No!” Hermione said quickly, “It was—consensual. I—think...”

“I hope you aren’t feeling obliged to protect him for some reason,” Minerva said, her eyebrows furrowed and her expression concerned.

“No. It’s not anything like that,” Hermione faltered. “He—he offered to go get someone else. I wanted him to stay. In fact—I rather jumped him. I’m not sure—I know that legally speaking Alphas aren’t regarded as responsible for their actions. But I’m not sure how it works with Omegas. I might have—,“ she stuttered slightly and nearly fell from her chair as a horrifying thought struck her. “I think—I might have forced him. Oh god!”

Minerva’s eyebrows raised themselves slightly. “I find that rather hard to believe,” she said.

“No. I think I did,” Hermione said tremulously. “It’s—I can’t remember everything clearly. I wasn’t entirely lucid, but I think he was trying to leave. Then I climbed on top of him and forced him to give in and stay.”

Hermione kept shrinking further into her seat, growing increasingly horrified. “I should go apologize. No—he probably won’t want anything to do with me. Oh my god, I sexually assaulted Malfoy!”

Hermione covered her face with her hands and wished someone would stun her and put her out of the misery for a while.

“Perhaps it would be advisable if I met with him and asked for his version of events,” offered Minerva. “However, Miss Granger, before you flagellate yourself entirely over your self-confessed sexual assault, please recall that I personally devised an extremely intricate set of protective wards around your room and he blew up a wall to get through them. If he hadn’t wanted to stay with you the obvious means of avoiding it would have been not destroying school property and then re-warding the room once he was inside.”

Hermione felt slightly mollified to hear that Malfoy had blown up the wall to get in rather than out as she had initially assumed.

“You’ll let me know?” she asked cautiously. “If I did—I don’t know.” Hermione buried her face in her hands again. “I don’t know what I can do to make it up to him if he feels like I assaulted him.”

“I’ll keep you informed,” Minerva said, her voice slightly indulgent sounding. “However, given that your heat has passed there are some things that are necessary for us to discuss.”

Hermione nodded and straightened attentively trying to shove thoughts of Malfoy to the back of her mind.

“You aren’t going to be able to conceal your designation,” McGonagall said. “Betas won’t be able to detect it. But I’m afraid that even with a suppressant potion any Alpha who comes within a few feet of you will realize it.”

Hermione nodded. “I thought that might be the case, based on my reading.”

“We can try to keep the news contained within the school but it’s unavoidable that you’ll begin receiving attention from the Alphas here at Hogwarts. I suspect that it will be noticeable enough that the news may reach the public eventually.”

“But—,“ Hermione said slowly, furrowing her brow. “My heat is over now. Why would they be interested?”

“Because they’ll want to marry you, Miss Granger,” Minerva said.

Hermione stared. “Why? In order to have more children?” she asked, feeling skeptical about just how concerned the average wizard generally was about quantity of his progeniture. Then a horrified thought came to her, “Will they want me because I’ll be servile?”

Minerva’s expression grew uncomfortable. “That could be the motivation for some. However, there is more to Omegas than merely submission and procreation. Did you finish the book I left with you?”

Hermione shook her head, blushing faintly. “No. Sorry. It became difficult to focus.”

Minerva’s face softened. “Of course. This has all been quite sudden. That's why I wish to do everything in my power to protect you while you come to terms with what has occurred. I hope to provide you with as many options as I can.”

“Thank you.”

“Now. As I mentioned, you're quite likely to receive a great deal of attention. I assume you won't want to withdraw from school if it's possible to avoid that.”

Hermione nodded.

“The girls' tower of Gryffindor should be safe for you. However in common areas and hallways anyone can approach you, I am concerned that some eager Alphas might take advantage of your Omega traits in order to get your attention.”

Hermione felt cold. “The suppressants potions help though, don’t they?”

“I believe that they do. I have had Horace brew a batch. You’ll need to take a vial daily. However, it will not suppress the traits entirely. I have discussed it with Miss Weasley; we could assign beta prefects to accompany you between classes if you would like.”

Hermione stared. “Surely that’s a bit excessive, isn’t it?”

“I have to admit, I don’t know. Insofar as I am aware, a presented Omega has never attended Hogwarts. Alphas happen occasionally. Having an eighth year class I had anticipated having a dozen or so. But you are the first presented Omega to attend Hogwarts, and you’re unbound. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t want to be careless with you.”

“Omegas are that rare?”

“You’re the only unmarried one to present in as long as I can recall. Beyond that, you’re the first Omega I’ve known of since Molly Weasley.”

Hermione choked slightly. “I didn’t realise they were that unusual.”

“Before Molly the only other Omegas I knew were Druella Rosier and a friend of my mother’s, Cassandra Ollivander. There’s a reason why most people simply choose to ignore the hierarchy’s existence. The matter rarely comes up. There are possibly fewer than two hundred Omegas in all of Europe. Any unmarried Alpha who hears about you may try to court you. You may end up inundated with offers.”

“They won’t know a thing about me but they’ll want to marry me just because I’m an Omega? I feel like a collectible,” Hermione said in an acerbic tone, her lip curling. “Molly’s decision to have seven children in order to avoid Alphas makes more and more sense.”

“Molly chose Arthur because she was in love with Arthur,” Minerva said tartly. “She was betrothed to an Alpha but fell in love with Arthur when they were Heads together here at Hogwarts. I wouldn’t advise making her choice unless the Beta you have in mind is someone you cannot live without.”

Hermione dropped her eyes. “Why? I don’t understand how this all works. I feel like I’ve been turned into some servile degenerate and who risks losing her mind when an Alpha so much as breathes on me. But now you’re saying that I should try to be in that kind of relationship.”

Minerva sighed.

“Omegas are made for Alphas. Alphas are made for Omegas. Despite the dynamic of dominance and submission between them, the relationship is symbiotic. An Alpha might have influence over you but they also have an instinctive desire to go to the ends of the earth to protect or please you.”

Hermione’s mouth twitched and she refrained from pointing out that she would much prefer having the autonomy to protect and please herself. She swallowed the words. The fact that Minerva had the unfortunate task of explaining everything to Hermione did not make it the headmistress’ fault. Hermione would not shoot the messenger when it was apparently the universe in general that was to blame for Hermione’s designation.

“The equation doesn't leave you powerless,” McGonagall said firmly. ”Without the other party there will always be a sense that something is missing. Most Alphas are resigned to that fate by the time they present. That is why they will be anxious to try to appeal to you. You are an opportunity that most of them never expected to have. You’ll be going into heat again in three months. You should use the time until then to get to know some of the Alphas in your circles.”

Hermione felt something in her stomach drop sharply at the thought of experiencing another heat.

The experience with Malfoy felt like a raw nerve. Intimate and vulnerable. She had felt so happy during it. Waking on the other side to find it had all been a hormone-induced illusion hurt something inside of her that she couldn’t identify.

She wasn’t the type for casual sex—her week-long fling had further convinced her of that.

But on the other hand, she didn’t want to marry someone, especially not soulbond with them, just in order to have a companion during her heats. She had no interest in a union based solely on a hierarchical connection. Perhaps she was just young, but she had hoped that if she ever got married it would be born of something unique and meaningful, with someone she could share her mind with.

She felt as though she were trapped in a three month countdown.

“I can’t believe I’m actually saying this,” she said slowly.  “But—could I just get pregnant? The way Molly did? That would stop the heats and the symptoms for a while wouldn’t it?”

McGonagall stared expressionless at Hermione for a minute.

“Now that you have presented I don’t think it is possible for you to get pregnant with a Beta male,” the Headmistress finally said. “Your fertility is tied to your heats. You could get pregnant during the next one, but I doubt most Alphas would consent if you weren’t going to marry them. They’re quite—possessive. Especially when Omegas are pregnant. It makes their instincts stronger.”

“Oh,” Hermione said quietly. She hadn’t particularly wanted to consider pregnancy or motherhood, but hearing that it wasn’t even an option felt unfair nonetheless.

It felt as though any option she had she didn’t want to think about. She buried her face in her hands and tried to devise another solution.

“I know this is very abrupt and difficult for you,”Minerva said gently, “But I think you should give yourself time to adapt before making a life-changing decision such as motherhood. There are very good Alphas in the world who will give you all the time you need to come to trust them. Whether a dominant personality is good or bad rests entirely upon the character of the individual.”

“It’s not like I have any other choice,” Hermione said bitterly.

“I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and help you decide what it is that you want to do,” Minerva said. “In addition to being one of my most exceptional students I have come to regard you as my friend, Miss Granger. Whatever you decide, you will have my full support along with the rest of the Hogwarts staff.”

Hermione smiled and felt vaguely comforted.

“Perhaps we could see how the suppressants work,” she said, trying to feel hopeful. “Before we add a new rotation to the prefects’ schedules.”

“Very well. The portraits have all been instructed to keep a close eye on you. I've taken the liberty of informing the professors and beta prefects that were members of DA so that they will be aware and know what to look out for.”

“Alright,” Hermione said quietly, she felt cheeks flush and the tips of her ears grow warm at the realisation that many of her friends would know why she‘d disappeared for a week.

“During the last week I ordered a few books for you,” Minerva said, sliding a small stack across her desk to Hermione. “Hogwarts' selection on the subject was quite limited.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll escort you to the Hospital wing to pick up your suppressants. Then I’ll have a word with Mr Malfoy on your behalf. Speaking of Alphas, if you are willing, I believe Mr Longbottom wishes to apologize to you. He is quite aghast over his behavior and tried to turn in his Head Boy badge.”

“It wasn’t Neville’s fault,” Hermione said immediately. “I be happy to see him. But—,” she hesitated. “Maybe supervised. To see how the suppressants work.”

“Good idea. Perhaps you should wait here and I’ll send for him and bring the suppressants. It might be inadvisable to have you walking the halls.”

Hermione nodded and Minerva left.

Hermione pulled the stack of books off the desk and looked at the titles. A book on Alphas. Another book on heats and Omega pregnancies. And a book called Soulbound . Hermione slipped it from the stack and started reading it resignedly.

The book was disheartening and unhelpful. An Omega running about unbonded was practically unheard of. The author assumed if an Omega wasn’t bonded she was about to be and simply facing an unavoidable separation of some sort. There was nothing about how a witch was expected to navigate in the world without an Alpha “responsible” for her. Suppressants were for during separation or for widowed Omegas. There was no mention of taking them while trying to choose an Alpha to marry.

Marry.

Hermione felt tempted to cry at the thought. In fact there were not many things in her life that she didn’t feel like crying about. Mostly she wanted to cry about Malfoy; the fact that his absence was still the thing affecting her most only added to her general state of misery.

She didn’t like Malfoy! She had reminded herself of that fact quite firmly and repeatedly.

He was a historic arse. School bully. Brainwashed pureblood elitist.

Even if the other two points were irrelevant or no longer the case, the final one was a sticking point. She had no reason to believe that particular belief of his had truly changed.

It was true that during his trial he had given a very eloquent speech about realizing the error in his thinking in regard to blood purity but it had been a speech. A public speech before the Wizengamot that was printed in the newspaper the following morning.

Following his release he’d been stiff but cordial with her at public events. Once the school year had begun she’d been obliged to avoid him so she didn’t really know what he’d been doing with himself aside from keeping out of trouble.

Insofar as she knew, there wasn’t anything in his private life to indicate a true revelation about blood purity. Nothing to indicate that he really believed anything different postwar.

He’d surely keep his mouth shut and his nose clean but in the end he’d marry a girl who just happened to have pristine bloodlines.

Hermione hadn’t cared. Being a bigot didn’t mean someone deserved to rot in Azkaban for ten years. The Malfoys had, for all their shortcomings, been what tipped the war Harry’s favour. Narcissa has acted out of concern for her son, but Malfoy, whenever it had come down to the line, had acted against his own self-interests. He’d protected Harry and he hadn’t killed Dumbledore when he easily could have. That was enough for Hermione. She had downed a Draught of Peace and testified for both Narcissa and Draco.

She hadn’t expected to really interact with him after the trial. She certainly hadn’t expected to notice him during eighth year. And she had never imagined she’d spend a week shagging him and then find herself—

Find herself—

She wasn’t sure what she was doing.

Mournfully obsessing about him, she concluded in resignation.

It wasn’t a crush, she clarified to herself, he’d just surprised her. He’d shown up when she was vulnerable and he’d been...

A perfect Alpha , her brain supplied helpfully.

It was nothing, she told herself. It wasn’t even the real Malfoy. He’d just been in an Alpha state. As McGonagall had said, Alphas had an instinctive drive to please her. He’d shown up because he felt like he owed her and then stayed because she’d jumped him. It wasn’t anything he’d meant.

The fact that she felt attached to him was probably just an Omega thing.

It was all just instinct and hormones.

None of it was real.

Chapter Text

The suppressant potion was midnight blue and tasted like ash. It went down like ash too. Hermione choked on it  and found herself coughing up clouds of smoke as though she were a small dragon. She felt as though she were asphyxiating.

When she finally swallowed it fully she spent several minutes pounding her chest and wiping away the tears that had accumulated in her eyes during her coughing fit.

She felt a faint tingling sensation on her neck and wrists and a fuzzy sort of buzzing in the back of her mind that gradually faded away after a minute.

“Well,” she said wearily. “I can’t say it’s my favorite potion.”

Minerva looked sympathetic.

“Should I call up Mr Longbottom, or would you like a few more minutes?”

“He can come up,” Hermione said with a quick nod. She was rather anxious to see how the suppressant would work.

Neville shuffled in awkwardly behind McGonagall a minute later. He looked profoundly penitent, like a kicked puppy...except for being extremely muscular and generally attractive.

“Hermione, I am so sorry,” Neville blurted the moment he met her eyes. “I feel so badly—I don’t  know how to make it up to you.”

Neville was all the way across the office from Hermione as he stood apologizing to her. His voice still filled the air and still seemed to vibrate through her but it didn’t evoke a physical reaction the way it had before.

He rubbed his face and looked so distraught Hermione was afraid he was about to have a breakdown. She felt terrible for him. He’d probably been miserable all week while she’d been preoccupied shagging Malfoy’s brains out.

“It’s alright, Neville,” Hermione said, giving him a small smile. “I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for what happened.”

“It’s not alright. You said no and I didn’t even listen,” he said, his shoulders slumping dejectedly. “I—I’ve told Headmistress McGonagall that I should be stripped by my Head Boy position and I wrote to my Gran and told her I intend to withdraw from Hogwarts.”

Hermione gasped.

“Certainly not!” Hermione said. “You can’t withdraw. Your behavior was hardly unusual for an Alpha around an Omega going into heat. There’s a dozen other Alphas at Hogwarts, the same thing would probably have happened with any of them. I know you. We were both quite blindsided by what happened. I don’t hold you responsible at all.”

Neville looked unappeased and Hermione added, “Just promise never to lick me again without permission.”

“I swear, if I ever touch you without permission I will withdraw from school and turn myself in at the DMLE,” he said firmly, his jaw set.

Hermione cringed inwardly and thought about her own handling—er...treatment of Malfoy.

“The whole issue of consent is really rather murky when it comes to Alphas and Omegas,” she muttered to herself and turned rather pink. “Hopefully now that I’m not newly presented we won’t have any more issues.”

Neville took the comment as directed toward him and started to look more distraught. Hermione changed the subject.

“To he honest, part of the reason that Headmistress McGonagall asked you to come to her office is because we want to see how the suppressant potion I’m on now will work around Alphas,” Hermione said, shuffling her feet and eying him nervously. “Would—would you mind getting a bit closer, so we can see how it goes for both of us?”

Neville swallowed and his eyes widened.

“Rest assured, Mr Longbottom, I will not let anything happen to Miss Granger,” McGonagall said when Neville started inching backward. “We need a controlled environment to determine how vulnerable she is and you know her better than any other Alpha.”

Neville paused and Hermione could see the internal conflict in his expression as he glanced over toward her. There was a deep sort of longing in his eyes when he looked at her. After a moment he gave a short nod and stepped slowly toward Hermione.

He has about five feet away when he suddenly froze and sniffed the air with a baffled expression. He looked sharply at Hermione and blinked several times as his face slowly turned red.

“What?” Hermione said nervously. “What is it?”

“Hermione—um, I’m not—,” he said, reaching back and rubbing the back of his neck as he stared uncomfortably toward the ceiling. “Is there a reason you smell like Draco Malfoy?”

He sounded as though someone where strangling him.

Hermione felt the blood drain slightly from her face. She hadn’t even thought about the fact that other Alphas would be able to smell Malfoy on her.

“What do you mean?” she asked shrilly. Her voice wobbled tellingly.

Neville flushed.

“Well, um, when Alphas present their sense of smell gets a lot stronger. So we pick up on a lot of things that most people can’t detect, like, who’s sha—,” he caught himself and looked guiltily over at McGonagall. “Who’s dating who. You smell like—well, you smell like—,”

Neville and Hermione stared at each other and each of them grew steadily scarlet.

“I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anybody quite so strongly,” Neville finally said in a thick voice. “Normally I’d have to be a lot closer.”

Neville’s eyes suddenly grew round as the revelation  finally struck him.

“Was Malfoy with you during your—heat?” he abruptly growled. The sound prickled across Hermione’s skin.

She stood frozen and blinked at Neville for several seconds.

“Are all the Alphas going to be able to tell?” she finally asked in a small voice.

Neville looked ready to fall over from Hermione’s indirect admission. He swallowed hard, nodded faintly and proceeded to stare up at the ceiling again.

“Brilliant,” Hermione said in an undeniably shrill tone. Her throat felt as though a small frog were trapped inside her larynx. “This is just—bloody fantastic.”

There was a long pause as Hermione stared angrily down at her shoes. Finally McGonagall cleared her throat.

“Mr Longbottom, do you mind stepping closer to Miss Granger?” McGonagall said in a crisp voice. “We still haven’t seen whether the suppressant works.”

Neville nodded and breathed out heavily through his nose. “Right. Sorry. It’s—the smell is a bit—it feels intrusive to get closer. Like trespassing.”

Hermione fought against the urge to go bang her head into a wall.

Neville’s expression grew intent as he continued to walk toward Hermione until he was less than two feet away. Hermione took a deep breath and was pleased to find while Neville smelled nice, she was no longer overcome by the immediate need to have sex with him. There was a sort of filter between her mind and instincts that enabled her to remain in control and tamp down on any—urges.

“Mr Longbottom, Miss Granger?” McGonagall asked.

“It’s fine,” Hermione said, sniffing at the air between them. “I can tell he’s an Alpha but it’s not—not overwhelming the way it was before.”

“Mr Longbottom how is it for you? Do you feel as though your instincts are overriding your mind?”

Neville shook his head.

“I can tell she’s an Omega. The draw is there, but I’m not irrational about it,” he said carefully.

“Well, it’s a relief that the suppressant seems to work well,” McGonagall said.  “However, part of our concern is in regard to Alphas that might intentionally try to take advantage of Miss Granger. Mr Longbottom, if you would, please use an Alpha tone to ask Miss Granger to do something. Perhaps request that she stand on one foot.”

A visible sense of discomfort came over Neville’s face. He stepped back slightly.

“It’s alright, Neville,” Hermione said jutting her chin up, trying to seem confident.“Do whatever the Headmistress says, I’d really rather know now than find out alone in a hallway.”

Neville nodded and took a deep breath. His scent struck Hermione; it made her brain fog slightly.

“You ready?” he asked, already staring down at her with an expression of concern.

Hermione gave a quick nod and a thin smile. “Ready.”

“Hermione,” he said in a low growl. Her name shuddered through her whole body and her neck tingled as though he were caressing her scent glands. “Stand on one foot.”

Hermione automatically started adjusting her weight to lift one foot of the ground. Then she paused and shook her head faintly.

Why? she wanted to know. Why did she need to stand on one foot?

Your Alpha wants you to, cooed some distant part of her mind.

Hermione scrunched her face up and thought further. Neville wasn’t her Alpha, he was her friend. He wouldn’t order her around. She didn’t bloody want to be bossed about by anyone.

“No,” she said flatly and widened her stance so that her weight was even more evenly distributed.

“Try again, Mr Longbottom, we need to be sure she can really resist.” Hermione could distantly hear McGonagall saying.

There was a pause.

“Hermione, stand on one foot.” Neville’s voice seemed even firmer and deeper. Authoritative and powerful and sexy. A part of her wished he’d growl it against her throat.  

The fog thickened, filled with Neville’s scent. She felt as though she were bobbing along in a sea of Neville. Just floating, flowing along in a current of his voice. It was relaxing. She didn’t even need to think. She could just obey.

Obey? She grew cross. How dare he try to make her obey?

“No!” she said angrily.

Mr Longbottom, touch her on the wrist this time.”

Hermione only half heard the words.

The whole room seemed to be swimming and only Neville stood clearly in front of her. His expression was tense and conflicted.

He was so attractive and strong looking.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Chanted a corner of her mind.

Neville drew closer to her and she felt his large hand close around her left wrist. His thumb grazed the scent gland there and she felt her knees buckle slightly.

Hermione, stand on one foot.” The tone shivered straight down Hermione’s spine.

Hermione could barely breathe through the fog around her.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.

She should tilt her head back. Maybe he’d touch her neck. Bite her. Mmmmm. That would be so nice. To feel his teeth. His body was so hard. He’d fuck her well. Maybe against a wall. Slide his hard cock inside her cunt until he knotted. Until she was stretched around him. She’d feel his come deep inside her. All she needed to do was please him. Be a good girl and her Alpha would let her come...

Neville was not her Alpha! It was as though a part of her brain had abruptly screamed  it. Hermione lashed out instinctively.

Everything blurred for a moment but when the room came back into view she found Neville lying on the floor bleeding and unconscious and her wand gripped tightly in her hand.

“Oh my gosh, Neville!” she gasped, hurrying over. “What did I do?”

Minerva was kneeling beside Neville and muttered a quiet rennervate .

“You stunned him,” the Headmistress said, looking surprisingly pleased, “and punched him simultaneously.”

Hermione realised that the knuckles of her left hand were throbbing slightly and Neville shook his head and sat up, touching his nose gingerly.

“I’m so sorry,” Hermione said, dropping onto the floor beside him. “Oh Neville, I’m so so sorry.”

“S’alright, Hermione,” he mumbled. “Glad to help you out. It’s a good to know no one’s going to force you into anything.”

Hermione hugged him impulsively.

“You’re such a good friend,” she said. “I’m so sorry I punched you.”

Neville rapidly grew stiff as a board in her arms.  Hermione drew back.

“Are you—” She looked at him uncertainly as he grew flushed.

“Um. Well, instinctively—everything is under control,” he stammered. “But, you’re still—it’s very hard to be this close to you.”

“Oh!” Hermione released him quickly. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Neville said, still blushing. “It’s not as though I—mind. I just thought you should know.”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, awkwardly drawing further back. “That’s—good to know.”

“Well, Mr Longbottom, thank you for your assistance. You may return to your classes,” McGonagall said.

Neville headed out and Hermione gathered up her new books and slipped them into a satchel that McGonagall lent her alongside an entire box of small vials of midnight blue suppressant potions.

Hermione’s first stop after departing the Headmistress’ office was Professor Vector’s down the hall. Professor Vector had become the new Head of Gryffindor to replace Minerva. The Arithmancy professor was very much a younger version of McGonagall, even more strict and businesslike than her predecessor.

“Miss Granger, I have your homework assignments from the last week,” Vector said without standing from her large desk. She reached into a drawer and pulled out a collated file which she handed to Hermione.

Heroine flicked the file open and skimmed over what she had missed.

“While you were—in confinement,” Vector began, looking uncomfortable, “partners were assigned in Advanced Arithmancy Studies. The project is to analyze and then devise a counter-curse to an actual cursed object. It will constitute half of your grade this semester. It’s a collaborative assignment with the DADA class.”

Hermione nodded. She’d always thought curse-breaking was exciting. Using arithmancy to break down a curse and then devise and predict a successful counter-curse was such a fascinating use of magic. She wasn’t sure that she’d want to become an actual curse-breaker, but she had always enjoyed reading about the analytical aspects of curse-breaking in Arithmancy Journals.

“Your partner for the assignment was Draco Malfoy,” Vector said.

Hermione stared frozen at her professor.

“Was?” she finally said.

“Yes. Mr Malfoy stopped by my office this morning and asked to be reassigned or allowed to complete the project by himself.”

Hermione felt herself pale. Her head felt light, as though she’d been stung by a billywig and was about to go floating up and bobbing about in the rafters.  

“Oh,” she managed to force out.

“When the partners were assigned I was unaware that you were—,” the word Omega seemed to stick in Professor Vector throat and she coughed slightly. “—what you are. If the refusal to partner with you is related to that I am willing to consider the request. However, the Headmistress has made abundantly clear that she will not tolerate any interhouse animosity or blood-prejudice. Do you have any idea why he asked?”

“I’m not sure,” Hermione said, taking in a sharp steadying breath. “I’ll try to find out before the next class.”

“Very well. I do not like making special exceptions for students; it distracts from learning. If I’m obliged to make one we may need disclose the reason to the class. It would be inappropriate for your classmates to think certain students receive allowances in discrimination.”

Hermione swallowed and nodded nervously. Professor Vector was a surprising Gryffindor given that she was so absorbed in academics that she was entirely tone-deaf when it came to interpersonal relationships. While Hermione could see the logic, the veiled threat to out Hermione’s designation over a class assignment seemed baldly insensitive.

“I’ll try to speak with Malfoy today,” Hermione said, clutching the file of homework assignments and standing up quickly.

“Thank you,” Professor Vector said, glancing back down at a scroll of numbers spread out across her desk. Then her head popped back up as though the thought had just occurred to her. “Please feel free to speak to me if you have any issues with your—“ a long pause. “My office is always open in an emergency.”

“Yes, thank you,” Hermione said, privately resolving to never, ever speak to her Head of House about anything Omega related.

After she was back in the hallway Hermione checked her watch and discovered that it was lunchtime. She realized that she felt famished.

She couldn’t remember when she’d last had a full meal.

She could vaguely recall lying in Malfoy's arms while he hand-fed her fruit. There had been strawberries, grapes, pears, plums and nectarines. She thought she remembered him feeding her with his teeth on occasion too and saying something about never letting her have peaches. She had drunk a lot of pumpkin juice and apple juice.

Malfoy had slid pieces of fruit over her skin and licked up the trails of juice and told her that she was perfect. He’d spoken in a deep, possessive voice that rippled through her. He’d kept saying that she was his.  

Hermione almost walked into a suit of armor as she thought about it.

Ugh. She didn’t want to think about it. She didn’t want to think about Malfoy at all.

She stomped angrily to the Great Hall. As the doors opened from her forceful shove the motion caused a breeze form. The air around her was dragged away from her and rushed ahead into the Hall.

Most of the Hall was filled with students busily chatting and eating but as Hermione walked through the doors every Alpha she’d identified abruptly froze and then proceeded to turn and stare at her as if they were caught in a trance.

Hermione’s eyes darted from one boy to the next nervously.

There was a Ravenclaw and a Hufflepuff near the end of the tables and she could see their eyes darken as they stared at her. They looked half-mesmerized and half-stunned.

Hermione tried to ignore it as she scurried to the Gryffindor table. Neville was already there and had, like all the rest of the boys, automatically turned to look at her upon arrival. He turned slowly back to his meal.

“Hermione,” Ginny scooched down the bench to make room. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. You came to me and I was so short with you. I had no idea—I just thought—“

“It’s fine,” Hermione said, cutting her off in a quiet voice. “I don’t think anyone could have guessed it.”

Ginny nodded while Hermione served herself a massive helping of everything within reach.

“If you want to talk at all, I’m here for you,” Ginny said quietly. “And I know mum would be happy to come visit or write if you have any questions. It’s not been mentioned to anyone back home yet, but—,” Ginny glanced around at the boys who were still staring unwaveringly at Hermione from around the room. “You should probably let them know before the news gets out.”

“I should,” Hermione said nodding.

“You got a few letters and birthday presents from Harry and Ron last week. I have them in my room,” Ginny added after a minute.

Despite her intention to be completely absorbed by her meal Hermione could still feel the stares being directed at her. She determinedly ignored them and refused to so much as look up from her plate.

She heard the doors of the Great Hall open and then suddenly—

Hermione’s head shot up and she turned to stare.

Malfoy had walked in.

Hermione stared at him as his eyes swept across the room and briefly landed on her. She felt as though her heart momentarily stalled as their eyes met.

Then his gaze flicked away and he strode over to the Slytherin table and sat down beside Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott.

Theodore Nott was staring at Hermione like a Muggle would if they encountered a unicorn. There was a expression of delighted awe written across his face.

Zabini elbowed Nott and Nott didn’t appear to even notice it. Malfoy started eating an apple.

Hermione forced herself to look back down at her plate.

As she was finishing her second pumpkin pasty a sense of something slowly tingled down her spine. She looked up and found a Ravenclaw with tawny coloured hair and skin standing across the table and staring at her. His face seemed faintly weatherworn as though he’d spent his summer sailing in the Mediterranean. His gaze was sharp, almost feline feeling.

All the Gryffindors around Hermione looked up at him too.

Hermione recognized him vaguely. They were in the same year and had shared Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. They had never interacted with each other that Hermione could recall. Hermione was pretty sure he was part of an old pureblood family. He had not joined DA or fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. He was an Alpha. His build gave him away and his voice had nearly caused Hermione to have a meltdown in Ancient Runes whenever he had asked questions.

“Yes?” Hermione said when it became clear that he was speechless.

“You’re Hermione Granger, aren’t you?” he asked formally. Both of his hands were closed around the strap of the satchel hanging from his shoulder.

There was snorting and guffaws from the Gryffindors around Hermione.

“Been living under a rock the last few years, mate?” Seamus said snickering.

The Ravenclaw flushed. His teeth flashed faintly and his grip on his satchel tightened incrementally. Hermione had the passing thought that if the boy were an animagus he’d be a cougar.

“We’ve never been introduced. It seemed impolite to presume.”

“Is someone introducing you now, Selwyn?” Neville growled, his voice low and rippling. The air was beginning to slowly fill with what Hermione realized with horror were Alpha pheromones. She could distinguish between Neville and Selwyn’s scents.

The pheromones were having an effect on everyone at the table although Hermione suspected none of them knew why. Parvarti and Ginny were getting slightly glassy-eyed while Seamus was looking like he’d found himself intruding on something. Ginny shook her head sharply as though realizing what was happening to her and muttered an air-freshening charm.

Hermione found that she was not dragged under the thrall of the smells. Rather she felt unusually alert.

Selwyn’s attention seemed drawn somewhat away from Hermione and toward Neville.

“Aren’t you marrying some Hufflepuff, Longbottom?” he said.

“Hermione’s always been my friend,” Neville said. His expression was calm and unruffled but there was an assertive gleam in his eyes. “Whereas I thought you had a rule against speaking to Muggle-borns.”

Selwyn’s jaw clenched and then he rolled it slightly. The action made the tendons in his neck ripple. Hermione wanted to slap herself for noticing.

“I had strict instructions to stay neutral,” he said stiffly.

Ginny snorted and tossed her head. “How very convenient for you.”

“I had family on both sides, I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone dying.”

“Is this one bothering you, Granger?” Anthony Goldstein had suddenly materialized beside Selwyn.

Hermione gulped nervously and glanced around.

The Great Hall has fallen somewhat quiet and Hermione realized to her horror that people were starting to stare.  Several more Alphas appeared to be in the midst of migrating toward her.

“I’m just going, actually,” Hermione blurted. She snatched up her satchel, jumped from her seat, and proceeded to flee the Great Hall.

Chapter Text

If Hermione could have hidden in the Gryffindor tower forever, everything might have seemed fine. Unfortunately, she had a week’s worth of homework to catch up on and a conversation with Malfoy to be had. McGonagall sent a note with Ginny after lunch, informing Hermione that Malfoy did not regard himself as having been assaulted by her. Well—Hermione thought that was what the note said. McGonagall was rather unhelpfully vague.

Miss Granger,

I spoke with Mr Malfoy to ensure you have no cause for concern in regard to him.”

Hermione read the words ten times and felt like the Headmistress could have expounded slightly more.

Unlike the rest of the Alphas in the Great Hall, Malfoy had looked distinctly unenthused by the sight of a Hermione. She suspected that, despite McGonagall’s reassurance, Hermione probably owed him an apology.

Her chest felt tight and she glanced at the note again. Then she jutted out her jaw and squared her shoulders. She needed to speak to him about their Arithmancy partnership anyway, there was no point in avoiding it.

She gave herself an hour to review the assignments from her missed classes, then she checked the Marauder’s Map that Harry had given her, and sallied forth from Gryffindor Tower with determination.

The moment the portrait door opened she was struck in the face by a cloud of Alpha pheromones. There were three boys standing outside the door. Anthony, Selwyn (whose first name, according to the map, was Peter), and someone named Phineas Borgin whom Hermione was not surprised to discover was a Slytherin.

They were all posed awkwardly about the hallway, studying portraits and suits of armor and generally trying to appear like they had some business being there. When they looked over and saw it was Hermione walking through the portrait hole their pretenses vanished. They all turned and glared at each other resentfully.

Hermione stared back at them, feeling irritated. Three classmates, two of whom had never given her the time of day during their previous six years of attending school together, were waiting outside of the portrait hole for her.

She kept herself at a wary distance that she hoped would keep them from smelling Malfoy on her.

“Yes?” she said after a minute.

“I didn’t get to properly introduce myself earlier,” Peter Selwyn said. “I’m Peter Selwyn, we take Advanced Ancient Runes together. I thought you might like to borrow my notes for the class you missed. Professor Babbling covered quite a bit of material not included in the syllabus. I’m a bit obsessive about note-taking, so I have a transcript as well as my own personal notes, if you’d be interested.”

Hermione cocked her head to one side and re-evaluated him. She still found him generally annoying but she was willing to credit him with coming prepared and knowing her well enough to have a good excuse.

“That’s very considerate of you,” Hermione said. Anthony and Phineas both grew visibly annoyed.

“Not at all,” Peter said, his eyes gleaming slightly. “I have notes for Transfiguration and DADA too, although I know you have housemates in those, so you might already have gotten notes for them.”

Hermione quirked an eyebrow. Any notes she could get from Gryffindor would be well-nigh useless. She’d be lucky to get a general idea of what had been covered in class. The glint in Peter’s eye told Hermione that he knew that.

“Funny, Selwyn, I thought you had a rule against sharing your notes,” Anthony said in a telling tone of voice.

“Sharing notes with someone who missed class is different from sharing them someone who didn’t bother to take any when they were there,” Peter said.

“Really,” Anthony said, rounding on his housemate. “So, when I got laid up with Black Cat Flu for a week and I asked just to borrow the transcripts and you said ‘no’...

“I’m Phineas Borgin,” Phineas seized the opening as an opportunity to introduce himself. Phineas was, aside from having the general Alpha traits of being tall, broad-shouldered and muscular, was dark haired and oily in both body and manner.

He stepped toward Hermione as he spoke and Hermione stepped carefully back to maintain the distance.

She eyed him.

“Does your father have a shop in Knockturn Alley?” she asked.

Phineas blinked.

“Yes…” he said slowly, “We’re antiques dealers.”

“I’ve met your father,” Hermione said with a thin smile. “Old friend of Lucius Malfoy’s, I believe. Does he still have his vanishing cabinet?”

Phineas grew visibly uncomfortable.

“I couldn’t say,” he said in a tight voice. “Please excuse me. I just remembered something I need to attend to.”

Phineas turned and hurried away.  

Hermione glanced back over at Peter and Anthony who were still distracted with their pissing contest. The argument had move on and Anthony was in the midst of milking his heroism in the battle of Hogwarts for all it was worth. She rolled her eyes.

It hadn’t occurred to her that when her book said that Alphas would fight over her when in heat that it would mean they’d also be inclined toward weird displays of peacocking and dominance even when she wasn’t. The two boys were so busy bickering with each other they appeared to have forgotten about her.

It solved the problem of how to shake both of them. Hermione snuck away and checked the Marauder’s Map again.

Malfoy was still where he’d been when she’d exited the portrait hole; alone in an abandoned classroom in the Turris Magnus. Hermione took a roundabout route in order to avoid everyone and then triple-checked that Malfoy was still there before giving a sharp knock and opening the door.

“Theo, I don’t want to fucking talk about Granger again. Bugger off,” Malfoy snarled from behind a stack of books as she peeked in on him.

She blinked. Malfoy’s head suddenly shot up and they stared at each other. Hermione felt her stomach do a somersault.

“Malfoy,” she said stiffly.

“Granger,” he replied with a faint nod of acknowledgment. His expression was closed and seemed somewhat resentful. Hermione fidgeted with the door.

“I—I—wanted—to talk—to you,” she stuttered nervously.

“Obviously,” he said.

Hermione stepped into the classroom and started to close the door behind herself.

“Don’t!” Malfoy abruptly barked.

Hermione looked up at him sharply.

“Don’t shut the door,” he said in a tight voice, the hand of his that she could see was balled into a tight fist. “Please.”

Hermione let go of the doorknob quickly.

He was probably worried that being in an enclosed space around her pheromones would make him forget their differences again. Or maybe he thought she intended to jump him. She flushed and gnawed as her lower lip.

“Sorry,” she said.

“It’s fine,” he said, appearing to relax incrementally.

“No, I mean, that’s why I came to talk to you. I’m sorry—I’m sorry about what happened,” she said hurriedly.

Merlin, Malfoy smelled amazing. She was starting to pick up his scent from the air in the classroom. It made it hard for her to think straight.

Malfoy’s expression grew harder.

“I wasn’t in my right mind,” she squeaked and shifted from one foot to the other. The resentment in his expression appeared to be growing.

He’d actually been fairly nice toward her when they’d interacted after his trial. And on the Hogwarts Express he’d almost behaved as though they were friends of sorts.

Well, all that was clearly a thing of the past. Oh god, he’d probably just lied to McGonagall. He was looking at her as though he held her personally responsible for ruining his life.

Hermione fidgeted more and fought against an instinctive desire to melt into an apologetic heap on the floor.

“I can’t even put into words how much I regret—,” she stumbled over her words. “if I hadn’t been in heat—I would never—never ever have—,” her voice failed her before she could bring herself to say, ‘climbed on top of you and started giving you a handjob while you were clearly trying to leave.’

“Obviously,” Malfoy said flatly before she could finish. “I’m well aware, Granger. We have attended school together for six years.”

“Ok. Good,” she said with relief. “I just—I know McGonagall spoke with you—but I was just worried you might still—“

“Don’t worry,” Malfoy said in a cold and unreassuring voice, “the Headmistress made it all quite clear. If that’s all you came to talk about, I have homework to catch up on. I’m not interested in rehashing it yet again.”

There was just a hint of an alpha tone in his voice. Despite the fact that she still felt like she should be apologizing Hermione found herself immediately eager to leave him in peace the way he clearly wanted her to.

She was halfway through the door before she caught herself and shook her head. No, she still had things she needed to say.

She forced herself to ignore the impulse and sidled back into the classroom. Malfoy’s expression as she re-entered the room became that of a martyr.  

“I stopped by Professor Vector’s office earlier today,” she said.

His jaw clenched.

“She said that we were partnered for the term’s joint project,” Hermione added.

“We were ,” Malfoy said with clear emphasis on the tense.

“She—she said she’s willing to accommodate the request that we not be partners,” Hermione said. Malfoy gave a short nod and stared down at the essay he was writing. “With the assumption that it’s related to—to my being an Omega. But if she does, she’s going to inform the class—about me. Because she doesn’t want any students to think she’s accommodating blood prejudice.”

Malfoy twitched.

“I—haven’t had a chance to inform anyone yet—about being an Omega,” Hermione said, flushing and staring down at her shoes. “I’d like to have more time break the news to my friends and try to find some equilibrium before the whole school finds out. So, if you don’t mind—“

She glanced up and found Malfoy eyeing her, apparently unmoved. Hermione tried to make the offer tempting. “We can work separately and exchange our work after class. We don’t have to meet up. And I won’t sit anywhere near you.”

“We’re going to be devising a numerical prediction to identify and then remove a curse from an enchanted item and you want us to each do it separately and exchange notes?” Malfoy said in a slow, precise tone.

Hermione looked at him uncertainly and noticed the arch of his cheekbones and the line of his jaw. It should be illegal for a man to be so attractive. She used to think he was too pointy and inbred-looking, but his presentation as an Alpha had squared his features somewhat.

He also, she remembered, had become so muscular it was almost obscene. She unintentionally started visualizing what she could recall; the distinct definition in his chest and abdomen, and the v of his pelvic muscles…

Hermione realized she was starting to pant slightly. She shook her head and tried to remember what she had been saying.

“Do you want me to just do it by myself and put your name on it?” Hermione asked in a shrill voice, forcing herself to stare at the wall behind his head.

“The assignment is half of our grade this term, Granger,” Malfoy growled. She was not imagining it, it was definitely a growl. Hermione’s knees buckled slightly and she whimpered quietly and pressed her knees together.

“So—?” she said in a strained voice. “Is that a yes or a no?”

“That’s a no, Granger. I’m not having you do my homework for me,” Malfoy said in a cold voice. His fist was clenched again and his knuckles starkly white.

“Oh. Alright then. So—,” Hermione said.

“We’ll work separately and then compare notes,” he said with a note of finality, staring down at his essay and looking so angry Hermione was surprised it wasn’t bursting into flames

“Thank you,” Hermione said, letting herself look at him again briefly. “I’ll, um—go then.”

Malfoy looked visibly relieved.

She crab-walked out of the classroom and proceeded to walk headlong into Blaise Zabini.

“Granger,” Blaise said.

“Zabini,” she replied.

He appeared to be sizing her up thoughtfully. Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. Did he know?

She supposed Malfoy might have told him.

“Malfoy and I were just discussing our Arithmancy project,” she said.

“Of course,” he said, “you were sick last week weren’t you?”

Hermione glanced around and tried not to look shifty.

“Yes, all week.”

“Talk about bad luck, around your nineteenth birthday, didn’t it?”

Hermione looked sharply at him. “I didn’t realize you knew my date of birth.”

“Well, you got a lot of garish looking packages in the post. Hard to miss,” Zabini said with a smirk. “Drake seemed to have contracted some kind of disease too, disappeared a few days after you did. ”

Hermione pressed her lips together and said nothing.

“I certainly hope it’s nothing that ruins him by hanging around,” Zabini added after a moment.

Hermione’s mouth twisted.

“I’m sure you’ll find he’s still the same Malfoy,” she said in a tight voice.

She walked away quickly and buried herself in homework.

It turned out that something the books neglected to mention was that Alphas did not get along very well when there was an unbound Omega around. There was an immediate spike point losses and detentions starting the day Hermione first re-entered the Great Hall. The infractions ranged from dueling in the halls to violating the student dress codes.

It turned out that for Alphas the first order of business was not courting Hermione but rather establishing a pecking order among themselves. According to Ginny, who returned from rounds looking increasingly harried, the Alphas did so by sniping loudly at each other until it descended into an argument that descended into flying fists or hexes.

McGonagall called all the Alphas into her office during the first evening for “an orientation,” which according to Neville mostly involved threatening them all roundly. It hardly deterred them. It was as though they couldn’t help themselves. They squabbled; anywhere and over anything. They’d argued during classes, in hallways, at mealtimes, and in the library. The points of all the houses declined in a manner both rapid and noticeable over the course of several days.

They did try to be subtle. Neville mentioned that McGonagall had very pointedly reminded the boys that if their behavior got out-of-hand Hermione might choose to withdraw from school. So they mostly restricted themselves to admiring her from afar. They stared at her dopily when she entered classrooms and the Great Hall.

A few tried to approach Hermione in the library but it turned out that “reeking” of Malfoy had a noticeable dampening effect on their ardor. Several boys who summoned up the courage to approach her, stopped short, choked, and then tried to find an indirect way of demanding to know why she smelled as though she’d shagged Draco Malfoy. Hermione had coldly smiled and informed them that it was because she had.

The revelation was enough to cause two boys to immediately retreat. In fact, Malfoy’s scent on Hermione held most of the Alphas back at the convenient distance of approximately five feet. It was enough to make her almost wish it wouldn’t fade.

Neville remained friendly. Anthony and Peter, apparently spurred by one another, muscled through the feeling of “trespassing” and immediately invited themselves to join her whenever she was studying in the library.

Two days after Hermione re-emerged from her heat Peter found her tucked away finishing an essay she’d failed to turn in the week before. He had all his notes from the previous week’s classes in his satchel.

It turned out Peter Selwyn’s notes were practically to die for. Hermione had to restrain herself from gushing when she first saw his scrolls from Ancient Runes; the penmanship, the details, he even included cross-references. Hermione felt slightly envious that she had never thought to charm a transcription quill.

“Well,” he said flushing faintly when she ended up gushing slightly anyway. “Not being allowed to do anything that came across as taking a side made my social life pretty undistracting. School was all there was to do.”

Hermione looked up at him carefully. She wasn’t sure if she would ever have been attracted to him if she weren’t an Omega, but somehow whenever he got close to her she had romantic visions of living on a Greek island with him.

She blinked repeatedly to banish them.

“Go ahead,” he said with a resigned smile, “ask.”

Hermione studied him for a moment, wondering if he were worth the effort of getting to know. Finally she asked, “Why were you neutral?”

“My paternal grandparents died during the Global Wizarding War, my father was adopted by his cousins; the Rosiers.”

“Oh,” Hermione said.

Peter ran his fingers through his hair and Hermione immediately noticed that he had nice hands and forearms. She pursed her lips and looked determinedly back down at his notes from Runes.

“Evan Rosier was like my father’s baby brother. When Alastor Moody killed him, the grief nearly killed Evan’s parents. But my father had married a Bones right out of school. It put my parents in a pretty awful position between the two sides. They somehow managed to maintain their relationships with both sides of the family by staying entirely neutral. After fourth year, I was told that if I didn’t want to be home educated I would refrain from making any alliances that would get me pulled into the war.”

He rubbed his jaw awkwardly and looked away from Hermione.

“All that to say, he’s a coward who preferred to stand by and let Muggles and Muggleborns die rather than make family dinner awkward or endure the awful fate of home education,” Anthony said, with an expression of mock admiration as he dropped into the chair on the other side of Hermione and picked up one of Peter’s scrolls of notes. “But, Peter, your school notes really are good.”

Peter turned red and glared at Anthony.  “Yes. If only I were a hero like you. Then I too could be sleeping my way through the female population of the school.”

Anthony snorted audibly and the air abruptly filled with his pheromones. “I’m not sure what century you fell out of, Selwyn, but in the one I live in, witches make their own decisions about their sex lives. I am very respectful of a woman’s right to choose. They don’t need me to protect them from themselves.”

“Oh right, I’m sure they all feel tremendously respected by the way that you pursue them until they have sex with you and then proceed to move on to the next girl.” Peter rolled his eyes and snatched his notes away from Anthony’s perusal.

“Are you implying that only men can enjoy casual sex, Selwyn?” Anthony said with an arched eyebrow.

Peter swallowed, glanced between Hermione and Anthony and then stood up abruptly and stalked away.

“I don’t understand why that wanker keeps hanging around you,” Anthony said as he stared at Peter’s retreating back. “Then again: you and Malfoy. I’m still wrapping my mind around it.”

Hermione’s lips pursed slightly as she turned back to reading Peter’s notes from Ancient Runes.

“Peter’s very sweet. Besides, if I were to refuse to interact with any eighth-years who didn’t fight in the Battle of Hogwarts that would be almost three-quarters of our year. Aside from you, Padma, and Luna, pretty much all of Ravenclaw was neutral.”

“So you’re trying to be forgiving and move on from the past?” Anthony asked, twirling a quill in his fingers.

The smell of his pheromones was still heavy in the air. He leaned in his chair and tilted his head back flirtatiously. He wasn’t wearing a tie and several buttons on his shirt were undone so that the base of his neck where his scent glands were was exposed.

It was intentionally distracting for Hermione, not to mention a dress-code violation. She forced herself not to stare or lean forward to try to smell him better as he clearly hoped she would.

“Trying,” she said stiffly. “This year was supposed to be all about school for me. I had my course load pretty carefully balanced, but this,” she gestured toward her own neck in the general area of her scent glands, “ended up derailing things pretty dramatically. If Peter wants to lend me his notes I’m not going to say ‘no.’ It’s not as though I have to soulbond with him now.”

Anthony laughed. Hermione rolled her eyes and wished he’d leave. Anthony had always made her uncomfortable. He acted overly-familiar with girls, both in the topics he would bring up and the ways he interacted. He tended to be handsy in a way that was always almost crossing a line, but not quite.

If he touched her at all, even the smallest bit of contact...she would probably hex him, she resolved to herself.

“So, the thing with Malfoy…” Anthony said, surreptitiously sliding his right index finger into the centre of his fisted left hand several times. She rolled her eyes. “Was that like, a being forgiving thing? Or a heat of the moment thing…?”

Hermione flushed.

“‘Heat of the moment’ about captures it,” she said in a low voice. She swallowed hard.

“Ok. That’s what I thought. Because, I mean Malfoy—so obviously it had to just be a heat—,” Anthony’s voice suddenly broke off and his eyes grew round as though he’d just had a sudden realization. He stared at Hermione for several seconds before blinking. “Wait. You mean like, your actual heat?”

Hermione looked at Anthony in disbelief. Sometimes she wondered how on earth he had been sorted into Ravenclaw. She gave a faint nod.

“Oh my god. How did I not realize that sooner?” Anthony was still staring at her agog, his jaw hanging somewhat slack. “You and Malfoy? For a week? Wow. Well, that explains the smell.”

Hermione gave him a thin smile and wished once more that he’d leave. She picked up her quill to finish working on her essay.

“So,” Anthony scooted slightly closer in his chair. Hermione shot him a glare and he paused and scooted back an inch, “that was ok with you? I know you testified for him but—your heat—that’s…” he raised his eyebrows.

Hermione looked over at him trying to gauge the reason for his question.

“The whole Omega thing just seems pretty weird and offensive to me. No offense,” Anthony said, looking semi-apologetic. “I mean, what kind of consent is it if the witch is in a situation where she’s basically in agony unless she has sex with someone? And random men have the ability to basically force her into a submissive headspace if they want to? That’s just…” Anthony’s expression furrowed and he shuddered slightly.

Hermione’s defensiveness faded somewhat.  

“I know,” she said, her chest hurt with how bitterly she agreed. “The more I read about it the more horrified I become. It feels like some horrible evolutionary accident. Like there’s this sex fiend in my brain trying to suffocate me. And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing I can do about it other than keep choking down suppressants until I find someone I want to marry. But even that doesn’t deal with all the problems.”

Anthony gave her a sympathetic smile which she returned. Perhaps she’d misjudged Anthony. He seemed to understand her feelings about it better than anyone.

“Obviously I wouldn’t have chosen Malfoy,” she added. “What happened was pretty much a weird coincidence. But he was actually really nice about it in the midst of everything.”

“And afterwards?” Anthony prodded. Hermione’s expression tightened. “I noticed he doesn’t seem to come around at all the way all the other Alphas do.”

He nodded to the left and Hermione caught sight of Theodore Nott vanishing down an aisle. She bit her lip for a moment and looked at her essay.

“Well,” she said quietly, “once all the hormones faded he remembered himself. He split pretty quickly after that.”

“Oh... That must be so awkward. Especially with all the rest of us interrogating you about it.” Anthony ducked his head down until his ears were level with his shoulders and clapped a hand over his mouth.

Hermione shrugged with a nonchalance she did not feel. “It’s fine. I just keep reminding myself that this is all just based on biological imperatives.”

She glanced at the time. “I’ve got to head to my Advanced Arithmancy class.”

“I’ll walk you,” Anthony immediately sprang up gallantly but then looked bashful. “If you want. Obviously you’re perfectly capable to walking yourself to class. You probably know like a thousand more hexes than me. But I can glower better. And dock points.”

He smiled cheekily.

Hermione smiled back. Anthony had improved dramatically upon further acquaintance. She mentally recategorized him from “creep” to merely “weird.”

He had the sense not to try offering his arm and stayed at a respectful distance. Hermione let him walk with her from the library to the Advanced Arithmancy class. He went all the way to the door with her.

There were a few students already seated when Hermione walked in, among them Malfoy. Malfoy glanced up briefly and then stilled for a split second when he saw Anthony at the door beside Hermione. Anthony jutted his chin up and smirked before turning to leave.

Hermione surveyed the room. The seating arrangements appeared to have been changed from previous weeks. Students who hadn’t typically sat next to each other seemed paired off; presumably they were sitting with their partners for the project. Hermione hesitated for only a moment before she went to the back of the room and seated herself alone in a corner.

Malfoy didn’t even glance up at her when she passed.

Not that she’d been looking, because she most certainly hadn’t.

Chapter Text

Generally speaking, being an Omega was not as awful as Hermione had initially anticipated.

The suppressants were admittedly unpleasant, but aside from dopy looks and a few over-attentive boys, life resumed rather well.

Hermione sent letters to Ron and Harry and wasn’t surprised when she didn’t immediately hear back. She didn’t even know if Harry knew what Omegas were. While for Ron—well—it was a rather unceremonious end to their relationship that might have been.

Toward the end of Hermione’s first week on suppressants Phineas Borgin tried to use an Alpha tone and drag her into an alcove after potions. Hermione hexed him nastily and stunned him. In addition to six months of detention from McGonagall, the word LECHER was written across Phineas’ face in weeping boils that could not be healed. Hermione suspected that Madam Pomfrey had not tried as hard as she could have.

Hermione had learned after Marietta Edgecombe that the forehead was too easily concealed behind bangs, so Phineas’ boils spanned his cheeks and nose instead.

After a week the Alphas still squabbled. Constantly. It was as though they couldn’t help it. Even Neville, who was not generally petty or overly-confrontational occasionally got dragged into a fight. He pummeled Phineas in a hallway the day after Phineas had tried to grab Hermione. And he and Anthony Goldstein ended up in a duel during a study period that left Anthony sporting an enormous pair of moose antlers for four days.

All of them fought. Within three days of attacking Hermione, Phineas Borgin was thoroughly thrashed down to the bottommost rung of the Alpha hierarchy. He slunk through the school like a beaten mongrel.  

Neville fought least. Followed closely by Theodore Nott, which was an intriguing development given that he was also one of the few Alphas who had yet to actually approach Hermione.

In fact, Theodore Nott was, generally speaking, something of a Dark Horse in the equation. Hermione couldn’t quite pin him down. He was an excellent duelist; sneaky and creative, but  in a non-malicious way. A practice duel during DADA between himself and Neville ended up sending both boys to the hospital ward for an evening because neither boy would call it a draw.

But Nott didn’t actually approach her. He sort of existed in orbit around her. When they made eye contact he’d smile and give a her salute. He waved occasionally. But he never tried to get close, or loitered around the Gryffindor Tower portrait or outside her classes the way the other boys did. She wondered if it was some type of reverse psychology he was attempting to employ with her.

Anthony and Peter were somewhere in the upper middle of the Alpha hierarchy.

After two weeks the physical confrontations began to  ease as order was established. But the bickering and snarking and snarling at each other continued. They couldn’t stop no matter how many points they lost for it.

Except Malfoy.

Draco Malfoy somehow carried on through it all as though he didn’t give a damn. He didn’t squabble. He didn’t bicker. He never snarled. He most certainly didn’t get into any duels or fist fights. In fact the other Alphas were apparently incapable of luring him into any kind of confrontation despite their endless efforts to provoke him. Malfoy just sneered and condescendingly ignored them all.

At first Hermione thought it was because of his occlumency; that somehow he was able to filter it all out. Then it occurred to her: Malfoy was at the top of the pecking order.

He had shagged her.

All the other Alphas were queueing behind him. He had “claimed” her; she reeked of him. He was the only Alpha in Hogwarts with nothing to prove.

So he could swan about and ignore them all.

And her.

It made Hermione seethe.

It was downright insulting. How dare he ignore her like that?

Not that she wanted his attention—

Except she did.

She found herself constantly looking at him and feeling hurt that he wasn’t even willing to acknowledge her most of the time.

It turned out that their Arithmancy project required that they work together more than Hermione had expected. They met in the library and he was distracted and tense and angry and absolutely desperate to leave the entire time.

As soon as they were done he stalked away and left Hermione nearly incoherent in the cloud of his pheromones.

Hermione scrubbed her scent glands in the shower morning and night trying to get his scent out of her skin. She had discovered that having him scented on her meant that, despite the suppressants, he still had an effect on her.

None of the other Alphas could compare.

Neville was distracting. Hermione wasn’t sure if it was because she was closest friends with him or if their chemistry was exceptional; whenever she was around him for more than ten minutes she noticed the room around them began to fade and she had a tendency toward edging closer and closer to him. It didn’t help that Neville tended to start edging toward her too.

Poor Hannah.

Hermione would occasionally notice the betrayed expression on the Hufflepuff girl’s face when Hermione would walk into room and Neville would immediately turn toward Hermione and stare at her, slack-jawed with longing. Neville would always catch himself and then turn apologetically back to his girlfriend.

Peter and Anthony were both sort of middling to Hermione. She would occasionally catch herself eying their necks or growing mesmerized by their voices but she was also quite capable of having normal conversations with them without once getting distracted by the thought of shagging them.

The other Alphas that Hermione would occasionally interact with tended to vary.

But Malfoy was in a category all his own. Because his scent hung about her like a constant cloud she tended to think about him endlessly. More specifically she thought about all the sex she’d had with him; the feeling of his body on top of hers; his tongue dragging itself across her scent glands; and the sensation of his knot, swelling inside of her, joining them together as he’d started to come; her wrists pinned under his hands as he kissed her and sucked on her neck and muttered things to her.

As soon as she was actually in proximity to Malfoy she tended to become nearly incoherent with arousal.

According to the books Omegas were basically nymphomaniacs. They normally became soulbonded during their first heat and continued to have loads of sex afterward. According to Hermione’s book “Soulbound” daily sex was considered the bare minimum for the first six months.

Hermione was not having daily sex. She was not having any sex. She was not soulbound. She had no Alpha tending to her. In fact, the one she felt most drawn to made a point of assiduously ignoring her; as though to drive home the point that he had never wanted her in the first place.

She was just horny. And thinking about Malfoy constantly, and trying not to give into the temptation to climb him like a tree every time she laid eyes on him.

So, generally speaking, being an Omega was not as awful as Hermione had initially anticipated; she was neither accosted nor pursued in the manner she had initially feared. But she was increasingly miserable, and sexually frustrated.

After two weeks she was beginning to wonder if she should just give in and ask Professor Vector not to pair them.

Toward the end of the third week his scent finally started to fade. Hermione was profoundly relieved but it had the unfortunate downside that several more of the Alphas started approaching her and then noisily bickering with each other. Hermione started spending most of her time studying in the Gryffindor common room and only visited the library during off hours.

On a Friday night she snuck out to the library a half hour before it closed to try to find an additional reference for her Ancient Runes translation. The library was delightfully empty of Alphas and Hermione allowed herself a chance to relished the solitude and browse the aisles. She found a large book on curse breaking shelved in the wrong section, she pulled it down, tucked herself in an abandoned corner of the library, and became completely immersed in it.

When Hermione finally looked up from her book she realized with horror that she had not only stayed past the library closing but that it was curfew. She cursed quietly and put the book back before hurrying out of the library. As she halfway back to Gryffindor tower when Mrs Norris appeared in front of her.

Hermione bit back a curse and turned and fled down a nearby hallway. The last thing she wanted was to be dragged through the castle by Filch. She had only just caught up on all her classes, she didn’t have the time for detentions.

The angry cat trotted after Hermione, yowling angrily. Hermione sped up.

“Mrs Norris, my sweet, have you found someone?” Hermione heard Filch calling from around the corner.

Hermione bolted around another corner and down several flights of stairs and then wound her way through a series hallways until it finally seemed that she had escaped the unpleasant cat.

She leaned against the wall and chuckled quietly to herself. Running around and hiding in Hogwarts made her think of Harry and Ron. After a week of silence she had received letters from both of them each containing suspiciously similar paragraphs about how they were there for her and would fully support her in whatever choices she made. Hermione felt fairly certain the paragraph had been dictated by Molly.

They were going to come visit on Hogsmeade weekend and Hermione expected there would be some honest conversations then. She hoped that if Ron was feeling inclined toward any explosiveness it would have simmered off by then.

She straightened up and looked around to see where she had ended up. She had gone all the way back down to the first floor and ended up in the far side of the castle. She scolded herself for not bothering to bring the Marauder’s map with her.

She was on the third floor when she came around the corner and ran into Nearly Headless Nick.

“Why hello, Miss Granger!” Nick said in noisy delight.

Hermione blanched and held up a finger to her lips, shushing him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked in a stage whisper.

Hermione blushed.

“It’s curfew. I’m not supposed to be out,” she admitted hurrying down the hallway.

“What? You’re not a prefect? For some reason I thought you were a prefect,” Nick said, following as his voice becoming cringingly loud once again.

“No,” Hermione said quietly, waving her hands to urge him to speak more quietly. “I’m not. Please lower your voice. I don’t want Filch to find me.”

Nick chuckled and his voice bounced off the wall.

“Quite understandable. Filch is quite unpleasant. Never has time to exchange a few words with a fellow such as myself.”

As he was speaking they rounded a corner and found Anthony Goldstein and Pansy Parkinson on prefect patrol. Hermione sighed in resignation. It was clearly not her night.

“Well, Hermione, I never had you down as a rule-breaker,” Anthony said with an expression of glee. Since Hermione had been studying in the Gryffindor Common Room she hadn’t seen Anthony much.

Pansy snorted. “Are we looking at the same person? The female third of the trio-that-got-away-with-murder?”

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Well, I always attributed it Harry and Ron’s bad influence,” Anthony said.

Hermione gave him a look.

“I’m going to have to report you, Granger,” Pansy said, looking smugly down her nose at Hermione.

Hermione nodded. “Alright. Well, I’ll be on my way then,” she said.

“I’ll walk you!” Anthony immediately volunteered. “That way you won’t have to double up your point loss if you run into a professor or Filch on the way back.”

“It’s fine,” Hermione said. “I don’t want you to leave Parkinson to do rounds alone.”

“We actually just finished,” Anthony said immediately. “And Pansy said she’d write up the rounds report tonight. Besides I don’t like the idea of you walking alone in the halls after that stunt Borgin pulled.”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Hermione said with a polite smile.

“Come on, Hermione,” Anthony wheedled. “I’ve been trying to find you the last couple days, I’ve got something I want to talk to you about.”

Now Hermione most definitely did not want to walk with Anthony. She had decided that Anthony was not going to qualify as an Alpha option for her; for all his occasional charm there was something distinctly insincere about him. She never felt quite comfortable with him. Possibly because he reminded her too much of Cormac McLaggan.

“Maybe over the weekend,” she said.

“Aw, come on. Let me walk you to Gryffindor tower . We’re old DA buddies. You’re good with it, aren’t you, Parkinson?”

The air seemed to vibrate slightly. Anthony smelled nicer than Hermione had remembered. Hermione and Pansy both blinked.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Pansy said and started walking away.

“I guess it’s alright,” Hermione said slowly.

“Great,” Anthony said with a grin, stepping beside her.

Hermione glanced around and found that Nearly Headless Nick had apparently seen fit to disappear without a word.

They walked about twenty feet before Anthony started talking.

“So…” he started. “You probably know why I want to talk to you.”

Hermione gave a faint nod and focused on walking at a quick pace without appearing too hurried.

“Right. So, now that you aren’t smelling like Malfoy pissed on you anymore, I wanted to be the first person to ask whether you’d be interested in going out. I mean, obviously this whole Alpha-Omega thing affects things. But I’ve always thought you were pretty brilliant and honestly kind of scary—but in a good way. And we’re old friends.”

Hermione cleared her throat and tried figure out a way of letting him down gently. Being asked out was not something she had very much experience with.

“That’s—very nice of you, Anthony,” she stammered, feeling her cheeks flush faintly. “But—honestly—I’m not really sure I’m ready to get into a relationship—yet. This—is all pretty new for me. I want to have more time to find my bearings and evaluate my options before I make any decisions...or commitments.”

Anthony’s friendly expressions faded slightly.

“Do you really think you can do that?” he asked.

Hermione looked over at him in confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“Be single. Do you really think someone like you can actually be single?”

Hermione dropped short and raised an eyebrow. “Someone like me?”

“An Omega. Honestly, I think you’re deluding yourself if you think you can stay single as an Omega.”

“Well, I seem to be managing so far,” Hermione said in an acerbic tone, feeling tension radiate across her shoulders. “It may not be ideal, but I’m not going to jump into something. I’d rather stay single for as long as it’s manageable.”

Anthony gave an irritated snort.

“But you haven’t been single. You’ve been smelling like Malfoy this whole time. Now that you don’t, you might as well be bending over and pulling your knickers off in front of us. You basically just scream sex like it’s an open invitation. You need an Alpha’s scent in you.”

Hermione stared at Anthony.

“That’s what it’s like to be around me?”  she said feeling abruptly on edge as she stood alone in a hallway with him.

“Instinctively, yeah. I mean, sex is what Omegas are for.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed in outrage and her hand inched toward her wand. “I am more than my biology,” she snapped. “And even if I wasn’t, weren’t you the one with the pretty words about witches making their own choices about their sex lives? Are Omegas somehow excluded from that?” Her tone was positively corrosive. 

“Calm down, Hermione,” he said rolling his eyes. “Don’t try blaming me for this. It’s just how it is. You’re taking it personally.”

Hermione was suddenly tempted to punch him in the face. How dare he tell her to calm down? She was calm. And not take it personally? She was one of the only Omegas in England. How else was she supposed to take it?

“I’ve barely smelled like Malfoy for the last several days and Neville has managed to restrain himself,” she said in an icy tone. “I’m on the suppressants and I’m limiting how often I’m in common areas. I’m not doing anything unreasonable other than trying to finish my education like everyone else. I’m sorry if it disappoints you, Anthony, but I’m not going to get into a relationship with you just because of the way I smell. Now please excuse me, I’m out past curfew.”

She stalked angrily away. She didn’t want to be anywhere near Anthony bloody Goldstein. She heard him sigh with exasperation.

“Wait, Hermione,” Anthony called after her.

“No,” she spat over her shoulder as she kept going.

“I said wait.”

It vibrated straight through her and nearly stopped her in her tracks.

Her footsteps stalled for a moment before she realized herself and sped up, fury blooming through her like a fire. How dare he try to use an Alpha tone on her?

Wait!” Anthony snarled. It was like his voice had reached out and seized hold of something in her.

She felt a hand close over her wrist and jerk her back, his thumb grazing her scent gland. The sensation and command jolted through her like an electric shock. She felt herself start going slack.

No...

Her hand reached hazily for her wand but before she could raise it he knocked it away and she was shoved against a wall. Her head cracked sharply against the stones and it made her see stars. She heard a portrait shouting.

She blinked several times trying to clear her vision. She was staring up in astonishment at Anthony’s indignant face.

“Anthony, stop,” she said in a shaking voice, blinking through the pain in her head and trying to force her mind through the haze his voice had caused. She tugged at his hands, trying to pull her wrists free. “Let me go.”

“I told you to wait, you should have listened to me,” he growled. The Alpha tone in his voice was heavy and it closed around Hermione’s mind.

Danger. Danger.

Another part of her was starting to chant. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.

She twitched trying to make herself move but her body remained obediently in place.

Stay here, ” Anthony said using an even more forceful tone. His thumbs were sliding over her wrists and caressing the scent glands.

The sensations shivered through her body and coiled in her spine and she whimpered slightly. There was a duality battling in her mind.

Stay. Wait. Your Alpha wants you to stay. The desire to obey swallowed her like a fog.

But at the same time another part of her was struggling. He was making her stay. He hadn’t asked. He wasn’t giving her a choice. She didn’t want to stay. He hurt her. He wasn’t safe. He wasn’t taking care of her. He was just—taking.

She sobbed and cowered back slightly as Anthony stepped closer.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you,” he said gently. His voice was low and cajoling and Hermione fought against the desire to give in to it. He pulled her wrists together and clamped one large hand around them both. “I’m going to be your Alpha now. You didn’t want Malfoy’s stench hanging around you anyway. I’m going to be a lot better for you.”

He used his free hand to tilt her head back and Hermione started panting as he crowded closer to her. Pushing her harder against the stone wall as he breathed in deeply against her throat. She choked back another sob.

“You smell so good now,” he said. “I bet you’ll smell better when you're mine.”

“D-don’t,” Hermione choked out as she felt him nuzzle along her neck and felt her body giving in. She tried to push him away but he had a considerable physical advantage over her.

His face grew angry and possessive. He gripped her wrists harder in his hand and used them to pull her more firmly against himself.

You’re mine ,” he said forcefully. “My Omega. I’m going to bury my teeth in your neck and fuck you and then you’ll never fight me again. Now do as I say and stop struggling .”

Hermione sobbed as she felt her mind slip away further under the influence of his voice. She was going somewhere mindless. Obedient.

Alpha would take care of everything. She would just wait obediently. She felt herself arch her head back and expose her neck.

Good girl.”

She felt his teeth grazing skin. She shuddered as she felt her nipples harden and heat pool in her lower abdomen. He was going to bond her. Bite her right there in the hallway. Fill her...

He hadn’t even asked.

She didn’t want—

“Please don’t,” she begged, trying to slide down the wall away from his teeth.

Stay still ,” he commanded and the weight of his voice bore down into her as he dragged his tongue along her scent gland.

Hermione was floating. Her mind was smothered.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.

Large hands were gripping her. She could feel hot breath on her skin. Her body was slowly growing warmer and warmer. Heat was radiating from her and there was a throbbing sensation between her legs as the hot, wet sensation of a tongue kept laving against her neck.

She arched and felt a hard body grinding into her. Pinning her to the wall.

“I’m going to bite you. Then I’m going to fuck you. It’s been killing me, waiting. I’ve heard about what it’s like to knot. I’ve been imagining bending you over ever since you walked into the Great Hall.” The words were muttered against her skin.

“No…” the plea was torn out of somewhere deep inside Hermione beyond the haze.

Don’t fight me, Omega, ” he said angrily and she felt something shrivel inside of her. She was dimly aware that she was arching obediently and exposing her neck further as he started sucking her glands hard, his body pressed against hers, grinding his pelvis into her stomach.

Suddenly the body was gone. There was a crashing sound that Hermione was too dazed to follow.

“Goldstein, I am going to tear you limb from limb.”

The entire area around Hermione vibrated by the snarl of fury that abruptly filled the air.

She felt herself sliding down the wall. Her body felt on edge and frustrated but she felt like somewhere else inside she was crying.

She felt hands on her face tilting her head up and thought she saw a flash of grey. She was so dazed she couldn’t be sure.

“You fucking bastard, you forced her into a sub-space.”

“Right, because she smelled like you because she wanted to. What are you going to pretend that fucking her in heat was any different than putting her under?”

There was a lot of crashing and sparkly lights shooting around that Hermione was only vaguely aware of.

Finally the flashes and the lights stopped and there was just groaning.

Then she felt warm hands on her face and there was the grey again. She was pulled up and wrapped in someone’s arms and being—carried?

She breathed in. Oh... She knew this scent. This was a nice scent. Heavenly. Warm. Safe.

She buried her face in the shoulder and slipped her tongue out to taste it. It tasted—perfect. Her eyes rolled back slightly as she breathed in again. She slid her tongue against the skin again and curled it, teasing along the shirt collar.

A low gasp vibrated through her and she felt as though she were turning to honey inside. She sighed and wrapped her arms snugly around the person and hugged them tightly.

She felt herself being put down. The arms around her withdrew and pushed her back slightly. Grey again.

“Granger, come on, you need to come back up.” She heard a voice saying, it was shaking faintly.  

She knew that voice… those eyes.

And always that scent.

Malfoy.

He was cradling her face between his fingers as he stared into her eyes. His voice was low and coaxing. Hermione blinked at him.

“Come back up, Granger.”

Her mind was cocooned somewhere warm and reassuring. If she did what he said—

She had a feeling she wasn’t supposed to come out.

Stay still. Be quiet.

She sat quietly.

“Come on, Granger,” Malfoy was saying.

She felt so—safe. Malfoy was strong. His body was very close to hers. He was attractive. He was panting and his scent was almost dripping off of him. She could still taste him on her tongue. His eyes were dark and possessive and enraged.

His expression was worried as he stared at her—he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.

He still smelled like her.

Hers.

She reached out and gripped his tie and tilted her head back to expose her neck.

She had tried to be good and not let any of the other boys touch her. She’d even tried to be pretty for him but he hadn’t even looked at her. She was supposed to please him.

He’d be pleased—wouldn’t he?—if she was submissive? Maybe she just hadn’t been submissive enough.

She parted her legs and keened faintly.

Chapter Text

Malfoy’s eyes grew so dark they were almost black. He slid his hand away from her face and down to her throat and then pulled her toward himself; leaning toward her and breathing deeply against her throat.

Hermione sighed and let her head fall back further.

“Oh fuck,” he muttered. “I thought I had imagined how perfect you smell.”  

Hermione felt as though she were about to melt into a puddle. As though the heat from Malfoy’s breath was seeping into her. She could feel the tip of his nose lightly grazing the side of her neck and she let out a low moan and clutched at his robes.

He started to draw back but Hermione clung to him like a barnacle, not letting go. She wanted to pull all her clothes off and feel his skin against hers. She nuzzled his neck.

He was hers. He smelled like her.

His hold on her was tightening, shaking faintly. He growled against her skin and it shivered through her and down to her toes.

She paused, and then caught his jaw in the palm of her hand and drew his face up from her shoulder, studying him. His expression was possessive and enraged.

Not angry at her, angry for her. Someone had been hurting her and Malfoy was nearly feral from it. There was palpable rage around him that still felt explosive.

She knew about this—instinctively she knew. Her Alpha. She was supposed to soothe him and assure him now. She was alright. She needed to show him.

She leaned forward and kissed the side of his neck.  A small tender kiss. Then another kiss, a little higher up. He stilled from his shaking. She pressed another kiss near his jaw while her fingers slid down and pushed away the collar of his shirt and lightly caressed his scent glands on both sides of his neck.

He made a guttural moan and all the angry tension in him abruptly vanished as his undivided attention on her morphed from protective anger to desire.

She scooted closer to him until they were pressed against each other as she slowly continued to drop tender kisses up over his neck to his jaw and then finally captured his lips with hers. The taste of him... she moaned. He immediately wrapped his arms around her, picking her up and pulled her into his lap. She wrapped her legs around his hips and ground against him; she could feel her center press against his cock, and they both groaned.

Hermione slid her hands over his shoulders and up into his hair and tugged on it as she deepened the kiss, sliding her tongue between his lips and twining it with his. He gave a low growl of approval and his tongue pushed back, pressing into her mouth and plundering it. His hands began to slide over her curves, caressing them, slipping under her clothes and gripping her possessively. She dragged her wrists against him, scenting on his clothing until the air grew thick with their pheromones.

His fingers slid over her skin, teasingly so that she arched, pressing them together. He crushed her against himself.

Oh. Oh... She loved this. The sureness of it. The strength. She could feel his muscles rippling beneath the fabric of his clothing as he held her. Rather than feel frightened by their disparity in physical power she found her mind purring.

He wouldn’t use it to hurt her. He would only please and protect her. A perfect Alpha. Hers.

Hermione could feel her heart begin pounding and gasped against his mouth as he continued to kiss her. He nipped at her lips. She drew a hand back and began unbuttoning her shirt and parting the fabric, encouraging him to push her clothes off. She felt...golden.

She’d been longing for him for so many weeks. Dreaming of having him take her again. She pulled one of his hands up to her breast and moaned as he slid his hand under the cup of her bra and his fingers played with the tip of her aching nipple.

She gave a choked gasp and arched her back further.

“Alpha…” she panted. “Alpha, please…”

He suddenly jerked away and wrenched his hand back.

“Oh fuck,” he swore angrily as he stared at her in his lap.

Hermione blinked in confusion.

“Merlin, Granger,” Malfoy said in a strangled voice, running a hand through his hair and he looked at her wide-eyed.

Maybe...she was supposed to take her clothes off for him.

She started pulling her shirt off and reached behind her back to unclasp her bra. Malfoy watched her half-dazed until she began pulling the straps off her shoulders, then he suddenly sprang to life and grabbed ahold of her hands to stop her.

“D-don’t,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Don’t do that, Granger.”

Hermione blinked at him and felt herself well up with disappointment.

“Was I not a good girl?” she said slowly.

He stared at her.

“I tried to be good,” she said. “I tried to look pretty. I didn’t touch myself. I tried not to let anyone touch me—but he licked me even when I said ‘no.’ I can be good. I can try harder.” She could feel her lip trembling.

“Oh bloody fucking hell,” Malfoy said in apparent despair before he let go of her hands and enveloped her in a hug.

Hermione melted against him, relishing the heat of his body. She could stay like this forever. She sighed into his chest and felt him rest his chin on the top of her head.

“You’re a very good girl, Granger,” he said in a husky voice. “I’m very pleased with you. Goldstein is a tosser and I’ll help you castrate him later.”

Then he let go of her and pushed her back slightly so that he could meet her eyes.

“But you need to wake up now,” he said studying her face with a worried expression. “You’re not a mindless submissive. Goldstein forced you. I know you don’t want to be like this. So let’s put your shirt back on and then try to figure out how to bring you back up so you can go back to your dorm.”

“I like being here with you,” Hermione protested peevishly.

He sighed and looked away from her.

“I sincerely doubt that. But if you’ll cooperate and let me bring you back from wherever Goldstein managed to shove that enormous brain of yours and you still want to be here—well,” he snorted, “I certainly won’t stop you then.”

Hermione re-clasped her bra and pulled her shirt back onto her shoulders obediently. Malfoy buttoned her shirt almost all the way up but left the top three undone to expose her scent glands as he stared at her thoughtfully.

She was still seated on his lap, staring up at him adoringly and trying not to croon over his lovely cheekbones. He was so handsome and his eyes were still dark as he looked at her. She reached up and unbuttoned one of the buttons he’d done up in order to show him more of her cleavage.

“No, no, no,” Malfoy immediately said and rebuttoned it. “None of that, Granger. I’m trying to think. You’re already impossible enough to think around with your clothes all in place. I’ve never done this before, I honestly have no clue how to wake you back up.”

He rested his hands on her shoulders for a moment and stared into her eyes.  

“Granger, come back up,” he said. His voice was low and the command in the tone tingled in Hermione’s spine and made her brain feel buzzy. She sighed breathily and leaned forward to kiss him.

He tried to dodge it but she grabbed ahold of his collar and pressed their lips together.

His hands were tangled in her hair a moment later as he kissed her back ruthlessly. His mouth hot and bruising against hers. They kept kissing until they were both gasping for breath.

When they broke apart he seemed to remember himself and drew back, untangling his fingers from her hair.

“Right. So that obviously didn’t work,” Malfoy said as they stared at each other, panting. His cheeks were flushed and Hermione tried to kiss him again but he put his hands on her shoulders and stopped her.

He reached out and slowly slid his thumbs up over her collarbones and caressed her scent glands. Hermione gave a low keen and her whole body went slack in his hands. Malfoy caught her and gathered her against his chest. He dipped his head down and Hermione stilled and held her breath, hoping he would lick her. Her arousal had her neck throbbing; just agonizingly sensitive. Every time he spoke or breathed she experienced an almost painful tingle of anticipation in her scent glands. She was just dying to feel his soothing tongue against them.

He did not lick her. He breathed deeply and the whole room suddenly felt thick with his scent as he caressed her scent glands again with his thumbs.

“Granger, come back up now,” Malfoy said, and his voice rippled part way through the fog in Hermione’s mind.

She gave a low, slightly pained whimper of want and arched her head back further, huffing in frustration.

She didn’t know why he wouldn’t lick her.

“Alpha…” she said in a low pleading voice.

He looked down into her eyes and sighed, sliding a hand along the column of her neck and pulling her up toward  and ghosting his lips over her neck. She could feel his breath on her glands and stifled moan of anticipation.

She felt the tip of his tongue brush against her gland. A shudder ran through her whole body and it felt as though she were being bathed in magic. He gave a long broad lick and the sensation shot straight through her body. Her clit throbbed. She moaned and ground against him. She could feel him straining through his trousers and she tangled her fingers in his hair and held his mouth against her neck.

This...this… She could live for this. Surely he’d fuck her now that he’d licked her again.  He’d push her down and drive his cock inside of her. She was aching inside from wanting him.

He moaned and gripped her more tightly as his tongue caressed her skin and he sucked on her neck. Hermione gasped and felt her whole body shake and a coiling heat began growing into fire within her lower abdomen.

She slid a hand down his torso, sought out this trousers and started slipping her hand inside. His hand holding her waist pulled away and closed around her wrist, stopping her. She felt his thumb graze her scent gland on her wrist and felt herself sink against him, limp as a rag doll. Utterly glazed in sensation.

“Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please,” she whispered, trying to shift her hips against him.

He released her neck and she gasped with disappointment. But he didn’t pull away, instead he buried his face against her shoulder and breathed in deeply.

She could feel the air whispering cold across the spot where his mouth had been, and her hair shifted and tickled her skin. She felt a quivering anticipation bloom through her lower spine as she tensed. Waiting. She felt his lips brush lightly along the juncture of her neck and shoulder and she rolled her head forward and rested her cheek against his shoulder so she could breathe in his scent at the same time.

He held her tightly as he pressed his mouth against her neck. She held her breath and held still.

“Granger, you’ve been a good girl but you need to come back now. Come back up.” There was forcefulness beneath the coaxing way he growled against her throat.

The vibration sank straight through the fog in Hermione’s mind.

It was like resurfacing after diving deep underwater. Seeing the surface shimmering overhead; kicking up toward it as it sparkled and moved in waves; getting closer and closer; feeling the changing pressure and then finally—breaching with a gasp.

Hermione’s mind abruptly found her again. It was like the world were in slow motion as she absorbed what had happened.

She lifted her head off his shoulder and felt Malfoy’s hands immediately slip off of her.

She looked up at him dazedly and felt intensely emotional and vulnerable as they stared at each other.

“Oh my god,” she said in a sobbed whisper.

“Granger?” he said in a hesitant voice.

She nodded slowly and stared at him.

“Do you remember what happened?” he asked, studying her.

She nodded again and fought against a desire to cry.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

She shook her head and looked around, trying to get her bearings. They were sitting on the floor in a classroom.

She bit her lip and rubbed her wrists against each other, trying to comfort herself as she processed what had happened.

To her surprise Malfoy hugged her. She immediately clung to him.

“It’s not your fault,” he muttered. “Goldstein is a bastard to use your biology against you like that.”

“He asked me out,” Hermione said angrily. “And then when I said no he said I was basically an open invitation to fuck, and when I tried to leave he forced me to stay and he said—he said he was going to bite me.”

She was shaking in Malfoy’s arms. His hold on her tightened.  “It’s alright. You’re alright now,” he said. His voice coiled through her and she stopped trembling. “No one is going to bite you or do anything else you don’t want them to.”

“But they will,” she said and her voice wavered. “It’s written into me now, somewhere fundamental where I can’t change it. I can barely say no. And apparently even if I do, they can just ignore it and make me cooperate.”

She buried her face in his neck. She was aware that she was currently seated in the lap of Draco Malfoy, the very person who had pointedly refused to so much as look at her for the last several weeks, but she felt like she might start bawling if he stopped hugging her.

Since he hadn’t immediately shoved her off of him she decided to stay until he did.

“I hate this. I hate this biology, ” she said fiercely.

Malfoy sighed and hugged her even more tightly.

If she could just stay there with him forever, that would be ideal, her brain pointed out. His hands were stroking her back lightly and the scent of him was everywhere around her once again.

“I’m not going to let anyone hurt you, Granger,” Malfoy growled. One of his hands came up and tangled in her curls at the back of her head; holding her firmly. Possessively. Her head was tucked under his chin and she could hear the steady tempo of his heartbeat.

It...was blissful. She closed her eyes and relaxed against him.

After a minute she lifted her head and stared at him. His eyes were still dark and she reached out hesitantly and rested her hand on his cheek and watched his eyes grow even darker.

“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for stopping Anthony. I don’t—I don’t know what I would do if he’d bitten me.”

She shuddered.

It wouldn’t have been a permanent bond if Anthony had bitten her, but it would have been long-term. Soulbonding required her to be in heat. Getting bitten by Anthony when not in heat would have been like the effect of Malfoy’s scent on her but multiplied by the umpteenth degree, it would have taken months to wear off.

It would have put a hold on her that would probably have lasted until her next heat when he could have tried to make it permanent.

“Thank you, Malfoy,” she said again and her voice shook slightly. She looked into his silver eyes and just meeting them made the air feel electric and made it hard to even remember to breath. She felt like her heart were about to explode. “You—you are—“

She found herself drawing her face closer and closer to his. Or maybe he’d drawn his closer, she wasn’t sure.

She had never imagined that making eye contact with someone could make her heart race as though she had just sprinted around the quidditch pitch. The silver of his eyes were like liquid and she felt as though she could drown in them.

It wasn’t the aroused fog of pheromones, it was different. She didn’t know how to describe it.

She drew in a ragged breath and tried to tear her eyes away from his, but found herself instead staring at his mouth. His hand was still in her hair and his thumb was lightly caressing the nape of her neck.

She tried to remember what she was saying but she couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. His lips were parted and—

The matter of Anthony suddenly seemed oddly faded and insignificant; far less pressing than the fact that Hermione was having her first fully conscious experience of being in Draco Malfoy’s arms. The air around them was beginning to crackle and almost hum from the tension that was beginning to swirl around them.

She shifted closer.

Surely—if he hated her he wouldn’t be letting her sit in his lap while he promised to keep her safe; he wouldn’t care if he thought she was detestable and dirty-blooded. Maybe… there had been a misunderstanding.

Their faces were almost touching. She could almost feel his lips against hers.

“Malfoy...?” she whispered and her lips brushed against his as she spoke. It was electric. They both shivered and drew even closer. Her thumb caressed the the arch of his cheekbone and his fingers in her hair tightened their hold in response

Kiss him. Kiss him and he’ll never leave you, her mind whispered. He’ll always keep you safe. He’ll always be yours.

She wanted to.

But she needed to know.

“Malfoy, do you—?“ She was practically whispering the question against his mouth.

The door to the classroom burst open and McGonagall stormed in along with several more professors. The Headmistress’ wand was immediately levelled on Malfoy.

“Mr Malfoy, remove your hands from Miss Granger this instant,” Minerva said in a hard voice.

The sudden appearance of others made the electric tension between them snap like the reverberation of a bow string. Hermione and Malfoy sprang apart and scrambled to their feet.

“Miss Granger, are you alright? A portrait reported that you’d been attacked.”

Professor Vector and Professor Dawlish moved toward Malfoy while Minerva pulled Hermione toward herself.

“I’m fine, Headmistress,” Hermione said, straightening her clothes awkwardly as she was hurried across the room.  

Minerva glared over at Malfoy.

“I warned you, Mr Malfoy. It was with extreme reluctance that I permitted you to return to this school after your actions in sixth year. And now I have my halls crawling with enraged Alphas, a prefect in the hospital wing, nearly beaten and cursed to death and find you, once again, compromising Miss Granger.”

Malfoy paled and Dawlish took him by the arm, wand leveled at Malfoy’s temple and started pulling him from the classroom. Hermione stared bewildered but Malfoy didn’t say anything.

“Headmistress,” Hermione blurted quickly. “Malfoy isn’t the one who attacked me. Anthony shoved me into a wall and tried to—to bite me. Malfoy is the one who stopped him.”

The professors all stilled and looked at each other.

There was a silence.

“I see—well, if that was the case you should have come to my office and reported it immediately,” Minerva said looking nonplussed as she glanced between Hermione and Malfoy.

“I—was not—entirely lucid afterward,” Hermione stammered. “Malfoy brought me here to try to help me snap out of it.”

All the Hogwarts staff eyed Hermione with expressions of overt skepticism and Hermione belatedly realized that, if Malfoy’s current rumpled appearance were anything to go by, she probably looked quite thoroughly snogged. Her tie was missing. Her shirt was half unbuttoned, her hair was standing nearly on end, she could feel a flush in her cheeks and across her chest, and her lips felt distinctly swollen.

“He didn’t do anything that I didn’t initiate,” Hermione added, and felt her cheeks grow hot and she struggled against a desire to go bury her face somewhere; preferably in Malfoy’s chest. She rubbed her wrist surreptitiously against her hip instead.

“Well—,” McGonagall said.

Malfoy abruptly jerked away from Dawlish making a muffled sound, his expression tense. Professor Dawlish promptly dug his wand firmly under Malfoy’s jaw to still him

“Mr Malfoy,”McGonagall snapped, “control yourself! Dawlish, please escort Mr Malfoy to my office. I will take Miss Granger to resolve the situation outside and then take her to the hospital ward.”

“Very well, Minerva,” Professor Dawlish said with a nod as he continued to use his wand to prod Malfoy in the throat and then proceeded to drag him out of the classroom. Hermione stared after Malfoy and their eyes met for a final electric moment before he vanished around the corner, leaving Hermione with McGonagall and Professor Vector.

“Malfoy, really didn’t do anything, Headmistress,” Hermione said again. “He shouldn’t be punished.”

Minerva looked over at Hermione and a thoughtful expression came into her eyes.

“Miss Granger, are you—becoming attached to Mr Malfoy?”

Hermione felt her stomach drop slightly and glanced between McGonagall and Professor Vector. Professor Vector had an increasingly overt expression of distaste on her face as she stood in the classroom. Hermione became aware that the small classroom smelled rather heavily of sex, despite the travesty that there had been no sex.

Hermione blinked and tried not to notice how frustrated and bitter she felt about that.

“N-no,” Hermione said. “It’s just—I would—“ Hermione took a deep breath and closed her eyes as she spoke quickly. “He could have taken advantage of the situation and—with the state I was in—I would have wanted him to. But he didn’t. He stopped.”

Her voice was slightly embittered sounding as she said ‘stopped.

She felt her cheeks flush and opened her eyes, breathing in sharply through her nose and staring determinedly down at the floor.  “So, I just think you should know that I feel profoundly grateful to him for coming to me. It he hadn’t shown up right then—I’m not sure what Anthony would have done to me. If anything Malfoy should be rewarded.”

McGonagall continued to stare at Hermione thoughtfully for several seconds before rousing herself.

“Very well, Miss Granger. After Poppy has seen you I would like a full story of exactly what occurred with Mr Goldstein. Let’s take you to the Hospital Ward and get you some Murtlap Essence for your neck.” McGonagall looked Hermione up and down and cleared her throat. “Perhaps you should button your shirt.”

Hermione awkwardly turned away from the two older women and buttoned and tucked in her shirt and then tried to smooth her hair. When she turned back she felt the Headmistress cast a freshening charm on her. Hermione blushed again.

McGonagall turned toward the door and then paused.

“You should brace yourself, there’s something of a commotion in the hallway,” the Headmistress said before sweeping through the door.

The ‘commotion’ in the hallway was all the other Alphas in Hogwarts, some half-dressed, and all angrily shouting at their professors who kept waving their wands to ward them off.

Hermione stared in astonishment and sidled nervously behind the Headmistress.

“Did they all show up because I was attacked?” she said in a shrill voice as she peered over a tartan-clad shoulder.

“Apparently,” McGonagall said, staring at the scene in front of them. Neville appeared to be wearing his robes and a pair of trousers without a shirt or shoes. Several boys were in pajamas of various kinds. Theodore was wearing slacks and no shirt. Peter was in a bathrobe. They were all arguing with Flitwick, Slughorn, Hooch, and Sprout. Even Phineas was skulking against one wall. “Half of them were here before the professors arrived.”

“It didn't occur to me that I’d called them all,” Hermione said awkwardly.

She’d read about it in her books. When Omegas were extremely frightened they dropped a veritable bomb of pheromones. It was rather like going into heat. Given that Hermione was unbound any Alphas nearby felt immediately driven to come rescue her.

It explained how Malfoy had managed to materialize out of nowhere.

“Fortunately, your call did not drive them feral or we would have been forced to stun them all. They were willing to let the professors look for you, since they had enough sense to realize that looking for you as a group would probably not end well. We promised we’d let them see you when we found you, but they promised to behave themselves.”

“Hermione!”

Neville spotted Hermione peeking over McGonagall's shoulder and bolted toward her followed by all the other boys. They nearly bowled over McGonagall and Professor Vector and then crowded around Hermione like a pack of eager dogs.

The instant they surrounded her Hermione froze; standing stockstill in the midst of them as they closed in. She vaguely heard McGonagall and the rest of the Hogwarts staff begin angrily shouting in the background.

Chapter Text

Neville’s face was suddenly inches away from Hermione’s, and the first thing she noticed was that his irises were blown wide.

The whole world faded away and all she was aware of was the extreme proximity of an entire pack of Alphas, all jostling each other as they tried to get close to her.

It was terrifying.

They were all a good foot taller than her, rippling muscles, dripping sweat and pheromones, barely dressed, and the expressions on their faces was decidedly feral. There was an immediate impulse to back away and bolt, but a strong sense of instinct grabbed hold of Hermione’s mind. Do not run.

She stood still and was afraid to even breathe as they kept pressing closer and closer. She could hear them breathing and sniffing her, and she was pretty sure she knew what it was like to be a dog. It would have been almost funny except they were huge and she was small and in the middle of them all.

She felt a hand brush against her wrist, and flinched away and tried to turn her wrists inward.

“Are you alright?” Neville growled, studying her face intensely. His expression was reminiscent of Malfoy’s; enraged, predatory, possessive.

“I’m-I’m fine,” she stammered. “I’m fine. Anthony tried to bite me—but Malfoy got here in time. I’m fine. I’m not hurt.”

The was a collective growl around her and Hermione felt it across her entire body and over her scalp. She shivered and pressed her legs together.

McGonagall could have warned her a bit more clearly before they left the classroom. Hermione still felt on edge and aroused from snogging Malfoy and she could tell that all the boys surrounding her could smell it; their eyes were black and it was the sheer number that kept them all from trying anything.

The air felt tense, strung out and ready to descend into violence if anyone moved too suddenly.

McGonagall was shouting something, but Hermione could barely hear it over the panting and shifting bodies surrounding her.

She eyed them nervously and felt her pulse quicken into thrum as she tried to figure out what to do.

“I’m fine,” she said again. Was someone sniffing her hair? Yes, someone behind her was most definitely sniffing her hair.

She hunched her shoulders and tried to shy away, but there was nowhere to go.

“I’m fine,” she repeated. “You can go. I didn’t mean to call you.”

She felt a hand slipping around her wrist and jerked away, bringing her wrists up to her chest and pressing them against herself. Another hand caressed her waist.

“Stop touching me!” she snarled and tried to breathe. The air was so thick with pheromones it was almost difficult to choke down. She wanted her wand. It was somewhere in the hallway, wherever Anthony had knocked it.

Then there was a flash of stunning spells. Several of the Alphas, including Neville, dropped. The hallway dissolved into chaos. Several large hands grabbed hold of Hermione and started trying to pull her in multiple directions all at once.

The professors were trying to stun the Alphas and the Alphas were all instinctively trying to drag Hermione behind them. They were not cognizant anymore, and there were too many of them. A witch cannot be dragged protectively in multiple directions at once, but apparently Alpha instincts lacked the nuance to comprehend that.

She was afraid they were going to accidentally break her arms as they pulled on her.

“You idiots! You’re hurting me!” she shouted angrily, and kicked several of them savagely as she tried to jerk herself free.

Then there was—Hermione wasn’t sure. It was like a magical explosion and she was abruptly wrenched free of all the hands.  

By the time she managed to recover herself enough to figure out what had happened she was pressed against a wall with someone standing in front of her, blocking her entire view.

She is mine.”

The words were snarled with enough force that Hermione could have sworn the walls of Hogwarts vibrated.

The hallway fell quiet enough that she could have heard a pin drop.

“M-Malfoy?” she said in bewilderment as she tried to peer around him. The Hogwarts staff and the few Alphas who hadn’t been stunned were staring over at them.

Mine,” Malfoy reiterated.

Peter, who was one of the few Alphas not unconscious on the floor, appeared to be visibly cowed. Malfoy’s expression as he glared at everyone standing in the hallway was terrifying.

And so attractive, Hermione’s mind cooed. She immediately set herself to fastidiously smothering the unhelpful and irrelevant thought.

McGonagall was the first person to recover herself.  “Yes. Thank you Mr Malfoy, I believe you have resolved the situation. If you would, please stand down now,” she said in a crisp voice.

Malfoy didn’t move.

There was a panting sound and the clip of running feet and Professor Dawlish came skidding around the corner and came to a stop, immediately leveling his wand at Malfoy.

“Apologies, Minerva,” Dawlish immediately said. “We were nearly to your office and he flung me into a wall and disappeared. I suspected he might come back here.”

“There’s no need to stun him, John,” Minerva said sharply. “There was an issue here that Mr. Malfoy ended up being uniquely suited to resolving.”

Dawlish didn’t lower his wand but he didn’t curse Malfoy either. Minerva turned to glare at the still conscious Alphas, and then gave a sigh of resignation as she addressed the House heads. “I’ll leave you all to deal with your students. I am going to escort Miss Granger to the hospital wing and hope that the night will resolve itself quietly now.”

Then McGonagall looked over with a slightly exhausted expression over to where Hermione was peeking out from behind Malfoy. Malfoy still hadn’t budged from where he was standing.

“I sincerely apologize, Miss Granger, I had no idea that the Alphas would overreact so extremely to the sight of you. That was a terrible oversight on my part. Are you alright?”

Hermione found herself sidling closer to Malfoy, pressing into his robes and trying not to give into the temptation of smelling him.

“Maybe a bit bruised,” Hermione said, “but they didn’t break anything.”

“Perhaps you and Mr Malfoy could both come with me to the hospital ward. Rolanda, John, if you’ll accompany me.”

Malfoy looked down at Hermione and she was somewhat surprised to find that his expression was not feral. He appeared entirely lucid. He also appeared to be supremely pissed off.

Their eyes only met for a second before he looked away, pressed his hands against his face and gave an unnecessarily dramatic sigh before turning toward the wall and smacking his forehead into it repeatedly.

Hermione stared.

Finally he looked down at Hermione.

“Granger,” he said in a resigned tone as he gestured toward McGonagall.

Hermione walked stiffly toward the Headmistress. The evening was beginning to give her emotional whiplash. There was a brief pause and another sigh and then she heard Malfoy’s footsteps behind her.

Hermione cast her eyes around as she walked, trying to remember exactly where in the hallway Anthony had grabbed hold of her. She wanted her wand back. She caught sight of it lying on the ground near a tapestry and snatched it up and slid it in into her pocket with a faint sigh of relief. Not having it gave her a grating sense of anxiety.

She turned and nearly bumped into Malfoy who was standing right behind her. She blushed and darted over to McGonagall.

The Headmistress was looking at both Hermione and Malfoy with a thoughtful expression as they approached her. Hermione’s eyes narrowed; surely McGonagall didn’t think Hermione was in some kind of secret relationship with Malfoy? Hermione nearly laughed aloud at the thought.

“Mr Malfoy,” McGonagall said, “I realized belatedly that I should have already asked you to accompany me to the hospital ward, as it will speed the diagnosis on Mr Goldstein.”

Malfoy snorted faintly, and McGonagall gave him a pointed look.

“Of course, Headmistress, however I can assist the school,” he said.

McGonagall turned and swept toward the hospital ward without another word; Hermione and Malfoy and the professors trailing after her.

The moment they walked into the hospital ward Madam Pomfrey descended upon them.

“Minerva, thank goodness. I was just about to send word. I had just put Mr Goldstein into bed and then,” Madam Pomfrey waved an arm somewhat wildly and gestured across the room, “this!”

She pointed to a bed that held a chrysalis the size of a kayak. Hermione turned wide-eyed to look at Malfoy, who was the only person in the room who wasn’t stunned by the sight.

“I can’t undo it!” Madam Pomfrey continued, “I ran a diagnostic and it shows that he is dissolving! Dissolving! Have you apprehended the student responsible for the attack?”

“That would be Mr Malfoy here,” McGonagall said in a wry tone.

“What did you hex him with?” Madam Pomfrey said, rounding on Malfoy suspiciously.

“I’m not certain. The moment was a bit of a blur,” Malfoy said demurely, straightening his robes.

Madam Pomfrey’s eyes narrowed. “That, is one of the most complicated hexes I have ever seen in my career. You did not transform Mr Goldstein into a pupa by accident.”

“Well, if he really is in the process of turning into a butterfly, then I believe the spell came from a book of obscure hexes in my family’s library. I’m afraid I don’t remember any counter-charm for it,” Malfoy said, looking unrepentant. “There may not have been one. If I recall correctly the hexes in that book were all non-permanent and non-lethal. Although I couldn’t say exactly how non-permanent.”

“He is dissolving!” Madam Pomfrey said sharply.

“I’m sure he’ll just pupate for a week or two and then emerge transformed to some degree,” McGonagall said in a dry voice. “Which will give me time to determine whether to expel him in addition to stripping him of his prefect status. Poppy, since it appears that Mr Goldstein will not be doing anything in the immediate future aside from dissolving, would you mind checking Miss Granger for injuries? I believe that some Murtlap Essence may be in order for her neck, and there’s possibly some bruising on her arms.”

Madam Pomfrey muttered something about irresponsible magic but appeared resigned that nobody thought that dissolving was an undeserved fate for Anthony Goldstein, and turned her attention to Hermione.

While Hermione was getting prodded McGonagall stared down at her.

“Now, Miss Granger, if you would explain what happened.”

“Well,” Hermione said, feeling the tips of her ears grow hot, “I lost track of the time when I was reading in the library. When I realized what time it was it was past curfew so I headed toward Gryffindor Tower.” Hermione decided to omit the part about running away from Filch. “When I was on my way there I ran into Anthony and Pansy on prefect patrol. Anthony volunteered to walk me back to the dorm so I wouldn’t risk a double points loss if I ran into a professor, I told him that was unnecessary but he, he—“ Hermione’s voice trailed off. “He insisted. I think he used some kind of Alpha tone on Pansy and I, because it got—blurry—for a bit, and then Pansy was walking away and he and I were walking together.”

Hermione felt her shoulders tense and her stomach twist as she tried to continue. She felt horribly stupid and angry and betrayed that it had even happened. That she hadn’t kept track of the time. That she hadn’t resisted Anthony’s voice. That she hadn’t hexed him quicker. That her mind had just abandoned her and folded at Anthony’s commands...

Madam Pomfrey’s hand brushed near Hermione’s scent gland and Hermione started with a yelp.

“Sorry. Sorry, dear,” Madam Pomfrey said with a soothing voice. “Could you unbutton your shirt collar? You’ve got some marks that I can get healed with a quick charm and a bit of Murtlap Essence.”

Hermione blushed and stared down at her shoes as she reached up and undid the top three buttons of her shirt.

Madam Pomfrey leaned forward and brushed Hermione’s hair aside before beginning to perform healing charms. Hermione hissed faintly and shivered as she felt the magic interact with her scent glands.

It felt like a physical violation. They were such a deeply sensitive and entwined part of her physiologically; feeling Pomfrey casually use magic on them was like being publicly fondled. It made Hermione’s skin crawl.

Hermione swallowed the bitter taste in her mouth, and tried not to cringe or express her discomfort. She pressed her wrists tightly together and held her breath. It wasn’t as though anyone but possibly Malfoy would understand. The intrusive sense of forced intimacy was hard to verbalize even to herself.

She held herself rigidly until the magic stopped.

“Here’s some Murtlap Essence, would you like me to apply it or do it yourself?”

“I’ll do it myself,” Hermione said promptly and nearly snatched the jar from the matron’s hands. The thought of having someone rubbing something into her scent glands, in front of Malfoy and McGonagall and Hooch and Dawlish was just—

The mere thought was unbearable.

Hermione shoved the jar into her pocket and rebuttoned her shirt. Then she set her jaw, and forced herself to continue telling McGonagall what had happened.

“Anyway—Anthony asked me out, and then when I said no he made some rather horribly demeaning and sexist comments, so I said I was leaving and starting walking away and he used an Alpha tone and—for some reason—I couldn’t, couldn’t resist it the way I had before. And he got really angry that I was fighting him and he said he was going to—going to bite me. And then he said he was going to fuck me. Because, according to him, being an unbound omega just makes me an open invitation.”

Hermione’s voice was shaking with rage. If Anthony weren’t in the middle of liquefying himself inside a cocoon, Hermione would have probably have gone over and beaten him to death with a bedpan.

“He forced me into a submissive headspace so I couldn’t keep saying ‘no,’” Hermione said in a tight matter-of-fact voice. “Then, after that, Malfoy showed up. I wasn’t very lucid but they dueled, I think. Afterward Malfoy took me into that classroom and tried to pull me out of the sub-space, but I was a bit—a bit—I was in a bit of a state, and it took awhile for him to figure out how to do it.”

Hermione glanced up toward Malfoy who was expressionless. She glanced back down at her shoes.

“Anyway, when he finally woke me up I was something of an emotional wreck at first, and Malfoy was very nice about it and then the professors arrived. And that’s what happened,” Hermione said hurriedly.

“Did you take the suppressants today?” McGonagall asked slowly.

“Yes. It’s the first thing I do every morning,” Hermione said in a tight voice, feeling insulted that McGonagall would even suggest she would be so careless.

“Perhaps the potions lose efficacy over time,” the Headmistress said thoughtfully. “I’ll have Horace brew a new batch and we can compare them with your current supply”

McGonagall eyed Malfoy. “Tell me, Mr Malfoy, how was it that you happened to get to Miss Granger before all the rest of the Alphas, despite the Slytherin dorm being furthest from the attack?”

Malfoy’s expression flickered for a moment before growing guilty. “I was violating curfew by practicing charms in a classroom,” he muttered.

“Indeed,” Mcgonagall said in a skeptical tone, “and then you sensed Miss Granger’s distress?”

Malfoy gave a short nod.

Hermione studied him. He was lying about something, but she wasn’t sure what.

“And what did you witness when you arrived?”

Malfoy’s jaw clenched. “Goldstein had her shoved into the wall and she was saying ‘no,’ and he ordered her to stop fighting him.”

“So you hexed him,” McGonagall finished.

Malfoy’s expression relaxed slightly and his eyes gleamed. “I may have punched him a few times too.”

“Or more than a few times,” muttered Dawlish.

“Well, Mr Malfoy, this night has been quite—illuminating. I’m afraid that due to your being out past curfew, casting what is currently an irreversible hex, and attacking a professor, I will have to deduct thirty points from Slytherin,” McGonagall said.

Hermione found herself glaring at her former head of house. McGonagall continued, “However for saving Miss Granger and demonstrating what I understand to have been remarkable self-restraint, and then helping to bring a quick resolution to an extremely unfortunate situation in the hallway, I award eighty points to Slytherin. If you will, please return to your dorm now.”

Dawlish made a faint sound of displeasure.

Malfoy’s eyes went briefly to Hermione but darted away before making eye contact. He drew himself up and inclined his head slightly. “Headmistress, Professors, Granger.”

He turned on his heel and headed for the door, pausing only briefly to glance down at the bed Anthony occupied. Hermione thought she saw him smirk faintly.

She watched him disappear through the doorway and tried not to sigh.

McGonagall rubbed her temple lightly. “Poppy, tomorrow, if you’re concerned about Mr Goldstein, we can send him to St Mungos or request a spell damage Healer come to examine him.”

Madam Pomfrey looked over at the cocoon in her hospital ward with an expression of decidedly less concern than she had exhibited previously. “Well, I’m sure he’s unlikely to die from it. I’ll monitor his vitals and see if I can find any reference to hexes like that in my medical library.”

“Very well,” McGonagall nodded, “I’ll send word to his parents tomorrow. Given that the hex occurred due to a situation involving an Omega I don’t believe there can be any legal action taken against Mr Malfoy. However, due to the terms of Mr Malfoy’s probation, there’s a chance the Goldsteins may push the Governor's Board to demand Mr Malfoy’s expulsion. We may be forced to agree to a compromise of allowing Mr Goldstein to finish his studies rather than expelling him for attempt sexual assault. If that’s alright with you, Miss Granger. He would be carefully monitored.”

Hermione’s blood ran cold at the thought of Anthony staying in school with her but she tried not to show it.

It would be awful, awful and horrifically unfair if Malfoy got expelled and sent to prison for saving her. She steeled herself internally. She’d just have to figure out a way of protecting herself better.

“That’s fine,” Hermione said, meeting the Headmistress’ eye. “I don’t want Malfoy to end up being punished for helping me.”

McGonagall escorted Hermione up to Gryffindor Tower and Hermione was quiet, deep in thought. When they arrived at the Portrait of the Fat Lady, McGonagall turned and studied Hermione with a serious expression.

“Miss Granger, I wish to be respectful of your autonomy in all this, but I also need to protect you and the other students in this school. Do you have any idea of what preventative measures we might put in place to ensure nothing like this happens again?”

“I—I have a few ideas that I want to explore,” Hermione said, twisting at cuff of her sleeve. “But, nothing definite yet.”

McGonagall nodded. “Very well. You’ll let me know, won’t you? If there’s any way I, or the staff, can assist you.”

“Of course, Headmistress. I’m sorry—about all the trouble I caused by violating curfew.”

“Just bad luck all around tonight,” McGonagall said dismissively. “Goodnight, Miss Granger, you should head up to your dorm now.”

“Goodnight,” Hermione said and entered the portrait hole without another word.

She went up to her dorm room and into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. The other girls were in bed. Hermione set the jar of Murtlap Essence onto the counter and took a deep breath before starting to unbutton her shirt.

There were dark bruises on her neck above her collarbones, where her scent glands were. The darker ones on the side where Anthony had sucked on them.

She smelled faintly of both Anthony and Malfoy, a fact which made her skin prickle and her head ache slightly every time she breathed through her nose.

She pulled her shirt off and found bruises along her arms and wrists.

She started dabbing Murtlap Essence onto all of them and watched them slowly fade away, mulling over and cringing internally at McGonagall’s question.

I wish to be respectful of your autonomy in all this, but I also need to protect you and the other students in this school. Do you have any idea of what preventative measures we might put in place to ensure nothing like this happens again?”

With the subtext, intentional or not, of “you are making the school year difficult for a lot of people.”

Of course, in retrospect, it was foolish to have thought that suppressants would be enough to act as a solution for being an Omega. If it were that easy the Wizarding world wouldn’t have gotten into the habit of marrying off Omegas prior to their presentation.

Hermione pulled her shirt back on and went over to her bed and stared at the calendar beside it. October 16th. She had barely more than two months until her next heat.

Two months to try to find an Alpha she trusted, or some other kind of solution. She gnawed her lower lip and pulled out all the books she’d accumulated.

After Anthony’s attack she was reevaluating quite a few assumptions she had made about Alphas and Omegas and how the suppressants functioned.

She stayed up all night researching and cross-referencing with her other texts and taking notes.

The sun was barely creeping over the horizon when Hermione gathered up her scrolls and books, slipped several letters into envelopes, downed another suppressant, and headed to the Owlery.

She watched the school owls disappear into the horizon, felt slightly hollow headed from exhaustion and then returned to her dorm to try to catch a few hours of sleep.

She skipped breakfast and spent the entire weekend in the eighth year girl’s dorm. The House-elves brought sandwiches. Most of the other students had plans and only came back to their rooms to change or sleep.

Hermione missed the library. Working on a bed was much less efficient than a library desk. But she had already accumulated most of the books that existed on Omegas and she didn’t want to deal with anyone approaching or disrupting her. The project was rather private.

She kept the canopy on her bed closed and hung several strips of parchment on all sides so it that she could keep visual track of her various theories as she developed them.

She was standing in the middle of her bed staring at all her work on Sunday evening when she heard Ginny’s voice.

“Hermione, are you in here?”

“Hey, Gin,” Hermione said absently, studying the red lines indicating all options she’d eliminated.

Ginny’s head poked through the canopy and she glanced around with a bewildered expression.

“What are you doing in here?” Ginny squinted and started reading one of the many scrolls of parchment hanging around Hermione. “A research project on yourself?”

“Mmhhmmm,” Hermione said as she reached over and crossed out another option.

“I heard about what happened on Friday night,” Ginny said gently. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” Hermione said quickly. “I’m just trying to find a solution. After all, if I have to spend my whole school year hiding in the girl’s dorm I might as well just study for my NEWTs via a correspondence course.”

“Do—would you want to get in touch with Charlie?” Ginny asked. “I’m sure—if you were interested, he’d—“

Hermione sighed. “I thought he didn’t ever want to get married. Wasn’t your mum going on about that before he headed back to the dragon reserve?”

“I’m sure it would be different if it was you.”

“I don’t really want to end up with someone just because he’s an Alpha and I’m an Omega. Unless I get pregnant immediately he’d have to schedule his work around my heat cycles for the foreseeable future. Which doesn’t work very well for dragon taming. And even if he could schedule work around it, we couldn’t really have it as some kind of seasonal arrangement; Omegas—don’t—being alone is—“ Hermione hesitated. “It has a cumulative effect psychologically. So being physically committed to someone who’s mostly absent would be—well, not my first choice,” she finished grimly. “And I don’t really want to become a dragon-tamer or ask him to give up his career.”

Ginny glanced around and her eyes landed on one of scrolls. Her eyes widened.  

“Are you really considering—?”

“It’s just an option I’m exploring,” Hermione said quickly. “I sent out some letters of inquiry yesterday, just to see if it’s even something I could pursue.”

Ginny looked visibly uncomfortable.

“That would be pretty final, wouldn’t it?”

“Well, so is soulbonding,” Hermione said in a tight voice, she waved her wand and banished all the scrolls into her trunk before Ginny could read more. “Did you need anything?”

“I was just worried about you. After I heard what happened, especially since you haven’t left the dorm all weekend. Although—“ she gave Hermione a long look. “—I think I’m more worried about you now.”

“I’m just trying to be realistic and weigh the options,” Hermione said stiffly. “I still have some homework to do before tomorrow, I should probably get to it now.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come down to dinner? I’ll walk you?” Ginny said.

Hermione sighed and shook her head. “I think I’d rather just stay and work. It’s fine. The elves send sandwiches.”

“Alright…” Ginny said with a sigh. “Just know, the offer is always open. Me and the rest of DA, we’d be happy to help you however you want us to.”

“I’m going to be this way for the rest of my life, Gin,” Hermione said, “I have to figure out a better solution than always needing a friend walk me.”

“You know none of us would mind that.”

“I would mind it,” Hermione said firmly.

“Just let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks, Ginny.”

Hermione was still standing, deep in thought, when she heard the door shut and Ginny’s descending footsteps on the stairs. Then she pulled out her potions essay. It was finished but she’d meant to revise it again before class.

The next morning she buried herself among her beta classmates as she went down to breakfast and then headed to Potions class with Dean, Parvati, and Seamus. Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini were already seated when Hermione walked in and Theodore blushed the moment he saw her and dropped his eyes.

Hermione paid him no attention, and went to settle herself into a far corner as had become her habit that year.

Malfoy stalked in a minute before class, followed by Pansy and Daphne Greengrass. Daphne’s eyes glinted when she saw Malfoy sitting alone and she quickly slipped into the seat beside him. Pansy shot her friend a dirty look before sitting down disdainfully beside Parvati.

The potion they were to begin the process of brewing was veritaserum. Hermione tried very hard to pay attention to what Professor Slughorn was saying about Jabberknoll feathers but she found it difficult not to just stare at Malfoy as Daphne kept leaning over and whispering in his ear.

She gripped her quill tightly and bore down on it so hard the tip cut through her parchment and left a huge blot.

When class was over Hermione dawdled as she packed up her notes and textbooks until the rest of the class had left and then made her way up to Professor Slughorn’s desk.

“Professor,” she said, “Headmistress McGonagall mentioned on Friday night that you were going to rebrew and compare the suppressant potions this weekend.”

“Ah, Miss Granger,” Slughorn said, straightening his robes. “Indeed. Over the weekend I developed several varieties for you to try. Quite a subtle bit of magic, suppressants, requires prodigious skill; if I may say so myself.” He tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially but then his joviality faded somewhat. “Unfortunately—there is no reason to think any of them will be more effective than your current batch. The freshness wasn’t the issue. The magic, comparatively speaking, is quite similar; the primary difference is in the side-effects.”

He pulled a small box out of his desk containing rows of various colored potions.

“Here, is the one I first made, which causes the coughing fit upon imbibing. This version here results in a faintly green aura. This one seems to cause fang growth when angry. And this causes fuzzy mindedness.”

Hermione stared down at the options.

“I did some research this weekend. I didn’t think the attack was caused by a failure of the suppressants,” Hermione said, fidgeting with the vials in the box. “But thank you for putting so much time into this for me. I’m very grateful.”

“Think nothing of it, I’m always happy to help exceptional individuals such as yourself. By the way, I’m intending to hold a Slug Club party again. You are, of course, invited, and if you would put in a good word with Mr Weasley and Mr Potter, I would be tremendously flattered to have you all at my little soirée.”

“I’ll mention it to them next week,” Hermione promised, already certain that neither Ron nor Harry would have any interest.  

“Excellent. Give them both my sincerest regards,” Slughorn said, bobbing slightly.

“Yes. Thank you, professor.”

Hermione packed the box of suppressant into her satchel and left the potion classroom, heading toward a nearby alcove to check the Marauder’s Map. She turned into the alcove and nearly ran into Daphne Greengrass who was having an intense conversation with Malfoy.

“Is there something objectionable about my sister or I that makes us somehow completely unacceptable company for you?” Daphne was saying in an affronted voice. “Just once! That’s all I’m asking. The way you’re acting a person would think I was trying to entrap you in a marriage.”

Hermione stared and Malfoy caught sight of her.

“Granger?”

Hermione felt her ears grow warm. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt—“

“You’re not. Daphne was just leaving,” Malfoy said quickly. Daphne rolled her eyes and shouldered quickly past Hermione.

Malfoy stared down at her.  “Did you need something?”

“Actually, yes. If I could have a word with you in private, if possible.”

Malfoy seemed to need to consider and rolled his jaw slightly as he stared at her for several seconds. “Fine. There’s a classroom around the corner we can use.”

“Right, lead the way,” Hermione said, stepping back so he could pass her.

He strode down the hallway further into the dungeons and led her into a classroom that appeared to be used for old desk storage. He crossed all the way to the far wall, and then turned and stared at Hermione.

Hermione hesitated for a moment and then shut the door behind herself.

“I’d really rather you didn’t shut the door,” he said in a tense voice before she had removed her hand from the knob.

“I’d really rather we did,” Hermione said firmly and added a privacy charm.

Then she turned to look at him, taking a deep breath and hoping she wasn’t about to make a total fool of herself.

Chapter Text

“So,” Hermione said, shuffling nervously. “I wanted to start by saying thank you for everything you did on Friday night. I really, really can’t express enough how grateful I am that you came—“

“Whatever, Granger,” Malfoy said in a dismissive tone, “it a was just an instinctive response, any Alpha would have done the same.”

Hermione faltered. “Well… their idea of helping me nearly broke my arms,  so I have to admit I doubt that somewhat,” she said, feeling on edge.

“I didn’t claim they were all intelligent, I just said they would have come,” he snapped back.

She stared for a moment.

“Fine,” Hermione threw her hands into the air with frustration, “it wasn’t anything exceptional but since you helped me twice I wanted to say thank you anyway.”

“Gratitude accepted, may I go now?” Malfoy said, arching an eyebrow.

Hermione fought back a desire to growl. Good lord, she really was turning into a dog. She wanted to weep.

“No. That’s not why I wanted to talk to you,” Hermione said, huffing with frustration over how difficult he was making things.

He rolled his eyes and folded his arms. “Fine. But if you dragged me into an abandoned classroom just to discuss our arithmancy project I reserve the right to throw a textbook at you.”

Hermione glared at him. She’d forgotten what a prat Malfoy turned into the instant he opened his mouth.

“Why on earth would I want to discuss our arithmancy project in private? I wanted to talk to you...“ her voice trailed off, and she flushed. “I wanted to talk to you about—about— about—

Why was it that the moment she spoke to Draco Malfoy her voice starting climbing up toward the rafters? Every ‘about’ seemed to be half an octave higher pitched than the one before. She coughed slightly.

“Did someone hit you with a triple tongue hex?” he drawled. “Spit it out. Some of us have classes and homework to get to.”

Maybe she couldn’t do this. There was possibly another option she hadn’t thought of; something that didn’t involve a git like Draco Malfoy.

There wasn’t.

At least not any options Hermione could come up with that didn’t involve the need for bodyguards. She already felt like it was only a matter of time before someone in the school noticed and the news leaked to the press. If she didn’t want the whole world to find out and develop an even more rabid fascination with her sex life it was imperative that she find a solution that allowed her to carry on in with the academic year with a semblance of normalcy.

Malfoy was her best choice in the sea of misfortune she found herself cast adrift in.

At least he was pretty.

“I want to talk about Friday night when we were in the classroom,” Hermione said, forcing the words out in a stiff, low tone of voice.

Malfoy’s expression grew abruptly closed, his eyes narrowed. “What about it?” he said, his voice was hard. Hermione fought against shivering.

“When we were snogging the first time and then you stopped, because I was still stuck in a sub-space. You said that if I weren’t you wouldn’t have any objection to snogging me.”

Malfoy stared at her and then slowly blinked.

“I am pretty sure I did not say that,” he said, his arms still defensively crossed.

“Not in those words but it was implied,” Hermione said, staring at him and feeling a shiver wend its way up her back.

He didn’t deny it.

She continued, “So—I wanted to know. D-did—did you mean it? Would you want to snog me?”

Malfoy’s expression grew distinctly cagey, and Hermione took it to be a good sign.

“I’m an Alpha,” he finally said. “I’m pretty sure you know I’m biologically wired to want to snog you.”

“Yes, but I’m not not talking about that,” Hermione said. “I mean, personally, would you—want to snog me?”

Malfoy stared at her. That wasn’t an immediate and forceful ‘no.’

“Why are we discussing this?” he asked plaintively.

Hermione studied his doleful expression. His eyes were huge as he looked guardedly at her and he was sulking. Had Malfoy always had such large eyes? She had never noticed how mirror-like they were. Like liquid pools of silver; something that conducted electricity, given the way her skin prickled every time she made eye contact with him. Did silver conduct electricity? She thought it did.

How did anyone have cheekbones like that? And such a straight, narrow nose and angular jaw? That wasn’t even bringing into account the rest of him; his broad shoulders and chest, tapered waist and, beautiful long fingered hands… Hermione felt like she could stare at him for hours, days even.

Just stare and stare…

Malfoy cleared his throat and glanced away from her looking flushed and uncomfortable. Hermione started and realized she’d been quite blatantly ogling him. She felt her face grow hot right up into her hairline.

What had they been talking about?

Snogging. Whether Malfoy would want to snog her.

She nearly whimpered but held in the sound and straightened her shoulders with resolve.

They were having a discussion. A discussion with no place for ogling or thinking about his eyes or his jawline or hands or mouth or how the small room they were standing it was beginning to smell like him...

A discussion. He’d wanted to know why they were discussing snogging.

“Right,” Hermione said in the primmest, lowest tone of voice she could manage. “Well, the things is that—well, as you know, Omegas have—have servile tendencies—around Alphas and they’re—they’re a bit much, sexually. After my heat,” Hermione flushed scarlet, “I started taking suppressants to help deal with those—traits. Since my situation is so unique, Headmistress McGonagall wanted to make sure that I’d be safe, and able to resist if an Alpha tried to take advantage of my—my tendencies.”

She shuffled uncomfortably and hugged herself slightly.

“So, McGonagall asked Neville to come and try to use an Alpha tone to control me—“

Malfoy’s expression grew black.

“And I could!” Hermione said quickly. “We tried it several ways, and I could resist him, and I fought back instinctively against giving in. And it was the same when Phineas tried to grab me. I didn’t end up in a sub-space I was able to resist it. But then—with Anthony I couldn’t as much. I was stilted. When I was trying to fight back it was like I was in slow motion. So, Slughorn tested the suppressants to see if it was because they lost efficacy but they haven’t. They’re still working as much as they ever have. And I spent the whole weekend researching and I realized that the suppressants weren’t the reason I was able to resist in the first place. Y-you were.”

Malfoy stared at Hermione with an expression of both doubt and astonishment.

“You scent-marked me. When I was in heat,” she said, as though he might have forgotten about that time he’d shagged her for days on end. “So, when Neville and Phineas tried to influence me I was able to resist them because they—they didn’t smell right, because I smelled like you. It made me subconsciously identify you as being my Alpha. But it wore off. That’s why Anthony was able to try to bite me. Because I didn’t—have an Alpha anymore.”

Malfoy’s expression grew uncomfortable.

“Basically all the suppressants can do is lower my sex drive and decrease my submissive tendencies slightly. That’s why they are usually used by Omegas in a situation when they’re forced to be separated from their Alpha. It’s doesn’t actually solve the issues of my being a unbound Omega. As long as my biology identifies me as being—alone, I’m always going to be as vulnerable around other Alphas as I was around Anthony. It might—might even be worse. Because on Friday night I still smelled a bit like you. Just not very much.”

There was a pause and then Hermione returned to the original subject. She stared intently at Malfoy’s shoes.

“So… that is why I wanted to know if you, personally, would want to snog me,” she said in a low voice that was a lot less confident than it had been when she’d practiced the conversation in her head.

There was a resounding silence.

“To clarify, you’re asking me this because you want me to scent-mark you?” Malfoy asked in a hard voice that went straight through Hermione and made her tingle unhelpfully between her legs.

She pressed her thighs together and stood stiffly.

“Well, yes,” she said in thick voice. “Just—temporarily, while I try to figure out a long term solution.”

She glanced up, he had uncrossed his arms and was instead gripping the strap of his satchel with both hands until his knuckles showed white, as though he expected her to try to steal it.

“You want me to scent-mark you temporarily?” Malfoy said, his expression disbelieving. “Why?”

“I trust you,” Hermione said.

Malfoy’s eyebrows jumped noticeably.

“You could have bitten me when I was in heat. It’s instinct to do so. Especially during the first heat when the hormones are so unregulated. And since then, the suppressants never really worked around you, so you could have taken advantage of that if you’d wanted to and I—“ Hermione felt herself turn bright red, “—wouldn’t have had any objections to it.”

Malfoy choked audibly and looked like he might fall over backwards.

“And then,” Hermione hurried on, determined to get it all out in one go, “you stopped when we were snogging on Friday night, because you knew I wasn’t really in control of my behavior at the time.”

“It’s basic decency, Granger,” he said in a hard, unenthused tone. “I realize that as a former Death Eater I am, by default, scum of the earth in all regards, but I am not a rapist.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Hermione retorted. She hadn’t factored in Malfoy’s apparent inability to accept gratitude or a compliment. “Stick a coherent-seeming girl pulling her clothes off in the lap of most boys and most of them wouldn’t have questioned it, much less most Alphas. I’m not trying to praise you to the heavens because I think most men are toads; when it comes to the legal precedent the law sides with Alphas. It's possible you’re unaware but as an Omega I don’t actually have any legal protection; not from anything an Alpha does to me.  If Anthony had bitten me and raped me in the middle of the hallway, his actions would have been dismissed in court as being caused by a biological imperative that he has no personal responsibility for—”

Her voice cut off as she stood smoldering with all the impotent rage she was still dealing with. The rest of the words just stuck, like a stone lodged in her throat. The more she had researched over the weekend the angrier she felt.

“Anyway,” she finally said in a tight voice. “I trust you, that you won’t take advantage of the things about myself that I can’t—can’t control anymore. That you have the self-control not to. So—I wanted to know if you’d be interested.”

Malfoy’s expression had only grown more closed and Hermione’s heart sank.

Apparently not. He’d probably just said he’d let her stay in the classroom because he’d been turned on a the time.

Pureblood.

Muggle-born.

Hermione pressed her lips together and straightened.

“You’re clearly not interested,” she said in conclusion. “That’s fine. I just figured I’d ask. I’ll just—I’ll figure out something else.”

She pulled out her wand to cancel the privacy charm on the door.

“I’m interested,” Malfoy abruptly said before she could open her mouth to say the reversing charm.

Hermione paused and looked back at him.

“You—are?”

“Yes,” he said in a tense voice.

She stared at him. His expression was decidedly conflicted, as though he was already regretting his words. Perhaps he was concerned about being disinherited. Lucius might be in Azkaban but technically he remained in control of the Malfoy estate, he could still disinherit Malfoy, which he might do if he learned his son had sullied himself.

“I’m not—it wouldn’t be dating,” she said.

“Right.” There was a definite edge to Malfoy’s voice.

“It would just be—,” she swallowed uncomfortably, “physical, like, um, friends with benefits—“

Were she and Malfoy friends? She wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like he had any interest in being friends with her.

“Well, not necessarily friends—,” she clarified, “but just—“

“Casual. A bit of fun.”

Malfoy’s eyes were growing darker and darker.

“Yes. Fun,” Hermione said weakly.

She didn’t think anyone had ever used the terms ‘casual’ or ‘fun’ in regard to anything involving her before. She took a deep breath and realized that the air in the classroom in which they were standing was very poorly circulated.

The room was thick with Malfoy’s scent. Edible. She wanted to lick him. Crawl into his arms and slide her tongue over his pale skin. Dirty classrooms were really not the sort of place she had ever imagined wanting to have sex but really, would the surroundings matter if she were with Draco Malfoy? No. Not at all. Because…his eyes were like…

She didn’t know. Something sexy and silver that she couldn’t think of currently.

She realized she was leaning toward him. She shook her head sharply.

“Right. So,” she said awkwardly. “We can schedule it, I guess—“

“Now.”

“Would Tues—“ she blinked and realized Malfoy was not across the room anymore. “Now?”

He was right in front of her. His eyes were black and his face looked starved, and he was looking at her as though he intended to eat her. Slowly.

“Now,” he growled, backing her up against the wall and tangling a hand in her hair as he pressed against her and buried his face in her shoulder.

Hermione wanted to melt but her sex drive was slightly diverted by her current stress overload. She was paranoid that Malfoy’s interest might just be due to the ventilation issues of the classroom they were currently in and not because he was actually, cognizantly willing.

She didn’t really think she could handle the guilt of accidentally using his hormones to manipulate him into something with her yet again.

They should probably have rules. Shouldn’t they? Rules and a schedule; in order to make sure things were just casual. Fun. She wasn’t really sure what casual and fun meant in this case. They could draw up a contract; clarify where the lines were supposed to be, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Snogging and scent-marking might not be a two-way road. He might not want her to lick him, it would be helpful to know. Have it all written—

Malfoy presses a hot, open-mouthed kiss against her neck and it was as though he’d electrocuted her; Hermione moaned gutturally, and grabbed hold of his robes before her knees gave out.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.

Hermione’s mind was chanting but she struggled to stifle the instinct and stay focused. What was she thinking about before? She couldn’t remember. Malfoy smelled so divine. Like home and safety and sex and her favorite food.

Maybe he could give her a shirt of his to sleep with. Sleeping had been difficult ever since her heat. Lonely. Maybe if she could smell him she wouldn’t always feel so cold.

She buried her face in his shoulder and breathed in as she clung to him.

It isn’t real, she reminded herself. He wasn’t claiming her. He was like an inoculation. A false claim. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t want her, not really. And despite what she might feel inclined toward him instinctively and physically, she did not want to be his either. It was just biology.

The current situation was just a ruse for her instincts.

Not real. It wasn’t real.

She forced herself to mentally review her research. His possessiveness and interest was subconsciously driven behavior. A biological imperative. An Alpha thing. He didn’t have any control over it. He didn’t mean it. Adolescent boys would have sex with anyone; Alphas especially. Hermione could look like a mandrake and Malfoy would still want to snog her as long as she smelled like an unbound Omega.

Reminding herself firmly of all that did not stop Hermione from wanting to have sex with him right then and there.

Was sex an option? Probably not. He hadn’t even seemed entirely enthusiastic about the idea of snogging at first. She should probably just hold still.

She wanted to at least touch him but she didn’t want to come across wrong. He’d only agreed to scent-mark on her. She didn’t want him to think she was trying to get anything extra out of the arrangement. If she started accosting him she’d have no heat or sub-space to blame. He’d think she was some tart.

She pressed her lips together into a hard line as she steadied herself mentally and then tilted her head back to expose her neck further. She forced herself to let go of his robes.

Malfoy’s fingers tightened in her hair as he pressed her more firmly against the wall, crushing her against himself.

Hermione braced herself. She would keep it together, she said firmly to herself, when he licked her she would stay quiet. She wouldn’t cling to him. She wouldn’t moan. She’d just stay quiet.

He didn’t lick her.

She kept waiting and waiting but he just kissed her neck and smelled her as though she were a drug.

His nose was buried against her neck, just over the scent gland on the left side of her throat and he wasn’t licking her. He kept sighing against her so that she could feel the long, cool drags of the dungeon air twisting over her skin as he inhaled and then the heat of his lungs as he exhaled.

Hermione’s spine began tingling in anticipation. A tension throughout her body was coiling tighter and tighter with every brush of air over her neck and shoulder. Her clit throbbed. She felt almost painfully empty inside.

His hair tickled faintly against her cheek and she could feel his hand slide around her waist and his fingers splay out along her waist as he held her firmly in place.

She kept waiting for him to lick her.

He just kept breathing along her neck until her fingers were twitching as she struggled not do anything. His fingers tightened in her hair and he drew her up until her toes were barely touching the ground as he dragged his mouth along her collarbones to the other side of her neck.

Hermione gasped and shook slightly.

Hermione could feel her mind melting. The urge to tangle her fingers in his hair and pull his lips against hers was swallowing her. She wanted to kiss him until her lungs burned. She wanted his hands along her body. She wanted to pull open the collar of his robes and run the tip of her tongue over his scent gland the way she remembered doing when she was in heat.   

He hadn’t agreed to any of that though, she firmly reminded herself. He was not interested. Until he specified otherwise she was not going to lay a hand on him.

She pressed her palms firmly against her thighs and took a steadying breath. It didn’t help much, the air around her was filled with his scent.

“You should just lick me,” she finally gasped in a strangled voice. “I don’t think I can handle this much more.”

Malfoy froze then pulled away abruptly, looking horrified as he backtracked several feet across the room.

Hermione stood unsteadily.

“I don’t want to do anything that crosses a line by accident,” she clarified when she saw his expression. “It’s hard not to—not to touch you.” She flushed.

Malfoy shook his head slightly as though he were trying to clear it.

“What? You—That’s fine,” he said in a thick voice. “You can touch me.”

“I can?” Hermione said and blanched slightly as she realised the words had rolled from her lips in a tone of utter elation.

She should have stopped there but when she saw Malfoy’s eyes darken further she decided to push her luck.

“Can I lick you?” she asked in a low whimper.

“Yes,” he ground out.

“What about—,” she started.

“If I don’t like something I’ll tell you, Granger,” he said in a growl as he got within arm’s reach of her again and dragged her into his arms and closed his lips over hers.

Hermione’s brain short-circuited as their lips met.

Kissing him was better than she had remembered. How was the even possible? It was as though the whole world faded away when his lips touched hers. One of his hands was in her hair; tangling and twisting and tugging sharply at the curls. The other caressed her neck, sliding his fingers over her scent gland as he held her in place.

She whimpered and clung to him, gripping his robes and gasping against his lips.

His tongue delved into her mouth greedily, sliding against hers. She moaned at the taste of him.

She slid her hands down his chest. Everywhere she touched was hard; Alpha muscles taut and rippling under his robes as he gripped her. He pulled her closer until they were crushed against each other, then backed her up into a desk and lifted her up onto it, pulling her legs up around his hips, his hands gliding up her thighs as he pressed himself between her legs.

Hermione whimpered against his lips and arched her hips to grind against him. Her hands slid under the collar of his robes, feeling the whisper of his skin under her fingertips. His skin was soft as silk over unyielding muscle and she dragged her fingernails over the juncture of his neck as she fought against an impulse to tear her mouth from his and bite him. She had never felt so possessive of anything before.

She wanted to mark him. She never ever wanted anyone else to touch him. They were made for each other. Every inch of them fit together perfectly and there was no way anyone else could be like that. It seemed impossible that anything could feel so perfectly, intrinsically right. Even though she knew—she tried constantly to remind herself even as she kissed him fiercely—it was merely the natural biology between Alphas and Omegas. Her possessiveness was merely a typical Omega trait because he smelled like her. Biology.

She ran her fingers over the scent glands on both sides of his neck until he pulled his lips away from hers with a groan and began peppering light kisses along her jaw. He pushed her back on the desk and leaned over her, tearing her blouse open with a sharp tug. She felt the buttons give away and distantly heard them clatter on the desk and then go rolling onto the floor. She felt his tongue run across the scent gland on the right side of her neck and he growled as he began to suckle on the spot.

Hermione felt her entire body spasm as the sensation and vibrations from his mouth burned through and pooled into liquid heat in her lower abdomen. She arched against him and could feel herself soaking through her knickers and into his trousers where he was grinding against her.

She ran her tongue down his neck and sucked tentatively at one of his scent glands, pressing her tongue against it and laving across the surface. They were almost invisible to the eye, but she knew where they were instinctively. Malfoy groaned and gripped her.

His hand slid down her waist and then along the curve of her arse, pulling her more firmly against him and she wriggled against him. He was hard and pressed against her. She wished he’d just tear her knickers away like her torn her shirt and drive into her.

It was painful how achingly empty she was inside. As though it were a malady she could die from—or have a mental breakdown over, if some of her books were to be believed.

When he’d fucked her through her heat it had felt so happy and secure and right. She had just hidden in his arms and he kept the whole world out and she had trusted him. Her heart panged every time she thought about it.

Could they have sex? She wasn’t sure. Did sex qualify as casual and fun? Malfoy was kissing his way down her body and Hermione whimpered and tangled her hands in his hair.

People had casual sex. Hermione might not be experienced but even she knew that. That was what her heat had been, hadn’t it? Just sex and then he’d left while she was asleep and didn’t want to talk about it afterward. That was probably what casual was; not talking about it, not discussing feelings or—

Malfoy’s fingers slid across the fabric of her knickers and Hermione wailed and parted her legs for him.

“Oh god, please—“ she started to beg and then caught herself, stiffened and forced herself to sit up abruptly on the desk and pushed his hands away.

She panted several times and tried to catch her breath and not think about how physically painful it was to be so aroused.

“We need to talk,” she rasped. “I know you don’t want to but I need to. I just need to know now, can we have sex?” She was staring at him desperately. “Is that an option?”

Chapter Text

 

Draco stared at Granger and wondered whether he was really understanding the question she had posed. Her eyes were black, and her cheeks deeply flushed as she stared desperately up at him, crossing her legs tightly as she continued to speak.

“You—you can say no. Obviously it’s not—“ she swallowed hard, “—necessary for scent-marking. It’s not what you agreed to. It would just be easier for me if I know where the lines are or I’m going to be constantly worried that I’m pushing them.”

“You’re asking me if I want to have sex with you?” Draco said in a dazed voice, trying to ignore the burning desire he had to ignore her talking and simply pull her remaining clothes off. He stepped back.

Granger turned a deep shade of scarlet and dropped her eyes.

“Yes...” she said in a small voice.

“I would think that was obvious,” he said, baffled.

Granger abruptly went from red to white.

“Right,” she said quietly. Then she proceeded to pull her shirt closed and looked away from him. “Good to know. We—we should probably—write down what is and isn’t acceptable. Have it all worked out ahead of time. If you don’t mind. That would be helpful for me. I think I’ll go now—since you have classes.”

Draco blinked slowly. It was fairly difficult to form many coherent thoughts, but he was fairly certain that a massive misunderstanding of some variety had somehow occurred.

“Wait,” he growled, and then felt his cheeks flush. His voice had a mysterious habit of dropping into a rumble as soon as he caught so much as a whiff of Hermione. He had to make a conscious effort to try to keep his tone in a normal range so that he didn’t constantly sound like he was snarling at her like a predator.

Granger looked back up at him sharply, and he noticed her shiver slightly.

“Wait,” he said again in a more normal tone. “By obvious, I meant yes. Did you—think I was saying no?”

Granger stared at him doubtfully.

“Yes?” she said, her tone hopeful and her eyes enormous as she studied him. It caused a painful tugging sensation to occur in his chest.

“Yes,” he forced out. “I already said if I didn’t like something I’d just tell you.”

“I know,” she said in a low squeak, and then huddled down, hunching her shoulders around her neck. “I just—I don’t want you to agree to something and then change your mind. If you don’t want to, I’d just rather know right off.”

Draco stared at Granger in bewilderment as she set her jaw, slipped off the desk, and started straightening her clothing and rapidly repairing her torn shirt.

“In fact,” she said quickly in a high, nervous voice, “we should probably give it some time. So you can think about it.”

“What?” Draco said, incredulous.

“Yes,” Granger was nodding to herself as she smoothed her hair and avoided looking at him, “time… would probably be a good idea—maybe a day or two. You can—can—can owl me.”

Draco was speechless as she continued.

“Yes. Owl me. And then we can discuss terms—maybe somewhere better ventilated like—the library. Just, let me know; yes or no. You can say no. If you do, I’ll—I’ll just—that’s fine. I won’t keep pushing for it or anything.”

Before Draco could formulate a response Granger had bolted across the classroom and disappeared through the door leaving him in a state of utter confusion and miserable arousal.

He rested a hand on a desk and leaned heavily on it as he tried to sort out how exactly the situation had gone from snogging Granger to having Granger ask him to Owl her in a day or two if he wanted them to have sex.

He didn’t think he understood Omegas. That, or Granger was just confusing as hell. Either way he was painfully hard, and standing in a classroom thick with the scent of her arousal. He could taste it in the air, and it made him groan with frustration. He kicked a chair across the room.

Why on earth had she expected he’d say no to sex?

There was a part of him that wanted to go hunt her down, drag her into the nearest alcove, and ravish her in order to demonstrate just how willing he was.

But apparently sex was not an option that day. Granger had decided they required a period of—reflection. As though he hadn’t already spent the last month reflecting on how he’d kill to shag her again.

Bloody fucking hell. He buried his face in his hands and groaned again.

Finally, after giving himself a few more minutes to try to clear his head, he picked up his satchel, and headed stiffly toward to Slytherin common room. He took an extended and ice-cold shower while he reviewed his entire conversation with Granger carefully.

The whole thing was just surreal from the moment she closed the door up to the moment she bolted.

He’d felt extremely on edge being alone with her again. It would never have occurred to him that she was trying to get him alone in order to ask him to scent-mark on her.

When she’d shut the door and then faced him, she’d looked visibly uneasy; which had been demoralizing but unsurprising.

She almost always looked uncomfortable around him, like she was bracing herself for something. It was painful to even look at her. A constant repeat of watching the moment she’d emerged from her heat; her expression had abruptly shifted from happy and open and trusting, to stunned and horrified and betrayed.

He’d braced himself for that eventuality but the moment had still fractured something in him.

They’d just had sex the last time, he’d still been knotted inside of her and she’d looked—blissful, relaxed, and happy, curled up in his arms. Then, suddenly, her eyes cleared and she’d turned nearly grey with horror.

She just froze and stared at him speechless for a full minute. Then the first thing she said was ask why he’d care if she were hurt.

Draco hadn’t known what to say. The question had caught him so off-guard he couldn’t even find any words.

It was like being gutted.

He’d realized then that she still saw him as exactly the same person who’d stood by and let her be tortured in his house; someone who would turn and look away when she was screaming and crying, and not do anything.

That was the kind of person he was to her.

She hadn’t testified for him because she thought he would or could be anything different. She’d done it for Potter, without expecting Draco to have the decency to even appreciate it. Without ever expecting him to care if she were hurt. Without ever expecting him to extend the courtesy of protection to her.

Then she looked away before he could find a way to answer. They couldn’t physically separate from each other so she’d just buried her face in the crook of her arm, and hadn’t even been willing to look at him for the rest of their conversation. When he’d apologized, again and again, she hadn’t acknowledged it. As though she were willing his existence away. She buried her face, and eventually he realized she’d fallen asleep.

He lay under her writhing internally. As soon as he could separate himself from her he’d fled. It been a violation of instinct to leave. It hurt, every step of the way, but he didn’t think he was in a place mentally or emotionally to have the conversation again if he stayed and waited for her to wake up.

He wasn’t sure if his devastation were a biological reaction, or a personal one. It was difficult to separate the two. Either way, the rejection just burned.

He’d slunk back into the Slytherin dorms and showered and tried to process everything as his brain and hormones settled back into a semblance of normalcy.

Of course. Of course. How else would Granger possibly see him? He’d identified her to his aunt, and then watched as she was tortured. He’d followed Crabbe and Goyle to the Room of Requirement, and tried to capture Potter. And then, after they’d save his life, he’d gone and run headlong into a Death Eater and reiterated his commitment to the Death Eater cause until Potter and Weasley and Granger showed up and saved him again.

He was spineless, and self-preserving, and every other damn character flaw that Granger and the Trio weren’t. What possible reason had he ever given her to expect decency from him?

Now, if he tried to prove her wrong, she’d probably just assume it was because she was an Omega. If he’d had any hope of showing her he’d changed, it was permanently lost now. She’d just assume that any decency he demonstrated was motivated by a biological imperative.

There was a vindictive irony in the fact that he’d somehow found her and fucked her through her heat. That of all the woman in the world to present as an Omega that it would be her.

Taste a forbidden fruit, and then be damned to crave it forever.

He resolved to find her afterward, apologize again, and then stay as far away as he could. He went to Professor Vector and requested that he and Granger not be paired.

Before he had a chance to apologize, Slughorn had found him and informed Draco that he was required in the Headmistress’ office. Draco had felt the blood chill in his veins; he’d been so preoccupied with thinking of Granger he hadn’t even stopped to think about the fact he might risk expulsion.

McGonagall had been ice-cold when he was escorted into her office and spent several minutes staring at him.

Then she finally spoke, “You’re at this school conditionally, Mr Malfoy.”

“I know.”

“Miss Granger has suffered a great deal in the last several years, and has now found herself thrust into a personal dilemma with dynamics beyond her control. I am speaking to you on her behalf because she feared a personal interaction could be traumatic.”

Draco felt himself pale and gripped the arms of his chair as McGonagall continued, “Whatever may have happened, she bears no responsibility for any of it. She is profoundly regretful.”

“I know,” he said, looking away and feeling as though his chest were being crushed beneath a boulder.

“I don’t know what your intentions or motivations in this are, but if I find that you use her nature or her behavior during that time against her in any way I will not be lenient. Your expulsion will be immediate.”

“I understand.”

“I will be saying this to the other Alphas at this school later but I will say it to you now. I am aware that there are circles that regard Omegas as being little more than a commodity. I hope that is not a view held by any Alphas in this school. Miss Granger is not a plaything. She is no one’s property. If she chooses to accept the attention of anyone it is at her discretion and it is no one’s business but her own. Do not let your biology trick you into thinking that this past week gives you any rights to her. If she finds herself harassed by unwanted attention and considers withdrawing, I think it goes without saying which student’s attendance I would give preference to.”

“Of course, Headmistress,” Draco said quietly. “I owe Granger for my probationary release; it was never my intention to do anything that would upset her.”

McGonagall studied him for a minute in silence.

“I have to ask; how was it that you managed to find her? The faculty and I went to considerable lengths to keep her presentation concealed. How is it that you detected it?”

Draco looked up at the Headmistress. “I didn’t realise she was an Omega until I was inside the room. I heard her crying and I thought—I thought someone was hurting her. After what she did for me, I couldn’t ignore it.”

McGonagall’s expression was overtly skeptical. “Really? You’re claiming to know what Miss Granger sounds like when she cries?”

Draco’s eyes dropped down and he stared at the desk in front of him. “She was tortured in my house, Headmistress. I don’t expect I’ll ever forget what it sounds like.”

There was a silence.

“So you broke in because you thought she was being harmed.”

Draco nodded listlessly.

“I see. Well, Mr Malfoy, you may go. I believe lunch is being served. Thank your time.”

Draco got up and left the office mechanically.

Message received.

Stay away from Granger. Don’t look at her. Don’t approach her. Don’t talk to her.

She does not want your apologies.

He could do that.

He barely let himself glance at her when he arrived in the Great Hall for lunch, even though she was about as easy to ignore as a Veela. She dragged in Alphas like a hunting lure. The whole world became defined and colored by his proximity to her—or lack thereof—unless he poured his magic into making an occlumency wall that muted the distraction somewhat.

She walked through the halls and smelled like him, and his heart whispered, “Mine.”

The closer she was, the more aggressively his instincts urged him toward her.

Ignoring Granger was almost endurable, except Vector—the bitch—had threatened to out Granger’s designation if they didn’t do the arithmancy project together. So Granger had popped up in the classroom where he liked to hide, and after pointedly reiterating that she would never ever have had sex with him in her right mind and would have infinitely preferred to spend seven days weeping in agony rather than touched by him, asked if they could just pretend to do the assignment together.

It didn’t work. The arithmancy project was a collaborative nightmare. He’d sit next to Granger in the library while she grew more and more uncomfortable, and he could smell her unwilling arousal. She would stare down at her notes, assiduously trying not to look at him and talked about numerical predictions at the rate of approximately seven thousand words per minute; steadily growing more and more upset until it felt devastating.

He had an instinctive desire to react to her, to calm her, to try to please her. It was encompassing.

Alphas were wired to take care of Omegas. It was written into them at a fundamental level, right alongside the desire to claim them. The knowledge that he couldn’t please her—that he was a source of her distress—was pure misery.

He’d try to get the study sessions over as quickly as possible and then vanish into the abandoned parts of Hogwarts to curse his rotten luck of being an Alpha.

Every time he saw another Alpha near Granger the blood would roar in his ears, and his heart would start snarling “Mine. Mine. Mine,” while he struggled against the urge to storm over and beat the person to death.

Alpha biology was simply the worst.

It wasn’t as though he actually liked her. Pre-Omega presentation at most he’d had a passing fancy for her during the summer, mostly out of gratitude.

She was, as he’d told Theo, fine.

Privately he thought she was maybe slightly more than fine. Not much more though.

Pretty. Maybe a bit more than pretty. Smart to the point of brilliance, he wouldn’t deny.  Not the most charming personality he’d ever encountered, but loyal enough to put the rest of the world to shame. But he hadn’t liked her.

When he’d completely lost control because he thought he heard her being hurt it was just because—because—

Fine. He’d fancied her a bit.

Not seriously, though. It wasn’t as though he’d had any intention or delusions about pursuing her. He could appreciate her qualities without being actually interested.

It wasn’t his fault that most girls he knew were less intriguingly academic.

Post-presentation, post-heat, none of that mattered.

He craved her like a drug. She could have the mind, personality, and appearance of a beige wall and he’d still be drawn to her. And she knew it.

He could see the wounded, distrusting expression in her eyes every time an Alpha who had never spared her the time of day during the previous six years, suddenly wanted to participate in a study group with her.

Draco had even less ground to stand on than they did.

There was no way she’d ever believe he was interested in her for any reason other than her biology.

Then Goldstein happened.

Draco hadn’t exactly been stalking Granger that night. He’d just noticed that she was in the library, and happened to decide to study in a nearby classroom.

As miserable as being near her was, not being near her was worse. Stressful. She’d taken to hiding in the Gryffindor Tower whenever she was out of classes, so when he noticed that she was nearby he’d just lingered. Then he’d only meant to make sure she made it back to the tower safely, but she’d gone bolting through the castle when Filch showed up and Draco had barely managed to avoid discovery.

When he managed to figure out where she was, he had been approaching tentatively when he was bowled over by a bomb of terrified hormones. He shot down the halls until he found her crying and pinned to the wall while Goldstein mauled her.

He didn’t think he had ever been so angry in his life. The whole world had turned blood red and he would probably have just murdered Goldstein, but Granger was sitting on the ground quietly crying and she was of infinitely greater importance. Once Goldstein was neutralized as a threat, Draco satisfied himself by hexing the bastard with the most debilitating non-lethal hex he could think of.

He hadn’t meant to snog Granger.

He’d had an instinctive sense that he had to remove her from their current location. So he’d taken her into a classroom to try to figure out what Goldstein had done to her. He hadn’t expected her to wrap her arms and legs around him, and start licking and kissing him.

Then there hadn’t been much rational thought for a while. She was just so perfect. It was almost impossible to believe it could just by typical Alpha-Omega biology because he touched her and she felt made for him. Every time her lips touched his felt like redemption. Until she started whimpering, “Alpha. Alpha, please.”

Then it struck him with freezing, shriveling, gutting horror; she wasn’t kissing him, she was kissing an Alpha. She’d kiss any Alpha. She wasn’t even Granger. She was just an Omega because fucking Goldstein had smothered Granger.

He’d fallen for it. Even in the midst of doubting his attraction could just be a biological imperative, he’d failed to distinguish between the two.

He had Granger seated on his lap, staring at him longingly, and trying to convince him to shag her, and because he was apparently delusional, he’d nearly let himself believe she meant it.

When he finally managed to drag her out of the subspace he’d expected her to bolt. It was like having her come out of her heat; she went from trusting, relaxed, and curled up in his arms, to suddenly traumatized all over again.

But she hadn’t immediately jumped up and fled. Instead she just sat in his lap, glancing around uncertainly and looking heart-wrenchingly vulnerable. Without even thinking, he’d started hugging her; which was odd, because he was not—as a general rule—the hugging type. However, rather than shove him away, she’d clung to him, and Draco had discovered that he actually was the hugging type. If it was for her.

He couldn’t bring himself to let go once he had his arms around her. It was Granger; real, coherent Granger, and she had her face buried in his shoulder, and she was letting him comfort her.

Then she’d looked up at him, and she hadn’t been horrified or stunned. She’d stared at him clear-eyed, and he wasn’t even sure if she said anything after that because meeting her eyes was like touching her magic with his own; a surge of desire that rose up through his whole body.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

He leaned forward, and he almost thought she leaned toward him too. He was less than a second from kissing her when the professors stormed into the classroom.

Then Granger covered for him. Rather than say that he had indeed snogged and nearly shagged her when she was barely lucid, she’d acted like it had all been her fault. Maybe she actually thought it had been; she’d looked overtly miserable, and Draco nearly broke free of Dawlish’s hold in an attempt to go try to comfort her.

He’d been dragged away. As Dawlish prodded him toward the Headmistress’ office, it occurred to Draco that he might very well end up expelled, and he started worrying about what his mother would do if he were sent to Azkaban. Then the thought vanished as he was suddenly struck with a certainty that Granger was in danger. Draco wasn’t sure where the feeling came from, but he was positive. Before he even paused to think he suddenly spun, picked up Dawlish, flung him into a wall, and bolted back in the direction he’d come from.

He’d found Granger kicking and struggling as she was being mauled by multiple Alphas, while the professors shouted and shot hexes. He snapped. He grabbed her, and felt an explosion of accidental magic burst out of him as he dragged her away. Then he shoved her behind himself, and snarled “She is mine,” at everyone there.

When Draco’s head cleared enough to realize what he’d done, he’d rather wished Dawlish would have come around the corner and immediately stunned him.

He half expected Granger to stun him out of indignation.

Fucking Alpha biology. He snogged her for a few minutes that evening, and then proceeded to pronounce ownership over her. She was probably going to murder him, or if she didn’t then possibly McGonagall or Potter would.

Granger was noticeably prickly as she stalked away from him but that still didn’t stop him from trailing along after her like a puppy.

As the evening wore on and it became obvious that Granger was, for some inexplicable reason, covering up his culpability in their snog session, his keen sense of self-preservation began tingling with the fear that Granger might have her own plans for him.

Finding Granger fanciable and generally virtuous did not prevent Draco from also observing her more Slytherin traits.

The witch was fucking terrifying.

Draco had kept track of the Golden Trio quite carefully over the years, and regarded himself privy to some of their better kept secrets. For an example, when Rita Skeeter went silent following the Tri-Wizard tournament he’d tracked her down and discovered that Skeeter was being blackmailed by Granger. Granger had trapped Skeeter in beetle form, and kept her in a jar for a week before releasing her under threat of imprisonment in Azkaban if the nosy reporter so much as whispered about Potter, or Hagrid, or Granger herself. He was fairly certain Granger’s blackmail was the entire reason for Potter’s Quibbler interview.

Then in Fifth year, in addition to permanently disfiguring Marietta Edgecombe’s face, Granger lured Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest and gotten the High Inquisitor captured by a herd of Centaurs. Draco was fairly certain Granger had done it well aware that Umbridge was absolutely terrified of centaurs.

Following Dumbledore’s death, Granger had gone home and obliviated her entire existence from the minds of her own parents before packing them off to Australia. The healers were still trying to figure out how to reverse it. Draco had heard the Weasleys discussing the matter in what they had presumably considered low-tones after Draco’s sentencing.

And, possibly most terrifying of all, after being tortured by Bellatrix, Granger had somehow ended up in possession of his Aunt’s wand. She not only successfully used it right through the final battle; Granger was still using the damn thing due to the ongoing wand shortage.

Every time Draco saw Granger pull it out during classes his blood ran cold.

So when Granger tracked him down after Potions when he’d been arguing with Daphne Greengrass about his ‘library,’ and asked to speak with him “privately,” Draco began preparing himself mentally for his impending demise.

When Granger closed, locked, and charmed the door, he was certain his doom was sealed. If not a doom she’d premeditated, then it would occur because being in an enclosed space with her had a very good chance of resulting in him eventually trying to snog her.

He braced himself, and she started off by nervously thanking him. Which was unexpected, to say the least.

Draco kept trying to force himself to be indifferent while he waited for the massive “but” where she reminded him that she not his property, and if he ever claimed possession of her or snogged her again, she’d murder him with his aunt’s wand, turn his organs into kibble, and feed them to her kneazle.

If she was going to eviscerate him, he’d rather she just get to it.

Instead the conversation took an unexpected turn, and she started blushing and asking about whether he “personally” would want to snog her. And then she was proposing that he scent-mark on her, saying that she trusted him.

Draco had started wondering if he had just lost his mind and was hallucinating until she started explaining how she had no legal protection as an Omega.

Then it struck him like a bucket of ice water.

He was Granger’s new Rita Skeeter.

She’d found herself in an impossible situation, and she’d devised a solution using the person who’d hurt her most. She couldn’t devise any personal protection for herself, but she could use Draco as a shield against other Alphas; confident in the knowledge that if he overstepped himself she could bring Azkaban down on him like an anvil. She was betting on his biology and sense of self-preservation that he could give her what she wanted without crossing the line.

Of course she ‘trusted’ him.

It took him several minutes to come to terms with it; long enough that Granger had apparently concluded that his answer was no. And it nearly was.

Except...he wanted her. Damned if he knew whether it were purely biological or not.

However, he still half-regretted agreeing the moment the words left his mouth. It was deeply demoralizing to be ‘temporarily’ chosen by an Omega just because she regarded his self-interest to be a bankable quality.

Granger been quick to clarify, in case he had any illusions, that it was not a relationship. Not even a friendship. When he’d said “casual. A bit of fun,” she still looked unenthused.

But at that point he had hardly cared. The room they were in smelled like her; her pheromones were filling the small space, and every time he opened his mouth he could practically taste her arousal in the air. From the moment she’d closed the door, she’d been growing wetter and wetter. She stood across from him and tried to be subtle, but she kept undressing him with her eyes.

She might not like him personally, but she clearly had no objections to him physically.

If it meant he got to snog her, and lick her, and scent-mark her, he could get over his demoralization and let her use him to her heart’s content.

He didn’t even remember dropping his satchel and crossing the room. He’d just had her in his arms, pinned against the wall, as he started kissing down her neck.

She was heaven incarnate. He could probably just spend his entire life with her wrapped in his arms and his face buried against her shoulder. The biology of Alphas and Omegas was irresistibly potent. Being near her set his entire being on fire. Touching her was like falling into the sun. He hadn’t known it was possible to feel anything with such intensity.

Granger seemed to be all over the place about physically interacting with him; simultaneously nervous and eager in a way that probably should have been annoying, but somehow just felt endearing and incredibly enticing.

Snogging her was so fantastic it was almost unreal.

When she’d unexpectedly brought their snog session to a screeching halt and then bolted, he concluded that he really didn’t know enough about Omegas. Granger felt quite nearly incomprehensible.

Owl her?

Draco slammed his fist into the wall of the shower, and cursed with frustration.

He had lost nearly all sensation in his toes by the time his erection finally seemed to get the memo that there were be no sex with Granger that day.

He stepped out the shower, shivering, and toweled off. Erection dealt with, the next order of business was going to the owlry to send Granger a note that yes he would be happy to shag her at any time, in any manner, and with any frequency she so pleased.

He also needed to get his hands on every book on Omegas that existed. He was fairly sure that Theo had gone and ordered every single text, treatise, and scientific journal on the subject immediately after Granger first walked into to the Great Hall post-presentation.

After Draco dressed, he went over to his friend’s trunk. It only took a few minutes to remove all the security charms and help himself to the neat stack stashed inside.

As Draco shoved them all in his satchel, he wondered if there were any other, more regulated texts on the subject in Malfoy Manor’s library. It was a long-held family tradition to collect obscure scholarly works. Maybe he’d owl his mother and ask her to look.

He headed out to owl Granger.

Chapter Text

Hermione bolted through the dungeon hallways and up the stairs and through several more hallways before she flung herself into an empty classroom and proceeded to collapse, like a starfish, onto the floor.

Oh god. Was it possible to die from sexual frustration? She rather suspected that it was.

If Malfoy refused to have sex with her she was probably going to cry.

But she’d done the right thing, hadn’t she? It had been quite difficult to think straight in that classroom. She highly doubted that any consent given in such conditions would qualify as willing. It would have been like her heat all over again.

She rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. Her body was throbbing. She felt as though there were an emptiness in her lower abdomen that was tearing at her. Just lying there her clit hurt from arousal. Her glands on her neck and wrist were so over-sensitive they felt painful.

Hermione lifted her right arm and pressed her left palm lightly against her wrist. She hissed faintly as she tried to ease the ache.

If Malfoy said no, she thought heavily, if he only agreed to scent mark but didn’t want to have sex… she—she didn’t know what she would do. She didn’t think she could repeatedly snog him and then not get to—

She was half afraid to even contemplate it. She pressed her wrists against her chest and felt her heart still racing.

She supposed she could try again to deal with it herself.  But so far, she hadn’t been able to manage it. Even thinking about touching herself made her feel just profoundly self-conscious, as though she were being indecent. She’d obstinately tried anyway, over the weekend, and it hadn’t worked. She’d tried and tried until she was sore and ready to scream with frustration. Apparently it was an additional aspect of being an Omega; orgasming was deeply dependant on a partner. Trying to masturbate was like hanging an enormous, flashing neon sign over over her head that said, “You Are All Alone!”

It just ruined it. She couldn’t focus on the sensation.

It was so unfair.

Just enraging. An extra twist of the biological knife that had stolen her sexual autonomy away.

She lay quietly on the floor, seething, and waited for the edge she felt mindlessly close to to finally fade.

When it eased somewhat, she sat up and cast a freshening and a scourgifying charm on herself.

She had several essays she needed to work on in the library. She pulled the Marauder’s map from her satchel and glanced over it, taking careful note of where all the Alphas were

Hopefully, if her theory was correct, her snog session with Malfoy would keep the Alphas at a distance. She certainly smelled quite heavily of Malfoy again.

She stopped by the girl’s bathroom and checked her appearance over carefully, straightening her uniform and dabbing Murtlap essence on her neck and even on her lips in order to reduce the bee-stung look.

Once she looked decent she headed to the library, keeping her wand in hand the whole way just in case. She nearly went and sat alone, but then hesitated. Maybe she should sit with someone else.

Aside from Ron and Harry, she hadn’t generally studied with others. She hadn’t really studied with them either; studying together had primarily involved her berating and helping them with their homework. Her own studies had tended to be solitary, either alone in the library or when other people were socializing by talking about about quidditch or something equally inane. She hadn’t ever really studied with other people.

But perhaps she should. Or at least pretend to. If she weren’t alone, it might dissuade the Alphas from approaching. She walked along the aisles of bookshelves looking for a familiar face. She found Padma and Parvati Patil sitting in the Charms section and paused awkwardly.

“Could I sit here?” Hermione said, feeling her face grow slightly warm.

The Patil sisters both looked surprised.

“Sure,” said Parvati, sliding several books over to make space.

Hermione sat down and set herself to pulling out her textbooks and parchment and quills.

“Which essay are you working on?” Padma politely asked after several minutes.

Hermione glanced up, “Oh, Charms first off, I haven’t started it yet. Then I still have half of next week’s Ancient Runes translation to complete. And then a Transfiguration essay on the history of animagi, the divining bit is giving me a bit of trouble, I can’t find very much conclusive research on how it works.”

“Well, Divination isn’t really subject involving conclusive research. It’s very emotional magic, you know,” Parvati said.

Hermione’s mouth twitched slightly. She hated Divination, just found the entire subject wooly and generally useless. Some people thought that Harry’s prophecy would have convinced her, but Hermione personally thought that Trelawney’s prophecy had been more of a distraction than a tool in the war.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Hermione finally said.

“Speaking of Divination, do you think you’ll use it?” Parvati asked, studying Hermione curiously.

“Use it?” Hermione said.

“To find your Alpha,” Parvati said, as though it were obvious.

Hermione felt her jaw tense slightly. Her books had made reference to Divination for finding an Alpha. It was all lot of dreamwalking, scrying over pools of water mixed with her—fluids, and getting high and staring into crystal balls; all for the purpose of being able to See the identity of her “soulmate.” Although the books included heavy disclaimers that some people did not have soulmates, and even if they did See someone that the travails of Fate may prevent the bonding. It was all just a lot of drivel and utter rubbish.

Hermione had barely paid any mind to those parts of her books.  

“I’m trying to keep my options open,” Hermione finally told Parvati.

“Well, if you want help—I know Divination isn’t really your subject—I could recommend a few books, if you’re interested.”

Hermione fought against letting her lips curl derisively. This was why she studied alone.

“I didn’t realize the dynamic was such a focus in Divination,” Hermione said, attempting to look politely curious rather than incredulously disdainful.

Parvati nodded and looked distressingly enthusiastic, the way people tended to when they were about to talk about something for a long time. “It’s actually heavily covered in Romantic Divination. Most wizarding folk don’t know, but the more fundamentally magical someone is, the more likely that Fate will become a force in their love life. So that’s why most Magical Beings even have mates. You know, the way Veela do. In their case, the Magic gets all entwined with their life force and everything. Genetically speaking, Alphas and Omegas are about as fundamentally magical as wizarding folk can be without Magical Being blood. So there’s a lot more of a likelihood that they’ll have someone they’ve destined for. Not all of them. But—better odds, you know.”

Hermione nodded disinterestedly as she eyed the paragraph of her Charms essay that she’d just written. There was a comma splice and three uses of the word “definitively” in as many sentences.

“Good to know. I’ll keep it in mind,” Hermione lied as she fixed her punctuation and scratched out the middle ‘definitively.’

Thankfully Parvati subsided after that, and Hermione was able to bury herself entirely in her homework until it was time for her to head to her Advanced Ancient Runes class.

The nice thing about academics was how non-physical and non-emotional they were. A person could think about Charms and therefore not think about missing their best friends; or how a genetic anomaly had ruined their life; or how their lower abdomen felt empty and their skin cold; or how afraid they were that someone might attack them; or about how very, very badly they wanted to have passionate sex with Draco Malfoy.

Because Hermione was not thinking about any of those things. She was only thinking about her Charms essay. She was most certainly not thinking about anything else. Not how Harry and Ron were together studying to be aurors. Or how much she missed Harry’s smart mouth or Ron’s jokes. Or how she’d give anything to be walking the halls with them again, rather than being all alone.

Hermione thought back to Ginny’s offer of DA’s protection.

But she didn’t want it. She didn’t want people walking down the halls with her as a favour in order to protect her. If she were going to walk down a hall with someone, she wanted it to be with friends. Except she didn’t want any friends; she didn’t come back for eighth year to make more friends. She came for school.

It was so frustrating!

Hermione angrily kicked the wall, and then yelped and hopped on one foot due to the sharp pain in her toes.

Ugh. She limped angrily to the Ancient Runes classroom and seated herself in the back of the room.

Oh god, she hoped Malfoy didn’t end up changing his mind. She was already dreading the next morning’s post. What if he changed his mind even about scent-marking? Maybe everything he’d agreed to had been hormone induced. Maybe he wouldn’t even write. He might just ignore her again and leave her wondering.

She didn’t even want to think about it.

She didn’t think about it. She listened carefully in Ancient Runes and ignored Peter Selwyn. She did not think about shagging and snogging Malfoy while she was walking down the hallway. Or in the Gryffindor common room. Or while she wrote a reply to a letter Molly Weasley had sent over the weekend.  

She didn’t not think about Malfoy when she was eating dinner in the Great Hall. She didn’t even notice that Daphne Greengrass was sitting across from him. She did not pay any attention to the fact that Malfoy had meticulous table manners or how his mouth looked as he raised his fork to take a bite.

She did not notice when his eyes met hers and it felt like her heart stalled momentarily before she tore her eyes away.

She did not think about snogging Malfoy or shagging Malfoy while she was writing her Transfiguration essay. She most certainly did not accidentally write in the middle of a paragraph on the history of animal transfiguration “he smells like leather, vetiver, and papyrus sedge with an undertone of vanilla and...sandalwood?”  

Obviously she did not write such a thing. She did not spend fifteen minutes carefully erasing it either.

None of those things happened. If anyone accused her of such things Hermione would have been indignant as she denied it all.

She barely slept. It was just so cold to sleep alone. She even contemplated going up to Ginny’s room and asking if she could climb in bed with her. But Hermione had shared a bed with Ginny before, and Ginny had extremely sharp elbows.

Hermione kept casting warming charms on herself, but every time it wore off she woke abruptly and then lay in bed worrying about Malfoy again. She felt like an insomniac toad when she skulked down to the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning; sleep deprived, cold, and gloomy. She poked listlessly at her eggs and tried to not start whenever she heard a sound reminiscent of fluttering wings.

A brown school owl suddenly landed on the edge of her plate, and proceeded to greedily scarf down all of Hermione’s kippers and sausage. She stared at it in confusion until she caught sight of an elegant M written on the upper left corner of the envelope, and it occurred to her that it might be from Malfoy.

Of course he wouldn't send his eagle owl. Hermione had no idea how she’d explain receiving letters in the post from Malfoy when he was literally seated across the hall from her.

She nervously pulled the large envelope free. It felt surprisingly thick, as though Malfoy may have written an essay explaining why he, a rational pureblood, was not interested in having sex with her, a filthy, wanton Mudblood.

She almost opened it but then hesitated. She glanced up and found Malfoy looking at her from across the Hall. He quirked an eyebrow and smirked faintly and Hermione had no idea whether that heralded good or bad things.

She shoved the letter into her bag and left the Hall quickly, heading straight to the nearest girl’s bathroom and sitting on a toilet as she broke the seal and pulled out several sheets of parchment.

Granger,

Regarding the collaborative project we spoke of yesterday, my answer remains the same: I am very interested in working with you on it. I hope you will not pursue any alternative partners or options.

I’ve enclosed my timetable for the current and upcoming semester which contains my entire schedule. I have also included a list of various locations through the castle where our collaboration is least likely to be interrupted.

If you want to discuss terms further in a more circulated environment, I will be working in the library this evening from six to eight at the table in the aquatic herbology aisle.

M

Hermione read the letter a dozen times before pulling out the other sheets of parchment and discovering that they did indeed contain Malfoy’s timetables, and a list of various classrooms and unoccupied rooms throughout the castle.

Well, that certainly seemed like a strong affirmative.

In retrospect had she really expected Malfoy to write a letter saying “Yes, Granger, let’s shag”?

What if he had, and she’d opened in the middle of the Great Hall? Parvati and Ginny both habitually read over her shoulders. Hermione blushed just thinking about it.  

She was feeling profoundly relieved that she had worried so much for nothing. And he wanted to meet in the library to go over things beforehand, thank goodness. Although—it was going to be very, very awkward. She started a mental list of things she wanted to say.

She compared Malfoy timetable with her own and found that they had quite a few overlapping free periods. Malfoy was studying for nine NEWTs, the very same ones Hermione was taking.

She’d known he was in Potions, DADA, and Arithmancy because Gryffindor shared those classes with Slytherin, but she hadn’t realized he had the exact same course load. Although she supposed it wasn’t that surprising; aside from sixth year he’d always been right behind her in class rank. It wasn’t as though he’d be studying Care of Magical Creatures, or Divination, or Muggle Studies.

She pulled out a quill and marked all the free periods that they shared. There were—a lot.

Not, she firmly reminded herself, that that meant they’d be making out or shagging during all or even most of them. After all, they both had a very large course load.

But still... just staring at them made her scent glands tingle hopefully.

Then she packed everything carefully in her satchel, and headed out of the bathroom. Hermione’s Tuesdays were her only day with only one class; Herbology with Hufflepuff after lunch. She headed to Gryffindor’s common room to preoccupy herself with homework for the rest of the day.

That evening after a light and nervous dinner she headed to the library. Malfoy was seated at a table tucked away in the very back of the Herbology section. Hermione missed the aisle twice before she managed to spot it. It was dimly lit and turned sharply at the end, revealing a small study table.

Hermione stopped at the corner.

“Malfoy,” she said.

Hermione was certain he had known she was there from the moment she walked into the library. Based on her reading, now that he’d scent-marked her he could probably hunt her down anywhere in the castle. But Malfoy didn’t look up from his essay until she spoke.

When she said his name, his hand froze, then he turned and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Granger,” he said in a slow, low drawl.

Hermione shivered and felt herself grow warm and throb between her legs. She pressed her lips together and as she walked over.

“So,” she said, as her voice tried very hard to jump up several octaves. “You—wanted to talk here about—about—about—“

“Our new collaborative project?” he purred with a smirk as he capped his ink bottle.

“Yes,” she squeaked as she sat down beside him.

There was a pause, and he seemed to be waiting for her to begin. She nervously looked over at him, studying his expression carefully. Although the smirk was still playing at his lips, his eyes seemed closed and defensive.

She flinched internally as she tried to think of how to begin. All the versions of their conversation that she’d rehearsed seemed inappropriate.

Hermione finally opened her mouth and then closed it as she noticed the faint tension in his shoulders and jaw. She swallowed nervously. She couldn’t understand why he’d spare her the time when he also seemed so unenthused and resentful of her.

A horrifying thought struck her.

I owed you. You testified for me.

“Malfoy—,” she said abruptly, “I—you don’t have to do this. If this is about—owing me...for testifying—“

She stared at him wide-eyed.

“That wasn’t why I asked you,” she said.

He stared at her expressionlessly until she felt the blood drain from her face. She pushed her chair back.

“Never mind,” she said in a faint voice. “Forget all of it. I’m so sorry.”

Sit down , Granger,” Malfoy said firmly. Hermione promptly dropped back into her seat and looked at him apprehensively. He rolled his eyes, and sneered faintly.

“Good grief, I’m going to lose count of how many times you’ve tried to back out on your own idea.”

She felt her face turn red and she stared down at her lap.

“You have my interest in writing,” he said. “I realize it was somewhat vague, since I wasn’t sure whether you’d do something like open it the Gryffindor table, but I can be more specific now, if you still have doubts.”

Hermione felt her heart start racing as though she were a panicked rabbit. “Really…?”

“Really,” he said and leaned toward her until his mouth was near her ear. “Granger, I will gladly fuck you at any time and any place you desire.”

Hermione nearly whimpered as a shiver laced its way down her back. The hairs on her nape prickled as she felt the heat from his breath against her ear and neck. She shook slightly as he continued, “In fact, the odds that you will ever want to have sex and I won’t are fairly negligible. If you ask the answer is going to be yes. If for some unimaginable reason the answer is ‘no,’ I am more than capable of telling you. The real question is whether that’s something you are capable of.”

He sat back and stared at her. Hermione panted and tried to catch her breath, struggling against whimpering or visibly squirming in her seat.

“W-what?” she said.

“If I’m the one who scent-marks you, and I ask you to have sex, can you say ‘no’?” he said, looking at her with a serious expression, although Hermione couldn’t help but notice that his eyes were growing dark.

She blinked.

“No?” she said.

“Hard to imagine, I’m sure, but there may come a day when you don’t want to have sex with me.  If it does, I’d like to know whether you can say so,” he said.

“I can say ‘no,’” Hermione said.

Malfoy eyed her condescendingly. She bristled.

“I can. I said ‘no’ to Neville when I was on the verge of going into heat.  And I said ‘no’ to Anthony repeatedly, I asked him to let me go, and I asked him to stop. I—I even begged him him to stop.”

She clenched her fists and breathed sharply through her nose several times.

“When I was in the subspace it—I was still aware. It’s like—all the pieces aren’t there. But I knew what Anthony was doing—that I didn’t want to. And then—when it was you—I knew that you were—safe.”

“Right,” Malfoy said in a somewhat flat voice, his expression flickering and seeming briefly depressed before it cleared again and his expression grew intent. Predatory. Hermione shivered as he abruptly leaned toward her again.

”I’m sure you won’t be offended that I want to verify it.”

“What?” Hermione said as he invaded her personal space.

“Granger,” he said with smirk, “I’m not going to fuck you in this library tonight. But I’m going to try to convince you to, and it’s your job to say ‘no.’ If you can say ‘no’ three times, I’ll get you off on this desk.”

“You—you’ll—you’ll what?” she choked.

He didn’t bother to clarify further, he just stared at her as though he were a starving hippogriff and she were a plump pine marten.

“We’re in the library!” she said.

He grinned wickedly. “Astute observation. Five points to Gryffindor.”

She stared at him astonished and felt herself growing wet. Weren’t there things she was supposed to be talking to him about? Terms?

“We can’t—It’s the library,” she said helplessly.

“Really, Granger? I thought if anyone would have a library kink it would be you.”

Hermione felt her face grow red hot.

“The—other Alphas will smell it,” she said.

“They’re all going to know it regardless of where we do it,” he said pointedly. “This will be a good way to tell them to fuck off when you’re studying here.”

She shivered.

“Is that a no then?” he said in a low voice, after she continued to sit stunned beside him. “You don’t want me to get you off here?”

Hermione blushed scarlet and stared at him guiltily.

A triumphant grin curved across Malfoy’s lips as his mouth crashed into hers.

Hermione moaned the moment their lips touched. In less than a second he had a hand tangled in hair and an arm around her waist. As his tongue slid into her mouth and caressed the roof of her mouth, he dragged her up from her chair and seated her on the table. She parted her legs and he stepped between them, pinning her against the bookshelves as he continued to ravish her.

Casual. Fun; she reminded herself as she gripped his robes fiercely and whimpered desperately against his mouth.

“Remember, Granger,” he said, drawing his lips away from hers when she started to gasp, “this is a test. You’re supposed to show me you can say ‘no’ if I try to fuck you here tonight.”

Hermione nodded as he drew her head back and ran the tip of his tongue along her jaw and then proceeded to nip along her throat down to her scent glands. She felt his fingers at her neck as he began unbuttoning her shirt.

As the fabric parted, he dipped his head down and sucked lightly on her neck. The sensation was intensely soothing and arousing all at once.

“Oh,” Hermione gasped quietly into his shoulder as she clung to him. “Oh god.”

His fingers continued to open her shirt, gliding lightly across her skin as he started licking her glands, pressing into them with his tongue until the air grew thick with his possessive mark. He kept licking her neck until she was shaking and nearly boneless in his arms.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

Hermione shifted her hips toward the edge of the desk trying to press against him. She could feel her knickers growing wet. She was slick and desperate with want. She wanted him inside her.

“Granger,” Malfoy growled softly. “I’m going to fuck you on this table.”

Oh god, yes. She almost started to nod but then—

It’s a test. It’s a test. He wants to see if you can say no. If you say ‘yes’ he might stop.

Hermione bit her lip hard, and stiffened.

“No,” she forced out.

Malfoy stilled momentarily. A second that seemed to last forever.

Good girl ,” he growled against her throat. Hermione’s entire brain turned into liquid gold.

He lifted his head and captured her lips again. Cradling her face in his palm as he bruisingly kissed her. The air was thrumming and electric around them. A molten heat pooled inside her as his lips caressed hers, his teeth grazing her lips lightly as he pressed her body against his own.

Casual. It’s just physical. Biological. It doesn’t mean anything. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It can just be—fun. She steadied herself with the thought, even as she slid her hand along his neck; feeling the tendons and rippling muscle beneath the skin, stroking her thumb against one of his scent glands so that he gasped against her lips.

His reaction sparked something inside her. Wanted. Powerful. Physically she could affect him as deeply as he could affect her.

She ran her fingers through his pale silken hair and nipped as his mouth with her teeth. He responded with a low growl of approval. She pressed the length of her body against him, relishing the heat that radiated through his robes.

She hooked a heel around his leg to hold him close as she kissed him ardently. One of his hands rested on her waist. Hot. Caressing. His thumb gliding along her lowest rib as his fingers pulled her more firmly against the broad planes of his chest.

Then his hand slowly slid up her waist and under her bra, his thumb lightly grazing the sensitive skin on the underside of her breast. Hermione bit back a strangled cry and arched into his hand.

“Please,” she said in a near sob against his lips.

She felt him smirk as his fingers slowly travelled across the skin with featherlight touches as she could felt her nipples harden and begin to ache. Her clit was throbbing and was desperate to feel pressure against it. Anything. She was so close. Already. Just touching him. Breathing in his scent. Feeling him against her.

Her body was shaking slightly as he drew his mouth away from hers. His hand on her cheek slid slowly down the column of her neck, brushing against her scent glands so that she shuddered faintly before continuing onward. He slipped his fingers under the top of her bra and pulled the cups down, exposing her. Her skin tingled, and he stepped back slightly in order to stare at her, mesmerized. His expression was almost stunned, athough he’d already seen every inch of her.

She studied his expression, feeling cringingly anxious when a cruel question abruptly struck her: could you regard someone as desirable but also fundamentally inferior to you?

Then a crueler thought: he might not even regard her as desirable. It might be entirely driven by his biology. It wouldn’t matter what she looked like. To him, she was functionally and essentially a hole between her legs and heady chemical cocktail.

The thought hurt as though she’d been stabbed by it. She squeezed her eyes shut. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about any of it.

She felt him step closer even before he touched her. She pressed her lips together and tried not to burst into tears. She could feel the heat and power of his body when he drew close again.

“You’re perfect,” he murmured near her ear as his hands cupped her breasts gently.

The corner of Hermione’s mouth twitched in bitterly.

Don’t think about it, she reminded herself. Casual. Fun. That’s all. It’s just a biological process. Just be rational about it. Focus on the sensation. It doesn’t matter what he thinks of you.

She swallowed hard, and then gave a ragged gasp as Malfoy’s thumbs slid across her nipples before gliding lightly around her areolas. She bucked against him and keened.

“Shhhh. We’re in the Hogwarts library, Granger,” Malfoy reminded her, his lips brushing lightly against her neck just below her ear as he spoke.

Hermione bit her lip and nodded. She only allowed a quiet moan to escape her as he peppered light kisses along her jaw, up her cheek and to her temple. She shivered against him, buried her face in his chest, and privately condemned herself for how much she wished it was real.

That’s just your biology tricking you, she reminded herself, even as she fell back against the bookshelf, arching her back and pushing her breasts up in a wordless plea to Malfoy. He leaned down and wrapped his burning mouth around her nipple and Hermione nearly came from the sensation.

“Oh fuck—“ she gasped quietly as she felt his tongue curling around her aching flesh. One of his hands continued to tease her other breast, sliding around the circumference several times before finally caressing and rolling the tip between his fingertips. His other hand slid down her arm to her wrist and scent gland, and he began drawing languorous circles over the area until her fingers started spasming.

He drew his mouth away and Hermione sobbed slightly.

Beg me to fuck you,” he growled as he stared at her. He was using a slight Alpha tone.

She started opening her mouth and then snapped it shut and inhaled deeply.

“That’s not even fair,” she finally ground out. “No.”

His eyes grew darker. “Good girl.”

He dipped his head down and began a tender assault of her other breast for several minutes, until she was writhing on the table. Then he slid further down her body, until he was kneeling between her legs.

Oh god. She stared at him, and felt as though the blood in her veins may have turned to fire. He met her eyes as his hands slid up her thighs, parting her legs, opening her. Hermione’s heart was beating so hard it almost hurt. She was balanced on the edge of a table in the library, completely exposed.

She held her breath, frozen.  Alpha. Alpha, please.

She wanted him so much it hurt.

Malfoy breathed deeply, and his eyes grew so dark she couldn’t see any silver in them. His expression was ravenous.

“You smell like heaven,” he said in a husky voice. “I dream about this. Ever since your heat. I have been dying to taste you again.”

Hermione shivered and gripped the edge of the table. Then she felt his fingers brush across the fabric of her drenched knickers, and a ragged, guttural gasp was torn from her. She bit her lip, trying to keep quiet, and closed her eyes.

Slow. Teasing. He kept running his fingertips across the fabric with barest pressure until Hermione was trembling. Then she felt his fingers catch the fabric and pull her knickers to one side.

Her sex was swollen. Flushed with blood. Her clit was throbbing, aching to be touched. The cool air of the library against it and Malfoy’s greedy gaze made her feel ready to shatter.

“You have a beautiful cunt, Granger.”

She snorted faintly, but it broke off as he used his fingers to spread her open. She shook with a combination of arousal and embarrassment. His fingers brushed tauntingly close to her core and she felt herself clench as she shifted slightly.

“Oh please,” she said in a sobbing whisper.

“You’re dripping on the table,” he said.

She started, and flushed with embarrassment, but Malfoy stopped her from closing her legs. He smirked up at her.

“This whole section of the library is going to smell like you,” he said in a low voice. “Every time I come here, I’m going to think about you just like this. I want to fuck you here. Someday, I’m going to take you on this table until I knot. Being inside you, there’s nothing to compare it to. The way you arch and take me. I dream about it every night. There are so many ways I haven’t gotten to fuck you yet.”

Hermione bit her lip as his fingers continued to tease her.

“Will you let me fuck you here, Granger?”

Hermione swallowed miserably.

“Not tonight,” she said in a thick voice.

He grinned rakishly. He should have been as mindlessly aroused as Hermione, possibly even more. But apparently Draco Malfoy was capable of bending the biological rules most Alphas found themselves subject to.

“Good girl,” he murmured against her inner thigh. “I am pleased with you.”

Her mind was purring like a smug kneazle at his praise, but was a distant part of herself that found the entire situation deeply implausible, even as she was in the midst of it. As a general rule, boys did not grin and praise girls for saying “No, you cannot have sex with me.”  

It must be some kind of Slytherin—

Hermione’s brain stalled and the entire library vanished from her vision as Malfoy gave her a long broad lick. His tongue was hot and wet and Hermione gave a strangled gasp that was nearly a scream as her entire body seized under him.

His hands clamped around her wrists like a vise to hold her in place as he continued his assault; sliding his tongue along her folds and then pressing inside her. Hermione shook. His lips were playing across her sensitive flesh, kissing, nipping, and then his tongue slid deeper inside of her and he moaned. The vibrations rippled through Hermione and she threw her head back and smacked it sharply into the bookshelf.

“Oooh, god,” she sobbed quietly. Then his mouth came up to her clit and his tongue lightly dragged across it. Hermione made a choking sound as she tried not to make too much noise. He seemed to be experimenting; circling with his tongue several times, then giving slow intentional licks, then broader licks. Feathery light, gentle, soft.

Hermione’s entire body stilled, and she felt as though she were going die. She was shaking so hard she was nearly vibrating, and Malfoy just kept lightly licking her clit the same way. Again and again and again. Closer and closer.

She wrapped her fingers around his wrists and gripped him as hard as she could. His thumbs shifted and found her scent glands. He brushed against them lightly as he continued his ministrations to her clit. Hermione bucked and came with a strangled cry; seizing and jerking against Malfoy’s hold. After she came, his tongue delved into her center as though he were drinking her.

Hermione slumped limply against the shelf, and stared down at him through half-lidded eyes when he finally drew his mouth away. His chin was glistening and his expression smug as he stood up and kissed her deeply. She could taste the tang of herself on his lips and tongue as he explored her mouth and teased her tongue in the same way he had teased her clit.

One of his hands was gripping her hip, and the other lazily slid down between her legs as he broke off their kiss in order to smirk.

“I bet I can get you off again with my fingers,” he said.

Hermione stared at him, glazed and wordless in the afterglow of her orgasm. He drew a hand up to her breast and gently teased her nipple into a hard peak under his fingers.

“After all,” he said in a low voice, as he began kissing along her neck while his fingers caressed and lightly cupped her mons. “You did manage to say no, three times.”

Chapter Text

Malfoy kissed lightly along her neck and across the top of her shoulders. Soft kisses, interspersed with an occasional nip; grazing his teeth along the curve of her neck until she shivered. His hand teasing her breasts slowly withdrew to instead tangle in hair at the nape of her neck, drawing her head back until her throat was bared in submission.

He drew back to study her, his silver eyes glittering, before he lowered his head and began to lick her glands again. Hermione writhed, and twisted in his hold as she gasped and gripped the fabric of his shirt.

Her brain was at a point of overload. She could barely form a full thought as she felt his fingers playing near her core. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please. Yes. Please.

His thumb slid through her arousal, brushing against the sensitive, swollen flesh as he traced along seam of her sex. Again. And again. She arched her hips to increase the contact, but his fingers drew away. She groaned in frustration and he chuckled against her throat.

“You have the most perfect cunt,” he said huskily as his fingers plunged into her.

The sound that emerged from Hermione’s throat was almost animal; a guttural keening wail, as her inner walls gripped him and she bucked hard against his hand. His hold on her hair tightened and he lifted his head from her throat, staring down into her eyes as his fingers withdrew slightly and then sank back inside her.

His eyes were black. His expression feral and possessive. She could feel his cock pressed against her thigh and grinding into the table, trying to relieve his own arousal as he continued finger fucking her. Hermione was panting as she met his eyes, studying him. It was like being bathed in fire. The heat of his gaze was like flames nipping her skin.

As her body gripped his fingers, he hissed through his teeth. Her tongue impulsively darted up and flicked against his lips. He kissed her hard and pumped his fingers deeper.

It was—not enough. It was not him and she wanted him.

She wanted to plead. Somewhere feral in her mind, she feels to urge to beg. To call him Alpha and present herself more submissively. If she spread her legs as wide as she could, held them back and showed him how wet and aroused he made her, he’d fuck her.

His thumb grazed her clit and a low sob was torn from her. His fingers inside her pressed up toward her pelvis as he sought a specific spot. When he found it, he pressed against it, and she keened against his lips as her whole body spasmed. He only had to tease her a few times before she came with a strangled cry.

He smothered it with his lips.

She collapsed against him and he withdrew his fingers and brought them up to his mouth. Then he dipped his head down, pressing a few kisses along the other side of her neck and then occupied himself with running his hands possessively over every inch of her.

The smell of him around her was positively drugging. She allowed herself to get lost in it, nuzzling her face against his chest. She could feel his rapid heartbeat and the tension running through him.

After several minutes she lifted her head and stared up at his face.

Alpha, please.

She wasn’t sure if he wanted her to call him Alpha. ‘Malfoy’ seemed safe.

“Malfoy,” she began tentatively.

“Mhmm?”

She bit her lip and her hand slipped down. She found his cock, straining against the fabric of his trousers. She ran her fingers along the outline and gripped it through his clothing.

The moment she touched him, he gave a low gasp and his entire body went still as though she’d petrified him. She ran her hand along the length of it.

He was huge. She knew he was, but actually feeling it was startling. Touching him, exploring the size, and feeling him freeze as he tried to control himself activated something possessive and claiming in her chest.

She felt—greedy. More. Mine. My Alpha.

She struggled to think clearly as she kept caressing him. She had to choose her words carefully.

“I know you said you weren’t going to shag me here, but I did say no three times. So, we’ve established that I can. So, there isn’t any reason why you still—can’t.”

Hermione’s voice was unfamiliar sounding to her. Docile. Pleading. A part of her was affronted by it. But there was a subconscious need driving her at a level she couldn’t rein in. If she didn’t beg, she could at least coax.

She wanted him. She wanted his cock buried inside of her. Having him get her off was not enough. It wasn’t what her instincts were telling her she wanted; it wasn't what she needed.

She wanted more than his attention. She wanted—him.

“To be clear, you’re asking me to fuck you now?” he said in a thick, strained voice. His hips jerked involuntarily as she traced her fingers over the head of his cock.

She dropped her eyes demurely. “Yes.”

“I don’t—”

She gripped him firmly and looked up at him. “I want you,” she said. Coaxingly. Searching for specific words that felt like the ones she was supposed to use. “I need you to—to take care of me. It’s—it’s—“ she flushed faintly and dropped her eyes again, “it’s not the same when you’re not—when it’s not actually sex.”

It was difficult to explain. She was hoping he’d be able to just understand.

“You do make a very compelling argument,” he said in a low voice. She shivered against his body.

“Please,” she said. He twitched in her hand.

One of his hands came up and tangled firmly in her hair again, tilting her head back until her throat was fully bared. He kissed her, deeply, until she was gasping again his lips.

“Please,” she moaned when he broke off the kiss.

“Only because you ask so nicely,” he said, staring deep into her eyes as though he were looking for something. Then she felt him reach down between their bodies and open his trousers. A moment later the satiny skin his cock brushed against her thigh.

She felt her skin prickle with anticipation, and tugged her hair free from his hold in order to look down. He had his hand fisted around his cock, and was stroking it firmly. It was huge, rigid, and engorged; weeping precum.

“Are you sure, Granger?”

Hermione was tempted beg. To debase herself on the floor and plead with him. It was what her instincts urged and she was so desperate to have sex with him she felt tempted to give in. She forced herself to think carefully.

It might be another test.

The thought made her feel faintly irritated.

“I’m perfectly conscious of my decisions, Malfoy,” she said in a sharp voice.

He gave a relieved sigh. Test passed.

Then he groaned.

“I got off right before I came here, and I was already hard the moment you walked into the library,” he told her as his hand continued to pump slowly up and down his length.

She shivered.

“You have no idea what you do to me,” he growled against her ear.

Hermione grabbed hold of his robes and tugged him closer, shifting her legs wider so that the head of his cock grazed her sex. She whimpered. “Alpha—Malfoy, fuck me,” she whispered.

“Yes.”

She was already balanced on the very edge of the table. He shifted slightly to align himself at the apex of her legs. Then they both stared down and watched as he prodded her with tip of his cock, parting her folds. He slid his cock up along her sex, brushing against her clit, and coating the length in her arousal before pulling back and slowly pushing in. His hands took hold of her hips, tilting her pelvis as he sank into her.

Hermione gasped and then forgot to breathe as she watched him disappearing inside of her. The sensation was—perfect.

Yes. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

She could feel her eyes growing larger and larger as she watched and he kept pressing in further. Then she gave a ragged moan and dropped her head back. She was barely holding herself up on the table. She could feel him stretching her, her walls gripping him, fluttering faintly around him.

“Fuck—“ he groaned.

He kept sinking in deeper and deeper. He was so big. It seemed almost anatomically impossible that she could accommodate him; except she knew she could; that she had. She panted as she willed her body to relax into it; arching her back deeply to accept him.

He dipped his head down and pressed kisses across her breasts; she gasped and clenched around his cock.

The penetration was—it was like he filled her entire being. As though they sat in the centre of the universe and everything but him inside her was merely peripheral.

Rationally she knew, obviously, that Draco Malfoy’s cock was not the centre of the universe; that there was in fact no centre of the universe. But that detail seemed irrelevant to how she currently felt.

Nothing was supposed to feel so good. She didn’t even know how to think about it coherently, all she could think of was “Yes. Yes. More…like that.”

Hermione murmured the words again and again like a mantra.

When he was buried in her to the hilt, he stilled with a gasp and dropped his head onto her shoulder. His hands on her hips were gripping her so tightly she suspected she’d have bruises. His entire body was shaking faintly as though he were on the outermost limits of the control he had been exercising to a point of excess.

He drew several sharp breaths through his teeth.

The rational side of Hermione recommended holding still, and waiting for him to steady himself. But the instinctive side—the side closer to the surface of her mind—thrilled at the edge.

She didn’t want him composed. She wanted him possessive. Claiming. She wanted to feel the burn of it.

She rolled her hips, dragged her tongue over his scent gland and then nipped the skin there sharply.

He gave a ragged snarl and his hands gripped her harder as he pulled back and slammed into her.

Mine. You’re mine.”

Yes.

Yes. Like that.

His hands slid possessively up her body as he drove into her again. He wrapped his arms around her until she felt enveloped in his hold. He crushed her against his body and she relished it.

Mine ,” he said, every time he thrust into her.

“You’re mine. My Omega. Say it,” he snarled it as he drove into her. Hard.

He was like fire. The heat of him burned away the whole world. He was her focal point. He was an inferno around her that she could lose herself in.

“Yours. I’m yours,” she promised. She tangled her hand in his hair and drew his face up so she could study his expression greedily.

The way he stared at her made her feel as though she were the centre of the universe. The possessive intensity of his gaze, as though he owned her. As though he worshipped her.

When their eyes met, it was like their magic touched. She gasped and kissed him, wrapping herself around him as he thrust deep inside her.

“You’re so perfect,” he gasped against her lips. “I’m going to take care of you. I’ll always—take care of you. Mine. My Omega.”

Hermione’s immediate reaction was to thrill at the words. To believe them and lose herself inside them  

Then she remembered herself. Alpha promises. Any Alpha would say something similar to her. It was fundamental to their drive, to their instincts. They had to please Omegas and take care of them. There was nothing personally sincere in the words. Biology.

Even beyond the dynamic between herself and Malfoy, it was a sort of cardinal rule for girls to never believe anything a boy said during sex. Even Hermione knew that.

But—in the moment, he meant them. Draco Malfoy wouldn’t. But her Alpha would. When he was her Alpha he meant it.

She let herself believe it a little.

“Alpha. Alpha,” she keened and melted into him. He was heat and sweat; raw power and possession; huge and hard. A perfect Alpha. Her Alpha. Hers.

His thrusts were growing abbreviated and she felt him swelling inside of her until she felt him start to jerk inside her as he came. Hot. Filling her further when she was already full of him. The sensation activated something in her and her orgasm hit her like a tidal wave. She felt her muscles gripping him as she came apart in his arms, his mouth catching every sound as he continued to kiss her.

It was—

Too much.

Too emotional. Too physical. As though every part of her were coming apart and she was going to break from it. The previous two orgasms were like spring rain compared to a typhoon.

Everything struck her. All her emotions: her grief and frustration and stress and rage and uncertainty of the last three weeks. Her desperate yearning for Malfoy and the instinctive despair at his overt rejection for so many weeks.

There was nowhere to go. She twisted in his arms trying to escape. She couldn’t. He was inside her. He was crushing her against himself as he gasped and promised her everything in the world.

She couldn’t escape what was happening. Her orgasm tore through her very soul. The sensations and emotions just kept building and growing into a larger and larger wave. It wouldn’t stop.

She couldn’t hold it in.

She burst into tears.

She couldn’t stop crying. She cried and cried even as her body shattered around him.

“It’s alright. You’re alright. Good girl. You’re so perfect,” Malfoy was saying to her, holding her tightly against him, even as he kept jerking inside her. He ran his tongue across the glands on her neck and growled his praise and promises to her. “Good girl. You’re so perfect.”

When he stilled with groan he only slumped for a moment before he roused himself and started running his hands over her and wiping away the tears she was still crying.

“Good girl. Good girl. I’m so pleased with you,” he said, stroking her scent glands lightly with his thumbs until her sobbing subsided somewhat and she calmed down.

She felt her face grow scarlet as she began to appreciate the spectacular embarrassment of bawling in the middle of orgasming. Malfoy was never ever going to trust her decision making abilities or have sex with her ever again.

“Sorry,” Hermione said, writhing internally as she tried to wipe away all her tears as rapidly as possible. If his cock were not quite literally trapped inside her body, she probably would have bolted. “My god, I’m so sorry. I don’t—I don’t know why I started crying.”

His eyes widened.

“Oh, fuck. Sorry. I thought you knew,” he said, and picked her up off the table and dropped into a chair. “It’s normal—for Omegas—if it’s been a while since they had sex.”

Hermione blinked confusedly and her horror faded as he arranged her in his lap, tousled her hair, and kissed her on the forehead, and generally failed to give the impression that he was upset with her and never wanted to shag her again.

“I didn’t know that,” she said, as his hands began gliding up and down her back and gently caressing her neck so that she collapsed limply against his chest. He was so warm. Post-orgasms and weeping, she felt as drowsy as a cat in the sunshine lying on top of him; his heat radiating into her. She wished they were wearing less clothing—none preferably. “None of my books mentioned crying. Well...I guess they said that it was intensely emotional and cathartic, but none of them specified that that meant bawling when I came.”

She felt extremely annoyed.

“Wait, you’ve primarily got textbooks don’t you?” His hands had wandered down to her wrists and he started playing his fingers against her glands there. The sensation made her inner walls flutter around him and he gave a groan and jerked slightly.

She tiredly nuzzled her face against his shoulder and started running her fingers along his glands. She furrowed her eyebrows. “I have pretty much all of the books on Omegas that are in print. As well as the research papers that have been published. There isn’t really very much that I could find. Most of it is either vague or absurd.”

“Right. You need personal journals. I’m sure you realize, Omegas are quite private, they’re not going to disclose much to researchers. They probably lie sometimes too.”

Hermione buried her face against him feeling frustrated.

“Well, I don’t even know how to get ahold of private journals,” she said bitterly. “So far my only primary source is Molly Weasley, but since she never actually presented her experience is entirely different. She knows about the social aspects and pureblood traditions, but there are a lot of biological aspects she doesn’t understand.”

“Well, the Malfoy library has a few private journals,” Malfoy said slowly. “There have been a few Omegas married into the family over the centuries, and book hoarding is a family tradition. My mother sent a few to me yesterday. One of them mentioned crying during sex, because it’s a sort of—bonding—reconnecting process. I could lend the journals to you.”

Her heart leapt. “You would?”

“Certainly.”

“Thank you ,” she said. “That’s—that would be—“ He was still stroking her scent glands, she wasn’t sure if he were aware of it or if it were a subconscious instinct. It was making her head fog as she struggled against falling asleep on top of him.

You’re safe. You’re always safe here.

“Nice…,” she finally managed to say. Her fingers were still resting against his neck and she burrowed her face against his neck on the other side as her eyes drooped. “Thanks, Malfoy, for being so nice.”

She felt him chuckle. It vibrated through her body. “Anything for you.”

Her mouth twitched as she tiredly nuzzled him again.

Don’t fall asleep, she told herself. Don’t fall—asleep…

When she woke Malfoy was asleep too. His head was resting against hers, his arms wrapped around her. It was lovely. She would happily stay there till she died. She could still feel him inside of her although the knot as the base of his cock had eased. They simply hadn’t moved enough to separate.

She shifted her head slightly and caught sight of a luminous tabby cat sitting on the table beside them.

Hermione gave a small, horrified scream and Malfoy immediately jerked awake, grabbing her firmly and shoving her protectively behind himself as he sprang to his feet.

The luminous cat flicked its tail and stood, stretching and yawning before it looked up at them. Hermione and Malfoy were both indecently and haphazardly attired.

“Mr Malfoy, Miss Granger, when you’re done in the library I would like to see you both in my office,” said the cat patronus in Minerva McGonagall’s voice.

When it finished speaking it dissolved into thin air.

There was a horrified silence.

“Fuck,” Malfoy finally said.

“Oh my god,” Hermione moaned behind him, feeling ready to pass out with embarrassment. “Oh my god.”

As she was standing behind him she could feel his come sliding like a veritable waterfall down the insides of her thighs. She snatched her wand out of her satchel and banished it and started hurriedly straightening her clothing; pulling her bra back over her breasts, straightening her knickers, and rebuttoning her shirt.  

When she finished she glanced over at Malfoy who had also straightened his clothing and was staring over at her with an indecipherable expression.

“I’ll tell her it was my idea,” she said nervously. “You don’t have to worry.”

He gave a faint nod.

“How on earth did she know?” Hermione wondered aloud, feeling unable to stop talking. “I mean, you had the aisle pretty heavily disillusioned, there’s no way anyone would have come here. And I can’t imagine the other Alphas would have gone to her. Or maybe they would have. I don’t know. They confuse me so much.”

“I think it may have been me,” Malfoy said, flushing faintly as he shoved several books into his bag.

Hermione looked at him in confusion.

“Alphas—subconsciously generate wards, to keep other Alphas away,” he said. Hermione nodded as she recalled the detail of Alpha magi-biology. “I thought I had it under control but—I lost control and—forgot about it.”

He had turned bright red and Hermione felt a rush of warmth across her chest. She didn’t think she’d ever seen Malfoy blush before.

He looked adorable.

Snog him, her instincts advised. She tried to ignore them.

“It’s not your fault,” she said, flushing faintly herself. “I wanted you to—lose control.”

She felt warm just thinking about the moment when he had.

That moment. If she could repeat it every day for the rest of her life—she would. She absolutely would.

She looked through her lashes at Malfoy and found his eyes were darkening as they stood across from each other. She gave a low whimper.

She wanted to kiss him again before she had to walk out into reality again.

They had time for that, did they?

After all, McGonagall hadn’t specified that they needed to come immediately upon receiving the message, simply when they were done in the library…

They didn’t necessarily have to be done yet.

Hermione gnawed at her lip as she stared at Malfoy and weighed the choices.

Then it occurred to her that she, Hermione Granger, was seriously contemplating ignoring a message from the Headmistress of Hogwarts in favour of snogging a boy.

“We should probably go,” she said wistfully; wishing for the first time in her life that she were a less responsible person. She was utterly dreading the impending conversation.

“We should,” Malfoy said without moving. He was staring at her mouth. As she looked at him his tongue darted out and wetted his lips.

Hermione’s mind blanked slightly.

“McGonagall said we should come as soon as we’re—done,” she said in a thick voice, finding her own eyes locked on his mouth, wondering if he might lick his lips again.

“She did.”

“So…” Why was her voice climbing again?

Malfoy stepped toward her. “So, we’ll go when we’re done,” he said huskily as he backed her into a bookshelf.

“Right,” she said in a breathless voice as his head dipped down.

His eyes were like molten silver; as though she could feel the heat in them as his face drew closer to hers.

As their lips brushed against each other it occurred to her with a bittersweet pang that Draco Malfoy was going to leave a lifelong mark on her. No matter where she went from her eighth year, he was going to be part of her. On a fundamental emotional level she had entwined herself around him like a Gordian Knot. Her instincts didn’t know how regard him as anything less than Hers.

She shivered as his lips caressed hers, and she felt his mouth curve into a faint smirk as his knee pressed between her legs. Her back arched as she kissed him and one of his hands came up and rested at the base of her throat, brushing against the glands on both sides of her neck.  

She moaned and he deepened the kiss. His other hand slid to the small of her back and pressed her up against himself.

She had no idea how long they stood there snogging. A long time, she suspected. Longer than she’d ever snogged anyone else in her entire life. For a while she suspected he was going to shag her again, but he seemed primarily preoccupied with scent-marking on her until the air was thick with his pheromones.

She felt quite literally doused by him.

He pinned her hands over her head and licked the insides of her wrists and both sides of her neck until she was incoherent and trembling. Then he licked every exposed bit of skin that he could get to without removing her clothing. He dragged the tip of his tongue from her hairline, down between her eyes, and to the tip of her nose. He kissed across her face and she felt the his tongue flick out and dart across her skin with each kiss.

He dragged his tongue down her throat in long, slow, strokes until she was loudly moaning and tugging at his hold on her wrists.

By the time he was done, she felt high.

Alpha. Alpha. My Alpha. Mine. Her mind was chanting almost deliriously.

Considering that her sense of smell was barely elevated compared to Alphas’, she was fairly certain that she was going to be walking through the halls proclaiming “Malfoy’s” to them with the subtlety of a bludger to the face.

Malfoy kissed her one final time and then released her wrists and stepped back. His eyes dark, his face predatory and smug.

“That should last for a least a day,” he said with a smirk.

“A day?” she said dazedly, sliding down the bookshelf as her legs failed her.

“If not, I’m sure I can find time between classes to do it again,” he said in a low voice.

Fuck me, please, her mind moaned and she nearly collapsed onto the floor.

Why was she at school? Couldn’t she and Malfoy just go to a hotel somewhere and have sex for forever?

Malfoy seemed to realize she was barely lucid. He caught her by the hand before she had sunk all the way to the floor and pulled her into his arms.

“Are you alright, Granger?”

“Mhhhmmm,” she said, burying her face into his chest.

“We should go see the Headmistress now,” he said in a serious voice.

Hermione started as she abruptly remembered they had been summoned; that McGonagall very, very likely knew that she and Malfoy had just had sex in the library. She could already hear the impending conversation with her former Head of House. “ You see, Headmistress, you asked if I had any ideas regarding preventive measures to protect myself, and I have concluded that the surest means will be by having regular sex with Malfoy even though it violates at least fifteen different school ordinances.”

She gave a small sound of despair and Malfoy’s arms wrapped around her.

“Come on now, Granger,” he told her after a minute.

Since when was Malfoy the responsible one? She nodded resignedly and stepped away from him, straightening her clothes for the second time that evening.

They snuck out of the empty library and stopped at the first set of bathrooms before continuing on to the Headmistress’ office. The gargoyle snickered as it let in and Hermione’s face felt as though she were on the verge of spontaneously combusting as she made her way up the steps, Malfoy behind her.

Malfoy’s expression immediately grew cool and mask-like as he reached the top of the stairs.

McGonagall was seated at her desk surrounded by paperwork as they entered the office. She immediately set her quill down and stared at them both over her spectacles.

“Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy, please sit down.”

Hermione sank anxiously onto the edge of her chair.

“This evening, a few minutes past seven, a repulsion ward abruptly forced all the students and faculty members bodily from the library,” said McGonagall, with a pointed expression.

Hermione glanced surreptitiously over at Malfoy. His expression was carefully neutral, but his cheeks were stained scarlet.

“There were several futile attempts to neutralize it. Unfortunately the magic was quite impenetrable, much like some wards I encountered at the end of last month.”

Both Hermione and Malfoy shifted uncomfortably before the Headmistress’ unrelenting gaze.

“It’s all my—,” Hermione started.

“It was mine,” Malfoy announced. Hermione looked sharply over at him.

“I am aware of whose magic it was,” McGonagall said, and the corner of her mouth twitched.

“It was my fault though,” Hermione blurted. “He only did it because I asked.”

“I am aware of that too,” McGonagall said and the corner of her mouth twitched once again. Hermione blinked and wondered if she’d imagined it. “As it happens, there are small portraits kept in all the dungeon classrooms.”

Hermione stared aghast.

“I had intended to speak to you both sooner. Unfortunately I had other matters within the school that required my immediate attention. However, the situation in the library has clearly demonstrated that it was an oversight. I am sure that as former prefects you are both aware that sexual intercourse is strictly prohibited on school grounds and can be grounds for expulsion—”

Hermione felt the blood drain from her face and found herself gripping Malfoy’s hand in a vice-like hold.

“It’s all my fault,” she said in a shaking voice. “I am entirely responsible. Malfoy—you shouldn’t blame Malfoy.”

“I am not intending to expel either of you,” McGonagall said tartly with an affronted expression. “After all, this is hardly the first time you have had sex with each other in this school. As I was saying, as a general rule sexual intercourse is prohibited. However, there are certain contexts in which, as Headmistress, I am empowered to make exceptions to Hogwarts’ ordinances. Miss Granger, as an Omega it is advisable for you to have an Alpha in order to maintain both your autonomy and mental health. Medically advisable, in fact. I have a letter from a healer to confirm it. It would also have a stabilizing effect on the behavior of the other Alphas here in the school. Therefore, you and Mr Malfoy may continue your—liaison, with the understanding that you will both exercise utmost discretion and not interfere with the academic pursuits of other students again in the future.”

Hermione thought she might possibly be hallucinating, but she nodded vigorously nonetheless.

“In consideration for the need for discretion, particularly given the unique—biological factors, and your respective Houses, I’m going to provide you with a private room. I believe you’ll be able to find it, as you have both already spent several days together there. The password is ‘kismet.’”

There was a stunned silence after that. Hermione was still gripping Malfoy’s hand and sat staring at McGonagall with her mouth hanging open. Malfoy looked similarly astonished.

McGonagall stared at them with a smug cat-like smile playing about her lips.

“Assuming that is amenable to you both, I’ll dismiss you. It’s ten minutes until curfew. Please return to your respective dorms.”

“Yes, Headmistress,” Hermione said in a wobbling voice as she stood up. “Thank you. Thank you.”

Malfoy stood and his expression seemed calculating as he stared at McGonagall. “Thank you, Headmistress. I appreciate your consideration,” he said.

McGonagall met his gaze. “Miss Granger merits such things, don’t you agree?”

“Assuredly,” he said coolly.

“Goodnight then, Mr Malfoy.”

Hermione and Malfoy descended the steps in silence and then both stood stunned for a minute in the hallway as they absorbed the conversion they’d had.

Hermione glanced over as Malfoy. His expression was still closed and calculating; his posture tense. Perhaps he was worried their ‘liaison’ might get out.

“I’m sure McGonagall won’t tell anyone,” she said nervously.

“I’d be astonished if she did,” he said. “She’s always quite protective of her lion cubs.”

Hermione flushed faintly. It wasn’t just favouritism was it? Surely McGonagall would help any Hogwarts student in a similar situation.

Then again, McGonagall did have a tendency to assume the worst about Slytherins.

Hermione didn’t know what to say.

“Goodnight, Malfoy,” she finally said, stepping away as she prepared to head toward the Gryffindor Tower.

He looked down at her with his calculating, quicksilver eyes and smirked. “I’ll see you around, Granger.”

Chapter Text

Hermione had never envisioned herself as the sort of person who would have a torrid, secret, inter-house love affair while at Hogwarts. The premise was like one of the ridiculously bawdy wizarding romance novels in the literature section of Flourish & Blotts.

Hogwarts Love Affairs was its own, highly popular subsection, occupying multiple shelves. The books were strictly banned by Filch. Parvati and Lavender had smuggled them in anyway and read them voraciously, which was why Hermione knew about them.

She had never actually read any—well, she may have skimmed a few, purely out of intellectual curiosity.

Slytherin and Gryffindor was the classic secret relationship pairing; the ultimate star-crossed lovers. The inter-house rivalry always set the two characters at odds but the sexual tension between them would become undeniable. Eventually some plot device would force them together: a potions incident, trapped in the library, forced class partnership, or an implausible situation in which they had to share a private common room. The burgeoning desire would become irresistible. They would kiss. They would be horrified. They would declare that it would never happen again. Then the two characters would proceed to shag each other on every flat surface in the castle.

The number of iterations on the same trope that was a testament to wizarding creativity.

Hermione had always thought the books were rather hilarious. Did romance novelists really think Hogwarts’ faculty would ever allow two teenagers to have a private room? Or that the prefects didn’t know about every alcove and broom closet in the castle? What dutiful student would dare have sex in the prefects’ bath? It sounded hazardously slippery. It was well-nigh impossible to smuggle someone through a common room without being noticed.

Almost everything about the stories had made Hermione snort derisively over the sheer implausibility as she snuck Parvati’s books back onto their shelf.

In retrospect, perhaps not everything about the stories was implausible.

For one thing, Prefects weren’t on patrol until curfew.

Malfoy found her in walking down a hallway after breakfast the next morning and dragged her into an alcove concealed behind a tapestry.

“Granger,” was all he said by way of greeting before he kissed her. There was a flush of magic that shivered between them as his lips touched hers and she moaned softly.

“I thought—,“ she started when he started kissing along her jaw. “I thought we weren’t supposed to—“

Her voice faded away as he slid a hand up her shirt and under her bra. He was already kissing down her neck toward her scent glands. She felt her whole body going slack in anticipation as she felt the heat of his mouth getting closer to them.

“Nghhh…” she said and her knees gave out.

Malfoy just pinned her to wall as he gave a long hard lick over her left scent gland.

“Oh god!” she choked.

He spent several minutes licking her scent glands and groping her before slipping a hand between her legs and pressing the heel of his hand against her clit. She bucked and ground against him.

“I’m going to fuck you tonight, Granger,” he growled against her throat and his fingers twisted her clit through the fabric of her knickers and she sobbed faintly. “I’m going to lick every inch of you. And I’m going to fuck you at least twice.”

Yes. Yes. Please Alpha.

“Also, I need your timetable. You have mine,” he said as his fingers remained between her legs until she was trembling. “It will be easier to know when I can do this to you, if I know your schedule.”

He played with her clit for a few more seconds until Hermione hit a peak. The shockwaves of her orgasm obliterated everything for several seconds and she slumped against him. Then she shakily gripped his robes and tilted her head back, trying to catch her breath.

“I—thought we were supposed to use our room,” she finally said.

He smirked. “I’m not shagging you. This was merely precautionary scent-marking.”

“Ahh,” she said, still feeling somewhat lost in a fog of arousal. She was fairly sure McGonagall hadn’t intended for Malfoy to be getting Hermione off in alcoves, but in her post-orgasmic state she was in no frame of mind to press the issue. “I have a copy of my timetable. I meant to give it to you last night. But—you distracted me.”

His eyes glittered with amusement as he stared at her in the dim light behind the tapestry.

“It’s in my satchel back at the tower. I can give it to you at Arithmancy or—tonight.”

“Tonight. What time?”

“After dinner? Whoever gets there first can study? Unless, do you have any other plans in the evening? Will people notice if you’re not around?”

“No. I’m available,” he said in a clipped voice.

“Alright. I’ll see you then, I suppose,” she said, starting the straighten her clothes.

“Right. See you around then, Granger.”

He disappeared through the tapestry.

Hermione didn’t see Malfoy again until Arithmancy after lunch. As usual, he was already in the classroom when she arrived and barely glanced up at her.

When Theodore Nott walked into the classroom, he froze, sniffed and then proceeded to nearly trip over a desk. He stared dazedly at Hermione for a minute before slamming his books down next to Malfoy and sitting down.

Hermione watched Nott mutter something to Malfoy. Malfoy ignored him.

Nott’s reaction to realizing that Hermione and Malfoy had resumed shagging was one of the more subtle ones. There were several points deductions that day for cursing. Peter Selwyn and the other Alpha’s forward friendliness abruptly faded once more.

Hermione was not surprised, but it stung slightly to be so overtly reminded that there was only one reason any of them had paid attention to her. She ignored the train of thought and looked forward to finally being left alone to study in the library again.

She found an empty table in the Transfiguration section and was pulling her books out when Pansy Parkinson materialized.

Hermione ignored the girl and set to uncapping her inkwell and shuffling through her parchment scrolls for her transfiguration essay.

There was a faint grinding sound.

Hermione looked up to find that Pansy had conjured a nail file and was shaping her fingernails with a thoughtful expression. Hermione stared at Pansy with irritation. Pansy’s hair was cut in a sleek bob so sharp Hermione wondered if she’d gelled the tips. Her features were slimmed and sharpened and her eyes managed to be glinting even as she languorously filed her nails, filling the air with alpha-keratin dust.

Finally Pansy stopped and banished the nail file before looking Hermione up and down as though making a mental catalogue.

“So,” Pansy finally said, after doing a second impersonal perusal of Hermione, “does it mean you’re a pureblood?”

“What?”

Pansy’s mouth twitched. “Do you know one of the most valuable things when you’re a woman?”

Pansy only waited a split second before answering her own question. “Information. That’s our currency. Not from your stupid books, but all the tiny details. The careless glances. The unusual absences. Who’s fighting and why. All the little things that add up to something—incendiary.”

Pansy stared at Hermione pointedly and the sharp tips of her bob trembled faintly.

Hermione swallowed.

“I realized, because I’m not an idiot, that there had to be an Omega at the school. Anyone who pays attention to the Alphas had to realize it. But I’ll admit, it didn’t occur to me until Friday that it could possibly be you.”

“What do you want, Parkinson?” Hermione’s voice was tight and she gripped her quill so firmly it started to bend.

Pansy sniffed and gave a razor-edged smile. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Granger, I’m here to do you a favour.”

Hermione blinked. “What?”

Pansy’s mouth twitched again and Hermione realized that despite leaning casually against the table, Pansy’s knuckles were white and her shoulders nearly shaking with tension.

“I’m not very popular this year,” Pansy said with a quick, indifferent shrug of her shoulders. “No one would agree to pair with me for patrols.”

There was a pause and Hermione had a creeping realization even before Pansy continued.

“Goldstein volunteered. I was rather touched that he had—until he shoved me into a classroom the first night. I’m not quick—at dueling.”

Pansy looked down and tucked her hair behind her ear.

“After he was done, he said no one would ever believe me. Because he was a war hero, and I—was the girl who tried to hand Harry Potter over to Vold—Vold—He Who Must Not Be Named. So—if I reported it, people would just think I was making it up, to be victim and get the attention. Who ever believes Slytherins anyway?”

Pansy’s hands were gripping the table and making it shake faintly.

“If I turned my prefect badge in, it would have been Tracy or Daphne instead. They’re not any good at dueling either. Last Friday when he wanted to walk you back to your dorm, I was so relieved. I told myself that you were a good duelist, so he wouldn’t dare with you. But I felt guilty about it, so I went back. The Alphas were all there by then, panicking and asking what happened to you and the professors were trying to find you. And I realized what you are. So, I’m sorry about that.”

Hermione sat frozen. “I’m so sorry, Parkinson. Do you want me to help you report it?”

Pansy scoffed. “I’m not here for your pity, Granger. Or because I’m interested in becoming some sad little victim. I’m fine.”

Hermione did not think Pansy was fine. Hermione had a slight idea of what “fine” felt like in the aftermath of Anthony Goldstein.

“Thanks to you, everyone knows what kind of a person Goldstein is. Stripped of his prefect status. I’ll never have to do rounds with him again. Longbottom had a fit that he isn’t expelled. So, I owe you.”

“You don’t. There’s nothing to owe,” Hermione said.

Pansy arched an eyebrow and turned on Hermione sharply. “Even Slytherins repay debts, Granger. I’m sure you think we’re all amoral, but we do occasionally possess small quantities of basic decency.”

“I didn’t mean—“

“Oh so, it’s alright that I let myself walk away knowing the risk?”

“No. I’m not saying that either,” Hermione said. “I just mean, you didn’t know. And you don’t need to owe anyone. That should never have happened to you. I’m so sorry he did that. There’s nothing to owe or repay me for.”

Pansy sniffed and shrugged. “I don’t think you understand the concept of debt. It’s a matter of honor; which I possess alongside my small quantity of basic decency.”

“I’m not questioning your honour, Pansy,” Hermione said shaking her head. “I’m just saying that you don’t have anything to owe me.”

Pansy rolled her eyes and sneered. “Well, clearly I’ll have to figure out how to discharge it myself, since Gryffindors apparently have trouble with the mere concept.”

Before Hermione could formulate an offended reply, Pansy straightened and proceeded to stride away; her shoes clicking sharply on the library floor.

Hermione sat in thought for several minutes, feeling at a loss. She didn’t really know anything about Pansy Parkinson aside from the girl’s past relationship with Malfoy. She felt as though she should do something, but she had no idea what could possibly be helpful.

Finally Hermione turned back to her Transfiguration essay with a sigh. She had written seven inches when Ginny dropped unceremoniously into the chair beside her.

“You’re in the library again.”

Hermione felt herself blush slightly. “Erm. Yes. That’s me. The girl in the library.”

Ginny stared pointedly at Hermione, and Hermione stared pointedly down at her Transfiguration essay.

“Hermione…” Ginny said in a warning tone. “You have barely entered the library in the last two weeks without getting swarmed. Over the weekend you didn’t even leave your room. And now you’re here, and half the Alphas in the school are sulking three aisles away as though someone stole their pet Pygmy Puff.”

“Well, you know I was researching over the weekend. I figured out a solution,” Hermione said vaguely.

“Did the solution you found have anything to do with my being picked up and thrown head first out of the library last night?”

Hermione stared at Ginny aghast. “You were there?”

A triumphant smile crept across Ginny’s face.

“I knew it!” Ginny crowed. “I knew that was Alpha magic. McGonagall refused to say but Neville looked ready to combust. I know how Alpha wards work.”

Hermione stared down at her essay again.

“So who are you shagging? Obviously not Neville. Or Selwyn. They were both there last night. Is it that boy from Hufflepuff? What’s his name, the one who looks like stringbean. Meyers? Melvin?”

“No.”

“Wait... McGonagall also refused to say how exactly Goldstein got pulled off of you, but Saturday morning Slytherin had thirty new points. It’s a Slytherin isn’t it? Is it—Nott?

“No,” Hermione said in a very small voice.

There was a long and pregnant silence.

“Well, I’m positive you aren’t shagging Borgin,” Ginny finally. “So that only leaves one other Slytherin Alpha.”

“You cannot tell Ron or Harry,” Hermione said without looking up from her essay. “If they find out I will murder both you and Neville.”

“Oh my god, you really actually are—with Malfoy? And you did it in the library last night?”

Hermione wondered if she could escape Ginny by hiding under the table.

“How on earth—?” Ginny’s voice cracked slightly with incredulity.

“Well, by odd coincidence, he was actually with me during my heat,” Hermione said in a low voice. “That was why, at first the other Alphas were keeping their distance—because of how he—scent-marked. But then it wore off, which was why Goldstein tried—” her voice broke off briefly. “So Malfoy and I are—again.”

“How did that—I mean, I just feel like of all the Alphas in the school he would be the last one you’d ever let touch you.”

“He’s actually fairly nice about it,” Hermione said quietly. “It not—we aren’t—it’s just casual. There’s a line. That’s part of why it works. Because he doesn’t have any interest in me. He’s not going to do anything that ruins his bloodline. So it’s just sex. Because of the biology.”

“Really?” Ginny said in a doubtful tone. “Does it work that way?”

“Really. It’s just casual and temporary. Until I figure out a long term solution I can live with. So don’t you dare tell Harry or Ron.”

“Fine, I won’t. But I’m going to be keeping an eye on you both.”

“Thanks, Mum,” Hermione muttered under her breath.

There was a lull in the conversation.

“So...is he good in bed?” Ginny prodded.

Hermione’s quill dropped a massive blot of ink onto the middle of a paragraph. She cursed and tried to remove it before glaring at Ginny scarlet-faced. “I am not discussing my sex life with you,” she hissed.

Ginny looked unabashed and smirked. “So very good then? I’ve heard that Daphne Greengrass has been practically hounding him all year, so there’s obviously some kind of reputation there. Has he earned many O’s from you, Hermione?” Ginny leered as salaciously as possible  

Hermione hadn’t thought she could blush harder, but she felt the heat radiate down to her chest as she refused to answer the question.

Ginny snickered and sat back. “Well, they do say that Alphas are extremely attentive in bed. They practically get off from being in control. They can’t help it.”

“I am not talking about this,” Hermione said flatly. “I need to finish this essay before my next class.”

Ginny gave a dramatic sigh, pulled a book out, and left Hermione alone until Hermione had to leave for History of Magic.

That evening, before heading down the dinner Hermione pulled the curtains around her bed closed and cast a privacy charm on them. Malfoy wasn’t in the Great Hall but Theodore Nott was and he stared at Hermione thoughtfully throughout the meal until she felt tempted to blush under the scrutiny. She couldn’t decide what she thought of the Slytherin boy; his behavior was nearly as bewildering as Malfoy’s.

Hermione was distracted as she ate. She was getting ridiculously wet with anticipation. It was horrifying; she knew the Alphas could probably smell it. She ate as quickly as possible and then rushed from the Great Hall toward the abandoned wing of Hogwarts.

“Kismet,” she said softly and wondered about the word choice as the door swung open.

She didn’t have long to think about it. She had barely stepped through the door before it slammed shut behind her and Malfoy had her pressed against the wall as he kissed her.

It was as though the whole world just vanished.

They tore each other’s clothes off. She felt just desperate for his skin. To touch him. Her fingers practically itched as she tugged as the buttons on his shirt.

Hermione just let her mind slide back and let her instincts seize control as she dragged her tongue down his neck and practically climbed into his arms as he kissed her.

He laughed against her lips. Hermione didn’t think she’d ever heard Malfoy laugh when he wasn’t making fun of someone. But his laugh wasn’t mocking, it was genuine sounding and pleased.

“Miss me, then?” he asked as he pulled her legs around his waist and carried her across the floor still kissing her.

“Mhm,” she admitted before biting his ear lightly. Then she shoved his shirt off of his shoulders and traced her fingers along his muscles before following with her lips  

He laid her out on the bed and pulled the rest of her clothes off.

She felt wanton under him. Spending the whole day waiting for evening, she was slick, dripping. He peeled her knickers off and then spread her legs wide and stared down at her. She just lay there exposed while her mind begged him to be pleased with her.

She had a thousand things she wanted to ask him. Could they sleep there? Would that be alright? If they couldn’t, could she have one of his shirts? What exactly was casual and fun? Could he explain so she wouldn’t have to worry about ruining things? Why did he just leave after her heat? Could they ever talk? Could he ever like her? Was it because she was Muggleborn or was there some other reason he wouldn’t even look at her in public after she’d presented? He’d talked to her before. Was that because she hadn’t let him leave during her heat? Or did she do something else she couldn’t remember? Why did he leave? Why wouldn’t he look at her?

Don’t get clingy, Hermione, she reminded herself.

She bit her lip and let him drag his hand through her arousal before spreading her sex open and smirking to himself.

“Alpha—Malfoy, please…” she whimpered.

He unraveled something in her that she didn’t know how to articulate; as though he could build up or rip away the whole world from under her. The feeling terrified her but she wanted him so fundamentally she couldn’t resist the the way he lured her in.

From the moment he kissed her again in the classroom, wanting him to scent-mark on her for the sake of her protection had become only an aspect of why she wanted him. She just wanted him.

It scared her, what she might be willing to let him do in order to earn his praise. His touch and gaze was electric

“Good girl,” he growled, before dragging his tongue across her sex.

He didn’t need to. The mere scent of him on her skin was enough to keep her primed and eager for him. The books on the subject had detailed the surge of hormones. For the next decade at least she would be randier than a teenage boy. With the lifespan of wizarding folk, fertility lasted several decades longer than it did among Muggles.

She wriggled under him and then sobbed as he continued his assault against her folds until she was trying to tear herself away from the sensory overload.

“Please—,” she begged.

Please, anything. Anything he wanted, she’d be good and give him.

It was too much, but if he told her to she’d hold still. Anything her Alpha wanted, she’d want to too.

Malfoy seemed to realize she’d gone somewhere too far into the fog. He slithered up her body and dragged his tongue across her glands until she stilled.

“I need—,“ she said dazedly.

“I’ll take care of you,” he promised against her throat. “Open for me, Omega.”

She parted her legs for him, holding them under the knees as he sank into her. Then she wrapped her arms and legs around him and clung to his shoulders; feeling his heartbeat as their bodies pressed together.

When he came, he didn’t knot inside her. Instead he pulled out slightly so that his knot stayed outside her body. She still came when he did, but it cut the intensity. Then he panted and pulled out of her, and she felt a fear cut straight through her, thinking it meant he was just going to leave.

He didn’t leave.

He pulled her up in the bed and proceeded to touch her all over; scenting and making good on his promise to lick every inch of her. He muttered to her about what a good girl she was, how perfect he found her. He sucked each of her fingers into his mouth until they were coated with his saliva, and licked her palms, and down her arms and the crooks of her elbows. It felt rather like being groomed by an enormous and possessive cat.

It was bewildering and lovely, and Hermione felt as though she were melting into a puddle on the mattress. Any attention he would give her she wanted. When she tried to rouse herself and touch him too he just pinned her down with a growl.

Controlling, as Ginny had said.

Then he reached between her legs and to her astonishment, proceeded to dip his fingers into her and pull out his seed and rub it into her glands on her neck and wrists. He stared at her while he did it as though waiting to see if she were going to object. Hermione was fairly sure she’d let him do anything he wanted to her. If he’d asked to bite her she would have just arched her neck back for him.

It frightened her how willing she’d be. She was afraid she might someday beg him to.

“I’m going fuck you again now,” he said and she nodded, even though his cock still had a knot at the base of it and she wasn’t sure how he intended to do it.

He rolled her over into her stomach and then pulled her hips into the air until her back was sharply arched. She felt herself sinking into the pose, shifting her legs further apart until she was presented to him. Lordosis behavior, she registered vaguely.

He ran his hands over the curve of her arse and slowly traced along her spine. Then he wrapped his long fingers around her hip bones to hold her in place and sank into her with a single thrust.

A deep, ragged moan rolled out of Hermione. Despite still having a knot at the base of his cock, with the angle and his size, she still felt stretched around him. The angle was mind-bendingly delightful. He leaned over her and gripped her by her wrists as he drove her rapidly up toward her orgasm. She was screaming into the sheets even before he came, and the sensation of his hot seed, against her cervix—filling her—just added waves upon waves of pleasure.

When he pulled out she felt his come sliding down her thighs as he kissed her cheek and then dropped on the mattress and proceeded to licked her everywhere once again.

Hermione didn’t think her books had made any mention to such an obsessive level of scent-marking, but her whole mind gave itself to him.

Then when his knot finally subsided he rolled her over and fucked her again. That time he knotted inside her and all his promises poured from his lips.

“You perfect, perfect girl,” he panted as he shifted them so that she was lying on top of him.

“Can we sleep here, Malfoy?” she asked tentatively, sinking against his chest and rubbing her cheek against his pectorals.

“Well, I’m not going anywhere right now,” he said dryly.

She took hold of his wrist and licked his gland there. He moaned faintly and she gripped his wrist more tightly and licked him harder until she felt him twitch inside of her. Then she slowly dragged her tongue up his hand and sucked on each of his fingers until he abruptly wrenched it away.

“That is enough,” he growled in a thick voice, staring at her with hooded eyes. “Keep it up and I’ll never be able to pull out of you.”

Hermione burst out laughing and he looked surprised for a moment before smiling back at her.

"Oh! I have my timetable in my satchel for you,” she said and his eyes gleamed.

“I brought the journals. I’ll get them out when I can move independently of you,” he said with a smirk.

She buried her face in his chest with a laugh. He smelled like sweat and pheromones; so edible it suddenly made perfect sense how he could spend so much time licking her. If she were even half as addictive smelling, it would be hard to ever stop. She dragged her tongue across his skin and then entwined her fingers with his, smelling him. She burrowed against his hot skin, absorbing the heat he radiated. It was—home.

When he drifted to sleep, she followed him.

The next morning the sun was barely lighting the horizon when she woke to Malfoy sliding his hand free from her grip and shifting out from under her. She almost spoke but something stopped her. She didn’t know how to talk to him when it was them.

Don’t go. Say goodbye. Will I see you again today? Please don’t leave me, Alpha.  

She stayed limp and watched him through her lashes.

His expression was drawn as he stared down at her. He reached toward her and Hermione’s heartbeat sped up. But before he touched her, he suddenly froze and his expression hardened. He pulled his hand away and then stood up, gathered his clothes, redressed. Before he left he pulled several books out of his satchel and placed them on the bedside table beside her. Then he flipped her satchel open and pulled out the scroll of parchment with his name on it.

He stared over at her for a moment longer before turning on his heel and leaving quietly.

It didn’t take long for them to find a sort of rhythm with each other. However things with Malfoy were—strange. Hermione wasn’t quite sure how to interpret their interactions.

It felt as though he were two separate people.

As her Alpha he was warm and attentive. But it was as though there were a switch and suddenly he wasn’t anymore. He would become cold and cool and capable of behaving as though she didn’t exist.

During the day he was detached in a way Hermione didn’t know how to be. She couldn’t stop herself from looking at him; in the Great Hall or in the hallways or classes. It was like the whole world faded away the moment she registered that he was nearby. When she answered questions correctly in class, her immediate impulse was to look over at him in the hopes that he’d somehow be impressed with her.

She had initially expected that the intensity of his affect on her would diminish if they were shagging regularly. But it was the reverse. Every time he shagged her it felt more intense; more emotional. She was more attuned to him every time. As though he were enmeshing himself with her.

Within a matter of days she found herself increasingly indifferent to the other Alphas. Their voices and scents and appeal to her faded away, because they weren’t hers and she didn’t want them.

She just wanted Malfoy. More and more. Every day.

Malfoy would track her down several times a day to snog and scent-mark on her and get her off before shagging her brains out in the evenings.

Despite the fact that Hermione was the one in possession of the Marauder’s Map, Malfoy was far more efficient at finding her than she was at finding him. She had to find a spot where she could safely pull out her map and study it. He was capable of tracking her down like a bloodhound. He did so regularly, with astonishing, almost frightening, rapidity. There were days when it seemed like Draco Malfoy’s entire life revolved around waiting for opportunities to ravish her in alcoves and behind suits of armor.

Hermione wasn’t going to complain, but she was privately of the opinion that he scent-marked on her sufficiently to last at least a day. However, Malfoy seemed to hold a resolute view that twelve hours was the absolute uppermost limit. He was of the opinion that five hours was about ideal. If Hermione happened to be studying he would hold off, but the moment she walked out into the hallways of Hogwarts it only a matter of time before he materialized.

He knew of an astonishing number of hiding spots that Hermione had never noticed despite all her years of sneaking around with Harry and Ron. Apparently having had a cloak of invisibility on hand had made her somewhat less creative than Malfoy was.

There were an abundance of places she had never thought to look during prefect patrol. He got her off in practically every single one of them. The halls reeked of their combined pheromones.

It looks could kill, Malfoy would have been dead a thousand times over from the utterly murderous expressions the Alphas leveled him with.

Hermione wondered if McGonagall had any idea of what she’d unleashed.

Chapter Text

Having sex with Malfoy was lovely, addictive and borderline surreal.

When it started, it was easy for Hermione to just immerse herself and try to ignore the cracks. It was just temporary, she reminded herself, so the dysfunctional aspects didn’t matter.

But her relentless mind couldn’t help but pick at it. Once she wasn’t in a constant state of sexual frustration, there was more room to notice things she would have preferred to ignore.

Like the way Malfoy tended to avoid making eye contact with her when they had sex. He would, but only when Hermione initiated it, and then he’d drop his gaze or bury his face against her shoulder after a moment.

They didn’t talk. Not really. There were exchanges of words of course; about Arithmancy, not to mention all the praise and promises made when they were having sex. But not much in way of actual conversations. Hermione would try at times, but whenever she tried to bring up anything remotely personal or to discuss what they were doing together, Malfoy’s expression grew abruptly cold and the questions she desperately wanted to ask him died in her throat.

Don’t ruin it, she told herself, don’t ruin what you have.

She swallowed the things she wanted to say, and just watched Malfoy earnestly throughout the day.

He was more isolated than she had realized. Daphne Greengrass and Blaise Zabini seemed to be the only people he interacted with from his House. It seemed as though his relationship with Theodore Nott had become abruptly prickly after Hermione and Malfoy began having sex. Hermione wasn’t sure if that was due to Nott disapproving, or being jealous.

Being able to work peaceably in the library again was a delightful. When Hermione wasn’t in class or snogging or shagging Malfoy, she practically lived in the Hogwarts’ library. Homework for nine NEWTs left her with almost no spare time, but she was trying to piece together a semi-scientific understanding of Alpha and Omega biology for the sake of her sanity. If she couldn’t immediately solve it, she wanted to at least understand it.

The journals that Draco had provided her had been a breakthrough, finally clarifying for her many aspects of her behavior that had been extremely vague or inconsistent in the other books she’d read. But even with the journals, the information Hermione could gather was infuriatingly nebulous. Researchers would regularly make opaque references to things that they refused explain.

Alpha biology, on the other hand, was generously explained. There were dozens of books on the topic of Alphas, although they primarily focused on Alpha behavior free from the hormonal influence of Omegas. The biology was also exhaustively studied. Hermione could draw up a Punnett Square explaining the probability of the genotype.

But no such information was readily on hand in regard to Omegas. Even learning what genotype enabled Omegas to present at all was nearly impossible for Hermione to track down. There were absolutely no explanations readily available as to how a Muggle-born could have somehow ended up with a phenotype for the most recessive magical genotype in existence. Hermione had ordered dozens of research papers from various wizarding labs studying magical genetics trying to find the answers. All she had were more questions.

Ginny, to Hermione’s surprise, ended up being an extremely supportive research partner. They’d take over a table in the library, cast a mufflatio over the area, and read research papers together. Hermione had never spent much time thinking about what type of student Ginny was. She’d always thought of Ginny as being mostly sporty and good with defense magic. Hermione felt rather abashed to discover that Ginny knew a surprising amount about magical theory and genetics.

“Well, with Mum, you know.” Ginny shrugged slightly and twirled a strand of hair in her fingers. “When I was littler, a lot of people assumed I was going to be an Omega just because everyone knew Mum was one. People would say things about how I’d have so many children. There were always all these little comments and barbs people would sneak in. When I was little, I didn’t understand; I just knew it made Mum and Dad upset when I told them about it.  When I was older and they finally explained the hierarchy, they were really vague and avoided most of my questions. So I studied it by myself. Mum couldn't understand why I was so obsessed with it. I think it bothered her that I couldn’t leave the subject alone. So it’s always felt like something I needed to keep to myself.”

“Is that why when I—“

Ginny blushed. “Yeah. Well, a bit. It was mostly that it was nice to have a friend where the hierarchy just wasn’t an aspect of our friendship. You and Harry both—I never had to feel on my guard that you might say something or make some kind of joke about it. It was nice how we were just normal for you. When you came and asked—I was afraid it was because you’d heard some gossip or something and I would have to explain it all and it would change how you saw me and my family. I’m really sorry about that. I‘m probably going to keep apologizing about it till I die.”

Hermione shook her head and looked down at the article on phenotypes that they were reading together. “Please don’t, it’ll get really old by then. Considering that witches typically live for an average of a hundred and forty-five years, that means a hundred and twenty-eight years of apologies. I’ll probably snap and murder you.”

“Well, then I really will end up apologizing to you until I die.”

Hermione snorted and Ginny started laughing.

Then Hermione stared at Ginny hesitantly. “Is it—? Are people really like that about Omegas?”

Ginny’s eyes dropped away. “Not all of them. Or even most of them. It’s just kind of weird. When they know, it’s like it’s all they can think about. Like they expect it to define everything. And they’re curious so they end up asking really personal and invasive questions, as though they have a right to know. People are always asking about Mum’s heats, even though she’s never had one. Because in their minds that’s what Omegas do; they go into heat. Or they’ll want to know if she’ll do anything an Alpha tells her. They tend to act like knowing she’s an Omega gives them a right to know personal details about her. But—it might not be like that for you. If we can keep the news from leaking. I know McGonagall has made all the Alphas and the staff and prefects who know sign enchanted non-disclosure agreements about it.”

Hermione’s felt her eyebrows jump and irritation bloom in her chest. “She has? No one mentioned that to me.”

“Well, you’ve been dealing with a lot—“

“Are there any other things I should know about?” Hermione stared at Ginny with narrowed eyes.

Ginny looked slightly nervous. “Well, we’ve added a lot of portraits. I think the post is being monitored.”

“McGonagall is checking the mail?” Hermione was aghast.

Ginny twirled a quill in her fingers and shifted in her chair. “Hermione… It’s a big deal that you’re an Omega. Beyond what you’re adapting to in your personal life—to a lot of people, an unbound Omega is a bigger deal than even Harry. Especially since you’re Muggle-born. It would be international news if it got out. And—“ Ginny hesitated, “with the way bonding works for Omegas, you’re—you’re really vulnerable. McGonagall is trying to give you as many options as she can but if the news gets out, there—there are Alphas who would spend a fortune to get their hands on you.”

Hermione felt herself growing cold. “McGonagall didn’t mention that to me.” She felt enraged.

“Well, it’s kind of a lot, isn’t it?” Ginny stared at Hermione with a serious expression. “You looked pretty overwhelmed this last month anyway. It’s not like all of them are like that. Most of them will just try to send you offers of marriage and try courting you. But just because the Alpha instinct is to please you doesn’t mean they won’t—won’t—“

“Kidnap and rape me first,” Hermione finished.

Ginny glanced away.

Hermione was silent for a long time as she sat absorbing it.

“I didn’t know—at first.” Ginny added after several minutes. “I knew it would be a big deal but I didn’t really think it all through until Harry wrote me a letter.”

“So everyone is talking about it this?” Hermione’s tone was cool.

“He and Ron looked into old case files to see if there were any involving Omegas. They didn’t tell me much, but—there’s a reason why people are so private about it. It’s not safe, for Omegas who aren’t bound.”

Hermione was silent for a minute. “Every time I think I’ve gotten a handle on how awful this is, it feels like it somehow gets worse.”

“I’m sorry. You have no idea how much I wish I’d told you about the hierarchy before, so that you could have had more time before you presented and—I don’t know—married Ron, or at least had time to choose an Alpha beforehand.”

Hermione gnawed at the inside of her lip. “Even if I’d realized on the train what I was, I’m not sure what I would have done. I still have a month before my next heat and it’s hard to even think about going through it with anyone.”

Ginny looked over at Hermione curiously. “You wouldn’t just do it with Malfoy again?”

Hermione’s breath caught slightly. “I honestly don’t think I could handle it. It—it’s very emotional on my end. And it’s not—for him. He draws the line between real life and biology more clearly than I can. It would be hard to do it and then have him be the way he is afterward. Again.”

Ginny nodded. “He really is cold toward you. I would never guess, based on how he treats you, that he was the one shagging you. I wonder if there’s a reason. I mean, the others couldn’t ignore you even if they wanted to. And they’re mostly all Pure-bloods too.”

“Well, I think the Malfoys take blood purity more seriously than most,” Hermione said in a low bitter tone. “I guess it all works out well for me, since I don’t have to worry that he’d ever do anything that crosses a line. When I get too far into the headspace, he could probably do anything he wanted and I’d let him.”

Ginny gave Hermione a speculative look. “That is—surprising. I mean, I still can’t believe he didn’t bite you during your heat. They usually do. Unless he were—muzzled or something.”

“Well, they usually don’t just leave either.” Hermione looked away. “I’m just glad I didn’t agree to have Anthony there. McGonagall told me to just choose an Alpha to see me through, but she didn’t even mention the fact I’d probably end up bound to them for life.”

“Maybe she was planning to hex their mouths shut.”

“Considering the lengths she’s gone to so far… that might actually be what she had planned.” Hermione said thoughtfully. “That would have been so weird.”

Ginny snorted. “Weirder than having sex with Malfoy?”

Hermione blushed. “It felt natural at the time. It was just at the end that I realized it didn’t make sense for him to be there.”

“So he’s nice to you?”

Hermione nodded. “He’s never mean. When he’s alone with me he—he’s like the perfect counter-weight to everything about being an Omega that I have trouble handling. We balance perfectly. But when it’s not about scent-marking and sex, there’s this wall he puts up, and he makes it very obvious that he doesn’t want me anywhere near it because he’s about as approachable as a porcupine.”

“Hmmm,” was all Ginny said as she continued nibbling on her sugar quill.

There was a shuffling sound and Hermione glanced over and caught sight of Neville walking past. He looked dazed and slightly grey; as though someone had died.

Hermione watched him pass and then nudged Ginny. “Gin, did something happen to Neville?”

Ginny looked up from her candy and then grew guilty looking as she caught sight of Neville’s slumped shoulders. “Oh you haven’t heard, Hannah broke up with him a few days ago.”

Hermione stared. “What? I thought they were nearly engaged.”

“Yeah—they were…” Ginny was assiduously avoiding Hermione’s gaze. “But they’ve been dealing with some—issues lately.”

Hermione looked back in the direction Neville had gone. “Was—because of me?”

“No! No. It wasn’t really your fault—“

“Ginny...”

“It wasn’t.”

Hermione leveled Ginny with a gimlet eye and Ginny folded slightly. “Well—it may have been slightly related to you. I have only heard about it second-hand from Susan. But—as I understand it, the night that Anthony attacked you, Neville was with Hannah.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped. “As in—?”

Ginny nodded and cringed slightly. “Yeah. They were—But then—Anthony. And apparently Neville jumped off in the middle of—of it. Said your name and—left her there. And didn’t come back.”

“Oh my god.”

“She didn’t break up immediately. I think they tried to patch things. But when she broke things off, she told him that if they stayed together she’d always wonder whether he was only staying with her because they were already dating, because everytime you walk into the room it’s like he forgets about her.”

Hermione buried her face in her arms for several minutes. “Poor Hannah. Poor Neville. That’s awful.”

“I know. I can’t even imagine what I’d do if something like that happened with Harry.”

“Probably Bat-Bogey hex me.” Hermione lifted her head to look over at Ginny.

“Probably.” Ginny pulled a sugar quill out and started nibbling at it. “But on Hannah’s end, I get it. Like, if they’re really supposed to be together, I can kind of imagine that letting him go is to prove it.”

Hermione jerked her head up from the table. “She’s testing him?”

“No...I mean more like, if you and Neville actually tried dating, dynamic aside, do you think you could end up together?”

Hermione hesitated. “I—don’t know. I never really thought about it. The war. And then Hannah. And then now, he was with Hannah, so he was off-limits.”

Ginny nodded seriously. “I think that’s what Hannah wants to know. If he weren’t off-limits, would you two be together? I think she’d rather let him go than feel like they only ended up together because he felt obligated.”

Hermione sat thinking and shook her head in disbelief. “I feel so awful. He had a ring didn’t he? I ruined their relationship.”

Ginny patted her soothingly on the shoulder. “It’s not your fault. Blame Fate or—something. Really. The odds that you somehow turned out to be an Omega are just so small. Padma was trying to calculate them. There were so many zeros after the decimal point I lost track.”

“That makes me feel so much better.” Hermione rolled her eyes and then started putting away all her notes on genotypes. “Fate caused me to ruin Neville’s relationship with Hannah. The tea leaves foretold it, I’m sure.”

“Hermione, don’t start ranting about Divination again.”

“I’m not ranting.” Hermione said crisply as she finished stashing the research papers. “If other people want to believe in something as stupid as Divination they’re perfectly welcome to their asininity. Just don’t try inflicting it on me.”

“Padma’s still trying to convince you to find your soulmate?” Ginny was watching Hermione with a faint smirk on her face. Hermione gave a short nod and she pulled her bag onto her shoulder.

“So—where are you going?” Ginny’s tone was coy.

Hermione stilled slightly and felt her cheeks grow warm. “Just—to the loo.” Her voice jumped a partial octave.

“Huh. Of course.” Ginny nodded slowly, her eyes were glinting.

Hermione started to turn away and Ginny added, “Say hi to Malfoy for me.”

Hermione froze and looked back guiltily. “I’m not—“

“Right…” Ginny smirked. “I’m sure if I happen to peek around the corner I won’t see him pulling you into the broom closet down the hallway the way he always does when you leave the library.”

“How—?”

“Portraits, Hermione. I told you, McGonagall added a lot of portraits. They report to the Heads about certain things.”

Hermione turned bright red and Ginny burst into muffled laughter.

“Go.” Ginny waved Hermione away, still laughing into her hand. “It’s fine. I think McGonagall has gotten over it.”

Hermione fled the library.

She made it down four hallways before she stopped and leaned against a wall. She pressed her palms against her cheeks. They felt like they were about to catch on fire. She had never felt so embarrassed in her life.

Then suddenly there were cool fingers catching hold of her hands and pulling them away from her face.

“Are you alright, Granger? Did something happen?”

Hermione felt herself starting to melt, but steeled herself internally. Malfoy would probably not be pleased to hear that their—arrangement, was common knowledge to the Hogwarts staff and Ginny. Shoving his “claim” in the Alphas’ faces was a biological impulse. But the professors were probably too close to the real world.

“It’s nothing. I just found out that Hannah and Neville broke up because of me.”

Malfoy stilled. “Longbottom and Abbott aren’t dating anymore?”

“Apparently not. I feel rather bad about it.”

“It’s not your fault.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead and she shivered against him.

“I know. But it still feels that way a bit.”

“It’s not. You’re not responsible for what other people do.”

Hermione gave a faint nod, and he caught her by the wrist and pulled her into an empty classroom. The door had barely clicked shut before he had her up on a desk as he kissed her.

It was like fire, and she couldn’t understand it. How could he draw the line so clearly? How could he care so much and then—not?

She drew her lips away from him and stared at him. He paused and looked down at her. The corner of his mouth twitched faintly and his eyes grew guarded. “What?”

“Is this—? Do you—Am I doing this right?” She blurted the question out.

He furrowed his eyebrows and stared down at her. “Doing what right?”

“I just—I feel like there’s something I’m doing wrong.” Because you’re so cold, she didn’t say.

“You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just not—,“ he paused as though he were searching for the right word,”—conventional.” Pure-blooded.

That affects things,” he added after a moment.

“Of course.” Hermione felt mechanical. “Of course. I should have realized it was that.”

He glanced away from her and stepped back, the mood abruptly killed. She stayed seated on the edge of the desk. She wanted to reach for him. She wanted to bury her face in his chest and apologize for not being—conventional; to admit to him that for the first time in her life she wished she were.

Except she didn’t. Because she was proud of being Muggle-born. She had always been proud of it. And even if he made her wish such a thing, it made no difference; she would always be a Muggle-born.

“Thank you, for doing this anyway, Malfoy,” she said after a minute.

The fact that she was thanking Draco Malfoy for being willing to have sex with her did not escape her. But what else was there to say? He was, and she was willingly swallowing the humiliation of it.

He snorted faintly, and avoided her eyes.

She slipped off the desk and stood uncertainly, wondering if she should just go. She wanted to reach for him. She always wanted to touch him.

His eyes met hers as they stood there and—

They were kissing. She didn’t even know which of them moved, or if they both had.

He had her against the wall, as he kissed her so deeply she was gasping. He had pinned her wrists over her head, under his hands, and it felt as though he were trying to consume her.

There was no experience in her entire life that could compare to what it felt like to be with Draco; as if their being together were bigger than just them. As though the universe had aligned the stars and the planets, and every moment of history to right down to the exact millisecond their lips touched and when it happened—

Time stopped.

He kissed along her jaw and started sliding down her body, but she caught hold of his robes and stopped him. He glanced up at her.

“I don’t want to—right now. I just want to kiss you,” she said, staring down at him.

He looked surprised for a moment before he smirked and straightened. They stared at each other for a moment, and Hermione could hear her heart pounding in in her chest as he captured her mouth with a bruising kiss.

Their tongues entwined; and her arms slid around his neck while he tangled his hands in her hair. He always touched her hair; gripping and crushing the curls, sliding his fingers along her scalp and lacing his fingers around the locks, so he could pull her closer or tilt her head back and angle her lips the way he wanted to.

She tugged at the buttons at the collar of his shirt until they came undone and then moved further down his torso, parting the fabric and gliding her fingers across his skin. If she were blind, she’d still know him. She’d memorized every inch of him; the dips and rises of his body, the texture of his skin and places where he shivered and gasped at her touch, the edges of the sectumsempra scar that bisected his chest; the taste of his sweat, and scent of the leather, vetiver, and papyrus sedge with an undertone of vanilla and sandalwood that clung to his clothes and skin.

She traced her lips along his throat, and breathed deeply against his scent glands.

It was nice to be somewhere without thinking for a while.

Thinking was so stressful and depressing lately, it made her hurt physically. All she could do was think while she tried to hold her life together, and pick up all the pieces that her biology had abruptly shattered. She’d always been able to rely on knowledge, determination and cleverness to solve the problems she’d faced in life.

But it was different trying to outsmart something that was set inside the deepest parts of her own mind and written into every cell of her DNA.

It felt futile and exhausting, and sometimes she just wanted to give up and accept it; to just admit that it was who she was. It was who she was always going to be, and she couldn’t fix it. When she was with Draco she stopped thinking. It was nice to not think for a little while; for there to be interludes when life ceased to ache.

Until it was over, and she remembered once again that it was all just a hormone induced illusion that she was letting herself fall for.

But she kissed him anyway.

He unbuttoned her shirt, pushed away her bra and dragged his fingers across her skin; spanning her waist and tracing along her spine. She wondered if he had memorized her.

When they finally broke apart, their clothing was all askew. Draco’s shirt was unbuttoned and half untucked, his hair was falling over his darkened eyes, and his lips were reddened and his cheeks faintly flushed. He looked roguish and sexy, and his eyes were locked on her as though he couldn’t tear them away. Hermione wished she could take a picture of him, to prove to herself that he looked at her that way. Because when he strode through the hallways and his eyes never so much as flickered toward her, she wondered if she were somehow imagining it all.

“Well, I’m going to be in an excellent condition for DADA class in half an hour,” he said, finally looking away from her to stare down at his tented trousers.

“Oh, sorry. Do you—can I help?”

“Not really. If I come when I’m around you I’m going to knot, and if I knot it will definitely be noticeable for the next half hour or so.”

“Oh, right…” Alpha biology when mixed with Omega biology was somewhat symbiotic. Hermione couldn’t get off by herself; she required an Alpha to get her emotionally to the right point. For Malfoy, he could get off, but it was dulled and muted without an Omega. When he was with an Omega it was just staggeringly overwhelming, but it also involved growing a knot at the base of his cock that took thirty minutes to an hour to go away fully, and left him erect in the meanwhile.

She stared at his trousers and nibbled at her lip. She wished they could skip class. The temptation to reach out, open his trousers and pull out his cock was mind-glazing. Her fingers twitched and she drew nearer.

She’d just touch it a little.

Malfoy stepped back. “While I’m profoundly flattered by the expression currently on your face, now is not the time, Granger.”

“Alpha…” her voice came out in a long, low whimper and she bit her lip and she stepped closer.

“Oh fuck…” He backed away from her until he was against a wall. “Out, Granger. Fix your clothes and get out. There is no chance of my cock getting less hard when you’re staring at it like that.”

Hermione reluctantly pulled her bra back into place and buttoned her shirt without once tearing her eyes away from Malfoy’s trousers.

“I could just—“

“Out, Granger. You are really pushing the bounds of my self-control.” His voice was thick. Hermione whimpered faintly, and moved slowly toward the door.

“Are you sure?” Her voice was pleading as she fidgeted with the door knob.

“Go, Granger. And I’ll expect a massive thanks when that massive brain of yours is holding the reins again. This—is why I usually just get you off.” He buried his face in his hands.

“I’m not incoherent,” she protested, staring back longingly.

He lifted his head and arched an eyebrow. “Of course, Hermione Granger, swot extraordinaire, is entirely in her right mind when she wants to skip DADA at which she is due to give a presentation on our Arithmancy project in order to instead have sex in the Charms classroom which has a third-year class starting in—“ he checked his watch, “—fifteen minutes.” Malfoy was staring at her looking unimpressed.

Hermione blushed. When he put it that way, it did sound like a bad idea.

“Go away, Granger. I will shag you later. Go.” He used a slight Alpha tone on the last word, and Hermione turned gooey inside and collapsed slightly against the door.

“Yes, Alpha,” she said in a whimpering voice as she stared longingly back at his open shirt and obvious erection one last time before slipping through the door.

Hermione made her way to the bathroom and splashed water on her face. As she calmed slightly, it struck her resoundingly she really had just tried to convince Malfoy to skive off on DADA in order to have sex in the Charms classroom.

She made a choking sound and buried her face in her hands. She was mindless. She was an absolutely mindless tart.

Thank god, Draco possessed some level of reason, because otherwise she’d probably fail her classes in favour of having endless sex and then proceed to die of complete and utter humiliation.

She stayed in the bathroom straightening her uniform and then looked over her notes until it was ten minutes before the start of class.

When she walked in the door, Seamus, Dean, and Malfoy were the only students already seated. Hermione headed toward her spot at the back of the room. As she passed Malfoy, his eyes flicked up briefly and met hers. She nearly tripped. He gave her an extremely pointed “I told you so,” look, and then dropped his eyes back down to his book.

Hermione blushed, and hurried past to her desk. Once she was seated, she nervously nibbled on a fingernail and watched the rest of the class trickle in; Parvati, Daphne, Neville, Blaise Zabini, a couple other Slytherins Hermione didn’t know.

Then Theodore Nott walked in. He headed toward his normal spot near Blaise, but then paused and seemed to be considering.

He glanced over toward Draco and then down at Hermione. Then a faint smile played at the corner of his mouth as he pivoted, and strode toward the back of the classroom. He pulled out the chair next to Hermione’s and seated himself.

Hermione stared at him in surprise.

Nott looked down at his hands for a moment, took a deep breath through his mouth, and then turned resolutely to stare at Hermione.

“Hello, I’m Theo.” He extended his hand toward her.

Chapter Text

Hermione stared at Theodore Nott’s proffered hand and shot a quick glance over to Malfoy. Malfoy sat frozen in his seat as though someone had petrified him. She looked back at Nott, trying to decipher why, after so many weeks, he had suddenly decided to approach her.

She didn’t exactly remember Theodore Nott over the years, but she was fairly certain he used to be extremely thin and retiring in personality. He had come across as rather faded and wilted, like a cut flower left out in the sun. She didn’t think she’d ever heard him speak aside from when he’d dueled Neville.

Presenting seemed to have gone extremely well for him. Dark hair, dark eyes, his features had squared and he’d gone from extremely forgettable to rather attractively memorable. He had a cheeky confidence that had been distinctly absent before.

“Hello, Theo. I’m Hermione.” She shook his hand and gave him a pointed look. “We’ve been attending school together for the six years.”

Theo looked relieved that she’d accepted the handshake and didn’t seem at all abashed by her reproach.

He grinned as he shook her hand warmly. “I know. I’ve fancied you for about four years. Not constantly, but rather recursively.”

Hermione stared in astonishment and Theo’s smiled grew slightly crooked. “Unfortunately there never seemed to be an appropriate time to do anything, what with my father being a Death Eater and all.”

Hermione kept shaking his hand up and down as her brain short-circuited slightly.

“You’re joking,” she finally managed.

“No. He really was a Death Eater.” Theo nodded with an expression of false solemnity and seemed thrilled by the fact that Hermione was still holding his hand.

Hermione felt her face grow red and drew her hand away. “I know—about your father. I didn’t—I meant about me.”

“Oh that part’s true too. You have been unknowingly responsible for one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I was so upset at one point that I challenged Viktor Krum to a duel, but I was really nervous and he couldn’t understand what I was saying. I was very short back then and had a god-awful nervous stutter, and when I managed to explain that I wanted to duel him for getting you put under the Great Lake, he laughed and said that Hermy-own wouldn’t approve of him dueling first years.” Theo’s face grew abruptly red and he clapped his hands over his mouth. “I did not intend to admit that. Oh god.”

He gave a deep sigh.

“Right. I should probably just mention now, in case you somehow haven’t noticed, I’m a nervous talker. I have been overthinking this conversation for months now and I’ve already derailed it. Please, feel free to hex me at any time.”

Theo dropped his head into hands and took several deep breaths as though trying to contain the nervous energy that he was practically vibrating with.

Hermione glanced toward Malfoy and noticed that his head was turned just enough to be able to watch her and Theo from the corner of his eye.

Interesting.

She looked back at Theo. “You’ve been thinking about this conversation for months?”

His head popped up from his hands and he looked over at her. “Well, I heard you and Weasley had broken up. And the matter of my father was finally dealt with, so—it seemed like the year to introduce myself rather than just admiring you a la distance, but you were uncharacteristically flighty at the start of the school year. Then you vanished for a week and walked into the Great Hall as—“ he had the sense not to say the word aloud in a classroom and merely eyed Hermione, “—and it ruined my elaborate plan to finally introduce myself because suddenly everyone was doing it.”

Theo looked extremely chagrined. “It didn’t help that you and Draco apparently have some sort of thing going on. He’s one of my oldest friends, and I'm not the sort who tries anything with my mate’s girlfriend.”

“We’re not—we aren’t dating,” Hermione clarified hurriedly. “It’s nothing like that.”

Theo nodded. “He mentioned that. I’ve tried interrogating him several times and all he’ll say is that it’s not a relationship, you just have some kind of arrangement. Which, to be honest, sounds like blackmail. If he’s blackmailing you, I’ll gladly volunteer to murder him. And if you’re blackmailing him, well, honestly why?”

Blaise Zabini’s shoulders appeared to be shaking with laughter. Hermione stared at Theo incredulously. “No one is blackmailing anyone,” she snapped in a low voice. “And if either of us were, do you think I’d admit it to you when he’s sitting five feet away?”

“No. But it’s really pissing him off.” Theo’s eyes were glinting again.

Hermione looked toward Malfoy. He appeared to be reading.

“He is?”

“Hard to believe, I know. I’m sure you remember how overdramatic he used to be. He milked that scratch on his arm from the hippogriff for six months. Now, someone could stab him and he’d probably sit and finish whatever he was doing before walking to the hospital ward. Terrible timing, presenting a month after the war, when he was on trial.”

Hermione studied Draco. The thing about presenting for Alphas was that it tended to bring out distinct aspects of their personalities. The books discussed it; current stresses and things they wished to be true tended to manifest as dominant traits.

Malfoy’s trial had just finished around that time. She wasn’t sure whether sentencing had happened. He’d been facing ten years in Azkaban. The situation had to have had a profound effect on how he’d presented. It would explain his almost supernatural level of self-control.

“So that’s Malfoy really pissed off?” She stared doubtfully at Malfoy’s indifferent-seeming back.

“We’ve known each other since we were in nappies. Speaking with the authority of someone who spent seventeen years with, I am told, the social personality of a beige wall, and who has therefore gotten in the habit of watching everyone else; he’s probably going to punch me later.”

“Why?”

“Well, he’s scent-marked you in a very ‘go near her and I’ll murder you’ kind of way. So my general proximity is one reason. Also, asking if he was blackmailing you. Not to mention I am a nervous fountain of information about him. You could probably easily convince me to tell you anything about him that you wanted to know, and he is fully aware of that.”

Hermione glanced over toward Draco again, her eyes narrowed and calculating. “Anything I wanted to know?”

“Probably. There are certain things I can’t tell you, bonds of brotherhood and whatnot. But yes, I’ll be particularly generous with you, for the obvious biological reasons. But also because he’s been a complete arse for the last month and I’m fairly certain that he at least suspected my crush, but he didn’t even see fit to mention to me that he was going to get into a casual relationship with you. And finally, because that tosser broke into my trunk and stole my books.”

Theo’s tone had remained light, but there was a faint edge of resentment that surfaced as he stared at the back of Malfoy’s platinum head.

Hermione wondered exactly what kind of feud she found herself in the middle of.

Theo glanced back at her and laughed faintly. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to sabotage whatever it is you’re doing. But I am a Slytherin, I’ll take the opportunities that come. I was going to wait, but since your—whatever-it-is with him is an ongoing thing, I decided it was time to make some kind of move.”

What might have been said next was lost as Professor Dawlish strode in and class began. Theo opened his books, pulled a pair of reading glasses out, and didn’t bother Hermione again.

While Dawlish was teaching Hermione took absent-minded notes while turning Theo and Draco over in her mind.

Theo had had a crush on her? The claim seemed somewhat dubious.

It was hard to trust any Alphas when there was a constant doubt in the back of her mind that it was all a ruse; charm like a sheepskin hiding a waiting wolf.

Theo was cunning. The observant type.

She was fairly certain that mentioning Krum had been entirely intentional. He was giving her a reference, an old friend that she trusted. She could write Krum and ask if a weedy-looking Slytherin with a stutter had ever tried to challenge him to a duel because of her.  

She looked at Theo from the corner of her eye and calculated the risk-reward ratio of accepting his overtures of “friendship.”

When class ended Draco stood up sharply and then froze, Hermione got struck in the face with his pheromones and it made her mind blank slightly. Theo chuckled faintly beside her but she barely registered it.

Draco stood, and his fingers tapped slowly across the desk as though he were in thought. Then he shoved his notes and books into his bag, and strode out without a backward glance.

Hermione tried to ignore the immediate stab of hurt, and looked down quickly to gather up her notes and Arithmancy presentation and pack them into her satchel. Malfoy hadn’t even looked at her when she’d been speaking about their Arithmancy project. Dawlish been dismissive because she and Malfoy hasn’t yet figured out a curse-breaking formula; he hadn’t cared much about the complexity or detail of the equation they’d crafted so far. There was no love lost between the former auror and herself, or Malfoy; though he was a decent defense professor.

As Hermione slung her bag onto her shoulder and turned to go her eyes landed on Theo, who was looking at her over the top of his reading glasses with a thoughtful expression. Hermione stopped short and stared down at him.

“I haven’t decide what I think you, Nott,” she said. “All the Alphas have some kind of excuse for why they never had the time to so much as acknowledge my existence for the last seven years. You’ve just added yourself to that list. I’ve dealt with a lot this year and I really don’t have time to deal with any boys who will stand around and act charming until there’s an opportunity to take advantage of. I have no reason to think you’re any different from the rest of them.”

Theo pulled his glasses off and stared up at Hermione. She noted that he didn’t stand up and take advantage of his size difference and her biological impulse to fold for it. She also noted that he’d carefully kept his pheromones under control the entire class and hadn’t used even a trace of an Alpha tone when speaking.

Credit where credit was due, but—there was also a part of her that wondered if that was a tactic too.

“I know,” Theo said with a serious expression. “I’ve spent a lot of time wishing I’d gotten the nerve and spoken to you at least once before your birthday. Or some other point in the past. I don’t have any excuse for it and even if I did, I realize you’ve got no reason to believe it. I’ve never been brave or prone toward risk-taking. However, I always wished I was your friend. My father was—unpleasant, and he regarded me as being something of a failure as his heir. You were all things I wished I was; brave and interesting, and not born purely out of obligation. Liking you started as a secretive way of rebelling and then gradually grew out of my control.” He laughed faintly. “All that to say, I would legitimately like to be your friend, Hermione Granger, even if I’ve got no chance with you. I’ll prove it to you eventually, because, in the likely event you soulbond with someone else, I’ll still want to be your friend.”

He smirked and quirked an eyebrow. “I’ve been friends with Draco for sixteen years; I’m the patient and long-suffering sort.”

The corner of Hermione’s mouth twitched and she struggled against smiling. “I’ll take it under consideration.”

Theo slipped his glasses off and stashed them in his robes, and then stood up and started packing up his satchel.

Hermione walked around him and headed out of the classroom. Theo was surprisingly charming. She couldn’t decide if she liked him or not.

She was halfway down the hallway when she was snatched up and pulled a broom closet.  

“Mal—mmmph,” she couldn’t even get his name out before his mouth descended on hers. He kissed her so hard it was as though there was an explosion as their magic struck.

His tongue slid between her teeth as he began to quite overtly fuck her mouth with it.

Angry. Possessive. Pissed off.

His hands gripped her hard against his body; pulling at her clothes as his tongue continued to delve greedily inside her mouth. One of his hands came up and gripped her hair forcefully, pulling her head back to expose her throat.

She kissed him back fiercely. Relishing the fire until her lungs began to burn for oxygen and the whole world grew buzzy around her.

Draco pulled his mouth away from hers and dipped his head down. She felt his breath hot across her shoulder for a moment before he and dragged a long, hard lick across her scent glands.

Hermione gasped and tangled her fingers tightly in his hair.

“That fucking wanker,” Draco snarled under his breath as his lips continued to tease across her sensitive skin. “I can’t believe he went near you.”

Hermione’s brain was lost in a sea of pheromones and sensation. She could feel Draco’s hand on her waist and the other tangled in her hair, and his mouth against her throat. His beautiful, possessive voice thrilled through her, causing her clit to throb and making her grow instantly wet. She whimpered and tried to grind against him.

His hand on her waist slid down between her legs and into her knickers, and he cupped her sex. Hermione gave a ragged gasp as he pressed his fingers against the sensitive flesh and brushed his thumb near her clit.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

Hermione whimpered against his shoulder and he sucked hard on the glands on one side. Her vision flashed white and her body went limp in his arms. He pushed her against the wall of the closet as he kept sucking on her glands.

“Please...please...please…” she begged him.

He pulled his mouth away from the glands on one side of her and proceeded to lick and suck the other side of her neck.

You’re mine.” He growled the words against her throat as he ground the heel of his hand against her clit. “ Say you want me.”

“Yes...please—,” she gasped. “I want you.”

He pulled his hand away and she gave a dismayed wail and forcefully dragged him back toward her, pulling hard on his robes until she felt the fastenings give away.

This. This was what she wanted. For him to pay attention to her. To react to things, and not just keep her in a little box to take out when he felt horny or controlling.

She grabbed his face and pulled his mouth back to hers. Without thinking, she bit him sharply on the lip.

When she tasted blood, her eyes popped open and she let go and jerked back. He was staring at her with an expression of astonishment to mirror her own.

“Sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry. I don’t—“

He kissed her again before she could apologize further. The words faded from her mind as she wrapped her arms around his neck, rubbing her wrists along his shoulders and dragging her scent glands against his until the air was thick enough with their pheromones to be choking. His kisses tasted coppery and Hermione felt aghast with herself even as her instincts felt smugly vindicated. He ignored her. He wasn’t supposed to ignore her. He deserved to bleed a bit.

He was hers.

He pulled her legs up around his waist and she could feel the texture of the castle’s rough hewn stones against her back as he pinned her in place.

She traced the curve of his cheekbones under her fingers as she held his lips against hers. She pressed soft, apologetic kisses along his lower lip where her teeth had cut him.

One of his hands squeezed and kneaded her arse. She could feel his long fingers splay across her flesh and then slipped away. He shifted slightly, and she wasn’t sure what he was doing. He was panting against her lips, and his pale hair was brushing against her forehead as she kept kissing him again and again, and nuzzling their noses together. Breathing the same air as their lips and tongues pressed together, and she slipped her tongue across his teeth.

Then she felt him pull her knickers roughly to the side and she barely had time to register it before he sank into her.

“Oh god—yessss…” she moaned against his mouth as he slid his hands under her knees, pulling them up as he gripped her thighs and drove into her. She shifted her hips, trying to accommodate him. Feeling pleased with herself at how she could take him.

Was there a reason they weren’t supposed to have sex right then? There was—something. Hermione couldn’t remember. There was just Draco’s cock buried inside her, and it felt so good she thought she must be dying because every neuron in her brain felt simultaneously activated, like an electric surge through her mind. His touch could kill her.

He’d never fucked her against a wall before. It was—desperate. She felt wicked and ascendant; as though they’d slipped the surly bonds of earth. She put out her hand and touched his face as she kissed him hard.

“You’re mine,” he snarled against her teeth. “My Omega.”

“Yes, Alpha…” She tilted her head back submissively so he could access her neck.

He dragged his teeth across her glands.

It was—explosive. Everything went dark and her whole body spasmed. She clenched around him like a vise and nearly screamed from the sensation that ripped through every nerve in her body. Her fingernails sank into his shoulders.

He gave a hoarse gasp and his pace faltered slightly. Then he used the support of the wall to slide his hands to her hips so he could control the pace better. Hermione’s knees were drawn higher, making the penetration of his cock even deeper. She wrapped her arms around his neck and clung to him.

His cock was so big that the angle didn’t allow him to sink in to the hilt. When he started to swell she could feel his knot outside of her body, pressing against her opening but not stretching her as he started to come.

He dragged his teeth across Hermione’s glands again, and her orgasm struck her with the force of a speeding locomotive. Nothing. Everything. She was falling. The whole universe shattered and she thought she might black out from the intensity. She sobbed out her climax with her face buried in the juncture of his neck. Her inner walls were gripping him so tightly she felt like she’d break.

“Good girl—my good girl…” he rasped the words as his hips jerked sharply against her. “Mine. I’ll take care of you. I’ll always, always take care of you…”

He pulled her off the wall and backed into the door of the closet and proceeded to slide down to the floor until she was seated in his lap. He was still buried in her.

He pulled his arms out from under her knees and cradled her face in his hands, kissing her forehead and cheeks and down along her nose. She shivered against him as her skin prickled from the light touch  

“You’re such a good girl,” he said, pressing another kiss to her forehead as he stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. ”So good.”

Hermione smiled dazedly and nestled he head under his chin. She could feel his pounding heart. She pressed her hand over it, so she could feel it under her fingers.

As her head gradually cleared it occurred to her that Malfoy had just shagged her in a broom closet because Theo sat next to her in DADA class.

She lifted her head to stare at him in astonishment. He looked as though the thought had just occurred to him too.

They stared at one another, mouths agape. Hermione tried to absorb the implications, but she was so surprised she wasn’t even certain of what they could be.

Malfoy steadily blushed. “I—don’t—“ his mouth opened and closed several times as though he had no idea what to say.

“Do you—care?” Hermione stared at him apprehensively and felt her heartbeat start to rapidly increase as she looked for an answer in his face.

He opened his mouth to reply but no sound came out. Then his eyes got hard and Hermione felt her heart sink. He pressed his lips into a flat line, lifted her off his lap, and stood up. His cock jutted out, rigid and swollen, the knot at the base was unyielding. He pulled his trousers closed with a faint hiss and muttered curse and then straightened his robes to conceal it.

“No,” he finally said in a firm voice, staring past her. “The biology just caught me off guard, I think.”

Hermione nodded faintly. She could feel his come sliding down the inside of her thighs. “Oh.”

It was just biology. Again.

Of course it would be.

Malfoy was gone before she could say anything else.

She stood in the broom closet for a long time, until the smell of Malfoy’s pheromones slowly faded and the abrasive scent of cleaning potions became noticeable. Then she grabbed her satchel from where it had fallen on the floor and pulled a small mirror out. She stared at her reflection as she dabbed murtlap essence on her neck and smoothed her hair in an efficient ritual that had become habit already. Then she scourgified the fluids from her legs and went to Gryffindor Tower.  

She climbed into her disused bed and stared up at the canopy. She had a Runes Translation to work on. She had a star chart to complete. She hadn’t finished her potions essay due next month. She had four chapters to read for Transfiguration. She needed to work on the Arithmancy project with Malfoy.

She still hadn’t heard back from most of the specialists she’d written to.

She didn’t have any more classes until after dinner. Astronomy with Hufflepuff.

Astronomy class was—dull. It was a cloudy night which meant that the entire hour was devoted to reading review. Hermione had read the textbook years before and felt like her brain was melting. She didn’t even feel inspired to raise her hand to answer all the questions that no one else knew.

When the class was dismissed, she tiredly checked her watch and wondered if Malfoy would be in their room since they’d already had sex that day. She supposed she could stop by and check.

As she reached the bottom the stairs she caught sight of Hannah, standing next to Susan. Hermione immediately averted her eyes and started walking away at a brisk pace.

“Hermione.”

Hermione froze, cringing, and turned reluctantly to face Hannah.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” Hannah looked slightly pale as she walked away from Susan and toward Hermione.

“Sure… what is it?”

Hannah came to a stop a few inches from Hermione. They stared at each other in silence for several seconds.

“I broke up with Neville last week.” Hannah said, her head jerking slightly.

Hermione nodded slowly. “I heard. I’m sorry.”

Hannah’s eyes grew faintly shiny, but her expression was unwavering. “It’s not your fault. I don’t blame you at all.”

Hermione’s eyes dropped away. “Still, I feel badly. You were really good together, I thought.”

“I think you should date Neville,” Hannah said abruptly.

Hermione’s head jerked up sharply, she stared at Hannah in surprise.

Hannah just looked steadily back at her. “He used to like you, you know. He said you were the first friend he ever had.”

Chapter Text

“Do you—care?”

Draco froze, and stared at Granger. She was curled up in his lap, his cock buried inside her, and she was studying him with a baffled expression on her face.

Yes. Yes, he cared.

She was his. His scent was in her pores. He had memorized every inch of her body under his fingers and tongue. He knew exactly how to touch her to make her keen and come apart. She slept in his arms every night. When he dreamed, he heard her voice in his ear saying “Yours. I’m yours.”

His entire life revolved around her as though she were the sun.

Yes. He fucking cared.

He doubted she had any idea how hard it was not to bite her every time he fucked her. How very close he occasionally came to doing it.

Because he wanted her forever.

He opened his mouth. As he was about to speak, he saw her eyes grow guarded, as though she were bracing herself. The words died on his lips.

“Just—temporarily, while I try to figure out a long term solution.”

It wouldn’t be dating.”

“It would just be physical, like, um, friends with benefits—Well, not necessarily friends—“

Not a relationship.

Not even friends.

Just casual.

She was letting him touch her as a temporary solution. Until she found a better one.

Longbottom was single again. And Theo had apparently decided it was time to insert himself.

If she thought he was going to complicate things by getting invested, she’d probably end it immediately. Because she had better options now.

He didn’t know what he’d do if she cut him off. If she turned to someone else, and he had to smell them on her. Knowing they were touching her and taking her; knowing what kinds of sounds she’d make for them.

If having Theo sitting next to her was enough of a trigger that he dragged her into a broom closet, trying to deal with her moving on to someone else would probably make him snap and bite her accidentally or kill someone.

He should have said no when she first asked him to scent-mark on her. He had no idea how he was possibly going to let her go, or move on.

No witch was ever going to so much as register compared to the thrill of just being near Granger. He met her eyes and felt undone; as though she held his heart in her hands.

He pressed his lips together and pulled her off of him. His cock was still rigid and it hurt like holy fuck to shove it inside his trousers, however the discomfort helped him ground himself slightly as he stood next to Granger. Her clothing was pulled open and he could see marks on her neck from where he’d sucked on her glands. His seed was sliding down her legs. He wanted to push his come back inside her, resheath himself in her cunt and hold himself there while he kissed across her face and neck, over her shoulders and down her arms to her wrists.

“No,” he told her, and he stared at her left ear as he said it, because he wasn’t sure he could lie if he looked her in the eye just then. “The biology just caught me off guard, I think.”

“Oh,” was all she said.

Oh.

Hermione Granger who couldn’t stop reciting textbooks even when Snape was docking points for it, said ‘oh’ and nothing else. Draco hadn’t a clue what it meant. Did ‘oh’ mean that she didn’t believe him? Or that she did? Or that she was relieved? Disappointed?

He had no idea. He didn’t know how to read her. He didn’t even know how to look at her without wanting to touch her, kiss her, and promise her the whole world.

The only time he felt even remotely in control of himself was when she was nearly going to pieces. When she lost herself in her Omega instincts or grew emotional, he grew steadying. The rest of the time he wanted to crawl for her. It took an obscene amount of effort to stay away from her for most of the day.

Don’t stop needing me, he wanted to beg her. Because it was the only time life felt manageable.

The axis of his mind revolved around her; keeping an eye on her; wanting to please her; waiting for her to need him.

There was nothing better than pleasing her. Feeling her come for him; feeling her want him. Watching her face and listening to when her breath caught, where she shivered. He wanted to spend his whole life holding her in his arms.  

Even talking about Arithmancy with her was a delight; and he didn’t even particularly like Arithmancy. When she admitted she’d read more than thirty supplemental textbooks for their class, he’d asked which ones and they’d compared notes. She’d been practically bouncing in her seat when it turned out they’d both read the newly translated Nagnok’s Guide to Goblin Arithmancy. She’d been so excited to have someone to talk to about the concepts with, Draco had to literally bite his tongue to prevent himself from asking if she wanted to start a book club with him.

When he wasn’t with her, he spent most of the day trying not to trail after her in the halls. It was a relief that she spent so much time studying. If Granger were more social, he probably would be failing all his classes.

She was the most non-conventional Omega he had ever heard of. She treated being an Omega as though it were a form of lycanthropy; some mostly latent aspect of herself to be managed with potions and frantic sex so she could do her damnedest to completely separate and ignore it the rest of the time. He had no idea how she did it. None of the books he’d read made any reference to Omegas being like that.

When he was with her, it was like something inside her flipped on and she became an entirely different person. Most of the time it swallowed her until he got her off. Until she climaxed, she was a separate entity with an different tone of voice. She called him Alpha, and did things like try to convince him that they should skip class and have sex in the charms classroom. After she climaxed she was more Granger-like, more in control. She didn’t get overwhelmed and fall apart so easily.

Once she fell asleep, it was over. In the mornings she’d pretend to be asleep until he left.

Granger wasn’t an Omega so much as she had an Omega carefully caged inside her that she bribed into quietude with regular sex.

It was—irregular. And depressing for Draco.

The explanation he gave himself—which he based on what it had been like presenting as an Alpha—was that she’d been so opposed to presenting all that she’d tried to suppress it, and it caused her to manifest that way. Boxed the entire thing into something she could mostly dissociate from until it was triggered.

It hadn’t meshed with her personality the way presenting as an Alpha had for him and everyone he knew. Draco was an Alpha. He was an Alpha every minute of every day. It was intrinsic to all his behavior and when he didn’t exhibit it, it was because he was intentionally suppressing it. Losing control and giving into the instincts didn’t negate that he meant it.

When he promised to take care of her and told her she was perfect, he meant it.

The fact that part of his attraction to Granger was a biological imperative was difficult to reconcile. It didn’t feel like something he was doing primarily because of an instinctive impulse.

He tried to imagine if it were someone else. If Susan Bones smelled like Granger, would he feel the same way? The craving would be there. The instincts. But he couldn’t imagine himself caring. If Susan Bones asked him if he personally wanted to snog her, the answer would be no. He wouldn’t promise to always take care of her, or beg her to say she wanted him and belonged to him. If she ended up with someone else, as an Alpha he might feel jealous, but he didn’t think he’d be emotionally devastated.

It wasn’t as though any of the other Alphas seemed emotionally invested in Granger, despite all the posturing they engaged in.

But Granger didn’t seem to mean of anything she did when she was with Draco. As though it wasn’t even her. Her brain went away and left her Omega behind to whimper and keen and beg him to fuck her. She didn’t mean the things she said. She didn’t even want to be the way she was.

At least that was the way it seemed to Draco.

It was all hypothetical because there was almost no research about how Omegas presented. The process for Omegas was much more abrupt and internal, whereas for an Alpha it unfolded over the course of the month after their birthday, as they physically grew into it.

There was information on the physical aspects of Omega presentation; the glands, and the hormone surges, the heats, and heightened levels of magic. But he couldn’t find anything about personality changes or whether they were similar to Alphas. The only thing he knew was that sex became highly emotional for Omegas and they needed an emotional connection to climax.

The books also failed to mention how hard her emotions would hit him, and how he would instinctively pour his emotions into her. He’d thought originally that the intensity had been because of her heat. But after he shagged her in the library, he discovered that it was simply the way it was with her. Having sex with her was like having their souls entwine, and walking away afterward was like ripping them apart again.

He would have thought that at least one book would bother to mention that.

He wasn’t sure what it was like on Granger’s end. He didn’t know how she actually experienced it because they barely talked. He didn’t know how to talk to her without the risk of coming across as clingy. Whenever she’d bring up what they were doing she’d refer to it as their “arrangement.”

As though he were being kept by her.

If that was how she saw it—he couldn’t even bring himself to think about it most of the time.

If he made things complicated by admitting attachment, or ever lost control and accidentally bit her, it would be over. They would be done and he would never get another chance.

He also might end up in Azkaban, which should have a bigger deal, but somehow was beginning to pale in comparison to chronic stress of being separated from her in any context.

Draco left the broom closet abruptly.

Standing around with her afterward, as her head cleared and her eyes grew guarded and doubtful, was always just—too difficult to handle.

He found an empty classroom and stayed there until his cock finally softened.

Hogwarts was becoming increasingly hazardous.

In addition to being the school’s Death Eater punching bag, Charity Burbage had had a nephew in Hufflepuff who had made it his personal ambition to get Draco expelled. Cornelius Burbage was a seventh year with a posse of friends from various houses that eager to assist in whatever way they could.

They would corner Draco and try to provoke him into attacking them by shooting minor hexes at him and flinging every single possible insult regarding himself, his father, and mother.

Since Cornelius had realized Draco was not going to be cornered easily, he had ramped up his attacks. When Draco wasn’t with Granger, he spent most of his time in empty classrooms or disillusioned.

He headed toward the Slytherin by the most indirect route he could, doubling back repeatedly in order to avoid being followed or cornered anywhere.

When he walked through the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room he stalked across the room, grabbed Theo by the front of his robes, and dragged him up the stairs to their dorm room.

“I think it should be noted that I have already predicted you’re going to punch me. So if you do, you’re being horribly unoriginal,” Theo said, as he stumbled up the stairs behind Draco.

“Shut up,” Draco snarled as he kicked the door open and flung Theo through the door. Theo was adept at being thrown—courtesy of a lifetime of experience with it. He rolled with the force, somersaulted, twisted and jumped back up on his feet across the room.

Blaise looked up from a book on Alchemy with the air of a martyr. “Do you have to do this in here?”

“Shut up, Blaise!” Draco snapped.

Blaise sighed and snapped his book shut. “I swear, Alphas are more dramatic than teenage girls. You do realize you’re fighting over an Omega who isn’t interested in either of you?”

“Shut up!” Draco and Theo said in unison.

Blaise rolled his eyes and sat up. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you when she starts dating Longbottom.”

Draco’s stomach clenched. “Fuck off, Blaise.”

“I’m just saying—“

“Blaise,” Draco spoke in an ice cold tone, “I am already having a fucking awful day. Burbage’s goons tried a new hex on me today and nearly fractured my skull. I already heard about Longbottom from Granger. And now Theo has decided to add himself to my complicated life.”

“I actually added myself to Hermione’s life. You’re mostly coincidental,” Theo said, shoving his hair out of eyes and glaring at Draco.

“She’s mine.”

“Really...?” Theo crossed his arms and eyed Draco with a skeptical expression. “Does she know that? Because she was pretty quick to clarify that you two aren’t in any kind of relationship when we were talking.”

Draco balled his hands into fists and stared, seething, while Theo continued, “If you’re actually dating her, I’ll back off, but since you’re obviously not, there’s no reason I can’t try to. You’re clearly not making her happy. She looks depressed or traumatized half the time when she looks at you.”

Draco swallowed hard. “Fine.” His voice was hollow. “But if you hurt her I will not chrysalize you, I will fucking kill you.”

Theo blinked and looked astonished. “Seriously? I have to admit I was expecting a slightly stronger reaction from you.” He sniffed the air and then grimaced. “Although, you obviously were with her before coming here, so I’ll just assume you’ve already dealt with most of your rage over my audacious decision to shake—“

Draco crossed the room in a split second. Theo jumped back and tried to dodge, but Draco had seeker reflexes. Draco caught Theo’s tie out thin air, and used it to jerk Theo forward as Draco brought his up knee and drove it into Theo’s diaphragm.

Draco let go as Theo dropped to the floor. “Don’t talk about her like that,” he snarled  

Theo lay gasping for several seconds before managing to speak.  “Like what? Commenting on how you actually treat her? Are you claiming it was slow and sweet in a bed somewhere? I can smell it on you. You took her in broom closet after class.” Theo sneered up at Draco as he picked himself up off the floor and tried to catch his breath. “I’ve never said anything against her. You’re the one who’d go on about how you wished she’d die and took the Dark Mark. I’m the one who told you to leave her alone. You’re using her and you don’t even deserve to breathe around her.”

“I’m not using her,” Draco’s voice was vibrating with rage. “Neither of us owe you any explanation. Fuck off.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Blaise volunteered from his bed.

“That makes two of us,” Theo said, pressing his hand against his diaphragm. “I get it, Draco, your life is hard now. You’re not popular. You’re getting a crash course on what it’s like to be bullied. Join the club of unpopularity. Sorry, you don’t get Hermione Granger as a consolation prize. She’s better than you.”

Draco drew a sharp breath. “I’m not—I know. I don’t see her as that.”

“Sure. I’m sure all those “Mudblood” slurs just accidentally slipped out over the years because you were under the Imperius curse.” Theo’s eyes were glittering, and Draco realised his friend’s fury was deeper than some newfound jealousy.

“How long have you liked her, Theo?”

Theo’s fingers twitched. “Like I told her, it started in fourth year.”

Draco dropped a hand over his eyes and tipped his head back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize...”

“How did you not know? I thought the whole house knew.” Blaise sounded incredulous.

Draco swallowed. He had no explanation that didn’t make him out as an utter bastard. Which was apt, because it was why. He looked down at the floor. “I—thought it was a joke.”

“Says a lot about you, doesn’t it?” Theo’s voice was tight.

Draco gave a faint nod and suddenly felt tired. “She doesn’t want a relationship. Her goals for the year are academic.” His tone was wooden.

Theo eyed Draco warily. “Are you falling for her?”

Draco felt a deep, freezing sensation in his chest. He shook his head. “I don’t know what I feel for her. Being around her—I don’t know. To be honest—“ he sighed, “—I feel ruined by her half the time.”

“That good, huh?” Blaise drawled.

Draco hexed him so hard Blaise flew off his bed and crashed into the wall.

“Don’t talk about her. That’s not what I meant.”

Blaise pushed himself up off the floor and pounded his chest trying to get his breathe back. “She's got you so whipped you don’t even realize it.”

Draco fought against the temptation to hex Blaise again.  “It’s doesn’t matter.” His voice was tight. “Like I said—she doesn’t want a relationship.”

“Wait. She’s using you for sex?” Theo looked incredulous.

Draco ran a hand through his hair. “No. She—Omegas aren’t legally protected when they’re unbound. Anything that happens to her would get dismissed in court as a biological imperative.” He swallowed hard. “She can’t do a thing about Goldstein even though he even told her he intended to rape her in the hallway. If she’s scent-marked, it inoculates her against the rest of you. She’s unaffected. And I’m—I’m a logical choice because if I ever—overstep—McGonagall has made it clear just how happy she’ll be to expel me.”

Blaise and Theo stared at him stunned.

“You dense motherfucker,” Blaise finally muttered, shaking his head in disbelief.

“That’s why you’re sleeping with her?” Theo asked incredulously. “You agreed?”

Draco looked up sharply at Theo. “If you were me, and she came and asked, would you have said no?”

Theo flushed and looked away. “Touché.”

“You Alphas are so dumb.” Blaise straightened his robes and turned toward the door. “I can’t take anymore of this. I’m going to go snog Daphne.”

Draco glanced over at Blaise in confusion, momentarily forgetting Granger. “You and Daphne?”

Blaise shrugged. “Just casually. But, yeah. We started seeing each other over the summer. She wrote about getting to see my—“ his eyebrows quirked faintly, “— library with Astoria. It was a good time, so I ended up inviting her back.”

“Right…” Draco shook his head, bewildered. “Why is she still after me then?”

Blaise didn’t look surprised or offended. He just shrugged. “Well, it’s not like they’re exactly the same. She’s probably curious. I think she’s mostly asking on Astoria’s behalf anyway.”

Draco swallowed uncomfortably. That only made it weirder, and worse. “Astoria is how old?”

Blaise stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “Sixteen,” he said slowly, “I think. But her birthday is this month.”

Well, Draco had been sleeping with Pansy occasionally since fifth year. He supposed sixteen wasn’t that young, but still. “Why me? Why not someone from sixth year or seventh year?”

Blaise snorted. “Probably because yours is famous.”

What? Draco stared at Blaise with disbelief  

Pansy...

Pansy and her little cadre of friends that had to share every detail with each other. If Pansy was running around telling stories about their past sex life, even flattering ones, he was going to have some fucking stern words for her.

“I have a fairly decent one too,” Theo spoke in an aggrieved tone. “Even if it’s not as ‘famous’ as Draco’s. I showed it to them around noon and it was nearly midnight before they were done with it.”

Draco did not want to have the current conversation. He did not want to hear the current conversation. If Blaise and Theo got into an argument about whose cock Daphne and Astoria Greengrass liked better, Draco was going to need to scourgify his brain.

“I’ll leave you to argue since I’m apparently the only one who doesn’t want the Greengrasses anywhere near my library,” Draco said with a sneer as he stalked out of his dorm room.

He headed to the Hogwarts Library.

The cursed object he and Granger had been assigned was ending up a slight nightmare. They’d been stuck for the last week trying to find a formula for the final equation.

Draco walked through the halls disillusioned until he reached the library, and then reappeared in an abandoned aisle. Granger was not anywhere nearby, which meant she was probably in the Gryffindor dorm.

He went to the charms aisle and started dragging his finger across the titles as he looked for something useful. Granger had him squarely beaten when it came to Arithmancy. She was a speed demon when it came to running numbers in her head, and she could pull out equations from memory as though her brain functioned as a sort of index file, or invent them on the spot if she couldn’t think of one that suited her. It was almost unfair that anyone could interact so fluidly with numbers.

However Draco suspected that he was better at Charms. He’d always had a natural affinity for it, but his knowledge had grown dramatically due to spending an entire year repairing a Vanishing Cabinet. The spellwork was so complicated it made Draco’s head hurt to think about it. Borgin’s advice on repairing it had been mostly useless. Draco had to teach himself how to build the damn things in order to finally understand how the repairs were supposed to work. Charms theory was a subject he was intimately acquainted with.

Granger wasn’t at all bad at Charms, but she simply wasn’t as familiar with the variety when it came to charmed objects and how all the various elements interplayed. She sometimes didn’t take those aspects fully into account when calculating, and it occasionally made her numbers differ from Draco’s, which always forced them to comb over pages and pages of equations trying to find the differences and then determine who was right. Which had the upside of making their study sessions together run delightfully long.

However, Dawlish had been dismissive and condescending toward Granger during her presentation in class and Draco had been able to tell that it had upset her. When Draco hadn’t been entertaining fantasies of Dawlish and Theo joining Goldstein in in the hospital ward, he had resolved to find some kind of breakthrough for the assignment.

He reached the section he was looking for and started browsing.

“Draco.”

Draco cringed and bitterly wished he could disillusion himself, but it was clearly too late. He looked over at Daphne with a sickly smile.

“Draco, I was wondering if you’d changed your mind about the Christmas holidays by any chance.” She sashayed down the aisle toward him, her voice lilting slightly  

“I’m afraid not,” he said in a stiff voice.

Daphne’s mouth twitched, her eyes narrowed, and she pouted slightly. “Why not?”

Draco rolled his jaw with irritation. “Is it that difficult for you to believe I’m just not interested?”

“Just think of it as a favour then.” Daphne gave a shrug and moved closer to Draco. She ran a hand down his arm. “Really, Draco, it’s not as though the Malfoy Family is winning any popularity contests this year. Don’t try to pretend you have anyone else asking to visit during the holidays. Do this for Tori and I, and I’ll start putting in a good word for you socially.”

Draco clenched his hand in a fist and sneered down at her. “Really? You have the social capital to share with the disgraced Malfoy Family if I just—what? Let you and your sister help yourselves to whatever you want?”

Daphne stared up at him and blinked her cool green eyes slowly. “If you’re that opposed, think of it as a compromise. The Malfoy Family is famous for those. Were you planning to be a pariah for the rest of your life? You used to be so ambitious. I don’t know why you aren’t jumping at the opportunity. I’m hardly even asking for anything.”

“The answer is still no.”

Daphne’s eyes glittered with irritation. “Why not?” she whined and moved closer.

Draco slid away from her. “Well, for one thing, my mother will be there. The entire reason I’m returning for the holidays is to be with her. Not to mention, Blaise and Theo both generally spend part of the holidays there. I think that would be a bit awkward, don’t you?”

Daphne looked confused. “Why? I doubt they’re going to take it personally that Astoria and I want a chance to see yours too. They could even join us, if you wanted.”

Draco felt himself blush up to the roots of his hair. “What?”

“Do you have some specific objections to me or my sister? Because certainly seems like it’s a free for all when it’s Pansy and Blaise and Theo—“ Daphne was getting annoyed and it was causing her volume to rise.

“Who told you that?” Draco demanded in an incredulous tone.

“Blaise. I asked him why you’ve been so resistant. He says he has no idea. One afternoon is all I want, and you’re acting as as if I’m asking for your virginity. I’m well aware that you’ve got no objections when it’s other people. Blaise said that you spent most of this past summer with him and Theo, and since you weren’t with Pansy anymore, the three of you spent most of your time—“

“Excuse me, Greengrass, I have a suddenly urgent need to kill someone.”

Draco beelined out of the Charms section and nearly ran into Ginny Weasley as he went around the corner.

“Pardon, Weasley,” he muttered as he stormed out of the library and went to find Blaise.

Chapter Text

Hermione stood staring at Hannah in surprise. Hannah continued, “I think you were probably too busy with Ron and Harry—and the war—to realize it. But he did. He liked you a lot, for a long time. So, you guys should try. Really try.”

“Hannah…” It would probably be an inappropriate time to mention she wasn’t particularly interested in Neville.

“This isn’t some kind of test for him—or you,” Hannah added, looking tense. “You guys—I realize, biologically you have a pretty good chance of ending up together if you try. I’m not doing this to prove something or imaging that I’m setting he and I up to have an epic love story now. I’m a Hufflepuff, epic has never been my dream.” Hannah paused and drew a deep breath. “I love Neville. I’m in love with him, but I love him first. I want him to be happy more than I want him to be with me. If he’d be happier with you, I’d rather know that, than spend my whole life wondering about it. That wouldn’t be fair to any of us.”

Hermione didn’t know what to say.

“I’m going to withdraw from Hogwarts,” Hannah added, staring down at the floor. “I was wait-listed for the healing internship at St Mungo's, but a spot opened unexpectedly. I just got the letter a few days ago. So I’m going to study for my NEWTs by correspondence. I’m leaving this weekend. So—give Nev a chance. A real one. If you think he has one, you guys should try.”

Hannah turned and walked quickly back towards Susan who was standing and waiting. Hermione watched Susan sling an arm around Hannah’s shoulders, and the two girls walked away without another glance toward Hermione.

Hermione stood hesitating in the hallway, trying to square away the mess her personal life had somehow devolved into. Relationships had never been a particularly strong suit for her. “A bright but abrasive personality,” her teacher had written in a note to her parents back in kindergarten. “Has difficulty with interpersonal relationships,” said the note in primary school.

Hermione tried—she really tried—but especially when it came to girls, she always felt herself on the verge of misstepping. Aside from Ginny—who came from a family of boys—Hermione’s female friendships traditionally tended to sputter or explode in her face. Maintaining a somewhat fraught but polite acquaintance with her roommates had been the most Hermione had managed over the course of six years at Hogwarts.

She walked slowly toward the abandoned wing of Hogwarts and after murmuring the password, glanced inside.

Malfoy was on the couch, surrounded by rolls of parchment. He glanced up and his eyes darkened slightly but then he looked back down at the book he appeared to be skimming through rapidly.

Hermione walked over to the couch. They’d never worked on homework in the room before. She picked up one of the scrolled and unfurled it.

“Don’t look at that one. I got through half of it and realized it was wrong.” He didn’t look up as he spoke. His tone was a low, irritated grumble that tingled faintly in Hermione’s spine between her shoulders.

Hermione inspected the numbers anyway. Draco’s handwriting was unfairly perfect. She consoled herself with the knowledge that Draco was not very good at mental Arithmancy. On paper he could calculate quickly, but he couldn’t churn out equations nearly as quickly as Hermione could.

For their Arithmancy project they had been assigned an amulet with the Gemino curse on it. It should have been an easy curse to break, but due to the protective properties the amulet had been created with, the spells interfered with each other.

Hermione and Draco had both developed dozens of different equations, drawing from a variety of fields of thought in curse-breaking theory, but neither of them could find a countercurse with more that a 67% chance of success. The assignment required 70% as a minimum.

Hermione sat down next to him, trying not be too close. “What do you have?”

He snapped the book closed with an irritated sigh and picked up one the the dozens of scrolls.

“It works all the way through, but at the end there’s another formula we’re going to need. I’ve gone through a dozen books and I can’t find any that fit the parameters,” he said with an irritated grimace as he handed it to her. Their fingers brushed slightly and Hermione jumped, but forced herself to focus on looking over the long series of equations he’d crafted; mentally calculating them to check for mistakes. It was perfect. The entire thing. It deserved to be framed. It was positively unjust that anyone could write strings of numbers so beautifully.

She reached the end. He’d gotten closer to something workable than anything else they’d come up with. She stared at the final string of predictive numbers, rolling them around in her head and trying to think of a way to make them go where they needed to. One more formula and they’d be golden.

She gnawed her lip and then brightened. She reached across him, snatched up his quill, and added an equation to the top, then she used the predictive numbers that resulted to add a final formula to the end. She looked up at Draco triumphantly.

Their eyes caught, and for a moment it was like having the breath knocked out of her. Her mind blanked and she started to lean toward him—then she remembered the Arithmancy.

She shoved the parchment toward him and tore her eyes from his.

He glanced over it, his eyes narrowed, and she could see him calculating as he read across it.

His mouth quirked faintly. “What exactly is this one?”

She leaned over to run her finger along the numbers. Their shoulders brushed and she pressed her lips together for a moment. “I realized that the protection spells interact with the Gemino Curse, but the Gemino curse doesn’t interact with the protection spells. If we devise counter-spells to the protections we should be able to remove them without issue and then the Gemino will be easy to reverse.”

She studied his reaction. He arched an eyebrow. “Well, I suppose that would technically meet the requirements of the assignment. Although I don’t believe the intention was that we could render the amulet useless.”

“Yes…but if we can counter the protections we should be able to re-apply them afterward.”

“Clever.”

Hermione felt as though she might start glowing but she forced herself to shrug rather than beam at him.

“Do you know anything about removing protection spells?” he asked after a moment.

“Not—not exactly,” she admitted, shifting slightly on the couch. “I’ll have to research it. But if it’s anything like removing wards, the numbers should mostly line up with this equation.” She pointed to the numbers she added at the top. “The library should have a few books about how to create protective amulets. Then we can use spell analysis to figure out how to reverse engineer the magic.”

Draco smirked and looked smug as a kneazle. “Something like this?” He reached into his satchel and pulled out a thick book on Metallurgical Spell Creation.

“How…?”

He smirked. “I had the same thought, but I couldn’t figure out the equation.” He grimaced. “Boffin.”

“You might have figured it out eventually. Maybe in thirty scrolls of parchment or so,” she said, shooting him a snide smirk.

Draco rolled his eyes and picked up the equation again, leaning back and putting his feet in the coffee table as he inspected it. “To be honest, I don’t think this would have ever occurred to me. Where did you get it?”

“Oh,” Hermione brightened, “summer reading. Viktor Krum and I have been corresponding over the years. Arithmancy is his favorite subject. He translated a book on Bulgarian Arithmancy into English. He sent me a copy to look over before he submitted it to an editor.”

He quirked an eyebrow and looked slowly over at her. “ Krum taught you about this kind of equation?”

There was the faintest edge to his voice. Hermione felt tempted to roll her eyes. It seemed to be some kind of strange universal rule that every male in her acquaintance had objections to her friendship with Viktor.

“If by ‘taught’ you mean he sent me a translated manuscript that discussed it and I read it, yes.”

“I didn’t realize professional Quidditch seekers had hobbies like Arithmancy.” Draco’s tone was snide and dismissive as he sat up.

Hermione snorted. “How do you think we became friends? Talking about Quidditch? We met in the Arithmancy aisle in the library. That was how we got to know each other at first. He sends me a subscription to the academic Arithmancy journals every year for Christmas.”

Malfoy looked visibly sour, and dropped the parchment on the floor as though it offended him. He started gathering up all his notes and shoving them into his satchel. Hermione stretched across the couch and snagged the book on metallurgy. Lying on her stomach, she flipped to the table of contents while Draco finished stashing all his notes.

As she was working her way through the chapter titles she felt her skirt slowly pulled up. She stilled slightly, but then forced herself to try to keep reading.

She felt the fabric slide up her arse and then pool in the small of her back. She twitched slightly. There were fingers sliding along the edge of her knickers, and then Draco palmed and squeezed the right cheek of her arse firmly. She gave a low yelp. He slid his fingers lightly across her bum.

“You have a delectable arse, Granger.”

“Thank you,” she said in a prim voice that was straining to break.

Then she felt his teeth drag across her flesh. She was so surprised her head slammed down into the metallurgy book.

“Ouch!” She cradled her nose and burst out laughing.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes.” She answered in a very nasal tone as she continued to hold her nose and shake with laughter.

“Are you sure? Let me see. McGonagall will have me in irons if I break you.”

Alpha fussing was quite possibly one of most absurd but adorable things Hermione had ever encountered. Malfoy looked severely anxious and quite literally picked her up off the couch and cradled her in his lap. He pulled her hands away from her face, held her chin and studied her nose carefully; as though he feared it might fall off at any moment.

“Maybe you should go see Madam Pomfrey.” He said after inspecting it from all angles.

Hermione stared at him in disbelief. “I’m fine, Malfoy. I just bumped it.”

“It sounded very loud.” His expression was obstinate.

“I am not going to ask the matron to look at my nose because I knocked it into a book. I’ve managed to survive far worse on my own.”

Draco abruptly whitened and his expression froze. Hermione kicked herself mentally.

“I’ve survived several book avalanches helping Madam Pince with reshelving,” she clarified. “My nose isn’t broken, and if it were, episkey is a very basic healing charm.”

Malfoy gave a stiff nod but he still looked pale. Hermione reached out and touched his cheek. “Malfoy, we’re both fine.”

His expression didn’t relax. He looked suddenly breakable. As though a word from her could shatter him.

She leaned forward and kissed him. Instinctively? Rationally? It was difficult to say. He looked devastated and she hated it.

As their lips met, she felt more lucid than she usually did around him. Normally she was a mess of arousal and hormones by the time she arrived in the room. It was probably because they’d already had sex that day. She felt more like herself.

As their lips brushed against each other, his hand slid up her waist and caressed her back. He kissed her fiercely, but his hands felt tense, as though he was trying restrain something as he kissed her. She pressed her lips against his for a moment longer and then drew back and pressed her forehead against his.

His eyes were squeezed shut. She slipped her hand back and caught hold of one of his, drawing it forward and interlacing their fingers.

“What is it?” she asked.

He opened his eyes and looked at her. His silver eyes were like a lightning storm.

“I’m sorry,” he said abruptly. “I know it’s probably meaningless to you. But I need to say it. I’m so sorry for—everything. I’m so, so sorry.”

Hermione stared at him. She felt elated and stunned to hear the apology from him. But also uncertain. Was it something he meant or just something he felt compelled to say? An actual apology from Malfoy or just as an Alpha, because as her Alpha he was obligated to feel badly?

She didn’t know.

He stared at her and his expression grew closed and he looked away from her. “Never mind. It’s nothing. I just—needed to say it.”

“I—I—,” she stammered and looked away from him. She drew a sharp breath. “I just don’t know what’s real anymore. I don’t know how to tell.” Her throat felt as though there was something stuck in as she tried to swallow.

His mouth twitched.  “If doesn’t matter.”

Her hold on his hand tightened. “No. It does matter. This really matters to me. Why—are you sorry?”

He stared at her, and her heart beat louder and louder until she wondered if she’d be able to hear his answer.

“Because I was wrong. Because I was cruel and cowardly. I am sorry for how I treated you in school and during the war.”

“R-really?” Her voice shook faintly.

He smiled bitterly. “See? That’s why it doesn’t matter. Because you won’t believe it anyway.”

Hermione groaned in frustration. But I want to. I just don’t know how to tell when something’s real and when it’s just—biology.”

Draco leaned back and stared at her with his eyes narrowed. “What’s it like for you?”

Hermione’s shoulders sagged and she hugged herself. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Let’s assume that it isn’t.”

Hermione shrugged and gestured futilely. “It’s—confusing. It’s like there are these new aspects of my personality that I can’t control. Whenever I’m—“ she flushed, “horny, my mind just sort of, goes away and I have these instincts that take hold unless I fight to stay in control. Like, until we started our—our—,” not a relationship , “arrangement, it was like I had this succubus in the back of my mind that didn’t care about anything but getting aggressively shagged by any Alpha who got close. Now it’s manageable. Contained. It’s focused on you. However—“ she avoided his eyes, “emotionally everything is fairly constant.”

“Constant how?” His expression was glacial.

Hermione eyed him uncertainly. It seemed inadvisable to say something like, well, I feel like you‘re my soulmate which is surprising because I don’t believe in soulmates and I don’t even know if I like you as an individual; especially since I don’t know if you’d ever willingly touch me if not for the biological imperative between us .

“Well—,“ she said after hesitating for several seconds. “I think that due to how unusual my situation is, I have these instincts that affect me emotionally; to drive me to want to—to—bond. And even though I know it’s irrational behavior, it feels real. It’s easy to tell that it’s just a biological imperative when I’m tempted to behave in ways I know are uncharacteristic of me. But when the biology affects me emotionally I have a harder time distinguishing that it’ is just biology. It feels legitimate—like it’s real,” her eyes dropped away, “even when I know it’s not.”

She drew a deep breath. “So—that’s why I don’t know whether to believe you when you apologize. Because I don’t know if you only feel sorry because your biology tells you you should. Or if you’ve actually thought through it and decided you were. And since the brain rationalizes—it could be the former but you’d think it was the latter.”

Draco stared at her as though he were sizing her up in some way. “That’s how you think it is for Alphas?”

“Well, that’s what all the books say. When Alphas are around Omegas, they aren’t in control of anything they do.”

Draco swallowed and looked bitter for a several seconds. “Right…”

Hermione gave a resigned sigh and looked away from him. She hated her biology. Just absolutely hated it. It was going to haunt her and make her second-guess herself and any Alpha she ever hoped to be with for her entire life.

“I was sorry before you presented,” Malfoy abruptly said. Hermione looked back up at him and he was staring at her intensely. “I—wanted to apologize before, but it seemed insufficient and—I didn’t think you’d believe it then either. So I didn’t. I thought you’d probably just prefer I left you alone.” He stared down at their hands. “But—I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for my part in it. I don’t want you to think I’m not. That I’d—be here and not regret it.”

Hermione stared at him without breathing for several seconds, gripping his hand so tightly it shook.

“Thank you,” she said.  “You have no idea how much it means to hear you say that—”

She was going to go on, she was going to say that it was very meaningful. That she believed him and forgave him, and didn’t blame him for the things he had been forced to do during the war. Then she wanted to ask him whether he included his pureblood bigotry under the umbrella of his apology.

But instead, to her complete and utter horror, Hermione proceeded to burst into tears.

Hermione was not a crying sort of girl. As a general rule, she almost never cried. But in the presence of Draco Malfoy, bawling was becoming an unfortunate re-occurrence and she was positively mortified by it.

Thrice-damned Omega hormones.

She tried to explain herself and inform Malfoy that she wasn’t really that emotional, but it was difficult to do through streams of tears.

“Sorry,” she sobbed. “I’m not—actually sure why I’m crying—“ she tried to smear her face clean. “These stupid hormones are ruining my life!”  She tried to breathe the tears away but they just kept coming.

“Good grief! I’m trying—to have a conversation—“ she was whining through her tears. “I don’t understand—how do I make it stop?”

Draco had his hands on her face, wiping away her tears and kissing her forehead. Then he hugged her and she kept bawling frustratedly into his robes. It was so awful.

She wanted to kick something. Not Draco. Anthony Goldstein ideally. Whenever Hermione was frustrated lately, she had to squash the urge to go to the hospital ward and kick his chrysalis.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Hermione became aware that Malfoy was speaking under his breath as he hugged her and pressed kisses against her forehead and onto the top of her head.

“You have no idea how perfect you are. You’re so perfect. I’m so sorry.” His voice was husky and his pheromones were filling the air as he comforted her.

Hermione could feel her mind sliding back in response. She fought against it. No, she wanted to talk to Malfoy. They were on the verge of an actual conversation. The lack of communication was giving her an ulcer.

“Malfoy,” she said, sniffling. “Malfoy, can I just—ask you…”

She drew back and wiped away her tears as she stared at him. “When—you…” her voice trailed away as she stared at him.

It was unfair that anyone would have such beautiful eyes. The mercurial depths made her want to drown in him. She tried to open her mouth to finish her question but then she halted.

What if he said no? What would she do then? If he still regarded her as inferior to him based on her blood and said it to her face? What would she do? Continue anyway? Or go ruin things for Neville and Hannah out of sheer desperation?

She swallowed the question bitterly and gave a deep sigh.

She just needed to manage things a little longer and then she’d know what her long-term options were. She pressed her lips together and promised herself that eventually she’d ask him. Because she needed to know, in order to figure out how to categorize what had happened between them. Someday, when she didn’t feel like the wrong answer might kill her, she’d ask him. Just—not yet.

“Never mind,” she said.

“What is it?”

“Nothing that matters,” she said evasively.

“You can ask. We can talk,” he said, but his expression was tense.

Hermione shook her head. “No. It doesn’t matter. That I even want to is—is—probably just the biology anyway.”

His eyes grew flinty. “Suit yourself,” he muttered.

Hermione shifted slightly. She was still seated in his lap, and he seemed suddenly angry and resentful. She wondered if she was missing something.

She gnawed at her lip. “Did you—want to tonight? Or should I just go?”

They’d never talked so much beforehand and suddenly awkwardness of the situation between them felt overt.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be here—when I came. Since we already had sex earlier,” she added.

He suddenly gripped her hips. “Stay. Earlier—I wasn’t—I didn’t make it good for you.”

“It was fine,” Hermione said blushing. “I—-liked it, actually.”

He looked slightly incredulous but his eyes grew dark and Hermione’s felt her breath catch.

“I liked—how intense you were—“ her voice wobbled slightly. She could feel herself growing warm just thinking about it. “It was—I like it when you aren’t holding back.”

Malfoy’s expression was growing positively feral. Hermione wriggled with anticipation and felt her mind sliding. He’d probably lick her soon and then she’d just free-fall.

“Really?” he growled.

“Really,” she said with a breathy whimper.

She could feel heat started to radiate from her; pooling in her lower abdomen and running along her jaw and down her neck. Her clit tingled and her nipples grew hard just studying the possessive expression on his face.

She drew a shaky breath.

Draco stared at her and his expression was unreadable. Calculating. As though he were weighing something as he appraised her. Then he lifted his hand and rested it on her neck for a moment. His skin was warm and comforting, and she leaned into it as he slid his thumb down her throat. Then he slowly dragged his hand down to the top button of her shirt and flicked it open. Then then next button. And the next.

They had never done things slowly, not since the library. Hermione was always frantic when she arrived in the room. Normally it was fast and aggressive the first time. They just tore off each other’s clothes and he fucked her into the mattress.

He finished unbuttoning her shirt, and Hermione could feel her knickers were already drenched.

He parted the fabric so that her shirt started sliding off her shoulders and down her arms. Then he slipped his hand behind her back and unclasped her bra with a practiced flick, pulling it off and leaving her topless. Her nipples grew achingly hard in the cool air. She shivered under his intense gaze.  

He stared at her for a long time. Hermione had gotten used to the staggered expression that he wore after he pulled her clothes off, but the scrutiny still tended to make her blush faintly.

It wasn’t just Alpha biology, she thought. He had to actually like the way she looked, or he wouldn’t spend so much time doing it.

She wished sometimes that she had more experience with casual relationships so that she’d have a clearer sense of what was normal. It felt very uncasual to her, but maybe she just didn’t understand how casual worked.

Draco reached forward and brushed his fingers lightly along the underside of her breast. Her skin prickled, and she bit her lip as she tried to hold still. Then he dragged his fingers up between her breasts to the dip of her throat.

He didn’t touch her scent glands. In fact, he seemed to intentionally avoid them. Hermione shivered as he caressed the length of her throat up to her chin, and then slid his thumb into her mouth. She sucked on it, tasting salt. Her teeth grazed his skin lightly as he withdrew it and slid it across her lips. Then he pushed two fingers into her mouth, tracing across her teeth and pressing down on her tongue before he pulled them out and dragged them over her chin and down her neck. She could feel the cold trails of saliva on her skin.

He pulled her forward. Their lips were almost touching when he paused, a breath apart. Their noses brushed and Hermione gasped faintly before he dragged her mouth against his. He kissed her so deeply her toes curled and she gripped the fabric of his shirt.

He turned her and laid her on the couch underneath him. Their fingers entwined as he stretched across the length of her and kissed her languorously.

If Hermione tried to imagine what being head over heels in love was like, she didn’t think it could possibly feel better than lying under Draco as he kissed her breathless. Her heart felt on the verge of exploding.

He drew his lips away from hers and pressed kisses along her jaw, nibbled on her ears, and inexplicably seemed to enjoy burying his nose in her hair.

He felt like her lover. Like he loved her.

She didn’t know how to process it.

Was he always like that? Had she just been too horny and overwhelmed to notice it? She wasn’t sure.

He dipped his head down, and kissed along the swell of her breasts. As he kissed her, his hand slid along the undersides of her breasts with featherlight touches, trailing his fingertips around the circumference but not touching her nipples until they began to ache and throb.

She bit her lip and arched. Begging wordlessly. She wanted him to squeeze her breasts, press his fingers in hard enough to bruise. To drag his tongue up over the curves of them, wrap his burning mouth around her nipples and suck so hard she screamed under him.

Instead he just kept teasing her. Exploring her slowly without licking her at all. Noting the touches that she reacted to most intensely. As though she were an string instrument he was learning to play.

She felt as though she must be. Under his observant ministrations she felt so taut she was nearly vibrating.

It was so intense. She hadn’t known it was possible for it to be so intense without having her mind slip away and leave her in a wanton, pheromone-induced state.

But he didn’t touched her glands at all.

She smelled like him, the way she normally did, but she felt vividly lucid.

It hadn’t occurred to her that it wasn’t all just hormone induced. She’d assumed having sex with Malfoy was intense and incredible because the hormones made it seem mind-blowing. She hadn’t considered that it simply was and the hormones were just—just—

She wasn’t even sure anymore.

She was writhing under him as her body grew steadily more and more on edge. Her clit and her glands were starting to throb from the intense arousal he was stoking within her with his relentless assault. She tried to buck against him.

He drew back and stared at her. “Be still.”

Hermione froze as though he had jinxed her. He hadn’t commanded her. He hadn’t used an even the faintest amount of an Alpha tone at all, but she immediately stilled.

“I’ll take care of you,” he said. “You just have to be patient.”

Hermione gave a small nod and he smirked faintly.

“Good girl.”

Hermione felt golden heat unfurl inside of her. Like the feeling of a cat purring against her chest.

He leaned down, and pressed a kiss against her abdomen and then slowly kissed up along her ribs and back to her breasts. He teased her nipples into rigid peaks once again until Hermione was nearly gasping as she struggled to hold still. She twitched and shivered at his every touch as she tried not to arch or writhe.

Then, when she was on the verge of sobbing, he finally caught her nipple gently between his teeth, and brushed his tongue against the throbbing tip.

Hermione nearly screamed.

She dug her fingers into the fabric of the couch as he continued to suckle on her nipple. Every touch of his tongue and every bit of heat from his mouth seemed to shoot straight down between her legs. She was getting positively slick with want. She felt as though she could come just with his mouth on her breasts.

Finally he drew his mouth away from her nipple, and then leaned over to suck her other nipple into his mouth.

Hermione felt her entire body grow rigid.

It was just—too much. Normal sex was not possibly supposed to be like this. She felt as though she were on the verge of a seizure. Her limbs felt simultaneously made of liquid and on the verge of shattering. Her heart was pounding and she was gripping the fabric beneath her, feeling as though she were about to fall off the couch and hit the ceiling.

Draco continued to swirl his tongue against her sensitive flesh and one of his hands palmed her other breast, rolling and teasing the nipple beneath his fingers.

Finally he pulled away from her breasts, and leaned forward to kiss her again.

The intensity. The control he had. When he stared at her it felt like she was the centre of his universe.

Control. Obsession. Control. Obsession.

As their lips meet, it was like being struck by lighting. Something laced through them both, and she shivered against his mouth as he slid his tongue against hers.  

It felt dangerous. As though she was discovering something about herself and about Draco that she wasn’t sure she was ready to know.

It was supposed to be all hormones.  

Now—

She didn’t know what to believe anymore.

Chapter Text

Draco drew away from Hermione and stood up, pulling her up from the couch and half-carrying her to the bed. She was nearly boneless. She doubted she could make it on her own. And he could tell. He could always tell things about her, but she was never quite sure how he did it.

When they reached the bed, he pressed her down onto her stomach on the mattress. She was topless, but her skirt and knickers, stockings, and shoes were still on. Practical, very unsexy Mary Janes without heels.

She felt him slip her shoes off.

She wasn’t sure if the instructions not to move were still in place. She lay still all the same.

It was actually nice to not be in control.

That was a sentiment Hermione had never imagined herself holding.

When she lost control because of her Omega instincts, it felt cruelly vulnerable. Horrible. A utter nightmare of a betrayal; to have her mind and body just abandon her to any Alpha who fancied controlling her.

In the past, when she’d shagged Draco she’d just been resigned to giving into her instincts. She had felt forced to give up her sense of control and she had hated it.

Staying in control was a necessity. Not something she could safely give up. Hermione didn’t know how to not be in control. She’d spent seven years keeping Harry and Ron alive and unexpelled and passing their classes at Hogwarts by being in control.

Voluntarily not being in control felt as foreign a concept as intentionally failing her NEWTs.

Very bad, life-altering, potentially deadly consequences could come from not being in control. If she wasn’t in charge and in control, she might not have had a beaded bag containing Harry’s invisibility cloak, books, clothing, money, Essence of Dittany, and an entire set of camping gear.

Not being in control was having Anthony Goldstein shove her mind somewhere where she couldn’t reach so he could do anything he wanted to her.

Just thinking about losing her sense of control made Hermione’s chest tighten and caused her to have trouble breathing.

But having Draco tell her “be still” and then deciding to do it felt different. It was a choice.

She trusted Draco. She already knew he wouldn’t hurt her. So choosing to let him be in control because she wanted to, rather than out of sheer desperation, felt like an intense relief.

Alphas liked to be in control. They needed it. To be needed and have someone to take care of. Even without an Omega, Alphas tended toward a very specific set of preferences in the bedroom. Hermione wasn’t sure she would ever be interested in letting anyone tie her up and spank her. However, letting Draco tell her to be still, and carry her about and arrange her on the bed, and trusting him simply because she had decided to…

It was nice. Like there a knot of anxiety in the back of her mind that was suddenly gone for the first time in her entire life.

She felt Draco’s hand slide up her leg.

She moaned faintly.

“Lift your hips for me,” he said. His voice was husky and his fingers caressed her hip bones as he guided her up the way he wanted her.

Hermione shifted until her back was arched, her knees set wide.

He liked that position. He shagged her in it almost every night. But Hermione was usually lost in a fog of hormones at the time. She’d never felt particularly coherent when it happened. The sensation from the angle when he was inside her was intensely satisfying. But as she assumed the pose, it occurred to her for the first time that it was very exposed and embarrassingly indecent.

She blushed into the mattress as she felt Draco unzip her skirt and draw both it and her knickers off over the curve of her arse. She was wet and swollen, she could feel her arousal on her skin as the cool air struck her. She blushed harder as she felt Draco slide her knickers down to her knees, and she shifted a leg so he could pull them off and toss them somewhere in the room.

He seemed to have a thing for flinging her clothing around the room. She’d had to summon her bras and knickers down from the sconces on several occasions.

She bit her lip and hoped he'd just shag her, and not stare at her sex the way he had a habit of doing. It was faintly mortifying every time, no matter how mindless she nearly was.

She knew that it wasn’t exactly unusual, especially for Alphas, but still—surely she had better angles from which to be admired. Any angle.

He rested his hands on each cheek of her arse and slid them along the curve and she whimpered. He kneaded her bum and squeezed it possessively.

Then she felt his fingers trail down her thighs lightly, and then he drew away. She shivered. She wished—well, she wasn’t sure—she wished she could see what he was doing, but the thought also horrified her. As though having him stare at her arousal wasn’t mortifying enough, the thought of watching him do it was almost too cringe-worthy to even contemplate.

She twitched faintly.

There was a terribly, terribly long pause.

What on earth was he looking at? It couldn’t possibly be that interesting to look at. She swallowed anxiously and tried to hold still nonetheless.

More time passed.

Then she felt the air shift.

His thumb slid along her wet centre and she gasped quietly.

Then his other thumb was on her, parting her, spreading her open and she could feel his breath against her skin and knew he was very close. She felt as though her entire body were blushing. The heat was radiating from her. She could feel her arousal trailing down her inner thighs. She wanted to die of embarrassment.

She recanted her previous enjoyment of Draco’s control. This was not—

Hot. Wet. God…

Draco’s tongue slowly lapped across her. Hermione froze and a sound she had never before uttered emerged forcefully from her mouth.

She mewled and nearly collapsed on the bed.

He pressed his hand into the small of her back, holding her in place as he kept licking her; pressing small kisses against her swollen flesh, and then sucking her clit gently into his mouth and lightly flicking it with his tongue.

Hermione moaned gutturally and her back arched more sharply. He kept lapping gently against her until her whole body was vibrating as though she were about to come apart at a subatomic level.

She was so close. If he’d just lick her clit a moment longer.

But he kept not quite…

She was right at the very brink, and he suddenly drew away. The first time she thought it was an accident. Then he did it again. And again. Until she felt ready to cry with desperation. His lips and tongue and fingers kept taking her to the very edge, and then withdrawing and going elsewhere until it faded. He would kiss gently along the curve of her arse, or soothingly massage the tension in the base of her spine where her back was arched.

Then he’d kiss near her clit again and she’d be so agonizingly close again as he dragged his tongue up her inner thighs, collecting every drop of her arousal.

She felt so on edge she felt as though she might come if he’d just breathe on her. But he wouldn’t even do that. Hermione tangled her fingers into the sheets desperately as she choked back a frustrated gasp.

She couldn’t take it. She wanted him inside her. She wanted his arms around her and the feeling of his cock buried inside her until she stretched around him as he filled her to the very limit.

“Please—,” she finally sobbed as his tongue gently lapped against her clit and core once again. “Oh god, Malfoy, please!”

His tongue stilled again and he drew away just enough to press a kiss against the sensitive spot at the top of her thigh just below the curve of her arse. She felt so close she was sure if he so much as pressed a finger inside her she’d instantly come apart.

“Please what?” he asked in a low voice. She could feel him smirking faintly against her thigh. Prat. He was just unbelievable.

Hermione swallowed hard. “Please, please fuck me,” she said in a small voice.

He shifted away without a word. Hermione held her breath and heard the sound of shifting fabric. She nearly cried with relief.

Then she felt him behind her, his right hand lightly caught her hip and held her in place while his left hand trailed along her spine for a moment.

Then she felt the head of his cock against her centre and pressed back against him as he sank into her. She gave a long low moan as he filled her. She clenched hard around every inch of him. He was pressed hard against her pelvis, and she gasped raggedly as she arched and felt herself stretching around him.

Had sex always been this real?

He pulled back and thrust deep inside her again and again. Hard and fast. He groaned low in the back of his throat each time she clenched around him, every time she heard it it was as though the sound set the nerves in her spine on fire. She pushed her hips back to meet him, and whimpered and gasped under him.

He leaned across her back until his chest was pressed against her. His heat was radiating through her. She felt his fingers dig into her hair at the base of her scalp and he pulled her head up and turned it, capturing her lips in a bruising kiss as he continued to drive into her.

She felt completely lost in him. He was in her and over her, his fingers tugged at her hair and his lips stole away her breath.

He pulled his lips away from hers and slid a hand under her body, gripping her right breast and he maintained his relentless pace. The angle inside her was just too—

“You’re so perfect. You’re mine. Always mine,” he muttered against her shoulder as his thrusts grew abbreviated as his knot inside her began to swell. He’d never knotted her in that position before, Hermione felt as though he were somehow deeper and larger, which should have been both impossible and uncomfortable but somehow felt utterly incredible.

She was pinned beneath him, physically trapped as his cock became locked inside her body and he wrapped his muscular arms around her. She had never felt so safe in her life.

There was a split second of lull. Then his hips jerked spasmodically as he started to come.

Hermione felt like bomb went off inside her. There wasn’t even a sensation of orgasming, there was just whiteness as though the world had momentarily ceased to exist as the intensity of her climax struck her. When she recovered herself she was still orgasming. On and on. She screamed as she clenched and her body seized around him.

“Good girl,” Draco groaned into her ear as he jerked inside her. “You’re such a good girl. So perfect. Mine. God. Please. Always—always mine.”

When the climax faded he panted heavily and rested his head against hers before kissing across her shoulders. He started to slide his arms away, Hermione captured his hand and gripped it.

“Stay—,” she said, panting as she slid her legs down and splayed across the mattress. “I like feeling you like this.”

He followed her and sandwiched her onto the mattress. His chest pressing into her back, his arms across her arms and his legs on top of her legs. Hermione sighed and melted. Her heart was still pounding from her orgasm. Her head fit under his chin but he tilted his head down and brushed his lips across her cheek.

She let her eyes drift closed and relished it. She felt so overwhelmed she could have fallen asleep. But her brain was racing, trying to process what had just happened.

“I thought it just the pheromones,” she said after several minutes of lying under him and absorbing his heat like a cat in the sunshine.

“What?” His voice rumbled in his chest and she could feel the vibrations in her back.

“The intensity. I thought it was just our pheromones causing a chemical reaction in the brain. Like a drug trip. I didn’t realize the sex was actually like that. I thought I was just high on you.”

He was silent for a minute. “Thanks,” he finally said in a dry voice.

Hermione squeezed her eyes shut as she blushed. “I don’t mean that I thought you were bad at it. It’s just—normally I’m very lost. I can’t always even remember exactly what happens because it’s so surreal. So I didn’t realize that—“ her breath caught, “—that I could still have sex and feel like I’m me. I thought it was just—something I could only experience as an Omega now.”

Draco was silent for a very long time. An almost worryingly long time.

“Granger, you are an Omega,” he said slowly.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes, but—,”

“There isn’t any ‘but.’ You’re an Omega. You’ve been one your whole life. You aren’t a werewolf, this isn’t something you’ve been recently infected with and are now forced to sporadically treat. You are an Omega. Full stop. There are no buts after it.”

“But—“

He groaned faintly. Hermione stiffened beneath him. He gave a faint sigh. “Go on, I’m listening,” he said in a resigned tone.

He slid his hands up her arms and then slowly down them, then entwined his fingers with hers and nuzzled her ear with his nose.

Hermione shivered under him, and tried to remember what she was saying. “But I’m not. It’s not me. I mean, not that you and I knew each other very well before—but can’t you tell that it’s not me? I wouldn’t be like this if I had any control over it. When the pheromones are in play, I lose almost all my self-determination. Even when I know—it’s like the part of me that knows doesn’t have any power to stop myself from going along with it. It is like a form of dissociation. I don’t understand how anyone can regard it as anything but absolutely horrifying.”

Malfoy was quiet and Hermione huffed slightly. “I mean, you don’t think I would ever be willingly vulnerable to Anthony Goldstein, do you?”

Draco didn’t immediately reply. He just brushed his lips against her temple. He let go of her right hand and combed her hair off her face.

“I think it’s possible that you didn’t present normally,” he said, tracing a finger along her hairline. “None of the books I’ve read make any reference to the—duality you sometimes demonstrate. I don’t think that’s typical with Omegas.”

Hermione froze as she processed what he had said. “What—do you mean?”

“Well—you were at school, surrounded by Alphas before you presented. Even before your birthday, you noticed that something was different, didn’t you? You acted rather unusually whenever I saw you.”

Hermione gave a small nod.

“You probably should have gone into premature heat. That’s what the books say tends to happen when Omegas are exposed to Alphas. But you still didn’t present until your birthday. My theory is that you suppressed your presentation, probably through sheer-willpower. And given the state you were in when I—when I found you, you were still fighting it even once you were in heat. If it’s anything like Alpha presentation, I imagine that affected how your presentation manifested.”

Hermione stiffen and lay in a state of stunned horror. “Oh my god. You mean—I did this to myself?”

“Not—intentionally.”

“But you think that if I hadn’t fought it, that it would have turned out differently?”

“It’s possible.”

“Oh god,” Hermione said quietly. She felt tempted to cry.

“We could write to my grandmother. She’s rather reclusive, but it’s possible she’d be willing to speak to you if we tell her you’re an Omega. She’d be able to tell you whether what you’re experiencing is typical.”

Hermione had a difficult time imagining that Druella Black, who hadn’t even appeared at her daughter’s trial, would agree to meet with a Muggle-born Omega.

“It might change for you,” Draco added after a minute. His tone was suddenly different. Before there had been a gentleness to it, a sense of reassurance. Now he sounded tense, his voice slightly hard. “When you finally find someone you trust enough to have bite you. If it stops being so difficult for you to accept, the dual tendencies may fade.”

Hermione froze for a moment. Then she bit down on the inside of her lip and closed her eyes. He wasn’t—he couldn’t possibly be knotted inside her while telling her to find another Alpha. She had to be misunderstanding him.

“Is that what you think I should do? Find someone else?” she asked carefully.

Draco went still. “Isn’t that what you’re intending to do?” he said. “When you said this was temporary?”

Hermione suddenly regretted the fact that she was lying, pinned under his body with no possible way to escape. She felt as though she’d been punched in the gut. She pressed her lips together and swallowed hard.

“No,” she forced herself to say after a minute. “I’m—actually pursuing medical options.”

“Medical options?” Draco echoed sounding completely lost.

Hermione flushed. She was already sweating faintly under Draco, but suddenly felt as though she were trapped in a sauna. She hadn’t really considered discussing any of it with Malfoy.

“Yes,” she said, trying to keep her voice casual. “Removing my ovaries to stop the heats. And my glands too. Just getting rid of the whole issue so that I won’t have to deal with it anymore.”

Draco was silent. It was a deafening silence. “You—,” he started after more than a minute. Then he stopped and fell silent again.

Hermione twitched. “Anyway, that’s the long term option I’m exploring. I haven’t heard back yet. It just seems more logical than giving up my whole life and marrying Charlie Weasley just because he’s single and I know him better than anyone else. Or gambling with whether the next the Alpha I trust ends up turning into another Anthony Goldstein. I don’t really think that there’s much chance of the duality fading in either of those cases. So—it makes more sense to just—stop being an Omega.”

Draco’s hand that was still entwined with hers flinched faintly and he tightened his hold. “You—that’s what you want to do?” His voice seemed to be shaking slightly.

Hermione tucked her chin down against her shoulder. “It—seems like the most logical thing to do.”

“You—don’t want to soulbond? Or have children?”

Hermione buried her face in the mattress. “Wanting to soulbond is a biological imperative, so once the hormones are all gone, I’m sure the desire will fade away. It’s probably just an instinct. And as for children—I can adopt.”

Draco didn’t say anything else. He dropped his head down against her shoulder and pressed his cheek against it. After a few more minutes his cock softened enough that he could slip out of her.

He pulled away and sat on the edge of the bed. Hermione looked back over her shoulder and studied him. His back was to her, she wasn’t sure what he was doing. She couldn’t see his face.

She wasn’t sure what to make of his reaction.

“I think I need to go,” he abruptly said. He stood up and started gathering his clothes.

Hermione sat up and watched him. She felt cold, and pulled the bed throw tightly around herself. He didn’t look at her as he redressed, then grabbed his satchel up off the sofa.

He’d always stayed the night.

“Malfoy,” Hermione said, “are you upset at me?”

He froze and then turned back to look at her. “Not at all, Granger. I just happen to have a bed in my dorm that I should probably make an occasional appearance in.”

Hermione stared at him doubtfully.

“Goodnight, Granger,” he tossed the words  over his shoulder as he left.

Hermione glanced around the room that suddenly felt cold, vast, and horribly empty.

She hated being alone in that room. Somehow it was always her left in the room. Malfoy always left first.

She got up and redressed. Summoned her skirt and knickers down from the sconce they were hanging from.

Her bed in the Gryffindor dorm was cold. It took her hours to finally fall asleep. She had to conjure more than twenty comforters before she felt warm enough. She slept late. By the time her alarm clock’s persistent buzzing managed to break into her consciousness, breakfast was long past.

She got a sandwich from the House-elves and went to the library.

She was deep in a review of her Transfiguration reading when she heard someone clear their throat behind her. She looked up and found Neville staring awkwardly at her.

She studied him guardedly. “Is there something wrong, Neville?”

“Um—“ he rubbed his chin as he stared at her. “I accidentally opened your post today. I’m so sorry. I saw it was a package from St Mungos and I just assumed it was about my parents, so I didn’t check the name.”

He pulled a large, opened envelope from his book bag and held it out toward her.

Hermione flushed and snatched it out of his hand. She pulled the sheaf of papers out and rapidly skimmed the contents.

Her face fell, and she swallowed disappointment at the contents’ summary.

“Well,” she said after several minutes of reading. “That’s—not as simple as I had hoped.”

Neville shifted awkwardly. “Is that—actually something you’re—is that what you’re planning on?”

Hermione looked up at him with narrowed eyes. “I’m assuming you read it all?”

Neville turned bright red. “At first I was just confused, then once I realized—I was curious. I’m really sorry. If anyone read my parents’ files I’d probably clobber them. You can punch me or hex me or whatever you want. I swear I wouldn’t have opened it if I’d realized it was for you.”

“It’s—fine,” Hermione said heavily, flipping through the pages again. “It’s not like you wouldn’t know, if I ended up doing it.”

“Aren’t there better options? I mean—that’s pretty—you couldn’t go back. It would change everything.” Neville was eying her worriedly.

The corner of Hermione’s mouth twitched. “Well—I thought it would just be no kids. I didn’t realize all the other—risks and likely side-effects. It’s not as straightforward as I had hoped.” She sighed and flipped through the package again and stopped on another page. “Obviously that’s assuming the St Mungo’s ethics board would even approve such a 'disservice to Wizarding kind,' after I pass all the prerequisite exams and psychological interviews. Given that not wanting biological children apparently makes my soundness of mind questionable. My designation aside, ‘smart girls’ like me are the ones Wizarding world really needs children from.” She sneered at one of the many letters enclosed the package. “It’s remarkable how eager they are to foist motherhood upon me, given how many times they’ve managed to imply I’m mentally unstable, incapable of making decisions about my own body, and in need of extensive counseling.”

Neville rubbed the back of his neck and appeared at a loss. “So… you and Malfoy aren’t—I just assumed you two were dating.”

“We aren’t,” Hermione said, looking away. “It’s just a casual thing, to keep all the other—boys from harassing me while I waited to hear back on this.” She indicated the package.

“Huh,” Neville said in a bewildered voice. He seemed to be staring at her in a manner that was worryingly contemplative. It was an expression Harry habitually wore when planning something noble and stupid. Hermione cringed.

“Neville, I’m really sorry about you and Hannah. She and I spoke last night. I just want you to know, I’m not interested in interfering in your relationship. The whole reason I’m even exploring medical options is because I’m very disinterested with the idea of ending up in some sort of obligatory, semi-arranged marriage. I already have the whole Weasley Family repeatedly writing to urge me to just marry Charlie.” She snorted faintly.

Neville was still staring at her contemplatively.

Hermione groaned internally. “So, please don’t do anything. Reading my post semi-accidentally was not an invitation for you to interfere with what I decide to do with my life.”

He had the grace to blush.

She studied him. Neville really was attractive. Strong without losing his sense of warmth. If he weren’t with Hannah—Hermione could easily imagine herself falling for him. There was a steadiness to him that drew her in like a moth to flame.

She tore her eyes away and bit her lip. “Anyway, I’ve got homework. And I’m sure you do too. Thanks for bringing me my post.”

Neville shifted his book bag, and she could see him continuing to hesitate. She stared determinedly down at her Transfiguration textbook until he finally left.

She gave a faint sigh of relief and started actually reading.

She had only been able to read five paragraphs when there was a screech of chair legs, and someone dropped into the seat to Hermione’s left.

Hermione closed her eyes and groaned internally before turning.

Pansy was somehow balancing the chair on two legs, reclining back at an impossible angle, and staring at Hermione through narrowed eyes. Her lips were a dangerous shade of scarlet and curled up slightly in a smirk.

“I’ve decided,” Pansy announced after a minute. “Since you don’t appear to be doing anything with the absolute goldmine you’ve been biologically handed, I’ll have to do it for you. I’m going to find you a husband.”

Chapter Text

Hermione stared in silence for several seconds. Then she furrowed her eyebrows, and gave Pansy what Hermione hoped was a calm and reassuring expression.

“That’s—very nice of you to offer, Pansy,” Hermione said, trying to keep any sarcasm or incredulity from her tone. “But I’m not actually looking for a husband.”

Pansy just smirked more and arched an eyebrow. “No, of course not, clever Muggle-born witch like you, you’d never do anything so vapid as attend school in pursuit of making an advantageous match. You don’t need a man. You can change the world all by yourself.”

Hermione just stared.

Pansy’s smirk grew mean. “Well—you could, until your birthday. Your situation isn’t quite so singularly empowered now, is it?”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh no, Hermione Granger is glaring at me,” Pansy said tossing her perfectly manicured hands into air in mock terror. “Are you going to use your war hero status and make me write lines? ‘I will not enable the patriarchy’ for thirty-eight inches?”

Pansy pouted and flicked her wand. A dozen scrolls and quick-notes quills appeared in mid-air and began scrawling the words, again and again.

“It’s actually a very useful spell,” Pansy said, inspecting the nail polish on her index finger. She was backdropped by a veritable wall of parchment growing steadily filled with the words ‘I will not enable the patriarchy.’

“When you’re being raised to be a socialite, your mother teaches you things like how to print a hundred menus simultaneously. Of course, you’re too intelligent and enlightened to ever host a gala. You’ll be too important, writing legislation, and trying to get Wizengamot to read your five thousand page bill on House-elf rights; you probably wouldn’t even show up at an event unless it’s mandatory. I mean, what kind of sad little bint spends spends hundreds of galleons on a dress just to stand around simpering and talking about the season’s shoes, and quidditch tickets?”

Hermione eyed Pansy worriedly. The girl was clearly unwell; counseling was advisable, and maybe a reading of The Feminine Character by Viola Klein.

“Good grief, Granger, I can practically see you putting together an enlightening booklist for me.” Pansy sniggered audibly. The quills were still scribbling “I will not enable the patriarchy.”

Hermione gave up on trying to be nice. “Parkinson, I have class soon, if you don’t have anything serious to say, please shove off.”

“I think this is fairly serious,” Pansy said with a shrug. “I told you I’d find a way repay my debt. This is something I’m actually rather good at, and that you would be inherently bad at, if not for the fact you can marry any Alpha you want. The world is your oyster. If I didn’t owe you, you have no idea how viciously I’d probably hate you about this. Well, I still hate you, to be honest, just less viciously.”

“Wait. You’re jealous that I’m an Omega?” Hermione said, feeling incredulous.

Pansy was in dire need of counseling.

Pansy sniffed. “Unlike you I wasn’t raised being told I’d be the next Minister of Muggles—or whatever it is that Muggles have for their government. My mother raised me to get married. To make the most advantageous match possible. The Parkinsons aren’t rich, but we’re an old family. I’m a Slytherin, I’m more ambitious than you are, Granger, the difference is that I was raised being taught I’d get it with an advantageous match.” Pansy sighed faintly. “Of course, that’s all a bit ruined for me now. I’ve ‘dashed all my chance to pieces’ as my mother has helpfully reminded me all summer. What can I say? I gambled and lost.”

Hermione felt her jaw clench and she shook her head slightly. “By gambled and lost, are you referring to your attempt to have Harry handed over to Voldemort? Which would have led to me and everyone like me being killed or imprisoned?” Her voice was slightly vicious.

Pansy looked over and her chic, mocking facade cracked faintly when Hermione said “Voldemort.”

“If you were me, what would you have done? It wasn't personal.” Pansy’s voice shook slightly. “He was going to win. It’s not as though anyone knew Potter had the ability to resurrect himself and boomerang Killing Curses.”

Hermione glared at her. “I'm so glad that my enslavement and probable death weren't personal. You had a choice. Harry has a pretty good record of surviving against Voldemort,” Pansy flinched at the name, “which you’d know if you’d stopped to think,” Hermione said. “But I suppose you’ve realize that now, given how that ‘gamble’ has paid off for you.”

Pansy paled and her mouth dropped open. Then she pressed her lips together into a hard line and her eyes glistened. She stood up sharply, “God—and I felt so badly about what Goldstein nearly did to you,” she said in a shaking voice. “But you're more of a bitch than I am.”

Hermione blinked and then blanched as she realized how Pansy had taken her words. She jumped to her feet and grabbed Pansy by the wrist before Pansy could bolt. “Oh my god, Pansy, I didn’t—I wasn’t meaning Anthony. I’m so sorry. I don’t—I would never, ever—I didn’t mean that. I was only talking about political marriages. I would never—I’m so sorry.”

Pansy expression rippled slightly. Hermione leaned forward, grabbed Pansy’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”

Finally Pansy jerked her hand away. “You Gryffindors are really just so stupid.” She pressed her face into her hands for a moment while Hermione hovered next to Pansy, wringing her hands.

“Of course—“ Pansy snorted and then sniffed quietly as she wiped under her eyes. “—the nastiest thing anyone ever said to me would be by accident.”

Hermione cringed and looked at her shoes. “I’m so so sorry. I swear, I would never—“

“Of course not, Granger,” Pansy said in an acidic tone, still standing stiffly. “Gryffindors really aren’t bright enough to come up with something that mean.”

“I’m so sorry,” Hermione repeated and caught Pansy in a hug.

Pansy’s whole body tensed as though she’d been petrified. “Get your hands off of me before your disastrous hair strangles me to death.”

Hermione immediately stepped back, her hands grasping each other.

Pansy stood still for several more seconds before looking down at the table. “Well, I suppose we should get back to work before you come up with a new way to accidentally insult me.”

Pansy’s mouth twitched and Hermione wanted to bang her head against the wall.

“Pansy, you really don’t owe me anything. That never should have happened to you. I genuinely didn't–," Hermione gestured. "I’m so sorry. You don’t owe me anything at all. I already have Parvati trying to find my soulmate for me through the mystical powers of Divination. So you don’t need to—“

Pansy snorted loudly and looked offended. “I’m not here to find you something as useless as a soulmate. Love is what pets and children are for. Your stupidity aside, my debt still stands. I’m offering to find you a political alliance.” She tucked her hair behind her ear and sat down. “So—we’ll start by establishing your ambitions and then look at the options. Sit down.” Pansy’s voice was sharp.

Hermione dropped back into her chair terrified that if she didn’t just quietly cooperate she’d accidentally hurt Pansy’s feelings again.

Pansy flicked her wand and a mountain of color-coded scrolls covered the table they were sitting at.

Hermione stared. “What are these?”

“Profiles of eligible Alphas in Britain,” Pansy said with a shrug. “My mother’s been putting together profiles for years; Alphas are high achievers. I told you, I’m good at this. This is a comprehensive project.”

Hermione reached for one of the scrolls adorned with a familiar crest with a sense of fascinated dread. Pansy smacked Hermione’s hand sharply. “Don’t just start just going through the scrolls aimlessly. We have to narrow our search by a process of elimination.”

Hermione hand was stinging as she withdrew it. Pansy was a frightfully good slapper.

“Now. What do you want? Not just money; I hate to say anything complimentary, but even I’ll concede that you aren’t that plebeian. So political power and acumen? Do you prefer someone charismatic? Do you want to be Minister of Magic or simply control them? International issues or national? Or are you more interested in the magical industries? The right kind of business savvy can get your fingers in more pies than a political career can. Or research? Collaborative projects with the Department of Mysteries and ground-breaking research. Preferences like that have a huge impact on the potential options.”

Hermione blinked and decided to go along with Pansy, because she hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to stop her. “I haven’t decided. I want to make the Wizarding world a better place. I haven’t decided how exactly to best do it. I was planning to spend the school year finding the answer.”

Pansy rolled her eyes and her nose crinkled. “You really are just terribly helpful. Then again, you’re the type who would probably think you could get married to Ron Weasley and still be Minister of Magic. As if the boy who couldn’t handle his best friend being Tri-Wizard Champion could ever be happy being known as Hermione Granger’s husband.” Pansy sniggered mockingly.

“I’m not planning to be Minister of Magic, Pansy,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

“Finally, something concrete from you. I’m so relieved you said that. You’d make a terrible Minister of Magic. Would you want a spouse who became Minister of Magic?”

Hermione considered. No one, aside from reporters, had ever asked Hermione such a ridiculous series of questions. It was an interesting thought experiment, if nothing else.

“No. It’s too public. I’d prefer to influence things less overtly.”

Pansy eyed her. “You are a little bit Slytherin. I never thought I’d say that about anyone with such awful hair.”

Hermione snorted.

“Alright. Influential but not overly public. Do you have sphere of influence you’re particularly passionate about? Magical creatures? Magical law? Reform? Do you want to be based in the public or private sectors?”

If anyone had told Hermione that matchmaking was like this, she might have been more interested. She twisted a curl in her fingers as she thought about it.

“Magical law, I think. Since it could encompass magical creatures and reform but not the other way around.”

Pansy nodded. “Well, that’s got the pool narrowed nicely.”

Pansy started poking through the scrolls. Checking the crests and either setting them aside or handing them over to Hermione.

Hermione couldn’t help but eye the family crests that were familiar to see if Pansy picked up any of them.

Pansy contemplatively picked up a scroll with the Longbottom crest on it. “I’m assuming that since you haven’t already claimed him, that Longbottom isn’t regarded as an option.”

“Claimed him?” Hermione said scoffing faintly. “First off, no. Neville is not an option. Secondly, I think you have it backwards about how this whole thing works. They ‘claim’ me.”

Pansy froze and looked at Hermione with an expression of astonishment. “Good lord, Granger. You’re about as sharp as a bag of bludgers. Is that how you think it is?”

Hermione raised her eyebrows and stared at Pansy. Pansy shook her head in apparent disbelief. “How have you failed to notice that you have every single one them wrapped around your finger? They can’t even stop themselves from trying to impress you.”

Hermione snorted. “Right. That’s explains Anthony in the hallway. He was trying to impress me,” she said in an acerbic voice. Then she cringed slightly at how she’d sounded and tried to soften her tone. “Pansy, I don’t think you understand what it’s like to be an Omega. I don’t control Alphas. They try to control me. They’re dominant. I’m submissive. It’s—a complete nightmare.”

Pansy tilted her head back and proceeded to laugh.

Pansy had what could only be described as a cruel laugh. There was an insidious sort of edge to it that sliced straight into a person’s insecurities. During the years of school Malfoy had always been the one with the insults, but it was Pansy’s laughter that drove the point home.

Hermione flushed and drew herself up. Trying to be friends, or even polite acquaintances with Pansy was about as endurable as hugging a Blast-Ended Skrewt.

“Oh don’t storm off, Granger,” Pansy said, subsiding from her laughter. “I’ll stop laughing. I just—forgot how naive and innocent Gryffindors are, like Hufflepuffs but without impulse control.”

Hermione wanted to smack Pansy but refrained, if only to avoid proving Pansy’s point.

“I should have realized you wouldn’t figure this out by yourself.” Pansy shook her head and shrugged a thin shoulder. “You may be a sexual submissive, but emotionally you’re the dominant. In the long run, you have almost all the power. Monsters like Goldstein aside, all Alphas care about is impressing and pleasing you enough that you’ll let them be with you. It’s fairly obvious to the observer. The reason Alphas are so ambitious and driven is because it’s something to do when they don’t have an Omega to pour their energy into.”

Hermione shook her head skeptically. “That’s not—“

Pansy leaned forward with a challenging expression on her face. “Alphas have an Alpha tone, everyone knows about that. To “control” Omegas. Omegas don’t, have you figured out why?”

“Because Mother Nature is a bitch?” Hermione said dryly.

Pansy leaned back and eyed her with an expression of condescension. “Because you don’t need one. If you looked at Peter Selwyn with those big dumb doe eyes of yours and said, ‘it would make me really happy if you’d rob a bank for me,’ there’s a fair chance he’d seriously consider it. I’d bet my favourite pair of shoes that’s the real reason why Alphas can’t be held legally responsible for their actions when it involves Omegas. Boys are already just stupid when they’re in love. What do you think happens when your biology is added to the mix? I saw them all in the hallway after Goldstein. Neville Longbottom and all the rest of the boys were on the verge of assaulting the professors and tearing the castle down in order to find you.”

“That’s not how the books describe it at all,” Hermione said flatly.

“Of course not. For a witch who has plans for her own career and expects to get married for love and live happily ever after,” Pansy appeared to be trying to say the words without sneering but she couldn’t stop her face from twisting slightly in disdain, “you’re the type who would never even realize it. However, speaking as someone who grew up being groomed to make to try to make the most advantageous match possible—for a witch like me who was raised to use feminine influence to get what she wants—in the long run, it’s obvious that the Omega is practically guaranteed to come out on top. If it’s an Omega against an Alpha, Alphas can win battles, but an Omega will always win the war.”

Pansy gave a small sigh as though the mere thought was making her gooey inside.

“Your ‘happiness’ is the axis upon which their world turns. They have the physical ability to force you to do things, but all you have to do is be sad and they’ll voluntarily move heaven and earth for you. Trust me, Granger, anyone who thinks Omegas are losers in the equation simply doesn’t understand the math. As I said, the temptation to hate you over this is truly keen, and once I’ve repaid my debt that’s exactly what I intend to get back to doing.” Pansy sighed and lifted her hand dramatically. “The fact you don’t even appreciate the opportunity that you have—it’s just so—unfair.”

Pansy slumped for a moment and then straightened and began sorting through scrolls again while Hermione eyed her dubiously.

“Alright,” Pansy shoved eight more scrolls in Hermione’s direction. “Look these over. See if there’s anyone that you feel has similar ambitions.”

Hermione stared at the crests on the scrolls. She couldn’t figure out an indirect way to ask the question she had, so she decided to ask her question bluntly.

“Not Theo or Malfoy?”

Pansy froze and then turned to stare at Hermione with narrowed eyes. “Why?”

Hermione blushed faintly. “I just—wondered.”

At the particular moment the wall of parchment reading “I will not enable the patriarchy,” hummed and then collapsed into a neat pile of scrolls on the ground beside Pansy.

Pansy banished them with a flick of her wand and turned to stare piercingly at Hermione. “No…” she said slowly. “You aren’t. Are you—“ her face twitched slightly, “interested in one of them?”

Hermione tried to blink innocently. “No. I just—Theo introduced himself the other day. And said he liked me. So I was wondering why you left his scroll out.”

Pansy picked up the scroll with the Nott crest on it slowly. “I excluded him due to his father having been a Death Eater. The Notts are mostly known in magical artifacts. Theo isn’t particularly social, if he went into politics it would only be to please you.”

She held the scroll toward Hermione. Hermione started to take it and Pansy’s hold tightened. “Why did you ask about Draco?”

Hermione swallowed. “Oh. You know. I know him better than anyone else in this stack.”

Pansy’s eyes were still dangerously narrowed. “Draco is having an extremely difficult year. Unless you’re suddenly a gold-digger, there is no possible advantage the Malfoys can give you. Stay away.” Her hold on the Nott scroll tightened further and her expression tensed and suddenly grew nervous. “I realize I just explained that you have the potential ability to make an Alpha’s life hell, but if you hurt Draco I will do everything in my power to burn you to the ground.”

Hermione started and let go of the scroll. “What—what do you mean he’s having a difficult year?”

Pansy’s eyes widened and then narrowed as she gave a derisive sneer and a sharp laugh. “Oh. I don't know, Granger, maybe something to do with the war earlier this year. Or the bit where his father was just sentenced to a decade in Azkaban. Or maybe how he’s on probation with terms so strict he can’t defend himself from anyone who wants a little bit of personal revenge on a real live Death Eater.”

Pansy’s cheeks flushed with anger. “Do you imagine the Malfoy Family is very popular anywhere right now? Most of my housemates blame his mother for losing the war. The Wizengamot could have put him under house arrest but instead they forced him to come back here, four months after the final battle, to act as the school’s whipping boy. They couldn’t have done more set him up to fail. Offering a fool’s hope to him, is what they really did.”

Pansy abruptly looked to be on the verge tears.

Hermione felt like she would probably collapse if she weren’t currently seated. “I d-didn’t—realize. I’ve been—well, all the Omega stuff. I haven’t been out much. He’s seemed fine—when I saw him.”

Pansy sneered. “He had the Dark Lord living in his manor for nearly two years. It may astonish you to hear he’s a fairly good actor.”

Hermione’s dropped her eyes and sat reeling. Pansy drew a sharp breath as though she were steadying herself and looked more tense than she had when she approached Hermione about Anthony.

“Granger,” Pansy stared down at her lap and clenched her hand into a fist for a moment. Her voice was practically vibrating with tension. “I realize neither Draco nor I have ever been particularly nice to you. All things considered, you probably have more grounds to want revenge than any of the other students. But—you did testify on his behalf, so I hope you’ll just leave him alone. I doubt he can take much more this year. I don’t think he could handle how much you could hurt him.” She drew a deep breath. “I’m not really the begging type, but I am very sincerely asking this.”

Hermione stood up sharply. “I’m not—I wouldn’t. I’d never—He’s—I—“ her voice broke off. “I had no idea anyone was trying to get him expelled. I think I need to go.”

Hermione turned heel and fled the library, leaving her books and everything else behind.

She wanted to find Ginny and possibly strangle her. But she was more desperate to find Draco.

She hadn’t seen him yet that day. Which was odd for him. He always came and found her. She’d thought that maybe it was because of their conversation the previous night. But now she was re-evaluating everything.

You’re sexually submissive, but you’re emotionally dominant…”

“Your happiness is the axis upon which their world turns.”

Hermione doubted that everything worked the way Pansy claimed. But at the same time, she was suddenly questioning some of her implicit assumptions about the balance of power.

“Omegas are made for Alphas. Alphas are made for Omegas. Despite the dynamic of dominance and submission between them, the relationship is symbiotic. An Alpha might have influence over you but they also have an instinctive desire to go to the ends of the earth to protect or please you.”

She ducked into an alcove and pulled out the Marauder’s Map.

It took awhile to find him. He was usually alone, but instead his name was buried in the middle of a cluster of people in one of the less populated hallways. There were so many people Hermione couldn’t make out many of the names.

She started running.

She could hear the jeering as she got close.

“Your mum’s all alone in that big house,” a voice was taunting. “Must be lonely after having all those Death Eaters living there. Maybe a few of us will give her a visit next Hogsmeade Weekend. Bet a whore like her would love a real man in her cunt.”

“Fuck off,” Malfoy snarled from somewhere in the crowd. There was the sound of scuffling and shoving.

“Make me. Unless you’d rather I go on. Maybe you like hearing about it. Boy like you, bet it gets you off. Bet you’d stand and watch if I shoved my cock down her throat. I must say, she’s got a good mouth, your mum. Maybe after you watch me take her in the arse, you could lick me off. Cunt like you, based on your trial, sounds like standing and watching is all you know how to do.”

Hermione’s wand whipped forward and a wave of blue magic shot out and bowled a half a dozen boys entirely over. By the time they recovered and turned to see where the attack had come from, Hermione had neatly disarmed all of them and was holding more than fifteen wands.

Hermione hated Bellatrix’s wand approximately 99% of the time. It was an absolute disaster in charms and decidedly fidgety to make cooperate in Transfiguration. But she could almost feel it’s elation when she used it to duel or hex someone.

“What going on here, boys?” she asked in a deadly tone.

Get to Draco. Get to Draco. Get to Draco. Hermione tried to ignore the panicked chanting in the back of her mind.

“He’s on probation with terms so strict he can’t defend himself from anyone who wants a little bit of personal revenge on a real live Death Eater .”

The boys parted, trying to keep both Hermione and Draco in view. Hermione caught sight of Draco. His face was slightly bruised as though he’d been punched in the jaw, and his shoulder was hunched slightly as though it might be injured.

Hermione’s hand itched to hex someone.

The boys shuffled awkwardly. Hufflepuffs. Ravenclaw. Gryffindors. Even a few Slytherins. Their hands were held out defensively as though to physically ward off Hermione as she moved toward Draco. They kept eyeing the fistfull of wands clutched in her left hand.

Get to Draco. Get to Draco. Get to Draco.

Before she reached him, Cornelius Burbage stepped forward and blocked her path.

Hermione froze. She hadn’t known Cornelius until the last summer. She’d met him during the trials. He'd sat through every Death Eater trial. She saw him crying in court when the details of his aunt’s death had emerged.

“It’s alright, Granger. We’re just having a bit of fun,” Cornelius said.

Hermione’s flinched as he spoke. His voice was the one she’d heard taunting Draco during her approach.

Her hold on her wand tightened. “It sounded rather crude when I was coming down the hall.”

Cornelius shrugged dismissively. “You know how boys can be. Just a bit of mucking about.”

Hermione’s eyes darted over to Cornelius’ shoulder and she saw Draco’s pale bruised face again.

They hurt your Alpha.

“I have to admit,” her voice was shaking slightly. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk like that. Even Fenrir Greyback, when he was hoping to cannibalize me.”

They hurt your Alpha.They hurt your Alpha.They hurt your Alpha.They hurt your Alpha.

She couldn’t mask her growing rage and her wand hand twitched slightly.

Several boys were growing nervous looking. Cornelius swallowed visibly but held his ground.

“I can’t imagine why you’d say things like that to anyone,” Hermione added.

Cornelius’ expression was incredulous. “He is a Death Eater. He watched when my aunt was killed and eaten. He watched you get tortured. He should be rotting in Azkaban.”

“So, what are you trying to do? Provoke him into getting expelled?” Hermione’s voice had a tight edge to it.

Cornelius’ head jerked. “Why not? That’s where he belongs.”

“Draco was tried,” Hermione said steadily. “He was tried in court and I testified for him. He was a minor, who took the mark under under threat. You can’t punish him for sins of all the Death Eaters. We have to move forward . He was sent to school for a second chance, not so you all can have turns exacting revenge. Leave him alone.” The last words were snarled.

“Move forward? How?” Cornelius’ face was flushed slightly with rage. “I have to see him in the hallway and at every meal. My Aunt Charity should be the one walking these halls, not him. He’s a sniveling coward. He would have sucked You-Know-Who’s cock to stay alive.”

They forced him to come back here, four months after the final battle, to act as the school’s whipping boy. They couldn’t have done more set him up to fail. Offering a fool’s hope to him, is what they really did.”

Hermione jerked her chin up. “Draco was at the final battle, I don’t remember seeing you there, Cornelius.”

Cornelius flushed angrily. "At the final battle for the wrong side. He would have happily killed your entire family, Granger."

“No he wouldn’t have. Draco is my A—” she caught herself. “He is my friend. He’s apologized for what he’s done repeatedly. He is not here for your amusement or punishment. He is not here for you to try to provoke. You will leave him alone or I will make you.”

Cornelius shrugged and stepped back. His eyes were flashing angrily. “I didn’t realize war heroes got to make the rules for everyone. Malfoy here is lucky to have another set of skirts to hide behind since his mum isn’t around to save him anymore. Then again, I guess he would hide behind anything, even a Mudblood cunt.”

Draco, who had shown remarkable restraint while Cornelius insulted Narcissa, shot his hand out, grabbed Cornelius by the throat, and proceeded to drive his fist into Cornelius’ nose. There was a loud cracking sound.

“Don’t call her that,” Draco snarled with rage before punching Cornelius in the stomach.

It appeared Draco intended to beat Cornelius into a pulp. Hermione stepped forward quickly and caught him by the wrist. “Draco!”

He froze and shoved Cornelius away.

Cornelius’ nose was bleeding profusely as he stumbled back. He smirked through the blood. “I’ll get you expelled now.”

Hermione gripped Draco’s wrist harder. “Fisticuffs in the hallways doesn’t merit expulsion,” she said in a tight voice, her chest heaving slightly. “At most he might earn an evening’s detention. But considering he punched you because you called me a Mudblood cunt, I wouldn’t be surprised if McGonagall gave him points for it.”

She let go of Draco and stepped in front of him, glaring at Cornelius and spinning her wand in her fingers.

“You know, this used to be Bellatrix Lestrange’s wand,” she said, glancing briefly down at the curved piece of wood in her hand. “During the war, I was crucio’d with this wand; more than six times. If you’ve studied wandlore, you might know, it’s very difficult to gain the allegiance of a wand, especially one with such a long history. But—I’m very relentless.”

Several boys backed away and fled.

Hermione levelled her wand on Cornelius, her pulse thrumming. “If anything happens to Draco, I will assume you’re responsible. I am sorry for what happened to your aunt. She was a brave woman. But if you wanted to avenge her, you should have fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. Attacking Draco and threatening to rape his mother in order to try to get him thrown into Azkaban isn’t justice, it’s revenge. A coward’s revenge. Attacking and hurting someone who can't or won’t fight back is what the Death Eaters did. Think about that the next time you feel angry about what happened to your aunt. Now take your boys and muck about somewhere else.” Her tone vicious and her heart was pounding as she glared at everyone before her.

Cornelius turned to leave with a mutinous expression. Most of the boys bolted, but a few backed away more slowly.

“C-can I have my wand back?” one boy ask hesitantly.

Hermione gave a thin smile. “I’ll turn all of them over to the Headmistress. You can pick it up from her. That way she’ll know exactly who to keep an eye on.”

The boy swallowed and turned away.

Hermione stood beside Draco, panting faintly as she watched the group slink off, still clutching a fistful of wands.

Chapter Text

When the hallway was empty, Hermione let herself look over at Draco. She was so awash in emotion she could barely breathe. Hot with rage and cold with horror.

She couldn’t believe how oblivious she’d been. How many things she’d taken for granted or simply failed to question. The empty classrooms he always seemed to be studying in. How he knew of more hiding spots in the castle than she had thought could possibly exist. How tense and slightly terrified he’d looked when she asked to speak with him and locked the door of the classroom.

She’d assumed it had been because of the pheromones, but maybe—

She didn’t even want to think about it.

He’d been being bullied the whole semester and she hadn’t noticed. Instead she’d been resentful that he didn’t spend all his time staring at her, just assuming that he couldn’t possibly have anything more urgent than herself to preoccupy him.

She stuffed all the wands into her pocket and reached toward him.

“Draco—I’m so sorry. I had no idea. And they hurt you—,” her voice broke off as she touched his cheek. “I’m so sorry. I can’t believe—“

She caught hold of his robes. “I should have realized.”

His arms wrapped around her shoulders and he pulled her against himself.

“It’s fine, Granger.” She felt him rest his head on top of hers.

“It’s not,” she said in a thick voice, pulling away. “Let me see. What happened to you? I have murtlap essence—no, it’s in the library. Draco, I’m so—sorry. What can I do? What can I do to fix this? What do you want me to do?”

Her throat felt constricted, and she kept tracing her fingers along his face where it was bruised. Now that she was closer, she realized his face was scraped too. As she studied it, she realized the bruising wasn’t from being punched. He’d been thrown against a wall or maybe onto the floor and then had his face ground into the rough-hewn stones of the castle.

“Is your head alright? We should get you a potion. And your shoulder is hurt too. What do I do?”

“It’s just a scratch, Granger,” Draco said, pulling his face away from her touch. “Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m not just talking about your face. What would they have done once they realized they couldn’t provoke you?” Her voice was shaking faintly.  

He avoided her eyes.

Hermione’s jaw tightened. She clenched her hand into a hard fist. “H-how many times has this happened?”

He wouldn’t answer that question either.

Hermione exhaled a sharp breath through her nose. “I should have realized—I should have thought—I’m so sorry I didn’t. I’ll go get my murtlap essence for you and then—I’ll—I’ll—I’m going to fix all of this.”

She turned to go, making a rapid mental list of everything she needed to do. Her cheekbones were aching, and it felt as though there were a bottomless pit set somewhere inside her stomach.

She wasn’t going to cry. She was so bloody tired of crying over every damn thing.

“Granger, don’t.” Draco caught her around the waist and pulled her back.

“No! Let me go. I need to fix this,” she said, trying to pull his hands off of her.

She kept trying to break free until he slid a hand up her chest and pressed against the base of her throat, grazing her scent glands with his fingers. Hermione stilled and collapsed slightly against him, bursting into tears.

“I’m so so sorry. You should have told me. Where were the prefects? Why isn’t anyone looking out for you?” 

“It’s alright,” he said. But he sounded tired.

“It’s not. Don’t pretend to be alright so I’ll feel better!” she said sharply. She straightened and rubbed the tears away angrily. She turned and stared up at him.

Draco avoided her eyes. “It’s fine, Granger. I’m—“ he scoffed faintly, “—I’m used to it at this point. I’m not going to let them get me expelled. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“That’s not good enough,” Hermione said, folding her arms mutinously. “This shouldn’t be happening. I can’t believe they’d take advantage of your probation.”

Draco looked up at her sharply and gave a faint laugh that he cut off abruptly.

Hermione met his eyes and he looked away again. “What?”

“It’s nothing,” he said, shaking his head.

There was a pause, and he pressed the heel of his hand gingerly against his jaw, “I’m fine. You should go, you have Transfiguration in a few minutes. I’ll find you later.”

He gave her a faint, suggestive smirk, but his shoulders seemed tense. Pansy was right, he was a good actor.

Hermione didn’t move. “No. Tell me. Why did you laugh when I said that?”

His expression grew closed, and the bitterness that would occasional flicker across his eyes appeared. “It was nothing. I just thought it was funny that you’d say that.”

“What’s funny?” Hermione felt bewildered.

He shrugged. “Well, aren’t the term of my probation the reason you trust me for our ‘arrangement’?” He glanced away. “Because a word from you is all it takes for McGonagall to expel me?”

Hermione felt cold. “What—What are you talking about? Expel you?”

“You know, after your heat when McGonagall called me to her office, to inform me on your behalf that my—my being there with you had been against your wishes, and if I ever bothered you again my expulsion would be immediate. It’s fair. I’m not complaining. I just—thought it was funny, given our situation.”

There was a stunned silence.

“She—said WHAT?” Hermione shrieked the question.

Draco looked at her with surprise.

Hermione started shaking and she backed away from him.

“I asked her to speak to you because I was worried that I had sexually assaulted you. I never said I hadn’t wanted you there.” She felt as though she couldn’t breathe. She wanted to double over. It was as though someone had sucker punched her in the gut. “I can’t—my memory from then isn’t—I can only remember bits of it. You—you tried to leave. You were trying to leave, and I climbed on top of you and made you go into a rut. I thought that was why you—why you left before I woke up. So I asked McGonagall to speak to you—because I wasn’t sure if you’d want to speak to me. That’s—that’s why I came and apologized.”

Draco stared at her, his eyes wide with disbelief. “What—? Wait—When—?”

”When I found you in the classroom in the Magnus Turis after my heat,” Hermione‘s hands were trembling. “When we talked about the Arithmancy project. I apologized first. I said—I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I apologized.”

Draco shook his head faintly, his expression suddenly tense. “No, you said you couldn’t put into words how much you regretted it. That you hadn’t been in your right mind and if you hadn’t been in heat you would never have ever had sex with me. And that even though you knew I’d spoken to McGonagall already, you wanted to be sure that I knew.” He recited the words as though they were something he had repeated to himself often.

“B-because I forced you,” Hermione stammered with a growing sense of horror. “Because you wanted to leave and I didn’t let you. That’s—that’s what I regretted. The fact that I climbed you and wouldn’t let you leave when you wanted to.”

“I didn’t want to leave,” Draco was speaking slowly and shaking his head. “I thought—I assumed you would want someone else. That’s why I offered to go find a different Alpha for you. That’s why I asked if you were sure.”

Hermione drew a sharp breath, her eyes wide as she stared at him. “I don’t remember that. I can barely remember anything.” She pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes, trying to force the fog in her mind away. “I just remember—we were about to have sex and then you suddenly pulled away and when I tried to touch you, you moved further away until—“ she flushed red, “—until I climbed on top of you and started giving you a handjob. But—why did you leave then?”

She stared at him through her hands. Her heart was beating so hard it felt like someone’s fist driving into her ribs.

Draco’s expression was an unreadable mixture of emotions. His posture was stiff. His demeanor brittle. A facade like Pansy’s. “When you came out of your heat, you turned literally grey with horror when you realized it was me with you. I assumed you wanted me to leave.” There was raw hurt in his voice.

“I was confused. You’re—you.” She gestured awkwardly toward him. “We’d never even had an entire conversation with each other at that point. You had acted like the mere smell of me made you sick only a few days before. What did you expect me to be but confused? I wasn’t even sure what was real at the time. And then you said you only were there because you owed me for testifying. And then you left!” Her voice broke off briefly, and she swallowed a hard lump in her throat. “I assumed it was because I’m Muggle-born. That it was why you tried to leave at the beginning, and why you didn’t stay at the end. All the other Alphas were mooning over me, and you wouldn’t even look in my direction. I assumed you didn’t want anything to do with me.”

She folded her arms tightly around herself.

“My fucking god,” Draco’s expression was squarely a mixture of confusion and horror. “Then—why are you sleeping with me? If you’re so sure I’d never willingly touch a Muggle-born?”

Hermione flushed and stared down at her shoes. She could feel the heat in the tips of her ears. As she tried to speak, her throat felt so tight it was difficult to force the words out.

“If I’d pushed for Anthony’s expulsion due to Alpha behavior, there was a chance that the Goldsteins could have used it to cause yours too. And you—saved me. So I said he could stay.” She twisted her wand in her hands.

“You—“ Draco choked out the word but Hermione pressed on.

“McGonagall said I needed to try to find a way to ensure something like that didn’t happen again. I was already barely going out at that point. Hogwarts is—“ her voice grew bitter, “—about as big a cage as I can hope for as long as I’m unbound. It’s not like I can safely go anywhere else without getting soulbound first. If I’d withdrawn immediately, it would have meant going and spending the rest of my life on a Dragon Reserve. That’s part of why I started looking into an ovariectomy. But I needed a stop-gap measure, while I waited to hear back. So—that’s why I asked if you’d scent-mark me. After the way you acted in the classroom when I was in sub-space, I thought—even if you didn’t like me, maybe you wouldn’t mind as long as—as long as no one knew, and I didn’t—didn’t act like it meant anything.”

“No,” Malfoy said.

Hermione looked up at him confused. “No?”

“No,” he said firmly. “This isn’t—,” he turned and proceeded to walk straight into the wall and lean against it, face first, for several seconds. “No. No. No no no no no no no.”

Hermione stood hesitating in confusion. “So—wait. You thought I asked you to scent-mark me because if you didn’t I was going to have you thrown into Azkaban?” Her knees abruptly gave out, and she sat down on the floor in the middle of the hallway. “Is that why you agreed to sleep with me?”

She clapped her hands over her mouth, feeling as though she were on the verge of hyperventilating. Her heart was pounding so hard she could hear it, and her chest kept jerking as she tried to breathe.

Draco looked over sharply. “What? No. You said you trusted me. You said you couldn’t do anything about Goldstein.” He buried his face in his hands. “I assumed the reason you trusted me was because you had a failsafe if I ever crossed the line and did anything you didn’t want.”

“But I told you why I trusted you,” Hermione said, throwing her hands up incredulously and suddenly feeling angry with him. “Because you stopped. You didn’t bite me during my heat, even though that’s a regarded as an utterly irresistible biological imperative. When I was in the subspace, you stopped even when I was throwing myself at you. That’s why I trust you. It doesn’t have anything to do with Azkaban.”

Draco turned and thudded his forehead against the wall repeatedly.

“Oh my god. Oh my god!” Hermione kept sitting in the middle of the floor trying to wrap her head around everything. “McGonagall said she’d speak to you and get your version of events. She was supposed to make sure you were alright, not threaten to expel you. How did this happen?”

She felt on the verge of tears; whether from horror or rage she wasn’t sure. She pressed her wrists together.

“Granger, it’s not your fault,” Draco was suddenly on the floor beside her, pulling her into his arms. “Don’t—you didn’t sexually assault me or blackmail me. Don’t cry.”

Hermione burrowed against him, clinging like a barnacle. She buried her nose against his scent glands and tried to calm down.

“I’m going to scream at McGonagall,” she mumbled into his shoulder. “I’m going to send her howlers every day for the rest of her life. And then I’m going to send them to her grave.”

Draco’s hold around her shoulders tightened.

“So—you aren’t—you don’t mind being around me even though I’m Muggle-born?” Hermione finally asked.

“No,” Draco’s tone was slightly offended.

Hermione gave a small sob of relief.

“Good grief, Granger, why didn’t you just ask?”

“Because I didn’t know what to do if I did and you said yes.” She blushed and pressed her face more firmly against his neck. “Oh god, you have no idea—I’m so sorry about everything. I don’t even know where to begin.”

There was a pause and she sat there hugging him. “You are not walking the halls alone anymore,” she said at last.

He scoffed. “Granger, I don’t need a bodyguard. They can’t usually find me, anyway.”

“That’s not good enough. You’re my protection. There’s no reason I can’t be the same for you. You can’t hide in empty classrooms all year hoping none of the hundreds of students here don’t stumble across you.”

“I don’t need you to make me your latest charitable cause.”

Hermione sat up so she could study his face. “Is—that what I am to you? A charitable cause? Something obligatory?”

“No. But you’ll risk your reputation being associated with me. Your showdown with Burbage will probably end up hurting you enough.”

Hermione snorted with disbelief. “Do you think I care about that? I stuck by Harry when the whole world, including Ron, thought he cheated to get into the Tri-Wizard tournament. And when he was accused of being insane for saying Voldemort was back. And when he was undesirable number one. When exactly do you think I’ve ever cared about my reputation? I would love to see someone try to accuse me of having secret Death Eater sympathies!”

The ridiculousness of everything suddenly struck her and she started laughing. It was all just too much. The whole day. The whole school year. Then a thought abruptly occurred to her. “Wait, Draco; is that why you never look at me or acknowledge me at all when we aren’t—together?”

His expression was tense. “I assumed that was how you wanted it, based on everything you said when you proposed the idea.”

Hermione gave a disbelieving gasp as she stared at him. Then she buried her face in her hands and groaned. “How did this happen? I don’t understand.”

“You said ‘not friends,’ those were your words,” Draco said stiffly.

“Because you said you were “interested”, but then you looked about as thrilled as if you’d agreed to take a mandrake to bed. I thought maybe the association would get you disinherited or something.”

Malfoy blinked and stared at her blankly. Hermione drew her chin in defensively. “Sirius and Andromeda were both disowned for various associations with Muggle-borns.”

Draco tilted his head back and stared up at ceiling for several seconds. “First of all,” he said in a tight voice, “if I fucking cared about that, I wouldn’t be having a semi-secret affair with you at all. Secondly, there’s a fairly long tradition of approximately eight hundred years of Malfoys only having one male child each generation. The ancestral magic won’t allow to manor to go anyone but me. My father would have to have me killed. If he disinherited me from the estate and broke the entail, there’s no one to leave it to. It would go to the Crown. My father has loathed Elizabeth the Second ever since she let her corgis bite him.”

He dragged a hand across his face. “The reason I wasn’t brimming with elation at the time was because I thought you only asked me because of McGonagall’s threat.”

They sat for several minutes reeling and trying to absorb the breadth of their miscommunication.

Hermione kept exhaling short incredulous breaths through her mouth as she sat on Draco’s lap, gripping his robes and trying reconfigure everything for herself. Her head felt light and was starting to throb as she struggled wrap her mind around it all.

“This is just—unbelievable,” she said after several minutes. “It shouldn’t even be possible for things to get this tangled.”

Her jaw was so tight with outrage she wanted to bite something. She suddenly stood up. “We are going to the Headmistress’ office. I want to know why on earth she did this.”

“Granger—,” Draco started as she gripped him by the wrist and pull him to his feet. “You don’t need to. This isn’t—“

“She did the exact opposite of what I asked her to. She’s had new portraits added all over the castle to keep an eye on me. So I’m certain she’s known what’s been happening to you and she’s just ignored it. Well, I’m not going to ignore this. Besides, I’m not leaving you alone; I’ve got a lot of wands to turn in; and I’m half-afraid that either of us have another conversation alone with her things will get all mixed up again.”

She pulled him down the hallways. He didn’t exactly fight or resist, but he walked just slow enough to ensure she was constantly aware of how resignedly he was cooperating.

When she arrived at the Gargoyle statue, she glared at it. “She’s expecting me, I’m sure.”

The statue spun and revealed the stairway.

“Headmistress, I would like a meeting,” Hermione announced stiffly the moment she reached the top of the stairs.

Minerva McGonagall looked up from a scroll and slipped her quill into a inkwell. “Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy, please sit down.”

Draco sat down. Hermione did not; she stood staring down at her deeply admired former head of house. Hermione’s hands were angrily gripping her hips.

“Are you here to scold me, Miss Granger?” McGonagall said in a tart voice.

“Why did you tell Draco that his presence during my—heat was against my will?”

McGonagall adjusted her spectacles and stared at Hermione. “It was, wasn’t it? You told me quite specifically that you did not wish for an Alpha to be present for it. I spent six days waiting for you to re-emerge after I found the wards breached without knowing how he had even gotten in or whether he might be forcibly soulbonding you.” McGonagall’s voice grew tight, then her expression flickered.

“However, when I spoke to Mr Malfoy, I said nothing about it being against your will. I informed him, as you requested, that you were profoundly regretful. Then I reminded him that any of your actions during that time were not your responsibility; in order to ensure he did not think he somehow had grounds to hold you culpable. I have taught Slytherin students for four decades; they have very reliable instinct for self-preservation that often capitalizes upon the better nature of others. Given his precarious position, I was concerned that if I informed Mr Malfoy of your fears, he might use it to guilt you into something. I wanted to be clear that you were not someone who I would tolerate trifling with. Based on what he said during our meeting, it was clear that your concerns regarding his consent were unfounded. Which I informed you of.”

“That’s not how he understood it,” Hermione said angrily. “This whole time—we both thought—,” she cut herself off. She didn’t feel ready to go into it all with McGonagall.

“And he’s being bullied!” Hermione wrenched all the wands out of her pocket and smacked them down on the top of the Headmistress’ desk. “There were more than fifteen students who had him cornered in one of the abandoned hallways. I took the liberty of taking their wands. I told them they could come get them from you.”

“Thank you,” McGonagall said in a dry tone as she gathered up the wands and put them into a drawer.

“Ginny told me about all the new portraits. So I know you know about the kinds of things they were doing and saying to him. Why aren’t you doing anything about it? Why isn’t anyone doing anything anything about it?”

Hermione’s chest was heaving in outrage. Draco was utterly silent, staring at the floor.

McGonagall arched an eyebrow. “Do you know how difficult it is to run a school of over eight hundred grieving and traumatized students four months after a war? No, you don't. I was highly opposed to Mr Malfoy’s return to this school. The animosity between the other houses and Slytherin is fraught enough without the presence of someone who actually bore the Dark Mark and spent an entire year endeavoring to assassinate Albus Dumbledore.” McGonagall gave Draco a cold, pointed look. “The students I have been placed in charge of are grieving; they are guilt-ridden by the friends and loved ones who have recently died. Placing Mr Malfoy here so soon after the Battle of Hogwarts was like laying a match atop a keg of gunpowder. When the Chief Warlock informed of the Wizengamot’s intentions to place him under probation here, I refused to accept him. When I said as much, I was informed that in that case Mr Malfoy would be immediately sentenced to a five years in Azkaban.”

Hermione flinched slightly. McGonagall looked sternly at Hermione.

“I agreed. I am not a monster, nor am I neglectful or unaware of my responsibilities as Headmistress.  However, I am one woman, training multiple new professors to fill positions they are far from adequately prepared for, dealing with prefects who are tired of responsibility, and an Omega among eleven Alphas. There are limitations to what I can do. I have no choice but to prioritize certain issues. Cornelius Burbage and his friends have a specific goal of provoking Mr Malfoy’s expulsion. They know that restricts them in what they are permitted to do to harass him. I am well aware of the terms of Mr Malfoy’s probation. When I am informed of any severe attacks, I have it immediately attended to. But I am limited in resources—and in trust-worthy prefects. I cannot prioritize the wellbeing of Mr Malfoy over everything else.”

Hermione was silent for a moment and her eyes dropped down to her shoes.

“Well, you can have one more prefect now.” She looked up at McGonagall. “If there are no objections, I would like my prefect badge back.”

Chapter Text

Granger was having an argument with McGonagall, and Draco was—

Not paying any attention.

He was still reeling from the revelation that Granger had not wanted him warned away following her heat. That she had asked him to scent-mark her because she actually trusted him.

He felt as though the ground had fallen away from beneath his feet and he was in the process of free-falling.

Maybe he’d hit his head harder than he’d realized when Burbage and his friends had caught him in the hallway. He’d been distracted at the time.

He’d been walking around in a daze since the moment Hermione had turned her face into the mattress and quietly said, “I’m actually pursuing medical options. . . Removing my ovaries to stop the heats. And my glands too. Just getting rid of the whole issue so that I won’t have to deal with it anymore.”

He’d been so shocked when she said it, he’d forgotten to breathe.

“No. Don’t. You’re mine.” The words rose immediately to his tongue, and he had to bite them back.

No matter how many times he reminded himself it was all temporary, he couldn’t stop himself from hoping that he could somehow find a way to convince her otherwise.

It was like she was in his blood; beating through his head more steadily than his pulse. As though the ground tilted toward her and eventually everything ended at her feet.

He wasn’t sure when it had that happened. When all thoughts started ending with her.

But when she said “It makes more sense to just—stop being an Omega,” he couldn’t beg her not to.

Because she hated being an Omega, and he knew it.

In retrospect he should have realized she’d do something like that. To her it was problem to be solved. If she couldn’t make it go away, she’d slice out every physical aspect she could get a scalpel near. Seize back the sense of control she was rarely willing to give up. Physically cut herself free from it.

Of course she would.

He hadn’t ever expected he’d somehow get to keep her, but the desperation on her end staggered him somewhat.

He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do or say. Up until that moment, he’d thought there was chance he’d somehow find a way. There were things he’d dreamed about doing with her without even realizing.

Soulbonding.

Having children with her.

Which was bizarre, because he was eighteen. At the start of the school year he’d considered getting married within the next decade as early. Parenthood had never even occurred to him aside from the obligatory heir he’d have at some point.

He’d never even held a baby.

But when she said “remove my ovaries,” he was suddenly struck by the realization he wanted to have children with her. Children. As in multiple. That he had ideas of what they’d look like.

He was attached to the idea.

He had to leave because he wasn’t sure what he might say or do if he stayed. He might have said something that would have resulted in getting his balls hexed off by Granger, removing all chance of hypothetical children for an entirely different reason.

“Malfoy, are you upset at me?”

He’d frozen and then turned back to look at her. “Not at all, Granger. I just happen to have a bed in my dorm that I should probably make an occasional appearance in.”

She had stared at him doubtfully but he didn’t know what else to say. “ Oh, you know, just feeling internally crushed to hear you don’t want to soulbond and have multiple children with me.”

He’d gone back to his dorm and laid in bed trying to come to terms with it.

Was is better or worse that it wasn’t just him? That she was rejecting all Alphas? She didn’t want Longbottom, or the older Weasley boy, or Theo, or anyone else. She probably didn’t regard it as a personal rejection of anyone.

She didn’t want an Alpha. She didn’t want any Alpha. It wasn’t just him.

It was a fucking hollow sense of reassurance.

He couldn’t sleep the whole night. He was used to sharing a bed with her. It felt cold and empty to sleep alone. Theo snored.

He couldn’t stop thinking about it. That someday it would be over between them. He’d just go back to being—him. The one who followed without asking questions until it was too late. Who stood near the wall and watched her scream without doing anything; without even entertaining the idea of doing anything.

She wouldn’t need him anymore. Not because she had someone else taking care of her. Not because she had found someone she was happier with. But just because she wasn’t going to be an Omega anymore.

He wasn’t even sure how to think through it. What was just instinct and what was real? Were there things he felt that would stop if she went and sterilized herself?

Wanting to soulbond is a biological imperative, so once the hormones are all gone, I’m sure the desire will fade away. It’s probably just an instinct.”

Would it really work that way? If she weren’t an Omega would everything fade away?

He supposed certain aspects of it would.  

Without the pheromones, the sex wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t knot. She wouldn’t smell the same. She—he wasn’t sure what she would smell like.

Not peaches.

But he couldn’t imagine that everything would just vanish if she weren’t an Omega anymore. It wasn’t like he’d only started fancying her when she’d presented.

That would be convenient. If everything on his end would just disappear or fade over time.

He was pretty sure it was going to be more like having part of her die. All the parts of her he’d known. The way he’d gotten to fit into her life. Just gone.

The very idea felt like a wound somewhere inside him that he couldn’t locate.

But—at the same time, he’d cursed Fate that Granger was an Omega; that she’d presented before he’d ever had a chance to demonstrate he’d changed.

If she weren’t an Omega anymore—he’d actually have a chance to prove to her that he meant it all. That wanting her, and being good to her wasn’t a biological imperative that would vanish under a scalpel. That when he begged her forgiveness he meant it. When he told her how perfect she was and swore he’d never let anyone hurt her again, he meant it. He’d never just stand there again. He wouldn’t be someone who watched in order to save their own skin.

He could prove that she didn’t need to be an Omega in order for him to promise those things to her. Just being her was more than enough.

He’d already tried to show her that they were more than biology, and it had seemed to work somewhat. Until the previous evening, it hadn’t occurred to him to have sex with her without scent-marking. In the past the possessive instinct to lick her had taken hold of him and she’d always seemed to like it. But after their conversation, he realized that she regarded having sex as something she was only a physical participant in, not something she was personally involved in; as though she were loaning her body to her Omega for temporary use.

So he’d decided to see if it was different if he intentionally avoided her glands. It had seemed to have a profound effect on her.

If he could pull it off again, he might be able to start slowly shift her perception of what being an Omega meant.

Having had sex with at her at two separate points during the day had seemed to have taken the edge off for her in a way that just getting her off in alcoves and empty classrooms didn’t. Normally she’d burst through the door and jump him and they’d barely exchange any words.

When she’d arrived after Astronomy, they’d actually had an entire conversation about arithmancy and discussed their—whatever they were.

He’d been trying to think of how to pull off having sex at two separate points during the day—given their respective academic schedules—when he felt the hex hit him in the back. He hit the stones so hard he briefly blacked out.

When he regained consciousness, he’d been surrounded.

As Burbage began his monologue, Draco bided his time, reminding himself “If you get expelled, Granger will be here alone; then she really will go sterilize herself.”

When he heard Hermione’s enraged voice, and watched a half dozen seventh year boys go flying through the air, the feeling was indescribable. She was positively crackling with rage, as though it were somehow shooting from her fingertips, the ends of her hair, and out of her eyes.

It struck him then that saying he fancied her was really something of a understatement. She was the most terrifyingly beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on and it didn’t have a damn thing to do with how she smelled or what it was like to have sex with her.

Her eyes kept flickering over to him while she was arguing with Cornelius. When she nearly called him her Alpha and then amended it to saying “Draco is my friend,” he’d wanted to snog her in the the middle of the hall.

When Burbage called her a Mudblood cunt, Draco had wanted to murder him. Fuck self-control. Draco would have ground him into the flagstones if Granger hadn’t caught him by the wrist.

After Burbage and everyone else had left, everything got very confusing. His head was throbbing slightly, and then Granger was suddenly talking about how she’d sexually assaulted him and forced him to stay with her during her heat; how he had left afterward because she was Muggle-born; and growing nearly tearful as she talked about how he’d refused to look at her; and how the reason she couldn’t do anything about Goldstein was because it would have risked getting Draco expelled.

Granger had apparently spent a lot more time worrying about his consent, his risk of expulsion, his inheritance, and what a blight he’d consider her to be upon his pureblood reputation if anyone knew he was shagging her.

Draco was so stunned he could barely speak. He wanted to bludgeon himself with something.

The sense of shock he was experiencing was so acute he didn’t even know where to begin trying to reevaluate everything. The number of conclusions and assumptions he’d apparently reached in error—

If she spent that much time worrying about him, it indicated that she possibly liked him better than he had imagined. That his interest in her might not be objectionable.

It was not an opportunity he had any intention of letting slip by. He had spent a lot of energy trying not to be clingy; trying to be noble and not presume he got what he didn’t deserve, and apparently it had just resulted in Granger thinking she someone he was ashamed of being publically associated with.

He had an opening, and he intended to exploit it to the utmost of his abilities.

She’d sat hugging him in the middle of the hallway, apparently not intending to go to Transfiguration class at all, and he began growing hopeful that he could carry her off to their room and have a long clarifying conversation, preferably one punctuated with snogging and sex.

Unfortunately he miscalculated Hermione’s indignation slightly. Instead of snogging to celebrate the clarification, she wanted to have a meeting with the Headmistress. Which was in the exact opposite direction of their room. She physically dragged him through the castle, apparently oblivious to the number of people who noticed them passing.

If she didn’t mind, he wasn’t going to complain.

In fact, if it all ended up working out for him the way he now hoped and intended, he was going send Burbage a thank you note. That would certainly piss the bastard off.

Granger was talking indignantly to McGonagall about the school’s bullying issues, and McGonagall was not sounding particularly impressed. Draco didn’t particularly care because he was preoccupied with schemes and elaborate plans involving Granger in locations that were not the Headmistress’ office.

Alright. I’ll speak to Ginny this evening. Thank you, Headmistress,” Hermione was saying as she turned to look at Draco.

He assumed that meant that they were dismissed. He gave a faint nod of acknowledgement and followed Granger back out to the hallway. Finally, he could snog her.

She turned and looked up at him worriedly, and as he took her in he noticed—

“You’re a prefect again?” he asked, staring her chest and trying to mask his dismay. Patrols would most definitely cut into their evenings. When had that happened?

She furrowed her eyebrows. “Yes. That’s what the Headmistress and I have been talking about for the last half hour. You’re looking dazed. I think you may have a concussion. We should go see Madam Pomfrey.”

Noooo...

“I’m fine, Granger. It was hardly the worst blow to my head I’ve ever experienced,” he said, drawing himself up and rolling his eyes.

Granger looked more horrified. “You mean you’re dealing with repeated head trauma? That can lead to serious damage! You should have mentioned it. I should have taken you to the Hospital Ward first. I’m so sorry.”

Then she was dragging him off again, and Draco was kicking himself internally. He caught sight of an alcove he was rather partial to and abruptly jerked Granger back and dragged her into it.

“Draco, we really need to—”

He cut her off with a kiss, and she was stiff for only a moment before she melted into him slightly. She had the most divine curves. The way her body moulded against his was perfection.

He slid an arm arm around her waist and tangled his fingers in her hair as he nipped lightly on her lips. He probably couldn’t shag her there, but if he snogged her into a sufficient daze he might be able to distract her from dragging him to the hospital ward.

He drew her head back and kissed along her throat and brushed his lips across her glands. She gave a ragged gasp and then abruptly stiffened. “Don’t—“

He felt her hands against his chest, trying to push him away. Draco froze as if petrified and then wrenched himself back.

Hermione was panting faintly and slumped against the wall. “We need to get you to the hospital ward,” she said in a strained voice. “If you have a concussion, it needs to be treated. Leaving it could result in brain damage.”

Goddamn. He was going to be cockblocked by his own brain.

His shoulders slumped and he rolled his eyes heavenward. “I’m fine, Granger.”

He looked down at her pleadingly.

She straightened and put her hands on her hips with a pinched expression that he somehow found distressingly appealing.

“You tried to send me to the matron because I bumped my nose last night,” she said with a huff, “You have bruising, the skin is scraped and broken in several places, and earlier you were holding your shoulder like it was hurt too. If I looked like that, would you believe me if I said that I was fine?”

That was so damn low.

“Fine,” he said, his mouth twisting bitterly.

Granger started pulling him out of the alcove but he stopped her.

“Malfoy—,” she said, stiffening and glaring at him. 

“Just wait.” He gave a faint sigh. “If I have a concussion, she’ll probably make me stay overnight. I should—I didn’t scent-mark you last night, so I should now. So I can be sure you’ll be alright. And—I haven’t gotten you off at all since last night.”

“Oh.” She was silent for several minutes.

He’d normally have had sex with her several times the night before, and he usually tried to find her before her first class. It was midday and he’d barely kissed her. If she wasn’t feeling it yet, she was probably going to start feeling it soon. Probably as soon as she had a minute to stop feeling indignant.

“I—I’m sure I’ll be fine,” she finally said. Her voice was slightly high and rapid, the way it got when she was nervous. “It doesn’t wash off that fast. You really should see Pomfrey. And if you start—and then you’re—staying overnight at the hospital ward—it will be a lot harder to—to—come down from. And I have prefect duties now. So I can’t just hide in the Gryffindor dorms.”

Draco hissed with irritation and wanted to punch the wall. The idea of her walking the halls if he hadn’t scent-marked her was enough to put him in possessive rage.

“Why are you a prefect again? I thought you didn’t want any leadership positions this year.” 

“Weren’t you listening to the conversation at all?” Granger said, raising her eyebrows and tossing her hands in the air. “McGonagall is too overdrawn managing the school so soon after the war to deal with all the post-war issues the student body is dealing with. A lot of the professors are new, and there aren’t a lot of prefects who are looking for added responsibility. I can’t just go marching around the school throwing hexes at anyone who tries to get you expelled. It’s not as though you’re the only one, Pa—there are other vulnerable students who need someone to look out for them. So, I asked to have my badge back.”

Draco stared at her for several seconds then gripped her by the shoulders and dropped his forehead down to the top of her head. Gryffindors and their damned hero complexes.  

“Granger—you—arggggggggghhh,” he said. He sighed, ducked his head down and kissed her.

Her lips were like silk. He could kiss her for days on end without getting tired of it. She always gave a tiny gasp of surprise when their lips met and then a small moan in the back of her throat as she started kissing him back.

He slid a hand along her jaw and felt her pulse under under his fingertips. It fluttered like a snitch in his hand.

He darted his tongue out, and she shivered and parted her lips. He pushed her back against the wall and delved greedily inside her mouth as his hands ran along her body. Her curves had filled out during the last several months. He wasn’t sure if it were an Omega thing or because the stress of the war had left her underweight. Her waist was smaller and her breasts had gotten bigger. She was lush. Just feeling her was enough to set him entirely on fire.

He carefully avoided her glands and palmed her breasts, popping open the top buttons on her shirt to kiss the tops of them. She tangled her fingers in his hair and whimpered.

“Draco—no—,” she said in a thick voice, squirming away and her hold on his hair tightening. “I’m saying no.”

He gave a frustrated groan that made her shudder and whimper against him as he pulled away.

“Fucking Burbage,” he said, clenching his teeth and pulling his hands away. “Fine. I’ll stop. I’m done.” 

He pressed his hands against his face with frustration.

“It’s—it’s not that I don’t want to,” she said, rebuttoning her shirt quickly. “But I’ll be worried the whole time. We—there’s time for that later. I want to be sure you’re alright.”

He gave a resigned sigh and set his sights on ‘later.’ “Fine.”

“We really should hurry to the hospital ward.”

She grabbed him by the wrist again. Her palm pressed against the gland there and he gave a quiet, frustrated moan as he let her pull him along once again.

Madam Pomfrey spotted them the moment they entered the infirmary.

“What is it this time, Mr Malfoy? Did you bend over and hit another doorknob? Or was it the disappearing step on the stairs again?” Pomfrey studied him with a pointed expression as she cast a diagnostic spell. 

“Peeves,” Draco lied promptly. Granger’s expression grew indignant and he smoothly continued, “Knocked a suit of armor on me while I was heading to class. The helmet caught me in the side of the head.”

“Really?” Pomfrey said as she examined the readings on her wand. 

“I don’t think he likes me,” Draco said blandly. “I’ll mention it to the Bloody Baron and see if he can do anything about it. But you know how poltergeists are.”

“I’m sure you will,” Pomfrey said in a tone drenched with skepticism as she pulled on his arm slightly and he yelped. “You have a concussion. And bruising. No reading or homework for the next twenty-four hours. I’ll keep you here under observation overnight.”

“No reading?” Draco said, his eyes widening with horror as he gripped his book bag defensively. 

“It’s crucial to let the brain rest while it recovers,” Pomfrey said, jabbing toward him with her wand. 

“You never said no reading or homework before,” Draco said, crossing his arms and straightening belligerently. “It’s not that bad.”

“The diagnostic shows you lost consciousness from the impact,” Madam Pomfrey said, drawing herself up with a severe expression. Granger gave a faint gasp and the air abruptly grew filled with her pheromones, which set Draco’s entire body on edge. “Go change into hospital pajamas and get into bed so I can deal with your bruising. I’ll go get the potions. Thank you for escorting him, Miss Granger, you may return to classes.” 

Pomfrey bustled away and Draco turned to look at Granger with an expression of dismay. 

“You lost consciousness?” Hermione asked. Her eyes were round with horror

“Very briefly,” Draco said with a dismissive shrug, moving toward her without thinking. “A few seconds at most.”

She took a small step back, growing pale with rage. “This is never happening again. I’m never letting you out of my sight.”

Draco started to open his mouth to reassure her, but then thought better of it and snapped his jaw shut. If she never wanted to let him out of her sight—well, he was not going to raise any objections. In fact, if he were gravely injured she might not go running around the castle alone when he hadn’t scent-marked her in nearly twenty-four hours. She might instead decide to stay around and nurse him back to health.

She might think she smelled enough like him, but Draco did not. And forty-eight hours was another story altogether. He wasn’t sure it would stay that long. 

“You’ll be alright here, won’t you?” she said. “I have to meet with Ginny and Neville about joining the prefect roster.” She glanced at her watch, and Draco’s eyes narrowed as he began calculating how to make her stay. “Maybe during dinner I can come and read to you—we have the same classes, so the assignments should be the same. We can start the metallurgy book, to figure out the amulet. If you want. And then we can talk about—about—,” she blushed faintly and gestured awkwardly between them. 

“Of course. You should go,” he said, turning to grab the pajamas Pomfrey had left for him. “I’m sure I’ll be fine; alone, in the infirmary.”

He glanced surreptitiously at Granger who suddenly looked guilty.

“Pomfrey is here though…” her voice trailed off as she looked for the matron. Pomfrey had not yet returned with the potions for Draco. 

“Of course,” Draco said and nodded, but then he glanced carefully around the room. “It’s not like Burbage would do something as low as attack me in the infirmary. I’m sure if he did, and I yelled, Pomfrey would come back quickly.”

“Maybe—I can stay and keep you company. I don’t have to see Ginny immediately,” Granger said slowly, inching toward him and studying his face to gauge his reaction. 

“You don’t need to worry about me, Granger,” Draco said, carefully concealing his glee. “It’s just a brain injury.” 

“I don’t feel comfortable leaving you,” she said, jerking her chin up. “If you hit your head again it could be really serious. I don’t want to take a risk like that. If something happened to you because I wasn’t here—“ she broke off for a moment.

“I’m going to stay,” she announced, putting her hands on her hips and raising a defiant eyebrow, as though she expected to fight him about it. 

“Well, if it makes you feel better,” he said, hiding his smirk as he stepped behind a dividing curtain and started to unbutton his shirt. “I don’t want you to feel obliged.”

He forgot about his shoulder hurting, and twisted it to get his shirt off. He gave a faint hiss and Hermione suddenly materialized beside him, apparently forgetting the reason for dividing curtains, and that seeing him half naked was not normally something she did in public.

“Are you alright? Oh gosh, that looks awful. Let me help.” She tossed his robes and shirt onto the bed, pulled the hospital pajama shirt up over his shoulders and buttoned it carefully for him. As she was straightening the top button, she suddenly turned bright red, apparently realizing her invasion of his privacy. “Oh! I’ll—be on the other side if you need anything.”

She vanished back through the curtains before Draco could catch her and try to convince her to help him with his trousers too. 

Draco had just finished changing when Madam Pomfrey came back with several potions.

“Miss Granger, you’re still here,” he heard Pomfrey say through the curtain. 

“I told Draco I’d keep him company. We’re doing an Arithmancy project together, so I was going to read a metallurgy book aloud to him, if that’s alright.” 

“Being read to is fine. Please wait here while I treat him.” 

Pomfrey came through the curtains and dosed Draco with several foul tasting potions that quidditch had made him too intimately acquainted with. Then she got him into bed and removed his shirt briefly in order to slather his shoulder with something very herbal scented. Draco had to bite back a snarl when her fingers grazed too close to his glands. Then she dabbed Murtlap Essence onto his face. 

“Now remember, quiet activities. No reading,” Madam Pomfrey gave him a severe look before she drew back the curtain and invited Hermione through. “Miss Granger, I’ll trust you to follow the rules.”

Madam Pomfrey bustled off again without another word. Draco and Hermione stared at each in silence for several minutes.

“So, metallurgy. Is it in your bag?” 

“No.”

“Oh. You don’t have it? Is it in your dorm?”

Draco leaned back against the pillows. “I have it. I just don’t want to read right now.”

Granger nodded. “Do you need to rest? I can just keep you company and work on an essay—,” she smacked her forehead with a sigh, “I don’t have my bag. I left it in the library with Pansy.” 

Draco blinked, forgetting what he’d been planning. “You left your bag with Pansy?” 

“Well, yes. She thinks she owes me a favour for some reason. I tried to tell her she doesn’t, but she won’t listen. So she’s decided the proper way of repaying me is by cornering me in the library and setting me up with a successful political marriage.”

Draco’s eyebrows shot up and he felt his jaw tighten. “Why does Pansy think you want a political marriage?” 

“Oh,” Granger blushed faintly, shifting at the foot of his bed. “Well, she was there the night with Anthony, and realized that I’m an Omega. Because she thinks she owes me a favour, she appeared in the library today with all these scrolls with profiles of eligible Alphas for me to choose from before I graduate. Since according to her I can marry any Alpha I please and make them do anything I want, including robbing banks for me.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head with an expression of disbelief. “I’ve robbed a bank. It’s really—not as much fun as you’d think.” 

She shuddered faintly.

Draco stared at her dazedly, wondering if he maybe were severely concussed. He wasn’t even sure which part made the least sense.

“Anyway,” Hermione continued, picking up his clothing and rapidly folding it into a neat pile, apparently oblivious to the mess of information she’d just dumped on him. “While we were discussing my ambitions in life and who I should marry, you came up—” 

“I did?” Draco echoed, and the corner of his mouth quirked upward as a warm sense of elation come over him. Bless Pansy.

“—and she said to stay away from you. That I shouldn’t have anything to do with you because you’re dealing with a lot this year. Because she said, being an Omega I’d probably really hurt you and you’re already being bullied, so I needed to just leave you alone—”

Fuck Pansy.

“—I hadn’t even realized how this year has been for you—I’ve been so absorbed in myself and I didn’t think—when she said that, I panicked a bit and left all my books with her and rush off to find you. Which—is probably not really what she’d intended, now that I think about it,” Granger finished, straightening his pile of clothing and fidgeting with the blanket at the foot of the bed. 

“I see.” 

“Really?” She looked over him wide eyed.

“No. I don’t think I understood any of that,” Draco said, grimacing as he stared at her. “Come here. Looking at you from so far away is giving me a headache.”

It wasn’t, but he suppressed a smirk as Hermione’s eyes grew even wider and she hurried closer with a worried expression. Draco caught hold of her hand and pulled her onto the bed. She gave small shriek as she toppled into his arms. 

“This is a good distance,” he said, feeling triumphant as he wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his face in her shoulder. 

“This—isn’t really any distance,” she said in a slightly wobbly voice as she wiggle on top of him and shifted her weight, trying to regain her balance.

“Hmmmm,” he said, breathing against her glands. 

“We should—don’t you think we should talk?” she asked after minute. 

“We should,” Draco said without loosening his hold on her waist. “But I’m still recovering. Maybe if you kissed me I’ll feel well enough to.” He pulled his head back just enough to give her a sly smile.

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “Is your head really even hurting or are you just pretending so that I’ll fuss over you?”

Chapter Text

Draco’s eyes widened innocently. “Me?”

“Yes,” Hermione pursed her lips as she stared down at him.  “Is this like that scratch you got in third year?”

Draco was silent for a moment. Hermione’s expression grew indignant and she started squirming and trying to climb off the bed.

“You’re unbelievable,” she said, fuming.

“What? How can you accuse me of pretending? I didn’t even want to come here,” Draco said, refusing to let her escape. “I wanted to take you back to our room and snog you. You’re the one who dragged me to the Headmistress’ office and then made me come here.”

She stopped trying to escape but continued to eye him suspiciously.

“I didn’t even ask you to stay. You’re the one who decided to stay,” he added, removing his hands. His eyes were large and reproachful. “You can go if you want.”

Hermione sighed. She would never have thought someone as large and angular as Draco Malfoy could look so much like a puppy when he was sad.

“I’m not going to leave.” She rolled her eyes and let out a long low breath. “But you got a reputation for being over dramatic. I—I’m not sure how to be around you and not be a bit suspicious of you.”

Draco’s face fell noticeably.

Hermione felt a stab of guilt. She wanted to put her hands over his eyes in order to hide them. When he stared at her like that, she had to stifle the temptation to lean forward and kiss the expression away.

His eyes were like enormous silver pools of emotion. It was like staring at a baby unicorn.

“I don’t mean I don’t trust you.” She turned her head upward and studied the ceiling. “I just—we have a lot of history. It makes everything so complicated. I mean—look at the mess we just started sorting through. It’s like we’re designed to misunderstand each other. I’ve spent the last several months trying to deal with the fact I was sleeping with you even though you didn’t want anything to do with me. Trying to suddenly see you differently—it’s a lot of conversations that I suddenly don’t understand the meaning of. There were a lot of times when you said things and I just assumed it was a reference to my being Muggleborn. Now I don’t even know what we talked about most of the time when we did talk.” Her voice trailed off slightly.

”You could have asked,” he said quietly. “I would have told you, if you’d ever asked.”

“I know.” Hermione’s head dropped. “I assumed things because it felt safer than asking. I don’t—do vulnerable very well.” Hermione swallowed hard as she looked at him. Her shoulders felt taut. “Having this happen to me—presenting—it has honestly felt more terrifying than anything else I’ve ever faced. At least during the war it was external forces. But this is inside me. It's my body and my mind and it feels like they’re betraying me. I don’t know what to do. I’ve always been able to trust my mind. Even more than magic. My mind is—me. But now I feel like it isn’t anymore. Not entirely.” Her gaze dropped down to her wrists. “I don’t know what the right way of being brave about all this is. So—I just decided to be miserable about the situation with you, rather than facing it and taking the risk of making everything worse than it already was. I’m really sorry.”

Draco’s hands slid around her waist. “It’s not your fault. You never said my probation was the reason you chose me to scent-mark you. I just couldn’t believe it when you gave other reasons. I assumed they were to make me feel better.”

Hermione cringed.“It’s such a mess. I almost asked last night. It was on the tip of my tongue after you apologized, to just ask you why you left. But then I lost my nerve.”

Draco brought his hands up and rested them on her shoulders for a moment and then slid them down to close around her wrists. At the sensation, Hermione’s shoulders instantly relax. She drew a deep breath.

“I think we were both reluctant to risk the equilibrium.”

Hermione nodded and looked into his eyes, gnawing at her lower lip. “So—now that it turns out that we were both wrong about a lot—where—where exactly does that leave this—us?”

A smirk shifted across Draco’s lips. “Here is good. Both of us, right here. This is a fairly good place for us to stay.”

The corner of Hermione’s mouth quirked upward and she reached out and stroked his healed cheek. “You really did hit your head hard. I’m currently straddling you in the hospital ward.”

“But there are privacy curtains,” Draco said in a low purr as his hold on her wrists tightened, pressing against the glands on her wrists.

Hermione gave a small moan and Draco leaned forward.

“We can’t snog here,” she said, panting faintly and arching away. “Pomfrey said I was supposed to follow the rules.”

“No reading. Quiet activities. Kissing is a quiet activity,” Draco said in a husky voice as he closed in.

Hermione tilted her head back in order to keep her lips away from Draco’s. He just dragged his mouth along her throat. She choked back a whimper. “I think there are rules against kissing here.”

“No.” Draco shook his head and his lips ghosted along her jaw. She shivered and felt heat spreading through her steadily. “There are no rules against snogging in the infirmary.” Draco pulled her back toward him.

Hermione shook her head and arched an eyebrow. “How do you know that?”

Draco stilled and drew back slightly, looking sheepish. “I looked it up in third year. It seemed like a useful thing to know.”

Hermione snorted doubtfully and he shrugged. “I did. I’m a Slytherin. You can’t find loopholes if you don’t study the rules. I read all the rulebooks for the castle and Hogwarts: A History, just to make sure I knew the context of things.”

Hermione straightened so she could look at Draco. “You—you’ve read Hogwarts: A History?” Her voice squeaked slightly.

Draco looked suddenly cagey. “Only a few times. It seemed like a practical source of information on the castle.”

Hermione stared at him wide-eyed. “But no one reads Hogwarts: A History. Even most of the Ravenclaws have only skimmed it.”

Draco jutted his chin out, looking sullen. “It’s well written. It'll never be a classic like History of Magic, but Bathilda Bagshot was an exceptional historian. All her books are worth reading. You’d probably like it.”

Hermione nearly laughed. There was heat spreading across her chest. “Draco, it’s my favourite book.”

Draco blinked.

“Oh.” He blushed.

Hermione didn’t pause to think, she just leaned forward and kissed him.

He gave a low gasp as his mouth met hers.

They should talk more—

But maybe later.

She wrapped her arms around his neck. He pulled her body hard against his and his tongue pressed inside her mouth. The taste of him. She loved the taste of him.

One of his hands slid up her spine and tangled in her hair.

Her glands were starting to throb and she gripped the fabric of his pajama shirt and felt tempted to tear it off. There was a part of her still quietly snarling “they hurt your Alpha.” She felt possessive.

She wanted to lick him all over until he was drenched in her.

Not in the hospital wing—

She was going to stop kissing him in just a moment. Because she was in the hospital wing. Even if there were no explicit rules against it, she imagined Pomfrey would regard Hermione ravishing Draco in his hospital bed as violating the spirit of instructions regarding quiet activities.

So she was going to stop kissing Draco. In just a minute.

She shoved him down against the pillows and ran her tongue down his throat. He growled, and it made her whole body shake. She could feel his hands sliding under her shirt as she flicked her tongue out across his glands. He gave a muffled moan.

“Granger—,” he groaned, “we should—weren’t we—probably—talk—“

Hermione did not want to talk. She wanted to lick him. She dragged her tongue across his glands hard and felt him grip her harder.

“Granger—“

“You’re mine,” she said against his throat.

His hand was gripping her hair tight and he jerked her head back up.

“Fuck—yes,” he said against her lips, before he gave her a bruising kiss.

She arched against him, tangling her fingers in his hair as she ground her hips into his. He moaned against her mouth and his hand gripped her waist.

There was a faint sound behind her but Hermione barely heard it as Draco nipped at her lower lip and his hold on her hair tightened.

“Just a suggestion, if you’re in a secret non-relationship with each other, perhaps don’t snog in the infirmary,” a voice drawled.

Hermione gave a small scream and tried to jump off Draco, but he refused to let go. She turned her head and  looked over her shoulder to find Blaise Zabini seated in a chair beside Draco’s bed studying them with an expression of indifference.

“Fuck off, Blaise,” Draco growled. “Granger and I are busy.”

Hermione felt her face grow red hot at the realization that she had been aggressively snogging Draco in the hospital ward, while at the same time telling herself that she was definitely not going to snog him. Oh god. She really was a nymphomaniac.

“Do you still go by surnames after you’ve licked a witch’s tonsils?” Blaise asked, tilting his head thoughtfully. “I don’t recall any of the etiquette manuals mentioning it.”

“Draco—please let go,” Hermione said, as she tried to squirm off him. He wrapped his arms around her more obstinately.

“No. Blaise is leaving,” he said coolly. “I’m not done with you.”

Hermione felt her face and ears grow hot.

“Let me off, you prat,” she said, twisting and contorting as she tried to peel Draco’s fingers off one at a time.

The curtain snapped open again. Hermione ceased in her quest to remove Draco’s hands in order to look up in horror as Pansy and Theo walked through the curtains.

“Oh. Did I not mention that Theo and Pansy were right behind me?” Blaise said. “Oops.”

Pansy froze mid-step as she took in the sight of Hermione guiltily straddling Draco in a hospital bed, while his arms were wrapped possessively around her waist.

Theo’s expression flickered for a moment as he took in the scene.

“Draco, let go,” Hermione said, trying to tear his hands off again. He released his grip and she nearly fell off the bed in her haste to get away. She shoved her shirt back into her skirt and turned around awkwardly find that at some point during the snog session she had completely unbuttoned Draco’s shirt. He was apparently in no rush to close it.

He sat in bed glowering at his visiting housemates.

Draco folded his arms and slouched against the headboard. “What do you lot want?”

“We heard you were here and thought you might want company,” Blaise said, leaning back in his chair.

Pansy appeared apoplectic.

“I have company. You can all leave. Preferably now.” Draco dismissed them lazily.

Hermione edged toward the curtain. “No. No. They can stay, I should go meet with Ginny and Neville now.”

She wasn’t running away. She was simply making a strategic retreat.

She and Draco hadn’t finished talking—since she had decided to lose her head and snog him. She would boldly face his friends later, when she knew the context in which she was facing them.

“Am I the only one who didn’t know about this?” Pansy’s voice crackled.

Hermione froze. Pansy was blocking the exit somewhat.

“Did we forget to tell you?” Theo said, turning to look back at her and running his hand through his hair. “Sorry about that. Slipped my mind. We definitely meant to.”

Pansy’s expression was venomous as she glared at Draco. “How long?”

“Remember how Draco was sick for a week at the end of September? He actually wasn’t,” Blaise said.

“And you didn’t tell me?” Pansy whirled back toward Theo and Blaise.

Draco seized Pansy’s distraction as an opportunity to lean forward and catch hold of Hermione’s robes. Slowly, using minimal force as though he were a fisherman, he tugged Hermione backwards until he could wrap his arms possessively around her waist again. He pulled her down so that she was seated on the edge of the bed beside him.

Hermione tried to get away. “Draco,” she said quietly, “you’re going to make it worse.”

He shook his head. “You don’t know Pansy, this is a much safer place for you.”

Hermione snorted. “I’m not afraid of Pansy Parkinson.”

“I don’t care.” Draco’s hold is tightened. “Pansy is a very unethical and protective sort. She would take advantage of your Gryffindor morals and use them to stab you in the back.”

“Well,” Theo was saying as he gripped the back of his neck. “You are his ex-girlfriend.”

“I’m also his friend.” Pansy seemed coiled like a viper readying to strike. “You didn’t think it worth mentioning that he’s been secretly boinking Granger since the moment she presented.”

“Well, I’m an Alpha so I signed a non-disclosure agreement and I’m not keen to learn what McGonagall cursed it with. However Blaise noticed because he’s our roommate and Draco hasn’t slept in our room in over a month. So really he’s the only one who could have told you. It’s all Blaise’s fault.” Theo pointed accusingly to where Blaise was reclining.

“So you all thought this would be a good time for Draco to have a secret affair? This year? And you,” Pansy whirled back to glare at Draco, “I don’t even know where to begin with you. Does your mother have any idea what you’re doing? She’s worried sick about you already and you thought an entanglement with Granger would be a good idea. Under what possible set of circumstances do you see this somehow ending well for you?”

Draco’s hold on Hermione tightened further and Pansy directed her glare at Hermione. “Then there’s you, Granger.” Pansy was practically spitting acid.

“Pansy—,” Draco growled in warning.

“I actually tried to be nice to you.” Pansy’s teeth were bared as she spoke. “I could tell you were having an awful time and, given that I owed you, I thought I’d help you out. Nearly a dozen Alphas in the school and you went and took advantage of the most vulnerable one you could get your hands on. I suppose after fifth year everyone should have realized what a vicious bitch you are when it comes to getting revenge. I—“

“Pansy, shut the fuck up!” Draco snarled. “You are not my mother. And even if were, you don’t decide what I can and cannot handle. You don’t dictate my relationships. What I do with Granger is none of your business.”

Pansy gave a laugh like a hyena. It felt as though the sound somehow vibrated inside Hermione’s bones. “Really? It was all your idea, I’m sure. As though you wouldn’t do any damn thing she asked. I credited you with too much sense. I thought since you were the only one who wasn’t panting after her that it was a sign of your self-control. But of course not. You’re actually the one letting her use you as a fuck-toy.”

Hermione flinched and felt as though she’d been slapped. She stared at Pansy wide-eyed.

“GET HER OUT!!” Draco roared.

Pansy suddenly went quiet, her mouth continued moving in soundless rage as Theo silenced her and stepped forward, picking Pansy up off the ground and hoisting her over his shoulder.

“We’ll bring her back to visit again once she’s calmed down,” Theo said, giving Hermione an apologetic glance. Pansy smacked Theo across the back of the head but he barely blinked. Only Pansy Parkinson could look slightly poised while slung over someone’s shoulder.

“For the record, Pans,” Blaise said, standing up. “The next time you complain that we don’t tell you things, this will be the reason why.”

Pansy kicked, trying to squirm down from Theo’s shoulder without falling as Madam Pomfrey abruptly burst in.

“What is going on here?” Pomfrey said, looking astonished as she took the the scene.

“Dear old Pansy is just having an ex-girlfriend moment,” Blaise said, his voice sly. “She had a small fit of jealous rage.”

Pansy appeared to scream and then gestured rudely at Blaise.

“We won’t let her come back unless she promises to behave. We apologize for disturbing Draco and any other patients. Come on, Theo, we should go before she causes another scene.”

Theo and Blaise walked away and Pansy continued to squirm and glare furiously at Hermione until the curtain fell and hid her from view.

Madam Pomfrey eyed Hermione suspiciously. Draco was holding her around the waist in a veritable death grip.

“Mr Malfoy is supposed to be resting,” Pomfrey said.

Hermione’s eyes dropped

“Hermione didn’t do anything. She was keeping me company and Pansy came and caused a scene.” Draco’s hold somehow tightened even more. Hermione felt as though she were on the verge of being crushed.

Pomfrey studied Hermione as well as Draco’s hold on her for several seconds. “Any further scenes and I will restrict Mr Malfoy from all visitors until I release him tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Hermione said in a small voice.

“Quiet activities,” Pomfrey said, her mouth puckering slightly before she turned and bustled away.

“Well, that went rather badly,” Hermione said after the tap of Pomfrey’s shoes had faded.

Malfoy nuzzled his chin over her shoulder. “Sorry. Pansy doesn’t handle surprises well. She tends to overreact and get vicious. You shouldn’t pay attention to the things she says.”

Hermione nodded but then she was quiet for a minute. She looked down and traced a fingertip along Draco’s wrist and hands still around her waist. “But—what she said about you doing anything I want—I’m worried about that.”

She turned to look over her shoulder at Draco. “I don’t know how to tell if that’s why Alphas are doing things, or if they ever actually mean anything that they say and do. Yesterday—in the broom closet—“ her mouth twitched slightly, “—you said the only reason you pulled me in there was because the biology caught you off guard.”

Draco shifted behind her.

Hermione continued steadily. “And now—you’re being different. You’re acting different. I don’t know—if you’re just doing whatever you think I want.” She swallowed hard. “I don’t know If your instincts just make you think you want something, once you think it’s what I want. I don’t—the idea of that makes me feel ill. I don’t want you to be some way because you’re biologically wired to change yourself to suit me.”

Draco was silent and she felt him sigh.

“It’s not—like that,” he said slowly. “I lied yesterday. When you asked if I cared. I lied because I thought you had Longbottom and maybe even Theo lined up as alternative Alphas. Based on why I thought you asked me to be the one to scent-mark you in the first place, I thought you’d just move on to someone who’d follow your rules better if I were to complicate things by being—interested.”

Hermione felt as though she’d been electrocuted.

Draco drew a sharp, frustrated breath. “You said—at the beginning, you said “not a relationship, not friends.” I was trying not to cross any of lines you laid because I didn’t want you to go somewhere else. I’m being different now because I just learned how grossly I misunderstood things and because I don’t want to sit back and watch you go sterilize yourself just because you feel like you have no other option.”

Hermione only half-heard him. She felt petrified. “You’re—interested in me?”

Draco turned his head slightly and their eyes met. “Yes.”

Hermione blinked up at him. “Really?”

Draco nodded slowly.

“Are you sure? This—it—” Hermione couldn’t remember how to complete sentences. There were approximately five hundred and fifty-seven thousand questions suddenly running though her brain. “Biology—hormones. And concussion. Probably—not. I mean—we probably shouldn’t—metallurgy. We’re supposed to—metallurgy.”

She dove off the bed and rummaged through Draco’s book bag. She wrenched out the book, flipped to the introduction and began reading aloud before Draco could say anything.

“Metallurgy; the science of magical metallurgy is a branch of Charmwork. One of the most ancient branches in Wizarding science, its purpose is to utilize the characteristics of metal by imbuing them with spellwork. This enables Charms Masters to magnify and maintain complex charm work that would otherwise be impossible to create. Metallurgy is delicate work, in many regards as much art as science. It necessitates a deep understanding of both magic and metal in order to find a complimentary balance in forces. Metal used in Charmwork cannot be chosen based on appearance, it must be determined by choosing a metal with fundamental qualities that complement the magic…”

Hermione read through the introduction and didn't stop to breathe until her face turned blue. She drew in a gasping breath and then continued on. Her eyes were glued to the page. She did not look at Draco. She was not thinking about Draco. She was reading metallurgy aloud as fast as she possibly could and she didn’t stop until she reached the end of the forty-two page introduction.

She permitted her eyes to dart up briefly. Draco had his hands over his face as though he were in pain.

“Are you alright?” She snapped the book shut and hurried over. “Is your head hurting again? I can call Pomfrey.”

“No. It’s not that.” His voice was muffled behind his hands.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, I don’t know—,“ his voice was still muffled, “—maybe that I said I was interested in you and then you proceeded to leap off the bed and start reading a book at a rate of five thousand words per minute.”

Hermione’s face grew hot and she fidgeted with her hands. “I just—we’re already dealing with a lot. The hormones… biology… You have a brain injury right now. I think—we shouldn’t have this conversation now. We already have enough trouble understanding each other. I don’t think this is a good time.”

Draco pulled his hands away and stared up at her. His eyes were slightly narrowed and his mouth was curved in a familiar sneer. “I don’t want you to let me down over the course two days because I have a concussion. If you don’t want my interest, tell me now and I’ll shut up and you’ll never hear another word about it.”

“What? No. That’s not what I meant!”

Draco’s eyes lit up. “Then that’s a yes then?”

Hermione stared at him wordlessly for several seconds. Then she drew a slow breath.

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” she said firmly. “Let’s talk tomorrow when you’re recovered from your concussion.”

Draco looked ready to argue but he swallowed and gave a deep sigh. “Fine.”

“We can just read,” Hermione said, clutching the metallurgy book against her chest. The sensation of the leather cover and the deckle edge pages felt so reassuring under her fingers. Metallurgy. Charms. Concrete and discrete rules. No guesswork or emotions or hormones to worry about muddying everything up. Just straightforward information.

“Fine,” Draco said. His tone was entirely unenthusiastic. “That’s fine. If that’s what you want.”

Hermione fidgeted. “I just don’t want things to get all mixed up again because it turns out Pomfrey gave you a potion that made you hallucinatory or something. I don’t think I’ll handle it if we somehow misunderstand each other all over again.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I get it. Reading is fine. Although, perhaps you could try reading more slowly, and sit a bit—closer.” His expression didn’t change at all but his eyes glittered slightly at the last word.

Hermione studied him through narrowed eyes. “I’m not going to let you pull me into your lap again.”

Draco gave a small sigh and slid over on the bed. He patted the space beside him. “Here then.”

Hermione continued to baulk, and he laid his hands over his heart. “I promise to behave myself.”

Hermione seated herself gingerly on the bed beside him and then looked up at him with a severe expression. “No reading over my shoulder.”

“I wouldn’t dare.”

“Alright then,” Hermione said primly, as she opened the book. “Chapter one, conductive metals.”

Draco shifted and his arm draped over her shoulder. Hermione looked up sharply. His head was tilted back and his eyes were closed.

She cleared her throat and started reading. As she read the weight of his arm on her shoulder steadily grew heavier and heavier. As she finished the section detailing the uses of aluminium his head dropped slightly against hers.

She looked up and found him asleep.

She read quietly to herself until she finished the metallurgy book and then using her toe, she caught the strap of his book bag and pulled it over.

She was growing uncomfortably aroused. It had been more than a month since she’d gone so long without an orgasm and it was beginning to feel like a throbbing, tangled ball of tension between her legs. She shifted and pressed her knees together while she tried to focus on finding something new to read.

There wasn’t anything to be done about it. She’d just have to cope.

But there was a part of her that was whining and wanted to roll over and grind on Draco to try to deal with the growing frustration. He was right there and he smelled edible.  She wanted to flick her tongue out and drag it along his wrists until he woke up. To have him push her down and tear her clothes off. To feel his cock slide through her folds and then slowly stretch her as he sank to the hilt inside her.

Her nipples grew hard and she gave a frustrated moan and tried to break free of the fantasy slowly monopolizing her brain.

She pulled out several books on Ancient Runes and started reading.

Madam Pomfrey poked her head through the curtains a few hours later. “You’re still here.”

“I didn’t want to wake him.”

“Dinner is nearly over. Let me move him.” Pomfrey flicked her wand and the pressure on Hermione’s head and shoulders eased. The matron came over and gently moved Draco down onto his back in the bed. He barely stirred. Hermione rolled her neck and it cracked several times as she stood up.

“You should go, dear. He’ll probably sleep all night.”

Hermione stared down at him. “You’ll keep an eye on him? The—there are a lot of students who don’t like that he’s here. I’m a bit—I’m worried about him, if I’m not here to make sure he’s alright.”

“I’ll put extra monitor charms on him to ensure there are no disturbances if it will reassure you. No one will bother him in my hospital ward. There is quite a bit of magic here to keep patients safe. Go on to dinner. Mr Malfoy will be here to visit in the morning.”

As Hermione reluctantly pulled the door open and stepped out, Theo looked up from a chair facing the hospital ward.

“I was wondering if you’d ever come out.”

Hermione studied him and her fingers inched instinctively for her wand. Theo didn’t stand. He stayed in his seat, looking up at her.

“Do you need something, Theo?” She tilted her head and studied him.

“I wanted to talk to you. But, you don’t seem like you’re very comfortable talking to me right now.” He folded his hands and gave her a wry smile.

Hermione was unabashed. “I’m not very trusting of Alphas.”

“Except Draco,” Theo said, raising an eyebrow. “You seem to trust him.” He gave a faint laugh and stared pointedly at her hand. “You can just pull your wand out if you want. I can tell you want to. I won’t be offended, and you’ll feel better that way.”

It was an opportunity to be trusting. But Hermione wasn’t inclined to be trusting. Not yet. No matter how charming Theo Nott could be.

She drew her wand and held it at her side, raising an eyebrow. “What do you want, Theo?”

Chapter Text

“I wanted to talk to you about Draco,” Theo said, cocking his head to the side as he stared at her. “You said yesterday that your—thing with each other isn’t a relationship, but it appears to have taken a slight turn. If the scene in the hospital wing was anything to by.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

Theo drew a quick breath and straightened as he studied her. There was something in his expression that hadn’t been there in the DADA classroom. A sort of wariness or reserve; Hermione wasn’t sure which.

“I know you and Draco aren’t what would be described as friends, but he isn’t the same person he was in the past years here at school.” Theo seemed to hesitate slightly. “I know you’re in a tight spot but—I hope you realize that just because he’s an easy solution doesn’t mean it isn’t—personal for him.”

Hermione felt a sense of cold slide through her spine. “Did—,” she hesitated slightly and bit her lip for a moment. “Did Draco tell you that I’m sleeping with him because of his probation?”

Theo gave a slow nod. Hermione pressed her lips together and looked away down the hall.

“I see.” The corner of her mouth twitched. “I didn’t realize that was how I come across to people. That I seem like the kind of person who would blackmail someone into having sex with me.” Her hold on her wand tightened slightly.

“He didn’t say you were blackmailing him,” Theo said quickly, his eyes widening. “That’s not how he put it. He just said that it’s why it’s him, rather than anyone else. Because he’s—safer for you. It’s not like any of us would have said no.” He shrugged. “Well, maybe Longbottom. You have to agree that it’s rather odd that it’s Draco you’re with.”

Hermione clenched her jaw. “Everything about the situation is odd, including the fact it exists. I’m trying to manage it as best I can. I didn’t—expect things with Malfoy to go for this long. He didn’t tell me that he thought I’d only asked because of his probation. If I’d known, I would have told him that it wasn’t. But he didn’t tell me that until today. And when he did, he framed it as being an entirely reasonable, and unsurprising thing for me to do—” Her voice cut off.

“Your ‘happiness’ is the axis upon which their world turns.”

Draco would do anything for her. He’d rationalize his way into doing whatever he thought she wanted from him; into thinking it was fair of her to ask it. Being used by her. Being interested in her.

It was all the same.

There was a knot in her stomach, twisting tighter and tighter as the day wore on.

“Why did you ask him? If you don’t mind my asking.” Theo’s voice cut into her thoughts.

She blinked looked at Theo and wanted to go find a hole to hide in.

“I felt like I could trust him,” she said, twitching her shoulder. “He—can tell when I’m asking for something I don’t actually want. And—he stops when I say no. Everyone else just ignores it. Even Neville, although he felt so badly afterward that he wanted to withdraw from school.”

Theo winced. “I’m sorry. I never apologized, but I felt terrible about how we all acted after McGonagall brought you out. I should have apologized sooner. Or at least yesterday when we talked.”

Hermione shrugged again and felt bitter. “It’s the way Alphas are. The books make it pretty clear that there’s nothing to be done about it.”

“And that’s why you trust Draco,” Theo said, “because he’s not like that.”

Hermione gave small nod. “I suppose so.”

Theo's expression grew briefly resigned before clearing. “Well, that makes sense. So, what are you two up to now? It would help to know if I’m running interference with Pansy.”

Hermione shuffled her feet and glanced forlornly at the doors of the infirmary. “I’m not sure. We’re not very good at talking to each other. We seem to mostly misunderstand one another.”

Theo’s eyebrows went up slightly. Hermione stared at him and grew begrudgingly aware that he was—very handsome. He was wearing a jumper with sleeves rolled up to his elbows; it showed off his pale muscular forearms. He had expressively dark eyes that were both clever and observant. Theo Nott seemed like the sort of person who was full of information he rarely shared with others.

In a world where she could trust him, Theo Nott would be an interesting person to be friends with.

She shook herself slightly.

“It seems like Draco thinks things are different now than they were yesterday.” Theo was eyeing her pointedly.

Hermione drew a deep breath. “Yes. He does.”

“Do you?”

“I don’t know.” She looked away. “The biology muddies everything. It’s difficult to even have a conversation half the time. I don’t know what’s real and what’s just—hormones. I wasn’t really expecting this thing with him to—this is all catching me off guard.”

Theo’s expression grew wary.

Hermione bristled and her lip curled angrily. “I’m not trying to hurt him. I’m trying to be careful.” Her empty hand clenched into a fist and she drew a sharp breath. “Up until today I just assumed I was just some freebie he was happy to take advantage of as long as he didn’t actually have to interact with me. He wouldn’t look at me. He’d barely talk to me most of the time. He’d always just—leave, without a word. It seemed like the obvious conclusion. Now I find out that this whole time he thought I was using him because of his probation, and he’s even become—interested in me despite it.”

Her shoulders dropped. “I don’t know how to think about any of it. I don’t know him very well. I don’t know how much is self-determined choice and how much is a biological imperative creating behavior that he rationalizes. I don’t even know how to tell the difference in myself most of the time. I certainly don’t know how to tell with him. I’m trying not to let all this end horribly, but I’m honestly not sure exactly how to do that.”

Hermione drew a sharp breath and squared her shoulders.

She had things she needed to do. A to-do list of concrete actions she needed to take. Problems to solve and things she could fix. Unlike herself.

She closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. “I need to go,” she said in a tight voice. “I have to meet with Ginny and Neville about joining the prefect roster.” She turned to leave.

Theo nodded, his eyebrows were furrowed as he stared at her. As though he were trying to calculate something. “That’s right, you’re a prefect again. Why?”

Hermione paused and met Theo’s eyes, jutting her chin up. “There’s a bullying issue. Becoming prefect seemed like the best way to help resolve it.”

Theo’s mouth quirked into a smile. “Gryffindor.”

Hermione gave a small nod. “Yes.”

She walked away without a backward glance. When she was alone, she paused and leaned her head against the wall for several minutes trying to clear her head. It was a pity she didn’t know occlumency. Everything felt unbearably crowded: all the conflicting problems and information, her own feelings, and the heat in her lower abdomen that she had no solution for.

She felt so uncomfortably horny she decided to skip the Great Hall and go directly to the Prefect Office. She didn’t fancy the idea of sitting around having all the Alphas eating dinner smelling it.

She stopped by the library in the hope that Madam Pince had her satchel and was dismayed to learn that Pansy had not turned it in. Hermione dreaded the thought of having to track down Pansy in order ask to get it back; especially since she was sure that Pansy was the sort who would have gone through it all.

Her package from St Mungo’s was in her bag. Hermione gave a muffled groan of despair just thinking of Pansy reading through it all.

She knocked sharply on the door to the Prefect Office.

“Come in,” Ginny’s voice called.

Hermione poked her head in and found Ginny behind the Heads’ desk.

“Hermione, are you here to get help with your homework?” Ginny’s eyes sparkled when she saw who it was.

Hermione gave a forced laugh as she closed the door. “No. I’m actually here to report for prefect duty.” Her fingers rose up and she straightened the pin on her uniform.

“Ohh! You—you’re a prefect again. That’s—I wasn’t expecting that.”

Hermione’s mouth quirked and she arched an eyebrow. “I wasn’t planning on it. But I became aware of the bullying issue that the school is dealing with this year.”

Ginny’s eyes widened guiltily and her shoulders suddenly climbed up around her ears.

Hermione crossed her arms, “When I went to report about it to McGonagall she mentioned you’re short on reliable prefects. So I volunteered.”

Ginny looked down at the scroll on the desk in front of her. “You didn’t need to do that. Nev and I are working on it. You’re already overextended this year; you don’t need to feel responsible for Malfoy too.” Ginny rolled her eyes faintly. “The Malfoys can survive anything.”

Hermione’s eyebrows shot up and her jaw jerked downward. “They threw him into a wall so hard he blacked out, Ginny!”

Ginny flinched slightly.

“His face was bleeding and he was covered in bruises. He’s in the hospital ward. When I got there, Cornelius Burbage was going on and on about how he wanted to go to Draco’s manor and rape Narcissa Malfoy. There were more than a dozen boys who had Draco cornered, so he couldn’t even try to run.” Hermione’s voice was crackling with rage. “I talked to you yesterday about how it upset me that he was so cold when we weren’t together and you didn’t think to mention that when he’s alone people are tracking him down, attacking him and trying to get him thrown into Azkaban.”

Ginny gave a deep sigh and leaned back against her desk. “I didn’t know anything that severe was happening to him. Normally it’s just your typical hexes or a few bruises. Standard bullying. We’re trying to manage it, but it’s not as though anyone likes that he’s here. I have a hard enough time getting a patrols partner for Parkinson. Telling the prefects to watch out for Malfoy is like talking to a wall.”

Hermione’s eyes widened and she scoffed. “So what? You’re just ignoring it? The prefects don’t want to, so you’ll just ignore it until Draco is permanently injured or expelled?”

Ginny jutted her chin up and stared at Hermione resentfully, her eyebrows furrowing into an angry V. “No. Don’t accuse me of neglecting my Head duties, Hermione. You’ve been dealing with a lot, but so am I. I don’t think you have any idea of how tense things are right now. Your eyes are glued to the Alphas. The rest of us barely register for you unless we interrupt your study time. The school is a mess, and I am working very hard to meet the needs of all the students I’m responsible for. You don’t understand the grudges here. You were camping while the rest of us were trapped in this castle with the Carrows.”

Hermione gave an indignant gasp and Ginny whipped her hand up and continued talking. “I’m not faulting you for it. Harry needed you, you had to find the horcruxes, I get it all. You don’t need to vindicate what you did or what you went through. But you also don’t understand where most of the students are coming from. I don’t like Malfoy, Hermione.” Ginny’s hand dropped down to grip the desk. “You seem to have forgotten, but it’s sort of a thing. I don’t like Malfoy. You don’t like Malfoy. He bullied Harry for years. His father stuck a horcrux in with my school books in the hopes of getting my dad sacked. I got possessed. My family and his have been feuding for several generations.”

Ginny drew a sharp breath, her cheeks flushing as she tossed her head slightly. “Ron—you know that boy you were sort of dating before you decided to come back to school—he has nightmares about the war. Not about Fred dying, or the Battle of Hogwarts. He wakes up screaming and begging to be interrogated rather than you at Malfoy Manor.”

Hermione flinched and twisted her wand in her hands.

Ginny let out a long sigh and met Hermione’s eyes steadily. “I’m trying to be supportive of what you decide to do. The students—we can eventually move on from the war, but what you’re going through is redefining your whole life. I get that you want to control it. So when you started shagging Malfoy, and you didn’t want to tell Harry or Ron, I went along with it. But that doesn’t make me like him. That doesn’t make me forgive him for poisoning Ron and imperio’ing Katie and letting Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Or for just staying in the background when the Carrows were enjoying their reign of terror. Or for being a Death Eater. I get that he’s become important to you, but it’s a bit late for Draco Malfoy to get to be a victim in my book.”

Hermione swallowed and drew a slow breath. “Draco is not his father. He was tried. You were there. I testified for him. So did Harry. He’s on probation for years. No flying, restricted apparition, no international travel for ten years. A lifetime ban on holding a Ministry position. No offensive magic outside of class including jinxes and hexes for five years. He could have been expelled for stopping Anthony. You don’t need to regard him as a victim to realize he doesn’t deserve to be blamed and punished for the entire war.” Her voice shook slightly.

Ginny snorted. “Being tried and put on a probation with a travel ban and spell restrictions doesn’t mean I have to forgive him.” Ginny was pale but the hollows of cheeks were growing stained scarlet.

“I’m not telling you to forgive him. I’m telling you to do your job.” Hermione slammed her fist onto the table. “If you believe in the justice system at all then as Head Girl it is your job to stop cowards like Cornelius Burbage from demanding a pound of flesh because they know Draco doesn’t have the ability to fight back. I was so proud of you for getting Head Girl; for everything you and Neville did here during the war. But I am honestly so disappointed in you right now.”

Hermione drew an angry breath. Her throat was tight and she want to turn around and go back to the hospital ward and curl around Draco so she could be sure no one could ever do anything to hurt him again. ”But you know what? It doesn’t matter if you care. Or if you’re going to do your job. I’m going to take care of him. Just let me know when you want me to do rounds.” Her throat was tight and her voice furious.

“Hermione…” Ginny slumped. “Don’t do this. Don’t become a prefect for Malfoy. You were so excited about this school year, about just getting to study. You passed on Head Girl—,“ Hermione opened her mouth to try deny it, but Ginny cut her off with a sharp wave of her hand. “I know you passed on it. There’s no way I would have been offered the position if you hadn’t turned it down first. It was pretty obvious when you weren’t even a prefect this year. This whole Omega thing—I know you’re getting attached to Malfoy because he’s shagging you. That’s what you said, that it’s emotional on your end. But he doesn’t even acknowledge you in public. Don’t build your last year of school around someone like him. There are so much better Alphas out there. It’s not like the options are Charlie or Malfoy.” Ginny drew a deep breath. “I’ll be more proactive about the bullying issue. I’ll reiterate to policies to the prefects. I will watch out for Malfoy. I really will. Don’t add this to your workload.”

“I’m going to do this for him, Ginny. I need to do this. I don’t care about my workload.” Hermione stiffly turned to leave. A hand closed around her wrist. It grazed her scent glands, and Hermione gave a sharp hiss as she jerked her hand free. “Don’t touch me there.”

Ginny withdrew her hands quickly. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Don’t just storm off. I’m trying to help. Just—” Ginny ran a hand through her hair. “Hermione, are you—do you like him? Are you trying to make this thing somehow work out with him? I get that today was bad; I’m taking that seriously. But I’m trying to understand why you‘re suddenly like this. Yesterday you looked gutted just talking about him, and now you’re becoming a prefect and calling him Draco.”

Hermione stared at her shoes. “Apparently, there’s been a rather massive misunderstanding between us this whole time. During my—heat, after he first arrived, he tried to leave. He asked if I wanted Neville or Anthony or someone else and I just—climbed him. Afterward—I thought maybe I’d sexually assaulted him by making him go into a rut and that was why he left. So I asked McGonagall to check on him and see if he was alright. But instead of expressing my concerns she implied that he had assaulted me and she told him that if he bothered me further, or if I was uncomfortable with his presence at school, he’d be immediately expelled. So when I asked him to scent-mark, he assumed the reason I asked was because if he crossed a line I’d throw him in Azkaban.”

“Oh gosh.” Ginny stood blinking at Hermione.

Hermione drew a long breath through her nose, shifting her weight and scuffing a shoe on the floor. “Apparently he’s been ignoring me this whole time in an attempt to meet my terms. But—I set those terms to try to assure him I wasn’t expecting him to want to have any kind of public association with me. I thought the scent-marking was just going to be temporary—maybe a week or two. I didn’t expect it to go on this long. So we’ve both just been miserably going along with what we thought the other person wanted. But apparently he’s—interested in me.” Hermione’s voice jumped uncontrollably at the last three words.

Ginny snorted and rolled her eyes. “They’re all interested in you.”

Hermione flinched and her stomach dropped.

Ginny shot Hermione a look, the corner of her mouth twitching slightly as her shoulders drooped. “But it’s different with him—you want him to be interested in you.”

Hermione flushed and gave a short nod. “I actually think I could really like him. When we work on our Arithmancy project or start talking about books, it’s—I’ve never had someone I could talk to about so many things without their eyes just glazing over. I love Harry and Ron, but I can’t explain how lonely it is to have a whole world in your head that no one is really interested in knowing about.

She rubbed her wrists together, trying to make the heaviness in her chest go away. “Draco has even read Hogwarts: A History. Several times. In fact he was rather defensive when it came up; I think he thought I’d think he was a history boffin. But he insisted that I’d probably like it. When I told him it was my favourite book he just stared at me with this expression of astonished delight and then turned bright red—”

Hermione found herself smiling down at the floor. She buried her face in her hands for several seconds in order to clear the expression from her face. She drew a deep breath and pressed her lips together for a moment before looking up at Ginny. “And he listens to me. All the other Alphas—they get into this mode around me where they don’t hear anything I say; when I’m saying no, or I ask them to stop, or if I tell them they’re hurting me. They don’t—listen. Draco does. He always does. And when I’m asking him to do something but it’s not really me, he can tell, and he says no for me.”

Hermione’s mouth twisted slightly and she looked away. Her cheekbones ached slightly and she felt tempted to cry. “But I don’t know if any of that matters. The way I affect him is—it might even be worse than how he affects me. He’s willing to fold himself into any shape that he thinks will please me and think it’s fine. I actually asked him yesterday if he cared—about me, and he lied and said no; because he thought if he said yes I’d just end things straight off, since he’d been assuming that eventually I’ll move on to some other Alpha. He thought I was just using him until I had a better option because he was imprisonable.”

Hermione swallowed hard. “He thought that was fair. That it was fine and not anything to complain about, even though he liked me. I don’t know—if we hadn’t finally cleared things up today, if he would have ever told me. Or if he would have just kept going along with my terms because he assumed that was what I was wanted.”

Hermione dropped her head into her hands for several seconds. She heard Ginny step closer and looked up, smiling bitterly. “I hadn’t even been thinking through that aspect of Alpha biology. That wanting to please an Omega would mean they’d just—force themselves to change until they fit into some mould. And not speak up when they wanted to. At least in my case the instincts are temporary and then my head clears. But I don’t think it does for him. I dragged him into this—thing with me and he’s so far in, I’m not sure what I can do that won’t end up hurting him.”

Hermione swallowed. “So anyway. That’s how it is. I hadn’t expected he’d be someone I’d like, but every time I get glimpses of him I feel like I do. It never occured to me that he’d be interested, but now he is and it’s so hard to not just want to go along with it. And I can’t tell if that’s because I’m being selfish or delusional—“ Her voice broke off.

Ginny wrapped an arm around Hermione. Hermione dropped her head down against Ginny’s shoulder.

“Well, I still don’t like Malfoy, but I’ll support you, Hermione, whatever you do. If he wants to change himself to deserve you, I’d say let him. It would only be an improvement.”

Hermione gave a choked laugh.

“We’ve got the next several weeks of patrols already scheduled. So you can ease back into prefect duties. We meet on Tuesday after dinner to go over notes and discuss prefect duties.”

Hermione nodded. “Alright. I’ll be there. And I can probably cover, if anyone is sick. Just let me know. I’ll give you a copy of my time table tomorrow.”

Hermione left the prefect office after a few more minutes of logistics with Ginny. She wandered down the hall. She’d get her bag back from Pansy the next day. She went to Gryffindor tower and pulled out her supplemental textbooks. She checked her watch; the library hours had already ended.

She fidgeted uncomfortably. She wasn’t used to having evenings free anymore. She could feel her knickers growing steadily drenched. Her sex drive had apparently not gotten the memo that Draco was unavailable that night.

Her whole body was beginning to throb. She felt as though there were an emptiness in her lower abdomen that was tearing at her. Her glands were starting to grow over-sensitive and borderline painful. Her clit was aching. Emotionally she felt on the verge of falling apart.

She felt as though she were going through some kind of withdrawal.

She wanted to go sneak into the hospital ward and curl up around Draco. If she couldn’t have sex with him, at least she could smell him and not feel so unbearably cold.

She shook herself and tried to study. The words in her books swam before her eyes.

She gave up and took a scalding hot shower. The water on her glands was soothing, and she closed her eyes and let her hands drift slowly along her body. She caressed her own neck and jaw. She pressed her fingertips against her glands at the base of her throat. Her other hand rose up and cupped her breast, sliding her thumb across her nipple so that it tightened into a sensitive bud.

She dropped her head back.

It wasn’t her hands. It was Draco. It was what he would do if he were there.

She wasn’t getting herself off because she didn’t have an Alpha. Draco would be there if he could be.

Touching herself was not something Hermione was particularly experienced with. Her sex drive hadn’t really been a matter she’d attended to. It was a thing she’d assumed would show up when she had a boyfriend.

Instead it had jumped her on the Hogwarts Express when Draco slid into her compartment and she still felt like she was only beginning to sort it out.

Draco knew her body better than she did. But she had paid attention as much as she could, and over the course of a month she’d gotten a clearer sense of what she liked.

She dragged her thumb lightly across her glands.

She probably was going to make it all worse by trying to masturbate. After presenting, she’d tried several times to get herself off before Draco had started to scent-mark her. It had been a spectacular failure each time.

But she felt so miserable she wanted to try again.

She pinched her nipple slightly and started replaying one of the many, many occasions in which Draco had pulled her into an alcove.

His voice was always deep and sly when he greeted her. Like velvet across her skin.

He’d kiss her first, and slide a hand up under her shirt to cup her breast. His burning mouth would suck on her glands, and it would take mere seconds before she’d be limp and wanton in his arms. His hand would press between her legs so she could grind against him as he licked and teased her throat until she was trembling.

Hermione pressed her own hand between her legs. Teasing at first, sliding two fingers along the seam of her sex until she felt her inner walls clench. She pressed her fingertips against her clit and arched her hips.

He’d unbutton her shirt just enough to pull the cups of her bra aside and then dip his head down the lave and suckle on her nipples as he’d slowly slide to his knees.

Hermione twisted her nipple between her thumb and index finger and gripped her breast harder.

He’d press her back against the wall and shove up her skirt. He’d brush his nose against her mons and she’d feel the air move against her skin as he breathed in deeply against her sex. Then, using one hand splayed across her hips to pin her to the wall, he’d pull her knickers aside.

He always started softly. Teasing. Pressing the lightest kisses against her sex until her arousal was sliding down her legs. Running his tongue along her thighs to catch every drop. He’d gently suck her clit into his mouth as his fingers pressed inside of her.

Hermione tried to move her fingers in a way that captured the movement of Draco’s tongue. She imagined his silver eyes as he looked up at her. He always watched her expression as her face twisted and she writhed under him until she shattered. His eyes would get darker and darker the closer she got to coming. The silver would slowly vanish until she felt as though she were falling into them.

His burning, soothing tongue gently teasing her delicate flesh; somehow always able to tell the stroke that could push her over. Doing it again and again. His fingers inside her, she’d grip them as they pressed in and curled forward toward her pelvis.

Hermione slid two fingers into her slick core and felt the heat of her body as she clenched around them. She used her thumb to keep teasing her clit.  

She thought about Draco’s eyes. How he watched her. The triumph and satisfaction in his expression when she gave a low cry and came apart for him.

She came.

She gave a low gasp of astonishment. Her knees gave out. She collapsed onto the shower floor, panting with surprise.

She pressed her hand against her chest and sat under the pouring water as she absorbed it.

It was probably the smallest orgasm she’d had in the last month. But it was hers. She’d managed it all on her own.

Thinking about Draco and she’d been able to do it.

She stepped out of the shower and toweled off, pulling on her pajamas and several jumpers. She stared resentfully at her bed. She did not want to sleep there.

She pulled her robes on and headed to the private room with her books. She buried her face in the pillows until she found the one that smelled the most like Draco. She hugged it against her chest and opened a book. She read until midnight and then curled up and tried to sleep.

She couldn’t.

She tossed and turned, transfigured a dozen more comforters, and buried her nose in the pillow, and couldn’t sleep.

Two nights without him was apparently a limit.

She was used to sleeping on his chest, hearing his heartbeat, and burying her face against his glands while he wrapped his arms around her. Masturbation, pillows and extra blankets were a paltry and far from sufficient replacement.

At two AM she finally gave up and got out of bed. She grabbed her wand and peeked out into the empty hallway. She checked the Marauder Map to ensure the rest of the school was in bed.

She snuck through through the castle to the hospital ward. She hesitated outside the doors. She wasn’t sure if she’d set off a dozen screaming wards if she tried to enter. She cast a detection spell and couldn’t see anything that implied a warning system or restrictions from entering.

She laid her hand lightly on the handle and turned it. It opened soundlessly. She slipped in and glanced around the darkened hospital ward. She tiptoed over to the curtains surrounding Draco’s bed.

Would it be creepy to try to sleep in the chair next to his bed? She wasn’t going to bother him, she just wanted to be near him.

She poked her head through the curtains and found Draco’s silver eyes staring at her in the darkness. She started slightly with surprise.

He smirked. Well, not really; the expression on his face was more in the realm of being a broad grin. “You came back.”

Hermione blushed. “I couldn’t sleep. It’s—cold to sleep alone.”

He sat up. “I couldn’t either. I woke when you left.”

“Oh. I didn’t mean to wake you by leaving. Pomfrey said you’d sleep until tomorrow.” Hermione stepped through the curtains.

Draco snorted. “I don’t think she knows much about Alphas and Omegas. She keeps touching my glands when she puts potions on my shoulder. I was ready to bite her.”

“She did that to me too.” Hermione shuddered.

He reached out toward her. “Come here.”

She stepped closer and he caught her wrist and pulled her onto the bed. He buried his head in the crook of her shoulder and wrapped his arms tightly around her.

Hermione melted against him, pressing her nose against his glands.

He started to lean back in the bed and Hermione stiffened slightly. “Draco, we can’t.”

“I’m not. I’m too tired to bend any rules,” he said in a plaintive voice, as he continued to pull her down onto the bed with him. “We’ll just sleep.”

“Are you sure? I can just sit in the chair.”

“Absolutely not.” His hold tightened. “Neither of us will sleep at all that way. I have a concussion. I need sleep to recover. This is medically necessary.”

“Slytherin,” Hermione said with a snort, smiling against his shoulder.

“Don’t tell anyone.” He tangled a hand in her hair and pressed a kiss to her forehead. Hermione shivered against his lips.

She closed her eyes and nuzzled closer until she was pressed against him as much as was physically possible.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke up feeling as though her body was on fire. Draco was lying on top of her with his nose buried against her neck. Each time he’d breathe in the air twisted against her glands sending a shiver of arousal through her body.

She gave a small whimper.

At the sound, Draco’s arms around her tightened and he growled somewhere deep in his throat. The sound vibrated through her nerves and she felt a gush of liquid heat between her legs. She was aching inside. Every inch of her flesh was attuned and ready. Her nipples were rigid peaks; her sex was throbbing steadily.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

She arched instinctively against him and tilted her head back as much as she could. Draco growled again and she felt his tongue drag across her glands.

Hermione gave a choked moan and ground her hips against him.

“Alpha, please,” she said in a low keen.

Draco suddenly froze and jerked awake. His silver eyes were nearly black as he stared down at her, wide-eyed.

“Please.” Hermione looked longingly up at him and tried to grind against his erection. She tilted her head back even further to expose her neck.

“Granger?” He seemed to be taking her in; he sniffed the air and his eyes grew darker. He drew a sharp breath that was half a groan and shifted against her.

“Mine,” he said huskily as he lowered his head and their lips touched. Hermione moaned and tangled her legs with his as they kissed. His hands slid along her body, pulling her close as his tongue played against hers.

“Alpha, please.”

She started pulling her shirt up and shimmying out of her pajama bottoms. She had her knickers halfway down her hips when Draco seemed to suddenly notice. His hands closed her around her wrists, pressing against her glands. Hermione gave a guttural moan and her eyes rolled back in her head as she ground into him.

“Wait. Wait,” Draco half growled the words and it felt like he was trying to simultaneously climb off her and pin her to the bed.

“God—fuck. Granger? Granger? We cannot have sex in the infirmary.”

Hermione barely heard him.

“Alpha, Alpha—Please. Please take care of me.” Hermione twisted her wrists in his hold and felt shockwaves of pleasure ripple through her.

Draco wavered and sank down against her again. Hermione ground her hips up against his. He gave a shuddering moan and dropped his head down into the juncture of her neck. She felt his tongue drag across her glands and writhed against him.

His teeth suddenly closed around her trapezius muscle. Hard but without breaking her skin.

Hermione instantly froze, her eyes going wide.

He held her there for several seconds and then let go and stared down at her.

“Wait.” The words were growled. They sank into somewhere deep inside her brain. “I will take care of you. You have to wait.”

Hermione’s eyes were still wide. Her entire body was still on fire but she gave a small obedient nod.

If he asked her to jump into a volcano, she would do it. If it meant she’d feel his teeth on her again. She would. Anything, anything, anything.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Please.

Draco stared at her for a moment to verify she wasn’t writhing or taking her clothes off anymore. He was panting through his teeth. His expression as he stared down at her was ravenous.

He dragged his eyes away for a moment and stood up.

“Pomfrey! I am going. I am leaving right now.” He leaned over and picked Hermione up, cradled her against his chest and marched through the privacy curtains. Hermione wrapped her arms possessively around his neck and purred.

“Mr Malfoy,” Madam Pomfrey’s indignant voice burst through the room. “You are not a medical professional. You do not decide when you can leave the—“

Hermione stared glazedly at the hospital matron.

“I am leaving.” Draco said in a flat voice. The vibrations rippled through Hermione and she gave a small whimper and buried her face in his chest. “Unless you prefer being flung from the infirmary for the next several hours. Complain to McGonagall.”

He shifted Hermione up so that her head was resting against his shoulder as he turned away.

Hermione tried to be patient. He said he’d take care of her if she waited.

But it was taking forever. He kept walking and walking.

She gave up on waiting and eagerly nuzzled her nose against his glands and flicked the tip of her tongue out to play against them. Draco’s entire body went rigid. He stopped walking and shook slightly before he hurried on.

Hermione slowly did it again. Maybe he’d fuck her against the wall. That would be lovely. His divine cock inside her. Hard. Fast. Growling against her throat. His teeth...

Hermione’s clit throbbed and she gave a low moan just thinking about it.

They were moving quickly through the castle but Hermione wasn’t paying any attention. She was licking Draco until he smelled like her as much as she wanted him to.

She twisted her tongue against his gland and he stumbled slightly.

“Fuck, Granger—Wait.”

“Alpha, please,” she said against his throat.

She found herself unexpectedly put down. She looked around dazedly and found that they were in a broom closet. Finally.

She jumped Draco, kissing him ravenously.

“Fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me,” she chanted against his lips.

“Good fuck, Granger, just hold on a minute,” Draco said in a rasping voice as he tried to untangle her legs from where they were locked around his waist.

“Alpha, please.” Her voice dropped low and she was pleading against his lips.

“Come on, good girl, we’re almost there,” he said, pulling one of her hands out of his shirt where she was tweaking his nipple. “I’m not going to knot you in a broom closet.”

“Please…” She sucked hard on his gland and found herself pinned against the wall. He was kissing her hard. She could feel his hunger like fire through her veins. His hands were hot, sliding across her skin.

“Mine,” he snarled the word against her throat and she moaned approvingly. He dragged his tongue across her glands and Hermione spasmed under him. “Mine. My Omega.”

He slid a hand under the waistband of her pajamas and into her knickers; the tips of his fingers ghosting lightly against her pelvis. Hermione went slack with anticipation.

His hand slipped further down to the apex of her legs.

“You’re slick for me.” His mouth was breath away from her glands.

Hermione gave a dazed nod.

He sank two fingers into her core. Hermione bucked to take them deeper, clenching around them.

“You’re so tight, I don’t know how you take me. You’re so damn small.”

His fingers pumped into her tauntingly and his thumb grazed her clit.

“After you come for me here, I’m going to take you to our room and fuck you until you come around my cock before I even knot you. When you come, I want to hear your scream. I want you to say my name. You’re mine.”

His fingers curved inside her and thrust hard her as his thumb ground against her clit. His burning mouth closed around her throat and his teeth grazed her glands.

Hermione eyes went wide, “Draco…” she rasped as her orgasm obliterated her mind for several seconds.

She slumped against the wall and he kissed her neck and withdrew his hand. “Good girl, you’re a good girl.”

He licked his fingers as he stared down at her. “Can you walk?”

Hermione stared at him. There was a inkling of lucidity someone in the corner of her mind, but it was difficult to keep track of it in the black hole of desire that had taken residence between her legs.

“Walk?”

Why would there be walking? He’d said fuck, knot and screaming. She wanted to do those things. Right there, against the wall. Or on the floor. Either option worked. She wasn’t picky. Wherever he wanted. She would gladly have him fuck her anywhere he wanted.

She reached out and caressed his cock through the hospital pajama bottoms he was still wearing. His cock was rigid as she wrapped her fingers around the length and tugged it toward herself.

Draco gave a ragged groan and his hips jerked forward as his head fell back. Hermione eagerly slid her other hand along his stomach and down under the waistband, relishing the sensation of his skin under her fingers before they combed through the wiry thatch of hair at the base of his cock.

She wrapped her fingers around his cock. Aside from the very beginning of her heat she’d never had it in her hand. He never let her. But she was so curious. She slid her hand along it eagerly, stepping closer as his hips jerked forward. She started sliding her hand back down toward the base when his hand abruptly closed around her wrist and pulled her hand off.

“God, Granger, I’m not fucking you in a broom closet again.” Draco’s voice was thick as he pushed her hand away. “Come on, let’s get to our room and I’ll do anything you want.”

He jerked her off the ground and she wrapped her legs tightly around his waist and buried her face in his neck. If she couldn’t fuck him, she’d console herself by licking him as he ran through the halls of the castle.

Were there rules against running in castle? She couldn’t remember.

“Kismet,” Draco said and practically fell through the door, Hermione still in his arms.

He collapsed to the rug and kicked the door closed behind him as he ripped her shirt open.

“Mine,” he growled against her throat, pinning her wrists above her head as he dragged his tongue up her throat.

Fire. There was fire inside her nerves.

Hermione gave a guttural whimper under him as his free hand roamed down her body and jerked her pajama bottoms down so she could kick them off. She shoved them off her feet and parted her legs. He dropped his hips down and pressed the weight of his body against her as his tongue continued to lave against her glands.

Her clit was throbbing and she arched her pelvis trying to find relief.

“Alpha. Alpha. Please. Please fuck me.”

His hips shifted away and she could feel his fingers between her legs, sliding through her slick. She was so wet for him.

He liked her wet. Dripping. She knew. He’d be so pleased with her.

She parted her legs wider, exposing herself to him. He brushed his fingers lightly along her sex and dipped into her core. Her inner walls clenched desperately around nothing as he drew his fingers away.

Please. Please. Alpha. Please.

You’re so wet for me.” His voice was near her ear. His fingers played along the seam of flesh before vanishing. Hermione bit her lip and waited desperately.

He drove into her with one long thrust.

Hermione gasped as she felt herself stretch to accommodate him. He slid through the slick until he was sheathed to the hilt inside her. She arched, and moaned, and relaxed into the sensation of fullness as he withdrew and slammed back into her.

She keened as she canted her hips to meet his thrusts.

“Mine.” He let go of her wrists in order to catch her jaw and angle her mouth against his.

She clung to him and felt her mind free fall.

She was only vaguely aware of the promises and praise he spoke against her lips and throat. She was perfect. So perfect. He would always take care of her. He was sorry. He was sorry. He was sorry. She was such a good girl. He’d never let anyone hurt her.

She kissed the words from his lips and ran her fingers through his hair.

When she came, she screamed his name the way he’d asked.

He pulled out enough that he didn’t knot inside her when he came. While she lay on the rug panting and feeling her brain re-emerge, he slid down her body, peppering kisses over her breasts and over her stomach.

She tangled her fingers in his pale hair and drew him back up and studied his eyes before she kissed him slowly.

He carried her to the bed and pulled his shirt off before leaning across her and dragging his tongue all the way up her torso to her throat.

Her mind was in a strange, happily dazed place between being an Omega and being herself. She entwined their fingers and kissed along his knuckles.

She pulled his mouth to hers and kissed him and kissed him until she was gasping.

There was something she needed to urgently talk to him about. She tried to remember what. Something important; she’d been thinking about it the night before. Something...

“I had an orgasm last night, all by myself,” she suddenly blurted out.

Draco’s head popped up from where he was peppering her stomach with kisses and he stared her. She felt herself blush all the way down to her breasts.

No. That wasn’t the thing she’d wanted to talk to him about.

Draco was staring at her as though he intended to eat her.

“You were—unavailable and I couldn’t concentrate. So I tried. Again.” Why was she telling him this? “I had tried before we started shagging and it never worked. But I tried again last night. I imagined I was with you.”

Draco’s expression grew predatory and Hermione felt her pulse quicken. “I thought about how you look when you watch me come. I thought about how your eyes look.”

His expression was a mixture of triumph and ravenous hunger. Studying it was enough to slowly set her body alight again.

“I thought about it and I was able to come.” Her voice was breathy. It was hard to remember how to breathe when he stared at her that way.

“Did you now?” The words twisted across her skin.

She gave a small nod and felt her face grow pinker. “I think it helped to know you would have been there if you could have.”

Draco looked as smug as a kneazle. He just kept staring and staring at Hermione, until her skin felt as though there were electricity dancing across its surface.

“But it didn’t help me sleep at all. I tried for hours to sleep before I snuck into the infirmary.” She made a face.

He smirked and kissed her. “It’s good you did. I doubt I would have slept without you.”

Then he entwined his fingers with hers and dragged his tongue up her throat.

She felt her brain sliding away again. She closed her eyes and let it. Her Alpha was in control. It was fine.

His hands and tongue played across her body. The air was hazy, almost magical and electric from all the pheromones hanging in the air around them as he scent-marked across every inch of her. Hermione lay limp on the bed and felt his hands slide along her spine, followed by his lips and tongue.

“I’m going to fuck you again.” The words brushed against the shell of her ear and sent a shiver down her spine.

She gave a dazed nod, and he pulled her hips up just slightly and sank into her. He dragged his lips along her shoulders. He combed her hair aside in order to explore the nape of her neck with his mouth and tongue as he thrust.

Hermione arched her back in order to take him deeper, and moaned as she pushed back to meet his movement.

He dragged his teeth across her shoulder, and she whimpered into the mattress as her inner-walls gripped him. He nipped her harder, and her entire body shook.

Bite me. Bite me. She wanted to say it but she swallowed the words.

“You’re so good. You’re so perfect.” He started muttering his praise and promises against her skin.

When Draco slumped down, he pressed a kiss to her temple and gathered her in his arms.

Hermione sighed and dozed against his chest for several minutes before her brain suddenly decided to reassert itself fully. Her eyes popped opened and she stared up at Draco. He was studying her through half-lidded eyes.

“Mal—Draco, what does being interested in me mean?”

His eyes immediately widened and his expression grew closed. She felt his hand twitch against her spine. “What—do you want it to mean?”

Hermione pressed her lips together and sat up. “I want to know what you want. Not what you think I want.”

There was a flicker in Draco’s eyes that looked almost like terror. Then his eyes narrowed, the way they did when he was performing mental Arithmancy; calculating odds, trying to decide which choice to make.

“Draco, this isn’t a trick question,” she said in a sharp voice. “Just tell me what you want. I just want to know. I’m tired of guessing or assuming and then finding out I have it all wrong.”

Draco sat up, his expression set. “I’m interested in you. I’ve said that already. I want you. You’ve done the research. You know exactly how this usually goes. How is that not obvious?”

There was an underlying Alpha tone in the words that sent a shiver through Hermione.

She swallowed. “Alright. But do you want me just because you’re an Alpha?”

Draco scoffed and rolled his eyes. “No.”

She eyed him. “Really?”

Draco met her gaze. “Yes.”

Hermione’s mouth twitched and she tried to move forward delicately. She twisted her fingers in her hands. “Can you actually differentiate between yourself and the biological imperative?”

“Of course I can,” Draco folded his arms and jutted his chin up. The posture made his biceps and pectorals bulge unhelpfully. Hermione tried to avert her eyes and not get distracted ogling.

“Are you sure?” Hermione studied his face carefully; looking for any signs or cues to give her a sense that he was—him. “Because I—can’t always. Things seem rational and then later they’re not.”

Draco snorted and cocked his head as he met her stare. “Well, you don’t really have the same experience as I do generally. For the most part, it’s quite distinct for me.”

Hermione felt herself brighten and her heart rate jump slightly. She swallowed and ignored it. “How?”

“Well, it’s multifaceted. It’s not like I didn’t expect to be an Alpha. I don’t regard being an Alpha as distinct from who I am the way you do with your presentation. That said, there are instincts and biological imperatives that I can ignore most of the time.”

“What do you mean by most of the time?”

Draco licked his lips. Hermione’s face immediately warmed. “Well, I wasn’t exactly thinking when Theo sat next to you in class. I just wanted you to remember you were—mine.”

Hermione’s glands tingled and she felt her nipples harden just hearing him say it. She squirmed slightly and crossed her arms.

“But I wouldn’t ever cross a line even if I wanted to biologically.”

“What—“ Her voice betrayed her by jumping a full octave. She coughed and tried again. “What you do mean?”

“You’ve read the books. The biology is always there. Alphas are wired to want Omegas. So I want you—,“ his voice dropped into a near growl, “—to be happy, to be pleased with me, and I want—to bite you.”

Hermione felt heart flush across her skin and in her lower abdomen. Apparently no matter how much sex she’d just had, hearing Draco say “bite” was enough to turn her into a sopping mess. She could still feel his teeth on her shoulder when he’d bitten her to calm her in the infirmary.

When had she gone from thinking the idea of biting was vile and animalistic to the sexiest thing imaginable? Then again, she had never thought having someone lick her sounded appealing either. Now she’d gladly spend an entire month having Draco lick, kiss, and nibble across her body.

She swallowed thickly and pressed her thighs together while she tried to focus. She stared at the sheet and gnawed at her lip for several seconds.

“So—How does that work? That’s just biology, so you’d feel that way about any Omega. The fact it’s focused on me—,” she hesitated and her eyes dropped down to her knees. Her chest started to hurt slightly. “—doesn’t actually have anything to do with me. If it were anyone else, it would be the same.”

“It wouldn’t.” Draco said it as though he believed it.

Hermione snorted and shook her head carelessly. “It’s fine.” Her voice was unconvincing, even to her. “I mean—it’s not really, but I get it. You don’t need to act like you wouldn’t happily be doing this with any Omega who happened to present at Hogwarts.”

“Really?” Draco’s tone was suddenly acid-coated. “Is that how it is for you? You have a biological imperative, so all the Alphas here at Hogwarts are interchangeable?”

Hermione looked up at him indignantly. “What? No.”

“Then why assume it’s different for me?” He was using his pratty snob voice that Hermione loathed and she felt herself bristle.

“Because it seems pretty obviously different. You thought I was blackmailing you and somehow concluded it was fair. You say you’re interested, but were you planning on mentioning it, or were you just going to go along the way we were and step back without a word if I announced I was going to start shagging Theo instead?”

Draco’s expression turned black at her last words, but he also didn’t reply.

Hermione’s shoulders slumped. “See? This is the problem. I do this to you. None of it’s real. You just react to accommodate whatever you think I want and then rationalize your conclusion retrospectively.”

“Do I? Thanks, Granger, I don’t think I’d even know my thought processes without you.” Draco’s voice dripped with disdain.

“I don’t hear you denying it.”

“Right. And I’m the only one who rationalized a conclusion? You thought I didn’t want a damn thing to do with you and you just accepted it too. How is that any different?”

“I was adapting and I didn’t want to mess things up. I didn’t feel like I had any other option.”

“Well so was I. Going along with what you wanted didn't make me unaware of what I wanted.”

“So you’re claiming you’ve been sincerely interested in me this whole time. Are you like Theo then, and you’ve had a rebellious little crush on me since fourth year?” Hermione’s voice was mocking.

There was something surreal about sitting naked in a bed with Draco Malfoy and arguing about whether he fancied her.

“Good god, I’d forgotten how annoying you are.” Draco scowled.

Hermione felt something catch in her chest and her eyes widened. She pressed her lips together for a moment and then drew herself up. “Well, I guess it’s a good thing we finally talking. So you can remember that and realize your interest is just—fake. I’m annoying. We have never been friends. This is the real us.”

She stiffly slid off the mattress and started snatching her clothes up off the floor. Draco’s hand shot out and caught her by the wrist.

“Don’t you dare run off, Granger. You’re the Gryffindor. Since when has finding someone annoying and finding them fanciable mutually exclusive?”

“Oh. I don’t know. Usually.” Hermione was spitting like a cat as Draco dragged her across the bed and proceeded to wrap his arms and legs around her like a koala bear, gripping her wrists in his hands.  She tried to squirm free and he proceeded to hug her more tightly.

“What are you doing?” She twisted her wrist and managed to poked him repeatedly in the ribs. He jerked but refused to let go.

“I’m keeping you here until I’m done talking to you. Now stop stabbing me.”

He could have just ordered her to stay. With the quantity of scent-marking, a word from him in Alpha tone and her brain would have immediately folded. But he didn’t, so she could scream at him and order him to let go if she really wanted to get away.

She stilled.

“Now then,” he said in a smug voice as he dug his chin into her shoulder. “When you were visibly pining over Weasley while he was snogging the Brown girl all over the castle, was that because you were convinced of his perfection? You never thought he was annoying?”

Hermione rolled her eyes and poked him again. “That’s not the same.”

“Really? Why not? Because you were old friends? Knew each other too well?” He snorted. “I spent years pouring a not inconsiderable amount of energy into disliking you, noticing your flaws, and trying to surpass your marks in school. Would my interest be more convincing if I said you were Venus reborn with the mind of Rowena Ravenclaw and started writing poetry about your hair? Would that make you think I wasn’t in the thrall of some biological imperative?”

Hermione snorted and elbowed him. Draco shifted to avoid it and Hermione realized his still rigid cock was nestled against her arse. She wriggled punishingly and was satisfied to hear him give a low hiss before gripping her more firmly.

“I find you annoying,” he said in a tight voice. “Full stop. You are part nightmare. I have a keen sense of self-preservation and being anywhere near you, particularly with that wand you’re still carrying, sets me on edge. You are fucking terrifying to be on the bad side of. When you think you’re right, you’re more underhand and ruthless than anyone I’ve ever known in Slytherin. Additionally you only bother to brush your hair biweekly and you’re covered in ink smudges fifty percent of the time. I always find your fingerprints on my skin and shirts after I snog you.”

Hermione felt the tips of her ears grow warm and ducked her head down.

Draco cleared his throat. “However, I also fancy you. Both rationally and biologically you are—“ his voice faded for a moment. “Fuck if I even know how to describe you. I always thought bravery was the most idiotic quality a person could have until I saw my aunt torturing you. You exist in a different stratosphere than I do. I would never have testified for someone like me. I don’t even understand how anyone can be the way you are.” He dropped his head down against her shoulder and tightened his hold further.

“And you’re quite—pretty.” His voice was vibrating through her skin and down her spine and it made her grow warm and tingly in a number of places. “Which I never expected to actually admit to you. Your eyes in particular—and your mouth, and your—self generally speaking—I’m not even going to describe it right now because I’ll get distracted and just start shagging you again.” He cleared his throat and shifted slightly. “But also your brain. I didn’t even know I could be sexually attracted to someone’s brain. Is that a kink? I’m just going to assume it’s completely normal. I’m obsessed with your mind. Not just talking with you about Arithmancy or charms but—the way that you think. It just—fascinates me. Your eyes light up when you explain complex Arithmantical theory and it makes me want to snog you. Even though I know I’m going to end up covered in ink.” His tone was petulant.

“I’m not that messy. It’s mostly my fingers,” Hermione said, scowling over her shoulder at him even though her face was still somewhat warm from blushing.

Draco quirked an eyebrow. “Right. Unless you’ve touched your face as some point while writing. In which case it is often on your nose or cheeks, or even your mouth on occasion. Don’t blush, it’s actually adorable. I much prefer ink on my collars to lipstick. But that’s really not relevant. The point of all this is that you are both annoying and fanciable, Granger. Deal with it.”

Hermione gave a low laugh but then sat quietly for several seconds. “I just—when exactly did you start to think this? Is it all just since I presented? Because if it is—then it might just be the biological imperative.”

Draco snorted with disbelief. “If the biological imperative is that elaborate I don’t think there’s any point in trying to fight it. But since you’re so damn skeptical, I have—,“ his voice jumped slightly, “—actually fancied you since the summer.”

Hermione started and looked up at him, raising her eyebrows. “You did?”

Draco’s expression twitched. “It was intended to be a sort of passing thing. I didn’t exactly plan for it. When they announced your name during my trial I assumed I was screwed, but instead you testified for me. You—I—it made me wish I’d been your friend rather than—well, what I was. But you didn’t seem want anything to do with me and ran off when I tried to talk to you on the train. Fancying you is rather masochistic of me, no matter how you look at it. I tried to keep my distance.”

He looked away. “But—when I heard you crying—I knew I wasn’t the person to go help you, but I couldn’t make myself turn around to get someone else. I—knew it was you. It was the same way it had been at the manor. And I—I didn’t want to be the person who didn’t do anything to protect you again. I didn’t know you were an Omega until you climbed into my arms. Which in retrospect is somewhat unbelievable, but in my defense, I was distracted trying to find you.”

Hermione gave a small gasp.

She’d assumed, always assumed that he’d broken into her room fully aware of what she was. Alphas went to Omegas. They’d do anything to reach an Omega. She’d assumed when he’d said he’d heard her crying he’d somehow identified her as an Omega.

“You knew what I sound like when I cry? That’s why you were there?”

“I—still have nightmares about you in the manor.” Draco’s voice was low and he dropped his head down against her shoulder.

Hermione gripped his hand tightly. There was something huge and predestined feeling about herself and Draco which she had difficulty wrapping her mind around.

That she had testified for him. That he had presented the way he had over the summer; so differently from any of the other Alphas at Hogwarts. That he was the first Alpha she’d encountered, and he’d unknowingly jump started her presentation. That he’d found her. That he was the only person who could have. That he hadn’t even found her because he knew she was an Omega. He’d been looking for her. Draco Malfoy had been trying to find and save Hermione Granger.

It was as though there was a path they were both unknowingly walking down—even during the war before either of them had presented. As though something was leading them toward one another.

When she looked in his eyes and it felt as though their magic and souls were touching.

“...the more fundamentally magical someone is, the more likely that Fate will become a force in their love life. Genetically speaking, Alphas and Omegas are about as fundamentally magical as wizarding folk can be without Magical Being blood. So there’s a lot more of a likelihood that they’ll have someone they’ve destined for.”

The corner of her mouth twitched and she shook her head.

Soulmates were an absurd concept.

“I didn’t know that was why you found me,” she finally said.

“Well it was. So the question isn’t really about me. It’s about you.” Draco’s tone switched from conversational drawling to more clipped and cautious. “You’re the one who wasn’t interested before. It’s much more likely that it’s just a biological imperative on your side than it is for me.”

Hermione drew her chin down and glared over her shoulder at him. “Me? I’ll admit the biology catches me off-guard at times, but I’m not delusional, Draco.”

Draco smirked down at her. “Right. We’d obviously be friends. Even without your presentation and heat, you undoubtedly would have jumped me and proposed we get into a casual relationship, I’m sure.” He snorted insolently, but his voice seemed to be slowly growing more reserved and even deadened in tone.

There was a pause and she felt his hold on her wrists loosen. He gave a low bitter laugh under his breath and tilted his head back.  

“None of this would have happened if you’d had any say in it. That’s fairly clear. You—you—should consider other Alphas. You have options, Granger. You should actually consider them. But I’ll help you—for as long as you want.”

Hermione froze. Draco let go of her wrists and started sliding his hand away. She caught hold of his fingers, and gripped them tightly while shaking her head with disbelief.

“You just spent all this time convincing me that you’re really interested in me, of your own free will, no biological imperative necessary and now you’re proposing that I find a different Alpha and have sex with you in the meanwhile. Do you even hear yourself?” Her voice was indignant.

She turned in his arms and straddled him. Which—was not the best idea, because they were both naked and every time she looked at him squarely she was reminded of how edibly attractive he was.

She bit her lip to stop herself from leaning forward and nibbling on him.

Draco jerked and looked away. “It’s complicated on my end. You have options. I do not. My future involves hiding in my manor until my probation ends and then going abroad somewhere I’ll only occasionally be spat on. You’ve been out to prove yourself since you set foot on the Hogwarts Express first year. You’re in the perfect place to do that now. I’m in—I fancy you, but I want you to be happy more than I want you to be mine. Soulbonding isn’t something you get to back out of later.”

Hermione closed her eyes and scoffed before glaring at him. “I realize you’re a Slytherin, but not everyone prioritizes proving themselves and social climbing over their relationships. Good grief, is this your idea of being noble? Offering to be my fuck buddy until I find someone who will give me the social climbing opportunities I might want for my hypothetical career? You Slytherins are utterly absurd. No wonder everyone think you’re all evil.”

Draco jerked his chin in and his eyes grew darker. “I’m trying. I have very little experience trying to be noble.”

Hermione snorted and then burst out laughing and buried her head in his shoulder. “My god, you are so—Sorry. I’m not trying to be discouraging. I really should be crediting you with trying—“

She sat up and pressed her hands against her eyes. “Please stop trying to be noble, Draco. I much prefer it when you’re sneakily trying to keep me in the infirmary with you.”

She parted her fingers and stared at him. Her heart started pounding as she met his eyes. “I—actually think I fancy you too, Draco.” She bit her lip. “So, I would like to—to not be in a casual relationship with you. If you want.”

Chapter Text

Draco blinked slowly and his expression didn’t so much as flicker.

“To be clear, Granger, are you asking me out? As in wanting to be in a relationship with me?”

Hermione blushed. “Yes. Is that—“

Had she somehow misunderstood the entire conversation they’d just had? She had expected at least a change in expression. Maybe smiling. Draco looked to be carved from marble as he stared at her.

“Would you want to—to try that?” She studied him carefully.

Hermione's Omega subconscious began to skitter nervously in the back of her mind.

“And would this relationship be a known thing?” His eyes were narrowed.

You’re upsetting your Alpha. He doesn’t like this. You’re ruining everything. You’re too needy.

Hermione viciously smothered the internal whimpering. “I don’t see why not. Loads of people saw us yesterday anyway.”

His expression was still entirely blank.

Hermione eyed him for a moment and then released a sharp, angry puff of breath. “I don’t think the issue with us is communication. I think the issue is just us. There’s too much of the wrong kind of history.” She pressed her lips together. “Never min—“

She didn’t finish the word because Draco’s mouth had crashed into hers.

He pinned her to the mattress and kissed her until her lungs felt on the verge of bursting. Then he dragged his mouth away from hers and kissed along her jaw.

“Shut up. Shut up. Don’t you dare back out again. You asked me out, Granger. I’m holding you too it.” He was growling in her ear as his hands slid down her body.

Hermione gave a gasping laugh of relief as he nipped her ear.

“Maybe you should try being more encouraging. This is the second time you’ve been horrendously discouraging about me approaching you. I don’t actually have loads of experience with it. You could stand to be a bit nicer.”

Draco dropped his head against her shoulder and groaned. “I was trying to make sure there wasn’t any angle I was possibly misunderstanding you from. I’m going to die from chronic stress if I have to keep pretending not to like you.”

Hermione laughed again. “Oh. Well, I’m not asking you to be in a secret relationship with me.”

“Good.” He kissed her again and then slowly worked his way across her cheekbones toward her ears.

Draco was—purring. Alpha and Omega biology mostly seemed like some variation of canine biology manifested in wizards. Draco seemed more catlike. Like a panther. He was lying on top of her, nibbling her ear, and she could feel pleased rumbling in his chest. It was simultaneously relaxing and hilarious.

“Do you—,“ she snorted slightly. “Usually purr?”

Draco lifted his head to stare at her and the vibrating stopped. “I purr?”

“You were—just now—you were—purring.”

He blushed, apparently entirely unaware of the phenomenon. Hermione snickered.

“I liked it. I just didn’t know if you were doing it on purpose.” Hermione’s eyes were crinkling in the corners as she grinned at him. “By all means, continue.”

“Cheeky.” He kissed her nose.

"Minx.” He kissed her forehead.

“Annoying.” He kissed her cheek. Hermione burst out laughing.

“Fanciable.” He kissed the other cheek.

“Mine.” He kissed the dip at the base of her throat, and she felt the tip of his tongue flick out. She bit her lip and gave a low moan.

He continued down her body. He avoided her glands. Kissing and teasing and worshiping.

It wasn’t scent-marking. It wasn’t a biological imperative. It was Draco kissing her.

He pushed her legs apart and traced his fingers along her inner thighs. His hands slid to her knees and he sat up and stared down at her. His eyes were dark and possessive.

He’d stared at her possessively before, but it had usually been masked. Or she’d been too lost to fully appreciate it.

He wasn’t masking it anymore.  

He trailed his eyes slowly along her body, so intently she could almost feel his gaze on her skin. His thumbs were drawing slow circles on the inside of her knees as he knelt between her legs and studied her.

“You are so lovely. I think I could stare at you forever.”

He leaned across her body and caught her lips with his.

“You’re so good,” he said. His whole body was pressed against her, hot and hard. She slid her hands across his shoulders greedily.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

She no longer felt like she had to beg for him. He was hers. She got to relish it.

She slid her tongue against his and pulled him closer until she felt crushed beneath him.

She was safe. She was safe. She was so safe with him. And he was safe with her.

“You’re mine,” she said, tangling her fingers in his hair and drawing their faces apart enough that she could stare into his eyes. He looked back at her without dropping his gaze. Hungry, possessive, adoring. No wonder he’d avoided meeting her eyes for long in the past. Even when his expression was closed, his eyes betrayed him.

She could feel the magic thrumming between them, lacing through her body until she felt keyed to him.

She wondered if it were glimpse of what soulbonding felt like; no sense of where one person’s magic ended and the other person’s began. Just the two of them, entwined in the most intrinsic way they possibly could be.

“You’re mine,” she said again, grinding against him. She could feel his cock against her thigh. The knot had eased but he was still hard. She studied his eyes and watched them grow even darker. “I want you to look at me during the day. I want to study with you. I want to sit next to you during classes and walk through the halls with you. So everyone knows you’re mine. I don’t want anyone to hurt you again.”

He stared down at her. “You sure, Granger?”

She nodded. “I don’t do things by halves. If anyone dislikes what I do, they can bugger off.” She arched an eyebrow as she looked up at him. “If you’re dating me, you have to call me Hermione. It’s a rule I have just invented.”

He smirked. “Are there any other rules, Hermione?”

“Just one that I can think of at the moment.”

“And that’s…?”

“You need to shag me, right now.” She wriggled under him and ground against his leg. “I want to feel you inside me. I want to look in your eyes when you come.”

He smiled. “I can do that.”

He dipped his head down and kissed her.

He palmed her breasts and shifted, and she felt him sliding between her folds, coating himself with her arousal. She parted her legs more and felt him prod her entrance as he slowly pressed inside her.

He looked in her eyes. “You’re so good. You’re so perfect.”

Hermione could barely breathe as she stared into his eyes and felt him fill her.

The back of her mind was keening. She took him so well. Every inch of him. She could, because they were made for each other. Her Alpha.

She arched her back as she felt herself stretching to accommodate him.

“Fuck—,“ he groaned when he was buried to the hilt inside her. He kissed her. “My good girl.”

She caught his face in her hands as she kissed him back. Perfect. She arched her hips and moved with him.

He slid a hand up to tangle in her hair at the nape of her neck, tilting her head back and meeting her eyes as he thrust into her, hard, fast. He knew the way she liked it.

It was the most intense thing Hermione had ever experienced. Fully lucid and attuned to him as their eyes met.

I think I love you, she almost wanted to say.

But she didn’t. Because they had only been in a relationship for half an hour.

She kissed him instead as she wrapped her legs around his hips and locked her feet under his arse.

He started to slow down but she wouldn’t let him. She shifted her hips and urged him faster, deeper.

She could feel him start to swell and arched to ensure he knotted inside her.

“God. You’re fucking perfect—,“ he gasped. “You have no idea—”

She wanted to say something back but when she opened her mouth she could only moan as his cock moved inside her. She was so close—so close—

She clung to his shoulders.

He was still looking into her eyes when he started to come.

It was like a shockwave of Magic rippled outward from them. Their magic hadn’t just touched, it merged for a moment as she felt herself hit climax.

It was like flying. Or falling. Or perhaps both at the same time. She was enmeshed with him. Entwined. They were two pieces that snapped together, completing parts of her she hadn’t known she had.

For a split second, his emotions pressed into her until she could feel them. She could feel him.

“You’re perfect. So perfect. I’ll always take care of you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ll never let anyone hurt you again. You’re such a good girl. Mine—Be mine—Always—“

The words were almost torn from his lips.

He meant them. She could feel how much he meant them; the intensity with which he meant every word was almost crushing.

He wasn’t saying it because he had to. He was saying it because he couldn’t not say it.

“Oh god, Draco.“

All she could see was silver.  

She clung to him as the world around them slowly bled back into existence. Her fingers tangled in his hair as her chest heaved while she tried to catch her breath.

“Mine. You’re mine,” she said as she wrapped her arms tightly around him. “You’re my Alpha.”

She didn’t let go as she fell asleep.

When they woke again it was late morning, well past breakfast. Hermione stared at the clock on the wall and realized they were missing Arithmancy class.

“Oh bollocks,” she muttered as she sat up. Draco stirred beside her with a groan.

She leaned over him. “Is your head alright? You should go back to the infirmary and get a final checkup.”

He made a face but nodded. “I will.”

Hermione scrambled off the bed and started gathering her clothing up off the floor. She’d be walking the halls in pajamas at midday. She hadn’t really thought through things very well the day before.

Pansy still had her school bag.

Hermione groaned under her breath. She flicked her wand and performed a cleaning charm on her body and pulled her clothes on.

“I’ll take you to the hospital wing.” She said as she tried to find her bra. Had she been wearing a bra? Apparently not. “Then I’ll walk to you the Slytherin dorm so you can change into a fresh uniform. I’ll need to go get clothes from Gryffindor Tower—,“ she bit her lip. “I don’t want to leave you alone in the halls though. Maybe I can stay in pajamas until you’re in class. I can just transfigured them a bit.”

Draco stared at her incredulously as he buttoned the hospital pajamas he’d arrived in. “Grang—Hermione, I don’t need you to babysit me.” His voice was plaintive. “Despite my many bad choices in life, generally speaking I’ve been able to survive fairly well until now. I’m not having your escort me through the castle in your pajamas because you expect me to die without you.”

Hermione blushed but remained unmoved as she finished dressing. “I’m sure it will be fine. I’ll move my things here and it won’t be an issue after today.”

Draco buried his face in his hands for a moment. “I realize that being followed through the school by Crabbe and Goyle since the first day of first year gave a bad impression about my abilities. But I am capable of walking down a hallway alone. I was distracted and tired yesterday. I don’t need you to be my bodyguard.”

“I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Draco walked over and caught her face in his hands. He squished her cheeks slightly as he stared down at her.

“Granger—,” he caught himself and rolled his eyes. “Hermione. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to let anything happen to me because I’m not going to let anything happen to you—and also because I’m a Malfoy, and we are infamously self-preserving. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you as much; I believe there’s even an article about it in The Daily Prophet. You’re not going to follow me around the school for half the day in transfigured pajamas.”

Then a sly smirk curled across his mouth. “However, if you want to move in here with me, I will not have any objections.”

Hermione gnawed her lip. “I’m just a bit paranoid right now. You already got a concussion, if you got another brain injury it could be really serious.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll see you at lunch. Go get changed—,” he quirked an eyebrow, “and comb your hair, you’re nearly as tall as I am right now.”

Hermione reached up and found that the tangled curls were nearly on end. She pushed it down and tried to run her fingers through it.

He pressed a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll see you later, assuming I get a clean bill of health from Pomfrey.”

He left while she was detangling her hair.

The moment the door clicked Hermione pulled out the Marauder’s Map and watched him make his way indirectly toward the infirmary. She had considered giving him the map, but if he had it then she wouldn’t be able to find him.

When he reached the infirmary unaccosted, she made her way rapidly toward the Gryffindor Tower.

When she got to her room she found her school bag laid on top of her trunk. She opened it and found it very obviously reorganized. A pocket had been emptied and filled with all the scrolls Pansy had given her the day before.

Hermione’s mouth twitched as she pulled out the scrolls and put them into her trunk. She took a quick shower, detangled her hair and made a point of scrubbing all the residual ink stains from her hands and fingertips. She took her daily suppressant potion before getting dressed. She checked the map again. Draco was in the Great Hall with Theo and Zabini.

Ginny was already eating when Hermione arrived at the Great Hall. The Head Girl arched an eyebrow at Hermione and scooted over to make space.

“Did you put my school bag in my room?” Hermione asked as she sat down.

“Mhmm. Pansy Parkinson gave it to me. She made a comment about leaving medical information lying around, all snooty the way she does. Does she know? Did you tell her?”

Hermione pursed her lips. “I didn’t. She figured it out on her own. She’s known for over a month.”

“I should mention it to McGonagall; she’ll want Parkinson to sign a non-disclosure form.”

There was a lull until Hermione was taking a sip of pumpkin juice.

“In unrelated news, I got the strangest report about students running in the halls early this morning from several portraits. Well, not really both of them running—,“ Ginny said dryly in a low voice.

Hermione choked and nearly snorted her juice. “Ginny, get stuffed.”

“I’m just telling a funny story,” Ginny said, waving her fork in lazy circles.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “It was an accident. I just sort of lost my mind for a bit. I didn’t take my suppressant at the usual time, and since Draco was in the infirmary he wasn’t around to—snog. So this morning I sort of—“

“Jumped his bones?”

Hermione turned red and gave a short nod. “Anyway. We’re dating now. I—I asked him out this morning.”

There was a pause and then Ginny leaned closer. “Wait, I thought last night you said—“

“I know what I said.” Hermione cut her off sharply. “But we talked and there’s a chance it’s not that way. I’m not—I’m not assuming it’s all going to work out, but I want to try. So I’m telling you because in a minute I’m going to walk over and ask him to walk to the library with me.”

Ginny shifted and looked down at her plate. “That will be rather public, you know. Don’t you think it would make more sense to start more slowly? There are students that are going to be really pissed off about this. I don’t want you lose friends over a relationship that might not work out.”

Hermione’s jaw tensed. “I’m not going to hide it. I’m not planning to snog him publicly, but I’m not going to keep him a secret either. If there are too many obstacles for it to work, I’d rather know right off. There isn’t really time for me to slowly try out a relationship that isn’t going to survive. I’d rather not get any more emotionally invested than I already am. If dating Draco is a dealbreaker for people, they’re probably not friendships I cared about.”

“Well, that’s very—efficient of you.”

Hermione nodded.

Ginny gave a low sigh. “So, are you going to tell Harry and Ron?”

“I’m going to write to them today. I’m more worried about their reactions than anyone who is here. I’m hoping that they’ll come around eventually.”

“I’m sure they will. By your wedding. Maybe once you have small pointy-faced kids climbing the walls. Or when you celebrate your twenty-fifth year wedding anniversary. They’ll probably realize that you aren’t going to change your mind by then and be supportive about it.”

Hermione’s mouth quirked and she looked over at Ginny. “I appreciate that you do. A lot. I know you don’t like him. So it means a lot that you’re supportive.”

Ginny gave a small smile. “Well, I’m holding out that he bollocks it up and I get to hex him in the end. But if he makes you happy, I’ll try to be supportive. I don’t know what I’d do, if I were you.”

Hermione finished lunch and shouldered her school bag.

“Well, I’m off.”

She could feel Ginny’s eyes on her back as she made her way across the room to the Slytherin table.

Draco was sitting near the end of the table with Blaise, Theo. He met her eyes as she approached, Hermione felt it like an electric shock laced through her spine. A flicker of the connection between them.

Hermione stopped about three feet away and gave him a small smile. “Draco, I’m going to the library. Would you want to walk there with me?”

Draco eyed her for a moment. “Sure, Hermione.” He dragged the R in her name out. “I was planning to head there after lunch.”

Zabini quirked an eyebrow beside him. “Oh were you?” he drawled loudly. “I thought you said—“

Draco kicked Zabini violently under the table. Zabini yelped loudly and nearly doubled over.

“Pansy and I were heading to the library too,” Theo said, his eyes round and innocent. “Can we join you? We can start a study group.” Theo’s tone was cajoling.

Draco appeared to try to kick Theo too. Theo appeared move his shins in time and just smirked smugly across the table at Draco.

Slytherins and smirking. Was it a House thing? Hermione had visions of Snape sitting in the Slytherin common room, teaching first-years how to smirk condescendingly.

“Start your own. Ours is full.” Draco said loftily as he stood up. “And exclusive.”

He looked down at her and, although his expression was indolent and smug, she could see the hesitation in his eyes. They were taking a huge plunge together.

“I have a lot of transfiguration reading to finish. And we have to figure out the charm work for our Arithmancy project. So—,“ she shuffled slightly. “I thought a study date would be a good start for us. Not—not that it has to be a date.”

Draco’s eyes crinkled in the corners. “Sounds like a good date to me.”

Zabini made a gagging sound. “You two are worse when you’re not snogging. Have fun in the library.

Draco’s entire face twitched marginally before he schooled it back into an expression of indolence. He slung his bag over his shoulder and gave his friends a lazy salute.

As he and Hermione turned to leave, she caught sight of several stunned and disgusted expressions on the faces of nearby students. She tilted her chin upward, reached out and caught hold of Draco’s hand.

Her eyes darted over to Ginny for a moment. Ginny gave a smile and a small thumbs up.

They walked semi-sedately out of the Great Hall and down the hallway until Draco pulled her into an empty classroom.

“You Gryffindors really don’t do things by halves, do you?” He pushed the door closed and looked down at their entwined hands.

Hermione stuck her jaw out. “Well, everyone was glaring already. I figured I’d give them something to be really angry about.” She studied him. “Are you alright?  Did Pomfrey say you’re alright?”

He rolled his eyes. “My brain is fine. Although I’m still not supposed to read “excessively” for the next several days. I don’t think that women knows anything about seventh year course load.”

“Well, most students aren’t studying for nine NEWTs.” Her hold on his hand tightened. “We have a lot of the same homework so I can read to you. You fell asleep yesterday, but I finished the metallurgy book. I think I found what type of charm work we’ll need.”

Her heart was beating rapidly as she looked at him. Aside from Viktor, she hadn’t really dated anyone—unless she included her failed date with Cormac McLaggen and the awkward way in which she and Ron had sort of danced around each other and snogged a bit without ever defining things.

She wasn’t really sure how dating was supposed to go, especially since they were already shagging each other on the regular.

Draco seemed to have been thinking about the same thing. “So, I’m new to inter-house relationships. Any rules I should know?”

Hermione’s mouth twitched. “I don’t know. Not—not everything is defined by rules.”

“But if I don’t know the rules, how can I exploit them?” he asked in a low purr as he moved closer to her.

Hermione giggled and clapped her hands over her mouth in mortification. “Let’s just—start slow and see how things go.”

“Alright.” He smirked and pinned her against the wall before he snogged her.

Chapter Text

Hermione felt a petty sense of satisfaction at how surprised everyone was that she was dating Draco Malfoy six months after the battle of Hogwarts. For the first several days the school seemed to be in a state of stunned denial. Nobody tried anything because everyone seemed too astonished to think of anything to do.

Hermione and Draco tried to steer clear of public places. They took long circuitous routes through the castle and studied in secluded corners of the library.

Hermione would receive pointed stares when she waited for Draco to get out of class. But all in all, she and Draco were left alone. Hermione only had to worry about Pansy, who made no effort whatsoever to conceal her disapproval, and Harry and Ron, whom she had sent letters to informing that she and Draco were in a relationship. She added a post-script with a list of creative curses that she threatened to use if she received any howlers on the subject.

Mostly Hermione worried about Pansy, because she couldn’t figure out what Pansy was planning. The Slytherin girl would icily watch Hermione from across the Great Hall as though she were either waiting or daring Hermione to do something.

Hermione tried several times to corner and speak to Pansy, but Pansy was was almost never alone. Finally Hermione went and asked Ginny to pair them for rounds.

Ginny raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Parkinson, really? What is this? S.P.E.W. for Slytherins? Are you planning to adopt all of them?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I actually need to talk to her and she’s avoiding me.”

“So your solution is to do rounds with her? Can’t you just owl her? Neville is the only person who will do rounds with her. I tried and nearly Bat-Bogey hexed her before we made it halfway through the castle.”

Hermione shook her head. “It needs to be in person. I think she thinks I’m taking advantage of Draco, I feel like that’s a conversation that shouldn’t happen by post.” She gave Ginny a pointed look. “She’s actually not that bad. A bit prickly maybe. But she’s very loyal to her friends.”

Ginny made a face. “Pansy Parkinson is what you’d get if you crossed a porcupine with a blast-ended skrewt. She kept her head very low last year.”  She shrugged and scribbled a note on the prefect schedule. “I’m sure Neville will be grateful for the break. She’s on the roster in two days.”

“Alright. I’ll take it. Thanks, Gin.”

Ginny pulled a wry face. “Sure. By the way, how are things going with you and Malfoy?”

Hermione gave a small smile and tilted her head from side to side. “We’re just getting to know each other. We mostly do a lot of homework. The course load right now is a bit intense. All the projects are supposed to be wrapped up before Christmas holidays, so everything is due in the next week or two.”

Ginny nodded. “Even Bill and Percy both dropped down to eight NEWTs their last year. I can’t believe you decided to do nine.”

Hermione shrugged. “I still don’t know what I want to do once I graduate, so I want to keep my options open. Bill and Percy were both Heads, so I have more free time than they did.”

“What’s Malfoy doing with so many?”

Hermione looked at the floor. “He’s banned from all extracurriculars. I think it’s something to do.”

There was a pause and Ginny fidgeted. Hermione looked up. “What?”

“It’s nothing,” Ginny said easily.

“What is it?”

Ginny tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know if it’s really worth mentioning. It’s kind of all hearsay, you know. I don’t want you to feel like I’m trying to sabotage things.”

Hermione gave Ginny a long look and snorted. “Just tell me.”

“I just—last week, before you and Malfoy were dating and being all—couple-y, I heard him in the library with Daphne Greengrass.”

Hermione blinked and choked slightly. “ With Daphne?”

Ginny blanched and waved her hands. “No no! God no! Not like with with her. Just—talking with her. You know how she’s been after him all year.”

Hermione gave a short nod. She had noticed Daphne’s dogged pursuit of Draco since he came bolting into Hermione’s compartment on the Hogwarts Express. Daphne was apparently impossible to dissuade because even once Hermione and Draco had become “official,” Daphne continued to hover around Draco whenever she got a chance.

Hermione had found Daphne cornering Draco when she went to find him after History of Magic. When Draco caught sight of Hermione, he had turned bright red and nearly knocked Daphne over in his haste to grab Hermione and bolt.

Hermione had tried to ask about it but he seemed extremely uncomfortable discussing the situation.

“Anyway, Daphne was trying to wrangle an invitation for herself and Astoria to Malfoy Manor during the holidays.”

“Oh,” Hermione said in a low voice.

Her next heat would be during the holidays. Right through Christmas.

Hermione had been trying not to think about it; trying not to pressure or presume anything about her and Draco’s exploratory relationship. But she’d sort of thought—

Well, she and Draco hadn’t been dating at the time of his conversation with Daphne. He usually went home for the holidays. It wasn’t as though most people thought through life in three month increments.

Talking to him about her next heat had been on her to-do list, but she’d kept putting it off in the hopes of having at least a week of being “official” under their belt before she asked him to skip his Christmas holidays and have another shag-a-thon with her. The moment hadn’t been quite right for that conversation.

Ginny continued oblivious to Hermione’s internal processing.

“Malfoy wasn’t interested in whatever Daphne was trying for. But then Daphne brought up—and remember this is just hearsay, I’m just telling you what I heard—but,” Ginny swallowed, “—apparently Malfoy plays for both teams. If you know what I mean.”

Hermione blinked, dragged from her musing over her upcoming heat. “What?”

Ginny shuffled and twirled a finger in her hair. “Daphne was saying Malfoy basically spent his whole summer shagging Nott and Zabini. Which isn’t to put a damper on what you guys are doing.” Ginny waved her hands awkwardly toward Hermione. “I just—thought you might want to know that—Malfoy is bisexual. It doesn’t really affect things for you, since you’re an Omega. And obviously he dated Pansy too, so I’m assuming he goes both ways…” Ginny studied Hermione and jumped slightly. “And remember! It’s just hearsay. I could be wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. I just—thought I’d mention it.”

“Draco was shagging Theo and Blaise over the summer?” Hermione’s tone failed to capture the utter depths of her bewilderment.

“I think so.” Ginny’s face screwed up. “Please don’t hate me for telling you that.”

Hermione stood staring at Ginny in confusion.

Draco was bisexual? She didn’t mind. It didn’t necessarily even feel relevant. It just seemed—unlikely.

Draco was friends with Theo and Blaise. Close friends.  But Hermione had never noticed any kind of interactions with them that seemed particularly familiar in a physical sense. Not the way Draco touched her. But maybe his behavior around her was more unusual due to the biological factors.

Draco didn’t really let her touch him. He was obsessive about touching and pleasuring her, the way Alphas typically were. But whenever she tried to reciprocate, aside from licking and caressing his glands, he was always quick to pull her hands away and pin her down until she stopped. Despite the innumerable times they’d shagged, she’d barely even touched his cock with her hands.

Which indicated—

She wasn’t really sure what that indicated.

She kept staring blankly at Ginny. She felt as though her brain were stuck in a Spirograph.

Allegedly, Draco had been having sex with Theo and Blaise over the summer. A lot of sex, according to what Ginny had overheard. At the same time? Did Draco do triads? Was he polyamorous too?

And… it was worth noting, he’d been involved in an all-male threesome during the summer when he said he fancied her.

Hermione’s head was throbbing with confusion.

It didn’t add up.

Then there was Theo. Who also supposedly fancied her.

Were Slytherins bisexual as a rule?

Her mind kept whirling.

“Do you want me to just ask him?” Ginny interrupted Hermione’s internal musing.

“No. I’ll ask.” Hermione waved Ginny off. “We’re trying to improve our communication anyway. This will be a—stepping stone for us. I suppose.”

Hermione was trying to imagine how the conversation would go.

Draco, are you bisexual? What did you do during the summer? Have you ever had a threesome? Were there any female participants? Was Theo upset that we were having sex because he likes me or because he likes you? Why did you and Pansy actually break up? Is there a reason you don’t let me touch you?

Hermione drifted away from Ginny, still deep in thought.

She found herself outside of Draco’s Charms class. The door swung open and the students filed out. Draco’s eyes lit up when he walked out and saw her.

Thoughts of Draco being a polyamorous bisexual abruptly vanished.

“It’s my gnome-sized bodyguard, here to escort me through the halls,” he said in a dry voice as he walked over to her. Hermione snorted.

He smirked and took her hand as they headed toward the library. “Although, despite your stature, you are much scarier than Crabbe and Goyle ever were.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and scoffed. “People aren’t scared of me.”

Draco stopped walking and looked down at her. “People are terrified of you. Are you—not aware of this?”

Hermione smiled up at him and shook her head. “They’re not, Draco.”

Draco sighed and he donned a beleaguered expression, as though he were explaining first year Charmwork to her. “Hermione, don’t take offense, but you are the scariest non-evil person I have ever met.”

Hermione drew her chin down, raising her eyebrows as she gave a loud and undignified snort. “Me? Really? Not Harry, who actually defeated Voldemort? Or Molly Weasley, who defeated your aunt? Or Neville? He chopped off Nagini’s head with a sword. What about Ron? He and Neville are the ones who took down Fenrir Greyback.” She shook her head. “I’m not some shrinking violet, but I’m hardly the scariest non-evil person. I’m hardly scary at all. I’m very—friendly.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Right.”

Hermione sniffed primly and turned to continue toward the library.

“It’s not like you trapped a journalist in a jar and then blackmailed her in your fourth year.” Draco’s drawling voice floated down the hall.

Hermione froze and turned to look back at him. “How did you know about that?”

He shrugged and caught up with her. “Slytherin.”

Hermione snorted and poked him in the ribs. “Telling Rita Skeeter to shove her quill up her arse if she didn’t want to be reported as an illegal animagus hardly makes me scary.”

He caught her hand before she could poke him again. “Maybe not as an isolated incident. But then there’s hexing a girl’s face permanently in fifth year, and siccing centaurs on Umbridge. And let’s not forget that wand you still carry.” Draco gave her a pointed look.

Hermione pulled her hand away and fidgeted with the pocket in her robes where Bellatrix’s wand sat, looking down at her shoes. “That’s just because of the wand shortage. It’s not like I want to use it. Ollivander is still recovering; with all the first years and imprisoned Muggle-borns whose wands were snapped, it seemed selfish to push to get a new wand when there are so many people still who haven’t got one at all.” She looked up at Draco. “It hardly even works for me half the time. So, if anything that proves I’m not scary.”

Draco shook his head and exhaled sharply through his nose. He reached out and his hand ghosted along her waist.

“Hermione, the fact you weren’t the one to defeat Greyback or chop the head off a giant snake doesn’t affect how frightening you are. Longbottom, Weasley, and Potter have their moments, I’ll admit, but the difference is that they know it. Potter knows full well he’s never going to top defeating the Dark Lord. Longbottom’s crowning moment as a Gryffindor legend was beheading that snake. Weasley describes taking down Greyback to every reporter he speaks to.”

Draco took her by the shoulders. “You, on the other hand, don’t regard anything you do as being unreasonable or out of the ordinary. You are terrifying without noticing. Trust me, the rest of the school has not failed to notice. I walk through the halls now as though I have barrier charm attached to me. It’s got a six foot diameter that Blaise refers to as The Fear of Granger.”

Hermione rolled her eyes so hard she thought momentarily they’d gotten stuck. “That—is because Ginny has stepped up the anti-bullying measures.”

“No, it is not; the prefects are also afraid of me now. It may have escaped the attention of you, Potter, and Weasley, but most of the school has been afraid of you since fifth year. You are tiny and terrifying, and—,” he smirked roguishly, “—it makes you very sexy.”

Hermione gave a low laugh and gave up. “Alright, Fine. I’m your very, very scary, gnome-sized girlfriend. The entire school quakes in fear of me, I’m sure.”

“They really do.” Draco nodded.

“What does that make you then?” She looked up at him. “If I’m the scary one?”

Draco blinked and then smiled, giving a carelessly arrogant shrug. “Lucky.”

Hermione didn’t mean to snog him in the middle of a hallway, but there was barely anyone around.

She grabbed hold of his robes and pulled him down until his lips met hers.

“You know, you’re rather scary sometimes too,” she said after a minute. She drew back enough to look in his eyes. “When you’re being protective of me. It’s rather—terrifying and sexy too.”

He smirked. “That’s the general idea, terrifying for them, sexy for you.”

He backed her up to the wall and kissed her. If anyone passed them, or glared, or said anything derogatory, Hermione and Draco were both oblivious to it.

Several hours later when they had finished their study period in the library, Hermione’s mind found its way back to her conversation with Ginny.

She started rehearsing ways of bringing up the subject and then scraping them.

Did it matter? Yes and no.

She was fairly sure about his feelings. There was an undeniable intensity between them.  When their eyes met sometimes she’d feel his emotions.

She was almost sure it was real, that it wasn’t somehow all just biology manipulating them. But she still had moments where she feared she might be deluding herself. She wished she could stop being an Omega for a day, just to interact with Draco and feel certain that it wasn’t all just a hormonal illusion.

She didn’t know where to fit a summer fling with Blaise and Theo into her mental framework.  

It wasn’t as though they’d discussed sexual history. Maybe he’d just casually had sex with his two best friends because he was a horny Alpha. Somehow, that seemed doubtful. The more she got to know him, the more it seemed that Draco really wasn’t the casual sex type.

So non-casual triads?  

If so, where did that leave them? Draco was possessive of her. But it wasn’t as though Alphas' possessive traits made them inherently monogamous.

If Draco were polyamorous, she wanted to know. Because if he expected her to eventually share him with anyone else, male or female. Well—she’d need to go scream down a well for a good long spell.

The idea of anyone else touching him made her chest feel tight and her head pound so that she could barely see straight.

But what if he really were, and he didn’t tell her because as an Alpha his biological imperative was to please her over himself?

Now that it was on her mind, it was bothering her intensely how one-sided their sexual relationship was. It wasn’t as though she didn’t try to give, but every time she was clear-headed enough to try, Draco very intentionally derailed it.

Why wouldn’t he want her to touch him? It wasn’t an Alpha thing. She had read enough books on the subject to be quite sure of that. It was something to do with Draco personally.

Maybe she’d been really awful at things when she’d been in heat and she didn’t remember.

“Let’s go to our room,” she said abruptly.

Draco looked over at her. “Now?”

Hermione blushed. “Yes. Now. If you want. If you don’t—we don’t need to.”

“Are you alright?” Draco’s eyebrows drew together as he studied her carefully. He reached out and brushed his hand against her wrist.

“I’m fine.” Her voice jumped slightly. She swallowed and shrugged. “It’s not—I just wanted to go anyway. Just—because.”

She looked at him, searching for a reaction. “I just wanted to because it’s us, and not for any other reason.”

He stared at her for a second longer, then the corners of his eyes crinkled and he smiled.

They did that when it was a real smile, she had realized. His eyes smiled first, the rest of his features followed a moment later. Even when his expression remained impassive, she could see him smile in the corners of his eyes sometimes.

“Sure.”

She smiled back at him.

The moment the door of their room was shut, she dropped her bag on the floor and turned toward him. She grabbed his robes in both hands, kissed him and backed him across the room toward the couch.

“Grang—Hermione—,” he said in a confused tone as he narrowly avoided tripping over the coffee table and then fell back onto the couch. “What are you doing?”

“I’m kissing you,” she said as she climbed onto his lap, straddling him as she arched herself against him and kissed him again, ardently. Then she drew back and tangled her fingers in his hair. “I’m sitting on you. Now I’m kissing you again.”

She captured his mouth with hers once more.

“Yes,” he drew his head back and stared at her. “I got that bit. But you seem—,” he paused, clearly uncertain about how to phrase what he wanted to say. “This is a bit different—than usual.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows. “We’ve only been dating a few days. What’s usual?”

His mouth twitched.

She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the corner of his mouth. “I just—normally when we’re together, I’m—“ she swallowed. “I want it to be more us and less me.”

Draco gave a low laugh, caught her face in his hands, and kissed her forehead. “Trust me, Hermione, I don’t have any complaints.”

Hermione stiffened slightly. “Well I do.”

Draco’s eyes widened and his expression flickered.

Hermione hurried on. “It bothers me that I don’t do anything. I don’t want to just be either passive or needy. I want to do things to you too—if you want. Would you—“ she traced her fingers down his torso, “—want me to—to do things to you?”

She studied him carefully. He irises expanded sharply.

She felt heat stir in her lower abdomen. She leaned forward and kissed his neck below his ear. “Let me—,“ she whispered, “let me do this for you. Please, Draco.”

She sat back and looked at him. “Can I?”

“I’m not—going to object if you want to.” His voice seemed have dropped somewhere in his chest. The words seemed to vibrate through the air. “But you don’t need to—”

She cut him off with a kiss, then she sat back.

Hermione shivered. She doubted he was aware of it, but the moment she’d whispered in his ear, his pheromones had filled the air until it felt like a curtain wrapped around them.

She could feel the thrum of the dynamic between them. Dominant. Her Alpha. Submissive. His Omega. As though she’d unlocked something that he’d been keeping carefully contained.

She leaned forward and kissed him. Slow. Deep. She slipped her tongue out and teased across his lower lip before catching it lightly between her teeth. Her hands slipped up and began unbuttoning his shirt as she trailed kisses along his jaw until his head fell back.

She parted his shirt and drew back, brushing her hands along his neck so that her thumbs grazed his scent glands. He shivered and drew a low breath.

She slid her hands down his torso and leaned forward, pressing her lips against the gland on one side of his throat. She breathed in and felt her spine prickle at the heady, overwhelming scent of him.

I want to be good for you. I want to be enough for you. I want to make you happy, as happy as you can be.

She pressed a kiss on his other gland and then drew back. Her pulse was thrumming, and she was more anxious about what she was currently doing than she’d been when she asked him out.

“If I do something you don’t like, you can tell me.” She was growing warm from a mixture nervousness and arousal. His cock was hard, pressed up against her knickers as she straddled him.

She fought against the instinctive urge to grind against him. If she got hornier, she might lose her head and ruin things.

She met Draco’s eyes as she slowly slid back. She lowered her head and brushed her lips against his torso. She felt the scars on his chest under her lips. She kissed them. She slid further down until she was off his lap and kneeling between his legs. Her hands were resting lightly on his knees.

She looked up at him.

His eyes were black, and the way he stared at her made her breath catch. The room felt taut with the intensity emanating from him. He seemed almost frozen as he looked at her.

Her heart was pounding in her chest.

Do I please you, Alpha? Are you pleased with me?

She was still meeting his eyes as she slowly slid her hand up his leg. She could feel the muscles through his trousers, and she traced along his thigh until she reached the buttons on his trousers.

His cock was straining through the fabric, and it twitched when her hand brushed over it. She drew a shivery breath as she opened his trousers and unbuttoned his boxers. His fingers twitched as she slipped her hand into the opening. She wrapped her hand around his length and took him out.

She could feel his gaze on her as she studied him.

He was large. She knew he was very large, but when it was only a few inches away from her face, he suddenly seemed larger.

She had a moment of doubt about whether her mouth opened that much.

Draco’s fingers twitched again and Hermione became aware of how utterly still he was. How tense his legs were as she leaned against them and studied his cock.

She held it firmly, leaned forward and slowly wrapped her lips around him. She raised her eyes and met his.

The air was cut open as Draco gave a harsh, quick gasp through his teeth. His left hand darted out and slid along her jaw. Warm, reassuring and desperate. She took him deeper, and his touch vanished. His hand dropped down onto the couch, and he dug his fingers into the upholstery. He gave a low groan.

The intensity of his reaction felt like fire in her. She inhaled and tried to relax her jaw and focus on what she was doing.

She drew her head slowly back, sliding her tongue against him. His chest heaved. His knuckles were white. His eyes were wide and dark as though he couldn’t tear them away from her.

He tasted—she wasn’t sure how to describe it as her tongue slid against his cock. Like scent-marking, it activated something fundamental in her mind. She could feel the intensity of her affect on him. He was hers. She was his. It felt as though she were giving him something he hadn’t been permitting himself to want. She could feel it air and smell it in the way his pheromones reacted to her.

There was heat pooling in her lower abdomen.

She slid her hand along his length as she dipped her head down and drew back again, flicking her tongue against the underside.

Draco jerked and gave a ragged groan; his hands reached out and tangled in her hair.

She carefully continued, trying to find the right rhythm. His hands slid away from her hair and down to her neck, caressing her glands. Hermione gave a deep moan and felt her jaw relax more. Draco gave a low gasp.

She hadn’t realized how intensely arousing it would be to have him in her mouth. How vividly she’d experience his response. He pressed his thumbs more firmly against her glands, and it sent a pulse of arousal through her. Her hips bucked forward as she kept moving her hand and exploring him with her tongue.

She kept going until she felt the base of his cock start to expand. She paused. She’d sort of forgotten about that part. She removed her mouth and studied him, still sliding her hand up and down the length of him.

She hadn’t realized how large the knot became. Anatomically speaking, given its purpose, she knew it had to be large, but somehow she hadn’t really considered how large. Hand-drawn diagrams in textbooks really didn’t do the sight justice.

“Come here.” His voice was thick. Rasping. His hold on her neck tightened as though he were trying to draw her back up onto his lap.

Hermione pulled back, her hold on his cock tightening as she lowered her head and pressed kisses along the underside of his shaft; darting her tongue out, nipping gently with her lips until she reached the base and lightly dragged her tongue across the knot.

“Fuck—!” Draco’s entire body spasmed under her, and his hold on her neck tightened.

It was a different form of losing control. Not jealous possessiveness. He was losing control because of what she did to him. His hands were almost shaking and he kept brushing his thumbs against her glands again and again.

Good girl. Good girl. You’re such a good girl. I’m so pleased with you.

She could feel the words in the way he touched her. She was nearly shaking with her own desire. She pressed her legs together, feeling achingly empty. She was so wet that she could smell her arousal. She knew Draco had been smelling it long before she had.

He was breathing through his teeth, and she kept lapping her tongue across his knot as her hand continued to slide up and down the length of him until she could feel his legs shaking.

“Come here—,” he said again. His voice was a growl.

Hermione did not. She lifted her mouth from his knot and met his eyes. As she stared up at him, she opened her mouth, wrapped her lips around his cock, and took him as deeply as she could.

Draco gave a groan that was half a snarl, and his head dropped back. Then he sat up and caught her jaw in his hands.

“You are so fucking perfect—,” his thumbs ghosted along her cheekbones, “your gorgeous mouth on my cock. Such a perfect Omega. Your mouth is perfect, and your cunt is perfect, and everything about you is so fucking perfect. You are such a good girl.”

His eyes were so dark she could barely see the silver, and his expression was ravenous and as greedy as she felt.  He held her face in his hands but let her keep her own pace, didn’t try to push her head down further than she could manage.

He kept praising her. Filthy, filthy words, and his fingers brushed against her cheeks and jaw, caressing her. Assuring her that he was so so pleased with her.

Hermione’s lips twitched and she would have smiled if she could. She could feel her saliva trailing from the corners of her mouth and down his shaft as she tried to coordinate the rhythm of her hand and mouth. She dragged her tongue along the vein, twisted her tongue against the frenulum and felt him pulse in her mouth.

He dropped back, and his fingers spasmed against her jaw as he came.

Hermione swallowed. There wasn’t anything to do but swallow. She swallowed and swallowed, but she was unprepared for just how much he’d come. She could feel it escaping her lips and sliding down his cock and over her fingers. When he stopped, she drew her mouth off him and carefully set to licking him clean.

The tension in him had melted away, but one of his hands remained on her jaw, gently stroking her cheek. Hermione focused on catching up every drop, on his cock, on her fingers, on his knot. Gentle. Soothing. His come felt like she were dosing herself with an aphrodisiac; she was growing so aroused it was almost painful. Her nipples were hard, and her clit throbbed every time her tongue darted out to catch up another drop.

When there was nothing left to lick up, she finally looked up at him again. He was too hard and knotted to put back into his trousers, but she almost wished she could. To make clear to herself, not for her, for him.

She wanted to climb onto his lap, impale herself on him, and bury her face in his neck.

“Come here.”  It was the third time he’d said the words. Unlike the first two times, the Alpha tone was heavy in his voice. It shivered through Hermione’s nerves until she felt attuned to him on a subatomic level. Heat flooded her lower abdomen. She gave a small whimper in the back of her throat as she scrambled up onto his lap.

He kissed her. The taste of him was still on her tongue. His cock was trapped between their bodies, and his hands tangled in her hair as he kissed her. She ground into his thigh and arched her torso against the hard planes of his body.

His hands slid down and started unbuttoning her shirt.

She caught them and stopped him. “No. It’s fine. This was for you.”

He slid his hand up around her neck and she kept holding them as he tangled one hand in her hair and drew her head back. “You said us, didn’t you? You’re a part of the us equation.”

She hesitated.

He leaned forward so that his lips were ghosting over her glands. “I can smell how aroused you are. I could smell how aroused you got sucking me. Let me fuck you now. Your mouth is incredible, but your cunt is mine. I want to feel you come on my cock.”

Her hands dropped and she felt him smile against her throat.

“Good girl.”

Chapter Text

After a day of contemplation, Hermione decided to interrogate Theo. When Draco was in his Ancient Runes class she tracked Theo down in the library and found him in the History of Magic section.

Theo was looking down the aisle when she came around the corner. She could tell by his expression that he’d somehow known she was looking for him.

“Theo,” she began, then she paused.

“Hermione,” he said, putting his quill down and turning to face her.

Hermione gnawed at her lower lip as she stared at him. She always felt like she was somehow exploiting him when they interacted.

Maybe she shouldn’t ask Theo. Maybe she should just talk to Draco. She could just ask Draco and not involve anyone else.

She wavered.

She just wanted to be braced for it. If Draco wasn’t—if he wasn’t monogamous, and it was going to be a conversation they had, she wanted to be emotionally prepared, so she had a clearer idea of what compromise she thought she could handle.

She swallowed. “Theo.”

“Hermione,” he said again.

“Theo…” she turned red as she said his name a third time. “I had a question I wanted to ask you.”

He gave her a look and nodded. “Right. And that question would be?’

Hermione stared at him, hesitating for several seconds. She started to speak and then closed her mouth and reconsidered how to phrase her question.

She looked down at her shoes and drew a deep breath before looking up at him.

“Theo, don’t take this the wrong way but—are you gay?”

Theo stared at her, apparently too stunned to even react. Then his eyes widened and he blinked repeatedly. “Wh-what? Am I what?”

Hermione wanted to sink into the floor.

His mouth formed several soundless words and then he closed his eyes and sighed. “Maybe—“ he opened his eyes and looked at her with an aggrieved expression, “—you should tell me what the wrong way of taking that question is, so I know whether I’m taking it that way.”

“I’m not” —she straightened the books on the shelf next to her—“I’m not asking because I think you’re gay.”

“Right. I was definitely taking it the wrong way,” Theo muttered.

“I just—I heard this story about you, and um, Draco and Blaise that I’m very confused about.”

Theo’s eyebrows rocketed up. “What kind of story?”

Hermione assiduously avoided meeting his eyes. “A—um, well someone I know, heard this story that you three—shagged each other—a lot.”

“Draco, Blaise, and I shagged? The three of us?”

“That’s—that’s what I heard.” Hermione’s face felt like the surface of the sun.

“Well, I’m not gay,” Theo said flatly.

“Oh.”

“Or bisexual or whatever you thought. Draco—" Theo's voice faded away as Hermione tensed, and his hand twitched as if he wanted to reach out to her. He looked up at the ceiling and shook his head in despair. “You two are the worst.”

Hermione hunched her shoulders up around her ears and wished the bookshelf would swallow her.

“Draco,” Theo said loudly, “who you are really asking this question about, is also not gay, or bisexual. Blaise actually will shag anything with two legs, but I doubt you have any interest in his orientation.”

Theo rubbed his eyes. “Good grief, you and Draco are, without a doubt, the biggest idiots I have ever known. I’m beginning to question how either of you managed to survive the war.” He dragged a hand through his hair and stared pointedly at Hermione. “If I develop ulcers, I’m sending you my medical bills. You’ve been shagging him for how many months now, and suddenly you’re concerned he’s gay?”

Hermione felt so embarrassed that she thought she may spontaneously combust. “The biology is confusing. I don’t want to just go and assume. ” Her voice was very small.

Theo gave a deep sigh. “I don’t know why I’m not sabotaging you two. This would be a perfect opportunity. I’m really too nice to be a Slytherin. I should have let that stupid hat put me in Ravenclaw.” He shook his head sharply. “Draco’s preoccupation with Potter throughout the years notwithstanding, his preference has never gone that way, that I am aware. He was also in a fairly serious relationship with Pansy for several years. Which I’m sure you have to have noticed.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Right. He’s not gay, I didn’t think he was actually gay. I just—I’m hearing tales of summer orgies and I didn’t know what to make of it.”

Theo sniggered. “Despite the fact we live in the dungeons, Slytherin is not actually composed entirely of sexual libertines. Ravenclaw is actually much kinkier. And Hufflepuff is really—,“ he blushed and cut himself off abruptly with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Slytherin is fairly traditional; arranged marriages and all that rot. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had more virgins than the other houses.” He tilted his head to the side. “When did Draco, Blaise and I have this orgy?”

“This past summer,” Hermione said in a low voice.

Theo gave a low chuckle “Right. This summer while all those aurors were crawling through his home, tearing the place apart looking for Dark Artifacts, and he was under house arrest; we were having a threesome,” Theo’s eyes were glinting with amusement. “Honestly, we spent most of our time reorganizing the—“

His voice suddenly cut off and he burst out laughing. Then he clapped his hand over his mouth.

“Oh good lord.” His shoulders shook. “That’s—I need to verify something, but I think I know where the story of Draco’s summer orgy came from,” he said, sounding like he was on the verge of laughing again. “I will get back to you about this.”

Hermione felt like she could breathe again. Draco wasn’t a polyamorous bisexual; she would never have to share him with anyone. She felt like singing, despite the fact she couldn’t carry a tune to save her life.

She skipped on her way to meet Draco after class.

He snorted when he found her right outside the door. “You don’t have to pick me up after classes. I can walk all the way to the library and meet you there.”

She smiled up at him. “But if I did that, we couldn’t snog on the way there.”

The corners of his eyes crinkled, and he grabbed her hand. When they were walking down an empty hallway, Draco caught her by the waist and pulled her behind a statue.

She kissed him greedily.

Having things stable with Draco had vastly improved things for her. They shagged in the evening the way they already had been, but Draco no longer left in the morning while Hermione pretended to be asleep. Instead, he stayed, and Hermione usually woke up with his mouth and highly-talented tongue between her legs. Then he’d crawl up her body and fuck her until he knotted inside her, and she’d doze in his arms again, or they’d snog or talk or scent-mark obsessively. Then they’d shower and only part ways when they arrived at the Great Hall for breakfast.

Sometimes they’d study in their room and take study breaks that also involving shagging.

It was like being on a honeymoon with a rigorous academic schedule.

It was enough sex that, at long last, Hermione’s Omega subconscious was appeased. It shut up and let Hermione live again. It stirred when she and Draco were having sex, but aside from that Hermione almost didn’t feel it the rest of the time. The duality almost felt gone.

Draco set her on the pedestal of the statue, and she wrapped her legs around his hips as she kissed him until her lungs felt like they might burst.

He drew his lips away and brushed his nose against hers. “We could go to the library, or I could get you off here first.” He stepped back a little and seemed to be surveying her. “I must say, I rather like you on a pedestal, Granger. It suits you.”

Hermione gave a low laugh and slipped down. “Well I don’t care for pedestals. I much prefer beds, or—,” she smirked up at him, “—broom closets.”

Draco’s eyes darkened. “Do you now?”

“Shagging you after DADA class in the broom closest was—,” her mouth twitched, “I rather liked it.”

Draco loomed over her. “Which part?”

Hermione felt her cheeks warm. “All of it. I liked how aggressive you were. That was the first time you used your teeth.” She shivered slightly and pressed her legs together. “And—the position. It felt so intense and I—I like breaking the rules. It gives me a bit of a thrill.”

Hermione was sure her face had turned bright red. Draco looked positively feral.

“I knew you were a rule breaker. Somehow I didn’t realize you get off on it.” Draco’s voice had dropped to the very bottom of his register, and it sent goosebumps across Hermione’s entire body.

“Not—not always.” Her voice jumped a full octave.

He slid a hand around her wrist, and her breath caught. He pulled her hard against his chest and dipped his head down so his mouth was next to her ear.

“As it happens, this is a rather empty hallway, and there’s a supply closet around the corner. It would be rather inappropriate for me to fuck you against wall of it, wouldn’t it?”

“It would.” Hermione could barely breathe.

“It’s fortunate that neither of us are very rule-abiding then.”

He caught her wrist and dragged her into the supply closet and demonstrated just how blatantly they both enjoyed breaking the rules.

It really was a good thing that she hadn’t wanted to be Head Girl.

Afterward she wrapped her arms around him and sighed, kissing his chest.

“Ron and Harry haven’t written back yet,” she said after a minute. “I’m beginning to worry about what they’re planning. They’re probably going to show up here.”

Draco’s hands in her hair tightened. “Have you seen them since you presented?”

“Once. They came for a Hogsmeade weekend. We took a walk around the castle and caught up. They were mostly really awkward and just kept telling me to soulbond with Charlie during my next heat in order to stay safe. They haven’t sent you any death threats or anything have they?”

“No. No death threats from Potter or Weasley.” Draco’s voice was overly casual.

Hermione stared at him. “From anyone else?”

He gave her a wry smile. “Just the usual.”

Hermione’s expression tightened, and Draco’s smile vanished. “You do too, don’t you?” he asked.

Hermione dropped her eyes and shrugged. “Every now and then. Nothing enrages old pureblood families like a Muggle-born who doesn’t know her place. Which—is apparently a ditch somewhere. They come every now and then, ever since the Tri-Wizard tournament, normally after Harry or Ron get featured in The Daily Prophet. I think McGonagall started screening them after someone sent me bubotuber pus. I usually just skim them and banish them.”

“I’ve noticed.” His eyes were tense, and his arms around her stiffened slightly.

She rested her hand against his throat, just grazing his glands with her fingers. He relaxed.

“It’s really not an issue. I’m just more visible than most Muggle-borns; most of them are rather quiet about their parentage. It’s not even really directed at me, it’s just general hate toward the existence of Muggle-borns. Anonymity emboldens assholes.” She shrugged.

Draco stared at her for a minute. “Hermione, what are your plans after you graduate?”

Hermione’s heart beat increased, she shifted and looked away. “I’m not—really sure yet. I suppose it will depend on how I do on my NEWTs. That will affect things a lot, don’t you think?”

Draco snorted and gave her a long look. “You’re easily on track to pass all of them. You could probably sit for them now. You must have some idea of what you’ll pursue.”

Hermione twitched. “Well, I had thought Magical Creature Department could be a good fit for me. Working with Magical Beings in particular. I want to reform things there. Most of the existing laws are almost entirely in the interest and protection of wizards rather than taking anything about Magical Beings into account. I’d like to see things change  It’s a fairly mobile Department from what I’ve heard, so I wouldn’t have to spend my whole life trying to work my way up to a place where I could finally make a difference.” Her voice suddenly dropped. “But—I’m not sure if I’ll be the one to do it. I’m still—figuring things out.”

“Like what?” Draco’s eyes were narrowed as he stared at her.

Her mouth felt dry. “Well—,” she swallowed nervously, “I may—take a break after I finish school. It might be a good idea to spend time with my parents, you know, and help them resettle. The healers are hopeful that their memories will be fully restored by the end of the school year. So after I take my NEWTs—it might be best to step away and take time to reconnect with them.”

Draco was silent. Hermione glanced at him nervously.

“What are you leaving out?” he finally said.

Hermione’s stomach dropped. “Nothing. Just a personal matter.”

“More personal than your parents?” He arched an eyebrow.

Hermione met his eyes. “It’s something I need to work through on my own. When I’m more sure about it, I’ll tell you then.”

Draco looked like he wanted to argue. His mouth twisted, and his jaw jutted out as he stared at her. He started to open his mouth but then snapped it shut and subsided with an eye roll. “Fine.”

Hermione released the small sigh of relief. “It’s not anything you need to worry about.”

His eyes narrowed. “When you say it like that, I feel like I do. You’ll talk about your parents and the death threats you get in the mail, but you won’t tell me what you’re planning to do when you graduate.”

Hermione swallowed and rebuttoned her shirt. “It’s complicated. You’ll understand later. I’ll tell you when we graduate—if you still want to know then.”

“I’ll plan on it.”

She studied his expression and could tell he was bothered. “I’m sorry. It just—it wouldn’t help to tell you.”

He gave a low sigh.

Hermione had rounds with Pansy the next night. Draco sulked visibly when she was getting ready to leave.

She stopped in the bathroom to wash the ink off her hands and try to smooth her hair from the snog session she and Draco had gotten sidetracked by.

“Explain to me again why you’re doing rounds with Pansy?” Draco suddenly appeared at the door, looking sullen.

Hermione started slightly and then looked back at the mirror. “I asked Ginny to pair us.”

Draco rolled his eye. “Yes. I understand that particular part. Why?”

Hermione muttered a pressing charm on her shirt and gathered her hair into a ponytail. “I think she could use a friend. She’s having a pretty hard year too. I think she thinks I’m taking advantage of you.”

Draco snorted audibly. “Right. Of the two of us, you’re definitely the one gaining all the advantages here.”

Hermione shrugged and leaned forward, applying some murtlap essence to her neck and lips. It had been a slightly heated snog session.

“She cares a lot about you, Draco.”

“So your solution is to become friends with her? I’m fairly certain that it’s irregular to go befriend your boyfriend’s ex.”

“Well, I’ve never been much good at sticking to convention. I’m not going to not be friends with someone just because there’s some sort of unspoken rule against it.”

Draco sighed and slumped against the doorframe. “You said it would be weeks before you started patrols.”

“It just turned out this way. It’s not every week since they have an extra year worth of prefects. I’ll only do it occasionally.”

“If she tells you anything, please verify it with me. Don’t pay any attention to her if she starts monologuing about posture or political marriages or—,“ he stared at her. “Are you primping?”

Hermione snatched her hands away from the curl she was trying to fix. “Absolutely not.”

Draco eyed her critically for several seconds before his entire face split into a gloating smile. “You are. You are primping for rounds with Pansy. You’re doing your hair, you even ironed your shirt.”

“I didn’t.”

Draco moved toward her like a wolf. “You did“

Hermione darted under his arm to avoid him. “Fine, I ironed my shirt. Pansy is highly judgmental. I’m not interested in giving her any free shots.”

“You don’t even iron your shirt for me,” Draco caught her by the wrist and pulled her against him and inspected her hands. “You washed all your ink stains off.” He dragged his tongue along her gland.

Hermione gave a low moan. “That’s because you’d just wrinkle it again. Stop licking me. I have to go.”

“Don’t jilt me for my ex, Granger.” Draco stared at her with a mock serious expression.

She snorted as she pulled her hand free. “I don’t think that’s a concern you need to have.” 

“I can never be too careful. You're full of surprises. So, let the record show, I've asked you very nicely not to dump me and run off with my ex.”

“Your request has been noted, but I don’t really think I’m her type.”

“Not if your clothes are wrinkled.” He bunched her skirt up and squeezed her arse.

She smacked his hand sharply. “I have rounds, you prat.”

“Fine.” He released her with a sigh. “I’ll see you after.”

She rose up on her toes and then dragged his head down the remaining six inches needed to kiss his lips. “See you after.”

Pansy was standing stiffly outside the prefect office when Hermione arrived.

“There you are, I wondered if you would bother to show.”

“Sorry, I got sidetracked,” Hermione said without meeting Pansy’s eyes.

“Clearly.” Pansy dragged her eyes up and down Hermione, and despite the fact her robes hide most of her clothing, Hermione felt like Pansy could see the wrinkles Draco had put in her skirt. “So—any particular reason you’ve decided to inflict yourself upon me on biweekly basis?”

Hermione shrugged. “You’re avoiding me, and you keep glaring at me. I figured we should talk.”

Pansy sniffed, and her heels clicked sharply on the the castle flagstones as they started their patrol route. “Have you looked at the scrolls I gave you?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “No. You may have noticed, Draco and I are giving things a go.”

Pansy gave a derisive scoff and looked at Hermione from the corner of her eyes. “Oh and does he know about all your plans? Did you tell him you’re looking into getting yourself spayed? Handy bit of leverage there. Have you used it already, or are you saving it for maximum impact?”

Hermione’s jaw twitched. “I told him I’d was looking into it back before we were dating because he asked about my long term plans. He knows it’s something I was exploring and considering. I hadn’t heard back at that point.”

“What about now that you have? Is that why you made it official? Didn’t get the easy exit you hoped for, so you decided to use Draco instead?”

Hermione looked away and peered into an empty classroom. “No. It wasn’t anything like that. We—there were some communication issues that we had to sort through. That’s why we hadn’t been anything official before. Hearing back from St Mungos at the same time was just a coincidence.”

Pansy gave a derisive snort as she illuminated her wand to check behind several statues and tapestries.

Hermione gave a frustrated sigh. “It’s a backup plan, Pansy. I have to have a solution before I graduate unless I plan to just barricade myself inside a house for the rest of my life. I don’t have a lot of time.”

“Really, you expect me to believe it’s Draco or bust for you?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I know you think I’m ambitious, but relationships are actually very important to me. I’m not going to jump into a of marriage of convenience that involves my soul because it might benefit my hypothetical career. It’s not like I can just get bonded to some Alpha, never interact with them in private, and that will solve everything. With Alphas and Omegas it’s—it’s incredibly—involved.”

Pansy sniggered. “Is that what they call it nowadays?” Her tone was vicious.

Hermione bristled. “You said yourself, Omegas are emotionally dominant. Soulbonding—there’s no going back on it. If I soulbond with someone I didn’t actually—,“ she swallowed and jerked a classroom door closed, “—that I didn’t connect with emotionally, they’d know—they’d feel it, and they’d try to change themselves to please me. I’d feel so guilty. We’d fuel each other’s misery. If we bonded and it didn’t work—well, the only thing that reduces the intensity of a bond is physical distance. We’d just avoid one another as much as we could. Alphas can—can—can stray, but Omegas are—we don’t really—it doesn’t really work for us. I’d be trapped in a codependent relationship with someone who might spend all but four weeks out of the year in a different country, and I’d—,” the corners of her eyes pricked, and she blinked hard. “I’d just have a bloody career to keep me company.”

Hermione cleared her throat.  “It doesn’t matter how politically advantageous some Alpha is, or how far they could help me take a career. The actual marriage aspects are huge and biologically unavoidable. So yes, I’d rather spay myself, as you so charmingly put it.”

“So what’s Draco for? Is he your lifeboat? The only person you won’t feel guilty about if he changes himself to suit you?” Pansy sneered at her. “You know, everyone says a person’s true colours show when they’re cornered, and I must say, Granger, yours may be nastier than mine.”

The corner of Hermione’s mouth twitched. “Not that you seem to have any interest in believing I could be a slightly decent person, but I actually like Draco, Pansy. I really—like him.” She looked down at her hands. “I’m not assuming it’s going to work out. We’re just trying it; there isn’t any kind of commitment. We’re just—getting to know each other. If things don’t go well, I’m not going to force it.”

Pansy froze and then stared at Hermione for several seconds. “Your friends don’t know about that package from St Mungos, do they?”

Hermione looked away.

“Of course not; Weaslette’s expression when she sees you with Draco is like someone shoved a lemon wedge in her mouth.”

Hermione felt her heart sink slightly. She hadn’t really thought Ginny was really pleased by Hermione’s decision to date Draco but hearing about it was still disheartening.

Pansy’s eyebrows had arched sharply upward, and she stopped sneering for the first time that evening. “You’re hiding it. Draco doesn’t know either, does he?”

Hermione sighed and peeked into a alcove where she’d snogged Draco in on several occasions. “No, he doesn’t. I haven’t told anyone. It would just make everything more complicated. There isn’t—it wouldn’t help. If things go south with Draco and we break up, I’ll probably tell Harry and Weasleys then. Like I said, I’m not trying to force a relationship that isn’t going to work. I don’t want dating Draco to feel like ultimatum.”

She drew a deep breath and gave Pansy a wan smile. “This might be my last year here. I’m trying to enjoy it. If I start telling people it would strain things. They’d probably act like I was dying. I’m a Muggle-born. It might be unimaginable for Wizarding folk, but I’d rather get an ovariectomy and deal with the likelihood of losing my magic than get forced into a dysfunctional soulbond with someone.”

Chapter Text

“Wait. What?”

Hermione turned sharply to see Blaise Zabini emerge from a tapestry down the hall followed by a confused and rumpled looking Daphne Greengrass.

Hermione shot a quick glare of loathing at Daphne. The witch seemed to get around like it was nobody's business. Earlier in the day Hermione had seen her cornering Draco for what seemed to have been the umpteenth time. Now the aggressive Slytherin girl appeared to have been interrupted from a game of tonsil hockey with Blaise.

Hermione tried not to loathe people on impulse, but Daphne Greengrass was beginning to piss her off.

She stared at Blaise and ignored his question. “You’re out past curfew, Zabini and Greengrass. That will be ten points each from Slytherin.”

Blaise waved his hand dismissively. “Right. Never mind that. You’re losing your magic, Granger?”

“Fuck off, Blaise, Granger and I are bonding,” Pansy said in a sharp voice as she stepped forward.

“Oh you’re bonding?” Blaise’s eyebrows arched upward. “Does Drake know? Sorry. I’m just wanting some clarification about this whole losing magic thing.”

Hermione’s mouth twitched as she looked from Blaise to Pansy to Daphne. Blaise seemed to realize that the presence of his lady friend was problematic.

“Daph, love, head back to the dorms without me will you?”

“What? I want—,” Daphne started, looking visibly sulky. Pansy and Blaise both glared at her. She gave a dramatic sigh. “Fine.”

Daphne stalked off toward the dungeons as Blaise and Pansy looked back at Hermione.

Hermione crossed her arms tightly across her chest and stared at the two of them. “I’m not the type to put a my eggs in one basket. I’m preparing for multiple possibilities, lining up back-up plans. I don’t know how this can possibly surprise you.”

She gestured awkwardly around herself and swallowed. “I’m not necessarily going to get approved for surgery anyway. I’m just doing the preliminary interviews. However, if I do get approved and end up going that route—it’s not losing my magic is a sure thing. It’s just an associated risk.”

Pansy snorted and arched her eyebrows. “I admit, I’m not studying NEWT level Arithmancy, but I think I understand enough to know that an eighty percent chance of never managing so much as a basic household charm afterward sounds fairly sure.”

Hermione jerked her chin down and drew herself up. “I don’t really see why it’s any of your business. The fact you went through my school bag and decided to read my medical correspondence doesn’t entitle you to have an opinion about my life choices, Pansy.”

Blaise crossed his arms and looked Hermione up and down as though he were reevaluating her. “So, let me get this straight. You’re dating Draco now, but if it doesn’t work out by graduation, your plan is—to become a Muggle?” He rolled his eyes. “That—is the most Gryffindor thing I have ever heard in my life.”

Hermione’s face grew hot. “I’m sure it is. So, what now? Are you two planning to tell Draco?”

She looked at each of them. Pansy looked strangely subdued, and Blaise continued to look contemplative as he stared at her.

She let out a deep sigh. “Despite the fact neither of you like me and spend most of your time treating me like I’m on a path to entrap or ruin your friend, I am actually trying very hard not to. So, by all means, tell him, if you think he should know.”

She turned on her heel and walked away, wrapping up the remainder of the patrol route without Pansy.

After she finished, she headed back toward Draco. When she stood outside the door, she paused for a moment and drew a deep breath before she muttered the password.

Draco was up to his ears in Charms homework. He looked up from an essay when she walked in.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” he parroted. “How were rounds?”

“Dull. Not many students breaking curfew aside from Blaise and Daphne snogging in an alcove.”

Draco didn’t appear at all surprised to hear that Daphne was involved with Blaise. “Pansy was alright?”

Hermione shrugged and sat down on the couch next to him. “She’s Pansy. Her main insult was that I might possibly be a worse person than her. I can’t help but wonder what her mother must be like.”

Draco set his quill down. “Iphigenia Parkinson is a nightmare. Her entire life has revolved around marrying Pansy off. The woman was trying to discuss betrothal contracts with my father when we were fourteen.”

Hermione’s stomach dropped suddenly. “Betrothal? Is that still a thing in the Wizarding world?”

Draco shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“You aren’t—“

Draco snorted and gave her a long look. “No, Hermione, I don’t have a fiancée off in the wings that I’ve forgotten to mention.”

Hermione twitched her shoulder. “I just figured I’d ask. It turns out there are huge aspects of Wizarding culture that no one thought to even mention to me.”

“Well, I don’t think anyone expected you,” Draco said as he pulled her closer.

Hermione’s mouth quirked for a minute before she kissed him. Slowly.

She tried to memorize exactly what it felt like when their lips touched.

Her jaw trembled.

Draco drew back. “Is something wrong? Did Pansy—“

“No.” Hermione ducked her head down and shook it sharply. “I’m just emotional sometimes. These hormone still have me crying all over the place.”

She traced her fingers along his jaw and then looked into his eyes, hesitating for a moment. “In case—in case things end badly with us, Draco. I just want to make sure I tell you, I’ve really liked this.”

Draco pulled his jaw down, his eyebrows furrowing. “Why are we talking about things ending badly?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I’m not saying it’s going to end badly. I just—want to make sure you know, just in case. I’ve really liked dating you. I didn’t expect that dating could be so much fun.”

Draco stared at her for a moment before his eyes glittered. “Well, I am exceptionally fun, if by fun you mean someone who also thinks Ancient Runes translation is an acceptable form of pillow talk.”

Hermione choked, and she scooted back with an indignant huff. “That was only once.”

“Right.” He tilted his head back. “Normally it’s Charms, and last night it was potential uses of boomslang for burn victims.”

“That—that was because your body heat is so high, afterwards the idea just suddenly came to me. I didn’t—I’m sorry about the timing of that,” she said, drawing back.

Draco stalked her down the couch, and she scooted backward until her back hit the arm of couch.

“No, no. You have to tell me. Just, maybe not as the first words out of your mouth after I shag you.”

Hermione buried her face in her hands. “Sorry. I swear I wasn’t thinking about it when we were having sex. It just hit me afterward, and I wanted to know what you thought.”

Draco peeled her hands from her face and loomed over her. “Don’t hide. I am entirely game for academics as pillow talk. It’s part of my natural charm and—fun.” He smirked wryly. “Now stop talking like you expect our relationship explode any day. If you try to break up with me, I’ve no intention of taking it lying down. I gave you several outs before we became official. I’ve used up all my nobility. You’re entrapped now.”

Hermione gave a low laugh and smiled for a moment. “Alright then.”

Draco studied her. “Rounds were alright? You seem a rather—down.”

“They were fine,” Hermione said, looking up at him and trying to will herself into perking up. After a moment her shoulders dropped a little. “I just—talking to Pansy. It made me want to make sure you knew. I think you’ve saved my school year. I had pretty much resigned myself that it was going to be awful after September. But this—it’s really turned the year around for me. I’ve never really dated anyone before. It’s—a lot more fun than I’d expected.”

The corner of Draco’s mouth quirked into a smirk but then his eyes flickered and he suddenly sat back.

“What?” Hermione studied him.

“Oh—I’ve just been meaning to ask.” His eyes dropped away for a moment and he swallowed before he looked up at her. “When we—during your heat. Did I—? You weren’t a—?”

“Virgin? Gosh, no. I had before.” She felt her cheeks warm, and she looked down. “After sixth year—I thought—there was chance that being a virgin during the war might not be the best idea. It was probably a bit irrational but it felt urgent at the time.” She gave a small nervous laugh and felt Draco flinch.

She jerked her head up and squirmed slightly. “So I—I asked my Muggle neighbor to. He was a couple years older, I thought he might know more about how to do it than—,“ she coughed and cleared her throat. “But he—well, he wasn’t bad. It wasn’t uncomfortable. It just pretty quick. So that was that.”

She gave a small shrug. “It probably would have been better if we’d known each other a bit more.”

Draco stared at her with a somewhat dazed expression. “Wait. So you went home for summer holidays and modified your parents memories, sent them to Australia, packed supplies to live in a tent for seven months, and just—shagged a Muggle?”

Hermione gulped and fidgeted with the hem of her robes. “I had a lot of things to do. It’s not like it’s easy to give people whole new identities and move them to Australia with less than a month’s notice. There were finances and paperwork, I had to close their practice, cancel all their future l appointments, and all that. It was efficient, you know. I knew him a bit. We’d—talked before. My parents lived in an older neighborhood, so there weren't a lot of people to choose from that weren’t—a lot older. And—and at that point I thought maybe Ron and I would—eventually, even if we weren’t ready to yet. I thought it would be better if it wasn’t someone he knew, so—that cut my options down quite a bit.”

She glanced up and found that Draco looked a combination of horrified and devastated.

“It really was fine,” she hurried to reassure him. “I just assumed after that that maybe I wasn’t the type for—that, and it would probably be better if it were with someone that I had feelings for. In retrospect, I suppose it might have also been related to being an Omega, since sex for us is pretty—emotional.” She looked down and studied her knees. “That’s why, when I first presented, I didn’t want McGonagall to just send for the first available Alpha—even though she wanted to. I had sort of told myself I wasn’t going to do—casual again.”

“That is the most depressing thing I have ever heard. Good god.” Draco dragged her into his arms and hugged her fiercely.

She buried her face in his shoulder with a small laugh. “It’s fine, Draco, it was quite a while ago.”

“I don’t care. That’s terrible.”

“Well, just think, if it hadn’t been like that, maybe I would have agreed to have Anthony with me during my heat.” She shuddered. “He probably would have bitten me and then I’d probably be in Azkaban now for murdering my soulbond mate.”

“I would have murdered him for you.”

She gave a doubtful laugh and shook her head. “Liquified in a cocoon feels pretty appropriate. Which reminds me, how has he not finished pupating? I keep expecting word to come he’s emerged from that cocoon.”

Draco’s eyes glittered. “By spring most likely. I was fairly pissed at the time.”

Hermione stared at him, mouth gaping. “Goodness gracious, Draco. What is he going to emerge as?”

Draco’s mouth quirked in the corner. “A Swallowtail butterfly. Mostly. He’ll still be human, but he’ll have wings and be a bit—furry. Then he’ll molt after a month or so and be back to normal. Serves the bastard right.”

Hermione shook her head disbelievingly. “Where on earth did you learn a spell like that?”

“The manor has a fairly large library. I spent a lot of time going through the books during the summer. It’s a seasonally influenced hex. If it had been earlier in the year he would have only pupated a month. I have to admit, I hadn’t remembered it would last this long when I used it, but once I did—well, it just made it better, I think.”

Hermione smiled. “I’m not complaining. It doesn’t seem like anyone else is either.”

“No, they haven’t. I guess I’m not too bad at the nobility thing,” he said with a smirk as he drew her face toward his.

Hermione gave a low laugh against his lips. “I guess not.”

He kissed her.

Hermione was in Herbology when a fifth year prefect found her. “Granger, the Headmistress asked you to come to her office.”

Hermione’s heart jumped into her throat. Had something happened to Draco? To Harry or Ron?

She grabbed her book bag and bolted back to the castle and up to the gargoyle. She sped up the stairs and burst through the door.

“What’s—?”

Harry and Ron were both sitting at McGonagall’s desk in their grey auror trainee robes. Hermione stared at them in bewilderment.

“Has Draco been hurt?” she gasped.

“Mr Malfoy is in History of Magic, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, quirking an eyebrow, “I called you because your friends are here.”

Hermione pressed her hand against her pounding heart and felt her knees threaten to give out from relief. “I thought someone had been hurt. How are you two here in the middle of the week?”

Harry stood up, shrugging. “We were going to come on the weekend. But we got assigned to tag along on a case in Wales, so we decided to come early.”

Ron stood behind Harry, being suspiciously quiet. Hermione eyed him and found him studying her placidly.

“I’ll leave you three to talk,” McGonagall said, standing from behind her desk and leaving.

Hermione looked back and forth between her two best friends and folded her arms. “I’m assuming this is about my letter, since neither of you wrote back.”

Harry tucked his head down and shoved his hands into his pockets. “We thought it might be better to talk than write.”

Ron remained mysteriously subdued. Hermione studied him. “What happened to Ron?”

Harry snorted. “Ron—didn’t take the news very well when we got your letter. Molly made him take a triple dose of Calming Draught before she let him come.” He scratched his head and straightened his glasses. “I don’t think you’re supposed to take that much.”

“Malfoy is a wanker,” Ron said in a detached and cheerful voice. He sounded eerily like Arthur Weasley. “An absolute bastard. Any Alpha’d be better. Mione, what are you thinking?”

“That’s really quite creepy,” Hermione said, staring at him.

“I know,” Harry said with a grimace. “I had to apparate him here.”

Hermione drew a deep breath and looked away from her friend, who had apparently needed to be sedated up to his eyeballs in order to visit without flying off the handle

“So, we’re doing this then? Having a fight about whether or not I can date Draco?” Her voice was sharp, and she looked between Harry and Ron.

“No. Not necessarily.” Harry raised his hands and held them open. His tone was soothing.

Hermione arched an eyebrow. “Harry—if you try to use auror negotiation tactics to calm me, you will be hexed.”

Harry dropped his hands and looked awkward. He ran a hand through his hair.  “Right sorry. Um, so you’re really dating Malfoy. That is a thing that you are actually doing?”

“How can you date someone who watched you get tortured?” Ron said in a calm, musing tone that belied the question.

Hermione twitched and looked away. “I am trying to move on from that, Ron.”

She drew a deep breath and put her hands on her hips as she lifted her chin. “But yes, I am. I’m dating Draco. We’ve been seeing each other since before I saw you last Hogsmeade Weekend. Since it was new at the time, I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want to deal with a scene from you two.”

“You’re sure about this?” Harry’s eyes were worried as he studied her. “He’s—he’s just—not someone I’d advise trusting, even in a general sense.”

Hermione bristled. “Draco hasn’t done a single thing this year to make me distrust him. He has been extremely and over-abundantly careful about making sure he stays within the parameters of what I’m comfortable with.”

“This year as in during the last three months? That’s enough to clear the last seven years for you? After the Room of Requirement? Malfoy Manor? That wasn’t even a year ago? Dumbledore? The Inquisitorial Squad? I was willing to testify for him, but this is different. This is you, Hermione. You’re one of the most important people in the world to me.” Harry took her by the shoulders as he stared at her. “He could be using you. His family is disgraced. I know this Omega thing has been sudden for you. I don’t want someone like Malfoy to get away with taking advantage of you because of it.”

Hermione stepped away with a jerk and felt as though there were a pit in her stomach. “Well, if he is, he’s doing a pretty bad job of it. He didn’t tell me he was being attacked and harassed by the other students until I caught them at it. I’m the one who asked him out. So, unless he’s a lot more of a mastermind than anyone knows, I doubt he somehow planned all this.”

“So, he’s sorry? He apologized for everything he did to you?” Harry was studying her carefully.

Hermione gave a short nod. “He has. He’s apologized again and again now. He keeps apologizing, as though he can’t make himself stop. I’ve accepted his apology.” Hermione drew a deep breath. “I like him, Harry. I like him a lot.”

An expression of hurt become visible on Ron’s face. He opened his mouth then closed it, shaking his head as though he were trying to clear it before he looked away, rubbing his eyes.

Hermione gave a sigh of frustration and shook her head sharply. “You can’t be offended about this. You were both trying to convince me to soulbond with Charlie last month. You can’t be upset with me for trying to be with someone I actually want to be with.”

Harry stepped toward her again. “But Charlie’s safe. Even if he isn’t your first choice. You know he’s not going to hurt you or try to use you.”

Hermione drew a short breath and stared at the floor.

“Soulbonding is not a marriage of convenience,” she said. “It’s—extremely personal. It’s extremely intimate. It’s not just a marriage bond, it’s a bonding of Magic, of the soul. You’re literally mixing your souls together.”

“That’s why Malfoy seems like a really questionable person to consider doing it with.” Harry touched her hesitantly on the shoulder, as though he expected to be bitten or hexed across the room

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I’m not soulbonding with him right now. I’m dating him. I’m getting to know him. I’m not forgetting the last seven years. I don’t know how I possibly can, since every time I turn around someone helpfully steps up and reminds me about it. I’m not going to try to force it to work.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

A shriveling, sinking sensation welled up inside her chest. Her mouth twitched as she looked up at Harry and then over to Ron before giving a small, careless seeming shrug. “Then we’ll break up.”

Her throat felt tight as she said it. She rubbed her wrists together and glanced away.

“What happens then?” Ron asked. Hermione looked up and found that his eyes seemed a bit clearer.

Hermione shuffled her feet. “I’ll go with plan B. It’s not like Draco is the only option I’m considering. I have back-up plans. I just want to try this. I want to know if it’s an option.”

“Is there someone else you’re thinking then?” Ron looked hopeful.

Hermione’s mouth twisted. “No. I don’t really think I want to do this again. It’s—too much. I don’t really think I have it in me to pursue another relationship this year.”

“Then what’s plan B?”

Hermione shrugged. “Medical options. I’m in the interview process with St Mungos currently to get surgery—if I just remove the physical aspects of the presentation, it solves most of the problems. But I don’t know if I’ll even qualify. I might not. In which case—I won’t have any choice but to try to make it work with someone.”

“Really, Mione? Surgery is your choice after Malfoy?”

Hermione felt her face grow hot but she glared. “I already told you—I really—like him.”

Harry stared at her for several seconds. “It’s sounds like a lot more than liking him, if that’s how you have your options stacked up. There’s a reason, isn’t there, why medical options aren’t usually treated like a choice? Molly never considered that.”

Hermione dropped her eyes. “There are potential side-effects for an ovariectomy, but I’m less worried about them than I am about getting trapped in a soulbond I don’t want.” She jerked her head up. “I’m trying not to be overly invested in trying to make it work with Draco, which you should all be pleased to hear. I’m just—he makes me feel like I’m not alone in this. Not that you all haven’t been supportive, but there’s a lot to it that’s difficult to explain to anyone else.”

“What about Neville? Aren’t there a few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws too? Or even that other Slytherin, Nott. Aren’t they at least worth considering?”

“Neville is not an option. And Theo is—he’s very nice, but he’s Draco’s friend. A really close one. That would be rather awkward to pursue things with him. I want my autonomy. I’m not interested in jumping into a lifelong relationship involving my soul with someone who I’m not sure about. It’s extremely—it’s—well, there’s a reason why Molly didn’t want to.” She drew a deep breath. “I’m dating Draco. I’m not going to date someone else instead because you like them better.”

She gave a frustrated sigh. Her chest felt as though it steel bands around it, keeping her from breathing properly. “This is my future, not yours. I would appreciate if you both were supportive rather than not, but even if you aren’t, I’m still going to date Draco.”

Harry sighed and looked over at Ron. “Well, if you’re sure. We’re not here to yell or anything, we’re just trying to understand. We’ll be here for you, whatever you do. Right, Ron?”

Ron gulped and nodded slowly. “Whatever you do, Mione.” He offered a wan smile.

Hermione stared at them for a minute and then burst into tears.

“Oh god!” she wailed through her sobs. “I always cry now! These stupid hormones, they’re still rebalancing and—“

“It’s alright, you always cried before too,” Harry said with a wry smile as he pulled her into a hug.

“I didn’t,” Hermione said, trying to ruthlessly banish the tears cascading down her face and failing as they kept coming. “I was just—really worried—when you didn’t write back. And then—”

“Well, this is definitely more tears than usual.” Harry patted her shoulder. “Sorry. We didn’t know what to say in a letter.”

Ron’s lanky arms enveloped both Hermione and Harry in a tight hug, and she clung to them both for several minutes while she bawled. Finally her sobs eased to sniffles, and she wriggled out of Harry and Ron’s arms.

Their trainee robes had noticeable tear splotches on them.

“Sorry,” she mumbled as she flicked her wand and banished her tears from their clothes.

“Don’t worry. Mum warned us there would probably be loads of tears last time.” Ron’s voice was a bit less eerily calm, but he still sounded remarkably detached.

“I didn’t cry at all last time,” Hermione said and shot him a sharp glare as she wiped her face.

“Well, you made up for it this time,” Ron said with a small grin as he twisted the sleeve of his jacket and revealed a wet spot she’d missed.

Hermione flicked her wand and nothing happened. She scowled and shook it. “Come on, you horrid thing.”

She flicked her wand again and Ron’s sleeve dried.

“Right. So—I didn’t yell, so that means I’m the one who gets to threaten the ferret. Where is he?”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Wait. What?”

Harry ran his fingers through his hair and looked away. “I told Ron he could be the one to threaten Malfoy with spectacular doom if he promised not to yell at you at all.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “No one is threatening Draco.”

“Sorry. Auror duties require it. No choice really,” Ron said, straightening.

“We didn’t wear work robes here for fun, you know,” Harry said with an expression of mock seriousness.

“I am well aware that you wore them because Ginny likes them.”

Harry blushed scarlet. “Well, there’s that too. But I’m also here to support Ron. Auror intimidation is part of training.”

Hermione sighed. “Things are actually rather tense here. If the students see you threatening Draco, they’ll take as a sign that they’re allowed to do it too. Mostly everyone has been too surprised to do anything, but if you too make a scene, it could make things go downhill. And—,” she eyed them meaningfully, “—if he’s getting attacked, I’ll be the one who has to defend him.”

Ron gave a disappointed sigh. “Fine. McGonagall said we could have lunch here. I’m starving. Savage had us flying an obstacle course for three hours straight this morning.”

Hermione shuddered and offered a prayer of thanksgiving that she hadn’t decided to be an auror as they descended the stairs from Headmistress’ office.

Draco was standing in the hallway when they reached the bottom.

Hermione felt Harry and Ron stiffen beside her when they caught sight of him.

Draco’s expression was a mask as he stared at them.

“Potter. Weasley.”

“Malfoy,” Harry said in a tight voice. “Ron and I just stopped by to check on Hermione.”

The corner of Draco’s mouth twitched. “Come to save her from the evil Slytherin then? Here to pack her off to the Dragon Reserves?”

Hermione studied him. His expression was carefully closed, and his eyes were resigned.

“I wish,” Ron muttered under his breath.

Hermione elbowed him in the ribs before stepping over toward Draco. “I’m not going anywhere.”

His eyes flashed with relief, and she slid her hand into his.

“Our Arithmancy project is due next week,” she said in a light voice. “You can’t really expect I’d let anyone drag me from the castle after all our work on it. Harry and Ron just came by for a visit to see how I am.”

“Hermione is our best friend, Malfoy.” Harry and Ron were both glaring daggers.

“Really?” Draco’s drawl had appeared with a vengeance. “Somehow I’d missed that detail.”

Hermione jabbed Draco forcefully in the ribs, and he flinched.

“I mean—I’m sure that if I hurt her in any way, you two will be in line to torture whatever remains of me once she’s done with her turn,” Draco said with a thin smile.

Harry gave a sharp nod. “You can count on it.”

“Glad we’ve now clarified the obvious,” Draco said, rolling his eyes.

Hermione shook her head disbelievingly before inspiration suddenly struck.

“Harry and Ron are going to have lunch here before they leave for a training mission. Why don’t all eat together?” she said in a bright voice.

All three boys choked audibly.

“Sure, Hermione,” Draco finally said. The words sounded very forced. “That sounds—fantastic.”

“Yeah. That’s exactly what we had in mind,” Harry said, plastering a fake smile on his face.

Ron was silent until Hermione glared at him.

“I’ve changed my mind about lunch. We should head to Wales now, Harry. We don’t want to be late for Wales. I’m not even hungry. All that flying, you know. I’m full of—oxygen.” His panic was discernible even through his sedation.  

Hermione slid her arm into the crook of Ron’s elbow and pulled him over. “No. No. We should all have lunch together. It will be a good way to highlight inter-house unity. I’m sure the DA members will want to join too. It will be good for the school if they see us all eating together. It will highlight the importance of moving forward.”

She marched toward the Great Hall, dragging Ron and Draco along with her, while Harry trailed after them wearing the expression of a martyr.

She shoved the doors open with her foot and then pulled the boys firmly with her as she scanned the tables to see which had the most space.

It was hard to say whose expression was the most horrified as she made a beeline for the Slytherin table and plopped herself down across the table from Theo and Pansy.

“Do you mind if we join you?” Hermione asked in the loud, clear tone she generally reserved for answering questions in class. “Harry and Ron are here visiting and we thought it would be nice to have lunch as a group. Harry, Ron, this is Theo Nott. He’s an old friend of Draco’s. You both know Pansy. She and I are partners for Prefect rounds.”

Hermione pulled Draco and Ron down onto the bench so that they flanked her on each side.

“Parkinson, Nott,” Harry mumbled as he sat down next to Ron.

Ron said nothing. He snatched up a serving fork and set to piling his plate with food and ignoring where he was seated.

“Potter. Weasley,” Theo said, his eyes wide with amusement, “welcome to the Slytherin table. Don’t use the salt, we poison it by force of habit.”

Ron jerked his hand away from the salt shaker he’d been reaching for.

Hermione was watching the doors of the Great Hall carefully. Ginny and Luna walked in and Hermione raised her arm high over her head and waved them over. Ginny’s expression as her gaze landed on the Slytherin table was a mixture of elation and dismay.

“Granger, are you trying to ruin our reputation?” Pansy asked with an expression of distaste as Ginny and Luna sat down next to Harry.

Hermione snorted. “Yes, Pansy. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Surrounding you with Order of Merlin recipients in order to ruin your reputation. You’ll never recover.”

Pansy sniffed and looked down at her lunch. She appeared to be slicing her green beans into tiny and precise triangles.

“So, Harry, Ron, how’s training?” Hermione asked when it was clear that no one was going to contribute conversation.

Neville came over, carrying his plate from Gryffindor, and sat next to Pansy.

“It’s good. Finally getting interesting. The first couple months were nothing but drilling protocol and DMLE regulations. But we wrapped all that up two weeks ago, and now we’re starting some basic field training. Mostly flying right now. We clocked over eight hours of flying yesterday. Active flying. It’s pretty fun.”

Hermione felt Draco shift and look down. She slid her hand under the table and entwined her fingers with his. He gave it a small squeeze and twirled his fork on his plate.

Ginny and Neville asked more questions about Auror training and then the conversation turned to Quidditch.

Hermione only half listened as she thoughtfully traced her fingers along Draco’s hand.

“How’s school going for you, Hermione?”

Hermione looked up at Harry. “It’s going well. Draco and I are doing a project for Arithmancy and DADA. We got our equation approved with such a good accuracy margin we’re going to perform the countercurse in class next week. The charm work has ended up being so complex that we’ve also been collaborating with Flitwick on it. We’re going to be accruing a bit of extra-credit, which is a nice surprise. I think I mentioned in my letter, the amulet is cursed with the Gemino curse. It’s quite interesting to analyze after having experienced it.”

“I still have nightmares about that bank vault,” Ron said. “And that bloody dragon we rode.”

“Wait, What?” Draco said, turning to look at her.

Hermione ducked her head down. “I told you I robbed a bank, didn’t I?”

“I had a concussion. I thought I hallucinated that part. You three have robbed a bank?”

Hermione shrugged awkwardly and avoided the astonished gazes of Draco, Pansy, and Theo. “We needed something from the Lestrange vault in order to defeat Voldemort. So I impersonated Bellatrix and we broke in. It was rather high security vault; there was a Flagrante curse and a gemino curse on the vault and—and a dragon. The goblins are bit peeved about it, so we try not to talk about it too much.”

“Peeved?” repeated Pansy, her eyes round and incredulous. “The goblins are a bit peeved because you managed to rob Gringotts. No one robs the goblins.”

“That’s why we don’t talk about it much,” Hermione said, looking down at her lap.

“For the record, casually bringing up a bank heist during lunchtime conversation is a perfect example of why you’re scary,” Draco muttered in her ear.

Chapter Text

Hermione was firmly pressed, face-first, against the bathroom door, her hands magically pinned to the door above her head.

Draco’s hard chest was pressed against the length of her back, and he was fucking her at an agonizingly slow rate. She could feel her core fluttering around him as he pressed slowly into her. Her fingers were scrabbling for something to hold as her entire body tensed around him. He gave a low hiss; the air ghosted across her over-sensitive glands and she gave a low whimper.

His hands slid along her body languorously, playing with her glands on her wrists until she was quivering and then slowly gliding down to palm her breasts and roll her nipples between his fingers. His thumb rubbed a soft circle against the tip of her nipple and her entire body tensed as if she’d been electrocuted.

“God!—” She shuddered and collapsed against the door.

Draco’s lips pressed against the back of her neck and then down along her trapezius muscle as he used one arm to keep her legs from giving out beneath her.

“Mine,” he said against her shoulder, breathing deeply against her skin. “You’re mine.”

She felt him open his mouth and catch her shoulder between his teeth. His upper incisors dragged against her scent glands.

Hermione gave a guttural scream and her entire body tensed and nearly spasmed around him. Her forehead smacked sharply on the door and she winced, squeezing her eyes tightly closed.

“God!! Bloody—fuck—Draco—please.”

“Please what?” Draco rolled his hips and drove into her again. She could hear the smirk in his voice.

She swallowed. “Please—”

Bite me. Please bite me. Bite me. Please.

“Please—,” she dropped her head against the door and drew a ragged breath as she tried to remember how to form a sentence.

Draco’s cock withdrew and then pressed slowly into her again until she gasped and made an utterly incoherent noise.

“Please, Alpha,” she half-whimpered. “I need you.”

“You need to be more specific.” Draco’s tongue slid down the shell of her ear, catching a drop of water from the lobe.

Her hair was dripping wet.

They’d been taking an evening shower. She’d been giving him a very, very extended blow job and getting just ridiculously horny in the process when he’d lost patience. Admittedly, he had asked her to get up and let him shag her five times before he’d finally dragged her out of the shower, snatched up his wand, and then magicked her wrists to the door.

“You are the most uncooperative witch,” he’d muttered into her ear as his fingers had slid into her core and she gave a low moan.

“What? Do you want me docile?” she’d asked, her voice thick with arousal as she twisted her wrists slightly to determine what charm he’d used to trap her.

“Never,” he’d said as he withdrew his fingers. He gave a low groan, aligned his cock with her sex, and slowly sheathed himself inside her.

Well, if he didn’t want her docile, he certainly hadn’t seemed to mind her threatening, indignant, exhorting, cajoling, whimpering, and finally begging as he had fucked her the exact edge of an orgasm and then intently kept her there for what felt like an eternity.

Draco brushed his lips against her glands and the skin across her entire body prickled.

“Is there something specific you wanted, Hermione?”

Bite me. Bite me. Bite me.

Hermione dropped her head against the door until she felt his fingertips tracing along the underside of breasts. She trembled at his touch and gave a despairing moan.

“God, Draco, please”— bite me—“ let me come,” she said in a pleading tone.

Draco paused, and she could feel his mouth curve into a smirk against her shoulder. “When someone asks very nicely for something, the polite thing to do would be listen to them rather than raise your eyebrows and ignore their request five times in a row. Don’t you think?”

Hermione ground her jaw; her entire body was shaking.

“I—didn’t have you stuck to the door.” She forced the words out.

Draco’s fingers had moved down and were drawing light circles across her pelvis. Her clit was throbbing, and her inner-walls fluttered around him as she turned to molten liquid inside.

“I don’t recall hearing you object to it at any time.”

Hermione pressed her lips together. Fair point.

She swallowed, and her voice crept up into a soft, cajoling register. “Please, Draco, please let me come. Please, Alpha.”

Draco rolled his hips and tangled a hand in her wet hair in order to draw her head back and drag his teeth along her jaw. “You are a good girl, and you do ask so nicely.”

Hermione shivered and keened as Draco thrust quicker and harder. His mouth was burning hot, and he sucked hard on her glands as his knot began expanding. He shifted back in order to avoid knotting inside her.

“Alpha, Alpha, please,” she chanted as he drove into her, hard.

Bite me. She bit her lip to keep the words from slipping out.

“Come for me.” His hand was between her legs, and he barely had to touch her before she shattered.

Her legs gave out as her climax struck her with a vengeance. She collapsed against the door. Draco muttered the counter-charm; her hands came free from the door a moment before his hips began jerking in a sharp repetition.

He crushed her against his chest and dragged his teeth against her shoulder with a ragged growl.  

As she felt him come, a second orgasm hit her like a tidal wave. The intensity and buildup were overwhelming as it tore through her until she felt as though she were falling apart.

She gasped and shuddered in Draco’s arms and then burst into tears.

Not again.

Good grief. It was getting absurd the amount she cried.

She gave a huffing moan of frustration and tried to scrub the tears away as she sobbed her way through her climax.

It was fortunate that Draco was unphased by her tears. He always just hugged her and went on and on about how much he liked her until she stopped bawling. She’d been crying even more than usual during the last week.

She braced a hand against the door and sobbed.

“Fuck—”

She found herself abruptly turned and gathered against Draco’s chest as he peppered kisses across her face.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have—fuck. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Hermione blinked confusedly through her tears and studied Draco. He was usually collected when she cried, but that didn't appear to be the case this time. His expression was horrified.

Hermione choked back her sobs and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“It’s fine—It’s fine, Draco.” She hiccuped the words and pressed herself against him.

He shook his head sharply and wrapped his arms tightly around her. “No. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have trapped your hands, and I shouldn’t have had my teeth anywhere near your glands. I should have asked. I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again, I swear. I’m so sorry.”

He was breathing as though he were about to have a panic attack.

Oh god. He’d thought she was crying because he’d scared her.

Hermione hugged him more tightly until her chest stopped stuttering and then sat back and caught his face in her hands, staring up into his eyes.

“Draco, it was just intense. I’m fine. You didn’t scare me. You didn’t do anything I didn’t like. You used a first year sticking charm on me, you dolt, I was perfectly aware of how to counter it.”

“Still—,”

Hermione crushed his mouth against hers until he stopped trying to talk.

She withdrew and pressed their foreheads together.

“Draco—you have been so careful. You haven’t done anything I haven’t liked, and you’ve always given me plenty of opportunity to back out of things if I wanted to. You didn’t use an Alpha tone. It was easier for me to get my hands free from that charm that if you’d been holding them there. It was just intense. You didn’t scare me or upset me at all. I promise. That was actually rather fun. I’m just crying a lot lately.”

He studied her face carefully. “If I ever do anything you don’t want, tell me.”

“I will. I’m not docile, remember?” She gave him a cheeky smile.

He smiled wanly back.

She looked down at the absolute mess of fluid between them. “Come on, let’s finish our shower.”

He followed her, but he was subdued no matter what Hermione did to try to cheer him up.  

After they finished showering, and she had toweled her hair dry and dressed, she started gathering up all her homework. It was scattered messily across the coffee table and couch.

“This is one of yours,” Draco said quietly, not looking at her as he held out a scroll with a St Mungo’s insignia on the side.

Hermione took it, averting her eyes. “Right. Thanks.”

After Harry and Ron’s visit, she’d told Draco she was going through the interview process with St Mungo’s. She’d framed it as simply an option she wanted to know more about, without mentioning all the potential side effects of going through with it.

Draco had been very quiet and avoided looking at her as she finished explaining.

“Well, if that’s what you want to do,” was all he said.

Then he’d avoided the subject entirely, aside from a few extremely terse obligatory acknowledgements.

She packed the scroll in her satchel to mail in the morning.

“You know, I’m still going to date you, even if you aren’t an Omega anymore,” Draco said abruptly. “I liked you before you were an Omega, and I’m still going to like you if you aren’t one.”

Hermione almost dropped her bag, and looked up at him, startled.

Draco was staring at her from across the room, his jaw set and his expression obstinate, but when she met his eyes, they immediately dropped and his cheeks stained scarlet. “Unless—unless you didn’t want me to. In which case—of course, I’ll leave you alone—“

Hermione’s heart did a funny somersault and then seemed to fracture inside her chest.

“Draco—I’m not doing this because I’m trying to find an out. I just—I get worried if I don’t prepare for other possibilities. What if—,” she shifted and swallowed. “What if we break up and I don’t have any other choices lined up and it’s near graduation? What if you wanted to—end things, but felt like you couldn’t because—“ she gestured helplessly around herself. “I don’t want you to feel like you’re stuck—that just because you liked me at one point. Us dating shouldn’t be an ultimatum. I don’t want to assume—I don’t want to be short-sighted because I’m hormonal. You know?”

Draco sighed and looked sharply away from her. “I know. Rationally, I get it. I know why you feel like you need to. But—biologically, I—you don’t—“ He cut off for several seconds and rolled his jaw as though he were trying out the shape of various words.

He drew a short, angry breath. “I can’t explain this right now. I need a walk.”

He stalked out of the room without another word.

Hermione stood uncertainly, staring at the door for a minute before she pulled out the Marauder's Map.

She just wanted to make sure he was alright.

She watched as he wandered through the castle on his own for several minutes. His path seemed fairly aimless. Then—her mouth pursed, he ran into Daphne Greengrass. Hermione watched the two dots pause, separate, and then draw closer again. She kept waiting for them to part ways, but after a minute, the two of them turned and proceeded together to the the dungeons and into the Slytherin Common room.

Hermione stared at the map in disbelief as Draco’s name got lost among all the other Slytherin names, popping up and then disappearing among all the other dots, often beside Daphne’s name, but, as the minutes ticked by, increasingly next to Astoria’s.

After half an hour, Hermione threw the map across the room and stomped around, angrily stuffing her remaining homework into her satchel.

It was probably nothing. It was nothing. There was a party in the Slytherin common room. It was a Saturday night. Of course Draco would go.

There was nothing to be upset or worried about it.

Even if she and Draco had had a bit of a fight. A fight that he’d stormed out of and then walked straight into the arms of a girl who had been aggressively pursuing him all year.

Hermione’s stomach was burning, and she swallowed.

Really, where did Daphne and Astoria Greengrass get off?

Her fingertips sparked slightly, and she ran her fingers through her hair.

Maybe she’d go down to the dungeons.

No. It was nothing.

Draco liked her, which was why he was upset. He wouldn’t—

He wouldn’t. So there was no reason to even think about it.

He just needed space. Following him would be clingy. Omega-ish.

She wasn’t going to go trailing after a boy after he was the one who stomped off.

He’d come back.

She hugged herself. Maybe she’d go and hang out in the Gryffindor common room for a while. She hadn’t been there much since she and Draco had started dating. So—maybe she’d go see her friends too.

She eyed the door without moving.

He might come back. They had been planning to spend the evening together because they hadn’t in three days. She’d had Astronomy one night, and then rounds the next night, and then he’d had Astronomy, so they’d wrapped up most of their homework early Saturday so they could have a long evening together without needing to worry they were falling behind on any final assignments.

Then she’d ruined it by crying, and then she’d ruined it more by leaving her questionnaire from St Mungo’s out.

He’d probably come back in a little while.

She curled into a tight ball in bed and read her Transfiguration textbook for the next semester.

Her eyes were drooping, and it was well past midnight when the door clicked. She looked up sharply as Draco stepped in.

His hair was tousled and the top button of his shirt undone. His expression was very visibly relaxed.

Hermione stared at him, wordless.

“Sorry. Christmas party in the Slytherin Common room, I’d forgotten about it,” Draco said, making his way carefully over to the bed. “You didn’t need to wait up.”

Hermione’s mouth twitched. She didn’t point out that she couldn’t sleep without him. She just closed her book and put it aside.

He looked drunk. She’d never seen him drunk before, but she was certain based on his expression, the odd way he was walking, and the overly-precise way he was speaking.

He dropped down heavily onto the bed without removing his robes. He slid an arm around her waist and pulled her over as though she were a pillow.

He buried his face in her shoulder. “Fuck, you smell amazing. No one smells as good as you. I hate peaches.”

Hermione twitched. “Smelling a lot of witches tonight?”

“Hard not to—at a Christmas party,” he muttered against her skin.

“Oh.”

Images of a mistletoe bedecked Slytherin common room flashed before her eyes.

She rested a hand on his shoulder and sniffed at him surreptitiously. He mostly smelled like firewhisky. She didn’t think she smelled any perfume. At least there wasn’t any in his hair, but her nose wasn’t nearly as keen as his. She caught a whiff of something, and her eyebrows furrowed.

“Draco—did you go outside?”

“Hmm?” He seemed to have been dozing off. “Mhmm. On the way back. I needed to post something.”

“You went to the Owlery past curfew?” The astonishment in her tone was overt.

“Owls are nocturnal, Granger.” His snide tone cut through the slurring in his voice. “I wasn’t alone. Blaise, Daph, and Astoria came with me.”

“Daphne was trying to wrangle an invitation for herself and Astoria to Malfoy Manor during the holidays.”

Hermione suddenly felt as though her stomach had shrunk out of existence. “Oh.”

She still hadn’t asked him about whether he’d stay with her during her heat. She kept meaning to—she kept telling herself she was going to—

She kept putting it off.

She’d planned to bring it up that evening, but then he’d left.

She kept avoiding it. She trusted Draco; she liked Draco, but the last heat still felt raw.

There were ways she felt she still hadn’t recovered from the two months of emotional devastation that had followed it, and lately the craving to soulbond was becoming an obsession.

She knew it was just biological, but her emotions didn’t care.

She’d bitten her tongue repeatedly during the last week in particular in order to stop herself from asking—urging—begging him to bite her.

There was a part of her that was intensely set on it. As though everything wrong in her entire life would be instantly solved. If he bit her now, and then he bit her when she was heat, nothing bad would ever happen to her again.

That was how it felt.

No matter how much she argued with herself on the point, she was mentally attuned to the idea in a fundamental, unshakeable, undisuadable level.  

Thinking about going into heat, and then emerging from heat still unbound felt like clawing at an exposed nerve.

Then again in March.

And again in June.

She didn’t want to go into heat again. Even if it would be better. Even if Draco didn’t disappear and abandon her afterward.

She didn’t want to go through it at all.

She could feel her body readying for it. Her hormones were spiking. Her curves, which had already been getting somewhat unmanageable, had gotten more so. She’d gone up a cup size in the last week. Draco had started stalking her through the castle like an ominous bodyguard, and Theo, and Neville, and the rest of the Alphas currently refused to be anywhere near her, although she’d notice their eyes grow dark the second she walked into a classroom.

It wasn’t the dazed look any longer. It was hunger.

Her heat was coming, and her biology was already aggressively signaling it to any Alphas nearby.

She would probably need to be quarantined already if it weren’t for Draco—who had abruptly grown even taller and more muscular. The skinny, pointiness had long vanished. He was nearly a foot and a half taller than her, and his physique had moved beyond fit and into the realm of being built like a bloody barn door. It seemed unreasonable for anyone to have so much tautly-defined muscle mass.

Neville looked thin and malnourished by comparison, and Beta males seemed almost worryingly small to Hermione.

None of the books referenced secondary Alpha growth spurts, Hermione suspected it was related to the fact they were in a relationship but not bound; his magi-biology just kept trying to heighten his traits.

If they delayed bonding indefinitely, did that mean he’d just keep growing and she’d keep getting curvier and curvier forever?

The bizarre traits of Alpha-Omega biological dynamics seemed like an inadvisable thing to test or experiment with any further.

Hermione was fairly certain that was a rational conclusion. However, her subconscious immediately pivoted from her scientific and ethical concerns and transitioned them to the secondary conclusion of: “bite me, bite me, bite me, Alpha.”

They’d only been dating a month. A month. She kept reminding herself. At this time the previous year, they’d been on opposite sides in a war.

It was—she was quite sure—extremely hormonal and immature to even entertain the idea of soulbonding after only dating a boy for a month.

It was.

So they couldn’t. They hadn’t talked about it. They’d tried to focus on school and getting to know each other.

They hadn’t even talked about her heats. Draco hadn’t made any reference or allusion to his presence or lack thereof during her upcoming heat.

Surely he had to be aware. He wouldn’t plan to go spend the Christmas holidays at Malfoy Manor with the Greengrasses. He liked her, and biologically speaking he wasn't capable of not wanting to be there.

He must be waiting for her to bring it up.

She bit her lip and then hesitated.

She closed her eyes. She could do this. She ask her boyfriend about his holiday plans. It was an entirely reasonable question. She was a Gryffindor, and this was one of the least scary things she’d ever done.

Her eyes suddenly snapped open, and it occurred to her that at that particular moment her boggart probably was Draco breaking up with her.

“Draco, are you staying at Hogwarts for the holidays?” she blurted.

There was a resounding silence.

It felt like her heart stalled for the entirety of it.

Draco didn’t say anything.

Hermione swallowed.

“Draco?” She tilted her head to try to see his expression.

He was asleep.

She let out a small gasp of disbelief.

“Draco?”

Nothing.

“Draco—I need to ask you something. Draco?” She pulled at his shoulder and touched his face but he didn’t respond.

She tried to wake him two more times before giving up.

She withdrew her hand and stared up at the ceiling, trying to think while her heart continued pounding. Given how drunk he’d seemed, talking about it tomorrow morning probably would be inadvisable. Maybe after lunch she could find a point to ask him in private. She’d promised to study Transfiguration with Ginny during the afternoon. Maybe the conversation with Draco wouldn’t be very long. Alternatively she could wait until evening.

She’d ask him tomorrow afternoon or in the evening. She promised herself she would.

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders until she could feel his body heat through his clothes.

She woke up before Draco. She was positive there would be no sex that morning. He'd been really drunk. Considering how heavily he’d slept, she was certain he was going to have a massive hangover.

She slipped out from under him and took a quick shower. When she was dressed, she headed into the bedroom and found Draco semi-awake, his arm slung over his eyes.

“Do you need me to get a hangover potion for you?” she asked from across the room.

He moved his head slightly. “I’ll get one from Blaise. I forgot last night.” He peeked under his forearm at her. “You’re heading out?”

His voice was thick and scratchy. Hermione conjured a glass of water and brought it over and placed it on the table next to him.

“I have some things to put in the post,” she said without meeting his eyes.

She saw his jaw twitch.

“I’ve also got a couple books that are due at the library, I figured I should return them early so the next person in the queue can pick it up today.”

“Sorry—I’m not up for anything this morning. I’ll catch you later.” He shifted and grimaced. “If you’ll wait—I’ll get up in a minute.”

Hermione shook her head. “Don’t. I’m fine. I’ll see you at breakfast or after. I’m studying with Ginny this afternoon, I think I mentioned it.”

He moved his head incrementally in acknowledgment.

Hermione licked her lips. “I’ll see you later then.”

She turned on her heel and headed out. Her eyes were pricking, and she didn’t even know why. Bloody hormones.

She walked quickly to the Owlery. As she sent the school owls off with her post, she noticed that Draco’s eagle owl was absent. If it hadn’t returned, that meant the letter Draco had sent had probably been sent to Malfoy Manor.

She turned away and headed to the library.

When she reached the Great Hall, Draco was already at the Slytherin table with Blaise, Theo, Pansy, and Daphne.

Her jaw twitched and she hurried over to the Gryffindor table.

Ginny was already there, blurry-eyed. “You missed the Christmas party at a Gryffindor.”

Hermione blinked. “Oh, that was last night too.”

Ginny bobbed her head. “Last Saturday before the holidays. God, Seamus talked me into trying some vile concoction after we sent the younger years to bed. I’m not even sure what was real and what I hallucinated. I think someone conjured a lion, but I’m still questioning it.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows and avoided looking toward the Slytherin table. “Sounds like I missed quite the party.”

“Were you at the Slytherin party?” Ginny glanced over and put down her knife, focussing her entire attention on Hermione.

“No. I was doing homework. I wasn’t—really in the mood for something social last night.”

“Right. You’re coming up on your—“ Ginny raised her eyebrows indicatively.

Hermione nodded.

“That’s got to be rough. Well, I mean, Neville can’t even look at you right now. And am I imagining it? Because I swear Malfoy has gotten bulkier in the last week. I’ve never seen anything like him. He looks like he could take down a centaur with his bare hands.”

Ginny cast an appreciative glance toward Slytherin.

Hermione’s hold on her spoon tightened, and her jaw twitched. She found herself fondly remembering the time she bit Ginny in the hospital wing. She blinked.

“I thought you didn’t like Draco,” she said in a tense voice.

“Disliking him, and noticing that he looks like a character on the cover of a romance novel are not mutually exclusive,” Ginny said with a lofty tone. “Besides, Malfoy’s not the only one bursting at the seams. Are you paying your blouse buttons overtime?”

Hermione looked down and noticed that the buttons over her bust did indeed look to be on the verge of popping off and blinding someone. She hastily pulled her robes closed.

She swallowed. “I think it’s related to me. Since we’re not—bound, my theory is that the magic is amplifying, trying to increase the biological imperative.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “Oh god. So—does that mean?”

Hermione stared at her oatmeal. “I don’t know. I was going to bring it up to Draco last night, but we had a fight and he ended up walking out.”

Ginny was silent for a long time. “Did you break up?” she said gently.

Hermione’s throat felt tight. “No. He came back five hours later, really drunk from the Slytherin Christmas party. He was hungover this morning. So—I’m going to talk to him later today, I think.”

“Ah. Do you want to cancel on this afternoon? I’ve got this Transfiguration stuff, you don’t need to.”

“No. It’s fine. It’s been on my schedule for this weekend, so he probably has his own plans. I’ll catch him before or after.” Hermione’s eyes had wandered back to the Slytherin table, where Draco was seated next to Daphne.

Her appetite for breakfast was suddenly gone, and she glowered across the room until she felt her hair crackle.

“Hermione.”

“Hermione.”

Ginny poked her on the shoulder.

Hermione glanced over. “What?”

“Are you alright? You look like you’re trying to burn a hole in Daphne Greengrass’ head.”

Hermione looked back across the Great Hall. “She’s sitting with Draco.”

Ginny snorted. “She is sitting next to Draco and Zabini. Hermione—Malfoy is completely obsessed with you. He’s looked over at you like thirty times, and you haven’t even noticed because you’re glaring at Daphne.” Ginny rested a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “I think you’re very hormonal right now, and it’s making you self-conscious. You should probably talk to Malfoy.”

“I am. I’m going to.” Hermione’s throat suddenly felt parched, and she poured herself a glass of pumpkin juice. “Rationally I get it—I know I’m being—“ she drew a sharp breath. “There’s this part of me that feels like if that conversation doesn’t go well, I’m just going to lose it. I keep feeling like if I just give myself more time to think about it, I’ll be in a better place. Instead I’m just crying more and more.”

“I think waiting is the wrong thing to be doing.”

“Really? I hadn’t considered that,” Hermione said in a vicious voice.

Ginny was silent for several seconds. “I—can’t believe I’m the one saying this, but maybe you two should consider bonding this Christmas.”

Hermione looked sharply at Ginny, who shrugged.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be tampering with the biology the way you two are. The fact you aren’t bonding seems to be messing with things—a lot. We’ve read all the literature that has any resemblance to your situation. There’s no precedent for a relationship like yours without bonding. No one has ever done that. Not anywhere, not ever. It can’t possibly be healthy. I mean, I don’t think you can make it to July to get an ovariectomy. I wouldn’t be surprised if St Mungo’s knows that and that’s why the application process is so long.”

The thought had occurred to Hermione, but hearing Ginny voice the same suspicion was like being slapped in the face.

Her lips twitched as she watched Daphne nudge Draco playfully.

“We—we’ve only been dating a month, Ginny,” she said as she imagined herself stabbing Daphne repeatedly with her fork. “We haven’t even talked about bonding.”

“Well, maybe you should. You two are playing with fiendfyre. I don’t like Malfoy, I’d prefer he not be your future spouse or whatever you decide to call him, but you’re clearly not interested in considering any other Alpha options and ‘Don’t mess around with bonding Magic’ is a pretty basic rule in the Wizarding world. I’m sure Malfoy knows that, so—he’s probably waiting for you to—come around or whatever it is you’re still working through.”

Hermione swallowed. “Maybe you’re right. I—“

Her train of thought ended as the room was filled with the sound of fluttering wings and the Great Hall filled with descending owls.

Draco’s eagle owl soared down to the Slytherin table carrying a large package. Draco’s eyes brightened, and he looked visibly eager as he fed his owl a sausage and removed a large envelope. He flicked it open and quickly skimmed the contents.

He smirked and then handed the letter to Daphne, whose expression was overtly excited as she snatched the paper from Draco and read it.

While Daphne was reading, Draco started unwrapping the package. It was carefully wrapped in several layers of heavy paper.

Hermione watched carefully as Draco pulled away the last layer of wrapping. Her heart was pounding so rapidly she could barely hear anything.

It was book.

It was an absolutely beautiful book.

Even across the hall she could see that it was a gorgeous. Dark green leather with gilded tooling across the cover that glittered in the light.

Her fingers twitched with a desire to touch it.

Draco opened it and slowly flipped through several pages. The way he was handling the book indicated that the book had to be priceless. He was entirely absorbed by the contents.

After several minutes, he closed it carefully and seemed to be showing everyone else around him. Draco’s expression was smug, and everyone else seemed admiring—except Daphne who appeared to be rendered speechless.

Daphne reached a tentative hand toward the book, and the air around Hermione vibrated. Daphne withdrew her hand and just kept staring at the book.

Hermione breathed a small sigh of relief. The book did not appear to be intended for Daphne.

Maybe—maybe the book was a Christmas present for Hermione.

Not that she was assuming it. But it was possible.

A book would be the sort of present Draco might give her, and normally he told her when he wrote home for books. So—maybe.

Of course she wasn’t assuming, maybe he just needed an additional reference for an essay.

Draco stood up from the table, grinning crookedly, picked up the book, and slipped it under his arm.

Since the owl had arrived, he hadn’t glanced in Hermione’s direction.

He walked down the table and then stopped—

—behind Astoria Greengrass.

Hermione stopped breathing.

Draco reached out and touched Astoria on the shoulder. Astoria turned and then quickly stood to face him.

Draco smirked and appeared to say something before he pulled the book from under his arm and held it out to her.

Astoria stared with the same expression of wonder Daphne had exhibited. Then her hands darted up to cover her mouth. She appeared to be on the verge of tears. Draco blushed and smiled at her before extending the book again.

Astoria’s whole body shook, and she suddenly jumped forward and threw herself into his arms.

Draco’s eyes widened with astonishment as he gripped the book and caught Astoria. He looked uncertain and hesitated for several seconds before he wrapped his arm around Astoria’s shoulders, a genuine grin on his face.

There was a cracking sound, and all the glassware in the Great Hall simultaneously shattered.

 

Chapter Text

Everything in Hermione’s vision turned red. She found herself standing. All she could hear was her own breathing.

Draco looked over sharply, and his eyes met Hermione’s.

Her jaw trembled, and she clenched her hands into fists as she struggled to tamp down on the overwhelming desire to set him and Astoria on fire. The tables and platters of food shook.

Hermione drew a deep breath, turned on her heel, and bolted from the Great Hall.

The blood was roaring in her ears as she sprinted through the castle, back to her room.

“Kismet!” She spat the password and flung the door open.

She stormed across the room, gathering up all her possessions and dumping them into her trunk.

She was—to her astonishment—not crying. After a week of crying over almost everything imaginable, she was not crying about something that she would have fully expected to be hysterical about.

Rather, she felt remarkably clear-headed. The scales had fallen from her eyes and reality had reasserted itself; and it was cold and clear as crystal. No more emotional, hormonal, biological illusions.

She was an idiot.

A weepy, clingy, hormonal idiot.

That was resoundingly obvious.

She and Draco were always doomed. No one thought it made any sense that they were together. Not her friends. Not his friends.

A few coincidences and she’d been stupid enough to mistake it for something dreamy and predestined.

Of course it would feel that way. The biology would be intended to seem that way so that it was easy to give into; let reason go and believe that a co-dependent relationship where she tied her magic and emotions up with someone else was healthy and romantic. Ideal even.

The presentation wanted her to fall for it. To make her believe her biological dependency wasn’t just endurable, it was destiny. Draco wasn’t just right for her, he was her soulmate.

Rubbish. All of it was rubbish.

There was no such thing as soulmates. It was just a fairy tale to make the indignity and horror of the fact she was fundamentally a magical broodmare somewhat endurable feeling.

Who cared about self-determination when “destiny” came with so many orgasms?

She kicked her trunk and swore as she shoved an armload of books into it.

The door clicked, and she turned to find Draco standing behind her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, looking past her to her half-packed trunk.

He didn’t have the book anymore, presumably because he’d left it with Astoria.

“I’m going back to Gryffindor tower,” she said as she walked over and snatched up a pile of laundry she’d kicked into the corner the day before. “I think that makes the most sense.”

“Hermione—”

Hermione turned away from him. “I don’t want to do this anymore. It was a mistake, I think. I realized while I’ve been packing—that this was a mistake. I don’t think—,“ she dropped her head and stared down at her shoes. “I don’t think St Mungo’s actually has any intention of approving me, they’re probably just putting me off until I give up. So—I should probably just write to Charlie. I don’t want to keep pretending that biological factors make this something that’s actually“—her voice fractured slightly—“real.”

She walked into the bathroom.

She grabbed her toothbrush, comb, and shampoo and stuck them into her box of suppressants. Draco was blocking the door when she turned to exit.

He’d gone from pale to grey. “Hermione—Charlie Weasley. That’s—who you want.”

She wasn’t sure if it was a question or a statement in the way he said it.

She looked up at him, and it felt as though there was a cavern in her chest. “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s been getting harder and harder lately and I don’t think I can take it anymore.”

She tried to get past him but he filled the doorway.

“Hermione—are you doing this because of what happened in the Great Hall?”

Hermione raised her eyes. The cold, calm crystal feeling was melting away, and she was beginning to feel like she might start bawling. It felt like there was a bottomless pit where her stomach usually sat.

“Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it?” she said in a cold voice. “ Are the Greengrasses your backup option? You were annoyed about St Mungo’s so you went off and decided to arrange things for yourself—preemptively?”

Her voice did break slightly at the end.

Draco looked bewildered. “What? No. Hermione, Astoria hugged me—“

“I know!” She tried to elbow her way past but Draco was immovable. She huffed and glared up at him. “I was watching. I saw the whole thing from the moment your owl arrived.”

She gave an angry laugh. “I admit, it does simplify things. I’ve been trying to gear up for all these conversations with you, even though I’ve got all these hormones until I can’t even think without crying—and then you just left last night. I thought you’d come back. But you didn’t, not for hours. And now—“

She gave a low sob. “I don’t want to do this anymore. So, I’m going back to Gryffindor tower. Have fun with the Greengrass girls this Christmas, they seem—very eager to please you.”

She tried to push him out of the way, but he snatched the box out of her hands and shoved it back on the counter and then took her by the shoulders. His eyes were wide. “Hermione, don’t do this. Please, tell me what you’re talking about? What’s too hard? Tell me, and I’ll fix it.”

She glared at him. The image of him grinning and hugging Astoria felt permanently burned into her corneas. “You gave Astoria a book and then hugged her in front of the entire school. Daphne has been hounding you since the Hogwarts Express, and I’ve already heard all about how she’s been trying to get herself and her sister invited to your house for the holidays. It all seems pretty clear. Were you so drunk you just forgot to break up with me last night?”

Draco stared at her with astonishment. “No. I’m not ever going to break up with you, you idiot.”

Hermione twitched. “Oh, are you setting up a harem then? Keep an Omega on the side, and a nice pureblood girl to take home for the holidays?”

Draco jerked slightly. “I’m not interested in the Greengrasses. I don’t want a fucking harem. And I’m not going anywhere for the holidays. Now, please,” his hold on her shoulders tightened and his voice was shaking, “please tell me what I need to do to fix this, because if you break up with me, I may die of a broken heart.”

Hermione’s heart skipped for several beats and she gave a small gasp before she burst into tears.   

“Then why are you giving books to other girls?”

She didn’t mean to wail the question but that was the way it came out. She stood in the middle of the bathroom sobbing brokenly.

“Oh god,” Draco dragged her into his arms and crushed her against his chest. “Is that what this is about?”

It’s wasn’t entirely, but Hermione nodded anyway. Watching Draco give a book to Astoria Greengrass had felt like being kicked in the stomach and then trampled to death.

He sighed and held her as she kept weeping into his robes. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking about how it would look to you. I didn’t give Astoria a book, I just lent her one from my family library.”

He gave a deep sigh and hugged Hermione more tightly. “Greengrass Family has a blood curse in their matrilineal line. Apparently it’s been in the family for generations, but it rarely manifests. Last year symptoms of it started to appear in Astoria. Blood curses are—as I’m sure you can imagine, a taboo among Pureblood families; many of them won’t even try to reverse a blood curse for fear of word getting out. Daphne decided she doesn’t care if trying to save her sister ruins their chance of marriage. Without telling her parents, she spent the whole summer soliciting invitations to private libraries in the hope of finding information on how to break the curse on Astoria.”

Draco coughed and cleared his throat.

“Daphne asked to see my family’s library during the summer but—“ his voice grew oddly tight, “there was a misunderstanding between us that took some time to resolve. Last night, at the Christmas party, Daphne told me about the specific book they’ve been trying to find. After the manor was searched during the summer, Blaise, Theo, and I spent most of our time reorganizing and reshelving the books in the library. When Daphne told me exactly why she wanted access to the Malfoy library, I realized that there was a book at the manor that they were looking for and I could ask my mother to send it. That way, during Christmas break, they can possibly find a curse breaker who can help Astoria.”

Hermione stood in his arms, blinking repeatedly as she processed the information. “Daphne’s been chasing you around all year because she wanted to see your library?”

Draco coughed again. “My family’s library.” He placed heavy emphasis on ‘family.’ “But—yes, that’s—that’s why she’s been hanging around me.”

Hermione furrowed her eyebrows, mentally reviewing all of Draco’s recent interactions with Daphne. “What—what misunderstanding did you have with her?”

Draco froze. “Please don’t ask me that. Hermione. It is possibly the most embarrassing thing that I have ever done in my life. I will give you anything if you will just not ask me to explain it.”

Hermione’s curiosity was kindling and she looked up at him. “You have to tell me. I’ve been getting so angry at her for always being around you. I—“ she ducked her head down. “I almost set her on fire last week.”

Draco let go of Hermione and shuffled awkwardly, running a hand through his hair and seeming severely concerned about the straightness of his shirt cuffs. The hollows of his cheeks were stained scarlet and he refused to meet her eyes.

He was so tall, his head was only and inch or two shy of the doorframe and his shoulders were so broad he nearly filled the doorway. As he stood there, picking non-existent dust from his robes, Hermione was reminded that he really was just a very, very large eighteen year old.

It made her want to curl up in his arms and snog him.

He coughed and blushed another shade darker. “Daph—Daphne wrote a letter—over the summer—asking to see my library and talking about how—how large she’d heard it was. And—and—“ he choked slightly. “And given that it’s my family’s library, I had never thought of it in those terms and so I—“

He cleared his throat and looked as though he wanted the floor to swallow him. “I thought she was using the term library as a—a strange euphemism for my—“ He waved a hand awkwardly in an incredibly non-specific direction and turned redder. “I wasn’t interested in Daphne, so whenever she’d sit next to me and start going on about libraries I’d just—run away.”

Hermione choked as a hysterical feeling of relief washed over her. “You mean—“

The image of Draco horrified expression when he’d flung himself into her train compartment flashed before her eyes, and she snorted with laughter and clapped her hands over her mouth. Her entire body was shaking, and it felt like her lungs might explode as she struggled not to laugh.

She drew a deep breath and pulled her hands away, her mouth twisting as she stared incredulously up at him. “This whole year, you thought Daphne wanted a go at your etchings but she really just wanted a visit to your family library?”

Draco shook his head, looking confused. “Not etchings, you see, when she said my library, I thought it was a euphemism for my—my—“

Hermione cut him off by throwing her head back and howling with laughter until her lungs started spasming and she choked. There were tears streaming down her face. She laughed and cried with relief. Draco stared at her and laughed nervously at various points when she managed make eye contact with him.

Then he swallowed and watched her double-over and sink to the floor. She had spent three months loathing Daphne with steadily increasing passion, and Daphne had just been after a library book.

Finally Hermione subsided and sat trying to catch her breath. Her lungs were burning and she kept hiccuping.

“So—“ his tone was light but there was a nervous undercurrent, “are you still going to leave?”

Hermione shook her head and rubbed her face as it grew hot. She looked away. “I thought, after you left last night, that maybe you had gone and invited the Greengrasses to your manor for the holidays, to get back at me for interviewing at St Mungo’s.”

Draco dropped to the floor beside her with a growl. “I am not going anywhere during the holidays. Why would you think that?”

Her Omega subconscious instantly began skittering nervously. Hermione fought against an urge to prostrate herself on the bathroom floor and beg for forgiveness.

She hunched her shoulders and glanced away, her throat tightening. She tried to focus intently on what her feelings had been, and not what they were turning into.  “You left. We were talking about St Mungo’s, and you got upset and just walked away. I waited for you, but you didn’t come back. Then, when you did come back, all you told me was that you went to the owlery with the Greengrasses. So—”

Draco made a sound of disbelief. “You could have asked, if that what you thought.”

Hermione twitched. “I did, but you were asleep. I was going to ask you today, but then the post came.”

Draco buried his face in his hands. “With the amount of miscommunication I have with people, I question whether I’m speaking the right language.”

He dropped his hands to his lap and sighed, his expression tense.  “I don’t know how to talk about St Mungo’s. Lately—the biological aspects have been—harder to manage.  Everytime St Mungo’s comes up, and I think about you going through with it—“ he cut off and his jaw rippled. “Biologically I don’t know how to process it. Rationally I understand, but instinctively it feels like you’re endangered, that I’m losing you and I need to—“

Hermione’s glands tingled and she pressed her knees together.

He hesitated and tilted his head back. “What we’re doing—there isn’t really a way to process it, biologically. I can handle it most of the time, but sometimes—I don’t think I should test with where the outer limits of my self-control are. The way you talk about it, I feel like if I make a mistake you’re going to go sterilize yourself or—owl Charlie Weasley. Which—“ his voice tightened, “—is apparently a valid concern for me to have.”

Hermione‘s breath caught in her throat as her stomach dropped. “I didn’t mean for it to come across like that. I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. When I mentioned Charlie, it’s just—this thing between us are so intense it’s been—it’s been—I don’t always know how to handle how intense it is. I’m trying not to make this relationship feel like it’s some kind of stake. That’s why I told you about St Mungo’s, so you wouldn’t feel like you’re trapped, like you couldn’t get out even if you wanted to because I’m planning my whole future around you.” She swallowed.

There were several seconds of silence.

“Granger“—Draco reverted back to using her surname whenever he was frustrated with her—“I’m not ever going to break up with you. Good grief.” He scoffed.

“I’m in love with you.” He gave a short laugh. “I didn’t intend to say this to you in a bathroom, but everytime I’m about to say it, you start going on and on about we’ve only been dating for a week or a fortnight or a month, and it’s probably all biology, and we’ll probably break up. I’m tired of not saying it. I’m in love with you. If you sterilize yourself, I will still be in love with you. If you choose Charlie Weasley or anyone else instead of me—I—I will probably never get over it—and I will still be in love with you.”

Hermione’s fingers twitched. Her heart felt like it was beating so rapidly it was thrumming. She wanted to fling herself at him but she forced herself to hold still. “Are you—sure?”

He stared at her. “Yes.” His tone was clipped and somewhat icy, and it made her wilt inside. “I’m fairly certain about this. Is this really news to you? Are you not able to tell?”

Hermione felt the tips of her ears grow warm. “Well,” her voice jumped, “it’s hard to ever be sure about anything, because of the—biology.”

Draco’s eyes flickered and hardened, and he looked away. “Well, that’s why I didn’t say it sooner. I had a feeling it wouldn’t even really matter. Do you want to know why I know I’m not in love with you because of biology? Because, if I were just listening to what I want biologically, I would have bitten you in September, or October, or any day since then. Every time I look at you, I want to bite you so I can stop constantly worrying that I’m going to eventually fuck up and lose you.”

Hermione’s mouth dropped open, and she panted. Her glands were starting to throb which made other parts of her also begin to throb. She squirmed as her fingers crept toward him.

Alpha. Alpha, please.

He looked away, scowling. “But I won’t. What you want is more important to me than getting to keep you.”

Bite me. Please, Alpha. Hermione swallowed a whimper.

He stood up abruptly. “I’m not expecting you to say it back. I’m not expecting you to change your mind or decide you don’t mind being an Omega because I said it. I’m just telling you so you’ll stop doing these things and saying you’re doing it for me. I don’t want an exit, so stop saying it’s because of me. It’s just—stressing me to death.” He looked like he wanted to go take down a centaur with his bare hands.

Hermione gnawed at her lip and stood up. Her throat felt tight. She was struggling against an urge to climb into his arms and beg him to bite her. Alpha. Alpha, please.

She squashed the urge viciously.

She took a deep, shivery breath, curling her hands into tight fists. “I just—I want to be responsible. Lately I’ve been so emotional, and the biology is getting so intense, it’s been hard to think straight. This is our whole life we’re talking about, Draco. What if it is all just—“

“If you said “biology” one more time I am going to lose my mind,” Draco said in a voice so frustrated it was vibrating.

Hermione pressed her lips together and fell silent.

Draco gave a low sigh and dropped his head against the doorframe. “What exactly is it that you want? What are you waiting for that will somehow make you feel sure?”

Hermione shuffled her feet and awkwardly started straightening her bottles of suppressants. “I don’t know. I’m not—I’m not very good at emotional things.”

Draco was silent for a long time. “Right,” he finally said. “Well, let me know. If—you ever are.”

“Don’t mess around with bonding Magic’ is a pretty basic rule in the Wizarding world. I’m sure Malfoy knows that, so—he’s probably waiting for you to—come around or whatever it is you’re still working through.”

Hermione hesitated and her heart started pounding. “Draco, are you—going to be with me during my heat?”

He stiffened, but when he looked up at her, his expression was carefully closed. “If you want me to be.”

She felt as though her heart was in her throat, choking her. “Do you want to be?”

He gave an incredulous laugh. “Of course. Grang—Hermione, did you think I wouldn’t?”

She swallowed and gripped her wrists tightly. “I know—I know how it works biologically, but emotionally, I’m—I have trouble feeling sure. I don’t want you to feel like I’m clingy or that you have to be if you don’t—“

“Hermione—“ Draco shook his head as though he were mildly confunded. “Are you under the impression that you are the clingy one in this relationship?”

She choked and fought back tears. “All the books talk about how needy Omegas are. I’m trying so hard not to—“

Draco thudded his forehead against the doorframe so firmly the room shook. “Fuck my life. Just when I feel sure we cannot possibly still be misunderstanding one another about anything—“ he seemed to be talking to himself.

He turned to look her dead in the eye. “I am the clingy one. You can verify this with—probably anyone in the entire castle. I follow you around like a puppy. I can’t stop touching you. When I’m not with you, I can barely form an entire thought that doesn’t somehow involve you. Please, for love of Magic, be as clingy as you want to be. I would love it. The fact you generally aren’t is actually incredibly, incredibly unhelpful.”

He gave a sharp hiss and grabbed her by the wrist. “I’m tired of having this conversation in a bathroom.”

He pulled her out of the bathroom, past the couch, past her trunk, and over to the bed. He picked her up and proceeded to sit down with her on his lap, crushing her against his chest in a long hug and burying his face in her shoulder through her hair.

Hermione sat quietly for several minutes before she furrowed her eyebrows. “I thought we were talking.”

He lifted his head and stared down at her. “Well, actually I don’t want to talk right now. You tried to break up with me. I realize I’m fairly stoic, but I’m actually very much not over that.”

His voice was thick. He hugged her until she could hear his heart racing in his chest. Her stomach twisted with guilt, and she nuzzled closer, wrapping her arms around his neck and tangling her fingers in his hair.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Draco. I shouldn’t have. I overreacted and assumed things. I didn’t even give you a chance to explain. Ginny was literally just telling me that I was being insecure about things, and then I saw you hug Astoria and I—lost my head and—blew things up.”

Draco squeezed her tighter. “It’s—well, not exactly fine, but I’ll get over it. Just—if you’re ever going to break up with me again, please give me at least one, hour long conversation to explain myself.”

Hermione felt her heart pang. “I will, I promise. I’m sorry.”

They sat in silence for a long time before Hermione turned her head and pressed a small kiss on the side of his neck. Then another and another.

She shifted slightly in his hold so that she was straddling his lap and then kissed further up his neck and behind his ear, combing her fingers through his hair.

He tilted his head back to look at her, an eyebrow quirked. “Something you wanted?”

Hermione stilled. “No,” she said, drawing back. “No.”

He gave a small snort.

“I’m not. I was just kissing you. I wasn’t trying to start something.”

He craned his neck back to read the clock. “It’s been—over fourteen hours.”

“So? That’s fine,” she shifted slightly, and her voice jumped and betrayed her. Her glands were achingly sensitive. I’m fine.”

“Are you?” His voice dropped a full octave. The vibrations shivered through her nerves and Hermione felt heat bloom in her lower abdomen.

She gave a low gasp. “I was. You can’t just—“

Draco’s hand slid along her thigh, and her voice faded into a whimper.

“I can’t what? Were you saying something?” Draco’s fingers had reached the apex of her thighs, and he pressed firmly against her sex.

Hermione bit her lip. “I’m fine. We don’t—I was just kissing you.”

Draco abruptly shifted her so that she was lying on the mattress, and he was looming over her. “Hermione, are you for some reason thinking that I, an eighteen year old Alpha, would not want to have sex right now?”

Hermione felt her ears grow warm. “Well, when you say it like that—I just, we were cuddling, I wasn’t trying to ruin it.”

Draco smirked. “Those two things are hardly mutually exclusive.”

He sank down until she was nearly crushed under him and buried his head in her neck. His breath brushed across her glands, and she felt herself instantly respond.

She released a shivery breath, wrapped her legs around his hips. Her mind was already sliding back.

“You’ll take care of me—during my heat?” She moaned the question as he dragged his tongue up her throat.

“I’ll always take care if you.” He kissed her. “Always.”

He kissed her again and again and pulled at her clothes until she was stripped bare. He kissed down her body.

“Don’t ask me to let you go. Don’t break up with me. I’ll do whatever you want. Just tell me, and I’ll do it. I swear.”

Hermione’s head cleared as she heard him. She stiffened and caught him by the shoulder, pushing at him. He instantly moved back as she rolled him onto his back and leaned across his chest, staring into his eyes.

“Be yourself with me, Draco. We’ve both been so worried about letting the other person go if they want out, neither of us is holding on, and I think that’s messing us up more than anything. Don’t let me go. I—don’t want you to let me go.”


It was more than an hour later that Hermione started to remember there was a world outside of their room.

“Oh god—“ she moaned as Draco was licking her wrist so firmly her entire body tensed around his cock which was knotted deep inside her. “I’m supposed to be meeting with Ginny.”

“I’m not letting you go. I’m under orders.” His tone was wry as his tongue teased across her inner wrist.

She sniggered and then whimpered. “We can’t just shag forever. We have NEWTs to study for. You’ll probably get sick of me next week.”

“I’m rich. I am actually available to just shag you forever. I’ll make a career out of it.”

She gave an indelicate snort and tried to ignore how appealing the idea sounded. “I’ll add it to my list of career options.” She wiggled and confirmed that she was physically incapable of going anywhere in the immediate future. “I really do need to go, whenever you can—shrink a bit.”

“It’s not like I control it,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. Then he eyed her. “However, on the topic of size—would you agree that I have grown recently?”

Hermione stared down at him where he was lying beneath her. He somehow seemed even larger nude.

“Yes.” She traced her fingertips along the contours of his chest. “I think—well, my theory is that it’s because of me. Because we haven’t—bonded it’s—causing the presentations to repeat themselves slightly.”

He nodded, his silver eyes serious. “That’s what I thought. I wondered if you had any different ideas. You are getting quite—“ his eyes dropped down to study her breasts. “I think your curves may be the death of me.”

Hermione snorted. “I never thought I’d need to learn tailoring charms. At least robes are voluminous. Although you may need to write Madam Malkin for new ones. Ginny was ogling you today.”

Draco’s expression grew smug. “Really? I'm certainly going to rub that in Potter’s face someday.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You’re a prat.”

He smirked, smug and catlike. “You only realized that now?”

Hermione shrugged and gave him a cheeky grin. “I thought maybe your pratishness might have disappeared with this presentation.”

He rolled his eyes. “I had a growth spurt, not a lobotomy; certain traits are set in stone.”

Hermione was half an hour late for her study session with Ginny.

“So—I’m assuming you were busy having explosive angry sex that shook the castle walls and that’s the reason for your tardiness?” Ginny said, side-eying Hermione as she dropped into the chair next to Ginny.

“We had another misunderstanding,” Hermione said, her face scarlet. “But it’s cleared up now. I think.”

Ginny tossed her quill down and turned to stare at her. “Did you talk about bonding?”

Hermione avoided Ginny’s gaze by looking in her bag for her Transfiguration textbook. “No. Ginny, I can’t just—propose soulbonding with him with one week’s notice.” Her voice was tight. “He said he’s in love with me today, and I haven’t even said it back yet.” She nodded her head firmly. “There’s supposed to be a certain progression in relationships.”

Ginny snorted and shook her head so that her red hair fell across her eyes. “I think whatever the ‘certain progression’ was supposed to be, it got thrown out back when you two spent a week shagging each other before you’d ever exchanged more than a dozen civil words.”

Ginny combed her hair out of her eyes and raised an eyebrow. “Hermione, your entire relationship has been backwards. You started with a heat, got into an exclusive sexual relationship, and then started dating each other. By now you might even qualify as friends.” Ginny rolled eyes. “You should probably say you love him back, assuming that you do. That’s really not the kind of thing you can wait about for forever. ”

Hermione looked away. “I’ve never said it to anyone. He didn’t even say it romantically. He was annoyed at me and just announced it.”

Ginny rolled her eyes again. “I’m pretty sure that almost anytime a person announces that they’re in love it’s considered romantic.”

“I’m sure there are some exceptions,” Hermione muttered as she rummaged through her school bag, looking for a quill.

Ginny sighed. “I’ve got to say, watching you awkwardly date Malfoy make me wonder why I went to you for relationship advice. You’re terrible at this. It’s a wonder Harry and I got together. “

“I gave you good advice.” Hermione glared at Ginny out of the corner of her eye as she flipped to the correct chapter of her book.

“I know.” Ginny twirled her hair around her fingers. “That’s why I’m confused by how hard you’re making this for yourself.” Ginny buried her face in her hands for a moment before looking up. “Hermione, if it was someone else, what would you tell them to do?”

Hermione swallowed and licked her lips. “Let’s just focus on Transfiguration and later we can worry about what relationship advice I should give myself”

Ginny have a martyred sigh and snapped her book shut with a loud thump. “No. Go away. I don’t want your help.”

Hermione stared at Ginny uncomprehendingly.

Ginny waved her away. “Go. Go deal with your relationship problems. My Transfiguration grade is not an excuse for you to blow up another roomful of glassware and crack two tables. Thanks for that, by the way, that was loads of fun to clean up.”

Hermione’s eyes dropped. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t—”

“I know. I know.” Ginny waved her hand dismissively once again. “Your upcoming heat is making your magic spike, I’m aware of how it works. Just do me a favour and don’t do it again. Go tell Malfoy you love him, ask him to soulbond, and say you want to have his babies. I guarantee, he will be absolutely thrilled.”

“Ginny—“ Hermione squirmed and drew a shuddering breathe as she tried not to think about having that conversation with Draco. Maybe he would bite her then. It’s really not that simple—”

“Hermione, do you not want to have his babies someday?”

Hermione felt her face heat up and she swallowed thickly. “That’s—really an entirely different—“

“No. It’s really not. Not with Alphas. Not with you. And you know this, because you’ve read all the same books I have. Stop trying to treat this like an arithmancy assignment. You have to trust your magic on this. But, you know what? Fine. Don’t say you want to have his babies. Just go tell him you love him, because I’m pretty sure he’s the only person in the school who isn’t sure about it. Especially after this morning, trust me, everyone else knows and we all think you’re both idiots.”

Hermione swallowed and stared at her feet. “Fine. You’re right. I will. I’ll give him his Christmas present today, and then I’ll tell him. That would be a good way to do it, right?”


Draco was sulky-faced when he met Hermione in the entrance hall.

“Do we have to go outside?” His tone was petulant as he reached her. “Is this necessary? It’s freezing, and if I think it’s cold then I know you’ll be, and then I’ll have to give you my cloak, and then I’ll be the cold one.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and dragged him outside. “I put on extra layers and I used warming charms. It’ll be fine. We never do anything but study and shag. You need exercise. Look, it’s even snowing.”

“Shagging is exercise,” Draco said, as she pulled him along through the falling snow.

Hermione snorted and shook her head. “Oh, did you bring gloves? Oh good, I was worried you might not have.”

They were halfway to their destination when Draco baulked.

“Let’s go toward the lake,” he said, pulling at her hand.

Hermione paused and looked back at him. “Let’s go this way.”

His expression was guarded. “Granger, let’s—not.”

Hermione tightened her hold on his hand. “No. We have to go this way. I’m going to tell you secret that even Harry and Ron don’t know about, and you have to promise not to laugh.”

Draco hesitated for a moment and followed her. “Fine. What’s your secret?”

Hermione pulled him closer and slipped her hand around his arm as they got closer to the Quidditch pitch. “I—actually never passed the practical for first year flying. I have—trouble with broom handling and so, I couldn’t—I got Madam Hooch to let me write twenty-eight inch essay on the elements of Broomology instead, to demonstrate that I understand the theory even if I couldn’t manage the practical exam.”

She spoke rapidly. “But—I’ve been thinking lately that that was a mistake. I asked Headmistress McGonagall about a remedial class, but Madam Hooch doesn’t like flying in the winter and Ginny’s slammed with Head Duties and being Gryffindor’s Quidditch captain. So I needed to find an upperclassman with flying experience and without too many extracurricular commitments.”

Draco had stopped walking and was staring down at her expressionless. Hermione hurriedly continued.

“Anyway, I thought maybe you might want to. I have a permission slip from the Headmistress giving you ten accumulative hours of exemption from your flying ban.” She pulled out the slip of paper and waved it.

“And Ginny lent me her broom—“ Hermione grabbed her beaded bag out of her coat pocket, reached in and pulled out Ginny’s Firebolt. “—it’s, I think it’s very good. Harry gave it to her this summer; it’s latest model, I think. So—anyway—happy Christmas, Draco.”

She studied him nervously as she held the broom out towards him.

Draco blinked. “You got me a ten hour exemption from my flying ban so I can teach you how to fly?”

Hermione flushed. “No. I’m mean, yes technically, but you don’t actually need to teach me to fly. I don’t—actually want to. I just—I thought it seemed like you missed it a lot. You never go to games anymore. I thought maybe you would like to fly again.”

“Granger—“

Hermione started, maybe she’d gone too far. Maybe she should have asked him rather than surprise him with it. It was clearly something he was sensitive about.

“Do you—do you like it?”

Draco pulled her forward and kissed her until she dropped the Firebolt.

Chapter Text

Hermione sat huddled on a bench in the Quidditch pitch as Draco kicked off and shot straight upward until he was a speck in the sky. He flew in figure eights and loop de loops and then zoomed down doing corkscrews and aerial somersaults and a dozen other things that were enough to make her stomach flip just watching.

She smiled to herself, pulled a book out of her bag, and started to read, glancing up every now and then to watch Draco whoop and do yet another stomach-churning maneuver.

She could not imagine how flying so fast could possibly be enjoyable, but Draco’s expression was thrilled as he zipped around and around the Quidditch pitch, going faster, and faster, and faster until he was a black and platinum blur.

She turned back to her book and kept reading until she heard a crunch and looked up to find Draco had landed a few feet away from her.

He had ice crystals in his lashes and eyebrows. He could have been a character from a fantasy: tall, pale, chiseled and etched with snow.

“Right. Flying basics. The first thing you need to do is become comfortable with flying.”

Hermione stiffened, and she gripped her book. “Draco, I really don’t want to learn flying.”

“I know. I’m still going to teach you. I have nine hours and fifteen minutes for the rest of the school year.” He stepped over, plucked her book out of her hands, and stuck it into his cloak pocket.

Hermione pursed her lips sourly and crossed her arms. “Draco, brooms and I, we really don’t—“

“Come on, Hermione, where’s your Gryffindor spirit? Come fly with me.”

“I know how to fly,” Hermione said, arching her eyebrows and staring at him pointedly. “I’ve flown on thestrals and a dragon, I’ve even flown on brooms occasionally, but they—we don’t get along with each other.”

“That’s because you distrust them. Brooms are like wands; you have to get a sense of them and let them get a sense of you. Come on.”

He pulled her over. He barely raised his hand, and the Firebolt jumped into the air, into his grasp. He slung a leg over and nodded toward Hermione.

“You sit in front of me.”

Hermione sighed and fidgeted. “Draco… I really don’t want—“

“Hermione,” he met her eyes with such intensity it made her stomach flip, “I will die before I let anything happen to you.”

He said it with an entirely straight face that made her feel like he actually meant it and expected it to make a significant difference. She rolled her eyes.

“It’s not a matter of doubting you, it’s a matter of doubting it.” She eyed the broomstick dubiously.

“It’s my magic.” He expression was mulish.

She sighed and resigned herself to a flying lesson, climbing on. He was so tall her toes couldn’t reach the ground, and she was obliged to cross her ankles, gripping the broom tightly.

“Don’t go high. If you do a corkscrew with me on board I will hex you into next week.”

Draco gave a low laugh and kicked off gently. “No finals, and I jump straight to your heat; don’t tempt me.” She could hear him leering.

She snorted.

Draco tipped the handle upward, and they rose up higher and started moving more quickly. Hermione immediately tensed.

“Don’t—“ she choked, squeezing her eyes shut.

Draco leaned forward so that his chest pressed against her back and one of his hands slid firmly around her waist. “Granger, this cannot possibly be more frightening than riding a dragon.”

“Dragons are alive! They won’t spontaneously just drop out from under you. Maybe brooms alright for you, but I’m telling you they’re very, very finicky with me.”

Draco glided back down until they were only a few feet above ground, skimming along around the pitch. He was quiet while Hermione clung tenaciously to her part of the broom handle. They flew around the pitch several times before Draco spoke again.

“You—don’t do well with intuitive magic, do you?”

Hermione stiffened and glared over her shoulder at him. “I’m better at most magic than you.”

Draco snorted and sped up incrementally so that she squeaked. “I am aware, know-it-all. I’ve shared Arithmancy, Potions,  and DADA with you for seven years, you’re an outright menace in Potions and Arithmancy, I’m certain you’re same way in Ancient Runes, Transfiguration all the rest of your classes. However, in practical exams I’m better at Charms and DADA than you are, and Potter was better at DADA than you too. He and I both have a natural affinity for flying.”

Hermione gave a begrudging nod.

“I think the two are related. You approach magic logically. Flying is intuitive. You call the broom and it comes. You intend for it to fly and it does. Defense magic is similarly intuitive. When you try to summon a broom, what are you thinking about?”

Hermione shrugged and rubbed her thumb against the smooth wood of the broom handle. “The charmwork, obviously. I think about how there are certain spells used in the craftsmanship that my magic is supposed to integrate with and invoke. When I’m calling it, I’m reaching out with my magic and fundamentally trying to make the broom become an extension of myself magically. That’s why multiple people can fly around in teams without worrying that their magic will key into the wrong broom at some point, because the second law of—“

“That’s why brooms are finicky with you,” Draco said with a groan. “You can’t approach reactive charm work like that. Magic reads intent, when you over-analyze the why of the enchantments, it breaks the charm work down into the distinct behaviors and that makes it stop working cohesively. You have to treat it as a whole rather than in parts.”

“But I don’t know how to do that,” Hermione said, drawing her chin down with a sharp jerk. “I know that with certain magical branches it’s ideal to approach things intuitively, but I don’t know how to only understand things as a whole. It’s easier to isolate and define each individual element and then, from there, piece it together to understand how it works as a whole. If I don’t do it that way, I don’t understand as well, and I don’t trust things that I don’t understand.”

Draco muttered something unintelligible under his breath.

“What?” Hermione said, looking quickly over her shoulder.

Draco sighed. “Oh—I was just realizing that if you changed a few words, you could be talking about our relationship right now.”

“What?” Hermione bristled. “No! That’s not true at all.”

Draco made a scoffing sound. “It’s almost exactly the same.”

“It isn’t.”

“Really?” His tone was dry. “So you do want to approach our relationship as a whole? You don’t try to break it down into individual elements of our biology, ourselves as individuals, our feelings, our aspirations for the future, and so on and then attribute everything about us to only one or two of those elements? No, that doesn’t sound like you at all.” His words were drenched in sarcasm. “You want everything to be neatly catalogued and divided so that you can calculate which parts are essential and decide from there whether what we have is really—“ he gave a short sigh under his breath, “—legitimate or just a biological imperative you should dismiss and ignore.”

Hermione stared down at her hands. “No. That’s not how it is.”

“How is it then? Because everytime I’m with you, there’s a part of me that feels like you’re taking mental notes so you can deconstruct everything on scroll later. Is that inaccurate?”

Hermione started to open her mouth and then closed it and there was a long silence.

She drew a shivery breath. “I don’t know how to do it any differently. That’s—that’s how I—am. I just want to be—”

Draco landed back near the bench where they’d started. “Responsible. I know.”

Hermione scrambled off the broom and turned to look at him. There was an aching sensation spreading across her chest. “It’s just that—sometimes I think it’s all real, but then I’ll have these moments when I look at it from a different angle and I’m afraid I’ve gotten it all wrong.”

Draco straightened and stared down at her. “I know. You did nearly break up with me a few hours ago because you thought I was getting into a relationship with someone else.” He looked away. “I get it. You need to feel sure. It’s fine. I’m not going anywhere.”

He did not actually sound like it was fine at all. He slung the broom over his shoulder and turned toward the castle, holding a hand out toward her.

Hermione swallowed hard and wrapped her arms around herself. “I’m afraid if I get it wrong, I’m going to ruin your life,” she said in a thick voice. “The way all the books talk about soulbonding—“ her voice wavered. “What if it’s all biology and none of its real and we’re stuck together? If you change your mind then, I won’t—there won’t be anything I can do to fix it anymore.”

Draco froze and turned back to stare at her for several seconds, his ice-etched eyebrows raised.

“Hermione,” he said in a patient tone, “you may be the only person unaware”—he cocked his head slightly—“I’ve actually already ruined my life.”

The snow was falling heavily and he gestured around himself with a lazy wave of his hand. “It’s fairly unanimous. I may have avoided Azkaban, but I’m intended to spend the rest of my life being an example of how the wrong choices can ruin a person’s entire life.”

He gave a short laugh and it condensed like a cloud of smoke around him. “Why do you think they sent me back to school with the grade requirements they did and those long term of probation restrictions? To illustrate that, regardless of what excellent NEWTs I manage to earn, it won’t make up for all my bad choices. If they could have found a legal loophole to render my family destitute, rest assured they would have done it. The fact my father will be released at the exact same point that my probation finally expires was also intentional. Aside from the exemptions that McGonagall can grant while I’m a student, the Ministry has locked a toothed collar around my neck, so that they can drag me out whenever they please and illustrate of how fucking ruined my life is.”

He sighed and stared at the ground with a bitter expression on his face. “I can make jokes about shagging you as a career, but that’s because there’s really nothing else to do but joke about my plans for the future. My mother hired an excellent lawyer to defend me, and the last thing he did before I returned to school was explain in exhaustive detail how ruined my life is, and how much more I have the capacity to ruin it if I happen to make any further mistakes. Getting to protect you here and make you happy is more a contribution to the world than anyone expected of me at this point. Don’t worry about my life, worry about yours.”

He tilted his head back and stared up at the sky.

Hermione hugged herself and shivered. The warming charms were wearing off. She shuffled her feet and hunched her shoulders. “Well that’s not how I see you and that’s not how I see us. I want this to be a real relationship that we both chose. I need to be able to believe that about it. I know I’m overthinking aspects of it. I just—I don’t know how to stop. I don’t want to make the wrong choice because I’m emotional, but—I just keep getting more emotional about it all. I don’t know how to trust what I want right now. I’ve always been able to trust my mind, and now I feel like I can’t.”

Draco studied her. His silver eyes made her breath catch and her heart skip a beat.

Alpha, Alpha, please.

“What do you want?”

She tore her eyes away from his eyes. “What?”

“Forget overthinking or making the wrong choice. What’s the choice you want that you don’t trust?”

“The one I want?” she said. Her chest felt tight as though she could barely breathe.

Alpha, please.

“Yes.” He bit out the word and it made his teeth flash. “If you could have whatever you wanted, right now, nevermind anyone else’s feelings. What is the thing you actually want the most?”

Hermione swallowed and pressed her wrists together. “I don’t think I should say.”

Draco growled in frustration, and Hermione felt it in her spine.

“You’re not going to hurt my feelings,” he said. “ Just tell me what you want so I know what I’m trying to give you.”

Hermione’s knees threatened to give out as his Alpha tone rolled through her like a tidal wave. His eyes widened and his hand shot out.  

“Fuck, Granger, I didn’t mean—“

“I want you to bite me,” she said with a gasp. “I want you to bite me so much I can barely think straight half the time, because all I can I think of is how I want to be yours and have you be mine and not worry about whether it’s the best choice because it’s the one I want.”

Draco’s eyes had darkened and there was lean, ravenous shift in his expression.

Hermione was panting and she looked away. “I know we’ve only been dating a month, and my heat is making the biological imperative worse right now, but—no matter how much I reason with myself—I want you to bite me. I want to soulbond with you. I love you. Thinking all this might just be a biological imperative between us makes me feel like my heart is breaking.”

Hermione was shivering, and she bit her lip, rubbing her wrists together harder as she tried to compose herself. She blinked, and Draco reappeared directly in front of her; Ginny’s broom left in the snow.

“Fuck—maybe you shouldn’t have told me that,” he said a moment before his lips crashed into hers.

His mouth was burning hot, and she moaned against him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he pulled her legs up around his hips. She kissed him fiercely.

She was so tired of worrying. She wanted him. She didn’t want to spend any more time trying to think of reasons why she couldn’t have him forever.

“I love you,” she said against his lips. “Please, please, be mine. I love you.”

“I already am,” he said, tangling a hand in her hair as he kissed her again. “I love you too.”

They kissed until her fingertips were aching with cold. She was shivering in his arms even as she kept kissing him, and kissing him, and telling him she loved him, over and over again.

He drew his head back. “You’re freezing cold. We need to go in. I told you you’d get cold out here.”

She was shaking in his arms. “My warming charms wore off. It’s fine. W-we sh-should go in.”

Draco let her down and pulled his cloak off and draped it around her. Then he added his scarf, hat, and gloves and started pulling off his robes.

“This—this is enough, Draco,” she said, stopping him and rebuttoning his robes with stiff fingers. “This is more than enough to get to the castle.”

He scowled. “Let’s hurry before you freeze to death.”

“I’m not going to freeze,” she said through chattering teeth. “I’m just cold.”

He summoned the broom from the ground and wrapped an arm around her as he towed her quickly through the snow and into the castle.

When they turned down an unexpected hallway, she stopped short. “Where are we going?”

“Prefect's bath,” Draco said, pulling her along. “I had planned to do this after your heat, during the holidays, but you’re turning blue, so I’m doing it now.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “We—can’t go into the prefects bath together! That’s against the rules.”

Draco stopped short and stared at her with an expression of disdain. “Granger, practically everything we do when we aren’t doing homework is against the rules.”

That was a valid point.

“But it’s so—“ she grasped for the right word, “cliched.”

Draco blinked.  

“In all the romance novels set in Hogwarts, the couple always sneaks into the prefect's bath at some point,” Hermione said, turning red as she admitted knowing such a thing.

Draco got a shark-like grin on his face. “Do they now? And you know this because—?”

“I’ve read a few,” Hermione mumbled, avoiding his eyes. “When I needed a break from school and Harry and Ron, I’d steal one of Parvati and Lavender’s romance novels. They—they always somehow include the prefect’s bath.”

“Really.” His eyes were glittering with amusement as he resumed steering her down the hallway to the statue of Boris the Bewildered.

“Sea cucumber,” Draco said and shook his head as the door clicked open, “I’m going to assume Longbottom is responsible for that choice.”

“How do you know the password?” Hermione eyed him suspiciously.

“Pansy is getting a excellent grade on her next Potions essay,” he said in an airy voice. Then he grimaced. “You’d think that twelve years of friendship would count for something, but apparently not as much as an E in Potions.” Draco pulled her into the bathroom, then set to casting several barrier spells and a bedazzlement hex on the door. “There now. So—what do these couples do once they’re in the prefect’s bath.”

Hermione stood shivering in two cloaks, two scarves, and two hats, however her face was still able to feel unbearably warm. “Bathe—there’s usually—bathing,” she choked out.

“Really? That was the part I was unclear about,” Draco said with a salacious grin as he pulled his robes and jumper off and then twisted on several of the taps.

The bath filled rapidly with water and bubbles while Draco kicked off his boots and started removing his trousers. Hermione stood, watching him strip with glazed appreciation.

He’d already been well over six feet at the start of the school year, but she suspected he’d shot up an additional three or four inches in the last two weeks. His shoulders were broad and his waist tapered, defined with sinuous, rippling muscles that should have been entirely illegal.

Sometimes, when she stared at him, she had trouble believing he could be real. Maybe she had been poisoned and was currently in St Mungo’s, vividly hallucinating an eighth year affair with an impossibly attractive Draco Malfoy.

He stopped stripping and stared at her. She swallowed thickly; she wanted to lick her way across his entire torso.

His mouth quirked. “You’re supposed to take your clothes off too.”

Hermione blushed and unclasped his cloak with clumsily cold fingers, then she pushed off her own cloak and began peeling off the multiple layers of jumpers she had piled on. Draco stepped over and helped her pull several over her head.

“How did you still get cold?” he said as she started to remove the undershirts she’d piled on.

“Because the biology is stupid,” she said through chattering teeth as she quickly kicked her jeans and knickers off. “It’s typical with men and women anyway, because girls tend to have a warmer core temperature and a lower metabolism. It’s just more so with Omegas, because we’re—sensitive. Oh god, I’m so cold.”

She bolted into the bath and gasped with relief as she sank into water up to her neck. She gave a deep moan of relief. “Uuugh. This is perfect.”

She cracked an eye open and found Draco staring down at her as though he were committing the sight to memory.

“Coming?” she asked.

He stepped in and then jerked his foot back out with a hiss. “The water is scalding. I think I’ll just watch.”

“No, it’s not. It’s perfect. Come in.” She lowered her eyes. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

Draco stared at her for several seconds and slowly lowered himself into the water, looking as though he were being boiled alive.

He gave another low hiss. “How are you able to enjoy this?”

Hermione moved through the water toward him. “It feels amazing. Like I’m warming all the way through.”

His expression was sulky as he seated himself on one of the benches in the bath. “I feel like I’m being cooked. I think this is going to be like having sex in the shower, sexier when I imagine it.”

Hermione snickered. “That was pretty funny. I’m not sure which of us drowned more.” Her voice dropped to a purr as she slid a leg across his lap to straddle him. “I think bath sex could be better.”

His eyes glittered. “I’m skeptical, but I remain open to persuasion.”

Hermione grinned and leaned forward until her breasts were pressed against his chest. “You feel well on your way to persuaded,” she said, slipping a hand underwater to caress his cock.

“That—has very little to do with this bath, and a great deal to do with the fact you’re sitting on me naked and strategically covered in bubbles.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be naked with bubbles without the bath.” She pumped her hand slowly down his cock, lightly tracing her fingers over the head until he jerked in her hand.

“Fine. Fine. Valid point. You win. I can’t think clearly when I’m being simultaneously seduced and cooked,” he said with a groan as she dragged her tongue lightly over the base of his throat.

She squirmed closer until his cock was nestled between her legs and ground herself against him as she lowered her head and kissed him. Then she nuzzled him for a moment.

“Draco Malfoy, I love you. I’m in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That’s probably going to really annoy loads of people, but I don’t care.”

His hands closed around her hips and he pressed his forehead against hers.

“I love you.” His voice had dropped low and it vibrated through her so that she gasped. “The rest of the world can go to hell.”

She gave a low laugh. “It better not. If it did, Harry would most definitely feel responsible for trying to save it, and I’d have to go with him, and then you’d have to come too.”

He groaned. “Fuck. You’re right. Nevermind, the rest of the world cannot go to hell. It’s strictly banned from it.”

He kissed her again. His hands slid through the water along her body. He gently touched her stomach and ran his fingers along her thighs. Slow, long strokes. She gave a breathy gasp and kissed him as she pressed her body closer to his.

He cradled the back of her head with one hand, drawing her head back and dropping teasing kisses down her neck until there was a painful coil of want in her lower abdomen. His tongue darted out and flicked against the base of her throat, and she trembled.

His other hand rose up in the water to cup her breast. His fingertips stroked along the sensitive undersides and up towards her areolas until her nipples were aching to be touched. She gripped his shoulders and ran her thumbs against his glands.  

“Alpha, please.” It came out as a low whimper.

He caught her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and tugged at it sharply. She gave a ragged gasp as the sensation laced straight through her. Her clit was throbbing. She shifted her hips and ground against his cock.

Draco made a low groan in the back of his throat, and his hand in her hair moved down into the water to catch and guide her hips as she moved against him.

He sat up so that he was looking down at her. His eyes were dark and more ravenous than she’d seen them in a long time. She could feel his eyes on her skin.

“You’re a good girl, aren’t you?”

Her brain blurred and tingled at the words.

He was pleased with her. Maybe—maybe he would bite her. She was trying to be so good.

“Yes, Alpha.”

His thumb at her hip was drawing light circles over the bone and he pulled her more firmly against his cock.

He turned her face upwards, holding her chin and running his thumb along her lips. “Tell me, what you want.”

The words rolled through her. She looked into his eyes, her blood thrumming in her veins. She wasn’t sure if she was feeling his desire or hers. Her mind was in too much of a golden haze to tell.

“You. Just you. You’re—mine. I want you to always be mine. I want—to always be yours. Your Omega. So you’ll take care of me. I want you to bite me. I want you to fuck me and bite me,” she said, pressing her jaw against hand and parting her lips.

His eyes grew darker still.

Heat was flooding through her body. He slid his thumb slowly into her mouth and she sucked on it, twirling the tip of her tongue against it the same way she did along his cock. He pumped it in and out of her mouth.

He was huge and powerful and burning for her. A perfect Alpha. The most perfect Alpha. Her Alpha. Hers.

“You’re mine,” he growled. “ If I bite you, you’ll always be mine. My Omega. Every inch of you. No one else will ever touch you. You’re mine. Every heat you’ll be under me. It will be my seed inside you. My knot. My children.”

She moaned around him thumb. Her cunt was throbbing, and her hands slipped through the water to caress his cock. She drew her mouth away from his hand.

“Fuck me, Alpha. Please.”

He shifted her up and until the head of his cock was pressed against her sex, and she slowly lowered herself. She was positive his cock had grown during his growth spurt because he was difficult to accommodate again, especially in the water where her natural lubricant was washed away.

She felt her inner walls fluttering as she stretched around him. He cupped her breasts in his hands and peppered the tops of them with kisses, dragging his thumbs across her nipples. The sensation rippled through her. She gave a low moan and tangled her fingers in his hair as she shifted up and then sank down again.

Alpha, Alpha, please.

Draco’s hips met hers, and he arched her back and wrapped his burning mouth around her nipple, swirling his tongue slowly around the aching tip.

She pulled his mouth to hers, kissing him hungrily until her lungs were burning.

Alpha, please.

She drew back and stared into his eyes until she felt as though she were falling into him.

Bite me.

He tangled a hand in her hair and pulled her head back until she was looking up at the ceiling as his tongue dragged across her glands and up her throat.

Fuck me.

She gave a ragged moan, and his hips snapped against hers.

Claim me.

Her mind was chanting endlessly and she rolled her hips against his in tempo with it. She tangled her fingers in his hair and held his mouth against her throat, her inner walls tensing and squeezing his cock.

“Please…” she keened. “Please, Alpha—”

He growled against her throat, and her skin prickled across her body. Her eyes rolled back, and she closed them.

“Mine. Mine. Mine.” He punctuated each “mine” with a thrust.

“Yes. Yes.”

His hand on her hip slithered up her spine and closed around the base of her neck, arching her against him as the water rippled and splashed around them.

Bite me. Please, bite me.

Her fingers gripped his wrists, running along the scent glands on them. He dragged his teeth across her glands and it was like fire through her nerves. She shuddered and sobbed through her teeth.

“Bite me. Bite me.” She mouthed the words because if she didn’t mouth them she was going to start screaming them.

“Mine. You’re perfect. I love you. I’ll always take care of you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ll never let anyone hurt you again. You’re such a good girl. Mine—I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Hermione felt her body clench around him as she orgasmed. Her fingers were gripping his wrists so hard she thought her bones might crack.

She felt him drag his teeth against her throat, and her climax peaked into blinding silver.

She was free-falling through it as though someone had set off a firework inside her brain. Brighter, and brighter, and then everything went black.

When she regained consciousness, she was gasping as though she’d fallen underwater.

She dazedly brought a hand up to her face and found it dry. She dropped her head against Draco’s shoulder and panted.

Her heart was pounding violently in her chest. Draco’s chest was heaving and his arms were wrapped tightly around her shoulders.

“That was—really, really intense,” she finally managed to say. “I think bath sex is definitely better than shower sex. I had no idea it could be that intense.”

Draco was silent. His fingers twitched slightly.

Hermione closed her eyes and tried to catch her breath. She felt delightfully warm, and her entire body was trembling and boneless.

She nuzzled his chest and the base of her neck twinged slightly.

As she reached up to touch the spot, Draco spoke.

“I—bit you.”




Chapter Text

Hermione’s fingers grazed against the base of her neck and felt the place where Draco’s incisors had sunk into her skin over her left scent gland.

She felt so surprised she didn’t even know what to say.

The idea of Draco biting her had become such a monument within her mind, she could hardly believe it had actually happened.

“I thought—I thought I had it under control.” Draco’s hands were shaking. “I swear, I thought I could manage it. I’m so sorry.”

Hermione pressed against the bite until it twinged again. She looked down and found a small trail of blood flowing from her shoulder to her breast and then into the water.

She looked up at Draco. “Well, I guess that answers one question I had.”

She found herself more clear-headed than she’d been since she’d boarded the Hogwarts Express. She reached out and gently brushed her fingers against his scent glands and then tilted her head up to kiss him.

He raised his mouth up out of reach. “I am so sorry. I swore to you repeatedly I would never let anyone bite you—I didn’t even ask, I just—“

Hermione furrowed her eyebrows and pulled his face downwards so she could see his eyes. “Draco—I told you I wanted you to bite me.”

His eyes were wide. “In the general sense. Not the very next time we had sex. A full conversation, when you weren’t dazed out of your mind on my pheromones, would have been the appropriate starting point.”

He had turned so pale he looked to be on the verge of fainting or bolting.

In all the many fantasies Hermione had had about Draco biting her, none had played out quite like this. She shrugged.

“Yes. Well, generally speaking our relationship has been fairly backwards, I’d say.” Ginny was laughing somewhere, Hermione was certain.

The words did not appear to console Draco in the slightest.

“Draco, it’s alright. I’m not upset. Calm down.”

“Well, I’m upset. I swore to you—“

It was very strange being the calm one. Hermione pressed her thumbs firmly against the base of his neck over his scent glands.

“Alpha,” she said in a very low, quiet voice.

Draco’s voice cut off, and he froze as though he’d been petrified.

“You’re my Alpha. Mine. You asked me to tell you what I wanted, and I told you. I chose you to take care of me because I trust you.”

The words seemed to jolt him.

“That was clearly a mistake, considering I couldn’t even control myself enough not to bite you when you’re not in heat. I meant to talk to McGonagall about sealing my mouth shut during your heat because I was afraid I might bite you then. I didn’t consider—”

The corner of Hermione’s mouth twitched.

“Draco,” she said, interrupting him again. “We have already established that I can say no. You’re wired to claim me and please me, and I told you that what I wanted was for you to bite me. I said it again while we were having sex. It was—practically inevitable.”  

“That doesn’t make it alright,” he said in a tight voice, looking away from her. “Fuck. I’m so sorry.”

She pulled his face back so their eyes met and realized with a pang that he was devastated. He’d wanted and resisted the urge to bite her for months, and now he’d done it and it felt like a failing on his part.

Her heart welled in her chest. She held his face in her hands and pulled his head down until their foreheads met, nuzzling him with her nose.

“I’m sorry, Draco. This is my fault.”

He snorted and she felt the air against her face.

“Oh really? Did you bite me? Oh wait, you didn’t.” He jerked his head up and buried his face in his hands and drew a sharp breath. “I held you when you were crying after Goldstein attacked you, and I swore no one would bite you, and then I’m the person who did. Fuck! Fuck. Fuck.”

His voice was ragged.

Hermione wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, and she felt his chest jerk against her body as he tried to breathe. She didn’t know how to calm him. He was the one who comforted her; she wasn't sure exactly how to do it in turn.

“Draco, listen to me. I said to bite me. Maybe it would have been better if we’d talked more first, but I’ve always been lucid enough to say no when I meant it. We’ve been interfering with the bonding magic because I’ve been trying so hard for to be careful, and it’s probably the reason why you grew again and why I’ve been such an emotional wreck lately. The biology doesn’t normally need to be forced. You took care of me during my heat without biting me—that’s entirely unprecedented. I probably should have asked you to bite me when we started dating, but I was afraid it would be an overcommitment. Please don’t be upset.”

She tried to pry his hands off his face and, after a moment of resistance, he let her.

“Granger,” Draco dropped a hand on top of her head as though he was petting her, “I know you mean well, but I’m not going to feel better