Fact: Derek Hale hates Potions.
There are a number of reasons why this is so, first and foremost among them the other simple fact that Potions is really not Derek’s strong point. Give him a wand, give him a broom, and he’ll be a-okay—maybe even top of the class. But give him a cauldron, a recipe and a pile of ingredients? Well.
There’s a reason he’s banned from using the kitchen at home.
Derek also hates the classroom Potions is held in. It’s in the bottom-most vault of the dungeons, where all the lights have a sickly green cast to them, and the walls seem perpetually damp. It’s kind of gross, if anyone bothered to ask Derek about it. Which they don’t, but still. Spending more than an hour down there at a time makes Derek’s skin crawl.
And then there’s Stiles Stilinski.
He doesn’t need an explanation.
“You know, Der, generally when the instructions ask for thin, even slices of the horned slugs, they’re not exactly after slug soup.” Derek grits his teeth and continues chopping his slugs on the workbench, which has, admittedly, turned into a kind of butcher’s block. It’s gross, the slugs smell really, really bad, and he thinks he’s gotten some of their brain matter under his fingernails. Oh, joy.
“If you just ease up on the knife a little, you’d—”
“Shut up, Stilinski,” Derek grates out, cursing every god known to wizardkind for Professor Harris’ random seating arrangement. If he had his way, Derek would be two benches forward, one across, sharing his workspace with Boyd.
He very rarely gets his way.
“Listen, man, if you’d just stop shredding the poor little guys, then maybe this one won’t blow up in your face, yeah?” He can feel Stilinski hovering; it’s distracting and it’s making Derek nauseous. But the guy probably has a point. Derek releases his death grip from the knife and scoops the slugs into the cauldron, which promptly begins to smoke and hiss ominously. Derek takes an automatic step back—this has happened an embarrassing number of times over the last seven years—but before the thing can blow, someone is stepping in front of the cauldron and hurriedly adding ingredients. That someone waves his wand and the smoke dissipates. The hissing sound fizzles out. Stilinski turns around and grins at Derek.
“I’m not the hero Derek deserves,” Stilinski intones in a low voice, “But I’m the one he needs right now.” Derek stares, uncomprehending, and the Slytherin wilts a little. “Seriously? You don’t know Batman? And to think—I thought you were cool.” Stilinski sighs dramatically and moves aside, letting Derek step back in front of his—now perfect—potion. “You’re welcome, by the way.”
“I didn’t ask you to fix it,” Derek snaps, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the workbench. Stilinski is silent for a long moment.
“Then I’m definitely not the hero you deserve,” he says icily, and doesn’t talk to Derek for the rest of the period.
Fact: Derek Hale hates his friends.
Actually, hate may be too mild a word. Abhors is probably better, or even loathes. Just something to adequately convey exactly how Derek is feeling about them right now.
“You need to date someone Derek; it’s your last year of school, what fun is there in being single for it?” Erica looks at him from over the rim of her Firewhisky bottle and frowns. “It’s been two years since Kate, Der; don’t you think you should move on?”
“Move on?” The alcohol must be affecting him, because Derek’s vision clouds red. “Erica, she—”
“I know what she did, Derek, and I’m sorry she betrayed your trust like that, but it’s no excuse for hiding yourself away from the rest of the world or biting your friends’ heads off when they’re only trying to help!”
Derek lets that sink in and sighs. “Erica, I’m sorry, but I can’t just—”
“She’s right, Derek.” Isaac’s quiet voice cuts in and Derek holds his breath. It’s a rare occasion when Isaac and Erica agree on something. “We know Kate hurt you, and we’re not pretending to know how that feels, but it could’ve been a lot worse, right? That fire could’ve killed people, and it didn’t. So I think you need to stop beating yourself up about it, get your head out of your ass and just enjoy life, Derek. It’s our last year here, and I’m not gonna spend it moping with you.”
There’s a loaded silence, in which Boyd takes a long, slow sip from his bottle and says nothing. Derek likes Boyd. Boyd is not included in Derek’s previous assessment of his friends.
“I get it,” Derek says at last, draining his own bottle and sighing again. “Sorry I’ve been a dick about everything. But there’s seriously no-one here who I’m interested in, so can you just forget about it?”
“There’s got to be someone,” Erica says exasperatedly, though her expression has softened somewhat and is now something Derek would be hesitant to term fond. “I mean, guys and girls right? That’s, like, the whole school. You’re telling me there’s no-one?” When Derek shrugs, she ploughs on. “Not Jennifer? Paige? Not even Stilinski?”
At that, Derek performs a remarkable feat: despite having emptied his drink, he still manages to choke, possibly on thin air, possibly on a miniscule dust particle lodged in his throat. Erica’s eyes narrow. Derek sends up a prayer.
“Are you trying to tell me you have a boner for Stilinski? Seriously? I mean, I get it, I do—he has muscles under those layers, Der, and that mouth, Jesus—but I thought he drove you up the wall?”
“He did. I mean, he does. Still. Does. I—yeah.” The Firewhisky ties Derek’s tongue up in knots and he can feel his ears reddening. “I don’t like him, Erica, I swear to God.”
“Uh-huh,” she smiles back, seemingly still perfectly lucid despite the three empty bottles lined up neatly beside her.
“Oh, don’t worry, honey,” she says, patting his cheek with a wicked grin on her face. “I believe you.”
Derek really, really needs new friends.
“So Erica cornered me in the guys’ bathrooms today.” Derek is trying slowly and carefully to skin his shrivelfig, but at Stilinski’s words his knife slips, cutting deeply into his thumb. A small tributary of blood flows from the wound, but Derek doesn’t feel the pain—all he can feel is panic.
“What? When? What did she tell you?” Derek is aware that he’s acting a little out of character; he actively avoids any and all conversation with Stilinski in general. But this shit is important, okay?
“Dude, your thumb—”
“It’s fine.” Derek grabs his wand and seals up the cut without a second thought. “What did she say?”
“Um, a bunch of weird shit, actually,” Stilinski says slowly, keeping one eye on Derek and the other on his bubbling potion, “And some really invasive questions. I mean, why does she need to know what kind of lubricant I use, man? There’s such a thing as TMI, and that, right there, is a perfect example.”
“Why would she want to know about lube—” Derek stops abruptly as all of the synapses in his brain fire up at once. Oh, shit. Oh fucking shit, shit. She was trying to set them up—trying to fucking—oh, God. Derek feels a blush rising from his collarbone to his forehead and swivels away from Stilinski, trying to hide it. Of course, there’s only so much you can hide from the guy sitting right next to you. Stilinski’s hesitant smile turns into a shit-eating grin, and he gets all up in Derek’s space, waggling his eyebrows.
“I’ll skin your shrivelfig if you skin mine,” he says in a low voice, and Derek’s cauldron catches on fire.
Fact: Derek Hale hates the Hospital Wing.
He just has a lot of bad memories here, okay? Of hospitals in general, really. There’ve been countless Quidditch injuries, a case of spattergroit he’d really rather forget, and once there was even a love potion gone wrong.
He wasn’t kidding about the bad memories.
Sitting in here now, though, with Madam McCall tending to his burns, it’s not really as bad as Derek thought it would be. Well, except for—
“Ow, ow, fucking ow!”
Yeah, except for that.
“I’ll get to you in a minute, Stiles,” Madam McCall scolds lightly, rubbing a salve across Derek’s singed jaw. “If you could refrain from cussing while I’m in earshot, that’d make everything a lot easier.” Derek bites back a grin as Stilinski squirms. “There you are, sweetheart. Should be all healed up in an hour or two.” Derek nods and gets ready to leave, fiddling with his untied shoelaces and half-listening to Stilinski and Madam McCall’s conversation as he does so.
“—your dad going?” McCall is saying, rubbing the same salve she used on Derek along Stilinski’s collarbone. “We haven’t spoken in a while.”
“All right, I guess,” Stilinski tells her with a pained hiss. “It’s hard for him, you know, me being at school so much—I think he’s really looking forward to when I finish, just so I can head back home.”
Madam McCall makes an acquiescing sound. “It would be difficult, without your mom there. Has he talked at all about seeing anyone else?”
Derek finishes up with his shoes and stands, grabbing his robes and giving a wave to Madam McCall as he leaves. “Not really,” Stilinski is saying, voice soft and fragile-sounding, “I mean, Mom was the one, you know? And I guess…” Whatever else he says fades out of Derek’s hearing as he heads back to class. It shouldn’t be a thing that bothers him, because he does not like Stiles Stilinski, Erica, but the question remains unanswered in the back of his mind: what happened to Stilinski’s mom?
“Have you ever even seen a movie, Der?” Derek tries hard to tune out the sound of Stilinski’s voice, but the guy’s incessant questions are making it really, really hard to do so.
“I don’t see the point in them,” he answers, because he knows Stilinski will just keep pestering him unless he says something. “They’re just like radio with pictures, or a book being acted out. Why can’t people just listen to the radio or read a book instead?”
“Read a—” Stilinski breaks off with an indignant huff and crushes five sprigs of valerian before he can bring himself to speak to Derek again. “You heathen,” he hisses, like Derek’s committed a cardinal sin. “Movies are nothing like the radio or books. Movies are movies, man—you need to watch them to get them. At least tell me you’re curious.”
Derek shrugs and tips a handful of snake fangs into his cauldron, which thankfully does not explode in his face. “I honestly couldn’t care less.”
Stilinski lets out another indignant sound. “You need a movie education, Derek. You need a moviecation. And I’m gonna give it to you.” He elbows Derek in the gut when the latter snorts. “I’m not fucking around, here. Just gimme a laptop, some juice pouches and Chris Nolan’s Batman, and we’ll be gold.” Stilinski huffs out a laugh. “Ponyboy.”
“Excuse me?” Derek knocks over his vial of salamander blood.
“You see,” Stilinski says, waving his wand and returning the blood to the vial before Derek can even react, “This is why I despair for wizardkind. I mean, sure, you’ve got superfast healing covered, you can fix anything that’s broken, and unicorns are fucking real—but if you can’t at least appreciate someone saying beam me up, Scotty before they Apparate, then you’re just not living life to the fullest.”
“I have a life,” Derek says waspishly, because his potion is smoking strangely again, and Stilinski’s is perfect again, and how is that even possible when the guy hasn’t stopped talking this whole lesson?
“Well, I’m gonna get you a better one.” Stilinski’s toothy grin fades as he takes in Derek’s smoking potion. “Did you add the valerian before or after the salamander blood?”
Stilinski rolls his eyes. “Hufflepuffs,” he says, but the tone he uses isn’t condescending, or teasing, or even exasperated. In fact—unless Derek mishears—it sounds kind of fond.
Derek ignores that realisation and mutely follows Stilinski’s instructions on how to fix his disaster of a potion.
Fact: Derek Hale hates Hogsmeade weekends.
Okay, yeah, it is kind of cool to get out of the castle once in a while. And wandering around the snow-dusted streets of the little village is pretty much Derek’s idea of a perfect afternoon. What does get under his skin, however, is the fact that, lately, Hogsmeade weekends have turned into Hogsmeade-double-dates-while-Derek-fifth-wheels, and this weekend is no exception.
It’s not like Derek resents his friends their love lives. Boyd and Erica were pretty much meant to be since first year, and while Derek has very little to do with Allison, Isaac’s girlfriend, she seems nice enough—if it weren’t for the surname she carries around like a badge of honour, they’d probably be friends. But it does try Derek’s admittedly thin rope of patience when both couples are preoccupied and he’s left in the lurch. Which is what’s happening now.
“I’m going to Honeydukes,” Derek tells them, and leaves the happy couples to their own devices.
Once in the sweet shop, Derek tries not to look like a complete and total loner. He’s pretty sure he fails, judging by the giggling girls behind him, but he likes to think he’s intimidating enough as a seventh year that no-one will call him out on it. Of course, that’s where he’d be wrong.
“Don’t tell me you’re third-wheeling too,” a voice behind him says, and when Derek turns there Stilinski is, wrapped up in plaid and a hoodie and a scarf and looking—looking kind of fucking adorable, if Derek’s being completely honest with himself. “I mean, I love my friends, don’t get me wrong, but it’d be great if they macked on each other in private, you know?”
Derek finds himself nodding, and Stilinski grins. “Come on. I’ll shout you a butterbeer at Three Broomsticks so you don’t have to keep wandering around like a baby duckling.” Against his better judgement, Derek agrees.
Once inside the inn, Stiles sheds at least three layers and Derek tries not to stare at the trail of moles that lead down from his jawline to disappear beneath the collar of his shirt. He has muscles under those layers, Der, he remembers Erica saying, and swallows heavily. He does not like Stiles Stilinski, okay? He doesn’t. When the Slytherin comes back with the drinks, Derek takes a long, warming sip of his to avoid starting a conversation and blurting out something he’ll regret—something like fuck, you’re hot, or even just take me.
“So,” Stilinski says, settling back into his chair and grinning, “On a scale of one to ten, how sexiled are you? One being not at all and ten being I can’t move a metaphorical inch without being assaulted by hormonal teenagers and their pheromones.”
Derek stares. “You’re a fucking weirdo, Stilinski,” he says, but there’s no sting to the words. “And probably an eight.”
Stilinski laughs, not unkindly. “I feel you, dude. I’m probably an eight or a nine. I mean, I only get to see Scott during meals or on weekends, and now he spends those sticking his tongue down Kira’s throat.” Stilinski makes a face. “Not that I don’t like her or anything, because she’s quite a foxy lady, but it’s hard to get to know a girl when her face is fused to someone else’s.” Derek blinks away that graphic image. He knows vaguely who Scott and Kira are, of course—they’re in the same house as Erica—but he’s never really associated with either of them. What he does know of them—awkward, cute and semi-popular come to mind—doesn’t really fit with his idea of who Stilinski would hang out with. The Slytherin is sharp where Scott is soft; caustic where Kira is kind; arrogant where the Gryffindors are humble. It’s just strange, imagining how such very different people could ever become friends—especially considering their respective houses.
Derek is jolted out of his thoughts by the clinking of his butterbeer bottle against Stilinski’s. He glances up to find the Slytherin smiling at him—and not in his normal, teasing, biting way of doing so. This smile is warm and gentle, almost shy, and Derek finds himself smiling back almost unconsciously. “You can call me Stiles, you know,” Stilinski says in a soft voice, lashes casting long shadows across his cheeks. “’S’what my friends call me.”
Derek blinks again. Friends. The word is small, puzzling, and doesn’t really fit right on his tongue. But Stilinski is still smiling at him—Stiles is still smiling at him, and Derek kind of forgets about everything else in the room, in the village, in the world. “Okay,” is what he says, the word slipping out easily, and Stiles’ smile widens into a grin. “Okay, Stiles,” Derek says, heart fluttering against his ribcage, and grins back.
“Why are you even taking Potions, man?” Derek watches the way Stiles plucks the legs off of his lacewing flies and attempts to do the same. “I mean, not to be a dick or anything, but you’re kind of shit at it.” Derek accidentally rips one of his flies in two and makes a face.
“I need it for what I want to do after school,” he says, picking up another fly and trying to copy the quick and efficient way Stiles is de-legging his own insects. “And I’m not shit at it, thanks, I can ace the theory exam.”
“Whadd’ya wanna do after school?” Before Derek can successfully mangle his next attempt, a hand is slipping over his own and guiding his movements. The legs come off effortlessly. Derek glances up at Stiles, who retracts his hand immediately as his cheeks redden. “Sorry.”
“’S’fine.” Derek clears his throat awkwardly and moves on to chopping up knotgrass. “Um, an Auror. I think. I mean, my sister—Laura—she just finished her training, and it looks cool, you know? There’s not much else I’m interested in doing, so.”
Stiles quirks a smile at Derek. “You’d be good at it, I reckon. My dad—he’s a Sheriff, it’s a kind of Muggle Auror. Head Auror, I guess—sort of. When I was little I used to wanna be like him, you know? He taught me to shoot and everything. ‘S’kind of irrelevant now, but yeah.”
“Shoot? Like—photography?” Derek frowns when Stiles laughs.
“Nah, man—shoot a gun. It’s like—I dunno, like a wand, maybe? And it fires these little balls of metal called bullets, and if you shoot someone with ‘em, they can get hurt pretty badly. Even die, sometimes.”
“So—” Derek searches for the right words. “It’s like a wand just for curses—to stop bad guys? And only the Sheriffs have them?”
Stiles dumps his perfectly sliced knotgrass into his cauldron and stirs. “Anyone can get a gun if they’re old enough to, but cops—Sheriffs—get given them automatically. But—yeah. That’s the general idea, I guess.”
Derek nods and tries to wrap his head around the idea. Muggles are so strange, sometimes. “So how come you don’t want to be one anymore?”
“Well, for one thing,” Stiles says with a small laugh, holding up his index finger, “Magic, dude. Guns are kinda superfluous when you have a wand, you know? And for another—” he holds up a second finger “—people change, I guess. I’m not really interested in taking down the bad guys anymore.” He gives a small, sad smile, and Derek’s almost afraid to ask anything else, but he does anyway.
“What are you interested in, then?”
Stiles gives a little shrug, stirring his potion some more and sprinkling in castor oil. “I think maybe a Healer, actually. It’s kind of—important to me. Being able to fix people.” His voice has gone quiet, almost timid, and Derek wants to hit himself over the head, because suddenly all the pieces are coming together and oh, shit, Stiles’ mom. He wants to say something, but doesn’t know what—I’m sorry always sounds so pretentious, and I know how you feel would be an outright lie. He shuffles awkwardly on his feet, trying to think of something—anything—to ease the mood, but at that moment Stiles seems to shake off whatever cloud is hanging over him and perks up. “So if you’re gonna be an Auror,” he says, smile looking slightly forced, “Then you have to let me show you Men in Black. Or Die Hard, man—even 21 Jump Street. Something.”
“I take it those are all movies.”
“Don’t give me that look, Grumpy Cat—I know you want it.” Stiles crinkles his brow in a way that makes Derek want to kiss him. And whoa, where the fuck did that come from? “That sounded so dirty. Come on, Der, lemme show you a good time.” He gives a ridiculous eyebrow waggle that should be completely annoying, but for some reason makes Derek’s heart increase its tempo double-time. To cover up the very real possibility of his ears turning red, Derek shoves Stiles away with a laugh.
“Stop distracting me,” he says, reaching for his vial of castor oil. Only problem is, the castor oil is right beside his jar of horklump juice, and Derek—well, Derek shouldn’t be held accountable for any actions he undertakes with Stiles standing only inches beside him.
“Yippee-ki-yay, mother—” Stiles begins to say, but the rest of his words are drowned out in the ensuing explosion of Derek’s potion. Again.
Fact: Derek Hale hates Professor Harris.
In all honesty, the guy’s a total dick. Sure, Derek has had problems with teachers before, but Harris takes everything to a whole new level—by which Derek means he takes everything out on Stiles.
“Why didn’t you tell him he was doing it wrong?” Harris snaps, arms folded and glaring at Stiles. Stiles just arches an eyebrow in response, which would be more effective if not for the fact that his face is completely black with soot and the tip of his hair singed. “You’re the top student in the class, Stilinski,” Harris says, sounding as though the fact pains him, “And I expect you to take responsibility for helping those around you.”
“He was helping me, sir, it was my fault, I—” Harris quells Derek’s protests with a look, and Stiles just gives him a reassuring smile.
“It’s okay, Derek,” he says, folding his own arms and glaring back at Harris. “Sorry, sir. I was distracted. It won’t happen again.”
“No, it won’t.” Harris narrows his eyes at the two of them. “Stilinski, grab your things and go sit next to Daehler. You’ll be swapping seats with Boyd. I expect you not to get distracted again. And you,” he adds, turning to Derek, “I can and will fail you in this class. Get your grades up and I won’t be forced to make that decision.” Harris looks like failing Derek would be Christmas come early, but he makes no further comment. Derek watches in silence as Stiles sweeps his shit into his bag and stomps over to sit next to Daehler—who’s a Slytherin, like Stiles is, but who Derek has never liked. The guy is kind of creepy, to be honest.
Boyd dropping down into the vacated seat startles Derek out of his introspection. “Hey,” he says, giving Boyd a nod. The guy nods back and sets to work without a word. Usually, the silence suits Derek—he’s a naturally quiet person, and Stiles’ incessant talking had been completely uncharted territory for him. But sitting here now, in the dimly-lit Potions classroom, the quiet unsettles Derek—it’s almost stifling, somehow, like Stiles’ chatter filled up the empty spaces and now he’s left Derek hollow.
Unsurprisingly, Derek fails to complete his potion that lesson, but he finds he doesn’t care in the slightest. As everyone files out of the classroom, Derek jogs a little to catch up to Stiles, who looks to be in deep conversation with Lydia Martin. They both glance up when Derek reaches them, Lydia’s expression of annoyance inconsequential compared to Stiles’ grin.
“I’m so sorry,” Derek blurts out, feeling a wild urge to shout the words at the top of his lungs. “Me being shit at Potions shouldn’t have to reflect on you, Stiles, fuck, I’m so sorry—”
“Derek,” Stiles interjects sharply, but he’s still smiling. “It’s fine, all right? Harris hates my guts, he was just looking for an excuse to tell me off. None of this is your fault, man—and you’re not shit at Potions, you said so before. Don’t beat yourself up about it, okay?” Lydia is looking curiously between the two of them, her gaze calculating, but Derek pays her no mind.
“I’m still sorry,” he says, grinning at the annoyance that flashes across Stiles’ face. “And I am shit at Potions, I just don’t like people telling me so. I’ll be even worse without you there to help me.” Oh, fuck. Did he say that last part out loud? Judging by the look of gentle surprise on Stiles’ face, the answer is yes, Derek, you did. Congrats on making a total idiot of yourself in public.
“I can tutor you, if you’d like,” Stiles smiles, and beside him Lydia looks fucking evil. “If you think you can take me one on one.”
“I can take anything you want,” Derek says, realising too late what’s just slipped out of his mouth. Stiles is blushing a fierce shade of red, and Lydia is positively gleeful. “I ¬mean—I can handle you. It. Us. Um—yeah. That’d be—yeah.” By now, Derek can feel his own cheeks flushing, and the tips of his ears are burning like they’re on fire.
“Well all right, then,” Stiles says, still blushing, but meeting Derek’s gaze with a grin. “On one condition, Hale: I pick a movie, and you’ll fucking watch it, okay? No ifs, ands or buts. We got a deal?” He sticks out his fist.
“Um, yeah. Deal.” Derek stares at Stiles’ hand in confusion. “What do I—?”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “You explode it, man. Come on.” He jiggles his fist around impatiently. Derek hesitantly bumps his own fist against Stiles’ and copies the Slytherin as he splays his hand out wide. “We’ll work on that,” Stiles promises with another eye roll. “You free tonight?” At that, Lydia snorts, but subsides when Stiles shoots her a look. “Good,” he says, when Derek nods. “We’ll meet up after dinner, yeah?” When Derek nods again, Stiles grins. “I’ll be back,” he says in a deep, rough voice, and disappears with Lydia before Derek can respond.
“View sure is different from here,” Stiles comments as he plonks himself down on the bench beside Derek. Isaac grins and says hello; Boyd nods magnanimously and continues eating his potato salad. Derek just stares.
“You can’t sit with us,” he says blankly, and looks on in confusion as Stiles bursts into laughter. Several heads are turning their way, and Derek hunches down into his seat, avoiding the attention. There’s no written rule about mingling at other houses’ tables, but it’s just something that isn’t done.
Obviously, Stiles didn’t get that memo.
“Oh, I missed you too, boo,” he says when his laughter subsides, wiping at the corners of his eyes. “It’s real nice to know when you’re wanted.”
“I didn’t mean—” Derek begins awkwardly, but Stiles cuts him off with a wave of his hand.
“I’m just fucking with you, dude. Don’t sweat it.” Stiles scoops a hefty serving of shepherd’s pie onto his plate and digs in. “Sorry for crashing the party, but Lydia’s somewhere being gross with Jackson, and Matt’s creeping me the fuck out, so I just need a place to lay low for a while.”
“This is laying low?” Isaac asks, amused, taking in Stiles’ conspicuous green-and-silver tie, not to mention the way he’s flailing around as he talks. Derek would be surprised if anyone hadn’t noticed the Slytherin sitting at their table.
“Shut it, Lahey,” Stiles says good-naturedly, bumping elbows with Derek. “You’re just jealous because Matt wanted all up in this.” Derek tenses.
“Matt asked you out?” he says, trying for nonchalance but probably missing it by a mile judging by the twin looks of amusement he’s receiving from Isaac and Boyd.
“Not in so many words,” Stiles explains, draining his goblet of pumpkin juice, “And not nearly as politely, I have to say. Oh, Derek, I do declare—” Stiles swoons dramatically into Derek’s lap, who freezes for a long, humiliating moment before pushing the Slytherin off with a huff.
“You’re a menace,” Derek growls, trying to cover up how much his, ahem, nether regions had liked the feel of Stiles on top of them.
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Stiles says cheerily, winking at Derek who pretty much melts at the look. “In all seriousness, though,” he continues, “I am hiding from the guy. Dude doesn’t realise when enough’s enough, you know?”
“He hurt you?” Derek feels like standing and flipping the table; he wants to hunt Matt down and sock him a good one in the jaw, leaving a big, dark bruise, maybe making him bleed a little, and—
“Whoa there, tiger,” Derek hears distantly, and feels a hand tugging him back down into his seat. It’s surprising; Derek hadn’t even realised he stood up. “Easy,” Stiles is saying. “Not that I’m not a fan of you defending my honour, Der, but I’m not Lois Lane. I can take care of myself, thanks.” Something must show in Derek’s face, because Stiles quirks his lips into a smile and rests a hand on Derek’s knee. “But I appreciate the sentiment.”
Stiles sits with them for the rest of the meal and, both miraculously and surprisingly, no teacher calls him out on it. Derek tries to act annoyed—mealtimes with Boyd and Isaac usually offer a reprieve from both Stiles and Erica’s chatter—but he’s pretty sure he fails, judging by the number of times he catches himself grinning at something Stiles is saying.
The fact that Stiles hasn’t removed his hand from Derek’s knee, and that Derek hasn’t said a word about it, doesn’t really hurt, either.
Fact: Derek Hale hates failing classes.
It’s been his biggest fear throughout his seven years at Hogwarts, that somehow a single paper marked P—or even worse, D—would spell the end of his wizarding career. So far, that hasn’t happened, because Derek’s pretty fucking smart, okay? He’s the smartest person in his year in Hufflepuff, at least, and if it weren’t for the existence of people like Lydia Martin, Danny Mahealani and Stiles—whom Derek likes to refer to as Team TNT because they’re all fucking dynamite—he might even have a shot at valedictorian.
Point is, Derek’s not really used to failure. He’s managed to scrape by in Potions for so long through sheer force of will, but now everything’s getting down to the pointy end, he seriously fears for his grades. They won’t let him become an Auror if he fails a prerequisite.
Taking all this into account, being tutored by Stiles should be a godsend.
Because Stiles is so goddamn distracting.
They’ve been at it for about an hour—and by at it Derek means tutoring—and Derek still can’t wrap his head around the logistics of reading a fucking recipe.
“You’ve got to make sure you have all the ingredients,” Stiles is saying for what is probably the twelfth time. “I like to line mine up in the order I’m using them, so I don’t get confused. You want all the vials clearly labelled, too, okay—you know what happens if they aren’t.” Stiles casts him an amused look. “And then you just read each step and follow the instructions as you go along. Easy-peasy.”
It isn’t easy-peasy. No matter the recipe, no matter the potion, no matter the ingredients—he always manages to misread a step, adding wolfsbane instead of lavender, black beetle eyes instead of eel’s eyes, stirring clockwise instead of anticlockwise, three times instead of eight. It doesn’t help that Stiles is hovering over Derek’s shoulder, looking positively adorable as he chews his fingernails and runs his ridiculous hands through his equally ridiculous hair.
Derek’s pretty sure that this is what hell must be like: looking at Stiles as much as he wants, but never being allowed to touch.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” Stiles says as Derek fucks up his third potion of the night. “I think that’s probably enough for today, yeah?” Derek clenches his hands into fists, swallowing down his anger. “Derek?” Stiles asks, hesitant, and that’s what brings Derek back into the present: the sound of Stiles’ voice, nervous, wary, asking permission when it never had before.
Derek unclenches his fists with a sigh. “I’m sorry,” he says, and then says it again, for good measure. “I’m sorry. I’m so shit at this. I can’t even read a fucking recipe, and—I’m sorry,” he stresses again, feeling like the word is important, feeling like Stiles needs to know just how bad Derek feels.
A hand wraps around his bicep, then, a strong, warm hand with knobbly knuckles and long, thin fingers. Derek swallows as Stiles turns him so they’re facing each other. “It’s okay, Derek,” the Slytherin says softly. “You’re doing fine, all right? I’m not gonna let you fail.”
When Derek nods slowly, the tension flows out of the room, and suddenly he realises that Stiles is still holding onto his bicep. Stiles must realise the same thing, because he lets go as if burned, a high colour appearing in his cheeks. “We’ll try again, okay? When are you free next?”
Stiles lets out a soft laugh, blush fading a little. “Hi Thursday, I’m Stiles.” At Derek’s blank look, he groans. “Dad jokes, man! Come on! They’re iconic.” Derek just shrugs, and Stiles grins, and they stare at each other stupidly for a few long moments before the bell rings for curfew. Derek bites his lip and jerks his thumb towards the door.
“Yeah.” Stiles slips his bag over his shoulder and shoves his hands into his pockets. “See you round, Derek.”
That night, as Derek lies in bed trying to think about nothing, the place on his bicep where Stiles touched throbs like a brand, like a heartbeat, like a promise.
Derek can’t stop smiling.
“Save me.” Stiles slides into the seat beside Derek, despite the fact that this is Charms and they never sit together in Charms. “Talk to me, Derek, I swear to God.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Derek says, and because he can be just as much of a little shit as Stiles is, adds, “And I thought you could take care of yourself—or was that a total lie?”
Stiles gives Derek a dirty look. “I am a strong, independent man, and I don’t need no—um, other man. Like, ninety-seven percent of the time.”
“And the other three percent?” Derek asks, raising an eyebrow in amusement as Stiles sinks even lower into his seat.
“Just shut up and talk to me, okay?” Derek raises his other eyebrow. “You know what I mean, asshole! Just pretend that you’re—oh, shit. Derek.” Stiles sinks down until only his eyes are visible above his desk. Derek glances around to see what the hell Stiles is so freaked out about, and—oh.
Matt Daehler’s just walked into the classroom.
Derek swings back around and tugs Stiles into a proper sitting position. “Just play along,” he whispers, and then hauls Stiles into his lap. They’re lucky class hasn’t started yet—people are still filing into the room from lunch. Stiles gives him a wide-eyed look but immediately understands what Derek is doing; he wraps his arms around Derek’s neck like a fucking octopus and buries his fingers in Derek’s hair, who tries not to groan and shift his hips. This isn’t real, he reminds himself, but God—it feels real.
Matt walks over and stands beside Derek’s seat, mouth twisted in fury. “What the hell, Stiles?”
“Uh, hi, Matt,” Stiles laughs nervously. “Have you met Derek? This is, um, Derek. He’s my boyfriend. We’re boyfriends. We’re, um—together.” Derek winces internally but tries to give Matt his best shit-eating grin.
“You don’t have a boyfriend,” Matt says in a flat voice, narrowing his eyes and flaring his nostrils like some sort of reptile. “I asked you the other day. You said you weren’t dating anybody. That you weren’t interested in dating anybody.”
“Well,” Stiles begins, his grip in Derek’s hair tightening to the point where it’s almost painful. “That was then. This is now. Funny how time passes, isn’t it? Whadd’ya think, sugar?”
It takes Derek a moment to realise that Stiles is talking to him. “Oh, uh, yeah,” he manages to say against the pain in his scalp. “Really, um, hilarious. Babe,” he adds belatedly when Stiles gives a small tug on his hair. Matt’s gaze is still calculating, but his stance is less aggressive. It looks like he’s backing down. Derek suppresses a sigh of relief.
“Right,” Matt says, hitching his bag higher up his shoulder. “Well, you two make a pretty good pair, I guess. I’ll talk to you later, Stiles, when you’re less—occupied.” He walks off to his usual seat in the back corner, and Stiles slithers off Derek’s lap with a groan.
“You win, like, all the awards, dude,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck as he slides back into his own seat. They don’t talk for a long, awkward moment, in which Derek’s train of thought goes something like: oh shit shit motherfucker why the fuck did I do that did I lose my motherfucking mind? Stiles turns to face him, then, and Derek prepares for the inevitable dressing down. “But babe? Seriously?” Derek glances up from where he’s been glaring at his hands to find Stiles smiling at him. Honest-to-God smiling. The knot of tension between Derek’s shoulders loosens and he gives a small, one-armed shrug.
“Serves you right, Stilinski. Do I look like a sugar to you?”
Stiles laughs delightedly. “Would you prefer darling? Or maybe honeybunch?” Derek glares, but that just eggs Stiles on. “What about muffin? Or buttercup? Or—ooh, ooh, what about dreamboat?” Stiles bats his lashes in an absolutely ridiculous manner that isn’t adorable in the slightest, and Derek shoves his face away.
Thankfully, Professor Morrell arrives before Stiles can continue on his dumb rant. Not so thankfully, she immediately tells them that they’ll be pairing up for the lesson to practice their spells. Stiles turns immediately to Derek and grins. “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” he says with a swoon, and Derek feels a vindictive kind of pleasure when Morrell chooses that moment to walk past their desks and hand Stiles an on-the-spot detention.
Of course, that pleasure vanishes in a puff of smoke when she gives one to Derek as well, but at least he won’t have to endure it alone.
“Well how ‘bout that, blossom?” Stiles says as soon as Morrell’s out of earshot. “Looks like we’ll be spending some more quality time together.”
On second thought, Derek would prefer to be alone.
Fact: Derek Hale hates detentions.
Not that he’s had very many, but that’s beside the point. He still has the right to his own opinion, doesn’t he?
Stiles, on the other hand, seems to love detention. When Morrell gives them the task of cleaning the trophies in the trophy room—without magic—Derek wants to poke himself in the eye with his wand. Stiles looks positively thrilled.
“Dude,” he enthuses when they’re alone. “Last time she put me on bedpan duty for Melissa. It was not pretty, lemme tell you that.”
Derek rubs the polish over his seventh school service award of the night. There are thirty-two more to go. He counted. “Melissa?”
“Oh, right, sorry. McCall. Madam McCall. Scott’s mom, you know?” No, Derek didn’t know, but he nods anyway. It certainly explains why Stiles and Madam McCall were so familiar that day in the Hospital Wing—which seems like a freakin’ lifetime ago to Derek—and why she was asking about Stiles’ dad. They must be friends, or something.
“Well, at least Morrell let us do it together,” Derek offers into the lull in conversation, and Stiles nods fervently.
“Probably because she thinks you’ll be a good influence on me, or something. Derek Goody-Two-Shoes Hale, the pride of Hufflepuff house.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Nah. I’d rather someone else do it for me.” Derek drops his cleaning cloth and fumbles as he picks it up again. He can feel his ears burning, and he doesn’t dare glance over at Stiles lest he sees that familiar, teasing look on his face—the one that says I’m joking, don’t worry about it. Derek doesn’t want this—whatever this is—to be a joke, okay? He wants it to be real; he wants it to be real so bad he fucking burns with the need for it.
“Moving on,” Stiles says, clearing his throat awkwardly. “What’re your thoughts on stud muffin?”
Derek throws the cleaning cloth at his head and the spell between them is broken.
“So,” Stiles says from his position on Derek’s bed, “I’ve got Batman Begins, Die Hard and Mean Girls—the classics of our time. Any preferences?”
Derek will never admit it to anyone, but at the sight of Stiles in his dorm he lets out an incredibly short—and incredibly manly—scream. Deservedly, of course. Derek’s in his fucking pyjamas, okay, and his hair’s all soft and downy from the shower, and now Stiles is here in freakin’ skinny jeans and plaid with that smile and those moles and Derek should not have to deal with this situation on a Friday night.
“How did you get in here?”
Stiles shrugs nonchalantly. “I worked out how to get into every common room third year, Derek. Keep up, would you?” He pats the empty space on the mattress beside him. “It’s movie night.”
Because he has no other choice—and not for any other reasons, like Stiles’ sinfully painted-on jeans—Derek settles himself beside the Slytherin and looks curiously at the screen in front of him. “What is this?”
“This, my Amish friend, is a laptop,” Stiles says, popping the ps. “Shit like this shouldn’t work in places like these—something about magical currents interfering with electrical, or something—but Lydia helped me wire this one up. Pretty neat, huh?” Derek nods dumbly, struck by the image on the screen. It’s a photograph; a really, really clear photograph of a man, a woman and a kid who could only be their son. The man’s in some kind of uniform—if Derek squints he can make out BCPD on the breast pocket—and the boy is dressed up too, all in black with a yellow-and-black symbol on his chest. It looks a little like a lopsided bat. The woman is in a red sundress, her smile almost blinding, and startlingly familiar.
“Is this your—?” Derek pauses, unsure of how to phrase the question. Fortunately, Stiles seems to understand, because his lips twist into a sort of half-grimace, half-grin.
“Yeah. That’s me, my dad and my—my mom.” He stares at the photo with a strange sort of intensity for a long moment, then seems to shake himself out of it. “Anyway. Moviecation. Time to choose, Derek—the red pill or the blue pill?”
Derek stares at the movies uncomprehendingly. “I don’t see any pills,” he says slowly, “But maybe that one?” He points at Batman Begins, something fiery and warm igniting in his chest at the bright smile that flashes across Stiles’ face.
“You got it, sweetheart.” Stiles slides something round and shiny into the side of his laptop. The picture of his family is replaced by a heading that reads DVD. Stiles hands Derek something small and white on a long string. He frowns at it. “Headphones,” Stiles explains, sliding his own into his left ear and gesturing for Derek to do the same. “So your dorm mates don’t have to listen to Christian Bale’s sexy voice when they’re trying to get to sleep.” Derek doesn’t even pretend to understand that, but nods anyway. Stiles is weird, sometimes.
Derek jumps a little when sound begins to play, scowling when Stiles lets out a derisive snort. But when Stiles whispers, “You should’ve seen me when I first found out magic was real,” Derek feels a little better. They relax back against the pillows, Derek trying not to notice how easy it would be just to slide his arm around Stiles’ shoulders, and settle in when the movie begins.
It’s incredible. Derek can’t even describe how it makes him feel—his heart races at all the right moments, he feels actual tears prick behind his eyelashes when Bruce’s parents die, and he finds himself gripping Stiles’ hand during the final scene where Rachel walks away from Bruce. Stiles just smiles softly at Derek and laces their fingers together.
When the credits start to roll, Stiles pauses the movie and tugs out their earphones. “I take it you liked it, then?” Derek is lost for words, and can do nothing but nod. “Just wait until I show you the second one, dude. Hands down one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.” Stiles squeezes Derek’s hand, who glances at their intertwined fingers in surprise; he hadn’t realised they were still holding hands. A soft blush begins to creep its way up his cheeks, but he doesn’t try to let go.
His heart is pounding.
He’s pretty sure his palm is sweating.
Stiles is right there and looking at him with eyes big and pupils blown and lips parted and fuck it, fuck everything, Derek’s leaning forward and—
The dormitory door bangs open. “Oh,” Boyd says, looking unsurprised at finding them there. “Sorry.” He walks past Derek’s bed into the bathroom and locks the door. Derek glances back at Stiles, words dying on his lips as he realises the Slytherin is packing up, standing up, getting ready to leave. Their joined hands stretch across the open air between them, like a bridge leading to paradise.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Derek,” Stiles whispers, disentangling their fingers and slipping out the door. Derek lets his head fall back against the wall with a thump.
Fact: Derek Hale hates being misunderstood.
That makes him sound super pretentious, but it’s true. His brain-to-mouth filter is usually in perfect working order, but on days when it glitches, Derek kind of hates himself. Because he ends up saying the dumbest things.
Like this one time, when his little sister Cora drew a family portrait, Derek had told her that the picture looked like a bunch of potatoes with arms standing in a line. He’d meant it as a joke—the drawing was super cute, okay, and who doesn’t love potatoes?—but Cora’s little five-year-old face had screwed up and she’d burst into tears. Derek apologised, because that wasn’t what he meant at all, but it was too little, too late.
Or then that time with Erica, when she’d asked him if her dress made her butt look big, and Derek had answered—in all honesty, mind you—yes, yes it does. He’d gotten the cold shoulder from her and silent looks of judgement from Boyd for an entire week.
The point he’s trying to make here is that Derek always means well. He does. But sometimes what he means and what other people think he means are two completely different things; somehow something important gets lost along the way. Like now, for instance.
Walking into the Great Hall for breakfast, Derek plucks up the courage to sit beside Stiles at the Slytherin table. He’s sneered at, laughed at and yelled at by at least a dozen students, but it’s worth it for the way Stiles looks at him—like he’s a freakin’ angel, or something. It makes Derek’s insides turn to mush.
“I wanted to talk to you about last night,” Derek begins, trying to find the right words. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
Stiles frowns; his breakfast remains untouched. “What do you mean?”
Derek is acutely aware of Lydia’s razor-sharp gaze from across the table; he can also see Matt in his periphery, glaring at the two of them with eyes like poisoned daggers. He swallows heavily. “I like you, Stiles,” he finally manages to say around the constriction in his throat. “I mean, we’re friends, right? You’re the only reason my grades are staying up in Potions, and I—I don’t want to ruin that.” Stiles’ face closes off then; Derek doesn’t realise his misstep, and ploughs on. “I guess, what I’m trying to say is that last night, when we, um—and Boyd, you know—that’s just not what I thought would happen. And, um. I wanted to fix that. Fix us.”
Stiles looks at him for a very long time after those words, pins Derek with a gaze that cuts him right to the core. “Fix what?” Stiles eventually says, in the flattest voice Derek has ever heard him use. “There’s nothing broken, Derek. In fact,” the Slytherin adds as he rises, swinging his bag over his shoulder and not making eye contact with anyone, “There’s nothing at all, period.” He stalks down the aisle without a backwards glance, and Derek—though he doesn’t know how, or why—knows he’s fucked everything up—again, a little voice whispers inside his head—maybe even for good this time.
“You’re a fucking asshole, Derek Hale.” Derek glances up to find—oh holy mother of God—Lydia freakin’ Martin stalking towards him, her heels clacking against the cobblestones, robes flying out in an angry whirlwind behind her. “You complete and utter dickhead. Do you know how long he’s been trying to get you to like him? He rigged the fucking seating arrangement, for God’s sakes! And then you string him along for weeks, get his hopes up for absolutely nothing, and break his big dumb heart in front of everyone!" The sound of Lydia’s hand hitting Derek’s cheek is flat, not dramatic at all. The palm print throbs, and he knows a bruise is already forming, but Derek doesn’t care.
“You think he talks about his family to just anyone? You think he gives private tutoring lessons to every Frankie fucking first year? Did you think anything, Hale? Did you stop and think for just one second what a complete and utter cockhead you are?”
“I don’t know what you’re—”
“Of course you don’t!” Lydia throws up her hands and glares down at him. Her tirade has drawn about a dozen onlookers into the previously deserted courtyard, and she looks far from finished. “You don’t know anything, do you? You don’t know how he feels, you don’t know how to emote like a normal human being, and you don’t know how to brew a fucking potion!” She points a taloned finger at him and scowls. “Words cannot describe how beneath him you are,” she says in a dangerously low voice, “But for some reason he’s set his heart on you, Hale. And I know you feel the same way. So you’d better stop fucking around, track him down, and offer him the sincerest of sincere apologies or I swear to every god known to wizardkind I will slice off your testicles and feed them to the giant squid. Do I make myself clear?”
Derek’s heart is hammering in his chest like a hyperactive woodpecker, but he manages to nod and force out a choked, “Crystal.” Lydia gives him a condescending once-over before turning on her heel with a flourish and striding away, robes billowing out behind her. The onlookers scatter as she approaches them, and soon Derek is once again alone, feeling like he’s just passed some sort of test, but also feeling like the worst—and what could be worse than verbal assault via Lydia Martin Derek doesn’t know—is still to come.
Fact: Derek Hale hates the castle.
Seven years here and he still manages to get lost in its twists and turns. He’s been looking for Stiles for a little over an hour—he’s not in the Slytherin common room, the library, the Great Hall or even the Hospital Wing—and right now Lydia’s threat of castration seems more and more like an actuality.
Derek is standing in the empty Owlery, hands on his hips, thinking desperately about where else Stiles would be, when someone approaches him from behind and clears their throat. Derek jumps and whirls, hand reaching into his robes for his wand, but the guy standing before him is vaguely familiar and has a gentle smile on his face.
“Derek, hey,” Scott—because it could only be Scott McCall—says, extending a hand for Derek to shake. “It’s nice to officially meet you.”
“Have we even met unofficially?”
Scott laughs; the sound is strangely similar to Stiles’ laughter, and Derek’s heart seizes in his chest. “No, not really,” he says, but his voice is kind. “Stiles has just told me a lot about you, so I feel like I know you already.”
“He’s talked about you, too,” Derek supplies awkwardly, because he has no idea why one of Stiles’ friends would be talking to him in such a friendly manner, and not verbally assaulting him like Lydia had done earlier. He supposes it might have something to do with the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin approach to conflict resolution, but the more likely answer is that it’s just the Scott vs. Lydia dichotomy. “You’re his best friend.”
“I was his best friend,” Scott corrects gently, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I’ve been pretty shitty at my job, lately. You’ve probably heard Stiles complaining about me and Kira.” When Derek shrugs noncommittally, Scott laughs. “’S’cool, man, don’t sweat it. Stiles and I have already had our bro-chat about it. But that’s not really my point here.” Derek waits for Scott to elaborate. “What I’m trying to say is that the gap I left in Stiles’ life when I hung out with Kira too much was filled pretty easily—by you, dude.”
“Oh,” Derek says, feeling out-of-step with whatever beat Scott’s listening to. “Sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry for,” the Gryffindor smiles good-naturedly. “’S’good to know he wasn’t alone, you know? He’s been alone a lot before.” Derek nods: even if he and Stiles never talked about it explicitly, he knows all about those lonely summers Stiles spent with his dad. “You were good for him, Derek. You are good for him.”
“I fucked it up.” There. He’s said it. It’s out in the open and Derek has never felt more ashamed in his life. “I fucked everything up.”
“Yeah, you did,” Scott says simply. “I don’t know what you said to him, but Stiles seems to be under the impression that you were using him to get a good grade in Potions. I know that’s not true, Derek.”
“It isn’t,” Derek whispers, because fuck, how could Stiles even think that? “I never meant it like that—sometimes I say things and they don’t come out the way I want them to.”
Scott nods understandingly. “Well, you need to tell him that, okay? He needs to hear it himself, from your mouth. Lydia and I have tried talking to him about it, but he doesn’t believe us.” Scott steps closer, holds Derek’s gaze as he puts his hands on Derek’s shoulders. “You need to tell him, Derek. And fix it before it’s too late.” Scott lets go and turns to leave. Derek finds his voice again.
“Do you—do you know where he is?”
Scott gives a small, slow smile. “Left-hand corridor on the seventh floor, there’s a tapestry with trolls learning ballet. Walk past it three times thinking about the Beacon County Sheriff’s Department—you don’t need to know what it is, just think about the name—and you should find him. If not—” Scott breaks off and, for once, his gentle demeanour is marred by a frown. “Then it probably is too late.”
Derek nods and watches Scott depart. He wanders over to the open window and breathes in the musky, sunset-filled air. There’s still hope, he thinks. I can still fix this. With that thought in mind Derek turns on his heel and heads off to find a tapestry.
“I said I was fine, Scott, would you just—” Stiles stops short in his tirade as Derek rounds the corner. He’s in some sort of office, sitting on the floor beside a desk littered with paperwork and opposite a whole wall of filing cabinets. His eyes narrow at the sight of Derek hovering in the doorway. “Fuck off,” he finishes, practically spitting out the words. “How the hell did you find me?”
Derek opens his mouth to explain, but pauses when Stiles holds up a hand. “No, wait, lemme guess. Scott?” At Derek’s nod, Stiles gives an ugly laugh. “Brilliant. A-fucking-plus, man. Did he give you his whole find him before it’s too late speech?”
“How did you—?”
“It’s Scott. When does he not have a hero complex?” Stiles sighs, then, and it’s a small, defeated sound, like he’s been fighting and fighting and fighting and just can’t find the strength to go on. Derek doesn’t know what to say: he’s afraid he’ll just fuck it up even more than what he already has; afraid that this is the last chance he’ll get to explain himself to the guy who he’s been head over heels with for weeks.
Stiles breaks the silence by standing, all long limbs and pale skin and God, Derek wants. “Why are you here, Derek?” he asks tiredly, running his fingers through his hair. “Trying to ‘fix us’?”
“You said there was nothing to fix,” is what Derek says, and fuck, why doesn’t he just go and Avada Kedavra himself right now?
Stiles is looking at him, his gaze flat and wooden. “I did say that, yeah. So why are you here?”
Derek’s hands spasm from where they’re stuffed inside his pockets. He draws them out into the open and fidgets with them. “I wanted—I wanted to talk to you. Tell you something.”
Stiles cocks his head to one side. “I’m listening.”
“Okay.” Derek takes a deep breath. “Okay. I think I’m—I think I might love you? I mean, I don’t think that, I—I know. I love you. I’m—in love with you.” He looks down at his hands because he’s so fucking scared of what Stiles’ face is doing. “That’s what I wanted to tell you before but—but I’m kind of shit with words, and sometimes I say things I don’t mean to, or people take stuff I do say in the wrong way, and—and I think our wires got crossed somewhere.” Oh, God, he’s shaking. His hands are shaking; they’re trembling, little spasms ricocheting through his nervous system. He clasps them together tightly and closes his eyes. “I get it if you hate me, I—I’m not just using you to get a good grade, okay? Lydia yelled at me before for being a total cockhead, and she was right because—that’s not what I meant. I—I like you, Stiles, I mean—I love you, and I wanna watch movies with you, and—shit, I dunno—I wanna meet your dad, and talk to you about your mom and tell you about my family, and Kate—I wanna go on dates with you, proper dates, and I wanna hold your hand and kiss you, and—fuck, I want to kiss you senseless, Stiles, you have no idea what you do to me. So—so I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m so fucking sorry for what I said, and if you can forgive me—go with your gut, or your heart, or whatever—then I would do anything for you. Because—fuck, because I love you, okay?” Derek opens his eyes but doesn’t dare glancing up at Stiles. “You’re it. You’re it for me—you’re the one. You’re everything.”
There’s a long, terrible moment of silence, in which Derek seriously entertains the possibility of melting into the linoleum floor. But then—
“You great idiot,” comes a fond voice, and then fingertips find Derek’s chin and force his head up, and—wow, Stiles is close, he’s right there, and his eyes are fucking luminous and Derek loses all sense of direction—and they stare at each other for an infinity of infinities, for a delirium of seconds and minutes and hours, and Derek will never ever get tired of this, this feeling, this floating sensation buried miles deep in his bones. Stiles is so close, and he’s smiling, and Derek thinks did I do this? Is he really looking at me like that?
Stiles gives a soft laugh and releases his grip from Derek’s chin. “I’ve been in love with you since that day in fourth year when you tripped down the stairs and fell at my feet,” he says simply, and Derek blushes, because Stiles remembers that? “I just had to grow up enough so that you’d feel the same.”
And then before Derek can take a breath, before he can prepare himself, Stiles’ lips are on his, dry and chapped and gentle and perfect. The Slytherin pulls away the barest inch, blinking at Derek through his lashes, and smiles. “You totally Mr. Darcy’d me, dude,” he says, and Derek doesn’t even care that he doesn’t understand the reference—he just leans forward and captures Stiles’ mouth in a second kiss, and it feels like flying.
Fact: Derek Hale hates Stiles Stilinski.
He hates the way he walks, with this dumb Slytherin swagger, like he owns the school. He hates that little upturn of his nose and the moles like constellations that Derek could map for hours. He hates Stiles’ hair, and his laugh, and the way his eyes light up when he smiles, and he especially hates the way Stiles makes him feel, like Derek’s heart is about to beat out of his chest from the strain—except maybe he doesn’t, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.