Lydia Martin was a woman who had chemistry with anyone she wanted to. Captain of the best Lacrosse team in the state? Yup. Fashionable new girl with the pretty smile? Check. A werewolf here and there? Not a problem. Plucky sidekick of said werewolves? She didn’t even have to try. It was all so easy. Lydia Martin was a woman who knew how to work with and around people. She had a face and a tone of voice for every occasion and sometimes she liked to wonder how she was a banshee and not some sort of shape shifter for all she could do.
Admittedly, sometimes she didn’t mean to click with someone. She’d never really meant to fall into the soul crushing love she had with Jackson. She had never counted on knowing more than Stiles’ name, usually attached to “and Scott”. There were some things even Lydia couldn’t figure out.
Most perplexing was her budding… friendship? Relationship? Thing with Cora Hale. The she-wolf was as scowl ridden and brooding as her brother and far more prickly, which before meeting Cora no one would have thought possible. She had a short temper and a sharp tongue. She drove Lydia up the wall in all the worst ways, which is why she never expected to find herself pressed up against the wall of an empty classroom with one hand fisted in Cora’s surprisingly soft hair as they kissed until they couldn’t breathe properly.
It kept happening, too. The first few times they’d been arguing, always something stupid and inconsequential now that the alpha pack and darach were history, and they’d gone from practically shouting to making out in a way that was more bite than kiss. But after a while there wasn’t always a fight beforehand.
Sometimes Cora was just over Lydia’s house, catching up on her studies after Derek convinced her to enroll in school and graduate. They would share a glance over a textbook and one of them would make a token comment with a bit of bite, something that passed as friendly teasing in their circle but would probably sound cruel to anyone else. There would be a quick back and forth and then Lydia would be pinned under Cora before she knew it.
Occasionally, their making out was spurred simply by a look. Nothing more than an arch of a delicate eyebrow and a smirk as warning before Lydia was grabbing hold of Cora’s shirt and pulling her close. The kissing wasn’t really what had Lydia examining their dynamic.
Heated making out was fine and dandy, Lydia didn’t have many issues when it came to kissing people aside from the obvious (clean, attractive, a bit smart, not Peter Hale). No, kissing was not the issue here. The issue was the not kissing. Kissing was easy to explain – Cora was hot and a damn fine kisser. The quiet moments in Lydia’s bedroom as they flipped through books and the laughter filled times spent going through stores together and picking out clothes were the issues. The way they sat too close together during pack meetings, legs lined up and touching, was a problem. The way Lydia wanted to smile at Cora every time she passed her in the hallway or the way she wanted to reach out and thread their fingers together was what had Lydia questioning everything.
Mostly when it had all changed. When exactly had annoyance and physical attractiveness morphed into happiness and fondness? She hadn’t signed up for this, Lydia thought petulantly. Was it so hard to find someone attractive and meaningful that wasn’t a damn creature of the night?
She supposed there was no denying it and she had been trying to break herself of all that denial. Lydia was attracted to and had feelings for Cora Hale. There was plenty she could do about it, ignoring it was the first that came to mind but it felt too much like running away and Lydia Martin was a lot of things, but she was no coward. She supposed she could talk to Cora about it and try to figure out where they stood with each other. The option wasn’t pleasant and would probably make everything awkward but Lydia wasn’t about to waste both their time beating around the bush. She promised herself, the next time she and Cora were alone they were going to talk about this… thing they had.
As it turned out it would be a solid two weeks before anyone had anything like alone time without the threat of being barged in on. Thanks to the alluring pull of the newly awakened Nemeton the pack had found itself faced with a small horde of elves. Which was a much bigger problem than it sounded.
Apparently every main stream story book was wrong about elves. They were nasty, tiny, awful creatures. Their eyes were flat colors and had no visible irises so telling where they were looking was impossible. They loved playing tricks, except their tricks could often land someone in the hospital or worse. They were also ugly as hell with skin like tree bark and disgusting, pointy little teeth. Lydia hated them.
They had been terrorizing the pack for two weeks by the time Stiles had sent out a mass text exclaiming that he knew how to stop the little monsters.
Everyone was at Derek’s loft waiting for Stiles to get his notes together. “So, elves are actually from another dimension,” he says distractedly as he dug around in his book bag. “They don’t know how to handle humans and whatnot, they’re actually pretty creeped out by us.”
“Then why are they giving us so much hassle?” Derek growled.
Stiles looked up from where he was rummaging and shot an unimpressed look at Derek. “Last I checked Allison and I are the only actual humans around here.” Lydia would never be completely okay with no longer belonging to that category.
“Okay,” Scott said, stepping in to end the snark-off that was sure to ensue if Derek and Stiles were left to it. “What’s the plan?”
Finally, Stiles pulled a packet of papers free from his bag. “Well, first off you’re not gonna like it.”
The plan was to use Lydia as bait for the elves. According to Stiles they’d still be attracted to her supernatural status without being intimidated by her like they were the wolves, who were obviously predators and therefore intimidating. Stiles suspected that because they didn’t feel threatened by Lydia they’d be more curious than harmful and probably wouldn’t try to maim her. While the elves focused on Lydia Stiles and Allison would use the spell he’d found to send the elves back to their world.
And here she thought Stiles loved her.
“The wolves will all be nearby, ready to whisk Lydia to safety if they think anything is getting too out of hand or she calls for help,” Stiles explained. “We wanna try to avoid that because it might scatter some of them and cause the spell to miss.”
Lydia had a few questions but Cora beat her to the big one. “If it misses is Lydia going to end up in elf world?”
That would be a nice thing to know.
Stiles blinked a few times before barking out a short laugh. “What? No way! I’d never have even suggested this spell if it could have hurt any of you,” he said. “Not unless it was a total last resort.”
Cora still didn’t look satisfied, but Lydia trusted Stiles more than she ever thought she’d trust anyone. So, she agreed to be bait and the wolves agreed to watch her back. Lydia tried not to be terrified.
Of course, the best time to catch an elf was in the middle of the night, apparently they derived a lot of their powers from the sun’s rays. Why Lydia had expected any different was beyond her. If they ever managed to save the day at a reasonable hour of the day she might just die of shock. She leaned against a tree as Stiles walked Allison through the spell one more time. The wolves were meandering about aimlessly. Scott was fidgety, and Lydia knew why. He didn’t want to use her as bait, he hated putting people in danger, but he trusted Stiles more than Lydia could imagine so he was going along with it. Isaac was standing beside him, much calmer, at least on the surface, as he watched Allison work and Scott pace. Derek, Erica, and Boyd were all waiting patiently for the spell to be ready.
Cora was next to Lydia, glaring pointedly at where the pair of humans were working. She still wasn’t happy about Lydia being bait, but no one was. Taking advantage of the fact that she was already nervous Lydia swallowed her fear and grabbed Cora’s hand. The gesture was done for comfort as much as just because Lydia had been wanting to for ages now. Cora looked down at their joined hands then back up to Lydia who did her best to shrug and offer a smile.
It was obvious Cora didn’t buy into Lydia’s “I’m fine, really” expression, she could probably heart the jackrabbit pace of her heart, but she didn’t say anything, just left her hand in Lydia’s and gave it a light squeeze. It might not have done anything for her heart rate but she found it did help her slow down the incessant whirl of what ifs going through her mind. Everything would be fine, she had the whole pack watching her back and Stiles and Allison had worked other spells before.
“Okay,” Stiles called from where he and Allison were moving their supplies to a more hidden location. “Who’s ready to catch a bunch of Santa’s little helpers?”
With a deep, steadying breath Lydia readied herself. All she had to do was scream. She’d been getting better that being a banshee and she’d learned that one of the functions of her scream was to act as a homing beacon. She screamed, the pack moved in, or in this case, the elves did. During her first few attempts at it she’d accidentally attracted not only the pack, but apparently also an alp, which had been thankfully easy to persuade away given that it was a total coward in the face of werewolves.
Lydia had since learned how to pitch her voice to a few of what her and Stiles were calling frequencies. The wolves could hear every pitch Lydia had managed to hit to date, and they came running every time. There was a relatively lower pitch that warned about danger, a very high, inhuman pitch that was always laced with panic when she felt death looming or when she was too late to stop it. Thankfully the latter happened rarely anymore. There was also a neutral pitch she could hit that seemed to attract anything that heard it and that was the frequency that she was using to call the elves.
Everyone was moving into position but Cora hadn’t let go of Lydia’s hand. She didn’t move until Derek called for her, and even then her movements were obviously hesitant. As she stepped away Lydia decided that as long as she was already terrified she might as well take the first step. She reached out and grabbed Cora by the wrist and pulled her back a few steps until they were face to face.
“When this is over we need to talk,” she said. She hoped that her tone hadn’t come across as accusatory, which was apparently an issue she occasionally had according to Allison. “Just you and me.”
If Cora was worried about what she’d said Lydia couldn’t tell. Cora just nodded and gave her a small smile. “Make sure you’re around to do that.”
With a smile more confident than she felt Lydia let go of Cora’s wrist and let her join the rest of the pack behind the trees. “That’s what you’re here for,” she said to the werewolf’s retreating back. Tossing her hair back and moving to where Stiles and Allison had marked she pulled forth the buzzing energy that was always in the background of her life now. It was show time.
Once she’d screamed everything began happening very quickly. The elves must have been more interested in Lydia than anyone had accounted for. With how fast they began swarming her they had to have been following her, hiding just out of reach of the wolves’ senses. They swarmed her, running in circles around her, only occasionally daring to touch her as if they weren’t sure if she was dangerous or not. It would take a few minutes for the spell to be enacted, all Lydia had to do was hold it together that long.
The pack was under orders not to move in until Lydia called for them or Scott decided things were getting too out of hand. So far the worst thing happening to Lydia was the killer headache she had due to the thunderous chorus of whistling and clicking that were the elves’ way of speaking to one another. There was some yanking of her shirt and hair but it was nothing she couldn’t ignore.
It was when the flash of light from the spell activating hit them that things really got out of hand. It was like each and every elf, and there had to have been a dozen of them or more, screamed in pain and fury. They must have also seen Lydia as a traitor because the light tugging she’d been subjected to transformed instantly into ripping and tearing. She screamed, human and terrified, for help. She didn’t know what happened next because one moment she was lost in the howling vortex of screeching and clicking the next all she could hear was a piercing, shrill whistle and then nothing.
Cora hated elves, their too loud, too high pitch whistling and their creepy appearance. Now, she had a new reason to hate them – they were hurting Lydia. When Cora had started caring who hurt Lydia Martin Cora wasn’t sure, but there was no denying it anymore.
When she had heard Lydia’s scream for help Cora had all but flown out into the violent swarm of elves. She was thankful when the little monsters had vanished after only a few seconds, the spell completed. The cuts she’d gotten from rushing into their claws were already healing as she knelt beside Lydia’s prone form.
“Lydia?” She carefully took the redhead in her arms, moving her fingers to take her pulse, even though she could hear it slowly beating away. It always helped if she could feel as well as hear. “Lydia, wake up!”
The rest of the pack was surrounding them, the worry and panic practically a physical presence around them. Allison was kneeling on Lydia’s other side as her hands flitted over her, checking her pulse, opening her eye to check something else, leaning down to press an ear to her chest to listen to something she could have just asked the wolves about. She was white as a sheet as she looked over Lydia, her eyes wide and panicked.
“What is it?” Cora demanded. “What’s wrong with her?”
Allison leaned back, resting on her heels she shook her head slowly, eyes never leaving Lydia’s slowly paling face. “I don’t- I don’t know. It’s like she’s just asleep, but…” She just gestured helplessly. Lydia was obviously not just asleep.
Cora was trying desperately to keep her rising panic in check. Losing control of herself wasn’t going to do Lydia any favors. But what were they going to do now? Obviously those elves had done this to Lydia and if they didn’t fix it who knew what would happen.
Thankfully, it seemed that Scott and Stiles were better at thinking through a crisis than she was. Scott crouched down beside Cora and put a gentle hand on her shoulder. She tore her eyes away from Lydia’s face to look at her alpha. “Can you get Lydia home? Her mom is out of town for the weekend on business so we don’t have to worry about explaining anything.”
Numbly, Cora nodded, trying to push the bitter taste of worry out of her throat so she could give Scott a proper answer. He seemed to understand what she was doing because he smiled at her and gave a light squeeze before standing up.
“Erica, Boyd, drive them to Lydia’s and stick around for a while and keep a close eye and ear on Lydia’s vitals. Stiles, take Allison and Derek and go through the bestiary with a fine-tooth comb, if it might have something to do with elves examine the hell out of it.” Scott continued to delegate and make plans to check up on Lydia and make sure nothing went any more wrong that it already had. He’d come into his own as a leader over the last few months and even though he was still a bit of a pushover and anything but authoritative Cora had to admit he handled things pretty well when he had to.
Cora gently lifted Lydia and followed Boyd and Erica to where they’d left their cars. Even as dead weight, Lydia was still light in Cora’s arms, fragile to the point that if Cora hadn’t known she’d have figured Lydia for a simple human. As they reached the handful of cars parked on the reserve Cora slid into the back seat of Boyd’s clunky Oldsmobile as he and Erica strapped in the front seats.
On their way to Lydia’s house Boyd must have broken at least five traffic laws, but they made it there in record time and if he got a ticket Stiles’ dad would take care of it once they explained the situation to him. Erica slid into the house through Lydia’s perpetually unlocked window and unlocked the front door for them. As Cora situated Lydia on her bed in what she hoped was a comfortable position Boyd and Erica settled themselves in the living room downstairs.
The idea to join them crossed Cora’s mind, but she decided to stay with Lydia. Being able to watch her chest rise and lower with her breath and hear her heart beat offered Cora a little bit of comfort. Sitting at her bedside, Cora knew for sure that Lydia was alive.
She was so angry. She was angry at Stiles for putting Lydia in danger and Scott for allowing it. She was angry at Lydia for agreeing to be bait and the elves for doing this to her. Most of all, she was angry at herself for not being able to help. She’d promised she would keep Lydia safe, and she hadn’t been able to do a damn thing! Cora felt herself growl, her frustration forcing itself out of her body.
For a few weeks now Cora had noticed things between her and Lydia were different than when they’d started their whole hate-make outs. Cora was pretty sure it had started when they’d talk to each other after sex, their lips and limbs loose in the afterglow. Then there was the tutoring Lydia had offered and somewhere in between text books and worksheets they’d become friends. Cora should have known to back off then, she should have known to keep away from Lydia until she could stop herself from getting even closer to the brilliant redhead.
She hadn’t though. Cora had kept on going over to Lydia’s house, even when there was nothing to study. In hindsight she should have known she had it bad when she allowed Lydia to drag Cora to the mall on a weekend and pick out clothes together, complaining about the lack of fashion sense being a Hale trait and not standing for it any longer. Between one floral print dress and one tasteful pump Cora was lost on the genius woman.
Cora had meant to tell her, but words like that didn’t come easily to her. She blamed her past – the fire, the loss of everything, the hard years in South America. She knew they were excuses, though, little more than reasons to keep hiding and lying to Lydia as they traded playfully sharp words instead of having a normal conversation like normal people. When Lydia had told her they needed to talk Cora had felt the strangest mix of joy and terror. Would Lydia tell her that she had feeling for Cora or would she ask to break it all off and tell Cora that she thought they were better staying friends?
The thought of such a thing mixed in with the worry she was currently feeling and had Cora tasting bile in the back of her throat. What a state she was in.
Cora didn’t move from her place at Lydia’s side all night. After a few hours Scott and Isaac had stopped by to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t Lydia had continued to sleep, not a single sign of her stirring. Scott had offered to take Cora’s place and let her get some rest, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway and told him she was fine. Cora could see the concern in Scott’s expression as he nodded and told her that he and Isaac would be just downstairs if she needed them. He’d sent Erica and Boyd home to get some rest themselves.
Allison had called, checking up on Lydia and Cora had heard Derek’s voice in the background telling Stiles that the lead he’d been on was a dead end. Cora tried not to lose hope. They would figure something out, she knew they would. They didn’t have an option.
It was late the next morning when Cora was jerked awake from where she had dozed off beside Lydia’s still sleeping form. She could hear Stiles flailing about downstairs, talking to Scott in a rushed whisper that she couldn’t quite make out. It wasn’t long before he was thundering up the stairs and all but falling into Lydia’s bedroom.
His eyes were bright, even though the dark circles under them told Cora he hadn’t slept a wink all night. He also had a slightly manic smile on his face as he looked at Cora.
“Great news!” Stiles announced, he was out of breath from his mad dash up the stairs and excitement. “Fairytales aren’t one hundred percent bullshit!”
Cora blinked over at him a few times before raising an eyebrow. “Great,” she snapped. “What does that mean?”
Stiles rolled his eyes dramatically, almost mockingly and if he didn’t spill it Cora was going to gut him, brother of the alpha or not. “She’s cursed,” he said, flailing one hand towards Lydia. “How do you break a curse in fairytales?”
Still not quite understanding what Stiles was getting at Cora glared at him. “A prince?”
The horrified look Stiles gave her might have been funny under any other circumstance. Right now, it was just annoying. At Cora’s deepening glare he continued. “First off, we’re all going on a Disney binge after this. Secondly, no you deprived soul. You break a curse with true love’s kiss.”
It took an embarrassingly long time for Cora to get what Stiles was implying with his expectant look. “Oh, you think… Me?”
With a shrug Stiles stepped into the room and stood next to Cora. He looked down at Lydia with a soft smile. “You know, if this had happened a year ago, outside of us being completely out of our depths, I would have insisted that I would have been the one to break the spell,” he said. Cora almost expected to see something bitter in his expression, but the closet thing she saw was the smallest trace of sadness. “I know better now. She’s amazing, I was never wrong about that, but she’s not for me and I’m not for her.”
Cora wasn’t sure where this was coming from all of a sudden. By the time she’d properly settled into the pack all that had remained of Stiles’ infatuation with Lydia were stories and good natured teasing, or so she had thought. She wondered briefly if there was still something left in Stiles that wanted Lydia, but listening to him, she was sure his love for her was familial.
“You’re her prince charming, Cora,” he said giving Cora a smile that reminded her greatly of Scott. “You’re gonna wake her up with the power of love, I’m sure of it.”
Answering with a smile of her own she stood up, ignoring the slight stiffness in her legs. She ruffled Stiles’ hair the way she knew he pretended to hate and nudged him towards the door, silently asking for a bit of privacy. “You would know, huh?”
Ever the mature emissary in training, he stuck his tongue out at her and left, closing the door behind him. Cora waited until he was heading down the stairs to lean over Lydia, her heart beating in her throat. “You gotta wake up, we need to talk, remember?”
Hoping with everything she had in her Cora pressed her lips to Lydia’s, worried momentarily when they were cold and still, but between one beat and the next Lydia was moving, pressing up into Cora and warming up. Color began to fill her face as her eyes fluttered open. Lydia looked groggy, still half asleep, and then confused as she took in her surroundings. Cora moved back to allow Lydia to sit up.
“How are you feeling?” Cora asked, hovering nervously around Lydia in case there were lingering effects of the curse.
Lydia frowned and rubbed at her temples. Cora reached out to pull away her pain even as Lydia answered. “Like I got hit by a truck. Ugh, what happened?”
Normally, Lydia batted away any attempts to take away her pain. She’d said once it felt like she was being coddled and she didn’t like it, but she must have really felt awful if she was letting Cora slowly drain the ache from her body without even a token glare.
“The elves put a curse on you,” she explained. She told Lydia that she’d been in a cursed sleep all night and most of the morning. Lydia, for her part, looked more exasperated than worried about being cursed, probably due to the clichéd nature of said curse.
“How did you lift the curse?” she asked as she moved to her vanity and began removing the day old makeup from her face. “Was it true love’s kiss?”
When Cora didn’t immediately give her an answer she turned to look at her with shock on her face. “You’re kidding me.”
Cora shook her head, suddenly unable to meet Lydia’s eyes. She could feel heat rising on her face as she very studiously examined a poster on Lydia’s wall. Lydia said her name and the tone of her voice had Cora turning to face her and focusing on the spot over Lydia’s shoulder.
“Was it you?”
Almost desperate to get some sort of hold on the situation Cora snorted. “No it was actually Isaac, I was just conveniently leaning over you just as you opened your eyes.”
Tossing the makeup covered wipes in the small trash bin by the vanity Lydia stood up and walked over to where Cora was still sitting on her bed. She put her hands on her hips and cocked an eyebrow and all Cora could think was that Lydia bounced back fast.
“Isaac huh?” Cora nodded, keeping her face carefully deadpan. “And true love’s kiss broken the spell, huh?”
Lydia’s lips pursed in that way that said she was pretending to think very hard about something and Cora did her best to make the smile creeping onto her face look like a smirk. “Well,” Lydia said, drawing the word out. “I should go thank him, do you think?”
There was the flash of a smile before Lydia whirled around and started walking towards the door. She hardly made it two steps before Cora’s arm snaked its way around her waist and lifted her up and back to the bed, depositing Lydia with a soft bounce. Cora followed Lydia to the bed, crawling up her body until they were nose to nose.
“I lied,” Cora said, nuzzling the said of Lydia’s face with her nose. “It was me.”
“I know.” It was probably the closest they’d got to I Love Yous for a while, but they both got the message loud and clear. As Cora kissed along Lydia’s jaw and up to her lips she grinned as she heard the handful of pack members that had been waiting to hear if Lydia was okay leave. Someone must have heard them talking and decided to give them some privacy.
Cora was thankful because she was sure Lydia hadn’t forgotten that she had wanted to have a talk with Cora, but she wasn’t worried anymore. She knew that whatever they talked about, Lydia wasn’t going anywhere.