Stiles wakes up alone in the infirmary, wincing as he feels a twinge in his right lower abdomen, a stark reminder of recent events. He covers his eyes with his hands, groaning in embarrassment as the memories return, after days of being in a potion-induced haze. Being the first wizard to been emergency-apparated to St. Mungo's due to a ruptured appendix wasn't quite what he had in mind when he wanted to make his mark at Hogwarts. He tosses around, one hand gingerly patting the bandages he can feel on his abdomen when he realises that he's alone in the infirmary with his bed next to a window, moonlight streaming onto his bedsheets.
Stiles takes a deep breath as he tries to quell the overwhelming panic that is sweeps over him as he takes in more of his surroundings. He's assailed by memories of walking the corridors of St. Mungo's alone, of opening doors, and finding wizards and witches, or the remains of them on examining tables like cold meat, of seeing his mother--
He closes his eyes against the sight, fingers scrabbling futilely across the heavy bedsheets as he tries to throw them off, nobody around to help him. A desperate gasp escapes his throat and he wishes desperately that his father is with him now, tears prickling the back of his eyelids. His chest seizes up, and he hears himself take shallow, panicked breaths.
"No--" Stiles cries out in spite of himself, and perversely, now he's glad that he's alone with no witnesses to see his breakdown. "No--" He cries out again, when he when he hears the door to the infirmary open, and a large something lopes towards him and jumps onto his bed.
"Huh?" Stiles topples back and he looks up at the interloper. "What!" he yells again as he takes a good look at the dog, no, wolf, his mind corrects him as he notes the larger body mass and broad muzzle. "Don't eat me! Don't eat me!" Stiles screams, pain and panic forgotten, replaced by an atavistic fear caused by looking a predator right in the eyes. "Help!"
The wolf narrows its eyes at Stiles, and cocks its head to one side in a distinctly human gesture, radiating annoyance and impatience. Stiles grabs at the bedsheets again, bringing them up to his chest in at attempt to protect himself when he feels and hears the wolf's growl of disgust. The wolf jumps off the bed, stands on its hind legs and places its front paws on Stiles' bed, one paw resting on Stiles' forearm, still looking at him.
"What's with the evil eye?" Stiles babbles on. "What did I do? Don't hurt me, I just got better from an operation, I'm probably full of vile-tasting potions that you don't want to taste."
Stiles thinks it's the Pain-Reducing Potion they gave him back at St. Mungo's but he swears he thinks he sees the wolf roll its eyes.
"Mr Stilinski?" Stiles hears Dr Deaton before the man himself appears at the foot of Stiles' bed. "Is everything all right?"
"I'm fine," Stiles lies blatantly, giving the wolf a pout when it growls after his reply.
"Something tells me you're not telling the truth," Dr Deaton disagrees with him. "Would you like to try again, Mr Stilinski? This time with an honest answer."
Stiles sticks out his tongue at the wolf. "The potion's worn off, I think. My stomach hurts."
Dr Deaton checks his notes. "That's not surprising, you're due the next dose right about now." He leaves and returns with two potions - one for the pain, the other for his infection - and watches patiently with a sharp eye to make sure that Stiles finishes both of them completely.
"Done," Stiles tells Dr Deaton as he hands the bottles back to him, making a face as he does so. "Couldn't you have added honey at least?"
"Now, Mr Stilinski, you know how badly some potion ingredients react with honey," Dr Deaton reminds him as he tucks Stiles back into bed.
"Not leaving, Derek?" Dr Deaton asks nobody in particular, making Stiles crane his neck around looking for a third person in the infirmary.
The wolf, which had been quietly observing the interaction between Dr Deaton and Stiles shakes its head and settles down on its paws next Stiles' bed.
"The floor's going to be cold," Dr Deaton continues and the wolf opens its mouth in semblance of a laugh, tongue lolling out. "But I guess you can stay after all. It would be good for Mr Stilinski to have some company."
"Wait. Do you you mean--" Stiles says, astounded, looking back and forth between Dr Deaton and the wolf. "You called him Derek--"
"Yes, Mr Stilinski," Dr Deaton agrees patiently. He looks up, outside the windows, and Stiles follows his gaze to the bright, full moon. "That is Derek Hale."
"Derek Hale the Slytherin prefect?" Stiles wheezes in astonishment as he finally puts two and two together. He'd heard of the Hale family of course; Derek's family was the bane of his father's life at the moment, having been the last of the old werewolf families to be dragged to the negotiation table for the renewal of the Hunter-Werewolf Accords.
Stile stares at Derek with no small measure of awe and maybe just a little bit of fear.
"Well, looks like he's still bad-tempered regardless which form he's in," Stiles mutters, remembering all the detentions he had received at the hands of Derek and his fellow Slytherin prefects. He shrinks back in his bed when Derek growls in a menacing tone and lunges slightly towards him.
"Derek," Dr Deaton admonishes in a mild tone. "Don't bully Mr Stilinski. He's had a bad few days."
Derek bares his canines and then pointedly turns his head away from Stiles.
"Oh, that is so mature of you," Stiles complains.
"You boys behave yourselves now," Dr Deaton reminds the both of them, a small smile playing at his lips. "Mr Stilinski, call me if you need anything."
"I will," Stiles promises, though he wasn't quite sure how he was going to avoid another freakout, especially with Derek Hale in the vicinity.
Derek tosses his head back and lets out a small whine.
"Derek, the same goes for you," Dr Deaton orders the werewolf. "You call me if Mr Stilinski runs into any problems." Derek waves a paw at the doctor. "All right then."
He gets out of the infirmary, leaving Stiles alone with Derek again. Stiles stares with trepidation at him, hands fiddling with the blankets. Derek makes a big show of appearing uninterested, sprawling out on all fours on the floor of the infirmary and taking up a lot of space.
"Well. Umm," Stiles says hesitantly, as he recollects the events leading up to his hospitalisation. "That day before I ended up in St Mungo's, that was you helping me, wasn't it?"
Derek turns to face Stiles and nods.
"Oh my god," Stiles moans in embarrassment, "I collapsed in front of Derek Hale. Don't tell Scott. I'll never live down."
Derek stares at Stiles, communicating quite clearly without words just how stupid he thought Stiles was being.
"How'd I get to the infirmary then?" Stiles asks, more to himself rather than Derek. "Don't tell me... Aww no, don't tell me you carried me there?" he asks, voice rising in pitch as he gets more and more excited. "Oh my god, that is just so humiliating, did anybody see you?"
Stiles continues to rant in his self-induced panic when Derek, tired of the noise, jumps on the bed and shoves him back down on the bed. He uses his paws to great effect as he forces Stiles to lie down properly, shoving the blankets around his shoulders and growling as he does so, nipping at Stiles' hands when he tries to push him away.
"Okay, okay, I get it. But promise me you won't tell Scott," Stiles continues, yawning as the potions begin to take effect. "I do have a reputation to maintain."
He hears another derisive huff from Derek and yawns again.
"Thank you," Stiles says softly much later, slurring his words as he slides into sleep, failing to notice how Derek has also relaxed to lie down on top of the bedcovers, curled up at his feet.
The next night, Stiles finds himself alone again in the infirmary, Dr Deaton having ignored his loud, persistent pleas to permit him to convalesce in the Ravenclaw common room instead."Mr Stilinski, your father warned me you'd be like this and the answer is 'no'. You need supervision, not distraction. And I know perfectly well the kind of insane experiments you Ravenclaws get up to in your common room."
Stiles swings his legs down from the bed and gingerly walks the length of the room, determined to find somebody to talk to when he hears a pained groan.
"Is there anybody around?" Stiles asks, following the sound to its source. He limps his way into Dr Deaton's room, only to find Derek Hale in it, looking pale and ill, beads of perspiration gathering on his brow.
“Stilinski,” Derek hisses in dismay as he grips the armrests of the chair tightly. "What the hell are you doing here?"
“Are you sick? You're looking a little peaky,” Stiles comments as he inches closer to Derek. "It's not from me, is it? Appendicitis isn't infectious. I don't know if there's some weird wizard equivalent with human-to-human transmission though. That would be one for the Muggle medical journals."
“Don’t come near me,” Derek orders, holding an arm to hold Stiles out of reach. “Stilinski, get out!”
“But you don’t look so good,” Stiles observes, inching closer to Derek. "Do you need me to get Dr Deaton?"
“Stilinski,” Derek repeats, sounding desperate. “Don’t.”
“Wait. I get it," Stiles comments, looking out the window and he remembers the documents pertaining to werewolf history and behaviour that his father had brought home. Mr Stilinski had reluctantly selected some of the less sensitive ones for Stiles to read after much pestering from him. "You're shifting aren't you? But the full moon isn’t out yet.”
"It's harder for younger werewolves," Derek grits out through his teeth. "We're more sensitive."
"That must suck," Stiles says sincerely, his hand brushing Derek's back briefly as uses Derek's chair as a support before settling down in the other chair next to him. "I can't imagine having to go through it every month. Oh dear, that sounded a little strange, didn't it?"
Derek looks at Stiles, astonished as he takes in a deep, gulping breath, the colour returning to his cheeks and he can feel his body relax. “Stilinski, what did you do?” he asks.
“What?" Stiles looks at Derek, playing with a quill he's taken from Dr Deaton's table. "Hey, you look a bit better now. That was fast. Did the clouds cover the moon or something? Or does it even work that way?"
Derek ignores all of Stiles comments in favour of staring at him as if he’d grown horns and a tail. “No... It can’t be...”
"Can't be what?" Stiles asks, covering a yawn, and he pats his abdomen carefully, feeling the bandages taped there. "What's wrong?"
"You... It's impossible!" Derek exclaims, looking horrified.
“I have to say, you are definitely looking better already,” Stiles replies. “So why are you so upset?"
Derek doesn't have the chance to reply when Dr Deaton walks into his office, a steaming flask in his hand. "Here, Derek," he says, "Drink up." He notices Stiles sitting next to Derek and frowns. "And you, Mr Stilinski, need to be back in bed."
"But I'm not sleepy," Stiles protests.
"It's not about being sleepy, Mr Stilinski. You need to rest," Dr Deaton reminds him, tugging on his arm. "You're not supposed to be out of bed. Now come along."
"But--" Stiles disagrees, looking up at the doctor. "I want to stay up and talk to you."
"With me?" Dr Deaton asks, sounding distinctly unimpressed with Stiles' flimsy excuses. "What are we going to talk about?"
"We could discuss the differences and similarities between Muggle drugs and wizard potions," Stiles says. "My mum used to argue with my dad about him giving me Muggle medicine all the time."
"And I'm sure that would be very interesting. But we can hold that chat another day. To bed with you, Mr Stilinski."
"But, Dr Deaton!"
"I'll come over later," Derek offers suddenly, not looking at either Dr Deaton or Stiles. "If you want."
"You will?" Stiles asks, sounding hopeful.
"Yes," Derek replies. "Now go, Stilinski, all that noise is giving me a headache."
"Brilliant!" Stiles says to Derek's back, not taking offence at Derek's harsh words. "See you later!"
When Dr Deaton comes back, he gives Derek a pat on the shoulder. "That was well done," he remarks approvingly. "It must have been easy for you to sense how afraid he was of being alone."
Derek snorts softly. "Yes. I could smell it off him."
"You're a lot kinder than you let on, Derek."
Derek refuses to respond, rolling the by-now empty flask in his hands.
"Well. That's enough conversation for the night, I think," Dr Deaton remarks, taking pity on the reticent teenager. "Don't you have someplace else to be?"
Derek excuses himself and walks back to the infirmary to check on Stiles, who has already fallen asleep, blankets pulled up to his chin. He climbs into the next bed, and turns to face Stiles, tapping absently on the bed covers as he thinks, slowly sliding into slumber that way, still in human form.
Stiles gets discharged from the infirmary three days later to much solitary celebration and cheer. Dr Deaton looks him over one last time before declaring him fit and shooes him out, laughing at the boy's rowdy enthusiasm at finally being allowed to rejoin his friends.
Stiles runs towards the Great Hall, skidding across the floor when he bumps into Derek Hale as he races down one of the staircases. Stiles yells as he trips over his own robes, arms windmilling as he tries to regain his balance.
"Stilinski. You're out," Derek notes unnecessarily and he grabs Stiles by the collar, preventing him from stumbling and falling flat on his face.
"Whoa, thanks for the save! And yes, Dr Deaton finally released me from his evil clutches."
Derek cannot resist a derisive noise at Stiles' dramatic description of the physician.
"Look at me, I'm as good as new." Stiles beams, waving his hands up and down his body. "What do you think?"
Derek looks at Stiles, unmoved. "You were better when you were sick and quiet, Stilinski. Not that you were capable of silence, anyway."
"Hey!" Stiles exclaims. "Nice to know you're as friendly as ever."
Derek glances up to see Kate Argent, the sixth-year Slytherin prefect coming towards them.
"Detention next week." Derek says suddenly to Stiles. "For being late to breakfast."
"What? Where did that come from? That is so unfair." Stiles yells, aggrieved at the perceived injustice. "I just left the infirmary! Of course I'm going to be late."
"And another for arguing. Now chivvy along, Stilinski."
"Stiles," Stiles tells him, as he begins walking again. "If you're going to be mean to me, just call me Stiles."
He misses the small smile Derek gives to his back as they both head together towards the Great Hall.
"You haven't come by the infirmary the past few months, Derek," Dr Deaton comments.
Derek shifts in his seat, looking uncomfortable. "I didn't need to."
"What do you mean by that? Have you found somebody else to brew the wolfsbane potion for you? Is it Professor Harris? You can tell me, Derek, I won't be offended."
"Have you been wandering around the Forest instead?" Dr Deaton asks, concerned. "That place isn't safe, Derek, even for you. The centaurs don't take kindly to werewolves wandering on their territory."
"I didn't go to the Forest," Derek says reluctantly.
"Then where did you go?"
"Nowhere. I've just been in my dormitory. Reading."
"No. I didn't shift," Derek runs a hand through his hair and repeats his earlier statement. "Like I said, Dr Deaton. I don't need the potion any more."
"Are you saying you can control your shifts now, Derek?" Dr Deaton asks, sighing inwardly. Derek was the complete opposite of his sister in so many ways. Laura Hale had been a lot more forthcoming about any problems she had about being a werewolf, for one thing.
"But that's not possible, not at your age," Dr Deaton comments, astonished. "Even your sister lacked control until her seventh year in school, and that was quite an achievement for a potential Alpha. You're only in your fifth year."
Derek fidgets more, clearly dying to leave the room and be rid of Dr Deaton's probing questions. "There can be certain... circumstances when we gain control early in adolescence," he explains, looking as enthusiastic as a Muggle child being sent for a dental extraction.
"Oh," Dr Deaton exclaims, the knowledge coming back to him as he remembers a few less-well known facts about werewolf physiology. "Are you saying that..."
"Yes," Derek confirms, before he can finish his sentence.
"Well," Dr Deaton continues, still stunned as he tries to gather his thoughts. "I guess congratulations are in order?"
Derek slinks low in his seat and looks absolutely miserable instead.
"But who's the girl?" Dr Deaton asks.
Derek keeps silent.
"Derek," Dr Deaton coaxes the teenager, "I'm not asking this for curiosity's sake, you know that. This is going to be part of your medical record now."
Derek tucks his hand under his chin and looks out the window before finally replying. "It's not a girl."
Dr Deaton sucks in a deep breath. Derek was certainly keeping up with the Hale tradition of not doing anything by halves. "Can I have the name of the boy then?"
Derek snatches a quill off Dr Deaton's desk, scrawls something on a piece of parchment and hands it to him. Dr Deaton's eyebrows shoot up at the name.
"Don't tell him," Derek requests. "Not yet."
"Of course. That's your responsibility, not mine. But he needs to know, Derek," Dr Deaton warns. "He needs to be able to protect himself, if he accepts what you have to offer."
Derek growls. "I'm here aren't I?"
"Only until you finish school. What happens after?"
"I'm not sure." Derek confesses. "I didn't think this would happen."
"That's not surprising, seeing this is a relatively rare occurrence. Does Laura know?"
Derek glances quickly at Dr Deaton and nods briefly.
"Good. You'll need her help, at least until till you come of age. What about your uncle?"
"No." Derek denies vehemently. Peter Hale, the Hale family Alpha, was known to be a werewolf traditionalist who preferred to limit his wards' interactions to werewolf families and eschewed relations with what he deemed the outside wizarding world.
Dr Deaton sighs in relief. "Excellent. Then let's keep it that way."
"Well, you look mighty cheerful for somebody who's just about to start his holiday," Laura comments, twirling a set of keys around her finger, her perfectly manicured nails gleaming in the sunshine.
Derek stares at the keys, a disdainful expression on his face. "A car," he sniffs, disapproving, "You bought a Muggle car."
Laura shrugs. "Why not? I have my licence after all."
"Why drive when you can Apparate?"
"Pfft. Boring. Driving a Muggle car the Muggle way with no magic, now that's a challenge," Laura replies. "You should learn too, Derek. It'll rile Uncle Peter up, if anything else."
"I don't see why I should," Derek argues, sulking when Laura swings an arm around him, but his heart isn't in the argument, not when his eyes are trained on a father and son pair just a few metres away from him.
"What are you looking at?" Laura asks, resting her chin on his shoulder, an action bound to raise Derek's adolescent dislike at being touched. Oddly enough, her brother does not say anything. She follows his gaze, raising her eyebrows when she notes the boy, brown-haired with big doe eyes and chubby-cheeked, traces of childhood still lingering within.
"Hmm," she says, voice dropping a tone as she focuses. "Is that him?"
Derek fidgets from where he stands. "Yes."
Laura shakes her head and whistles in admiration. "You sure know how to pick them, Derek. Isn't that the Stilinski boy?"
"You know Stiles?"
"Is that his name? It's a funny one. But no, I don't know him. I do know his father. Mr Stilinski's in charge of negotiations for this round of Hunter-Werewolf Accords," Laura notes. "Impossible to miss, not when Uncle's perennially complaining about him."
"Uncle doesn't like Mr Stilinski?"
"Nope, because Mr Stilinski is refusing to be a good Muggle and roll over at his express wishes," Laura makes a face, indicating what she thought about that line of thinking.
"How is Mr Stilinski?"
"A good man. Tough but fair. Smart," Laura muses and then she chuckles. "Don't tell Uncle I said this but he'd have made a good wolf. How's Stiles?"
Derek shrugs. "I don't know. He's loud. A bit clumsy. But he's really clever. Him and Lydia Martin are the best in their year."
"A true Ravenclaw."
"His best friend is in Gryffindor, though. They're always getting detention, pulling stupid stunts together."
"And I'll bet you gave him some of those," Laura remarks archly.
Derek turns ruddy with embarrassment. "Better detention than prowling the corridors late at night with Scott McCall."
"You really have it bad, don't you? But are you sure, Derek?" Laura asks, gripping his shoulder in concern. "He's just a kid. You're both just kids."
"I haven't had to take the wolfsbane potion in months," Derek says in a bleak tone.
Laura's eyes grow dark as she takes in his words. "Uncle Peter mustn't know of this," she warns Derek. "Not until you're both of age. And he's part Muggle, his father will argue that pack laws won't apply to Stiles and he might keep you apart."
"Does Stiles know?"
"Of course not."
"Thank goodness." Laura pushes her hair out of her eyes and swears as something crosses her mind. "Dammit, the Argents mustn't know either. They'll accuse Mr Stilinski of favouring us because of you and Stiles, and then the negotiations will collapse. We've waited too long for the Accords, Derek."
"I know," Derek repeats numbly, staring at Stiles and his father. They've retrieved Stiles' trunk and are preparing to leave the platform. "But what do I do now?"
Laura shrugs her shoulders and rearranges her scarf, eyes flashing blue for a split second before going back to its usual brown. "Lie low. I'll handle Uncle Peter. Meanwhile," she turns and grins at Derek, patting him on the cheek. "Smile more, Derek. You've got a boy to charm."
"You all right, kiddo?" Mr Stilinski asks Stiles as he pushes the trolley towards the platform exit. "Had fun?"
"That's good. Tell me if things don't work out. I can still apply to have you transferred to Durmstrang," his father teases him, and Stiles pouts.
"Hey, your grandfather went to Durmstrang," Mr Stilinski points out. "I'm just saying."
"No, I want to stay in Hogwarts," Stiles argues, but he stops when he sees the two people walking towards them. "Derek?"
"Ms Hale," Mr Stilinski greets Laura politely. "Nice to see you."
"Mr Stilinski," Laura replies cheerfully. "Fancy meeting you here. Is this your son?"
"Yes," Mr Stilinski says, one arm coming up to tug Stiles closer to him. "This is Stiles."
"I've heard about you," Laura tells Stiles, making Mr Stilinski's brow furrow in concern. "Derek told me about you falling sick. I hope you're better now."
"Yes, thank you," Stiles says politely. "Derek helped me," he looks up to his father and tells him sheepishly. "I kind of threw up over his robes."
"And then he fainted," Derek points out factually. "I helped him to the infirmary before he got moved to St Mungo's."
Stiles makes a face at Derek. "You didn't have to tell my dad that."
Mr Stilinski shakes his head and ruffles his son's hair. "I knew. Dr Deaton told me about it. I just wanted to spare your feelings."
"You knew?" Stiles asks. "Is there no privacy left in this world?" he throws Derek a betrayed look that he ignores.
"Of course I did. And oh, thank you for helping my son," Mr Stilinski tells Derek. "That was very kind of you."
"It's no problem."
"Derek and I need to leave now unfortunately," Laura apologises, "We need to avoid the traffic and it's going to be a long drive."
"You drive?" Mr Stilinski asks, surprised.
"Of course. It's educational, to say the least. And fun."
"I didn't think your family..."
"You'll find, Mr Stilinski, that there's a greater diversity of opinion in the Hale family than my uncle would like to think," Laura states firmly, eyes flashing with strong emotion.
Mr Stilinski coughs in a self-conscious manner, chastened by her words. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind."
"Please do," Laura agrees, good cheer restored instantaneously. "Too bad we can't stay and talk, Stiles. But I'm sure we'll have more opportunities in the future." She winks at Stiles mischievously.
Stiles stares at Laura, taken aback. "Oh. Okay. Though you'll probably have to check with my dad first."
"That's no problem. Have a good holiday, Stiles," Laura says. "We'll see you next term." With that parting shot, she hooks an arm through Derek's and hauls her brother away, his trolley moving ahead of them of its own volition.
"Is there something you haven't been telling me, son?" Mr Stilinski asks Stiles, confused by the exchange.
"No," Stiles says. He looks at his father for guidance. "That was really weird, don't you think?"
"You can say that again," Mr Stilinski agrees. "But never mind them, you up for some ice-cream at Diagon Alley?"
"Brilliant!" Stiles cheers. "Can I have the mint chocolate chip?"
"You can have anything you want," Mr Stilinski promises Stiles, as they both disappear through the barrier between platforms nine and ten.