Derek frowned at the neat scrawl written on the small parchment envelope in his hands. “Why do you suppose there’s a letter for Stiles at our table?” He focused his attention back to Isaac and Boyd sitting across from him at the Gryffindor table.
The long pause that followed left Derek wondering if they were even paying attention to him in the first place. Frankly, he wouldn’t be too shocked if they weren’t. While his love for his friends ran deep, he had to admit that they weren’t exactly the listening type. Years of friendship had proven that.
“I don’t know.” Isaac was the first to answer. “Maybe it’s from Stiles to you. I mean, the letter was in front of your usual seat.” He reached over to serve himself another scoop of egg from the plate at the center of the table. “If I wanted to get a letter to you without actually making any physical contact with you I would think placing it in front of your usual seat for the past seven years would be a pretty solid way of getting it to you. You’re pretty predictable, Derek.” He raised an eyebrow and gave him a mischievous smirk. “Ten galleons say that it’s a love letter.”
His response to that is tepid at best. Not quite sure if his friend was being serious or not. Isaac’s heartbeat stayed constant throughout his silly wager proposition. However ridiculous it may have sounded to Derek, Isaac was confident that he would win such a bet. “You can’t be serious. Why on earth would Stiles Stilinski leave a letter for me? I know he’s into guys and all but I doubt he’s ‘in love’ with me. I think I would have picked up on that if it were true. Besides, isn’t he dating Whittemore?”
“You’re joking, right?” Isaac said with a mouth full of scrambled eggs. “They went Splitsville back in August, rememb… never mind.” Isaac trailed off. Derek felt like he should tell Isaac that it was okay. He didn’t have to try and spare his feelings by avoiding reality. So Stiles and Jackson had broken up at around the same time he and Paige had. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Almost two and a half months had passed since then. But the truth was it still hurt Derek way more than it should. His thoughts would constantly go back to her, to happier times when they were together and had their whole lives ahead of them. He found himself quickly submerging himself back in the feelings he had felt that day when she had said it was over. Sensing that Derek was thinking of her again Isaac briskly continued. “But anyways, the guy practically drooled his way through fourth year. And that was from just looking at you.” With that a small piece of food went flying from his mouth and back onto his plate.
This earned him a dirty look and exasperated sigh from Boyd. “There are worse things than that, Derek. I guarantee you that Stilinski having a crush on you is better than eating with a person that has the table manners of an acromantula every day.”
“Hey! I know Erica could use some etiquette lessons but there’s no need to be so rude about it. What kind of boyfriend are you anyways?” Isaac shot back with a smirk. Boyd chose to role his eyes and simply ignore him. He was known for being the quiet one of the group, however, Boyd still butted heads with Isaac. Nearly everyone in Gryffindor did. Hell, most of the Houses seemed to have some type of quarrel with him, never anything too major though. Not yet at least.
He looked back down at the envelope. It was rather small, definitely a personal letter. The paper was bright white and would have looked brand new, even expensive, if it weren’t for the worn edges that were crumpled up as though they were shoved haphazardly into the owl’s talons. Upon further examination Derek found that there was a small tear near the bottom left edge; the owl’s doing most likely. It was fairly strange for an owl to get a delivery wrong. Derek thought perhaps a student charmed the poor bird. Maybe a second or third year trying out their rapidly developing magical abilities, after all, what good was magic if you couldn’t have a little fun with it? He remembered when he was just starting to get the hang of it. He certainly had some of his old professors cursing the day he was born, perhaps quite literally.
“Hey losers, quit talking about me behind my back. You know I can hear you from clear across the room, right?” Erica plopped down next to Boyd with her school bag in tow. She gave Boyd a quick peck on the cheek before filling her plate with sausage and eggs.
After she was satisfied with what she has chosen she drew her attention to the envelope in Derek’s hands. “What do you have there? Did the headmaster decide that your poor academic performance last year puts your participation in quidditch this year on hold?” She snickered at him. “If it is you should tell him not to worry about that, its not like you even show up to practice anymore. You’ll probably get dropped any day now if you keep it up. Even then, I doubt the school would allow you to play given your academic track record. You caught a huge break when they let you play even after you flunked. I don’t think they’ll be so kind this time around.” She said the last part with as much venom as she could possibly put into a sentence. She was baiting him for some sort of reaction.
“Shut up Erica.” Derek let out a low growl to show her how unwelcome her comments were.
“Cool it Wolfy. You’re just mad that what I said is true. But really though, what is it?” Her tone became softer as she started on her breakfast. Her own way of acknowledging that perhaps she was being too harsh on him.
“Owl must have dropped off a letter at the wrong table. It’s for Stiles Stilinski.” Derek gestured to Isaac and Boyd. “However, these two seem to think that it’s Stiles’ way of telling me he’s in love with me. Can you believe them? It’s silly. Like I told them, I think I would have been able to pick up on something like that if it were true.”
He watched in slight horror as Erica’s curious expression turned into a stare that seemed to want to drill holes into his very soul. He wasn’t nearly ready for her response.
“Really Derek!” Erica all but shouted. “You mean to tell me that you had no clue that Stiles Stilinski had the biggest crush on you for the longest time? Jesus Christ, I mean come on. He was totally in love with you and I’m pretty sure everyone knew. He would try following you around like a lost puppy when we were younger. You didn’t notice that?”
No, actually he hadn’t. Derek thought back to the few interactions he had had with Stiles. Flashes of hurried ‘sorries’ from Stiles’ part as he bumped into him after quidditch games and in the Great Hall came to mind. They had always been awkward, but he supposed that it was all due to the fact that Stiles was, well, awkward. He never thought that it could be because he had feelings for Derek. He gave Erica a sheepish look, which signified he honestly had no idea.
“Jesus, Derek. Why do you think everyone just about lost their shit when he started dating Jackson? He went from fawning over you to dating the guy you hate over the summer after fourth year, just like that. It was weird and you couldn’t pick up on it then? I’m pretty sure even Paige knew.” Erica didn’t bother to take pity on Derek. His whole body seemed to convey sadness at the mention of Paige’s name. She was seething at this point. “I’m sorry Derek, but was your head so far up Paige’s ass that you didn’t notice what was going on around you? I’m surprised you had any room in your life left for friends to be honest.”
He didn’t bother hiding his hurt expression. A small whine escaped his lips. He placed the envelope on the table and just stared at it thinking over what Erica had just told him. He wanted to be angry at her. Wanted to tell her she didn’t understand a thing, but deep down he knew that there was too much truth in her words for him to even bother trying to deny them.
“Leave him alone Erica, I don’t think that’s what he should be hearing right now.” Surprisingly it was Boyd who came to his rescue. Well, not too surprising really. Boyd had a gift for calming them down and calling truces between them.
Erica’s face softened. “Look Der, I’m sorry, but you were going to hear this eventually. I get it, you and Paige dated for a really long time but you have to realize that it isn’t the end of the world. Sure it hurts right now but life goes on. It’s for the best and you know it. It wasn’t healthy to be so immersed into each other like you were.” Her expression went back to a stern one. “Cora told me you tried going down to the Hufflepuff Basement last night. Derek, are you crazy? She called it quits and you have to respect that. It’s over.”
“I know it’s over, okay! Believe me, I know! I just, I don’t know, I just thought that maybe if- I don’t know, just forget it.” Erica gave him a pitiful look. “Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that letter is from Stiles to you. Sure he had the hots for you back then but he moved on when he started dating Jackson. And he really loved him. If you ask me I don’t think he’s been taking the break up all that well either. He isn’t the same anymore. He always looks so tired and sick and pale now. It’s like he’s a different person... but not at the same time, if that makes any sense.” Derek mulled over what Erica told him. If he thought about it he guessed Stiles wasn’t the same as before. Come to think of it, even though their meetings were rare, he had yet to hear his loud voice ringing in the halls this year. Maybe he felt just like Derek was feeling.
“Well I’m glad one of us has some common sense.” He said in an attempt to lighten the mood a bit.
He dropped all intentions of rearing the conversation back to a positive one when the sound of loud footsteps headed in their direction reached is ears. The noise was piercing and echoed throughout the Great Hall. As the steps came closer to them Derek’s nose was hit with a strong perfumed scent. It was a pleasant mix of honey and vanilla. No doubt expensive judging by how it wasn’t asphyxiating to his werewolf senses like some of the other perfumes girls would wear did.
Derek remembered the smell from when she tutored him after Paige had asked kindly for him. He was nearly failing Ancient Runes and in desperate need of help. He couldn’t fail a second year at Hogwarts and he was willing to take any help that came his way. That tutoring session had not ended on a positive note. Derek remembered how Lydia had told him that if she wanted to hear about Paige for an hour she would have just had a conversation with her and that the whole thing was a waste of her time. His ears reddened from the mere memory of it.
“Excuse me” Lydia said as soon as she reached them. “I was wondering if any of you have seen mail that belongs to Ravenclaw students? Some fifth-year Slytherins thought it’d be a brilliant prank to reroute it to the other tables. It’s more of a nuisance than a prank really, but then again that particular cluster of Slytherins is far below the usual standard of their House.” She said this while expectantly tapping her high-heel-cladded foot on the stone floor. A forced smile was laid on her face.
“Actually, we have a letter right here!” Isaac enthusiastically reached across the table to grab the letter in front of Derek to give to Lydia. “Here you go, beautiful!” Isaac grinned like an idiot while Erica rolled her eyes besides him.
“Thank you.” Her thin smile was directed towards Isaac now. Her eyes lit up as she looked down and read the name carefully printed in ink on the envelope. “Oh, Stiles will be happy about this. Well, enjoy your, err breakfast.” She faltered a bit as she looked down at all of their plates piled high with food, lingering the longest on Erica’s before making eye contact with her.
“Will do. Glad we could help.” Boyd tried defusing the tension that was arising between Erica and Lydia when she noticed Lydia’s interest in her plate. “Well then, I’ll leave you alone now.” Lydia added as she made her way further down the Gryffindor table.
“God, I hate her I’m-better-than-you-and-my-shit-doesn’t-smell attitude. Is there anyone else as vain as her? Actually, never mind. I’m sure Jackson could give her a run for her money in that department any day. You know, it would have made more sense for those two to date. Stiles is too sweet. ” Erica spewed as soon as Lydia was out of earshot.
“Erica, Lydia is beautiful, rich, and smart. I’m pretty sure she would have to be insane to not act like that, I mean come on, she has it all.” Isaac made a clear point of exaggerating the ‘all’ part. “Do you think she’d say yes if I asked her out?”
“You said it yourself idiot, she has it all. Including a boyfriend that can kick your ass without breaking a sweat. Is your dumb fantasy worth getting up close and personal with Aiden’s fist?” Erica gave him a knowing look after he responded with a clipped ‘no.’ “Besides, I thought you were talking to Allison? It’s a little sleazy to try and get with two girls at the same time, especially if they’re best friends. It’s low even for you Lahey. Not that you have a chance with either of them.”
Derek couldn’t help himself from smirking at that. He couldn’t blame Isaac for fawning over a girl like Lydia Martin. She was gorgeous with her long, red hair and bright green eyes. She could have almost anyone at Hogwarts and she knew it. Plus he was certain Isaac was just bluffing.
“Well, anyway. I guess that solved that mystery. It wasn’t a love letter after all.” Isaac said in a feeble attempt to change the subject.
Derek’s mood changed yet again as he sensed his sister’s sour one approaching them.
“Derek.” Cora said as she slid in next to him. “Finstock is royally pissed off at you for not going to practice the last couple of days. He said that you’re off the team if you don’t show your sorry butt today. So if I were you, I’d end my little pity party and go. You’re lucky he hasn’t already cut you.”
Derek didn’t bother to look up at Cora and decided to tune her out instead. He knew she and Erica were just trying to look out for him but it didn’t change the fact that he had become this pathetic person since she dumped him. It’s better this way, Der. She had told him. We both knew this was coming for a while now. But Derek hadn’t known. As far as he was concerned they were both happy. He was wrong.
“Are you even listening to me? Did you not hear me say how important it is that you stay on the team? Jackson and the rest of Slytherin have been on fire this year. You know we can’t beat Ravenclaw without you as long as they have Danny and to add to that their team just got an assistant to help coach them. The guy’s really good Derek, we need you.”
His ears perked up at that. “What do you mean they have an assistant to help them now? Is that even allowed?”
“Apparently. He isn’t getting paid or anything. He just volunteered for the position. It’s Professor Blake’s apprentice, Parrish. Do you see what I mean? We really need you. Quit moping around and come help your team. Your House. And stop trying to bother Paige. Trying to sneak into her common room after she broke up with you isn’t romantic. It’s creepy and will get you into so much trouble if you get caught. If I catch you doing it again I’ll tell mom. I’m sure she’ll have no problem coming here in person to tell you what you need to hear. Get your shit together Derek. She wasn’t even your true mate.”
To that Derek had no response. He simply stared back at her.
“Well am I wrong?” Cora arched a brow that begged for him to try and argue with her. He couldn’t, and she knew it. It was something that had bugged him a lot throughout the relationship. He was so sure that they were meant to be together for the rest of their lives. He had kept waiting for the day that his wolf would latch onto her soul and reinforce his idea that what they had was real. It never came.
His train of thought was interrupted again. This time by two pale hands that slammed next to his on the table. He mentally cursed himself. How could he let someone, a human even, sneak up on him like that? He really did need to get his shit together.
“Hey, Lahey,” a familiar voice said. “Oh my god! That was horrible. Hey, Lahey. Jeez, does that happen a lot? I bet it does, doesn't it? How are you not a violent person, man? Kudos to you my friend because I think I would flip if I heard that every day. Hey, Lahey. Jesus, I am so sorry I said that.” The person next to Derek rambled on with a very obvious American accent.
Derek turned his head to look at the newcomer already knowing who it was. His eyes first latched onto the Ravenclaw crest embroidered on his robe. His eyes then traveled further up and lingered on his neck. Derek felt his pulse quicken as he took in the near-flawless ivory skin- lightly peppered with moles. The length of it made it seem regal even. He could sense the blood rushing inside his throat just underneath the near-translucent skin. Derek felt himself swallow as he traveled even further up to Stiles’ face. What he found there were deep red lips that shimmered slightly as their owner wet them with his tongue, a perfect cupid’s bow. Above those lips was a slightly upturned nose and high cheekbones. As his eyes traveled along the contours of his features they were met with golden amber eyes. If he had to choose a word to describe them he would have to go with something like mesmerizing. They were framed by a set of delicately arched eyebrows. The large, dark circles that enveloped Stiles’ eyes, however, marred the beauty of his face. Even then Derek found himself dumbfounded. He didn’t think he had ever been this close to Stiles for a long enough time to really take in what he looked like.
“Dude, your eyes!” Stiles said, breaking the trance he was in.
Derek stared back with his mouth open.
“I’m not an expert on werewolves or anything, but aren’t you guys trained to get that sort of stuff under control when you’re little or something?”
Derek cleared his throat; his face went bright red at the realization that he flashed his beta eyes at him.
“What did you need Stiles?” Isaac said, trying to get back to the original purpose of Stiles’ visit.
“Oh, yeah! Lydia told me you found my letter here. Was there a package with it? Did you see anything else with it? I really need the package that went along with it. I can’t believe those Slytherin assholes. Actually, never mind. Yes I can. Those idiots give the entire House a bad rep.” He paused to think about what he had just said. “Well, they make it worse than it already was to begin with. I’m sure they’re going to get an earful from Aiden once Lyds mentions it to him though. So, was there anything else with it?” Stiles looked at Isaac expectantly. It bothered Derek for some reason. He wanted his attention back on him. He felt a growl start rumbling deep within his chest. Cora kicked his leg underneath the table before it was audible to Stiles, but nearly everyone else around him took notice.
“Um, Derek found it on the table when he got here. You should ask him.” He pointed in his direction.
Stiles now looked back down at Derek. One eyebrow arched higher than the other. “Well?”
Derek just stared at him.
“Why don’t you just ask Jackson to get those Slytherins to leave you guys alone?”
It was the first thing that came out of his mouth and he hated himself for it.
He stared back at Stiles and watched as a pained expression flashed across his face for a brief moment before going back to a collected and cool gaze.
After a few awkward seconds of silence Stiles replied, “Because we aren’t really on speaking terms. He dumped me a couple of months ago. Kind of like how Paige dumped you. I’ll take that as no then, asshole.”
With that Stiles turned around and quickly headed towards the doors to exit the Great Hall.
He had absolutely no idea what came over him as he watched him go.
“Derek, what the fuck?”
He turned to look at Erica. “It just came out!"
“Yeah, I bet it did. What was that all about? You flashed your eyes at him, Der. I was scared you were going to wolf-out on him for a second there.” Cora’s tone was more concerned.
“Dude, you were totally fucking him with your eyes. Oh my god, after all this time you wasted sulking over Paige all it took was one look at Stiles to forget her? I didn’t even know you were into guys.” Isaac was laughing at him. “And you fucked it up in like five seconds! What kind of question was that? Why don’t you just ask that Slytherin boyfriend of yours that dumped you like yesterday’s trash and hooked up with someone else like two days later to help you?” Isaac tried to imitate him by making his voice deeper. “You know, his mom died before he came to Hogwarts, Derek. Why didn’t you bring that up while you were at it?”
“That’s enough Isaac. That wasn’t even funny. Derek didn’t mean it and I’m sure that when he has the opportunity he’ll apologize to Stiles. Right, Derek?” Boyd’s tone made it clear that what he was saying wasn’t just a suggestion.
“Yeah. I gue-”
Derek’s voice faltered as Paige entered the Great Hall, he didn’t have to turn around to know she was walking towards the Hufflepuff table. He wanted to though. Wanted to take in her lightly tanned skin. Her flowing dark hair that shined beautifully in the sun and the beauty mark that rested just underneath her left eye. Wanted to get a better whiff of her scent, that all too familiar smell that was a mix of fresh rain in a meadow, citrus fruits bursting with flavor, and delicious earthy undertones. He didn’t though.
“Yeah, I guess.” He finished. “And I wasn’t fucking him with my eyes, Isaac.”