Opening a shop in Diagon Alley was both the best and worst decision Stiles ever made. For most of the year it was a barely viable business, only locals trickling by every now and then, but then came August. Most shops got a flood of Hogwarts related business leading up to the beginning of term, but none more than a stationary shop.
Stile'Us probably provided about 90 percent of all parchment and quills used at Hogwarts, so as the summer rolled in Stiles was busy tossing shrinking charms everywhere, to make his enormous stock somehow fit into his less than spacious stock room. It was hot and uncomfortable in the shop, but at least it was still fairly quiet. A few students had already been around to get their things early, but most of them tried to frantically get everything done in the last week of August, because planning in advance was for suckers, apparently. Stiles had opinions about that. Strong opinions.
But there was one person who would probably never make Stiles' faith in humanity drop lower still, and Stiles dropped the case of quills he was levitating with a thump, and darted to the front when he heard the familiar voice from out front.
“Hi, welcome to stylus, can I-”
“Ugh,” Stiles groaned at Greenberg, “how many times? It's Stile-US, because we got style, remember?”
“But... don't we also sell styluses?”
“Jeez, Greenberg, go sweep in the back or something.”
He shooed Greenberg off, and made sure he was well and gone, before turning to face his customer.
Derek Hale had been three years above Stiles at Hogwarts, and as such had been the epitome of unattainable, even if he hadn't also been quidditch captain and hotter than the sun. But that, of course, hadn't stopped Stiles from nursing a decade long crush on him that didn't seem to want to die out anytime soon. And it didn't help that Derek seemed to get Stiles in some weird way.
“Why do you even keep him around?” Derek asked, eyeing a precariously stacked pile of ink wells.
“Because he's cheap, that's why.” Stiles fixed the wobbly pile with a wave of his wand, and winced when there was a crash from the stock room. “Possibly too cheap.”
Derek rolled his eyes, but he still smiled, and, oh, Stiles had actually forgotten that sensation of warm syrup in his chest when Derek smiled at him. Derek only came into the shop maybe three times a year, and Stiles remained stupidly hopeful every time that the next visit wouldn't leave him a flushed and awkward mess. But no such luck.
“So, Professor Hale,” he managed eventually. “Here to stock up for the school year?”
“Yeah. I might need a little more parchment this year. The headmaster wants weekly updates on literally everything, and I swear my wrist is starting to hurt,” Derek grumbled, and Stiles tried very hard not to think of other activities that could make wrists sore.
“Right! Same as always?”
They made small talk about Hogwarts and the weather and other random things while they moved around the store, finding what Derek needed, and Stiles soaked it all up because he knew it would be months before he got to see Derek again.
“We finally got a new astronomy professor,” Derek said casually while Stiles was tallying up, and it took a moment for Stiles to put it together.
“Oh! So you're off the hook for that? Good. No one should teach three subjects alone. Last year you looked like a zombie. No offense.”
“None taken. Actually having free time again will be... it'll be really good.”
Derek was smiling at him, and it did horrible things to Stiles, which probably explained how he briefly took leave of his senses.
“You should come by more, then! Hang out or something.” Stiles silently cursed himself, because, ugh, desperate much? Not attractive, Stiles. But Derek didn't seem to mind much, though he did blink in surprise.
“Maybe I will,” he said, and Stiles felt weak in the knees.
“Good! Great! That's... yeah, great!”
Derek laughed, and Stiles felt less than smooth as he arranged to have Derek's purchases shipped to him at Hogwarts.
And that should have been that, really. Stiles wasn't delusional enough to assume Derek had actually meant it, though it did make his stomach flutter for a few days. But then came August, and hundreds of Hogwarts students along with it, and Stiles pretty much forgot. At least until one morning in late August when Stiles literally ran face first into him, and stopped dead in the middle of apologizing.
“You? But you're never- hang on, I gotta... here, hold this.” He shoved a basket of quills into Derek's hands, and dashed away to find that specific expensive ink that the snooty pureblood parents behind him insisted was the only thing good enough for their little brat. They were definitely the kind of people who expected to be waited on hand and foot, and Stiles wanted them out of his shop as soon as possible. So he finished their order at top speed, and only then realized that he'd left Derek standing with the quills in the middle of the crowded shop.
“Oh, my god, I'm so sorry, Derek, it's a madhouse in here,” he babbled and relieved Derek of his burden.
“I can see that. Should I... come back later?”
“No! God, no, you're exactly the bright spot of sanity I need right now, please don't go away.” Stiles would usually have tried for a little more composure, but he was frazzled and stressed, and Derek was the best thing that had happened to him all week.
“Anything I can do to help?”
Stiles almost dropped the quills. “What, really?”
“Okay. Okay, then yes, please, and thank you. Could you go to the back and find a box of blotters? They should be somewhere at the top, levitate as needed. You're the best, thank you, oh my god.”
He would probably have freaked out more about Derek being there and offering to help like the unreal person he was, but Stiles was just too busy to fit it in his brain, currently.
For the next hour and a half Derek stuck around, fetching things, cleaning up ink, and glaring at sticky fingered runts, and when Stiles finally closed the door behind the last customer of the day, Derek was still there, restocking the shelf of scissors.
“Is it always like this?”
Stiles leaned heavily against the door and groaned. “For the last two weeks of August, yeah. No one plans in advance, I swear to god. Except you, but you're special.” He was possibly a little giddy with stress and disbelief that Derek was there, and he snickered to himself.
“You should probably drink something,” Derek said softly, and held out a water bottle. Maybe he assumed that Stiles was being weird because of heat stroke, and that was fine, it was better than assuming that Stiles was just weird, period.
“Thanks. You know, this is totally not what I meant when I said you should come and hang out.”
Derek shrugged. “I don't mind.”
“Uhh, boss?” came a timid voice, and Stiles flailed, because he'd completely forgotten about Greenberg. “Can I go?”
“Yeah, uh, sure, sorry, Greenberg.”
He sprinted out of there, and this time of year Stiles couldn't blame him. There was still so much to do before Stiles could relax, the shop still in chaos from the rush of business. But Derek was there, and even if it meant Stiles had to run twice as fast tomorrow, he wouldn't give up this quality time for anything.
“I mean it, though. I'm in town for another few days. I'd be happy to help you out some more if you need it.”
“How are you real?” Stiles murmured before he could stop himself. But then he shook his head. “No, no, you shouldn't have to spend your limited free time helping out in a cramped stationary store in the middle of summer.”
Derek frowned. “Would you rather I didn't come by?”
“No! No, I'd love for you to come by, seriously, I just... feel kinda bad that I asked you to hang out and then put you to work instead.”
“Like I said, I don't mind,” Derek insisted. He actually looked a little flushed, and even fidgeted slightly. “I'd... probably do anything to spend time with you.”
Stiles' brain kind of screeched to a halt at that. “What?”
Derek winced. “I'm sorry, that was weird, wasn't it? Sorry.”
“No, wait, hang on, what? Not weird, oh, god, so not weird. But you gotta know about my pathetic crush on you, so why... ?” He flailed again, helplessly, and Derek smiled at him.
“Why didn't I say something? Because I've been working my ass off for the last two years, and I didn't think it would be fair to start something with anyone when I could barely find time to sleep. But now...”
Derek stepped closer, slow and cautious as if Stiles would startle like a deer if he moved too fast. “If I promise to come back and help out more tomorrow... do you think we could... hang out? For a little bit?”
“If by hanging out you mean making out, then hell yeah, you're on.”
Derek was still smiling when he moved in for a kiss. This was gonna be the best summer ever, Stiles could tell.