Stiles opens his eyes to a garishly crown molded ceiling and four tall, reaching posters. He knows almost instantly as he stares up at the crown molding, eyes disbelieving, that he is very far from home. This is not the bed he fell asleep in, and this is definitely not his room. How did he - did the pack pull a prank on him?
There’s shuffling somewhere near and Stiles expects to hear Scott’s muffled snicker, or Erica’s boisterous laugh. But only silence fills the air.
Then, “Your Grace?” coming from where he heard the shuffling.
And Stiles blinks. What the hell?
He follows the voice to a plain woman - who, mind you, he’s never seen before in his life - looking to him rather expectantly. He gapes at her for a moment. She’s wearing these clothes... petticoats? He tries to sit up, fighting down the heavy layers of bedding. “Um,” he stutters, eyes wide, half-way into sitting up.
“Your Grace,” the woman says, giving him a quizzical look. She steps forward and helps pull back the rest of the covers. “Do please get up from your bed, you are expected very soon by Lady Lydia. Come now, hm?” When Stiles stays frozen in shock, the woman simply ushers him out of the bed with small nudges of her fingertips.
Stiles follows her urging hand motions without much protest, at first. When he swings his legs over the side of the mattress and stands, though, he stops short. He’s wearing something clearly hand made, a long-sleeved white shirt with drawstrings in the front for adjustment, extra baggy on his body and nearly reaching his mid-thigh. His mind is reeling, running a mile a minute concocting theories on what the fuck is going on, but it honestly shocks him into a full brain blank to see himself in this shirt. Not to mention, completely commando underneath.
If his best running theory is right - that, somehow, he got transported to an alternate universe where he’s some… ‘grace’ - then this isn’t his body. His real body, the body he lived in and fought in was left behind. In his... universe? Dimension?
Logically, he would wake up in his own clothes if that weren’t the case, right? Stiles really doesn’t know if he wants to be right or wrong on his, but he needs to know for sure. He checks his wrist quickly for a scar he got last year, finding the skin smooth. But, it’s still undoubtedly his hand: same size, same fingers, same bitten cuticles. So, still Stiles, just... other-Stiles. A Stiles that sleeps in ridiculous rooms and has old-timey women wake him up.
That’s… a lot of information to take in. “Bathroom,” he says to the woman, making her jump with his sudden urgent tone. “I-I need to use the bathroom.”
She looks at him oddly, tilting her head to the side as she pauses. “You wish to take a bath now? We don’t have time, Your Grace, but surely after you break your fast we can arrange for a bath.” She says slowly, her tone confused and… suspicious? Maybe cautionary, but whatever accompanies her confusion sobers Stiles. Maybe he shouldn’t put up too many red flags. He doesn’t know what will happen to him here, and for now he needs to act as if nothing is out of place.
“Ah,” he says, letting a half grin form on his lips and tries his best to relax his posture. “Sorry, I just-- I sweat so much last night, all I could think of was getting clean. But it can wait.” He stands awkwardly at that, looking at her for what to do next. “Um. Right, Lady Lydia…?” Maybe she could make sense of this world; it’s Lydia, after all.
The woman seems to snap into action at that, muttering things that make absolutely no sense to Stiles as she parades him around the room, pulling out an arrayment of clothing along the way. She dresses him right over the shirt he’s already wearing, letting him slip on his own pants when he puts up a fuss about it. His clothes seem to match what she’s wearing, only much more colorful and expensive-looking. When he looks down, he keeps thinking he looks like a conquistador. And they’re stuffy. He really doesn’t like them.
“Lady Lydia will be waiting for you in the east dining room,” the woman says when she seems to be done. She turns her back to him, tidying up what she’s disturbed in the room.
“Oh,” he says, nodding. Waiting. “Right. Good to know.”
The woman pauses, looks over her shoulder at Stiles. “Go now, before she has your head, eh?”
Stiles nods quickly, pointing to the door hesitantly, then nodding again. “Right, right. Of course. East dining room. Duh.” The woman gives him another peculiar look, turning around fully to raise an eyebrow. “I’ll just… I’ll do that.”
Stiles heads for the door, slowly. He fiddles with the handle, which ends up actually being difficult for him to figure out. When he finally gets the door to creak open, he sees two guards in leather armor stationed outside of it. One of them looking expectantly to him.
“Um…” he starts. “East dining room?”
The guard nods, waiting until Stiles falls in step with him as he heads down the large, empty corridor. Stiles looks back to the room, where the other guard stands at attention. Does a “grace” normally have two armed guards outside their bedroom door? Something about this universe is giving Stiles a bad feeling in his gut.
The guard leads him for a good five minutes, through an elaborate puzzle of hallways and corridors. Stiles tries to remember as they go, eyes taking in as much as they can. Everything is as extravagant as the room he woke up in, but darker: dark, glistening wooden walls with sculpted side tables and big giant works of art. There are no windows, though, so the few candles lighting the way provide a dimmer view.
They emerge into a rather blue part of the place - castle? He’s not sure. But it has a light, eggshell blue vibe going, with considerably more windows and light. And flowers. They seem to adorn everything. This is where the guard finally slows, eventually coming to a stop.
Stiles finds out that it’s a working, flourishing part of the (castle? Palace?) place, when the hum of ambient noise he’s been hearing grows exponentially louder as a door opens and a stout woman stumbles out. It goes back to ambient noise as the door swings shut. The woman is pulling a tray on wheels, with baskets of food.
So, it’s a kitchen, Stiles thinks. And when he peeks out the windows along the corridor, he sees what seems like an overgrown garden. So, a garden and kitchen, which make sense to be located near one another. Certainly a thriving area of activity.
The east dining room ends up being just before the kitchen, Stiles finds. The guard nods to it, after which Stiles fervently nods back and steels himself. East dining room, okay. Here we go.
The door swings much like the kitchen door he just saw, no handle and no latch. Just a push and pull mechanism. So he pushes forward and enters and is greeted by a rather compact dining room. There’s a fireplace, giving the room a distinct orange glow, and a very large table that takes up the majority of the space, and another door. He assumes it connects to the kitchen.
Then right in the middle of the table, across from the fireplace, is Lydia Martin.
There are about three stacks of papers organized around her, a small black notebook bound haphazardly, and a pot of ink with quill. In her right hand, she’s holding a fragile looking piece of what can only be called parchment, and in her left hand she’s holding a deep burgundy liquid in a crystal glass. Stiles figures it’s wine. Which, if that’s the case, he’s in deeper shit than he thinks, because it looks like Lydia Martin is not only working in the morning, but drinking, too.
“Hey, Lyds,” he says tentatively. Her head jerks up in his direction quickly, and she gives him a sharp stare.
“Prince. Sit down.” She nods to a seat across from her. “Grace,” and now “prince” - which, albeit, clears up a bit of the confusion. Gives him a puzzle piece to mull over in his head.
He goes nonetheless, sitting across from her as instructed.
“You’re late.” she says. Stiles waits for her to say something else, but she doesn’t. Yup, he’s in deep shit for sure.
“Oh, um, sorry. Disorganized morning, slept in. You know,” He shrugs. She takes another sip of wine and lets an eye linger on him curiously. She looks about to say something, but a woman clambers through from the kitchen with a pitcher and a glass in her hands. The glass is set down in front of Stiles, more of the same wine poured inside and then the woman is gone.
“Well, you’re here now, I suppose.” Lydia piques an eyebrow at that, her shoulders almost moving in a shrug. Her eyes are back on the papers in front of her. “You have four days left, tardiness - disorganization, as you say - it’s… understandable.”
Stiles heart nearly skips a beat as he frowns at her. Four days? Four days left until what?
“Right…” he says. And for good measure, he adds, “I am a bit sick, actually. Woke up like that.” He keeps his eyes on the table, on the papers in front of her, though. He really was never one to look someone in the eye when he lies. She hmm’s.
They fall in silence, and soon enough food is brought out to them. Lydia half ignores her food, splitting her attention between her work and her breakfast.
Curiosity gets the best of Stiles eventually.
“Um, what are you reading? Or working on?” he asks, still looking at them like he could figure out what they were if he just stared hard enough.
Lydia looks up with her eyebrows high on her forehead, like she wasn’t expecting the question. She answers, though.
“It’s just all the arrangements, really. The guest list of who will be attending, everything that must be done in the next four days. All the ceremony rites and rituals. The cost calculations, too. Everything on your end.” She looks down at the stack suddenly in remembrance. “Actually, there is something in here for you.”
Stiles watches in utter confusion as she rummages through one of her stacks. Arrangements? And - what the fuck - ceremony rites and rituals? She pulls out a slip of slightly-whiter parchment and delicately hands it across the table.
“Letter from the Alpha,” she says. Stiles takes it slowly, brows drawn together.
“The Alpha? Alpha… werewolf?” he asks. Trying to figure out this world is exhausting, he thinks. So, werewolves are apparently known, and he’s still involved with them. Noted.
Lydia gives him an amused smirk. “Yes, Stiles, the Alpha werewolf. The leader of the packs, our King, His Majesty?” She piques an eyebrow at him, like she’s enjoying this. “Your betrothed? Remember? Or has your ‘illness’ sparked up a sudden case of amnesia?”
Stiles flushes, eyes widening. That’s a lot of information. Fuck. Betrothed?
“Yes, Stiles.” Oh, he said that out loud. “Now, stop fooling and read your damn letter. He has agreed to all of your terms and written you a note. Your duties as Alpha Consort are also included, I believe.” Lydia dips her chin to sip her wine, clears her throat and settles back into going over her stacks. Stiles is left to gape down at his letter and sweat through his stuffy layers. Fuck this fireplace.
Most of the words poof into incomprehension once he’s read them. Words like ‘heirs’ and ‘heat schedule’ and ‘mating.’ Stuff he doesn’t even want to understand at this point, because, honestly - what the fuck? He skips over his ‘Alpha Consort’ duties completely, turning the parchment over.
On the back, the handwriting is slightly more slanted, like it was more thoughts and less lists. It’s addressed with only ‘ Prince ’ and left unsigned. But Lydia said it was a note from the Alpha. Stiles gulps.
I have agreed to all your terms without contest. I hope to make you most comfortable in this arrangement. I know of your past reluctance to our union, and I empathize. I can only hope that we will grow to know each other well, as mates. Come to me if you have need of something. Anything at all.
And that’s it.
Stiles stares at it. Rereads it. He doesn’t know how to feel about it. This is the only info he has on the guy he’s supposed to marry in four days. He’s “empathetic,” is he? Stiles honestly wants to brain himself on the table. He can understand how other-Stiles had been reluctant about this.
“...You do look a bit ill, Stiles,” Lydia says suddenly, and when Stiles looks up, he finds her eyes on him. Yeah, he feels ill. He’s freaked and he needs to be out of this world, like, yesterday.
“Um,” he says, finding his voice weak. “Where’s… Where’s my dad?” He looks intently at her, waiting for directions so he can leave and find his dad and see his dad. But Lydia’s face just slowly morphs into a confused, slightly concerned look.
“Your father is in his quarters, Stiles… as he always is.”
That makes no sense to Stiles. So? He stares at her, waiting, but there’s an air of finality to what she said. It’s clear that she’s not going to let him see his dad. Maybe no one is allowed to. Maybe he’s guarded like Stiles’ room was. Fuck.
“Oh, right, okay.” he says after a moment. “And Scott?” It’s a gamble, because there’s no guarantee Stiles even knows Scott in this universe, but he has to try. Seeing his buddy would be really nice right about now.
Lydia seems to relax a bit at the mention of Scott. “Scott is still on assignment out of the city, but he’ll be back in time for the ceremony. Don’t worry, Stiles. He’ll be here.”
Actually, that calms him a bit. “Oh, good.” he nods. He’s still holding the letter from the Alpha, trembling slightly in his hand. “Do I keep this, or?” he asks quietly. Lydia nods, so he sets in on the table next to his plate. Which he looks at like he’s just lost his appetite.
There’s a beat of silence before Lydia speaks up again. “Why don’t you return to your room for the day to rest. I’ll cancel what we have planned.” Stiles nods. “I’ll have your food sent to your room, as well.”
Stiles takes the chance to escape quickly. He gives her one more friendly nod and gets up from the table, taking the letter with him. Outside the east dining room, he tells the guard to take him back to his room, please, and he’s lead back. The hallways hold more familiarity on the walk back, he thinks to himself.