Derek stared at the old, worn book lying on the wooden chest in front of him. It was the second-hand copy of Advanced Potion-Making that he discovered in Potions class at the start of the year. It seemed like the greatest find at first, the previous owner having left so many scribbled notes in the margins that Derek felt he would be a fool not to take advantage of them, and he did. At first everything went swimmingly. His grades went up, despite everything else going on, and he was even besting Lydia in class when it came to potion-making. But, as with almost everything else in Derek’s life, things got out of hand.
It all came to a head when he confronted Jackson Whittemore in one of the boys’ bathrooms. Derek had been keeping a close eye on Jackson all year, and he knew Jackson was the one who hexed Tracy Stewart outside Hogsmeade; he just had to get him to admit it. But the moment Derek confronted Jackson about it, he responded by casting a jinx in Derek’s direction and a duel between the two broke out. Taking advantage of a moment when he caught Jackson dropping his guard, Derek attacked him with Sectum Sempra, a spell he’d learned from the potions book. Only Derek didn’t know what it would do, and it would have killed Jackson if Professor Deaton hadn’t found them.
Derek was still shaken from the experience. As much as he hated Jackson, he wasn’t quite ready to wish him dead, nevermind kill him himself.
While Derek stared at the book, Stiles came to sit down next to him on the couch in the Gryffindor common room. “You have to get rid of it,” he said quietly. “Today.”
Derek nodded silently, not saying a word. He reluctantly took the book as Stiles stood up and Derek followed him out of the tower. He didn’t pay attention to their surroundings as they climbed up everchanging staircases and walked down meandering corridors until finally Stiles stopped. The corridor came to an end and in front of them was a tapestry of a unicorn that Derek knew he’d seen before.
“Take my hand,” Stiles said and reached out to Derek, his fingers waiting expectantly.
Derek looked hesitantly at Stiles’ outstretched hand, then slowly took it in his. Stiles looked encouragingly at Derek as he stepped forward and lifted the tapestry, revealing behind it a door that swung heavily open.
“The Room of Requirement,” Derek said as Stiles led him inside.
The room was filled to the brim as far as he could see with chairs and books and tables, all stacked haphazardly on top of each other. It was in stark contrast to the tidy state they’d found it in the year before.
“We need to hide the book where no one will ever find it,” Stiles said as he pointed to the Potions text in Derek’s hand. “Including you.”
They walked deeper into the room, searching for a hiding place but also curiously studying the things that had been crowded into the space around them. There was an eeriness to the Room of Requirement that was compounded by the dim lighting and occasional strange noises that echoed through the maze of discarded objects.
“What was that?” they said at the same time, turning to each other as they heard what sounded almost like muffled, fluttering wings.
They heard it again and Derek followed the sound to a tall, angular cupboard made out of dark wood. The fluttering sound came from inside and Derek reached out to open it. Startled, they both stepped back as a small bird flew out of it and perched itself on a nearby bookcase, twittering sharply.
“See? You never know what you’ll find up here,” Stiles said and looked at Derek. He stepped closer and held Derek’s gaze, reaching out to take the book from his hand. “All right, close your eyes. That way you can’t be tempted.”
Derek kept looking at Stiles, the hopelessness that had been in them now replaced by something else, a mixture of gratitude and relief.
“Close your eyes,” Stiles whispered as he walked slowly backward until Derek finally obeyed.
His eyes shut, Derek waited, his ears picking up the faint sounds of Stiles’s footfalls. He heard the bird again, the beating of its wings growing fainter as it flew away from them. He heard nothing more and sighed. For a brief moment, everything seemed calm. Everything seemed peaceful and he wished it could stay that way, that he could stay hidden in the Room of Requirement like the book that had caused him so much trouble.
Then suddenly Stiles was in front of him again. He could feel the other boy’s face close to his and smell the faint, familiar scent of peppermint on his breath. Their lips touched and Derek felt a tingle pass through him. His body relaxed and the kiss took all of the tension out of him. He held his breath, not daring to move for fear of dispelling the moment. It felt fragile and beautiful, like a dream that would be gone the moment he opened his eyes.
“That can stay hidden up here too if you’d like,” Stiles said as he pulled back, his hand gliding down to take the place between Derek’s fingers where the book had been.
Derek smiled and slowly opened his eyes, finally breathing deeply. Stiles remained standing in front of him, smiling too.