“Okay,” Derek says, looking between the silvery lake to their left and the enormous, imposing forest to their right. “Stiles, where the fuck are we?”
“Um,” Stiles says guiltily. “I’m not sure you want to know.”
It’s a spell. It’s always a fucking spell, because witches, man.
“Hogwarts,” Derek repeats flatly. He’s looking somewhat constipated. His mouth opens and shuts a couple of times. Then he says again: “Hogwarts.”
“It was a spell,” Stiles says weakly.
“I hate you,” Derek says.
Stiles, of course, hadn’t realised she was a witch. How the fuck was he supposed to know? He hasn’t got some freaky nose that can apparently tell the difference between all the various supernatural creatures. He just thought she was a pretty freckled blonde transfer student who seemed kind of into him, which, yeah, maybe in retrospect that should have been a warning sign.
“You like reading?” she asked him over their third coffee date that week, when Stiles had had to dig his wallet out from underneath about six books in his backpack to pay at the till. Stiles tried to ignore Derek glowering at him from across the coffee shop – apparently taking protection detail a little too seriously – and focused on Clare.
“Yeah,” he said sunnily. Never mind the fact that half of the books he was lugging around were bestiaries or similar; he does actually like reading, so this is totally a conversation he can own. “Big reader. Totally.”
“What’s your favourite book?” Clare asked. She had these weird violet eyes which seemed to change colour when she was in a good mood, but obviously that was just a figment of his imagination. Derek was being really off-putting, glaring at him over the top of his cappuccino.
“Um,” Stiles said, trying to think of a really cool answer. “Harry Potter, I guess,” came out of his mouth.
Clare giggled. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Stiles said distractedly, frowning right back at Derek. Why the fuck was he here, anyway? “Totally. Love HP. I’d, like, live in it if I could – seriously, what the fuck, dude, I know you can hear me!”
Derek stood up grouchily and started walking over, his customary scowl on his face. Clare turned to see what Stiles was looking at. “Oh,” she said in a strange voice.
“Derek, go away,” Stiles said as Derek drew level with their table.
“I’m just checking up on you,” Derek said grumpily.
Stiles sighed, because Derek was totally impossible. “Well, you don’t need to,” he said. “I’m on a date with Clara—”
“Clare,” Clare said.
“—and you’re disturbing us,” Stiles finished. “We were having a really good conversation about…” He looked at Clare for support.
“Books,” she said helpfully.
“Right,” Stiles said. “Books. Harry Potter.”
“You said you’d live in it if you could,” Clare said thoughtfully.
“Right,” Stiles said again.
Derek was looking pained. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll just leave then.”
“You look sad,” Clare said.
“I’m not sad,” Stiles and Derek said at the same time.
Clare smiled, her eyes glittering purple. “Not for long,” she said, and raised her pale hands.
“Well, I didn’t know she was a witch!” Stiles says for the twelfth time. Derek is ignoring him. This is not uncommon in Stiles’ life, but normally he has Scott to complain to. Here, there’s only Derek, and, apparently…
“Hermione Granger?” Derek says in disbelief.
She turns around, her black robes whipping through the air. Her hair, Stiles is delighted to see, is just as wild as he’s imagined it. She looks around fifteen, which means they must be in what, book five? She raises one deliberate eyebrow. “Yes?” she says crisply.
“Um,” Stiles says. He looks at Derek, who has his mouth hanging open. “Woah.”
Hermione stares at them, clearly unimpressed. “I have to go to Charms,” she says, a little uncertainty creeping into her voice. “Are you… visitors?”
All the colour seems to have drained out of Derek’s face, so Stiles decides it’s up to him to answer her. “Yup,” he says, nodding vigorously. “We’re, like… transfers. From America.”
“Transfers,” Hermione repeats. “I didn’t think Hogwarts had any ties to Ilvermorny.”
Stiles has no idea what Ilvermorny is. “Um, yeah,” he says. “Ties. We have ties.”
That’s when Derek seems to regain his faculties; he flashes Hermione one of his most charming smiles, which is just irritating for reasons that Stiles can’t quite articulate. “It’s a programme Professor Fontaine is trialling,” he says smoothly, which, what? “We’ve been sent to observe some of the Hogwarts teaching strategies and report back to the professor. As I’m sure you know, Ilvermorny is always keen to improve their practice.”
Hermione seems to thaw a little. “I’ve always liked that about Ilvermorny,” she says thoughtfully. “Honestly, I do think Hogwarts could stand for some continued professional development when it comes to some of the teachers.”
Derek is nodding like this actually makes any sense. “Especially when you compare with No-Maj schools,” he agrees.
“We call them Muggles, you know,” Hermione says a little severely. Then she smiles, which does something kind of nice with her face. “What did you say your names were?”
“I’m Stiles,” Stiles says, because it’s been a while since he’s got to be part of the conversation. “And that’s Derek.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Hermione says. Then she frowns suddenly. “You knew my name,” she says.
“Um… Dumbledore told us,” Stiles improvises, which he thinks is quite a skilled bit of acting, thank you very much. “Yeah, he told us that you’d, like, show us around.”
“Apparently you’re one of the most responsible students at Hogwarts,” Derek puts in, completely unnecessarily in Stiles’ opinion. Hermione beams.
“Of course,” she says. “I—”
“Hermione!” calls a voice, and Stiles whips around to see a tall, gangly boy with a shock of freckles and bright red hair.
He nudges Derek. “It’s Ron,” he whispers excitedly, because hello, everyone knows that Ron is the best.
Derek doesn’t look particularly impressed. “Obviously, Stiles,” he says, rolling his eyes.
“I always fancied him,” Stiles says complacently. Derek’s cheeks turn pink.
“Bring them back,” Scott snarls in a very un-Scott-like voice. Isaac has Clare pinned up against the wall, her pretty blonde hair tumbling over her face.
She doesn’t seem especially concerned. “I can’t,” she says sweetly.
Malia growls, her eyes flashing blue. “Let’s try this another way,” she says around a mouthful of fangs. “Bring them back, or I’ll rip your head off.”
“I can’t,” Clare repeats clearly. “The spell has to run its course.”
“What does that mean?” Erica demands.
Despite the clawed hand curled around her throat, Clare still manages to smile. “It means,” she says, “that they have to do what they went there to do.”
“We should go and see Dumbledore,” Derek says when Hermione has gone to her Charms lesson. They’re standing inside the Great Hall, which is making it kind of hard for Stiles to concentrate because he’s so busy actually watching freaking ghosts appear through the walls.
“You’re such a kiss-ass,” he says distractedly. “You always want to find the authority figure.”
“No, I don’t,” Derek says, sounding affronted. “I don’t do that. When do I do that?”
“Dumbledore will know we’re lying, man,” Stiles argues, finally tearing his gaze away from the Bloody Baron.
Derek frowns. “How?”
“Because our story isn’t that great? And because he’s Dumbledore, dude. He always knows.”
“Well, fine,” Derek says grumpily. “What do you suggest? Because it might be your dream to wave a magic wand, Stiles, but I want to go home.”
“It’s not my dream to wave a magic—” Stiles starts, but Derek isn’t listening, already striding away down a corridor. Which, come on. They’re never going to find their way anywhere in this place.
They totally find their way somewhere, and Stiles is forced to examine, yet again, just how much of a fanboy Derek really is, because when they’re standing outside the portrait of the Fat Lady – and yes, fucking yes, the portraits really do move, and it really is awesome – he just says clearly: “Mimbulus Mimbletonia,” and the picture fucking swings open.
“How the fuck did you know that?” Stiles asks savagely as they climb through the portrait hole.
Derek looks surprised at the question. “It’s in the books,” he says.
“Did you, like, memorise them or something? It was your first try!”
“It’s clearly fifth year,” Derek says reasonably, which, okay, Stiles had kind of figured that too, but still. “Hermione had her Grade 5 book under her arm—”
“Huh?” Stiles says.
“Miranda Goshawk,” Derek says patiently. “Every year, students have to buy the next grade of The Standard Book of Spells.”
“Sure,” Stiles says.
“Well, Hermione had Grade 5 under her arm, which means this is fifth year.”
Stiles can only stare stupidly at him. “Okay, dude,” he says. “So?”
“So, in fifth year Neville got given a Mimbulus Mimbletonia,” Derek says. “He was excited because it was the password to the common room, so he was sure to remember it.”
Stiles shakes his head. “I don’t know how you have room in your brain, dude,” he says. “I mean, I’m supposed to be the clever one, but you...”
Derek gives him an odd look. “You are clever.”
“Not this clever,” Stiles assures him.
Isaac is not happy. “I’m not happy,” he says.
“None of us are,” Scott says tiredly. “She won’t tell us anything else.”
Erica cracks her knuckles menacingly for about the seventeenth time. “I could make her,” she says.
“No one is making anyone do anything,” Scott says firmly. “She says that Stiles and Derek will come back.”
“Yeah, but where the hell are they?” Jackson says plaintively, which is kind of sweet, given how much he purports to hate Stiles.
Scott sighs, because seriously, they’ve been over this. “She said they’re in a place where magic is real,” he says. “She said that magic would send them home eventually.”
“But magic is real here!” Malia exclaims, not for the first time.
“I’m going to kill her,” Erica promises. “If they don’t come back soon, I’m going to fucking murder her.”
“I’m sitting in the Gryffindor common room,” Stiles says. “I’m sitting in the Gryffindor common room.”
“Yeah, I know,” Derek says through gritted teeth. “You’ve mentioned it a few times.”
“Yeah,” Stiles hisses. “Because dude, that’s Harry freaking Potter.”
Which it is. Sitting in an armchair just a few feet away, talking to Ron and Hermione and occasionally shooting bemused looks at the weird guy talking to himself. Stiles figures he can get away with being awestruck, because he’s supposed to be a transfer student anyway and Harry Potter has always been famous. He looks a lot more real than Stiles imagined him; there are some pimples by his hair line, and earlier on Stiles saw him wipe his nose on the back of his hand. He’s willing to bet Daniel Radcliffe never did that.
“Stiles, Derek,” Hermione calls over, obviously taking pity on them. Stiles grins at her. “How are you finding Hogwarts?”
“It’s awesome,” Stiles says immediately. “Just, like, so. Fuck. It’s so freaking magical here, you know?”
Derek elbows him hard; Ron and Harry look confused. Hermione says kindly: “It must be quite different at Ilvermorny.”
“Yeah, I think there’s more of a Muggle influence there,” Derek says, trying to cover for Stiles’ total inability to be cool.
Stiles is not going to be cool. “I’m not going to be cool,” he says. “This is Hogwarts. That’s Harry Potter.”
“Um,” Harry Potter says. He reaches up almost reflexively to rearrange his fringe so that it covers more of his scar. “Can you stop saying that?”
“Sorry,” says Stiles, even though he isn’t really, because come on, Harry Potter. “So, like, how’s the Order?”
“Stiles,” Derek hisses, sounding absolutely scandalised. Harry, Ron and Hermione all look taken aback, and Stiles realises that he’s not supposed to know about the Order of the Phoenix.
“Sorry, sorry,” he says hastily. “I’m just excited, you know? I mean, how often do you actually get to meet people you’ve read about? Except, oh, man, this is where it all goes wrong, right? I mean, this is the one where Sirius—”
Derek shoves Stiles so hard that he falls out of his armchair.
“I think,” Hermione says in a measured voice, “you’d better tell us who you really are and what you’re doing here.”
“Oh, they’re being very annoying,” Clare says a little petulantly. “Far too focused on their surroundings, and not enough on each other.”
“What?” Kira says.
“I want to kill her,” Malia says. She looks at Scott. “Can I kill her?”
“No murder,” Scott says wearily.
Clare wags a finger at them. “Don’t be melodramatic,” she says. “I’m just giving them what they want.”
“Yeah, well,” Malia says darkly. “Give me what I want. I dare you.”
“You ship us,” Harry Potter repeats in a flat voice.
“I don’t get it,” Ron says, somehow managing to sound both disgusted and amused.
Hermione doesn’t even bother to comment, just rolling her eyes in almost perfect synchronicity with Derek.
“Come on,” Stiles says persuasively. “It’s so obvious. You don’t shut up about each other, like, ever.”
“Stiles,” Derek says. “Rowling herself said that everyone needed to stop with the Drarry shit. They’re never going to be so much as friends.”
“Drarry?” Harry says faintly. Ron bursts out laughing, great belly laughs that make Stiles smile in delight, and even Hermione has the barest hint of a smile in the corner of her mouth.
“These are real people, Derek,” Stiles says portentously. “She might not have meant to write it, but it’s there.”
“So you’re saying that fictional characters have developed feelings where they’re not supposed to… what, behind the author’s back?” Derek challenges.
“I still don’t think we’re fictional characters, if anyone cares,” Ron says.
“Exactly!” Stiles exclaims. “Look, Derek, they don’t even think they’re fictional. Harry can totally fancy Malfoy if he wants to.”
“I don’t,” Harry says hastily.
“I don’t know, Harry, it makes sense,” Hermione says primly, which Stiles figures is her way of teasing. “Stiles is right, you talk about Malfoy all the time.”
“Because he hates him!” Ron says, looking alarmed. “Harry does not fancy Malfoy, do you mate?” He turns anxious eyes on Harry.
“Of course not,” Harry says, far too hurriedly for Stiles to remotely believe him. “Hermione would be more likely to go out with… with Snape than I would with Malfoy.”
“Um,” Derek says, and Stiles can barely hold back the chuckle bursting out of him, because of course Derek knows about this. “Um, well, actually…”
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” Hermione says.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Ron agrees.
“That’s more like it,” Clare says, sounding far too pleased with herself for someone being held prisoner by a group of unstable supernatural teens. “We’re starting to communicate.”
Erica sidles up to Malia. “I’ll help you, when you kill her,” she says.
Malia gnashes her curved fangs. “Awesome,” she says. “You can hold Scott back.”
“That’s it boys, just sit a little closer together!” Clare coos in a honey-like voice. Scott flinches visibly, and Erica gives a low laugh.
“Another half hour of this, and I don’t think I’ll have to,” she says.
“Oh, come on, Derek, just show them!”
“I don’t know,” Hermione says, looking worried. “It could be dangerous.”
“Oh, lighten up, ‘Mione,” Ron says dismissively. “Stiles says he’s not like Lupin.”
Stiles is nodding vigorously. “Yeah, Rowling really dealt him a bad hand with that one. I mean, you couldn’t make it more obvious that you’ve never met a real werewolf.”
“Stiles,” Derek sighs.
“What?” Stiles says innocently. “She clearly hasn’t. I mean, all that bullshit with the potion he has to take, and the aggression, and the way he can’t remember anything? Can you imagine?” He turns to Ron, the most likely to be impressed. “In the real world, werewolves are cool.”
“Stiles,” Derek says, in that deep growly voice that always makes Stiles shiver in a kind of turned-on way.
“He can smell what you’re thinking,” Stiles says in a strangled voice. “And his eyebrows, like, disappear.”
“Where do they go?” Hermione asks with interest. “Anthropomorphically speaking, that’s an intelligent design…”
“Derek,” Stiles says. “Show them.”
Derek shows them.
“Woah,” Ron says.
“Yeah,” Harry agrees.
“You can’t kill me now, we’re just getting to the good bit!” Clare protests.
“What good bit?” Kira asks.
“They’re so sweet,” Clare says fondly.
“I hate everything,” Isaac says to no one in particular.
“What if you’re the ones who aren’t real?” Hermione says.
“We’re definitely real,” Derek says.
“Yeah, a witch called Clare who shamefully tricked me into thinking she was actually interested in all this swag sent us into my favourite book,” Stiles tells them. He sighs mournfully. “She was hot.”
Derek huffs. “Stiles, she was crazy.”
“No, you were crazy,” Stiles says. He looks around at Harry, Ron and Hermione, who all seem to agree with this assessment ever since seeing Derek’s transformation. “You were the one that kept following me on all our dates.”
“That was to protect you!” Derek says loudly.
Stiles laughs. “You don’t chaperone all the betas on their dates,” he points out.
“They’re not human,” Derek says. “And I was right, wasn’t I?”
“You were right,” Stiles acknowledges. “Not much of a protection, though.”
“Why do you think the witch sent you here?” Hermione asks, leaning forward and resting her pretty little chin in her hands. “I mean, assuming that in your world, witches are rare and evil creatures.”
“Okay, first off, it’s not ‘my world’,” Stiles says. “It’s the only world. Your world here might feel real, but it’s fake, okay? I know exactly how it ends, who marries who – even when you’re making a massive mistake, Harry Potter, and ignoring your silver-haired Slytherin destiny – even what you all name your kids. So, yeah.”
“You think,” Hermione says. “Maybe that’s how all worlds are. Maybe in some other dimension, there’s a book all about Stiles and Derek and their pack of teenage werewolves.”
Derek snorts. “Who’d write that kind of rubbish?” he asks.
“Probably someone really stuck-up and weird,” Stiles. “Someone called something really obnoxious, like Carl or Jeff. Anyway, whatever. I’m just saying.”
“Okay,” Harry says. “Anything else?”
“Yeah,” Stiles says. “I think the witch wants us to do something. I think that’s why she sent us here.”
“Yes! Clever boy!” Clare says shrilly. “Come on, Stiles, you can work it out!”
“Something like what?” Derek asks sceptically. “Did she say anything to you before she sent us here?”
“You should kiss,” Ron says unexpectedly. Harry, Hermione, Derek and Stiles all turn to stare at him. He shrugs. “What? It’s in all those Muggle fairy stories you talk about, Hermione?”
“Um,” Derek says. “What?”
“Yeah,” Stiles says, trying to pretend that his heart isn’t going about seven hundred miles a minute even though Derek can definitely hear it. “Why the hell would we do that?”
Hermione looks at them as though they’ve been Confunded. “You obviously like each other,” she says.
“Yeah,” Harry puts in. There’s an unpleasant smile on his face. “Maybe she ships you.”
“I do,” Clare says happily.
“Derek would never want to kiss me,” Stiles says. He adds sadly. “No one does. I thought Clare did, but…”
“Clare’s an idiot,” Derek says abruptly.
“Oh,” Stiles says.
“Oh,” Scott says, when Stiles and Derek appear in the middle of his living room with their mouths locked together. “You’re back.”
Stiles manages to extricate himself from Derek’s lips. “Yes,” he says with as much dignity as he can muster. “We’re back.” He looks at Derek, who seems a little grumpy that he’s had to stop kissing Stiles. “Also, I think we’re dating,” he says.
“Awesome,” Isaac says.