It’s still chilly in the preserve, not quite spring yet. At first he thinks it’s his ears ringing. Just a little noise, but an annoying one. Peter keeps walking, pushing his fingers into his ears to try to stop the noise. After a couple of minutes, he realizes it’s something outside and, thankfully, not in his head.
He focuses, shutting his eyes to try to find where the sound is coming from and what it might be. He follows the noise, walking a little further into the woods, listening carefully. It sounds like bells, tiny holiday bells, ringing faintly. It’s nearby and he keeps moving towards the sounds, pushing aside tree branches and long bushes moving towards the bells.
Finally, he moves aside some ferns and sees the source of the noise. It’s a tiny woman, caught in a spider web. A fairie and from the looks of her, she’s been trapped for a while. Peter kneels next to the web and says, “Hello, let me help you, ma’am.” He checks and there’s no spider nearby; the web looks long abandoned. Cupping his hand under her, he clears the web from around her and then lifts her, gently pulling the webs off that had trapped her.
She whimpers and her wings flap once before she relaxes in his hand.
“Let me get you some water.” Peter looks around and sees a small white flower, with a few drops of dew still in it. Talia would have known what it is, but right now the flower’s name doesn’t matter. He carefully plucks one and holds it to the fairie’s mouth, making sure that he doesn’t move too fast and accidently hurt her.
The water seems to help, and after a second she reaches up and takes the flower from him, gulping the remaining water. He gives her another one and she finishes that as well, before lying back in his palm with an exhausted sigh.
“Let’s get you out of here so you can rest before you leave,” he says, standing and moving away from the undergrowth.
“Thank you, Wolf,” she mutters and shudders, wrapping her wings around herself and rubbing her arms. “I thought I would surely die there.”
“I’m glad I found you before something so horrible happened.” He takes the end of his scarf and puts it on his outstretched hand, letting her burrow under it, watching as she tucks it under her chin. “It’s just a few minutes to our house and you can recover there.”
She nods and says, “What’s your name, Wolf?”
“I’m Peter Hale; my alpha is Derek Hale, my nephew. And your name, ma’am?” he asks, entering a sunnier part of the forest, heading for home.
Spreading her wings, she nods again and says, “I am Orla, Queen of the Fairies.”
Luckily, Peter doesn’t trip.
“My god, Peter, only you!” Derek whispers. “You didn’t rescue just any old fairie, you rescued their Queen!”
“Am I supposed to apologize? I didn’t ask for credentials before I helped her, you know,” he hisses back. “See, this is what happens when you do something nice, it just bites you on the ass.”
Their guest is sitting on one of the overstuffed chairs in the living room of the Hale house, now rebuilt for Derek’s new pack. Her gown was soaked through from dew, so Derek found a silk scarf, probably Isaac’s, for her to wrap herself in while waiting for the King to come for her. He found the lid off a soda bottle and the Queen is sipping a mix of warm milk and honey. The cap is still large in her hand, but the Queen seems happy, relaxing and looking around the room with her warm drink.
The fairies have lived in the preserve for generations. Derek remembers his great grandmother talking about them and remembers watching them on warm summer nights as they would fly between the trees, flickering like fireflies. The general rule was to be polite to them, don’t get them angry and stay out of their way. Or maybe just don’t get them angry. Little fairies have sharp teeth and a hair-trigger temper.
“Can we get you anything else, ma’am?” Derek asks.
Before Orla can answer, there’s the sound of bells from the front of the house. Peter opens the door and a dozen or so fairies fly in, heading straight for their Queen. The wolves can’t tell what the fairies are saying, there’s an occasional word, but mostly it sounds like music, like bells. The fairies hover around the Queen and one sits on the chair next to her. He’s slightly bigger, also wearing an iridescent shift, similar to Orla’s.
“Wolves, thank you for saving my wife, our Queen,” the fairie says, nodding slowly at both Peter and Derek. “Your bravery will not be forgotten.”
Orla stands, wrapping her hand around the other’s arm for support. “Yes, my husband, Alston, and our entire Kingdom thank you. We look forward to seeing you soon.”
With that, the fairies and their entourage fly out the open front door, the silk scarf still wrapped around the Queen.
“Well, that was interesting,” Derek says, shutting the front door and picking up the tiny cup from the chair. “I’m a little worried about Orla saying she’ll us soon.”
Peter looks around the room and asks, “How quickly do you think we could pack and sell the house?”
“Maybe we should just take a real long vacation?”
Derek tells the pack about their recent adventure, leaving them cautious, but curious.
“That’s the lights we sometimes see? And the weird little jingly noise?” Erica asks, looking between the two Hales. “Those are fairies? Like Tinkerbell fairies?” She’s grinning and tries not to outright laugh.
“Yes, those are fairies or the fae, and no, they’re not like Disney movies. Think of them as…” Peter pauses, head cocked trying to decide how best to describe them. “Superficially charming. Also vain, entitled, cunning, spiteful.”
“No, I asked about them, not you,” Erica replies, and Boyd chuckles next to her, getting a snarl back from Peter. But it’s for show, with no real heat; Erica is his favorite.
“Play nice,” Derek orders, as he has many times. “And yes, Peter’s right about fairies. They’ll act like they’re fun and welcoming and then they’ll steal your pets, your car and your children.” He sighs and says, “Oh and when they’re unhappy, they have a mouth full of little piranha teeth and they’re not afraid to use them.”
“So what were you thinking when you helped her?” Boyd asks, looking puzzled. “Doesn’t sound like much chance of a win.”
“They’ve been in the preserve even longer than we have, and our family’s been here for close to 200 years.” Peter sighs and shrugs, sitting on the arm of the couch where the couple are huddled together. “I guess… I couldn’t let one die, my mother was friends with a lot of them. And since they live even longer than werewolves, it could have been one she actually knew. Plus, in my defense, I didn’t know it was their Queen.”
Erica shares a confused look with Boyd, saying, “Won’t we get bonus points or something for saving the Queen? It doesn’t sound like something to worry about.”
“Have you ever had a relative give you a Christmas gift and it’s nothing you want or like, but you have to keep it in case they come and visit and expect to see it?” Derek asks, flopping down in his favorite chair. “Think of it like that, but if your Aunt doesn’t see it when she visits, she comes back with about a hundred other Aunts and they eat your flesh.”
“Oh, and don’t forget they can change to human size. With a mouth full of piranha teeth,” Peter adds. “And eat your flesh.”
“And the last time they went to war it was with a pack… well that pack isn’t around anymore.”
“Okay, not going to mess with the fairies,” Erica says, getting a nod from Boyd.
When it’s been over a week and there’s no news and no new visits from the fae, the pack relaxes. There’s an occasional sighting in the preserve, but they don’t make contact and Derek’s pack all ignores them as they’ve done previously.
So naturally, just when everyone’s forgotten about their royal visitors, Derek and Peter hear a familiar tinkle of bells outside the pack house.
“Oh, shit,” Peter says, rising out of his chair. “Is there time to hide?”
“Doubtful, they probably know we’re here,” Derek answers. He straightens his shoulders and says, “This is good, this gets it over with. They come back, say thanks again, maybe give us one of those magic fruit trees, and we don’t need to have it hanging over our heads.”
Peter scowls and moves towards the door, whispering, “Easy for you to say, you’re not the hero here.” He opens the door to a wall of flickering lights outside. The Queen and King are both easy to recognize – sitting on thrones, each is carried by two fairies. Plus, there’s a dozen or so more flanking them, hovering in formation.
The Queen smiles and nods at him, and then she changes to her full human form. Her husband and another fairie change a moment after her, so all three are standing in the doorway. They’re dressed in their usual fairie attire, the Queen in a long iridescent gown that flutters around her ankle and the two men wearing something reminiscent of a toga, also silky and shiny.
She waves off the rest of her entourage and walks past Peter trailed by her husband and the other younger man. “It’s very nice to see you both again; I hope you didn’t think we’d forgotten your bravery and kindness,” she says, sitting in the middle of the couch. “Sit,” she commands, waving her hand at everyone else. “You remember my husband, Alston, of course. And this is our son, my youngest, called Stiles.”
“Hello,” he says quietly, perched on the edge of the sofa next to his mother. “And thank you for saving my mother’s life. She told us what happened, and how you rescued her just as the spider was going to kill her, and… thank you.” He looks at Peter with a bit of awe as Peter tries not to roll his eyes or smirk.
“I’m just glad I was there to help,” Peter answers, and then glances at Derek who is still standing next to the fireplace. “Can we get you anything to drink?” he asks, looking from Derek to the kitchen.
“Yes, excuse my manners, can we get you anything?” Derek asks, coming out of his daze and smiling at their guests. He still looks a little like he may run, but at least he’s acting polite.
“Oh, some tea would be nice, if it’s not too much trouble,” the Queen says. Derek nods and almost runs into the kitchen where he quickly pulls out an actual tea set, a housewarming gift that they rarely ever use.
“I’m sorry it’s taken us so long to come back and formally thank you. As you can imagine, it took my wife a little while to recover from her ordeal,” Alston says, taking Orla’s hand.
Derek carries in a tray with the tea along with sugar, honey and cream. He and Peter drink it black, but fairies are known for their sweet tooth. Their son pours them tea, heavy on both the cream and honey and hands the small cups to his parents.
“This is lovely, thank you,” Orla says, sipping her tea with a contented smile. “You are a brave and hospitable family. I’m sure your mother would be proud of how you’re carrying on the Hale name.”
Peter and Derek both freeze for a moment, quiet in the way that any mention of Talia affects them. Peter recovers first and says, “Thank you. I know my sister always valued our pack’s relationship with your realm.”
“I remember meeting her,” Stiles says, smiling into his cup. “She’d be in her wolf form and let us chase her. I’m sure she thought we were terrors.”
Derek clears his throat, swallowing audibly. “Thank you, thanks for sharing that.”
Orla nods and puts down her cup. “Well, we do want to formally thank you and thank your pack for your long standing alliance and friendship. So as our thanks and to further strengthen our alliance, we are offering you my youngest son, Stiles, to be Peter’s mate.”
Stiles turns to her, eyes gone wide and jaw dropped. “What?”
Peter is sure his expression is probably the same as he says, “What?”
Derek bites his lip and tries to keep his grin under control. “That’s a lovely offer, your majesty. And very appreciated, but not necessary.”
Alston tilts his head and says, “Not necessary? Your Peter risked his life to save our Queen from the fight of her life. That should be rewarded.”
“Can you think of a higher reward?” the Queen asks. “He’s young, yes, but I’m sure you’ll find him a suitable mate.”
“Mother…” Stiles whispers, leaning towards her. “Mother, we didn’t talk…”
Orla turns to him, eyes flashing gold and suddenly her mouth is full of sharp little teeth.
Stiles sits back and looks at Peter. “I would be honored to be mated to such a strong, brave wolf. If you’ll have me.”
“Of course he will,” Derek answers before Peter can say anything. “Please tell us how you’d like to proceed.”
“Perhaps Peter and Stiles should go someplace and talk while we finalize the arrangements?” the Queen asks, but of course it isn’t an ask.
“Why don’t you show him the library?” Derek says. It’s on the third floor and possibly too far for Peter to hear all the conversation.
Peter rubs his hand over his face and stands, nodding to Stiles. “I’d like that, thank you.”
Stiles stands in the doorway of the library looking around the room. It’s Peter’s domain, a corner room, bright with windows on the two outside walls. The walls are lined with bookshelves, the few books saved from the fire and new ones he’s acquired since then. “This is a nice room,” Stiles says, standing in front of a shelf. His head is turned as he reads the books’ spines. “One of my teachers had a library like this. Human sized, like these.”
“You’re welcome to take any,” Peter tells him. He moves next to the boy and reaches over to straighten one that’s pushed back too far.
The fairie jumps and steps back, looking at Peter suspiciously.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Peter says, leaving more space between them and choosing to ignore Stiles’ stink eye.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to jump,” Stiles says, moving back and sitting on the edge of the couch, facing the fireplace. It’s gas and pretty, providing heat, but with the flames safely behind glass. “It’s just…”
“You don’t know me, I’m very aware of that,” Peter answers, sitting on the arm of the couch across from him. “I’m guessing this isn’t what you were expecting with your visit?”
“No. No, but it’s good,” Stiles assures him, nodding slightly too fast to be sincere. “I mean, I am the youngest son and so it’s not like I’d ever be higher in the court.”
Peter doesn’t mention how his heart speeds up and skips beats. “I’m the youngest child as well, so I understand a little how you feel. Although Talia never arranged a mating for me.” He tries to give a reassuring smile and attempts to ignore the quiet voices from downstairs. There’s no yelling, at least, so that’s positive. “If she had, I’m sure it wouldn’t be with royalty,” he says, hoping the prince will calm down now that they’re across from each other, space in between them.
Stiles gives a tiny shrug and rolls his eyes, looking very human for a minute. “I’m barely royalty, you know; there’s six of us, and…” he shrugs again. “As the alpha’s number two, you’re probably a higher station than I am.”
“I doubt that,” Peter answers, truthfully. “I am sorry I startled you earlier. I should have been more…respectful of you.”
“It’s nothing,” Stiles says, waving his hand. “It’s been drilled into all our heads how we should act, you know, because of who my parents are. I don’t feel like I’m really royalty, but as the Queen’s children, we’re supposed to be pure and unsullied for our marriage.”
“Oh. I can assure you and your parents that nothing improper will happen,” Peter says, hoping he looks innocent. The boy is attractive, slender but with defined muscles and long legs at the end of his short tunic.
“Well, I don’t want you to think I’ve lived in a box. I mean, I’m not completely unaware of physical relationships. There was someone -- actually he used to take care of my father’s throne, he was one of the caretakers of it. We fooled around a little,” Stiles says and then looks up, with those doe eyes that Peter thinks could become a problem. “There was stuff, but not, you know… no actual penis in vagina stuff. Although officially, it would be inappropriate for any of the… kissing and stuff.”
Peter shrugs again, trying not to smirk as he says, “I won’t tell anyone.” He looks at Stiles and then tilts his head thinking of what he said. “You said it was a him, right? With the fooling around, but not… penis in vagina?”
“That didn’t happen. I mean he wanted to, because there is something about being with royalty and I’m sure he’d be bragging. But nothing like that,” Stiles says, sitting forward on the seat and giving a firm nod. “So he’s still alive.”
“So… one of you has a vagina?” Peter asks, ignoring the implication of the other comment.
Stiles looks at Peter, eyebrows into his hairline. “Of course. We both do, I mean everyone does. I guess all fae do. Humans don’t?”
“Well, human women do. Human men don’t, we have a penis. You have either or both or?…” he says, trying not to look.
“We have both. Humans have what? One or the other?” Stiles leans back on the couch and looks at Peter. “I know you have a penis, I can see it right there,” he says, pointing at Peter’s crotch. “Your pants are very tight. So’s your shirt, too.”
“For the most part, women have a vagina and men have a penis. And we don’t have both,” Peter answers, tugging the front of his pants down a little, unexpectedly self-conscious. “I’m surprised we use the same terms – I assume we use them in the same way.”
“I’m sure you learned them from us at some point, we taught most humans their words. How do men get pregnant? Or I guess you don’t? Women always have the babies?” Stiles asks, leaning forward, eyes bright and curious.
“Yes. Women, having the right parts, have the babies. And either gender can carry children?” Peter thinks another minute and asks, “Do you have genders?”
“Of course,” Stiles snorts, looking as though Peter’s stupid. “We have men and women, depending on who you want to be.”
“Who you want… Okay. And couples decide who has the children?”
“Right. Like my father had four children and my mother had two. Because she’s busier, being the Queen. Women are the only ones who have your babies? What if they don’t want to?”
“I guess a couple could adopt,” Peter says, shrugging. “Or maybe have a surrogate – a friend have the baby.”
“Adopt a child. We have that, I think. Foundlings, like maybe the parents die and there’s no other family members.” Stiles gets up and walks to the fireplace, looking at pictures on the mantle. “Does that happen a lot, Peter?”
“Sometimes, I’m sure. Or other times the woman just – doesn’t want to have the baby. And so she might put it up for adoption and then someone who wants a child can adopt it,” he answers, thinking of what he knows about humans. Wolves sometimes adopt children, but usually it’s a child from a pack member who may have died or somehow related to the pack.
“Why would she have a child she doesn’t want?”
Peter scrubs a hand through his hair and says, “Oh, this is getting way too complicated for a first discussion. Maybe we should go downstairs, do you think they’re done talking?”
“I’d think my mother or your alpha would call, don’t you?” Stiles sets down a picture of the Hale family, one that they were able to save from the wreckage of the house. It’s slightly crinkled around the corner, but the only one they have of the party for Cora’s first shift. “Here I thought I knew everything about humans; I’ve studied you quite a bit, you know.”
“We haven’t had much chance to study you; humans in general haven’t, I mean. We probably know a bit more since we’ve been in the preserve together for generations.” Peter looks at another picture, one sent to them from an allied pack, taken at some or the other summer solstice party. Hales and other friends and in the trees there’s little pinpricks of lights he knows are fairies.
Stiles pulls him out of his thoughts, saying, “Mother was very impressed by you, you know. How you rescued her, in spite of the danger it might have put you in.”
“It really was nothing,” Peter says, quite honestly. “Tell me though – why couldn’t she have turned human and freed herself?”
“I guess she was exhausted from fighting off the giant spider. She probably wouldn’t have been caught in the web at all, if she hadn’t already been tired and flying so low to the ground.” He shakes his head and shudders. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if she had been flying higher, above your head or something; you may never have seen her.”
“I like to think I’d have followed the noise of the bells – that’s what you sound like to us, sometimes.” Peter explains, seeing Stiles’ puzzled look. “When you fly, I guess maybe when you talk, it sounds like bells. Question for you, if I may. Can you fly in this shape? Do you have wings now? If you wanted them?”
Stiles chuckles and his expression is one Peter would give to a sweet, but slightly slow child. “No. Only when we’re in our true form. To have wings that would enable us to fly at this size? I think they’d be huge, like those giant birds you used to have? A long time ago? Or maybe bigger?”
“Dear god, do you mean a Pterodactyl? Please tell me you’re not that old.”
“I’m not that old; I am older than you, I hope that’s not a problem.” He grins, a slightly impish smile that reminds Peter of Cora.
“No, not at all. I guess I’m glad you’re older than you look, makes me feel slightly less creepy,” Peter says and then looks towards the stairs. “Derek’s calling, should we go down?”
Stiles pales and takes a deep breath. “I suppose so, let’s see what they’ve decided.”
“Okay, so we have a plan,” Derek says as Peter and Stiles come back into the living room.
“I can’t wait,” Peter replies, knowing at least Derek will get the sarcasm.
“Your wedding will be on the summer solstice, naturally,” the Queen says, gesturing to them both. “In the preserve of course, and of course you should invite all your pack and friends and relatives. It will be a truly beautiful celebration, fitting for royalty.”
Stiles’ expression is completely blank, but Peter can smell the combination of fear and anger on him. Based on the way he keeps glancing at him, Derek must be able to as well. Derek looks at Peter and raises an eyebrow. Peter assumes he’s trying to look sorry or regretful or something like that; it’s not an expression he’s familiar with on his nephew, so he’s guessing.
“We have granted permission for Stiles to stay here until the wedding; it will give you a couple of months to become acquainted. Alpha Hale has assured us of his safety while he’s here; and of course, also after the wedding,” Orla continues ignoring the silence in the room. “We understand that wolves can be possessive, much like our people. I’m sure this can be a joyous and fruitful union.”
Derek scratches his chin and looks towards the stairs. “I thought he could have the room next to mine, it’s down the hall from Peter.”
Alston nods and says, “That sounds appropriate, don’t you agree, dear?”
Orla smiles and bows her head to Derek. “He’ll come with us tonight to gather his things and be here tomorrow. That will work?”
“Of course. Is there anything we can do to help?” Derek asks, looking pointedly at Peter.
“Thank you, no, it isn’t any trouble.” She turns to her family and gestures towards the door, leading them out of the house before they change back to their usual form.
Stiles is the last out and just before he shrinks down to his fairie size, he turns around and shrugs, mouthing “Sorry.”
“Okay, Derek, how do we get out of this?”
Derek drops down into a chair and quirks an eyebrow, exhaling loudly. “Out of it? Umm, I’m not sure how or if you can.”
“You think this is funny, don’t you? You’re ready to just marry me off to some fairie prince and you think it’s funny,” Peter says, running a hand through his hair.
“Kinda,” Derek admits, lips twitching. “But seriously, what choice is there? Do you want to start a war with the fairie nation? You know those don’t ever end well.”
“Maybe…maybe I become completely unsuitable and they withdraw their offer? I could be a jerk. I already am a jerk,” Peter says, sitting in the chair across from Derek. “Stiles is always pretty suspicious of me, I think. Jumps if I get too close.”
“I don’t know what you’re thinking, Peter, but it sounds like a bad idea. If he calls it off because of your personality that’s one thing, but threatening him…”
Peter waves his hand, banishing the thought. “No, I’d never. I think he’s already disappointed that I can’t share bearing our children.”
“Umm, do I want to ask?”
“Let me see,” Peter says, leaning back in his chair, fingers laced over his chest. “Apparently all fae are…intersex? Or something like that. Fairie biology gives all of them both sets of sexual organs so any fae can get pregnant or get another one pregnant. Our biology might be a disappointment in itself. Of course, we’d be married by then, so…”
“Okay. Well, that explains why Orla was talking about how fertile Stiles should be, and I wasn’t sure I should ask.” He grins and says, “I decided to leave that to you. And in one quick conversation, you already got that? See, you’re a natural.”
“And you’re a shit. I think he’s curious about us. It’s weird,” Peter says, leaning forward. “He looks no older than Erica or Boyd, but apparently he’s much older than I am. I haven’t asked yet how long they live, but apparently even longer than us.”
“So that’s good, there isn’t a problem with your ages, I guess,” Derek says, smirking.
“No, Derek, I think the real problem here isn’t our ages.” Peter knows his eyes are flashing at the alpha, but right now, he doesn’t care.
Derek’s eyes flare red and he says, “Cut that shit out, Peter. This is how it’s going to be. Stiles will come here and live here and if – and only if – he decides it won’t happen, then it doesn’t. Otherwise, you’re going to joyfully accept the reward for your amazing bravery and take him as a mate and avoid a war with the fae. Understood?”
He’s a pup and his sister’s child, a massive pain in the ass, but he’s the alpha whether Peter likes it or not. Plus, he’s right – wars with the fae do not end well. But that doesn’t mean he’ll show it; he won’t bare his neck to his nephew. “Yes, I understand, Derek.”
Derek scrubs his hands through his hair, looking a little flustered, and Peter thinks it may be because he’s stopped arguing. “I’ll call the pack over tonight and tell them what’s going on and not to be here tomorrow. We don’t want to overwhelm Stiles. Do you want to get his room ready?”
“Not particularly, but I will. You don’t think overwhelming him might change Orla’s mind?”
Derek snorts and pulls out his phone, getting ready to text their pack. “I just don’t want Erica’s blood on the wall when she smarts off and they blow her up.”
Isaac grabs the bag of chips, sharing a grin with Erica. “That is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Ever.”
“Are you serious, Derek? I mean…Peter has to marry a fairie prince? That sounds crazy. Even for us.” Isaac looks around the room to see if anyone else agrees; mostly there’s grinning.
“Well, that’s what it looks like. I really don’t know how we’d get out of it.” He looks over at Peter, who’s sitting back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest and eyes shut. “We’ll see what happens as this progresses. But we wanted to be sure you knew about this and that Stiles – that’s his name – will be moving in some time tomorrow. So you should all just stay away tomorrow. I’ll text you when everything’s settled down here.”
“Stay away? Did you forget that I live here?” Isaac asks, grabbing another handful of chips.
“Did you forget anger issues and razor sharp teeth?” Derek answers, tipping the bottom of the bag into his mouth; he’s the alpha after all.
Boyd leans over to Erica and loudly whispers, “Is he talking about the fairies or himself?”
“Isaac should be able to be back home for the night,” Peter says. He looks calm and his scent is as well. Calm or resigned, it’s not clear to the pack, with only his pacing giving away any nerves. “I’m sure Stiles will be over early in the day and we’ll let him know that you’ll all be over late tomorrow or early the next day. He knows there’s a pack, and saw how many rooms are upstairs, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.”
“You’re pretty agreeable to this,” Erica says, cocking her head and studying the older man. “I would have expected more snark.”
Peter sighs and shrugs. “I had my freak out already and then decided that it certainly could be worse; I’m staying here, after all. There was a time when my beloved sister, Talia, was talking about an arranged mating to set up a pack alliance. Fortunately, their pack had a trusted pack protector and their alpha didn’t feel I’d add what they needed to their pack. We ended up forming the alliance without a mating.”
Derek looks at his uncle, surprise on his face. “Really? I didn’t know that. When was that?”
“Oh, you must have been… I don’t know, I was about 20, so you were probably too young to realize what was going on,” Peter says, pausing to look out the front window. “It could be worse. He’s not an unpleasant person, at least not for the ten minutes or so we spoke.”
“What’s he like? I mean he’s not… tiny, right?” Isaac asks, wrinkling his nose as Erica laughs.
“That’s gonna be a bizarre honeymoon, Peter!” she says, cackling and nudging Boyd in the ribs.
Peter shakes his head at the children, letting Derek answer, “They can be human sized and then they’re pretty much like regular people. Or they go down to their fairie size and that’s when they have wings and are all…sparkly and stuff.”
“Except the teeth – teeth and crazy eyes in both sizes.” Peter flops down in a chair by the window, holding the curtain to keep an eye on the outside.
“Peter, they’re not going to be here until tomorrow. Do you want to go for a … I was going to suggest you go for a run in the preserve, but that might not be safe with your good Samaritan instincts,” Derek says, grinning at his uncle’s snarl.
“Maybe go for a car ride,” Boyd says, shrugging. “You could get on the highway, go about three exits. Go into Palermo’s and bring back a couple of pizzas.”
“Garlic bread,” Isaac says, nodding quickly. “Get extra red sauce, too. It’ll make you feel better.”
Peter grabs his car keys and heads for the door. “I hope my fairie husband chews your legs off.”
“For gods’ sakes, Peter, would you sit down? You’re wearing a hole in the floor.”
“Well, I’m sorry that I’m upsetting you, Derek, being a little anxious about my future spouse showing up at some unknown time.” Peter checks his hair in a mirror hanging by the front door, smoothing down the sides.
Derek chuckles, shaking his head. “Have you cleaned everything possible? Oh yeah, you did that. His room’s ready? Oh yeah, you did that, too.”
“Don’t be such a smart-ass, he’s got a sister,” Peter tosses back, flopping into a chair and immediately standing back up. “Do you think I should start dinner or something? God, I have no idea what he eats.”
“Let’s wait and see if he’s hungry. But if you want to, make cookies or a cake or something; we know they like sweets.”
“Okay, that’s an idea,” Peter says, turning towards the kitchen. He pauses at the door, turning around and says, “Chocolate? Nuts? Can fairies be allergic to nuts?”
“I have no idea,” Derek answers. He picks up his book and leans back, putting his stockinged feet on the table. “How about those chocolate crinkle things? With the coffee?”
“Your favorite cookies? Sure, I’ll make him your favorite cookies, that’ll make him feel welcome.”
Derek calls, “Hey, Peter. One minute?”
Peter comes back and stands in front of him, eyebrow raised.
“If it doesn’t work, if you hate it or … whatever, we’ll get out of it. We’ll figure out a way out of it.”
Sighing, Peter sits on the coffee table next to Derek’s feet. “Get out of it? Thank you for saying so, but the only way I can think to get out of this is if Stiles hates me and tells his parents that he can’t be married to me because I’m horrible. And then they kill me for being an insult to their child.”
Derek looks away for a minute, making his thinking face. “Well, that’s one way. Or we just say no thank you, thanks for the offer, but we respectfully decline.”
“And that hurts their pride that I’ve turned down their prince and they start a war. And everyone dies.” Peter pats Derek’s leg and stands, turning back to the kitchen. “Thanks, but I’ll make it work. I make things work. And there’s really no choice, is there?”
It’s late afternoon when they hear that tinkling of little bells from outside. Peter jumps out of his chair and opens the front door, letting in a stream of a dozen tiny fairies, carrying equally tiny boxes.
“Hello, umm. Stiles?” he asks, peering at them, trying to see which one is his intended. He’ll need to figure that out.
One of them circles and then in the space of a second turns into his human sized fiancé. “Hello, Peter. Hello, Alpha.”
“Good to see you, Stiles,” Derek says, eyes on the swarm of fairies hovering behind Stiles’ head. “Is your mother or father here with you?”
“No. No, they said I could come alone. Or alone with my entourage,” he says and Peter thinks he’s actually smirking. Which for him, is a good sign. “They have my things – I hope it’s okay I brought things with me, you said I have a room?”
“Of course.” Derek squints at the fairies and sees they’re carrying what looks like miniature trunks, apparently heavy ones. “Do you want things set down here and we’ll carry things upstairs or they can…”
Stiles points towards the staircase and says, “They’ll do it, what room?”
Peter heads to the staircase and says, “End of the hallway on the left. The door is open, so they can put things anywhere.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to show them where things will go.” He twitches slightly, looking to Derek, waiting for the alpha to release him.
“Yeah, go. Sure, of course,” Derek stammers. He’s supposed to be Peter’s spouse, but he still looks to Derek due to his rank, same as he would in the court. “Peter, do you want to…”
Peter nods and heads up the stairs, glancing over his shoulder to Stiles and the fairies circling his head. “I’ll show you.”
At the top of the stairs, Peter points to Stiles’ room and watches as he strides down the hallway, his servants following him. By the time Peter gets into the room, the trunks are full sized, opened, and placed against the walls.
“This is okay, right?” Stiles asks, looking around the room. He runs a finger along a dresser, stopping to look at himself in the mirror.
“Of course, make yourself at home. The closet is empty, the dressers are too. We can move anything you want and… I guess make it feel like home.”
Stiles gives a weak smile and says, “It’s fine, I mean it’s very nice. I’ll unpack later I guess. There’s really not a lot, there’s some books and things.”
“We can get you bookshelves if you’d like. I think we should go out and get you some clothes, if you’re going to live at least part-time in the human world.” Peter’s smile is equally tentative, but he’s going to make a go of this. He has to, after all. “I’m sure we can borrow something for you to wear when we go out – probably Isaac’s things would fit well enough.”
Stiles stretches out a leg in front of him, bare up to the middle of his thigh where his shift ends. He does give a real grin seeing Peter look and quickly avert his eyes. “Can I see the rest of the house? It seems big, at least I think so.”
“Of course,” Peter says and follows Stiles out of the room. “Derek’s room is right next to you, so if you need anything you can ask him.”
“Or you?” Stiles asks, as he pokes his head into the rooms they pass.
“Or me,” Peter confirms.
Peter learns that Stiles is not the easiest person to control, even on simple things like touring the house. “And this is the kitchen,” he says, walking behind Stiles into the room. “I’m not sure you have kitchens where you live?”
“Hmm, I don’t think so. Or I’ve not been in one. I guess food comes from somewhere though. What’s this?” he asks, stepping back when the cold comes out of the fridge. “Oh, it’s got food!” he exclaims, pushing his head into the freezer.
“Yes, that’s one place for food. I was thinking we could go to the store later – after you have clothes later – and figure out what you want to eat. I really don’t know what you like and…”
“You’re nervous,” Stiles says, head cocked, studying Peter. “I’m in your house and you’re the one who’s nervous.”
“Well yes, a little, aren’t you?” Peter asks, making himself not step away from the fairie, who is still studying him. “We’re to be married – mated – and we don’t know each other at all. I know your mother thinks this is a wonderful reward and nothing against you at all, but seriously I didn’t do that much and…”
Stiles interrupts, “You saved my mother’s life.” He takes a breath and walks around the kitchen, opening cabinets and drawers. “I know she can be a little much sometimes and sometimes she’s a bit dramatic. I guess that’s to be expected; she’s the queen of our people, of all the realms. And I’m the fourth prince of the first realm. She’s my mother and I love her and I believe what she says and trust her judgement. I have to, Peter, she’s my mother.”
Peter just scrubs a hand through his hair, because what can he say? He would have blindly followed his mother anywhere. Although she was less inclined to make shit up.
“Do I smell cookies?” Stiles asks, giving Peter a huge smile. “I know what those are, and I’ll take a few. If that’s allowed.”
“Sure, I’ll get you some and then we can figure out what you can wear to go shopping. Lovely as you look, you may attract too much attention in Beacon Hills,” Peter says, putting some still warm cookies on a plate. He turns to the fridge and asks, “Milk?”
Stiles frowns slightly and says, “I don’t know what that is. But if you say it’s good, I’ll try it. I want to try all the human things.”
It turns out milk and cookies are good for everyone, including fairie princes.
Isaac’s clothes fit Stiles well enough, at least enough for them to get to Macy’s for clothes Peter thinks are more appropriate to live among humans. Or humans and wolves.
“There’s a lot of things here,” Stiles says, wandering off towards the cosmetics counter, where he zeros in on a display of eye shadow. “What’s that, can I have that?”
The woman behind the counter smiles, but Peter can see the uncertainty in her eyes. It makes his hackles rise, thinking of someone judging Stiles or anyone else who comes to her area. “You can if you want; it’s not traditional, so let’s save this for the end.”
Stiles shrugs and heads down the aisle, pointing at the jewelry case. “Oh, these are pretty! They remind me of the stones at home!”
Peter takes his arm and gently tugs him backwards towards the escalator. “Yes, certainly. I’ll show you some things we have at the house and see if there’s anything you like. How about something for you to wear?”
“Those are pretty, I like that color,” the fairie says, heading for the junior prom dresses. “Can I get something from here?”
“Perhaps afterwards, there’s plenty of time for fancy things for you. I think we should concentrate on the basics so you don’t have to wear all of Isaac’s clothes.” He gives Stiles a quick sniff, just confirming that he’s not upset at being redirected. Curious, excited, but not upset.
“Does Isaac live at your house? Can I meet him? How many people live in the house?” Stiles asks, watching how Peter gets on the escalator and joining him after a second. “We’re moving,” he whispers to Peter, grinning and turning around to look at the first floor as it vanishes. When they get to the top, he says, “Can we do that again?”
“Certainly, in just a little bit,” Peter answers, shooting a death stare at some teenagers who he can hear are whispering about them behind their hands. “Men’s department is this way.”
Peter makes basic suggestions, telling Stiles that generally there’s shirts and pants that people see and other things people don’t. He tries to steer Stiles towards some plain t-shirts but he gets sidetracked by something more colorful. Yes, Peter sees, there’s a pattern here.
“What’s this, what does this mean?” Stiles asks, pulling out a red Iron Man t-shirt and holding it out to Peter. “I like this. Oh, and I like this one.” He quickly pulls out a Dead Pool shirt and one with Han Solo and then one with the Rolling Stones’ lips logo. “I don’t know what these mean, but I like them. Can we get them?”
“Yes, that’s fine, but let’s try to find a few other things for you.” He waves over a clerk and hands the stack of shirts to him. “Could you hold these for us, we have a bit more shopping to do.” When Stiles wanders off to look at some sweatshirts, Peter turns to the clerk. “My cousin from Poland. His house burnt down and he was sent here with really only the clothes on his back. We’ll basically need everything.”
The clerks’ eyes light up in a completely inappropriate way and he smiles. “Wow, that’s awful. How can I help?”
“Peter, look! Can I get this?” He holds up a red sweatshirt with a hood and smiles hopefully.
“Of course,” he answers and hands it to the clerk. “We’ll let you know if we need help, thank you. If you can just keep things behind the counter.”
Basically, Peter just follows Stiles around, trying to direct him to at least a few things that make sense and might even match and create an outfit – as much as he’ll need actual outfits, living in the preserve with a pack of werewolves and going out into their small town.
“How about something like this?” Peter asks, holding up a lightweight gray sweater.
“It’s soft,” Stiles says, “but it’s kind of dull, don’t you think? I like brighter colors, like the colors in the woods.” He reaches behind Peter and picks up the same sweater in light blue. “This is nice, this would look good on you; it matches your eyes.” Stiles tugs gently on the v of Peter’s t-shirt before he turns, blushing.
“Cousins, hmm.” Peter hears from the clerk, before he picks up the sweater in dark green and adds it to the stack, along with the blue one in his size.
He lets Stiles go wild with underwear and socks and they end up with bright colors, super heroes and lots of patterns. Stiles isn’t very fond of shoes so they pick a pair of flip flops and a pair of high tops, both in red. They can worry about shopping for fall and winter later.
“Here, carry a few of these, will you?” Peter says, handing some of the large shopping bags to Stiles.
“Me? Carry things?” Stiles asks and looks around while Peter just grins. “Myself?”
“Yes, fourth prince of the first realm. In the human world, we carry our own bags.”
Stiles takes a few of the bags, with Peter carrying the majority. He leads them out a different way than they came in, not feeling guilty when he carefully avoids the jewelry counter.
Peter picks a family-oriented restaurant for dinner; it’s nothing too fancy, but not fast food and he knows he can get a passable glass of wine.
They’re lead to a small booth and Stiles turns in his seat, looking at everyone and everything in the restaurant. “Hi,” he says to the woman in the booth behind them. “We’re going to eat dinner!”
“That’s nice, dear,” the woman responds, looking at him and then Peter. “Have a good night.”
“People kind of like to be with the people they came in with; it’s a bit unusual to talk to strangers like that,” Peter whispers to Stiles, as he checks through the menu. “I’ll order for you until you become more familiar with food here, okay?”
Stiles nods and says, “Okay? Is there honey?”
“Hmm, maybe not, but we’ll get something sweet later, I promise.” The waitress comes over and after exchanging a minimal amount of pleasantries, Peter orders a medium rare steak with a potato and salad for himself. For Stiles he asks for macaroni and cheese and French fries.
“And milk!” Stiles says. “I like milk; it’s good.”
“I’ll be back with your drinks and some bread,” their waitress says, before she leaves.
Peter butters a piece of the warm bread and pushes it towards Stiles. “Here, try this, I think you’ll like it.”
“Oh! This is … this is so good,” Stiles exclaims, looking at the bread in his hand. He licks off some of the butter and smiles at Peter. “We should have more of this. Do we have this at home?”
He can’t help the warm feeling hearing Stiles refer to it as home, which he knows is ridiculous since they’ve only seen each other a couple of times. But he thinks Stiles will fit in well with the pack and Peter certainly enjoys his enthusiasm.
“I like this, too,” Stiles says, shoving the cheesy macaroni into his mouth. “It’s got chewy stuff in it, what’s that?”
“Bacon,” Peter answers, grinning. “Bacon is food of the gods, and certainly fit for a prince. Here, try this.” Peter cuts a piece of steak and hands the fork to Stiles.
“Hmm, I’m not sure.” Stiles shuts his eyes while he chews, concentrating on the bite of steak. “Kind of tastes like rabbit? Maybe? What is it?”
“It’s beef, so it’s a cow. Cows give us both beef and the milk you’re drinking,” Peter says, pointing to Stiles’ glass with his knife. “Try the salad.”
“Oh, I’ve had this before, or something like it,” he says, taking a piece of lettuce and chewing carefully. “It’s like stuff in the forest, pretty good.” He puts a couple of French fries in his mouth. “Mine’s better, though.”
Peter orders coffee and a couple of desserts so Stiles can try more human things. The waitress smiles as she takes their order and clears the table.
“I think my guess was right. You like starch, sugar and fats. Very healthy diet, good thing you’re…” he looks around the restaurant and leans in before he says, “you’re special.”
Stiles chuckles and says, “Okay, I’ll take that. I think a few people have looked at me like there’s something wrong with me? Maybe like I’m stupid or something?”
“I think they’re just surprised at how exuberant you are. And if they have a problem with that, fuck ‘em.”
Stiles’ eyes get big and he grins, quickly flashing his teeth as he checks the tables around them. “That’s a bad word, right? For humans? I don’t think we have curses – I mean curse words. When we curse, it’s, well, it’s a real curse.”
“That might be literally overkill.” Peter sits back, taking his wine glass to drink the last sip. “I’m sure I’d be much like you if I were in your world. I’d be looking around and wanting to try everything.”
“There’s just so much to learn. I thought I knew about humans, but apparently not.” Stiles smiles when the waitress brings a large brownie sundae and a slice of lemon merengue pie. “I think I’m going to like it here.”
When they get back to the house, they carry all of Stiles’ bags upstairs and Peter lingers in the doorway. He promised to respect the traditions of Stiles’ people and he fully intends to. Not just because of the teeth. “Let me know if I can help you. Unpack anything or hang anything up?”
The look on Stiles’ face is pure confusion. “Hang things up? Like in the store, you mean? Do we have those silver things?”
“No, the racks are in the store. We can hang up your clothes in the closet there. And some things are folded and put in the drawers.” He takes a step forward, watching to be sure Stiles is still comfortable. “Would you like some help?”
Stiles nods quickly, “If you don’t mind, I think I do. I do know some things from the human world, but putting away clothes isn’t one of them. Maybe I should get a servant?”
Peter starts unpacking bags, sorting things out on the bed, quickly removing tags with a sharp claw. “I’m sure we can get by without one, at least for now. I’ll just fold these up and you can figure out how you want to put them in drawers. Do you want me to hang anything up?”
“Okay,” Stiles says and sits on the edge of the bed, next to the stack of colorful t-shirts. “We don’t have things like this. Stuff just – it just appears I guess.”
“Must be nice,” Peter says, taking one of the jackets they picked out and hanging it up in the closet, next to two button down shirts. “Still looks pretty empty. We’ll add things as you need them when the weather gets cold.”
“Oh, snow, right? Can we do that thing where you stand on sticks and slide down a hill?” Stiles asks, bouncing on the bed.
“We can try, skiing isn’t for everyone, but no reason not to see how it goes.”
Stiles smiles, trying to smother a yawn. “I think I’m tired. Being in this body and all the stuff we did… it’s tiring being human.”
“You should feel free to be in your other form whenever you want.” He stops and thinks how that might not work. “Not if we’re shopping or at a restaurant, of course.”
“I do know a little about the human world, Peter,” he answers, grinning. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we do tomorrow!”
Peter’s first cup of coffee in the morning is sacrosanct. He’s willing to share his space with Derek, as long as his alpha remains quiet, letting Peter read the morning newspaper. Most news is online, but in the morning, with strong, black coffee, it requires a real newspaper, one that gets your fingers dirty.
The quiet is broken when Isaac stumbles in, wearing pajama bottoms and a stretched out BHHS t-shirt. “Coffee?” he moans, stumbling towards the counter. After drinking half a cup, he refills it and sits at the table with a sigh. “Hey.”
“Hey, yourself. You doing okay?” Derek asks.
Isaac puts his head on the table and sighs. “Yeah, just tired. We went out and ended up doing jager shots. I feel like death. I would welcome death.”
“I’ve been there, it isn’t great.” Peter says, pouring another round of coffee for everyone. “Did you over indulge or what?”
“I think too much and too much food and not enough sleep. I didn’t get in until after three – I wanted to be sure not to intrude on your special first night,” he answers and even tired, he still manages a smirk. “So is your fiancé everything you wanted him to be?”
Before Peter can answer, the front door slams open and the rest of the pack arrives in the kitchen, carrying multiple boxes of Krispy Kremes.
“Hey, packmates, we brought breakfast!” Erica crows, dropping boxes on the table. “Where’s your happy hubby? Did he pack up and leave already?”
“You’re not as cute as you think you are,” Peter tells her and pulls over a box of donuts. “Chocolate with custard?”
“They’re in there somewhere. Along with about a dozen of the cream filled ones for our alpha,” Boyd says, pouring himself and Erica a cup of coffee and then putting on another pot.
“Seriously, where’s the fairie? Did everything go okay yesterday? Has he moved in? Do you think you’ll like him? Will we like him?” Erica asks, peppering questions quickly as she sugars her coffee and digs through a box of donuts. She looks calm, just mildly curious, but her scent tells how anxious she is.
“He’s here, I assume he’s fine, and I think you’ll like him,” Peter tells her. “He’s getting familiar his surroundings, but there’s a few things he’ll need to get used to, living here.”
“Cool! We can teach him stuff and show him around. It’ll be like he’s – like he’s a feral child lost in the Appalachian mountains and we need to teach him things about how to live like a normal boy! It’ll be awesome, we can show him cars and TVs and…”
“I do know a little about humans. I’ve seen TV shows before,” Stiles says, standing at the entry to the kitchen.
Peter sees him check everyone’s clothes and he smiles, seeing Stiles fitting in wearing a graphic t-shirt and blue jeans. He’s barefoot, but he has shoes to wear when they go out; in the house, it’s nothing too extraordinary, the wolves like feeling the ground underfoot. “Good morning, Stiles. I hope you slept well.”
He nods and studies the younger members of the pack. “I’m Stiles, hello. You’re the other wolves in Peter’s pack?”
“Sorry.” Derek swallows down part of a donut and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Everyone, this is Stiles, Peter’s, um, mate. Stiles, these are our other packmates, Isaac, Erica and Boyd,” he says pointing at each in turn.
They each nod and murmur hello, suddenly shy.
“Stiles, would you like to try some coffee?” Peter asks, getting a mug out of the cupboard. “Isaac, you drink yours sweet; give him a taste, would you?”
Isaac pushes over his cup and they watch Stiles sip it, wrinkling his nose. “It grows on you,” Isaac says.
Stiles shrugs and smiles at Peter. “Okay. I’d like some, if it’s what you drink.”
“Certainly,” Peter says, filling a cup. “You’ll probably like it a few spoons of sugar and some cream.” He prepares it and hands it to Stiles, gesturing to an empty chair. “Erica and Boyd picked up way too many donuts; I’m pretty sure you’ll like them, they have starch, sugar and fat, your three basic food groups.”
Erica opens up the boxes and turns them towards Stiles. “And they’re delicious. We have sugary ones, and ones with glaze and ones filled with fruit or chocolate or custard. What appeals to you?”
“How do you decide?” Stiles asks, poking at a glazed one and then licking his finger with a smile. “Oh, I want this one!”
“The key is to try a lot of them. Then you’ll know what you like and you’ll always have a favorite. Derek here will eat about a dozen of the ones with whipped cream in them,” Boyd tells him, hooking a finger through a chocolate glazed one. “Peter goes for custard. Erica is a jelly girl. And Isaac is a weirdo and likes the ones with maple.”
“So don’t eat them, more for me,” Isaac says, snagging his second one. “There’s also ones with lemon inside, those are good, too. But yeah, try a bunch.”
Stiles looks at Peter and when he nods, Stiles takes another one, this time one of the custard ones Peter likes. “These are good, and the coffee is good, too. We should go get more of these for later.”
“We can! We should go downtown and go shopping for stuff. Have you been in a car yet?” Erica asks, settling into Boyd’s lap.
“Yesterday,” Stiles says, studying them. “I’ve seen cars before, of course, but never needed to ride in one. It was fun.”
“Can we take him downtown for shopping?” Isaac asks Peter and Derek. “And maybe see a movie later?”
“Let’s not crowd everything into one day, okay? He’s here for a while,” Peter says, and makes sure Stiles sees him smile. “Maybe a bit of shopping and then we can watch a movie here.”
“On television? I’ve seen television before. My grandfather and I used to go to this family’s house and we’d sit on their window sill and watch through their window. We saw a blond woman, like Erica, who had pet dragons – or I think that’s what was happening. People kept fighting and stuff, it got confusing,” he says, shaking his head and looking longingly at the donut box again.
“Well, we can plan that then. Shopping and Game of Thrones.” Peter checks his packmates and their scent is still a little curious, but calm and overall friendly. “You can have another, if you want. Or more coffee,” he tells Stiles.
“No, thank you. I guess I’ll save some for later, if that’s okay,” he looks around the room and smiles at Erica who is beaming at him.
“Sure thing, Stiles. You know what else we could do? Later on, you can show us how you look when you’re shifted. To your regular, fairie self.” She grins with a bit too much teeth and says, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.”
“Erica, behave yourself,” Derek says, although his order lacks a little punch with the bit of whipped cream in his beard.
“There’s plenty of time for everyone to show off,” Peter says, standing and gathering coffee cups to take to the sink. “Anyone who’s going, go do whatever you need to. Stiles, you can put on the shoes we got you yesterday and you may want to grab your red hoodie in case it gets chilly.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back,” he says and turns to leave with Erica on his heels.
“I’ll just run upstairs and get a jacket, too,” she says, putting an arm around Stiles’ waist. “You can ask me anything you need to know, consider me your inside man.”
“I’m not sure what that means, but okay, thank you.”
“You’re in trouble, man,” Boyd says and puts the leftover donuts in one box, eating one of the custard ones that doesn’t quite fit. “I mean, I love her and she scares me. You haven’t got a chance.”
Peter doesn’t say anything because he knows it’s true.
Peter texts Derek during the day, just to let him know he hasn’t killed anyone and will bring home pizza. The pizza part was easy, the other, not so much.
Beacon Hills has a small downtown, just like a lot of little cities in Northern California. Just eight blocks long on Main Street. It’s so normal it’s a cliché.
Stiles confirms he’s been down here before, but usually at night and flying by and nothing looked particularly interesting. So on their trip, they have to go into every single shop. Every. Single. Shop.
At least Peter’s able to convince him not to go into every real estate office, but he looks at the flyers for the homes for sale posted in the windows.
“Our house is better,” he whispers to Peter. “This one has only two bathrooms and the living room looks small.” He’s an expert now, having listened to Isaac’s reviews earlier.
He can’t help but smile a bit at Stiles saying ‘our house’ and moves him along, following everyone into a florist.
“Boyd bought my corsage for prom from here,” Erica says, kissing her boyfriend on the cheek. She waves at the clerk behind the counter and calls out, “New guy in town, just showing him around!” before she leads everyone out to the next shop, another boutiquey gift shop.
Peter tags along, answering Stiles’ whispered questions, explaining greeting cards and little statues of kittens and angels. He can’t explain the little statues of fairies on a shelf.
“Is this what humans think we look like?” Stiles asks, picking one up and looking at the lacy butterfly wings and shiny boots.
“Some, I suppose. They don’t get a lot of things right. You should see what they think about werewolves,” Peter tells him. He picks one up and asks, “Do you want it? I’ll buy it if you’d like.”
“No, but thank you.” His eyes light up and he steps towards a counter, looking at the display of brightly colored jewelry. “These are pretty and we didn’t get anything yesterday. Do you wear these?”
Erica pushes her way in the middle and tugs on her earring. “Yeah, see, like this? Or a necklace, like this,” she says, pulling a pendant out from between her breasts. “I don’t usually wear bracelets, but that’s what those are. You’d wear them around your wrist.”
Stiles looks at Peter’s watch with some skepticism. “Not at pretty as those,” he says, pointing at the case. “I like the one with the shiny stones.”
“Gaudy boy, I like that,” Erica says and waves over the clerk, smiling at Peter. “You’re buying him this as a welcome gift.”
“I am?” Peter asks, glancing over to Isaac, who just smirks. “Apparently, I am.”
They break for lunch at a small café, sitting outside at a sunny table. The wolves all have sunglasses and Peter offers his to Stiles, because it’s probably the right thing to do. That, and he doesn’t think Stiles should wear Erica’s with their bright pink frames.
“This is fun, do you do this every day?” Stiles asks, shoving French fries into his mouth. He’s also discovered ranch dressing.
Isaac mock-pouts and shakes his head, looking sad. “No, we have jobs and stuff. To make money, so we can buy stuff from all the places we go to.”
“Are you all off work?” Peter asks, because now that he thinks about it, they shouldn’t be home.
“Well, I’m working tonight,” Boyd says, and looks at his fellow betas. “Isaac is legitimately off today and Erica took the day off.”
Peter raises an eyebrow at the pretty blond, watching her fluff up Stiles’ hair. “You took today off? Why?”
“Because we have a new packmate to greet!” she answers, and behind her dark glasses, Peter can see her eyes flash.
He smiles back, enjoying the rare, warm feeling through their pack bond. Their pack is still small, and not family by blood, but they’re making it work.
Stiles takes the last few of Peter’s fries, dunking them in catsup. “So what do we do when we’re done here?”
“We can finish looking at the shops on this street, if you want. Maybe Peter’ll buy you something else,” Isaac says, reaching over to look at the shiny red stones on the bracelet Peter bought him.
Peter signs the check and asks, “And after that, we’ll go home?”
“Next is the grocery store,” Boyd says, waving his phone, but not letting anyone take it. “Derek texted a list to me while you were shopping.”
“Oh that can be fun! We’ll take you to the store where they have all the food!” Erica’s grin is feral and she looks directly a Peter when she says, “We can take him to WalMart.”
“Yes, you can, but count me out on that one, please.”
Stiles looks between the two of them, unsure if they’re really mad at each other or if this is just the way they act. “I’ll go wherever you tell me I should,” he says, looking at the pack, but mostly at Peter.
Peter risks giving his arm a quick pat, hoping it won’t be misinterpreted. “I think this afternoon, we’ll do a quick run to the smaller store and then if the others decide you should go with them to WalMart… well, I guess I’ll have to hand over my credit card.”
“Sounds good,” Isaac says, finishing his drink. “I can’t deal with that either. And tonight we’ll have pizza for dinner.”
“Is that another of Derek’s decrees?”
“No. It just seems like something he should try,” Isaac says, pushing away from the table. “Let’s finish showing Stiles our hip, happening town.”
Erica takes Stiles’ glasses and puts hers on his head. “And then we’ll get home and show him fun with the Hale pack!”
Over the next several weeks, Peter’s happy, if a little surprised, at how well Stiles gets along with the pack. Even Derek warms to him, unable to keep his usual grumpiness around the fae’s bright spirit. He and Peter trade books from their library, each finding new things to read. Stiles usually sits on one end of the couch, closest to the fireplace. He’s currently powering through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter reads a fae family history, several volumes worth, from Stiles’ collection and is amazed how many generations their family has – and how long they live.
“Do you have a job?” Stiles asks him one afternoon. Isaac and Erica have both just come home from work, and they’re in the kitchen eating cookies that he and Peter made earlier in the day.
“Yes, sometimes. I write. Fiction. Mysteries, actually,” Peter tells him, watching Stiles’ face to see the reaction. For some reason he doesn’t want to think about, it’s important to him that Stiles approves, or at least doesn’t disapprove.
Stiles isn’t disappointed at all, moving closer to Peter on the couch. “Mysteries like detectives? Like ‘Elementary’ or ‘Veronica Mars’? Can I read one?”
“Yes, detective stories. They’re silly, they’re nothing…” he says, shaking his head and suddenly feeling slightly embarrassed. It’s not like the rest of the pack hasn’t teased him, even though they demand to read the books as soon as they’re ready to print.
“Nothing?” Stiles asks, eyebrow raised. “I doubt it’s nothing, I’ve never written a book. No one I know has written a book. So is there a detective like ‘Colombo’ or more like ‘Criminal Minds’? ”
“Not quite. And when did you watch so much television? The hero is a vampire and he works with a human detective and they solve supernatural crimes,” Peter explains. “They’re pretty stupid, but they sell. So far, there’s three in the series.”
“That’s amazing! I get to read them. Are there werewolves in them? Are we in them? Have you included any fae? You could, we could be an ally or something like that,” Stiles exclaims and then his face falls. “But actually vampires were never our favorites. Do you know any personally?”
“No, thank goodness. I read that they actually existed in Europe, but died out a few hundred years ago. Did you know any?”
Stiles shakes his head and says, “Not personally no. But my father said there were some in our country before, and we never got along with them, not like we have with your kind.” He stops for a minute and gets a hopeful look on his face. “So the books? Can I read one? Or all of them? And then you have to tell me how you do the job and how do you write stuff? And probably other things, too.”
“Fine, I’ll get you the first one and answer any questions tomorrow, okay?”
“Thank you, Peter.” Stiles cocks his head and Peter notes his scent changing suddenly; his scents are different than the wolves’ or human scents, but Peter’s getting used to reading them. “Should I get a job? I don’t know if I can do anything. Well, I can do stuff, but I’m not sure if it’s something that would get me a job.”
Peter smiles and pushes a brownie towards Stiles. It’s one Stiles made, finding he likes to bake these and some of the pack’s other favorites. Baking with him is messy, but Peter would actually have to say it’s fun. Stiles considers recipes a suggestion, not something written in stone. “If you decide you want to have a job, you can. We’d figure something out, I think you have more skills than you think. But you don’t have to.”
Stiles sighs and takes another brownie, picking off one of the chocolate chips on top and popping it into his mouth. “Maybe I could work at a bakery? I like baking. Faes invented baking, you know.”
“It seems that everything good was discovered or invented by the fae.”
“Probably,” Stiles confirms, smiling with teeth covered in chocolate.
Peter finds it’s easy to write around Stiles, which is different. He sits in the office with Peter, reading one of his mysteries while Peter researches and types. Stiles keeps a list of questions to ask Peter when he’s done working, careful to make sure not to bother him while he’s concentrating.
“If I put a fae in the book, do you think they should be a villain? Or maybe he becomes my detective’s partner? Or…”
Stiles perks up and puts a piece of paper into his book, before setting it on the table next to him. “I don’t think a villain; I’d prefer not.”
“Maybe he and my detective partner together for a case?” Peter asks, making a couple of notes on his laptop.
“What does he get for it? For helping Andrei? Because he’s not likely to do it for nothing,” Stiles says, and snaps his teeth, suddenly sharp little fangs in his mouth.
Peter flashes his eyes back and says, “How about it he helps with one thing in this book and maybe… maybe next book, he’ll help with something else?”
Stiles nods and picks his book back up, quickly getting lost again in the middle of Peter’s second book. “Andrei should buy him chocolates if he wants to keep getting help.”
“Noted,” Peter says, going back to his laptop. A few minutes later and a box of chocolates is on its way.
A few days later, Erica interrupts their peaceful afternoon barging into the room with a cheery, “Hey, losers! It’s time to continue Stiles’ education – we’re going to marathon the Deadliest Catch.”
“Wow, what’s that? Unicorns? It has to be unicorns, those things will fuck you up,” Stiles says, looking to Peter for confirmation. “Really. We avoid them.”
“Nope, but that’s something I want to hear about,” Erica says, grabbing the remote. She moves to sit in between them, but Stiles quickly moves next to Peter. “Okay, not unicorns, this is about guys who catch crabs. You know, the things you eat at pretty much every restaurant we go to.”
“Crabs?” Stiles makes a crab-claw gesture with both hands and asks, “Crabs? Are they deadly? They look kind of little.”
“The crabs themselves aren’t deadly, but catching them is dangerous. Men in boats on a rough sea. Well, you’ll see.” Peter turns to Erica and says, “Start with season one.”
“Of course!” she says, settling down and pushing buttons until she’s ready to start. “I still have a huge crush on Sig. Someday we’ll marry and have beautiful blond children.”
Peter snorts and says, “Blond? Yes, of course, dear.”
She snarls and raises her hand, claws out to Peter who just rolls his eyes and snarls back.
Stiles grabs each of their hands and says, “Be nice, I want to watch the crab show.”
Looking at their joined hands, Peter smiles and when Erica grins at him behind Stiles’ back, she’s smiling, too.
The full moon always means a run through the preserve with the pack, all shifted into their wolf forms. It took a bit of work for the bitten wolves, but now it’s almost second nature to strip and take a breath or two, concentrating on letting the wolf inside outside.
Stiles is out with them, shifted into his natural form. As the wolves run through the forest, nipping at each other’s heels, he flies overhead, swooping down to grab an ear or a tail. Peter never lets him get too far out of sight, and Stiles circles back to him as well, flying backwards in front of his face, laughing as he grabs a whisker.
Snapping his jaws, Peter chases him and then notices other lights flying around his future mate. They circle together with the sound of bells and laughter filling the air. Stiles comes back to him, grabbing his tail to make him run and the other fairies take off after the other wolves.
Eventually, Stiles settles on Peter’s back, grabbing his hand on the thick fur on the back of his neck. The other fae circle the pack, and one seems to want to settle on Erica’s back. She stops and stays still until the tiny ball of light lands on her and she can feel a little pull on her fur. She trots off, not going as fast as before, making sure she doesn’t dislodge her new passenger.
Soon each wolf has a light on its back and they head back into the woods, closer to the fae’s kingdom. The wolves stop and watch as the lights fly off into the trees, bells ringing from them and from Stiles, as he hovers over Peter’s head. He settles back on Peter’s back and Derek gives a sharp bark, then turns to go back to their house.
Most of the pack has gone inside, and they’ll all sleep together in the living room on cushions taken off the sofas. Peter suggested getting some mattresses to keep downstairs, but since most of the pack doesn’t admit it’s a regular thing on the full moon, Derek doesn’t want to force the issue. He and Peter remember their family all crowded together in the living room so everyone could sleep together during the full moon. Maybe when the pack has children, he thinks. But now, sometimes they’re wolves and sometimes they’re people and sometimes they shift back and forth during the night, but they’re pack. Even Peter sleeps downstairs with everyone after they’ve run together, usually staying in his wolf form until morning.
“That was fun, thanks for letting us play,” Stiles says, yawning as they walk up the stairs.
Peter dressed outside and leans against the wall outside Stiles’ room, and tries not to sound too curious. “You’re welcome, it was fun. Can I ask who was there?”
“Oh, right, you don’t know them! Umm, my brother, Scott and his wife, Allison. And our friends Kira and Liam.” He shrugs and ducks his head, saying, “They wanted to check on me, you know. And maybe see you and the pack. Just interested in things here, you know.”
“Certainly, that’s fine, they’re welcome to come here anytime, you know,” Peter tells him and covers a yawn with his hand. “Well, I’m going to go back down. You’re welcome to join us, if you’d like to.”
Stiles scrubs a hand through his hair, studying a leaf he pulls out of his hair. “Maybe. I don’t… I don’t want to get in the way of the pack.”
Peter enters his room, watching to see if Stiles looks upset. He doesn’t so he uses a finger to tilt up Stiles’ chin. “Stiles, you are pack. You’re welcome downstairs or you can stay up here, whichever you’d like.”
His scent gets bright and Peter recognizes the fae’s smell of happiness. “I might come back down then. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, see you in a few,” Peter tells him. He gets ready to turn around and go downstairs, when Stiles grabs his arm, pulling him back.
“Is it okay… I’d like…” He leans forward, and gives Peter a quick kiss. “Was that okay?”
“Very okay,” Peter says. He moves towards Stiles slowly, giving him time to step back or stop him. When he doesn’t, Peter kisses him, a little more than the peck from earlier, but still very proper. “Thank you.”
Stiles stays in Peter’s arms and kisses him once more, moving his hands up Peter’s back and into his hair. Peter takes the lead, much more experienced that Stiles. It’s still a PG-rated kiss, but from Stiles’ moan, it’s definitely doing its job.
“Hey! Don’t make me come up there!” Derek yells from downstairs.
Stiles bites his lip and turns into his room, whispering, “Good night, Peter.”
“Night, Stiles.” As Peter goes downstairs, he hears the tinkling of bells as his future mate giggles.
“Hey, sweetie,” Noah says, kissing Orla on the top of her head.
She reaches up and cups his cheek for a second, giving him a small smile. “Good morning, Daddy, when did you get back?”
“Oh, a couple of days ago. I’ve just been hiding at home, unpacking and things. How are things here?”
“Quiet,” she answers, looking to her husband who nods. “Just making some plans for Mabon. I’m thinking of inviting some the nearby hosts, we don’t see them enough.”
“We’ll see some at Stiles’ wedding, won’t we? Are they invited?” Noah asks, sitting on an empty chair next to Orla’s throne. “Are the plans made already?”
“Some will come, I suppose.” She glances at her father and he seems calm and interested. “I didn’t think you’d be interested in the wedding plans. And yes, I think they’re all set. We’ll have the wedding here, of course. It’ll be in the preserve so the wolves can be there. I’d prefer to be in our natural form, because honestly, we’re so much prettier than they are, but I understand that would be awkward for them. We’ll need to make some accommodations, but I think it’ll be worth it.”
He frowns and asks, “What are you talking about? What accommodations? What wolves?”
Orla raises an eyebrow and says, “I’m sure their whole pack will be at the ceremony.”
Noah looks between his daughter and her husband, face puzzled, and says, “Deaton didn’t mention that. He asked if you’d made the plans; apparently Lydia hasn’t requested anything specific. He said just something appropriate for them. I think he wants something as royal as possible.”
“What does Deaton have to do with anything?” Alston asks.
“What do wolves have to do with anything?” Noah asks back. “Like the pack here? Are we close enough to invite them?”
“I’d think so. When Stiles marries their beta, Peter, I’m sure they expect to be at the ceremony. After all, he saved Orla’s life and we’ll all be related, sort of, when he marries Stiles,” Alston says, smiling at his wife and taking her hand.
Her smiles falters a bit as she looks at her father, and says, “That must have been while you were traveling; I’m sure I told you though.”
“I’m sure I’d remember something like that,” Noah says, shaking his head. “And I’m guessing you forgot that you’ve already promised Stiles to Lady Lydia?”
“What? I never would! When?” Orla’s head whips from Alston to her father.
Noah sighs and says, “Ages ago. When he was a child and Scott was caught in Deaton’s garden stealing flowers to give to Allison. Deaton saw him and had a fit and you offered Stiles to marry Lydia if he forgot about it. Ring a bell?”
She gasps quietly as a light comes into her eyes. “Oh my gods. I do remember that. That was years ago, long before the wolves.”
Alston nods and says, “I remember too, now that you’ve said it. I thought maybe Deaton had forgotten. Lydia is lovely and popular and I didn’t think he’d want to pursue this.”
“Of course he does,” Noah snaps, exasperation showing. “Lydia is popular, but Stiles is a prince. Even if you treat him like a door prize.”
Orla takes a breath and pulls herself up to look as imposing as possible. “He is my son and I am his mother and the Queen. It is my duty to ensure my children make a good marriage.”
“And you do that by promising him to a girl you don’t know when he’s, what? Six years old? Or promising him to a wolf? Why did you even do that?”
Alston pats Orla’s arm, trying to sooth her. Noah was the king and gave up the throne when his wife died, and Orla’s always known she had the throne sooner than expected. “Peter saved Orla’s life. A nest of poisonous spiders attacked her and he saved her life. It was a fitting reward, Father, for such bravery.”
Noah crosses his arms and studies his daughter. “An entire nest? That must have been terrifying. Enough that you gave away your child? Again?”
“Clearly, we have to honor our commitment to Deaton; that was made earlier.” She waves a hand and says, “I’ll find something else to reward the wolf. Gold or something, that’s fitting. I’m sure they’ll actually be relieved.”
Taking her hand, Noah says, “Orla. Orla, my daughter. Please don’t do this to your other children. I know it’s your right as queen, but you should let them pick happiness.”
“You and mother arranged my marriage to Alston and we’re very happy,” she insists, taking her spouse’s hand. The love in her eyes can’t be faked.
Noah smiles, sighing as he thinks of his wife, the queen’s mother. “Your mother and I arranged several balls with both of you there, and maybe we encouraged you two together, but the decision… that was yours. And it was a good one, too. But please let your other children decide on their own.”
“Yes, Daddy. I will,” she says and lets out a loud sigh of her own. “Now I need to go get Stiles and let him know about his marriage to Lady Lydia.”
The sound of bells approaching the house announces the queen’s arrival. It’s early evening and the pack’s outside, stuffed full from dinner and enjoying the warm spring night. They may take a run together or they may not, but for now, they’re happy to sit with each other, bellies full, content to be together.
“Good evening, Alpha Hale,” Orla says, changing into her human form. “I need to talk with you for a few minutes, regarding the offer of Stiles’ marriage to your beta.”
Derek looks around his pack, feeling everyone tense, especially Peter who moves slightly closer to Stiles. “It’s nice to see you again, your highness. Should we go inside and sit down?”
“Thank you, but that’s not necessary,” Alston answers. “We won’t be staying long. We came to tell you that while we are in your debt for Peter’s actions to save Orla’s life, it’s come to our attention that Stiles is betrothed to another. This was promised many years ago and we need to honor that commitment.”
Everyone just looks at each other and finally Stiles says, “I don’t understand, Father. What does this mean?”
Orla smiles and holds out her hand. “You’ll come home with us now. On the solstice, you and Lady Lydia will marry, as agreed to when you were young.”
“Lydia? Lydia is in love with Jackson – why would she want to marry me?” Stiles asks, moving closer to Peter so they’re almost shoulder to shoulder.
“Her father is very anxious to complete the contract,” Alston tells the group, holding out his hand as well. “Stiles, you’ll need to come home now. You have an obligation to fulfill.”
Peter looks at Derek and he can feel Peter’s worry and anger and the anxiousness of his whole pack. “Well, maybe we can discuss this? Stiles has been here, as you requested. It seems this Lydia person isn’t very invested in their wedding, so maybe she can accept an option. Someone else.”
Orla shakes her head and her eyes flash quickly. “No. She will obey her father, just as Stiles will obey us. You need to come with us. Now, Stiles,” she says, holding her hand out to him again and this time, she gestures for him to come forward.
“I have… I have stuff here, Mother. My books and things. I have clothes,” he stutters, looking down at the things Peter bought for him, tugging on the hem of his shirt, showing his parents his Deadpool t-shirt.
“The servants can pack your things. Your books and, I suppose things you might have gotten here. You won’t need those clothes though, of course; they can stay here.” Orla nods and the group of fairies hovering behind her fly single file into the house with the tinkling sound of bells heading up the stairs.
“Can I say goodbye?” Stiles asks his parents.
His father looks away and Orla’s eyes flash again as she says, “There really isn’t time.” She takes Stiles’ hand and nods at the pack again. “Thank you for your hospitality to my son. I’m sure you would have made a very fine spouse and we will, of course, reward you for your bravery.”
“I don’t want anything else from you,” Peter states, staring at Stiles. He can’t keep his eyes from flashing and hears a warning growl from Derek behind him.
“Very selfless, not surprising though, as we’ve learned from your pack,” Alston says and puts a hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “Thank you again and we look forward to seeing you soon.”
Orla smiles at the pack and looks up as the stream of fairies, holding the impossibly tiny trunks, flies over their heads. “Thank you, Alpha Hale. Be well.”
The three quickly change into their tiny forms and with Alston’s hand still on Stiles’ shoulder they fly off.
Leaving the pack to stare at each other and then at Stiles’ clothes on the ground where he was standing.
“Lydia, you remember Prince Stiles, don’t you?” Deaton asks his daughter, pushing her gently towards the royal families’ thrones.
“Of course, it’s an honor to see you again, Prince Stiles,” she says. Her manners are perfect, as expected. After all, this is what they both were raised for.
Stiles smiles, and quietly says, “Thank you and it’s lovely to see you as well. You’re looking well.”
“Thank you,” she answers, and then they’re both silent.
They stand looking at each other until Orla says, “Why don’t you two walk through the gardens? You can show Lady Lydia where the reception will take place.”
“Yes, mother,” Stiles replies. He holds out a hand in front of him and she waits for him to lead her out of the palace.
“I apologize for Lydia; she’s feeling a bit under the weather,” Deaton says, sitting on the small couch next to the thrones. He nods his thanks to the servant who pours them all honeyed tea. “I have to admit, I have been lax and let her become close to Lord Jackson.” When Orla raises an eyebrow, Deaton is quick to assure them, “Not too close, of course!”
“Understandable, I’m sure, you have to give them room to breathe. They are both young and their engagement was arranged so long ago,” Alston says. “But now we should finalize the details for the wedding.”
Stiles walks next to Lydia, making sure to give her enough space to be respectable. The paths were made with enough room for two or even three people to walk comfortably next to each other. He looks at the gardens he’s so familiar with and looks at the woman next to him. He’s known Lydia since they were children and now, for the first time, they’re uncomfortable. They shouldn’t be, she’s like a sister to him. And now that he thinks about it, that might not be the best thing.
“I’m sorry about this, you know,” he says. “I honestly hadn’t thought about this for, well, for years. And I’m sure you haven’t either; I know you and Jackson are close.”
She sighs quietly and brushes a hand over her eye. “Were close. We were friends, that’s all.”
“Hmm, I guess I’ll see if he agrees. I don’t think he ever liked me,” Stiles says, risking a glance at his fiancée. At least she doesn’t look angry at him, which is better than he expected.
“He doesn’t dislike you, Stiles. He just…he doesn’t know why you’re a prince. And of course, he was aware of…” she shrugs and says, “this. He was aware that this was something promised. We both thought it had been called off or forgotten.”
“Like I said, I did, too.”
They walk quietly for a few minutes and come to a bench, sitting underneath a flower covered trellis.
“I’m sorry, I’m not acting more enthusiastic. I really am honored to be joining your family, Stiles.” She touches his hand and then pulls away. It’s a little bold for their first engaged meeting, but Lydia’s always been the type to bend rules.
He smiles and nudges her shoulder with his, the way he’d do with Erica. “Thank you, again. I hope we live up to expectations.”
“You’ve been gone for a while,” she says suddenly. “I hope there wasn’t any problem.”
“Yes. I was… I was staying in the human’s world. With the wolf pack there, you know? In the preserve?”
Lydia turns and studies him as though she’s never seen him before. Living outside of the realm isn’t something the fae normally do, especially not royalty like Stiles. “Really? Living in the human world all the time? That must have been strange. Why did you decide to do that?”
“I didn’t really make the decision at first.” He sighs and leans back, looking at the trees and flowers around them. Although it’s the same preserve the wolves live in (and maybe even humans) the fae realm is simply more beautiful. “You may have heard my mother was attacked by a spider and nearly killed.”
“Yes! Everyone heard. I heard more than one?” she asks and holds his arm for a second. “That must have been terrifying. She seems okay now, she’s recovered?”
“She’s fine. It was one, but I understand it was large and she almost died. One of the wolves, Peter, rescued her and in reward, my mother offered me as his mate.” Stiles watches to see Lydia’s reaction and as expected, she understands instantly.
“Oh. That’s… how are you, really? You were there for a few weeks, was it awful?” She watches emotions cross his face and raises an eyebrow. “It wasn’t awful, was it? You wanted to stay, but we were promised and my father would insist on this.”
“This was arranged long before Peter, and of course we would never break a promise,” he says. He turns away, chewing on his lip. “But yes, I liked it there. I liked him. And the pack, they were like a family. They accepted me and they liked me. They said I was pack.”
She pulls back and studies him, saying, “You’re in love with him. You’re in love with the wolf and now you have to marry me.”
“I don’t know, I don’t… I didn’t know him long, it wasn’t long enough to fall in love.” He stops and studies his hands, thinking of Peter’s sturdier, stronger ones. “It doesn’t matter anyway, does it?”
“I guess not. Does he love you, too?”
Stiles shrugs and says, “Maybe. But it’s too soon, right? For either of us?”
She sighs and slumps in the seat, dragging on foot back and forth on the stones in front of her. “I don’t think there’s a minimum time requirement to fall in love. I don’t remember falling in love with Jackson, it feels like I’ve always loved him.”
“I never understood that, you and him. You seem so much smarter than he is, and certainly much nicer,” Stiles says, and gives her a quivering grin.
“He’s smart, not as smart as me, but he’s smart.” She shrugs, and smiles softly. “He can be a little abrupt, especially to the servants. Actually, he gets along very well with my father; they both feel very strongly about appearances. And he’s… more than nice to me.”
Stiles snorts and says, “My friend, Erica, would call him a douche.”
“A douche? What does that mean, it doesn’t sound like a compliment.”
He chuckles, thinking of his pack and how accepting of him they were from the start. “She said a douche is something completely unnecessary and possibly harmful.”
“He’s necessary to me,” Lydia says, and takes a shuddering breath, letting the tears run down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles says and takes her hand, linking their fingers together. “I wish I could do something. I wish we could get out of this, somehow.”
Lydia squeezes his hand and brushes the tears from her face, pressing her finger tips under her eyes. “I do, too, Stiles, but we both know that we’ll do our duty to our families and the realm.”
He sighs and wipes a tear off her chin. “Sucks though.”
“Yes, your majesty, it does.”
“My advice is to stay the hell away from Peter today,” Erica announces, pulling a shirt over her head as she enters the kitchen.
Derek looks up from emptying out the dish washer. “Why, what happened?”
She sits on one of the kitchen stools and watches Derek work. “We were outside and I thought maybe he’d want to run off some energy, so I gave him a little poke on his shoulder and he nearly bit my head off. Like literally, I thought he was going to bite me right in the muzzle.”
Entering the kitchen, Peter says, “So don’t stick your face in my mouth.” He sits next to her and pulls the coffee pot towards him, pouring out a cup and putting in several spoons of sugar.
“Well, what are you going to do today?” she asks, elbowing him in the side. “I’m off work, want to go see a movie or something? You and me and super alpha here, go to a matinee and maybe find someplace for happy hour after?”
Peter stirs his coffee, looking into the mug. “Maybe,” he answers, shrugging. “I was thinking maybe I’d pack up the things left upstairs. Takes the clothes to Goodwill or something.”
Erica gives his arm a squeeze, trying to give him the comfort and warmth of his pack. “You want help? Or company?”
“Maybe,” he says, pushing away the coffee cup. “Probably yes, because I don’t really want to do it. But then again, I don’t want to have that stuff up there every time I go upstairs.”
“I can clean the room out if you want,” Derek offers, taking the cup and putting it into the sink. “At least put things into boxes and put them in garage and you can look at things when you’re in the mood. Or I can just take everything out of the house for you.”
“Oh, I guess I’ll do it. It’s time to admit that he’s not going to be coming back.” Peter heaves himself off the stool and trudges up the back stairs.
Derek holds Erica back with a hand on her shoulder. Of course it’s not too quiet for Peter to hear, but he’s quiet when he says, “Today’s the summer solstice, so…”
“Hmm, I know,” she whispers back. “I guess he’s right and it is done. Somehow, I really expected he’d be back.”
The festivities are starting in the fairie realm with an alter set up and chairs for all the guests on both sides of the family. While this is a royal wedding, Stiles is the fourth prince, not the first prince or princess, so the entire fairie kingdom isn’t in attendance. Still, with both families and their friends, it’s quite a crowd.
By tradition, Stiles and Lydia haven’t seen each other on the day of their ceremony. Scott, Allison and Kira have been helping him get ready for the big event. Their bigger job is trying to make it sound like this isn’t a horrible idea.
“Stiles, you’ve known Lydia for years and you know you like her,” Allison says as she fusses with his hair, trying to mix his normal spikey hair with the flower crown. It’s a family heirloom, made of gold, decorated with pearls and fresh flowers from the royal garden. Stiles knows Allison has happy memories from when Scott wore it on their wedding day.
“It’s fine,” he replies, although he looks anything other than fine. “She’s nice and funny and smart. It’s a good, solid match.”
“You can learn to love each other; your grandparents fell in love with each other,” Kira says, smoothing the knee length white and gold marriage gown over his shoulders. It’s another royal tradition, with both parties wearing the same style, showing they enter into their marriage as equals. Not quite true, but it’s a good thought.
“They did,” Stiles says, smiling at the memory. He turns to his friends and says, “First though, Lydia and I need to fall out of love.”
It looks like no one’s entered the room since Stiles left almost two weeks ago, but Derek notices Peter’s scent is almost as strong in here as Stiles’.
“Okay, I’ve got one box and one big shopping bag,” Erica says, tossing them both on the bed. “We can start with these and if we need more, we’ll just… I dunno, we’ll work it out.” She turns to Peter and waits for him to do something and finally rests her chin on his shoulder. “Got a plan? Place to start? Bury yourself in his worn clothing and take a depression nap?”
“You’re horrible,” Peter states, but it does make him move. He opens the closet and pushes the hangers together and puts everything into the box on the bed. “I think there’s stuff in the top two drawers.”
Derek opens the drawer and pulls out a stack of t-shirts and underwear, all very nicely folded. “Box them or?”
“Box them I guess. Unless you or anyone else want any of the shirts,” Peter says, flipping through them, all of them still bright and colorful, almost like new.
“Maybe,” Erica says and looks over her shoulder at Peter. “Hey did you see this stuff?”
In the drawer, off to the side, is the box from the bracelet Stiles wanted. The bracelet is inside and Peter snorts quietly when he sees it. “Yes. He left the bracelet.”
“He’s not the one who packed, remember? The fairie guys packed for him and probably only took stuff he brought with him.” She takes the box and smiles, then looks at Peter. “This looks like a movie ticket? Oh, you took him to Beauty and the Beast?”
“He wanted to see it,” Peter answers, nodding and sets the stub down on the dresser.
“Candy wrapper?” Derek asks, looking over Erica’s shoulder.
Peter smiles and says, “Chocolate Easter bunny. He was very puzzled by the whole idea of candy rabbits. Pleased, but puzzled.”
“He’s got your books in here.” Erica picks up the top one, flipping through it until it opens to a bookmark inside. It’s a cluster of larkspur, the petals dry, but still blue. “What’s this?”
“He mentioned missing the gardens at home and I told him we have flowers, too. So we went on a walk and he was surprised that we could grow something so pretty. I didn’t know he’d saved it,” Peter says, carefully taking the flower, smoothing out the folded petals.
“Stiles saved flowers from you and movie tickets and candy wrappers? I’m certainly not an expert, but to me, it sounds like maybe there were real feelings there,” Derek says quietly. “Originally, I know you wanted out of this, but…”
“But you kind of love him, don’t you?” Erica says, rubbing a cheek against his shoulder. “You two were really cute together, too. You were almost nice.”
Derek shrugs and sits on the side of the bed, smiling at a shirt with Mickey Mouse on it. “He looked really upset when his parents took him away. He didn’t want to go and he didn’t want to marry someone else.”
“No, but he will. If he hasn’t already,” Peter says, glancing down at his watch. “Besides, this would be such a mixed marriage. A wolf and a fairie?”
“Seems okay to me,” Derek says, looking at the bracelet Stiles left behind. “Wolves marry humans and that can work. At least this way, you’re both supernatural creatures. If he’s not married already.”
“Well, are you just going to let that happen?” Erica asks Peter. She sits on the bed and picks up the stack of shirts, flipping through them. “I don’t remember this many Star Wars ones.”
“Every time we went out he wanted another. And what do you think I should do, just be the asshole who bursts into a wedding to tries and stop it?”
“You could. I mean, you could try,” Derek says, smirking. “After all, you are an asshole, and you saved the Queen’s life, and all you got was a tree that grows gold fruit.”
“You should do it,” Erica exclaims and grabs Peter’s arm, pulling him out the door and shoving him towards the stairs “Go! Go stop him from making a terrible mistake!”
Derek comes down the stairs as well, stripping off his shirt when he sees Peter pulling off his shoes. “I’m going with you, I don’t think they’d be willing to kill the pack’s alpha. At least not in front of people.”
“You’ll come?” Peter asks, eyebrows raised in surprise. “This could be bad. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is a terrible idea,” he says, although he’s out the door, stripping off the last of his clothes. “What am I supposed to say?”
“We’ll figure it out when we get there, but we have to get there before he’s married. Come on,” Derek says, and quickly shifts into his wolf.
“What’s up?” Isaac asks Erica as the all hit the front yard.
“Peter and Derek are going to go get Stiles back.”
Boyd nods and says, “Good, I kinda miss that guy.”
“Call if you need us and go get your fairie man!” Erica yells as Peter and Derek run off into the preserve.
“You okay?” Scott whispers from his place behind his brother. They’re at the altar, waiting for the ceremony to start.
Stiles looks at Lydia, who looks down, eyes unfocused. At least they’re no longer red and swollen. “I’m fine. This is … well, it’ll be over soon and then.” He sighs and says, “And then we figure it out.”
Lydia looks up and nods slightly. “At least you’re not stupid, Stiles. And I don’t hate you.”
“Two good things,” Stiles confirms. “When does this start? Let’s get this over with.”
“I’d be insulted if I didn’t agree,” Lydia says and tries to smile. “Looks like we’re going to begin.”
The priest comes to the front of the altar, wearing a gown long enough to cover his feet. His wings are larger than most, indicating his advanced age. But his voice is steady and his hands don’t shake as he opens the book in front of him, ready to begin the ceremony. “Thank you everyone for coming here on this joyous and illustrious occasion when our beloved Queen’s son, Stiles, is to be wed to Lady Lydia, a scholar and favorite daughter of our kingdom.” He clears his throat and gets ready to continue when he’s interrupted by noises from the back of the crowd.
“Stop! You need to stop,” Peter calls, as he shifts from his wolf form to his human form. Derek follows shortly and they both take a moment to catch their breath from the fast run through the preserve.
“Wolf? What are you doing here?” Orla asks. She’s changed to her human form, along with several others there, including her family and of course, her guards. “Explain yourself, Alpha.”
Derek clears his throat, looking to Peter. “Well? Say something.”
“Stiles cannot marry that woman,” Peter states, walking towards the altar. “He can’t because… eHHe’s ruined. He’s damaged, wrecked, spoiled. I ruined him.” He looks at Stiles and while his jaw’s dropped, he doesn’t look angry, just shocked. “In fact, he could be carrying my child right now.”
There’s an actual gasp from the crowd and for a second Peter feels like he may be in a Lifetime movie.
Everyone is still for a moment and then Lydia turns to Stiles and mouths “thank you” before she pulls back her hand and slaps his face hard enough to make him take a step back. Lydia then runs off the altar into Jackson’s waiting arms.
There’s a lot of commotion with raised voices and fingers pointing, including Orla, who is yelling at everyone around them. Peter and Derek make their way towards Stiles who is still standing in front of the priest. At least he’s not yelling like everyone else.
“Stiles?” Peter asks when he’s close enough for Stiles to hear him over the commotion. “I hope you’re okay with me…” he waves a hand at the general circus going on around them.
“Thank you, Peter,” he whispers back. “Whatever happens, thank you.”
“Leave! All of you, please!” Orla calls out and Lydia and their guests all troop out of the area. Some scowl and mumble, but still bow their heads quickly when they pass Orla and Alston. After all, they are royalty, even if they can’t control their child.
Orla turns to the wolves and raises an eyebrow. “So. In spite of promising my son’s safety, obviously you didn’t watch out as much as you said you would. What do you intend to do to fix this, wolf?”
Derek looks at Peter and Stiles, standing next to each other, shoulder to shoulder. “Umm, Pete will marry Stiles?”
“Yes, that’s the only option,” Orla states. She turns and addresses the crowd, who are watching this like a human sporting event. “This will be the wedding of my fourth son, Stiles and the Hale wolf, Peter. Let’s continue. Everyone be happy.”
“Your majesty, is it possible to have a couple of minutes for my pack to arrive? I know they’ll want to celebrate this as we all do,” Derek asks. Peter can scent how anxious he is – excited, nervous and there’s the thrum of packpackpack in Derek’s chest – and he’s pretty sure he’s sending it back.
Before Orla can answer, Alston steps forward and says, “That’s acceptable. We’ll resume shortly. And I think acceptable clothes may be appropriate as well. I don’t know wolf customs, but we do dress for this occasion.”
Stiles grins and says, “I’ll be sure they’re dressed, father. Thank you.”
“We’ll talk later,” Alston promises his son. But he has a smile on his face when he says it.
Derek roars for his pack, the call that tells them to come, but that no one is in danger. There’s calls back and now it should be just a short wait before his betas come to see the official marriage and addition of their new pack member.
He and Peter are both wearing shifts provided to them by Kira. After a few pointed words from Stiles, she even gives them pants to wear underneath, although she giggles when she does it.
“I hope no one expects me to have a baby in nine months,” Stiles whispers to Peter. They’re off to the side holding hands, which would normally cause talk among the fae, but since they’ve broken so many rules, it doesn’t seem to matter.
“I didn’t say you were pregnant, just that you could be,” Peter responds. He kisses Stiles’ temple, taking a few seconds to put some of his scent on his soon-to-be-mate. “You could be after all. It could happen.”
“If it were magic.” He lets his eyes gleam, bright fairie gold and asks, “Are you scared?”
“Terrified. But happy. I know this is the right thing. How about you?”
“Same. But it feels right, you know.”
They look up in time to see Isaac, Erica and Boyd enter the clearing. They look around nervously but smile as they approach their pack. “Hey, I guess you were on time and now it’s happening?” Erica asks. Looking at Stiles and Peter’s smile, she leans down and kisses each on the cheek.
“We brought this, in case you want to wear it. You know, because there’s no wedding ring. If you guys do that sort of thing,” Boyd says and pulls the shiny bracelet out of his pocket, handing it to Peter.
Stiles beams and holds out his wrist for Peter to put the bracelet on, turning his arm so the red stones shine in the sun. “I like this, thank you for bringing it. Thank you for getting it for me,” he says, giving Peter a quick kiss on the cheek.
“It was my idea to bring it,” Isaac says, shrugging and moving his arm so Erica can’t punch him. “The rest of your stuff is still in your room, but I guess you’ll be moving in with Peter when you come back.”
“Moving in.” Peter smiles and pulls Stiles into a hug, finally allowing himself to drown in the scent of Stiles’ neck. It’s not quite human and not wolf – it’s nothing he’s ever known and it’s completely intoxicating. “When can we leave?”
“First the ceremony, then dinner and sweets and wine and then we can leave,” Stiles answers, tilting his head and sighing happily.
“Okay,” Peter says, breathing against Stiles’ neck. “Of course wine doesn’t really do anything for wolves. It tastes nice, but we metabolize it too fast. So if you wanted to skip it...”
Stiles chuckles and whispers against Peter’s lips, “Oh my wolf. For now you’re in my world and I have so much to teach you.”
Peter kisses him with a quick bite on his lower lip. “I’m looking forward to it.”