It turns out that the Preserve is rather creepy at night.
Stiles rolls his eyes to himself. The strap of his bag is slipping, his arms are aching and full of stuff so he can’t catch said strap. His trainers are making a disgusting wet sound, and if another root trips him he’s going to put the whole goddamn forest on fire.
Never mind him, he’s very zen and composed, as fitting for a dignified, powerful magic user. (Not.)
For all that he grumbles to himself, he’s almost there. There being a small, isolated clearing in the far north-east corner of the Preserve. Close enough from the road that he won’t take three hours to reach it and far enough that there is very little risk that he would stumble on one of the Hales.
Not that he’s doing anything bad per se, or that the Hales are dangerous. They’re more like unofficial forest rangers and would probably do nothing more than put the fear of… whatever in Stiles, before sending him back his way.
Still, he’d rather not tempt anyone, which is why he chose this out-of the-way clearing.
(It still sucks.)
The full moon is supposed to start rising in something like an hour. Going by the way the woods are quickly darkening, Stiles is right on track. He dumps his stuff none too gently on the ground, next to a large tree with its huge roots rising above the ground. Stiles groans at the release of the weight and lets himself drop ass first on one of those roots. They’re hard and not quite flat, but they still feel like they’re the comfiest seat Stiles has ever tested, after trekking through the forest for hours.
He takes a few minutes to catch his breath and stretch his aching legs, then leans forward to grab his bag and pull it close. The moon is going to wait for no man.
One thing Stiles is good at, is being prepared. And prepared, he is. It’s not that this is going to be a dangerous ritual or anything, but still.
Okay, the real problem is that moon rituals are mostly either geared toward hurting werewolves or boosting their powers to uber levels of creepy and deadly (and dead-dead, when other hunters or packs eventually hear about it). Stiles has no intention to do anything werewolf-related tonight, but he’s 90 % sure (okay, maybe 70 % sure) that the Hales are werewolves.
So, waving moon rituals near the pack house? Nope. Which is the second explanation for why he ended up sulking in the forest even though he’s doing nothing bad. He’d rather not have the Alpha give a kill order, thinking that he’s a hunter trying to decimate the pack, or something.
There’s a conveniently cut down tree not quite in the center of the clearing. Stiles drops the supplies he’s built and brought on the flat surface, followed by the little jars of ingredients, his mortar and pestle, and a jar of purified water. No knife for this time. No weapon-like utensils, anyway. He did all the necessary cutting the week before, made sure that the ingredients and tools he would be using, as well as the empty magical containers that he would be transforming tonight, were ready for the ritual..
Tonight is a night for charging up everything with magic, purifying them with the super moon’s rays, and imbuing moon related characteristics in them. No blood, no grand rituals, just a regular witch making stuff with an extra oomph from the super moon, to sell with an extra oomph to the price tag too.
About half of the trinkets are done by the time the moon has risen high above Stiles. He’s starting to yawn, but he’s still got work to do. He had a quick snack some time earlier then went back to work. He’s having a great concentration day today. Stiles can’t tell if this is the remnant of his ADHD meds taken during earlier, or if it’s something moon related, but he couldn’t care less. All that matters is that he might even manage to upgrade all the items he brought with him, even though he’d thought he’d made way too much for one person to work on in one night.
It’s also why, when the beast shows up, Stiles doesn’t even notice until it’s standing right next to him, studying what the hell Stiles is working on.
“Holy shit!” he swears under his breath, standing very still. “I seriously hope that you’re a werewolf, not an actual wolf, otherwise I’m so fucked,” he tells the beast.
The wolf is huge, with a grayscale dark-ish fur that shines dark silver/blue-ish in the moonlight. It’s also very clearly rolling its eyes at Stiles, without actually rolling them.
“Well, I know we’re not supposed to have actual wolves around here anymore, but you never know. I’d rather not die from a “mountain lion” attack, if you know what I mean.”
The wolf huffs, then turns back toward the root-turned-workbench. It rises up on his hind legs, leaning against the dead tree to get a good look at Stiles’ work (and Stiles gets a good look at… well, let’s just say that it’s a ‘he’).
“I swear I’m not performing any kind of fucked up ritual,” Stiles rushes to explain. “Just regular moon charging, but with more moon than usual, because of supermoon-slash-bluemoon. Also, the eclipse is supposed to be in less than an hour and I really need to get those done first, before I work on the eclipse-related talisman and I really can’t dither so can I keep working, please?”
The wolf studies the materials for a moment, then he looks up and stares hard at Stiles.
Before Stiles can find his voice and babble some more promises that everything’s fine and there’s nothing hooky going on, the beast steps back then suddenly twist and cracks and flows up until there’s a man standing in front Stiles, with the same smirky-eye-rolling face, minus the fur.
Minus a whole lot of fur. (Holy mother of abs.)
“I’ll watch,” the man orders.
Stiles nods dumbly, too busy trying to keep his eyes up(ish). (Spoiler: it doesn’t work that well.) (That man has a beautiful everything.)
“I’d say ‘eyes up’,” the man says, “but I wouldn’t mind seeing you on your knees, so.”
“Oh my god.” Is there such thing as death-by-too-much-blushing? “Hold that thought, please, really,” because fuck yeah, but also, “I really need to finish those because I’d like to not be saving money all the time, when I go back to college?” It ends like a question, because Stiles is weak and that man might be the same size as him, or thereabout, but he’s still three times larger in a I-can-kill-you-with-my-pinkie kind of way.
“I’ve got all the time in the world, babe.” Then the guy leans against the root, half sitting on it, looking like some kind of sexy statue in the light of the moon. Stiles’ mouth might be watering just a little.
But, work. For real.
It’s hard to get back in the groove, when the man is sitting there, looking all… like that! But on the other hand he really does need that pocket money for when he goes back after spring break, and also the work is fascinating, so.
With his new focus, he gets another group of objects done. It’s repetitive work. Most people want the same thing from a magical object. Help for concentration, for knowledge retention, a boost to keep dark energies away, stuff like that. Moon magic is mostly about purifying and heightening psychic awareness, of bringing people together. (Well, at least when not doing those dark, disgusting rituals. Just thinking about them gives a slimy feeling to Stiles.) He shrugs it off, then straightens again, his back aching from the bad position. The cut down tree is useful, but not quite high enough to be used as a table.
“The eclipse is going to start in a few minutes,” the man says.
Stiles nods and starts pushing his mess to one side. “Yeah, I know,” he says, just as his reminder makes his phone vibrate. He cuts it off, then grabs a bag sitting next to the tree.
“You said you had a special one planned for the eclipse?”
“Yep. I want to make an amulet for myself. I found this “recipe” to create one to increase magical strength and help the body resist multiple uses of magic at once. I’m hoping that I could turn on the concentration spell and the knowledge retention one when I go back to college, and maybe even the ‘less sleep/more rest’ one too.”
“That’s ambitious. From what I know, the shape of that kind of amulet is particular. You can’t just make it a basic silver round pendant.”
“I know, I looked it up and cross-referenced six ways to Sunday. This better work too, because that thing was damn expensive.” Stiles points at the other, smaller amulets he pushed aside earlier. “That’s why I needed those. I used up way too much from my college fund, if I don’t sell some, I’m going to end up eating ramen for the next three years.”
“What are you studying?”
Stiles looks up at the man, his hands smoothing a paste made of mint and crushed roots over the silver triangular charm he’s hoping will be his new college good luck necklace. (of course, he almost skewers his fingers on the spikes decorating the edges, when he’s nicely reminded that said man is still naked.)
“I mean, my name. My name’s Stiles. I thought we could exchange names, seeing as I’ve seen way more of you than I ever wanted.”
“You say that like I don’t know how much you like watching me.”
“Yeah, well, you’re… you,” Stiles finishes lamely, gesturing at the man’s body as a whole.
“Thank you. My name is Peter. Nice to meet you, Stiles,” the asshole purrs with a smirk, crossing his arms over that magnificent furry chest. He’s half sitting on the root, one knee up and the other leg solidly planted in the ground, and Stiles has full view to the man’s family jewels, lying nicely between those strong legs…
‘Aaaand, moving on,’ Stiles scolds himself and forces his eyes up.
“Oh, you’re Peter Hale!”
“No, I mean, you’ve got the library in town! I heard that you’ve got a back room with occult books and supplies, but they say you have to be invited and I haven’t found anyone who would recommend me yet,” Stiles explains, frowning at his hands. True, he hasn’t had much time to look it up, and the little new age shop near the campus isn’t too bad and mostly has what he needs (he gets the rest from the internet), and yet…
“Well, I can certainly tell that you know enough to be aware of the basic protections and precautions,” Peter says, nodding at where Stiles is still preparing the amulet, even as they talk.
The eclipse started just a moment ago and now it’s all about timing, Stiles knows. He’s prepared, he has mock-trained himself several time to get all the steps right, he could almost do it in his sleep.
Still, they fall silent for a while, Peter keeping himself still and unobtrusive while Stiles concentrates again on what his hands are doing.
The bottom of the amulet is made in the form of a fleur-de-lis, while the top is engraved by a crescent moon symbol. The symbol starts light silver, like the rest of the amulet, but slowly turns blue as Stiles soaks it into the mixture and pushes his magic in the object, chanting softly under his breath. It darkens steadily to a deep blue, almost black as Stiles’ voice deepens.
The magic is swelling in the air, making their hair stand on end and Stiles’ eyes are shining bright, the one point of light in the otherwise unnaturally dark forest.
Peter doesn’t move until Stiles finally falls silent, just as a sliver of moon re-appears slowly.
The timing was perfect. Stiles lets a breath out, his body slowly relaxing. He’s still thrumming with power, feeling both rejuvenated but also drained. Which is basically what happened to his body, of course. Lit up with pure energy, but also drained of magic.
“This was impressive,” Peter murmurs.
Stiles jumps a bit in surprise. He’d almost forgotten that the man is still present. For the most part, Peter looks barely ruffled, but there’s something in his eyes. Stiles can’t tell if it’s wariness or greed. (Or maybe lust? But that’s probably just Stiles projecting his wants).
“Thanks,” he says eventually. His body feels weird. Almost disconnected, or out of phase with his thoughts and the outside.
“How is it that you haven’t been invited in a coven or at least formed a partnership? It seemed to me that magic users rarely stay alone.”
“Yeah, well, it’s mostly because we’re super defenseless during rituals. People sign those contracts to have someone at their back.”
“But you didn’t sign any contract.”
“I’m not- Well, I don’t really know anyone? As you said, it’s only me. I don’t want to get on anyone’s radar and then have to fend off attacks or assholes trying to steal my stuff or my magic. And now all my rituals are designed to fit me by myself, and I’d need to rework everything if I found another compatible wizard or druid or whatever.”
“If you merely need someone to watch your back, why would you choose another magic user?”
“Well, who else is there?”
Stiles almost drops his brand new super-charged amulet. “What?!”
“You already know my reputation and you know my resources. I’m a werewolf so mostly resistant to magic attacks and strong enough to watch your back. I could protect you, but I’m sure that we’d work well together even out of ritual making.”
“Yes, but, me?”
Peter points at the nice stack of amulets that Stiles had made. “How do you intend to sell them?”
“Well, pass the word around?”
“Which is going to take time and be dangerous because you’ll never know if the other will really pay or if they’re just going to rob you. And it depends on you finding someone renown enough to promote you, while also letting everyone and their mother know your identity or at least know enough info about you that they could find you again.”
“I know it’s not safe, but what else can I do!” And yes, Stiles is very aware that there are quite a few unscrupulous people among the supernatural underworld who would love to find a way to use him.
“Bind yourself to me in a partnership.” Peter raises his hand as Stiles starts to sputter. “You know who I am, you know my reputation, you know my family. I have a legitimate business but also a back room quite popular among our circles, you know that too. I can watch your back while you do your rituals and then sell the objects you create in my shop, for a better price than you’d get by yourself, but also at a lot less risks to yourself.”
“And what the hell would you get from that?”
“A business cut on the sales. Which-”
“Which,” Peter continues, raising his voice over Stiles exclamation, “you won’t even see the difference, as I’ll be able to sell your craft at a higher price than if you’d been pawning them off yourself.”
“That’s a lot of work, for just a few dollars,” Stiles comments, skeptical.
“It would be, if you ignore the fact that it also means that I’ll have access to a very talented enchanter. And with my access to books, ingredients, and materials, you will have a lot more to work from and make even better crafts.”
Well, having access to Peter Hale’s workshop is certainly an important enough incentive.
“I need to finish those,” Stiles eventually says.
“Of course. Take your time, there’s no rush to take a decision. And I’ll even be your bodyguard for free, tonight.”
“Thanks, even though I didn’t ask for anything,” Stiles can’t help but point out.
“Don’t worry, it’s no hardship, babe,” Hale retorts, actually leering at Stiles.
There’s a blush staining his cheeks, Stiles can tell, but he ignores it and everything else, and goes back to work. The super moon event isn’t going to last much longer and he still has work to do. Especially if he’s going to be selling his craft in an actual shop. The demand will certainly be more important than if Stiles had to rely on word of mouth.
And if Stiles spends the rest of the night daydreaming about everything he’s going to be able to do, with Peter Hale’s support, and his connections, and his access to materials, well… At least he’s not daydreaming about Hale’s sexy, naked body.