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The Mountain Pass

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A week after their one year anniversary, Derek meets Scott for the first time. 

He's surprised by the look of the other alpha for all of one minute before he thinks yeah, he could never have looked any other way. 

He hadn't known much about him other than the fact he was an Alpha and that Stiles thought he was the best thing in the world. But after their anniversary, Derek had been itching with the opportunity to do something nice for Stiles and sneakily getting Scott's number and organising everything had made him feel like a good person. And now Scott is getting out of a cab amidst late summer leaves, and twigs which crunch under the foot of his sensible shoes, and he's not the hulking mass of muscle that Derek pictured going on all those adventures with a teenaged Stiles. Neither is he particularly intimidating. 

Derek is almost let down.

Before Scott lets out the biggest smile, pheromones of pure kindness rainbow love sunshine and he's hugging Derek and patting his back and his floppy brown hair is all over the place and his jaw is a little wonky and he's a little too touchy-feely for Derek, but he can understand why he and Stiles are best friends. Brothers. He's earnest, with a good heart. He's tanned skin and optimism. He's trust where Stiles is wary, he's faith where Stiles is hopeless. But Stiles is stamina when Scott is tired, and Stiles is strength when Scott is weak. 

"Derek! This is so amazing, it's surreal! Is this your place? It's awesome, dude!" He talks fast, not as fast as Stiles, but fast. 

It's like having another Stiles. 

Derek makes polite introductions, a little bit of small talk, enjoying the gentle breeze and letting his inner wolf get a feel for this new Alpha, when Izzy, six year old and curious, pokes her head out of the front door and spots Scott. Scott brightens even more (which Derek didn't think was possible) and Derek has to watch as the two of them hit it off immediately. 

It might be nice, Derek thinks, for her to have an Uncle that's not totally crazy. 

Obviously, Derek has a secret motive for inviting Scott. And it has a little something to do with the velvet ring box hidden in his bedside drawer. He's already received the Sheriff and Laura's blessing, and Isabella had tried to steal the wedding ring because it had sparkled, so Derek had to buy her some jewellery. He assumes that's another yes. But, if Scott is the brother Stiles always proclaims him, Derek wouldn't feel right about not asking him. 

He's always been like that. Back when he thought he'd marry Jennifer, he'd stare at shining diamonds in store-windows and wonder how her parents would react. 

The Sheriff had been perfect, all warm-eyed and crinkled-smile and he smelt so proud. He'd become a little misty eyed, so Derek had offered him a manly beer and John seemed incredibly grateful. Laura had rolled her eyes and told him she would get fitted for the most gorgeous dress and that it was about damn time. 

So all he needs now is Scott. 

Scott who is currently teaching Isabella how to do a cartwheel because that's exactly what Derek needs. More stuff to be broken, but this time with flailing legs. He watches the two of them all afternoon, exploring and playing. Scott is good with kids, he has a nurturing side and Derek is sure he remembers Stiles mentioning that Scott used to intern at a veterinary surgery. It shows. In the end, a few things get broken and Derek has to clean up shattered porcelain. 

It's all worth it though. 

Because when Stiles comes home he freezes in the doorway, and stares uncomprehendingly for a long moment at Derek, Izzy and Scott eating Chinese take out at the dinner table. He blinks; slowly. Before kicking the door shut with his leg without looking away. 

There's silence.

"Stiles," Izzy says with a mouth full of chow-mien "Uncle Scott is here!"

Scott leaps out of his chair as Stiles jumps up into the air and they end up hugging so tightly and Derek realises how right their scents are together. They look startling together, standing at the exact same height with an age old familiarly written in every line of their body language. Stiles' arm curves over the top of Scott's shoulders and as if shielding him, and Scott's slide under Stiles' as if to support him. Their mannerisms seem to mirror each other and they speak in half sentences that don't make any sense to anyone else. 

"How and-"

"Derek called-"

"Kira?"

"Parents-"

"Wait, Derek? Derek!"

"I know!"

"Dude!"

"Dude!"

And they're hugging again. 

Derek's completely bewildered, and then Stiles is suddenly kissing him and beaming. "You're the best!" He cries loudly into Derek's ear and Derek blushes. 

He spends the rest of the night playing upstairs with Isabella, listening to Scott and Stiles talk downstairs. They play video games and they talk about everything. They talk about Scott's parents and girlfriend, Stiles' dad and Derek and Izzy (Stiles says some pretty glowing things, so he's fairly smug whilst playing Barbie Dream House). They talk about the latest movies and songs and they talk about pack things that Derek has never heard Stiles talk about before. He wasn't even aware that Stiles knew so much about pack dynamics, though he should have. The two of them have been on quite a journey together. Their conversation goes from intimate to humorous, from the ridiculous to the serious, and there's never any lapse that isn't drenched in comfort and contentment. 

After Derek's managed to settle Izzy, washed and dried, tucked up in bed, he creeps downstairs where all is silent. 

He pauses on the bottom step because Scott and Stiles are tangled up together on the couch. 

They're in a ludicrous position, half off the couch and on the floor, limbs mixing together and breathing in sync in a way that makes Derek think that they did this a lot. He expects to feel jealous, and in a way, he is. 

He's jealous of the comfort. He and Stiles are pretty natural now, they flow together. 

But Scott and Stiles? That's something else. It's as if even the strands of their hair are linked. The inflection of certain words is the same, and the way they'll meet eyes across the room and have an entire secret conversation is something Derek envies. He'll know it'll happen in time, and that sort of thing can take up to years, but still. He's slightly antsy, with Scott's scent all over Stiles' body, as if it belongs there. 

But he's not that jealous. 

Because Stiles is so happy. And Scott has a girlfriend. That helps too. And Scott seems like such a good guy and Stiles seems fulfilled in a way that maybe he's been lacking a little bit lately. 

He flips off the light and leaves them to rest, a small, self-satisfied smile on his face as he heads up to bed. 

 

The next few days continue in the same strain. 

Stiles and Scott seems to regress into the high-school versions of themselves and leave a catastrophic mess wherever they go. Izzy loves it. Scott is introduced to the fantastic world of Barbies, and he, Derek and Isabella go for a long wolf run. 

Scott takes to calling Izzy 'Bells' just like Stiles, and Derek watches as the three of them make dinner and completely destroy the kitchen. 

It's burnt but somehow just this side of raw, but Derek doesn't mind at all because the entire house is full of laughter. He even lets them teach him a few video games and he feels a little younger for it. 

Stiles acts a lot younger. The reversion to their high school selves makes it easy to see why they could be simultaneously frustrating and endearing at the same time. They faux-wrestle in the garden and prank each other consistently, and whenever Scott's brown eyes glint or Stiles gives a cheeky grin Derek knows something is about to go down and does his best to exist the building in an orderly manner. 

He never quite makes it. 

He loves watching their dynamic, and he can tell Izzy does too. But it's easy to feel a little left out- but not in a bad way. It's hard to explain. And Derek suddenly remembers reading a novel in school, something where the main character said she liked to "retire to a quiet nook...to observe, and let pleasures pass over her". Derek feels like that. Like he's watching a very happy show. He has a feeling, in time, he'll become a major part of their friendship, but for now, it's self-contained and beautiful thing. And Derek doesn't mind being on the outskirts of it. 

He still needs to talk to Scott about the ring though.

 

And then a perfect opportunity comes. Stiles is dropping Izzy off to school and Derek doesn't have to work till the afternoon, so he makes coffee and clears his throat. The kitchen is lit with morning sunlight, and he and Scott are lazily shedding their groggier selves. Scott looks up happily, still a little sleep rumpled and wearing one of Stiles' hoodies (Derek's not jealous, but he does wish he could do that) and nods encouragingly for Derek to speak. 

"It's about Stiles." Derek says softly, and Scott immediately seems more alert. He looks concerned, and so Derek barrels on before he can assume the worst. "I love him." He blurts, and winces. "I mean, I-...I wanna marry him. I'm just...I'm asking?" It sounds a little stupid now he's said it aloud, and the warm silence of the kitchen is about to turn awkward, but Scott looks so genuinely pleased that Derek doesn't feel too dumb. 

"Oh my gosh! This is amazing! My best friend's getting married! When are you gonna ask?" His eyes are wide with excitement and he's vibrating on the spot.

"I was thinking next week." Derek says, easier. He takes it that this is a yes and can't fight his smile. Scott's accepting him, easily, as if it's the simplest decision in the world. As though it's obvious that Derek and Stiles should go together. It makes Derek feel so warmly happy he could burst. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay with it because I know how close the two of you are."

"Like brothers." Scott replies honestly, swiping a long lock of brown hair from his face. "He's gonna be so happy. He loves you so much, dude." 

Derek laughs, chest easing up considerably. He pours his coffee. "I mean, who knows how it all works, marrying fairies and all?" He jests.

Scott laughs too "I know right, and a royal one too!" He reaches forward for a twinkie, unaware to the way Derek's frozen in his stirring. The older werewolf follows as Scott waltzes to the dining table and plonks down there. Derek remains. Staring. Scott notices after a moment, and frowns. "You okay, man?"

It takes a few minutes to get the words out, but he does eventually. "What do you mean 'royal'?"

Scott, for all Derek's new fondness of him, is a little dense. He doesn't appear to read any of the shock rolling off Derek in waves, because he answers happily enough. "Yeah you know, fae royalty." He waves his hand a little "His biological mom was like the second daughter of the fae queen. Isn't that cool? We used to have this joke that-"

"Stiles is royalty?" Derek croaks, and Scott finally seems to get it. 

"You didn't know?" He pales, setting down his sugary treat. It's from Stiles' twinkie collection, Derek realises absently, he'll buy some more to replace them. "Oh." Scott rubs his jaw "well, I guess it's a sore subject for him, his parents you know." He's trying to be consoling. He's attempting to console Derek. He looks supremely awkward, like he's said something he shouldn't have. He's worrying if he's jeopardised anything. 

The father shakes his head. "I don't mind that he didn't tell me, I'm just...shocked."

Because royalty? That's...that's insane. He doesn't mind that Stiles didn't tell him, he knows how family can be a sensitive topic, and he's only recently confided in him about all the feelings surrounding his parents death and the loss of Jennifer. But surely he's not worthy for royalty, Derek can't deserve hi-

"You better not be thinking what I think you're thinking." Comes Scott's voice, and Derek looks up in surprise to meet eyes that are sharp and piercing. "He loves you, Derek. Status doesn't mean anything. It's a social construct." He's probably right, Derek thinks, besides, Stiles never acts ashamed to be with Derek. He clearly doesn't define himself by things like that. 

Derek furrows his brows together "did you take a psych class in college?" He asks.

Scott laughs, and claps his shoulder. 

"So," Derek asks, curiosity overwhelming him. It always does when it comes to Stiles. It's one of the reasons he was so excited for Scott to come, because he can find out things about his boyfriend from when he was younger. He's pretty sure Laura is feeding Stiles information on the side about Derek and that's not fair. "How did you find out?" 

Scott grins. "It's quite a story, actually. It all started with Stiles finding out his fae name-"

"You know his fae name?" Derek interrupted excitedly, sitting down. Scott nodded, hair tumbling into his fringe. 

"It's Miecyzslaw," Scott says with flawless pronunciation and they spend a few moments for Derek to perfect his accent. He wants to get it right. He wants to know everything about Stiles, his -hopefully- future husband. "It means Mischief. Pure fae, when they're born, their names are written on the petals of surrounding flowers." 

"Mischief," Derek snorts a little, eyes wide with wonder "It suits him."

"It's magic," Scott agrees "I think all the names suit accordingly. Anyway, so he finds out his name and we heard about this location..."

...

...

...

"Can you smell peppermint?" Scott asks as the jeep barrels up towards the mountain past. The sun is big and imposing in the sky and the mountains look streaked with lavender. Their windows are rolled all the way down and the breeze comes in soothingly. 

Stiles nods, sixteen and restless. His fingers thumb anxiously against the wide steering wheel. "There was something about that in the books. Weird as fuck."

"Kinda cool," Scott offers instead, and winces as the jeep groans and splutters. He frowns at the dashboard as though he can see the engine through it. "Are you sure it's gonna be alright? It's a long journey back to be breaking down."

Stiles shoots him a half grin, eyes only glancing momentarily away from the road. "You can just full shift and I can ride you home cowboy style." He tips an imaginary cowboy hat. Scott smiles too, but he can see the stress behind Stiles' eyes. 

"We don't have to do this, Stiles," he says gently, "I know we've come all this way but there's no need to do this-"

"There is a need." Stiles whispers in quick riposte. "I just need to see the place, I just need to know something, anything about where I come from." Scott nods understandingly, and pats his knee as they continue to creep up the mountain. 

They find the Mountain Pass, and that's exactly what it's called in Ancient Runes, The Mountain Pass. There's some complex stones and an enchantment over it, but they manage to get inside. The entire place glitters like diamond, and everyone is ethereally pale and elfin looking and Scott sticks out like a sore thumb with his darker hue. There are ruby roses and emerald grass blades dotting the marble roads.They spot one or two other creatures that aren't fae, but they're few and far between and Scott shifts uncomfortably. He feels out of place. Stiles echoes his sentiment. They duck into a little fringe cafe, and take outside seats in the corner at a circular table patterned with roses, shielding their faces with the menus. 

"I don't like it here." Stiles confesses in a low voice. "I'm thinking this was a terrible plan and we should totally go home." 

Scott nods eagerly. "I agree. This place is nice and everything but it reeks of flowers and-" 

"May I offer you a refill, Princess Czcibor?" comes the voice from a waitress a few tables over. She's young and her pink wings are on display, and Stiles jerks up, listening carefully, and knocking Scott to do the same. Scott is facing away from the table, but Stiles is looking right over Scott's shoulder; watching everything. 

"How many times, Casi, call me Claudia, we don't need any of those formalities." 

Scott takes a tentative sniff, as the waitress laughs politely, and freezes. He glances at Stiles, who's already figured it out. 

"She's my mom, isn't she?" He whispers, and Scott nods once. He doesn't turn around but watches Stiles' face as he scrutinises her. 

He tries to analyse his best friend's face, but all he can tell about his features is that everything's enhanced. The glitter that's usually a few small specks or a light streak on Stiles' neck and cheek are brighter, stronger and much more obvious here. "What does she look like?" He asks, when he can't get a good enough read. 

"Me." He huffs honestly, "she's with a guy who also looks like me. Probably my dad?" Scott nods, scenting confirms that. Stiles' voice is a little harsher when regarding his biological father. He'll never be able to compare to the Sheriff, Scott thinks, and rightly so. "She's..." his face softens "she's pretty." Scott watches Stiles carefully. "She's got dark curly hair. I recognised the name. Czcibor. It means to fight with honour. She must be really brave." He sounds like he might cry. 

"Stiles," Scott whispers, getting choked up. "We should go."

"Yes, yes we definitely should."

The two of them get up just as the young waitress comes out bearing sweet smelling beverages with sapphire ice cubes bobbing in them. Her eyes widen and she drops her tray. The glasses crash loudly as she stares. 

Scott and Stiles stare right back. 

"Prince Mieczyslaw?" She chokes, her wings sparkling and green eyes wide.

Stiles can see his parents gasp, and attempt to turn around and he hightails it before they see him. He doesn't even need to check to feel that Scott is right beside him. It's instinct to just run and he can't picture doing anything else. His wings burst out once or twice, aiding his getaway and he can hear a few more shocked gasps. 

They make it out of the entrance pass without any one pursuing them. "Scott!" Stiles pants "She called me 'Prince!' Why would she do that- why would-" he snaps his mouth shut because he knows why and Scott meets his eyes and knows too, and they both run faster. Feet pelting hard against the stone as they sprint to the Jeep. It's breathless and a little surreal and they barrel down the mountain as fast as they can and laugh and cry in relief and emotion. Stiles' foot all the way down on the accelerator, and silver wetness on his cheeks.

Scott watches Stiles carefully for the next few months, but he doesn't seem scarred by the encounter. In fact, he seems to cherish the Sheriff, and he relishes the information he can find, limited as it may be about fae genealogy. He never seems sad or without or missing anything, and that inspires Scott a little bit. because if Stiles can be happy, maybe Scott can be happy without his dad too. His mom's pretty damn great, after all. 

...

...

...

Derek doesn't think about Stiles' royal background for a long time. 

Seventeen years, in fact. Time manages to pass just fine. Derek looks in the mirror to see a handsome forty-three year old who doesn't look a day over thirty-five, and Stiles is thirty-six but he doesn't look a day over twenty-five and Derek really needs to find out about those fae genes. He does love watching Stiles and the twenty-three year old Izzy (how did she grow up so fast?) stand next to each other and look like best friends rather than father and daughter. He especially loves watching Stiles crash all her night-club outings and pretending to be her classmate. 

He hasn't seen his daughter for a few months since she's been studying hard away at college, but that doesn't mean there isn't any drama in the house. 

With twin sixteen year olds, there's plenty. 

"I didn't do that." Stiles frowns from where he's making cottage pie, or attempting to, Derek isn't sure if it's meant to have that much sugar in it. 

"Didn't do what?" Derek asks happily, wrapping his arms around Stiles from the back, and hooking his head over his shoulder. But Stiles doesn't relax in his grip, he just points to the sky, which is going remarkably dark and grey for noon on a summer Saturday. "Noah?" Derek asks worriedly. 

"He's only able to control weather when something's wrong." Stiles says hurriedly, and Derek's already heading for the door as Stiles scrambles for his phone, but then in through the front door burst Noah and Tasmin, panting and slicked with sweat. The door slams shut with a bang behind them. "What's wrong?" Stiles asks, leaping over to them, and collecting them in his arms. 

Noah is the one most visibly affected. His wings keep flickering like shadows into view and his eyes are shining blue. He's protecting Tasmin fiercely, and she's shaking but seems fine. "Something weird- it's been smelling weird all day, they just tried to approach us, there were these nettles out of nowhere-"

Derek scents the air and twitches as he picks up something, he nods "someone's in our territory, I don't recognise the scent." He marches over to his two kids and captures their chins "are you both okay?" He demands seriously. His eyes are dark and thunderous.

"They didn't touch us. Nothing touched us. We didn't even see anything." Tasmin says breathlessly, she looks paler than usual but no worse for wear. She's quick to assure but her bunny teeth, which she gets from Derek, are chattering a little bit, and Stiles shuffles her towards the fireplace. "Noah's wolf senses just freaked out a little bit, we're okay," she touches her father's arm, and nudges her brother. 

Noah calms down a little bit, muscles flexing before relaxing completely. Stiles cups their cheeks, kissing their foreheads. "You're okay, we've got you. My babies," and they let him cuddle them for a moment, ignoring their typical teenage reclusiveness, before there's an ominous knock at the door. 

Derek- who had just been on his way to join the family huddle, freezes and turns back towards the door. His nostrils flare. 

"It's a fae." He whispers, and Stiles stiffens. They're all silent. He stands up, and wipes his sweaty palms against his jeans, walking towards the door. He takes a brave breath, magic crackling under the surface of his skin, and he's wishing he'd had another sugary biscuit before dinner. "Derek, with the kids, I'll deal with it-"

"Are you sure?" Derek asks lowly, into Stiles' ear, and Stiles shivers, assenting. Derek nods, and stands beside the kids at the base of the stairs in case they need to do some running. 

There's a terrific build up to Stiles opening the door, his intake of breath, the children's hawk-eyed attention and Derek's tensed muscles. Deft fingers turn the gold knob ever so slightly as Stiles swings open the door onto a furiously cold day and

A fairly harmless looking Indian woman.

She stares at Stiles as the wind whips behind her and looks stunned. And then she bows lowly. "Prince Mieczyslaw," she whispers "it's an honour."

Derek and Noah hear the steady truth of her heartbeat. And that's when Derek realises that this is what it's going to be about. Royalty. The twins know, but had never thought anything of it, apart from being enthralled in their father's fantastical bedtime stories. It hadn't mattered for such a long time and Derek's heart aches with the thought that something could happen now. 

"Oh right," Stiles says apologetically, shuffling her inside and shutting out the cold. "Yeah, hey, just call me Stiles though," he rubs the back of his neck and fiddles with the bottom of his green plaid shirt. The Indian girl still looks starstruck. "What's your name?" Stiles prompts, bringing her to the dining table, and they all sit down. Derek and the kids at one end, Stiles and the girl at the other. 

"I'm Eustacia," she says softly "I'm sorry for scaring your children earlier. I was just...I was just trying to ascertain whether or not they were true descendants, but seeing you...it just proves it. It really is an honour." She's got long, black hair braided back and there are flowers in the strands. It makes Tazz feel a little left out. Her Pa always used to braid flowers into her hair, but recently she'd shied away from it. She was good enough at plants and could do them herself if she wanted. Besides, she was sixteen, and having her hair down was cooler at school. Watching Eustacia; she misses it. 

"Yeah," Stiles sighs, rubbing his hands together "I don't imagine there's a good reason you're here, is there?" 

Eustacia winces "the Queen, your grandmother, she...well, there's been an issue."

"Don't beat around the bush." Derek says firmly, and Noah and Stiles nod in accordance. "Just say it."

Eustacia swallows and takes a breath. "Your grandmother, Queen Frydea is in need of an heir after an issue with Princess Felka's spousal choice. The queen has two daughters, and your mother- forgive me, Mieczyslaw, Princess Czcibor or Claudia, was the youngest of those daughters. After the death of your aunt, who had five children, three boys and two girls, it was assumed the eldest of the two girls would become the new heir. This was the case, however recent developments have come to light regarding Princess Felka's husband-to-be, and the Queen has thus shunned her from taking the throne. It then defaulted to her younger sister- who refused out of loyalty," Eustacia pauses, as if contemplating the idea herself, before continuing on "and without any remaining girls in the family, the Queen has been forced to go to Claudia's children. Of which there was only one. You, your highness."

Stiles frowns "Why not Claudia herself?"

Noah stiffens. Eustacia had said Claudia was the youngest of those daughters. He wants to reach out and touch his dad, but he's too far away. 

"She passed away a number of years ago. As the only child, I was sent here to see if you had any children. Fortunately, your daughter has fae blood and is thus the newest heir." She smiled. 

Derek watches Stiles carefully, but apart from a small stiffening he doesn't seem to react much to the fact that his biological mother is dead."Fortunately?" He chimed, and she faltered. 

Eustacia seems a little uncertain, but barrels on elegantly. "It is a great honour. I understand that she's not a pure fae, and will be the first non-pure fae ever but the Queen would rather a half-fae than a pure one who has broken fae law."

"Which law is that?!" Stiles exclaims, but he doesn't look angry. He looks thoroughly confused and partially dismayed. 

"She's planning on wedding a human, your highness." 

There's a beat of silence. 

Before Tazz speaks "I don't wanna leave." She whispers, and Noah and Derek hug her tightly. 

"You're not going anywhere." Derek promises, kissing away the tears as they start to form in her eyes. 

Eustacia looks sceptical. "I am here by royal fae order, it's law-binding that she become the next heir-"

"Why can't males be heirs?" Derek growls, and Eustacia responds coolly. 

"It's fae lore. It's Mother Nature, after all. It's been that way for eons. It's one of our oldest laws." She flutters proudly, and there's a smudge of glitter along her neck and Derek is startled by how similar she and Stiles look. 

Derek and the twins turn to Stiles, and he looks very deep in thought, a small line between his eyebrows. Before he stands up, and nods. "Okay, No-No, Tazz, you're gonna stay with grandad for a few days, alright? Eustacia, you head on home, I assume you came here through plant transport?" She nods, and he runs his hand through his hair "alright, Derek and I will drive up to the mountain pass. I'll talk to the Queen myself about all this."

She looks simultaneously excited and frightened. "As happy as I am, your highness, that you're coming home, the law is legally binding and 'Tazz' will have to come too, eventually." 

Stiles waves her off, looking at Derek with wide eyes, conveying an entire depth of emotion, and Derek stared back, emitting love and trust and a strong we can do this. "Don't worry, Eustacia. You've done your job. We'll head off as soon as possible."

 

The weather doesn't get any better in the few hours they spend sorting everything out. It's sullen and vexing and is tearing at the treetops for sheer spite.

Derek fills Laura in over the phone, and she's currently on holiday in Brazil, but offers to come back this instance if they need her. "No," Derek assures her, watching as Stiles tries to console his father on the phone. He takes in Stiles' taut form, and the determined lines of his shoulders. He looks strong and capable. Derek almost smiles. "I think we can do this. If anything goes wrong, I'll call you. I love you." She doesn't even tease him back, so worried about them, that she just tells him she loves him, Izzy, Noah, Tasmin and Stiles too, and to keep in touch.

John drives up and hugs Derek and Stiles tightly, a hand coming to rest on Stiles' neck. "The first time you went I thought you wouldn't come back," he whispers, his voice is choking and this is hard for him to say.  "This time, I know you will." Stiles nods, and hugs his father back, and Derek promises to look after his son. The kids aren't happy with the arrangement, but they trust their parents, and John promises to order pizza and regale them with stories of when he was a Sheriff. 

John gets back into his car, and before the kids go to join them they say their goodbyes.

"You stay safe, Pa," Noah says earnestly, but his eyes are restless. Stiles kisses his temple, and Noah sags into him. "I'm serious. I know we like to use our big mouths, but be careful." His voice is muffled by Stiles' plaid shirt, but the sentiment comes through just the same.

"You too, sweetheart," Stiles says softly, conjuring a small, four-leaved clover and tucking it into Noah's palm. 

"Dad," Tasmin swallows, looking up at Derek with worried eyes "everything's gonna be okay, right?"

"It sure will, baby," Derek assures in a low voice "we've got werewolves and a fairy. Everything's going to be fine." 

Stiles and Derek watch the car reverse and wave them off with slightly forced smiles. After they're out of view, they start loading water and essentials into the Jeep. They steer clear of the topic for as long as they can. They work in harmonious silent, coordinated and successful as they pack and prepare.

"Are you sure this thing can make it up to the mountain pass?" Derek asks, as they slide in to the Jeep. The sky is dark above them, and it doesn't seem like it's early evening, it looks almost the middle of the night. 

"Are you kidding?" Stiles teases with a light-heartedness he doesn't feel, "this is what this baby was made for." And he kicks it into gear. 

 

They have to drive for a long time, but the Jeep has done this before and it can do it again. It struggles up rocks and boulders. It groans and protests a little, but it's nothing werewolf strength and a little coaxing with duct tape can't solve. Whenever they stop to rest, Derek and Stiles sit on the hood and kiss in soft, long lingers and Derek asks a thousand questions whilst staring up at the stars. Every single question he's ever wanted to ask, aside from one. The one he fears asking and he won't ever bring himself to say it. 

Stiles tells him everything he can about fae, leaving out details here and there to avoid breaking the law. About the meaning of his mother's name and the way he felt when he first saw her, and about why she may have given him away. Derek can hear something in Stiles' voice when he talks. It sounds like something deep and dark and sad, and something that Derek has too, buried way deep down that came with Jennifer. A fear of being abandoned. Of not being wanted. He twines their fingers together and squeezes twice: reassuringly. 

"You have a family who love you so much." He whispers, and Stiles jerks a little. 

"Holy shit." He whispers "We should probably call Bells and tell her what's happening." 

Derek curses their forgetfulness and fills Izzy in on the phone. She sounds remarkably relaxed about the whole thing, and reassures them in a tone of voice that sounds suspiciously like Laura. She says they'll be just fine and to call her when they're home. But she does tell them to "be careful" at the end, so maybe her nonchalance was more to make them feel better. 

They drive for a long, long time. And they keep driving. 

 

Chapter Text

Daylight's dropping in the west and Derek stares at it as he fills up the Jeep with the plastic tub of petrol they'd packed. They're on their fourth one, the final one before they've made it there. 

It's early evening and the air is crisp but the journey's been stuffy all day and it's refreshing against his skin. They've stopped in a pale, rocky valley with steep hilly scaled-walls on either side of chalk and limestone. The sky is pink and light lavender and everything is very beige. So Stiles, who's lounging on his back in a dirty black tee with his green plaid shirt tied around his waist so the air can prickle along his arms, sticks out against the landscape. 

Derek watches him for a moment, but his husband has big black sunglasses on, and Derek can't tell what he's thinking. 

For all the stress, this is the third day of their journey and although Derek is petrified of the question he doesn't think he can ever bear to ask, he feels closer to Stiles in a way he hadn't thought they needed. The forced companionship, the annoying quirks of seeing someone on a short fuse after a long, hot day or their sharp tongue when heavily fatigued. It's been a fresh style, and Stiles has a very wicked tongue when he's in a snarky mood, but Derek finds it more endearing than anything. Derek himself has very good patience. But then again, he's also very good at bottling up feelings, so...you can't be good at everything. 

He empties the tub finally, and shuts the cap with a click and a gurgle before placing it back into the trunk. He reaches for a protein brownie, and grabs himself a ziplock bag of raisins. 

He meanders over to Stiles, and sits with a sigh beside him, stretching out his legs and offering the brownie. 

Stiles props himself up onto his elbows, and raises an eyebrow that Derek can only just see over the left lens of the sunglasses. "They don't taste as good as the sugary ones."

Derek shrugs "I figured you'd want to save the sugary ones till right before we got there. You know, charge up."

Stiles takes the brownie and the packet crinkles in his fingers, as he jabs his sunglasses up onto his hair with his wrist. "That's why I brought the sugar." Derek immediately takes in his husband's face, his clever eyes with specks of gold, and reads the emotions written there. He seems worried.

"That's only good for an immediate blast of energy."

Stiles' lips twist and he grins "know-it-all," he mutters, and Derek smiles, knocking his shoulders. 

"I think that's a title reserved primarily for you."

Stiles nods in acquiesces as he chews thoughtfully on the brownie. Derek starts chewing on his raisins, and they both look out onto the mild, chalky landscape. "I keep thinking it's weird right, but it's not weird," Derek doesn't ask, just waits for him to elucidate. "This landscape, it's exactly the same as it was when Scott and I came here last. And I think that's weird and some fae-shit but it's not. That's nature, you know. If untouched, it'll stay the same for a real long time."

"Is that good for this place?" Derek wonders aloud, looking critically at the rocks of eggshell and lace. "There's not really a lot going on."

The fairy huffs a fond laugh, and with a small nod of his head, a small tuft of green starts to grow up from the chalky, ashy ground and splutters into a pretty orange flower that flutters shyly in the chilly air. Derek immediately beams at the addition of colour and pets the plant fondly. They lapse into a comfortable silence, with both of them eating, before Derek gets up to fetch them both water. As he rifles through the Jeep, he calls to Stiles; "We're gonna be okay, right?"

There's a beat of silence.

"Yeah," Stiles says eventually, but it sounds decisive in spite of the pause. "I'll do anything to make sure of it. I mean, it's not the worst thing that's ever happened to us, right?" but his heart stutters like he's not sure that's true. "I'm not letting them take her. She's our daughter."

Derek can feel his wolf growling at the very thought, and hands Stiles a bottle as he sips from his own, standing over him. "Worst comes to worst?"

The leaner man swallows one long gulp, before wiping the dribbling water off his chin. Derek catches the final few drops for him with soft fingertips and Stiles smiles. "Then I guess we're starting a war."

Derek lets out a surprised laugh. "Oh yes, I can picture it now."

"I'm serious, Derek, if I've gotta I'm gonna."

"I know," the older wolf says fondly, flashing his gold wedding band. "Me, you, the kids, Lydia, Parrish, Casey, Scott, Kira, Allison, John, loaded in the Jeep with fangs and screams and guns and magic. I knew when I married you that this was the sort of thing my life entailed." 

Stiles lifts his hand to clink their rings together, and Derek feels a swell of pride. "It's gonna be okay," Stiles says again, more honestly "I know it is. Fae are...they're headstrong, but they are good people. Even my parents didn't just- they didn't just ditch me. You know? They found my dad, and they're good people. We just need to talk to them. You know how good at talking I am."

"I know, baby," Derek whispers, kissing the corner of Stiles' mouth and watching the final rays of sun begin to disappear over the crest of an ivory slope. 

...

...

...

"It's odd that the Mountain Pass doesn't have a name, right?" Derek asks, as Stiles peels off his shoes. They're only a ten minute walk away from the entrance, so Stiles says, and the air smells of peppermint and it prickles against Derek's senses. They've parked the Jeep and are standing in an eerily empty plane where the sun is beating down on them. "Why doesn't it have a name? Everything in werewolf history has a name. There's a huge pride and importance placed onto pack names, and their history, about how respectable they are." The Hale Pack name that his mother continued has quite the legacy, if Derek does say so himself. 

"It does have a name," Stiles grins, his heart beat's been a little faster ever since they've gotten near. "It's called The Mountain Pass that's what it translates to."

Derek blinks quizzically "Why?"

"It's meant to be hard to find, Derek. There are probably a bajillion Mountain Passes in the world, it's harder to track something with a name that common. Don't be jealous that my ancient fae ancestors are geniuses." He sticks his tongue out and pulls off his shirt and unbuttons his pants.

Derek's stomach lurches. His eyes roam hungrily over Stiles' form. His husband doesn't look a day over twenty-five, and his lithe pale torso makes Derek ache for him. It's been a while since they've had sex, and he wants to now more than anything. "Not that I'm complaining, but why are you getting naked?"

Stiles smirks upon hearing the lust in his husband's voice "you'd better start getting naked too, handsome. We need to get washed and change." And just like that a small raincloud appears over Stiles and starts pouring rainwater. Stiles shivers, and tries to warm it up a little, rubbing himself with a bar of soap that smells of flowers.

Derek tugs off his own clothing, smiling proudly at Stiles' wolf-whistle, and soon he has a raincloud too. He scrubs the grime and the sweat and the dirt of their journey off him, and Stiles passes him a bar of flower-smelling lily-of-the-valley blue soap. "What are we changing into? And why?" He asks, rubbing the nice smelling scent into his skin. 

Stiles rubs at his hair, tilting his neck back as the water rolls down him in sinewy droplets. "The Mountain Pass is where the majority of fae live, nearly all of them, really. Aside from the ones who are assigned locations, this is one of the biggest clusters. It's the royal cluster." Stiles grimaces at that. "Last time Scott and I went, we were...woefully, underprepared. Everyone is crazy clean and white and though there are other creatures that live there- they are few and far between, so you are going to feel like you stick out," he offers Derek an apologetic glance "so to avoid that best as we can, I've packed us nice clothes and these flower soaps." He waggles his soap proudly. 

Derek snorts, but a little flair of shyness sparks up inside him. Stiles can sense it, and kisses him slowly, drawing it out. 

"It's gonna be fine." He whispers. 

Soon the two of them are walking to the entrance. It smells strongly of magic and flowers and peppermint and Derek's senses are screaming. They're washed and dried. Stiles is in a clean pressed white shirt, unbuttoned to reveal his long neck and collarbones, and beige corduroys. His hairs brushed and soft looking and he smells like roses and dandelions. Derek's in a caramel v-neck and grey suit pants, feeling pristine and ever so slightly uncomfortable. 

The closer they get, the more Derek notices how the glitter on Stiles' neck and cheeks starts to glow. There's more of it too, and he sparkles radiantly under the sun by the time they reach what looks like a clove in the pink rock. There are wards here, strong ones, and Derek watches as Stiles feels them out with his hands and the rock parts suddenly, and the two of them go inside. 

It's another world. 

The azure sky and trees and nature twining into elegant glass buildings, embossed with diamonds that sparkle. Everyone is absurdly beautiful in a completely ethereal and elfin way, though not all of them are as pale as others. Derek can make a few guesses as to who's a 1/2 fae, compared to those that are say, a 1/16th. There are sprinkles of glitter everywhere; on skin on the ground. No one notices them or gawks, they stroll hand in hand with wings and smiles with flowers glinting. Butterflies with wings of gold and amber flutter in the air, and it seems like the sort of place an artist could finally find his muse. 

Stiles' wings flare out behind him, stunning and strong, and Derek is awed. 

There are tall trees with huge blue flowers that glimmer like lapis lazuli, thick and heavy and priceless, and it is obscenely clean. 

"Doing okay, big guy?" Stiles whispers, twining their hands together, and Derek looks down at their laced fingers. Stiles is so pale, like moonlight, but Derek is toughened and bronzed and surely he can't deserve someone like Stiles- "it's okay," Stiles kisses his stubble, and squeezes him tight. "The palace is beyond those trees okay, let's go?"

Derek just follows. 

He gets a few looks, but none of them are particularly judgemental, just noticing that he's not fae. A few people are probably just wondering what he is, that's all. But he still feels like he sticks out. It's supremely uncomfortable. Their footsteps click and clack against purpled cobblestones that are perfectly uniform and decorated in their unevenness. The wind tickles Derek's ears, more like a caress than a breeze.

They walk down winding lanes and Derek wonders how Stiles even knows where he's going, until they come to a less populated area, with a large flowing stream fill of gold koi, full of lilypads and framed by flowers, with a beautiful bridge made of a long, curling and intricate tree root. On the other side, is the road up to the palace. 

It looks like something out of a disney movie. 

It's a huge, white and silver thing that looks like it could be made of ice, crystal and diamonds for the way it glitters. It has blue stone turrets and white waving flags in perfect circular symmetry and it's so grand that Derek's knees almost buckle. The walls are etched with complex and beautiful designs of harmonious flowers and animals, and there is a flutter of birds singing just outside the castle by the trees. 

Derek tries to imagine Stiles growing up here and he can. 

He can picture a young prince chasing the golden hoard of butterflies, of creating huge lily pads to hop across the river whilst princesses race to catch him. He can picture him creating huge flowers to scale and climb, all the way up to the enchanted sky-

"Hey," Derek says, a light bulb flickering as they head towards the bridge "is the story Jack and the Beanstalk based off fae history?"

Stiles seems bemused, but smiles "yeah, how'd you know?" Derek just laughs, and Stiles and he cross the bridge together. The birds immediately flock to Stiles, welcoming him back to the Kingdom and Stiles lets them rest on his shoulders and murmurs a few hello's himself. "A couple of centuries ago there was a little boy fae who grew a huge plant with his friends, and he made it up into the skies- in the reality, it curves the higher and higher it gets so the giant Kingdom isn't really in the sky, it's just a few mountain's over. Snow easily gets mistaken for clouds in translation."

The closer they get to the castle, the more animals start appearing. 

Deer, all bambi-looking and wide eyed and adorable nudge out for Stiles to touch and pet and talk to. As though they want a blessing from the prince they never got to have. Derek can tell that Stiles had wanted to be angry, and to storm into the palace and demand they leave their daughter alone, but he can't be. This is the first time truly in the place he was born, and everything is so warm and idyllic and happy to see him that he has a hard time summoning the anger. 

One bird in particular stays perched on Stiles' shoulder. A red robin nestles against his cheek, chirping happily, and Stiles smiles as they reach the front gates of wrought crystal. 

"Not forever, no," Stiles says quietly, and the bird whistles in disappointment, "just for the day. Me and my husband have a family to go back to." The bird hoots at Derek, before leaning over and pecking at his shoulder lovingly. Derek smiles and brushes a gentle finger down the bird's feathered back as it nestles back into Stiles. 

The guard doesn't even ask their names, he can apparently sense that Stiles is a pure fae, for he bowes and the gates are opened and they're inside. Stiles holds his shoulders awkwardly at the display of worship, but continues onwards.

A man rushes out to them, one of the first fae Derek's seen without his wings showing, out through the large arch-shaped doors and there's a green leaf stitched onto his flowing garments and his silver cape flutters in the air. He's wearing a small crown of flowers and diamonds, and he pants before them. 

"Cousin Mieczyslaw," he breathes, eyes wide "Eustacia informed us you were coming, but we were not sure when and...well, it's a great joy to meet you finally." He smiles, and Derek understands fae a little more now. 

He guesses it's a bit like going to a new country. At first, a race of people look the same, like all the fae did to Derek, but there are differences between them and the more he examines each one, the more he sees them. This man, this prince, he does look like Stiles whilst other fae now, in retrospect, do not. They are cousins after all, and he's nice looking. Not conventionally attractive, but with a small blond beard and curly hair.

The man conjures a small flower and offers it to Stiles, and Stiles conjures one and offers it back. 

Derek assumes it's some sort of greeting. 

"Hi," Stiles says, he sounds relaxed even though his heartbeat's jacking up a little. "Call me, Stiles, please. I say that, but I'm not sure you will. What's your name?" 

The man laughs, and his cheeks redden a little and Derek decides he likes this man. There's no worrying scent coming off him and he seems genuine. "I'm Prince Bakula, so you'll understand why I was so anxious to meet you. Your name gave me hope that I didn't have to be alone." 

Stiles' surprised laughter peals through the air and he nods. "No, sure man, that sucks." He turns to Derek and whispers "His name means he tells lies."

Derek blinks, eyes widening "his name means he's a liar?" Hadn't Scott told him that names indicate the type of person that they were? Maybe the good vibes he's getting off the prince are wrong-

"Not liar!" Stiles and Bakula yelp at the same time, and Stiles specifies:

"It means he tells lies. Not that he is a liar. Just like I can be mischievous at times but that's not all I am, you know?" 

Derek nods, understanding "I think I get it." He shakes hands with Bakula who seems surprised by Derek's warm handshake, but shakes it enthusiastically. Derek introduces himself, and likes Bakula even more because it looks like the prince is trying to learn Derek's name, though it's a little clunky on his tongue. He looks like he wants to remember it. He leads them into the palace and it's refreshingly cool and even more fragrant. 

"This is kinda cool," Stiles says, after he and Bakula have chatted for a while, whilst walking down endless corridors as Derek took in the many portraits of queens and scenes, "I've never had a cousin before, but you kind of rock." It makes Derek smile to hear that. He likes it when Stiles is happy, and finding family, even in a situation like this, is good. Family is always good. Unless it's trying to take away your youngest daughter. 

"As do I," Bakula grins "my brothers are amiable but not present at the moment. They're wonderful people, but we don't have huge amounts in common."

Stiles bobs his head, nodding. Before he swallows. "Well, Bakula, not to ruin our bonding but-"

Bakula sighs and stops before a room. "I know, you need to talk to grandmother. She's in the royal court. It's mostly empty at the moment, my wife and my brother's wives are there- a few other pure fae. But first I need to put you in a crown and a cloak, if that's alright?" Stiles nods, and his wings fade from view. He opens the large oak door, and fetches out a long shimmery cloak which he fastens to Stiles' shoulders, and the robin huffs and hops about until it can resettle on Stiles' shoulder. 

Derek watches with a dry throat as the crown of flowers is placed onto his husband's head and the question he never wants to ask burns stronger than every before. 

Stiles just looks uncomfortable though, shifting from foot to foot. 

"Anything I should know?" He asks, as they head towards the royal court "about the Queen?"

"Uh..." Bakula's hesitation is not reassuring. "She's used to getting what she wants." He says, "but I'm on your side."

He scurries on ahead to announce them and Stiles looks up at Derek sympathetically. "I'm sorry. You don't feel weird or anything?" 

Derek takes him in, this prince, in the castle in the mountain pass, in a cloak, in a crown. But he's still Stiles. His Stiles. His husband. The father of his children. "I'm okay." Derek says, in a voice stronger than he feels. "And you look beautiful."

Stiles rolls his eyes and blushes. "Please. If anyone in this marriage is reaching, it's definitely me." He pulls two small packets of coffee-shop sugar out of his pocket and pours them into his mouth, smacking his lips together.

Derek gawks. "How can you say that wearing a crown?!"

Stiles grins and pecks a kiss on his lips, and then the doors are being opened and they're stepping into a bright glass room, with a large throne. 

The queen is...

well, she's everything Derek expected a fairy queen to be. 

She is the epitome of elegance, imposing and regal. She exudes power. She's tall, in a long red dress that looks as though it's made from equal parts of rose and ruby. It flares out around the bottom, and she's wearing a pearl necklace. Her hair tied tightly showing her shining white face. Her wings too, are red, and they glitter so brightly it nearly hurts Derek's eyes. Everything about her seems Alpha and Derek can feel his wolf wanting to attack against the blatant display of red and everything that that means. 

She has a long streak of red glitter above her eyebrow and a more elaborate crown dotted with gem stones and she stands up as if to say something cruel, but then Stiles steps further into the room, into the light from the floor-to-ceiling windows and she freezes before Derek can protect Stiles from her spite. 

Derek watches as her expression seems to crumble from cold porcelain dispassion, to rosy sadness. "By the skies," she says loudly, not whispering at all. Derek takes stock of the other people in the room, there are five women, and Bakula in crowns. He's standing beside a sweet looking woman that Derek assumes is his wife. He sees Eustacia on the other side of the room, beside other proud looking servants. The throne room is immaculately decorated but also exceedingly minimalist with ceramic pillars in every corner wound around with ivy and moss and small weed-like flowers. "You look so much like-"

She cuts herself, raises her chin as if defiant to her emotions, and Derek would recognise that look anywhere. 

Stiles does the exact same thing. Derek realises with a pang that they have the same nose- everyone else in the room seems to see it as well. Even Eustacia seems jarred by how much more Stiles fits into this place with the cloak and the crown. "I'm here to tell you to stay the hell away from my daughter." Stiles says in a strong voice, and Derek stands beside him, the wolf inside him puffing up his chest for emphasis. 

The queen looks like she wants to say something firm, but she loses stock of her words and they catch in her throat. She clears it; embarrassed and it's clear that the members of the court are surprised to see her this way. "Excuse me," she says, sounding remarkably human. "I find myself wanting to be extremely blunt with you, but all I see when I look at you Mieczyslaw, is your mother." She's blinking rapidly, and Derek suspects she's blinking back tears. He tries to wonder what it would be like to see two people who looked just like his parents stroll into his life, and shoots Stiles a look. 

Stiles nods. He lowers his voice. "She's uh...she passed?"

The Queen nods, face turning to the windows and everyone bows their heads. "Allow me. I was not prepared for such a resemblance. I need a moment." She closes her eyes and glows faintly, before nodding, and opening them again. Composed. "You live up to your name, young prince, do you know mine?" 

Stiles nods. "Queen Dorota. I remember because it sounds like doritos which are delicious."

She smiles a little. Derek can't tell if it's in annoyance or reluctant fondness. He knows the feeling. "And do you know what it means?" 

Stiles sighs. "It means you're smart. But if you think that you're the only one who is then you're sorely mistaken." The rest of the room look horrified at Stiles' speech towards her. But he barrels on regardless, in spite of Bakula's desperate attempts to signal a stop. "Tasmin is my daughter. And I love her more than anything and I will never give her up. Do you understand? You have to listen because I'm only going to say this once. You lost a daughter. That feeling? That pain? That's what I'm fighting against. Don't inflict that on me, because in some distant way, you are my family. And family shouldn't wish hurt on each other like this." He waves his hand between them. "She's my Tazz. And I don't wanna have to go to town on your ass but I will. No one is taking her from us." He grabs Derek's hand and sparkles with magic a little bit. "She's my girl. My whole life I have respected fae law. I don't know why. But I have. But I will not hesitate for one second to tell you that you are idiotic for letting it get in the way of my family. And your family. Eustacia said your daughter's- my aunt's- problem was who she wanted to marry. Really? Love? You're going to punish her for love? You're going to destroy my family for love? You need to have a cold hard look in the mirror, Queen Dorota, because at the moment you're no fairy god-mother. You're an evil step-mother. And that's not who you want to be in this story, because the bad guys never have a happy ending. I can personally guarantee it." He takes a deep, reeling breath, and looks at her beseechingly. 

Derek, and the rest of the court on the other hand, can't take their eyes of Stiles, in awe. 

The Queen, cocks her head consideringly. "You're something else, aren't you, Prince Mieczyslaw?" But her voice is soft, and Derek can hear the fondness. She sits down in her throne, and sighs. "I'm afraid in spite of that, there's nothing I can do. As Queen, it's my job to hold up fae law and there is no loophole around it. Whilst it is regrettable that your daughter is not pure fae- she is the next in line to the throne and there is nothing in our law that says that someone who is not-pure cannot be Queen."

"Just get Princess Felka to take the throne." Stiles insists. "So she can't marry the guy she wants, she can still date him, can't she? And you're the Queen. Bend the rules a little. Or convince her sister! You cannot have exhausted all possibilities yet."

"Felka has turned against us." The Queen hissed; anger and pain in her voice.

"Queen Dorota," Derek clears his throat, and eyes swivel to him in surprise. "You've already lost two daughters. Are you really going to lose a grand daughter?"

Stiles nods, and the Queen shakes her head, tears burning bright in her eyes. "You don't understand the sacrifices necessary- you don't understand about sacrifice." She points a long finger at Stiles. "Mieczyslaw, I had to watch your mother give you up. I saw how much it hurt her. I saw the pain it caused. Do you think I wanted that for you? I never wanted that for you. I believe all fae should stay within this Kingdom. But she decided to do what had to be done. She recognised in herself that she was no fit mother, and though I offered to raise you myself, you were such a beautiful child, you are a beautiful child- she said you would fare better out there. I watched her give you up. She sacrificed. I sacrificed. Your aunt sacrificed her life fighting for this kingdom!" Her voice rose into a yell "Princess Felka would sacrifice nothing! Every woman before her has given up the thing they cherished most, or their life, but she won't refute one human man? I refuse, I refuse to hand over the throne to someone like that." Tears slid down her cheeks. "S-Someone who doesn't understand how to do what is necessary no matter how much it hurts and-"

"Grandmother," comes a soft voice, and Derek, Stiles and the court turn to see a woman, a few years older than Stiles, wearing jeans and a dirty tee. Stiles likes her instantly, and Bakula gasps. "I didn't know."

Dorota stands up, and rushes down the steps of her throne.

She and Felka hug in a tight, sorrowful embrace and Derek and Stiles watch; stunned. 

"Are you giving him up?" The queen asks eagerly, and Felka looks as if her heart is breaking. 

"I didn't have to make that choice." She whispers, and turns to look at the doorway, where a very sickly, and very human man is leaning on crutches, eyes red rimmed and tears dried on his cheeks. She whispers, but Derek can make it out; "Daiya's with his parents. She's sorry too. But Andrew's sickness has become worse. He's got weeks." And she's crying anew. Dorota cradles her, and closes her eyes in grief. 

"I am sorry, Felka. I did not want it to happen to you like this."

Stiles wipes tears from his eyes, but Derek just laughs. 

"Derek!" Stiles hisses, but Derek shakes his head, grinning. 

"I can fix this." He says, and the queen stares at him aghast, but Felka looks cautiously hopeful. "I'm a werewolf. I can bite Andrew and cure him. Then Felka can marry him, and be Queen without breaking any laws. Right?" 

"Holy shit." Stiles whispers, voice breaking into a sun-splitting smile. 

"Thank you!" Felka gasps, and even the Queen looks reluctantly impressed. The women are crying and Eustacia is clapping and Bakula whoops and the robin on Stiles' shoulder is jumping up and down. 

"Werewolves are real?" Andrew gapes from the doorway, but he's laughing too. Hope and wonder coursing through his veins. 

...

...

...

Derek is reeling. 

After a grand feast of laughter, of everyone around a long, formal dining table and eating delicious cupcakes. Stiles beside him in a crown, glitter on his face and flowers behind his ears. It's like a story. Everything in his life. Everything is fixed, no one got hurt, and Derek got to save someone and make his husband happy and save his daughter and a Kingdom. It's not bad for a day's work. Andrew had taken to the bite perfectly, healed and healthy, Derek and Stiles had been invited to the Royal Wedding in a few months. Derek's going to be knighted and the kids are finally going to be able to see the Mountain Pass, which is amazing as Izzy has been complaining about wanting to visit it for years. Derek smiles as he imagines it. Imagines Stiles making dresses out of flowers for the girls and a ties out of petals for himself, Derek and Noah. 

Everything's so amazing, that by the time they slide back into the Jeep, heart felt goodbyes and promises to return, slipping out of the wards and back to the reality of the blue jeep, he's forgotten why they were ever stressed about coming here. 

But the second they're in the car, outside of the Mountain Pass, he can truly smell Stiles without all the flowers and heavy fragrance. And the mixture of emotions is so strong is hits Derek like a truck and he realises how many things his husband has had to process in one day, and he feels like a terrible partner. Stiles had connected with Felka and Bakula, had learnt his parents were dead, had learnt his grandmother wanted to keep him, and finally seen the place he could have grown up. He'd witnessed Derek being accepted into his family, and seen his cousin nearly break down over almost losing their loved one. Derek wonders how Stiles is even coping at all. 

He turns to him worriedly as Stiles turns on the ignition and starts them in a gentle crawl down the hill. "Stiles?" He whispers, feeling selfish and awful. "Are you okay?"

It's the trigger. Because Stiles bursts into tears. 

Derek jumps, and the car comes to a halt. He holds Stiles close over the handbrake, trying to console him as the lanky fairy sobs. He reeks of sadness and Derek's wolf is howling forlornly. “Fuck, sorry.” Stiles whispers, jamming at his eyes roughly with the heel of his palms. He’s scraping at skin whilst wiping tears. “I didn’t think it’d be so hard. Fuck.”

"Don't be sorry." Derek hisses passionately "don't you ever be sorry. You were amazing."

Stiles chokes a small laugh, but he's still crying. Hot, painful tears that burn as they rub raw skin. His boy is exhausted. "You were amazing," Stiles chokes, sniffling "I'm just- there's so many emotions. Fuck. I'm gonna need a few weeks, I think."

Derek rubs his back, leaching all the pain he can. "I think that's more than fair. You need to be coddled. Breakfast in bed everyday and I'll even buy the expensive cookies you like." He smiles at Stiles' watery grin. At that moment the red robin flies in through the Jeep's opened window, and perches lovingly on Stiles' shoulder. It cooes at Derek softly and nuzzles his prince. "I think you've made a friend," Derek murmurs, not relinquishing his hold on Stiles. The fairy laughs and kisses Red sweetly on the head, noticing it's the same colour as the Queen's wings. After a few minutes of prolonged hugging, Stiles sniffles and nods to himself, starting the car back up. 

"Expect a few of those," he jokes, peeling down the stones as Red settles. "Emotional breakdowns and everything." But he smells better, more content, not so sad.

But now Derek remembers. The question. The question he daren't ever think because- what if-

But it tumbles out now, vulnerability encouraging vulnerability and he finds himself asking it though he'd rather repress it. "Do you ever think about living there forever? That it'd be better for the kids?" Of leaving our world? The children are half fae, and Derek would be lying if there were time when he's thought he's not enough. That this world and this life aren't enough for the magic in the eyes of his husband and children. It hurts his heart, but he thinks it sometimes, when Noah makes the sky dark, or Stiles and Tazz make huge cacti grow in the garden. He could stay here, he's reasoned, in the real world, with Izzy. Just how it was at the start. He'd be okay. He loves his daughter. Sure, there'd be three holes in his heart, but Derek could cope- maybe- with the never ending pain-

Stiles blinks, he looks a little dumbfounded by the question and Derek wants to crawl under one of these astatine rocks, but then Stiles is biting his lip and shaking his head. "It's a beautiful place," he says, and his heart is thumping with honesty throughout. "It charges my magic in a way that nothing else does. It would charge the twins' magic too. But it's a fantasy full of backward tradition. There's enough magic for our twins in the real world." He reaches over and squeezes Derek's hand, comforting him all of a sudden. And that's a marriage. That easy aid between two people, never asked for, but always there. "Besides, I found you in the real world, and that's the most magical thing that's ever happened to me." 

Derek ends up crying too.

But it's no problem.

They're tears of joy.