“You’re to marry the Alpha.”
Stiles goes rigid at the words, the sound of his heartbeat thundering in his ears as he stares at his father and blinks. “What? You said – you said you’d never –“
The king’s face remains carefully blank. “We need the werewolves to defeat the Argents. The Alpha has pledged his allegiance and his army in exchange for your hand. What was I supposed to do? Turn him down?”
Stiles takes a deep breath. “Yes! You were supposed to turn him down! You were supposed to tell him I’m seventeen and the answer’s no!”
King John runs a hand through his hair. “He wants you. And if it means the safety of everyone in the kingdom? I’ve said he can have you.”
Stiles swallows convulsively. The Alpha. The Alpha’s, well. In a word? Terrifying. The man has a long scar running up one side of his face, and he wears a constant sneer like everything’s beneath him, like he’s mocking it all. His battle prowess is legendary, as is his sharp tongue. Stiles watched him slam one of his pack’s head into a wall because they disagreed with him once, before walking off without even checking to see if they were okay.
Stiles thinks if the Alpha ever shoves his head into a wall, it’ll probably kill him.
“I won’t do it! you promised me! You swore!” Stiles clings to the old promise. His father vowed he’d never marry him off back when his mother died, said they’d rule together, and Stiles intends to make sure he keeps his word.
But it seems his father has other ideas. He stands from behind his desk and strides over, grabbing Stiles round the back of his neck and hissing in his ear. “You think I meant that? You were ten years old and your mother was dead, what was I supposed to say? But you’re old enough now, and you’ll listen to me. Everything depends on this. Everything. The Argents will be at the borders in a matter of weeks, and I won’t have a slaughter on my hands because you’re acting like a child. You’ll meet with the Alpha, and you’ll nod like a good boy and say Yes Alpha, and you’ll damned well do as you’re told, you hear me?” His hand squeezes harder, and his breathing is harsh in Stiles’s ear.
The last time Stiles’s father treated him this way, he was ten and had just set the curtains in the office on fire. His father had paddled him soundly and left him crying, and Stiles had never been so afraid in his life.
He swallows and whispers, “Yes sir,” letting his head drop in surrender. His father takes Stiles’s submission for what it is, releasing the nape of his neck.
“If there was another way, you know I’d take it,” his father tells him, his tone softer now that he’s made his point.
Stiles rubs his hand across the tender flesh. “I mean, you could marry him?” he tries. His father glares and Stiles’s mouth shuts with a snap.
“The ceremony’s tomorrow at noon. You’ll spend some time this evening in the company of the Alpha, and he’ll tell you what’s expected. And whatever he wants, you’ll say…” his father prompts.
Stiles is a crown prince. He knows where his duty lies. “I’ll say Yes, Alpha.”
His father nods, satisfied, and walks out, leaving Stiles standing there in stunned silence.
It’s only after he’s left that Stiles realizes he doesn’t even know his new husband’s name.
Stiles knows as much as anybody knows about werewolves, which is to say, not that much. They’ve shared a border with Hale as far back as anyone can remember, but werewolves don’t share their secrets easily, like to keep their weaknesses hidden, and Stiles can understand why,
So really, all he knows for certain is that his new husband won’t try to turn him against his will, that it’s considered unthinkable, and that stories of wolves ripping peoples’ throats out at night while they sleep in their beds are nonsense, despite what the Argent Clan preaches.
It’s a start.
As for everything else though? Stiles has no idea. He doesn’t know how a pack works. He doesn’t know what his position in the royal household will be, whether he’ll rule alongside his husband or be locked away somewhere and ignored. He doesn’t know if he’ll be allowed home to visit.
He doesn’t know so much.
Will he and the Alpha share a bedroom? Will they share a bed?
Stiles does his best not to think about it as he counts down the hours till his meeting with the Alpha, not sure if he wants time to hurry up or stop altogether. Time considers Stiles’s opinion on the matter immaterial and continues to pass regardless. By the time his maid arrives to dress him, Stiles is a nervous wreck, despite his best efforts to appear calm.
Stiles lets himself be dressed in a clean linen shirt and fitted trousers, lets Erica fuss with his hair and pinch his cheeks to give them some color, lets himself be guided to one of the smaller dining areas. There are two werewolves standing at the door, and they both look him up and down curiously as he passes between them, through the curtain that serves as a doorway.
When Stiles steps inside, there’s a meal set out for two and the Alpha is sprawled across one of the couches. Stiles hasn’t spent any time in the man’s company, has really only seen him in passing, so he takes the opportunity to take a decent look at his future husband.
Despite only being of a height with Stiles, the Alpha somehow fills the room with his presence. He’s wrapped in a fur cloak and wearing a plain shirt and worn leather pants, and he looks more like a wild man than the leader of his people. Stiles thought he was older somehow, but now that he’s close, he can see the man’s barely in his thirties. He’s clearly a warrior, corded with muscle, skin brown from hours spent outdoors, and there’s something about him that screams predator. But he’s not unattractive, and Stiles clings to that small mercy.
The Alpha has a scruffy beard, unkempt hair and dazzling blue eyes. The scar on his face is raised, running down his cheek like a twisting, gnarled rope. Stiles knows that it came from the blade of Kate Argent herself, and that the Alpha got it fighting in the battle where Kate killed his lover - cutting his head clean from his neck, if the stories are to be believed.
The Alpha lets Stiles look his fill, before indicating that Stiles should take the other couch, and Stiles does so, his father’s words echoing in his ears. He can do this, can be pleasant and amenable. The lives of his people may depend on it. The Alpha spends long moments surveying him, before saying, “I like you, Stiles.”
You don’t know me, Stiles wants to blurt out, but he bites his tongue.
“I’ve been watching you, in the week I’ve been here. You’re clever. And appealing, pretty little thing that you are. A little mouthy, but that’s what makes you interesting. And from a political viewpoint, you’re perfect. You’re daddy’s little treasure, and he’ll do anything to keep you safe. Marrying you means an unbreakable alliance.”
Stiles thinks that if he was really his father’s treasure he wouldn’t be here right now, but again, he says nothing. Peter must be able to sense his thoughts somehow, because he says, “Don’t be too hard on your father. He’s protecting the kingdom. That’s his job. Just like it is yours, which is why you’ve agreed to marry me.” He narrows his eyes, and Stiles feels his keen scrutiny. “You did agree, didn’t you?”
Stiles’s mouth is as dry as the desert, and his heart’s thundering, racing with nerves, but he manages, “Yes, Alpha.”
The man breaks into a smile then, pleased. “You can call me Peter, since we’re to be wed.”
He stiffens in fright when Peter moves off his couch and slots himself right next to Stiles, placing a broad palm on his chest. “Listen to your heart, beating almost out of your chest,” he says wonderingly. “Do I frighten you, Stiles?”
Yes. Stiles wants to say. Yes you frighten me. I’m seventeen and I’ve never even been kissed and now you want me as your own and I’m scared half to death.
He doesn’t, though. Instead he takes a couple of deep, calming breaths, and admits, “It’s just - I don’t know what to expect.”
Peter arches an eyebrow. “Surely you’re not that innocent. You know what has to happen after the ceremony, at least.”
Stiles nods, his eyes closing in embarrassment. “The…the claim,” he whispers.
Stiles wishes he could go back in time. Wishes that when Danny from the stables had offered to take Stiles to bed, show him what it could be like, he’d taken that offer. Wishes his first time wasn’t going to be in front of the court, in front of his father. Wishes this wasn’t happening at all.
If wishers were horses, beggars would ride.
“Such a ridiculous custom,” Peter muses, breaking him out of his reverie. “It’s not how we wolves do things. But when in Beacon…”
Stiles turns at that, faces his fiancé. “You mean everyone doesn’t…”
“Fuck their spouse with an audience?” Peter says bluntly, and Stiles cringes. “No. That’s a human thing. A royal thing,” and there it is, that sneer. “God forbid some poor princess should delay having her cherry popped till after she’s had a conversation with her husband.” Peter’s tone drips with disdain, making Stiles wonder if maybe, if he words it right, he can at least get out of the public part of this.
“I think it’s cruel. Unnecessary.”
Peter nods. “As it happens, I agree.” Stiles barely has time to hope, just for a second, before Peter continues, “but as distasteful as I find the whole thing, I’ll still mount you, still put my claim on you, and I’ll do it on while the world and his wife watches. And do you know why?”
Stiles shakes his head.
“Because your laws require it, little prince. And like hell will I let your father back out of this alliance after I’ve fought his war by claiming that the marriage isn’t valid.” Peter’s eyes flare red, just for a second, and Stiles pulls away in fright as Peter’s words strike home.
This is really going to happen.
Peter’s going to marry him and fuck him and then drag him away to somewhere strange, and it’s going to be forever. Stiles can’t help it when his hands start shaking. His breath begins to come in short gasps, his world spinning as terror tries to overtake him, and he barely has time to think no, no, not this, not now before Peter places a firm hand on the nape of his neck. Stiles waits for the squeeze, waits to be told to calm down, grow up, stop making a fuss. But instead of squeezing like his father does, Peter just leaves the hand there, warm and comforting, as he says, “Breathe, Stiles. In, out, nice and slow,” and his other hand makes soothing circles against Stiles’s chest until the pressure eases, and Stiles is able to concentrate on Peter’s voice, calm and measured, and beat back the panic.
It takes him a couple of minutes to get himself together, and when he does he nearly spirals out of control again immediately, because he’s meant to be here nodding and agreeing, not making a fool of himself and making the Alpha rethink his choices. What if he calls the agreement off? Stiles thinks wildly. His father will never forgive him.
“I’m - I’m sorry, it was just too much for a minute. Please don’t change your mind,” Stiles gets out, even though there’s nothing he wants more.
Peter looks more amused than anything. He keeps one hand on Stiles’s neck as he says, “Oh, you really are a scared little lamb, aren’t you?” He leans in and murmurs, “Just leave everything to me and do as I say, and you’ll be fine.”
Stiles isn’t sure whether Peter’s talking about the wedding, the claiming, or the rest of their lives, but he decides it doesn’t really matter. His answer will always be the same, regardless. He slumps a little in defeat – there’s no fighting this.
They talk, of travel arrangements and battle plans, of werewolf customs, things Stiles needs to understand before they leave for Hale so he doesn’t insult the pack unintentionally. Peter tells him it will take some time for Stiles to learn all he needs to know. “We do things very differently,” he says. Stiles doesn’t doubt it for a second. By the time Peter stops talking, Stiles’s head is swimming with new information.
People call Peter a warlord, but even with his limited knowledge, Stiles thinks that’s not quite right. As far as he knows, the Hale pack don’t attack, they defend. This would be an exception, and they’re doing it in exchange for Stiles’s hand.
It’s a lot to live up to.
He picks at his meal, barely able to eat, and Peter doesn’t press him to finish. Stiles is oddly comforted by that. Maybe he’ll have at least some say in things. Before Stiles leaves, Peter stops him with a hand on his arm. He gazes at Stiles intently and says, “Is there someone – a servant, a friend, who you trust, who you’re close with? And I do mean close.”
Stiles nods, thinking of Erica his maid, more of a friend that she probably should be, given their respective positions.
Peter hands him a small velvet bag, and his gaze flicks to the floor. “There’s an hour between the vows and the claiming, before the feast. Use that time to get ready. This will help – you’ll know what to do when you open it.” Stiles goes to open the bag, but Peter shakes his head. “Not here.”
Once he’s back in his room, Stiles hurries to open the bag. When he sees what’s inside his face flushes bright red and he drops it on the floor. The small bottle of oil rolls out, laying there like an accusation, and Stiles hurries to pick it up, even though there’s nobody to see. He braves another peek inside. He holds up the glass object that’s shaped like a teardrop, with a looped handle on one end. Peter was right - it doesn’t take a genius to work it out. He wonders briefly if this is meant to make it easier for him or for Peter, decides it doesn’t really matter. He’ll take all the help he can get.
There’s a knock at his door, and Stiles barely has time to shove the items into a drawer before his father peeks in the door. “How was it?” he asks.
Stiles knows his father wants him to say it’s fine, that Peter’s wonderful, that they hit it off immediately, but he just can’t form the words. He thinks about the oil, and the glass teardrop. “He’s. He’s intimidating, but he doesn’t seem cruel.” It’s the best he can come up with. It might be a complete lie, but for now Stiles chooses to believe it, because if he doesn’t, how will he be able to go through with this?
His father nods. “He’s a wolf, so he’s rough around the edges, that’s to be expected, but I think he’s a decent man at heart. I wouldn’t let this happen otherwise.”
Liar. The thought appears in Stiles head with no warning, and he has to school his features not to show what he’s thinking. “No, I understand.”
“What did you talk about?”
How he’s going to mount me like a bitch in heat. “He mainly told me the things I shouldn’t say or do, talked about when we’d leave once the battle with the Argents is over. He’s confident we’ll win.” And by the way, he gave me something to shove up my ass to make it easier to fuck me.
The king nods, seemingly reassured. “As long as you didn’t say no to anything he asked.”
Stiles doesn’t roll his eyes, or huff, or any of the things he wants to do. He doesn’t have the heart for it. “I was polite.”
There’s a moments awkward silence, and then his father closes the door and retreats. Other people, normal people, would probably hug their son, tell him they love him. But then again, other people wouldn’t be breaking their promise and marrying their son off to a virtual stranger, a werewolf, in the first place.