Stiles is avoiding everyone.
The best place to do that is apparently the library since everyone has gone Yule ball crazy. The Ravenclaw common room is a minefield of puppy dog eyes, giggling and awkward declarations of love. Hanging out with Scott is also out since he's been practicing the same speech over and over again for when he finally gets the courage to ask Allison Argent to the ball. Half of the speech is in French and Stiles can't restrain himself from correcting him every few lines.
The library is dead. He cloisters himself in a small nook with his half-finished Arthimacy paper. He's already got a foot and a half written.
"Urgh, what I wouldn't do for a computer," he groans when he smudges the last five lines of his discussion, it's virtually unreadable.
"Komputer?" asks a familiar voice. Stiles peers up from his study table to find Derek with his leather school bag on his left shoulder with three enormous textbooks under his right arm.
"It's a Muggle thing," Stiles says with a forlorn sigh. Derek merely raises an eyebrow before dumping his books on the table and pulling out a chair across from Stiles, jostling Stiles' knees when he settles in. Derek's right leg is a warm weight against Stiles' left knee. Derek doesn't shove him away when Stiles' leg hits his.
"Is it that?" Derek says, ignoring Stiles' grumbling protests of Derek taking more than half of the table. Derek has opened one of his textbooks, "Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles", and Stiles blinks momentarily at the title. It sounds like his dad is a rare form of bird rather than a Detective Inspector to the New Scotland Yard.
The page Derek holds up, expectantly, is of a computer from the 1980s.
"Yeah," Stiles says and Derek actually smirks in a know-it-all way. "Except mine is from this decade," he says wistfully. His dad had bought it for his birthday over the summer. He'd have stowed it away to Hogwarts if it could even work here. Stupid magically interference.
"There are different models?" Derek asks, his face drawn in confusion. "Like broomsticks?"
"Exactly like broomsticks. Dude, you should come over in the summer, man, I heard from my dad that the new Halo came out this year and-"
He looks up at Derek who's actually smiling. Stiles really thinks he should do that more often as it changes his whole face. Stiles feels his ears turn red inexplicably. "I mean, you don't have to," he falters because Derek must have better things to do over summer break than hang out with a 5th year he can't stand. But Derek's been less moody since the First Task and Stiles really shouldn't push it. "I'm sure you have better things to do, Scott said he'd try to get away in July but-"
"Sounds fun," Derek says and Stiles thinks he actually means it and is not just being polite. But it's December and Stiles is pretty sure Derek will have forgotten about it by the time the year ends. The thought doesn't comfort Stiles as much as he thought.
"So what brings you here? I thought you'd be holding court in Gryffindor," Stiles coughs out, focusing on his essay to hide the flush in his face.
"I'm avoiding people," says Derek darkly. Stiles looks up, his quill hanging from his lips. Derek's gaze lingers there causing Stiles to lick his lips instinctively.
"People? You mean our lovestruck student body?" snorts Stiles, grimacing at the feathers that ended up in his mouth. In his next letter to his dad, he's definitely asking for him to send pens. Maybe even those promotional ones from the Yard. "You mention one measly dance and suddenly everyone's acting their shoe size."
Derek lets out an amused chuckle. Stiles subtly pinches his arm to check if he's not imagining things.
"Sounds about right," agrees Derek. "Champions are required to bring dates."
Stiles blinks owlishly at him because Derek actually sounds depressed. Like finding a date to the Yule ball is on par with dueling against dark wizards or drinking pumpkin juice. Actually, Stiles thinks Derek would actually enjoy hexing dark wizards. His DADA marks are unparalleled. But he hates pumpkin juice just as much as Stiles. So Stiles is going with the second analogy.
"Shouldn't be too hard to find a willing witch," says Stiles because really, Derek's a catch. He's heard enough witches in his house extoll his virtues. "Or wizard."
Derek scrutinizes Stiles for a moment. "You'd think."
"Well, yeah. You're you, if you'd stop being a Grumpy Gryff, I'm sure you'd have to beat them away with a broomstick," Stiles says gesturing to Derek's torso which fills out the school's uniform in a very distracting way. Stiles feels like someone else should be here, like one of Derek's Quiddich teammates or his friends, who would be better equipped at cheering up Derek and being wingmen to his lack of game. This is new territory for Stiles. Talking to Derek about something other than rule breaking or house points is odd. Not unwelcome but still weird.
"So you're saying anyone would be happy to go with me?" Derek asks intently.
Stiles snorts. "Of course," he says and Derek actually looks relieved. "And Lydia calls me an idiot."
"So you'll come?" Derek asks, his gaze focused on Stiles.
"To the dance? Well, yeah, someone's got to make sure Scott doesn't embarrass himself," grins Stiles. "He's planning on finally asking Allison." Stiles waggles his eyebrows. "He can't dance."
"No, I mean-" Derek starts off, looking frustrated.
"Stiles!" Scott appears in front of them like they accio'd him there. "You got to help me!"
Derek looks even more pissed at the interruption. Stiles focuses on Scott who looks freaked out.
"McCall, fifty points from Gryffindor," Derek growls out. Stiles gapes at Derek because that's excessive for being noisy in the library but Scott doesn't seem to mind. If looks could kill, Stiles would have had to find a new best friend.
"My mom is going to the Yule ball with Headmaster Hale," announces Scott like it's the end of the world. Stiles raises is eyebrows, this entire afternoon has been really weird. This is just the icing on the cake. Scott looks haggard and scandalized at the same time.
"What?" Stiles manages before Scott drags him out of his chair towards the door. "My books-"
"No time! We have to stop this!" says Scott before pulling him out of the library, leaving Derek scowling at their books.
Stiles idly wonders who Derek will take to the Yule ball.