Stiles Stilinski had a chipolata halfway into his mouth, dripping runny egg yolk off the end, when the Great Hall went silent as Derek Hale stormed along the front of the teacher's table with his robe billowing behind him. He paused and turned to look at each table in turn, then stiffened his shoulders.
"You act like you've never seen a werewolf before." Derek sat at the very end of the Gryffindor table and doled out porridge for himself as people began to speak again, making Stiles laugh around the mouthful of eggy sausage because, one, a werewolf eating porridge and, two, the color of his eyes now almost--but not quite--matched his tie.
Derek looked up at him as though he'd heard and Stiles realized with a soft gasp that, yeah, he probably had. Still, gasping with a mouthful of food was a great way to start choking. It was just a good thing that his friend Scott was so good with medical charms. He hardly had to go ten seconds without oxygen. When he looked up to see if anyone else had noticed, there was only one set of eyes still aimed his way: Derek's. Seriously, wasn't the Gryffindor/Slytherin feud a thing of the past? He turned to Scott and kicked him under the table. "Why is Hale looking at me?"
"Cora?" Scott glanced to the left slightly, confirming to Stiles he'd been staring at the girl behind her, Kira Yukimura. "She's stabbing something."
Rolling his eyes, Stiles kicked Scott again for good measure. "No, Derek. And Cora's attempting to work on transfiguring... I think it's something with candy. I don't know, but I can see her wand. It's kind of hilarious just how bad she is at transfiguration when she literally transforms. Good at Herbology, though. Professor Longbottom wouldn't shut up about how well mistletoe grew for her."
Scott looked confused, but glanced over at Derek anyway. "I don't know. Don't alphas have bloodlust? Did you nick yourself shaving this morning? You know sixth years are allowed to use a charm for that."
"No blood! I mean, not from that. I think I scratched myself in the night because I thought I was petting that wolf, but I trimmed my nails this morning so it won't happen again. And, yes, I used the charm. I'm Muggleborn, not an idiot." Stiles grabbed for a piece of toast and shoved the corner in his mouth, speaking around it as he looked at Derek once more before turning to Scott. "C'mon. I've got a test on runes next period. I desperately need someone to quiz me and I'll be horrible at it if I try to do it here."
Frowning as he got up, still staring at Kira, Scott shrugged. "Do you really need help? I was finally going to ask Kira out this morning for this weekend at Hogsmeade."
Groaning, Stiles grabbed Scott's sleeve as he tore the toast from his mouth and dragged him through the Great Hall until they were standing in front of Kira. "Hey! Yukimura, right? This is Scott McCall. Look, I know you're a Hufflepuff and this guy's a Slytherin, but don't they say the best relationships aren't from the same house? Anyway, he's going to ask you to Hogsmeade now and you should say yes unless you have a very good reason not to because he is excellent. 10 out of 10, would date if we weren't basically siblings. Scott?"
Scott's mouth was hanging open as he looked back and forth between Kira and Stiles. "You... Would you?"
Kira nodded quickly. "Yes. Meet you at the door and we can walk down together? I'll buy the Butterbeer."
"Yeah!" Scott waved awkwardly and walked away with Stiles grinning as he followed behind him. It wasn't until after they were out in the corridors that Scott's nose wrinkled and he slapped Stiles' arm. "Dude, I can't believe you just did that! I was going to ask. In my own time."
Hiking his bag further up his shoulder, Stiles shrugged. "Yeah, but we've only got like a year and a half left here. As long as you don't screw it up? Now you'll potentially have a date for every Hogsmeade weekend." And just like that, Derek was forgotten for a while.
Stiles was reminded of him again in Charms, though. Or, not so much reminded as paired with since Flitwick had decided to use it as an attempt to integrate Slytherins back into the school microcosm or something. They were practicing directed Sonorus charms, so occupying different sides of the room but directing their voices to be loud enough for their partner, but only their partner, to hear. Stiles had rattled off six of the most interesting ways the first Quidditch World Cup and the Goblin Rebellion of 1612 paralleled, most particularly in the number of deaths of casual observers.
When it was Derek's turn to use the charm, though, Stiles could see him mouthing the words, but couldn't hear anything yet. He pointed to his own ears and shrugged, hoping that Derek was looking his way across the very wide room. A moment later, Derek's eyes blazed bright red and then Stiles could hear his words. "I'd ask if you could hear me now, but it was obvious from the look on your face that you could. I knew five of those things about the Cup, but I had no clue that they were still using Snidgets at that point." And somehow, that made Stiles pop the tiniest of boners. Because Derek listened and responded and the red eye thing wasn't unattractive on him like it was on the textbook pictures of Fenrir Greyback. And there was also that tiny matter of how he'd never paid Derek's voice much mind and, suddenly, he was very angry with himself for denying him that opportunity. Derek's voice was rich like treacle tart and smooth like Butterbeer and... Thankfully the rumbling of his stomach was enough to distract his boner. Class ended, and so did his interaction with Derek, and thus Derek was forgotten again.
Hogsmeade weekend arrived faster than Stiles was ready for. He'd dreamt of a black wolf again the night before, which always seemed to put him in a better mood until having to encounter Jackson Whittemore or Matt Dahler or Isaac Lahey. Okay, Isaac wasn't awful in comparison, but the persistent negativity and the constant wearing of scarves? It was Scotland, not Antarctica.
As the students with signed permission slips lined up at the door, Stiles shoved Scott toward Kira and told him to have fun, wandering over to the other side as they were allowed out the door. Stiles watched as Jordan Parrish teased Laura Hale with a handful of flames and snorted, turning his head with just enough force to make him crash into someone. It shouldn't have surprised him: Derek. Wasn't there some phenomenon about how once your attention was brought to something, you'd notice it enough that it seemed as though it was suddenly everywhere? That was Derek. Totally. "Uh, hey. Sorry about that. I have a total lack of coordination that kind of starts with my mouth and then radiates out from there."
Derek raised an impressive eyebrow, then put an arm around someone's shoulders. "Come on, Cora. The full moon's tonight. We'll want to get back soon so we don't have to take the Wolfsbane."
Stiles paused at hearing that, only moving again when another student nudged him forward on their way past. Since Remus Lupin died in the war, werewolves had come so far. They were recognized and mostly protected and there were those who were able to maintain control all along, almost like an Animagus transformation, though he hadn't managed to find any information on why yet. Taking a deep breath, he dashed forward through the throngs of people and jumped in Derek and Cora's path. "Can you tell me about werewolf control?"
Rolling her eyes, Cora kept walking. Derek stayed behind, his hands balling up into fists at his sides. "What exactly do you mean by werewolf control?"
"I..." Stiles ran a hand through his hair, wincing at how he knew it must be standing up now. "Look, I know that born werewolves tend not to have to take the Wolfsbane poison, potion... No. It's more poison than anything else, isn't it? Anyway, I know you never had to take it before. So why do you maybe need to take it..." He pointed in the vague direction of his own eyes briefly. "When you become an alpha, that changes things. So how do you control it normally and do you think you'll be able to do it tonight?"
"We anchor it." Derek fiddled with a button on his cloak. "You find something to connect you to humanity, and it's the thing that lets you have that to come back to when you shift. It's actually only werewolves who have that strong anchor who are able to become full wolves because they're able to let themselves go, knowing they'll be able to find their way back."
Stiles awkwardly started walking again, realizing as soon as Derek fell in step with him that it might look to others as though they were going to Hogsmeade together. "Yeah, so I'm guessing when Gerard Argent was killed by Kate for his alphadom, or is it alphahood? Anyway, I guess she had no idea there and that's why when she came after you... Well, I'm glad you lived. And I'm glad you're an alpha and not Gerard anymore or Kate or whatever. No one even knew Gerard was a werewolf, let alone that he'd killed an alpha somewhere along the way. But, considering the people who say that the only reason the Argents weren't Death Eaters is that Voldemort didn't recruit from Beauxbatons... I don't know what I'm saying anymore. But, whatever your anchor is, I hope it's strong enough. What... what kinds of things are anchors?"
"Ideas, mostly." Derek looked more amused than Stiles felt his rambling warranted. "You can choose a person, but that can backfire if that person rejects you for some reason. Sometimes it's concepts like justice or love. Mostly it's whatever you admire most about humanity."
Remembering Cora's transfiguration problems from earlier, Stiles glanced down the hill at a boy with curly sandy brown hair. "Cora's anchor was Isaac and now she's having problems, isn't she? That wasn't even like a real rejection, though! She asked him to Hogsmeade and he said no because his dad hadn't signed his permission slip. The kid is basically the second coming of Harry Potter with his backstory!" At Derek's widening eyes, Stiles continued. "You didn't know. Cora didn't know! Ugh. Tell her. And then tell her that if she'll just go to that fourth floor hallway with the giggling fruit sculpture on Saturday, she'll find him alone and they can talk."
Derek nodded. "I'll do that." Then he was off again, cloak billowing like he made a habit of doing it, and it made Stiles grin at the sight. That time, it took a little longer to forget about Derek Hale. At least until he was halfway through his second Butterbeer.
The thought of what Derek Hale might use as an anchor intrigued Stiles enough that he skipped out on Professor Harris' Potions class and went to the library, weeding through the half dozen Weasleys forced into last-minute studying before finding the strawberry blonde girl he was looking for. He slipped into the seat across from her and whispered, "Any chance you know if a newly formed alpha werewolf would take on a new anchor and maybe also how to tell what it is?"
Lydia Martin glared at him in a way that suggested he should figure out his own punishment for bothering her. "Stilinski, you do realize that they have not yet managed to replenish the Time Turners lost in the war and that I am therefore not able to waste the time on figuring out if Derek Hale is going to kill you, right?"
"Of course." Stiles pulled a twin pack of caramel-filled Chocolate Frogs from his cloak pocket. "I have therefore brought these with which to attempt to make it worth your time."
Grabbing the candy, Lydia glared at him even more strongly. "You're lucky I'm getting my period in a few days. As for your answer, I don't know. But, I can owl Aiden and ask. He and his twin, Ethan, both had the same thing happen. Something about the Durmstrang headmaster putting them in a position to save themselves? I don't know. He was a Quidditch World Cup hook-up, but he's useful sometimes outside of that, too."
Stiles pulled a pack of Sugar Quills from his pocket and slid them across to Lydia. "Thanks. Just let me know?"
Lydia nodded, already pulling open the package and sticking a quill in her mouth as she looked down at her copious scrolls of notes.
For several days, Stiles couldn't help but watch the post owls when they sailed in at breakfast, watching for Lydia's Eurasian Eagle owl to muscle his way through the smaller birds as seemed to happen at least a few times a week. It was a Friday when it finally happened, leaving Lydia to open the attached note. She spoke about it briefly to Jordan Parrish, seated at her side, who looked up and over at Stiles, and then Lydia was standing and walking over to him. She dropped the note on the table next to him and shrugged. "It makes no sense to me, but maybe it will to you?" She walked away, leaving Stiles to realize he'd managed to put his elbow in his pumpkin juice.
The note was short and it was easy to skim past Aiden's thinly-veiled offers of sex and into the relevant portion: About that question - we don't always change anchors but sometimes being an alpha makes you need a stronger one. Ethan and I kind of use each other, but that's probably a twin thing. You'd know if it were you because you'd be dreaming of me.
Stiles sat, staring at the paper, until Scott nudged him. "Hey, did you know your elbow's in your pumpkin juice?"
"Just trying it out as a new cologne. Not sure I like it, actually. Think I'll go change." He stood up, dragging his bag with him as an afterthought, and rushed back to the Slytherin dormitories to change robes. Only, once he was sitting on his bed, he found himself running a hand over his pillow and thinking about the timing of when his dreams of the wolf had started.
He'd attributed the first dream to having to taste test a potion that Greenberg had royally messed up. After that, he'd figured that his extreme reaction was enough to settle the image in his mind enough to call on when he dreamed. But, the potion had had to be brewed on the night of a full moon. And it was the one just a few weeks after the Daily Prophet had come out with the headline about Derek killing Kate Argent, Deputy Headmistress of Beauxbatons, as she attempted to use a few Unforgiveables on him when he was visiting his uncle in St. Mungo's. It was proven easily enough by checking her wand. Peter Hale was finally managing to recover from memory modifications used on him during the war and Derek found Kate in his room, attempting to add another memory charm on top of it. There had been no further word on what he might have been remembering that involved her, and she was dead now with Derek taking the alpha mantle she had stolen from her father who took it from some unknown alpha all in pretty quick succession. It had been one of the biggest post-war stories and it was obvious that it was stressful for Derek to suddenly be the center of attention for that.
If the full moon was the one time that werewolves had their control truly tested, it might be enough for it to cause Derek to choose a new anchor, a stronger one because of suddenly being an alpha under the stress of public scrutiny. If what Aiden had said was correct, then the timing lined up for when Stiles' dreams of the black wolf started. If Stiles was Derek's anchor even though they'd barely talked through five and a bit years of Hogwarts... then it stood to reason that Derek had a crush on him. Maybe. But, it made sense even though it was improbable because if Cora thinking she was rejected by her anchor was enough to make her magical skill in transfiguration plummet, then Derek wouldn't want to chance that. If he never put himself out there to be rejected, then he couldn't be.
So Stiles did what any red-blooded wizard would--he set out to woo Derek Hale.
The first bit of actual charming only went a little bit wrong. He'd attempted to charm Derek's Angel's trumpet in Herbology to sing to him. But, the resulting sad squawk had only made him pluck the flowers off and toss them toward one of the Chinese Chomping Cabbage plants. Not a resounding success, but it obviously meant that he maybe needed to talk, even if that got him into trouble sometimes.
There was an informal Gobstones tournament that happened once a month or so in the mid-afternoon in a corner of the Great Hall where everyone tended to show up for a bit just to watch Erica Reyes take down all of her opponents easily until she got to Vernon Boyd where they'd play off for an hour for what should have been a five minute game. But, Boyd was a good friend of Derek's, so Derek tended to come for that last game. Stiles made sure to get there early, sprawling out on one of the benches to watch, only to condense his area used down to half when Derek showed up, gesturing for him to sit down.
Derek stood hesitantly in front of him for long enough that Stiles wondered if maybe he'd been wrong, but finally sat, seeming to take up less space than he had any right to. "Thanks," he muttered, turning his head to watch the game.
Stiles kept an eye on the stones on the table so he could comment on the off chance he was asked about the game, but he couldn't help but focus more on Derek's profile with the dark shadow of stubble more like art in the way it curled along his jawline than half of the ridiculous portraits in the castle. "So, uh, I saw that Cora and Isaac were sitting together in the library. Is that a thing now?"
With a grunt, Derek turned his head toward Stiles. "It's something. I haven't asked yet because Cora doesn't seem like she knows how to feel about it yet, so I'll let her decide more before I talk to her about it."
"That's a great way to do it, I think. I mean, I don't have any siblings, but I've kind of got Scott? After we were sorted, we were like the only two kids in Slytherin who weren't born in magical communities. Well, Scott was, but his dad was a dick so they moved away for a while, but anyway, our parents met at some meeting thing they do for those parents now to discuss what is and isn't allowed over the summers, and now I think they're dating except maybe he's dating Lydia Martin's mom? But, yeah, I get that not pushing into someone's life until you have an idea of how they want you to deal with it, except sometimes you want someone to say something and then they don't. Y'know?" Stiles tilted his head, hoping Derek got the point of his ramble.
Snorting, Derek leaned forward. "I know Cora, though. She'll be quiet to a lot of people about a lot of things, but not to me and Laura. She's made it very obvious that she'll come to us if there are problems, even just to tell us to butt out of it."
"Right." Stiles pulled a pack of Ice Mice from his pocket, opened the top, and handed them over. "Want to share? I'm still kind of a freak about Honeyduke's. Not to say I don't love Cadbury's still, but I'm Muggleborn. Candy that does cool stuff, literally in this case, always gets me."
Hesitantly plucking one from the package, Derek popped it in his mouth, shivering just slightly before saying, "It's not just Muggleborns. They came out with a limited-edition caffeinated Butterbeer-flavored Sugar Quill right before last year's O.W.L. exams. They're what got me through. I hope they have them again for this year."
"The jack o'lantern lollipops, though... the ones that tried to eat back? I must have had 20 of those during the exams to help me focus." Stiles ran his tongue over his lips in remembrance.
Derek was still a moment before quickly turning back to the Gobstones game going on, his nose and cheeks and tips of his ears all a bit red. "I know. I, uh, the wrapping. I could hear when you opened a new one. Better than when Greenberg opened that chocolate frog and dropped it down his robes during the Astronomy exam though, right?"
Stiles grinned. "Definitely. The ear splitting scream when it tried to jump down his pants was enough for me to mix up Jupiter's moons."
Quirking his lips, Derek looked back at Stiles. "He probably had sweet dreams that night, though."
The rough timbre to Derek's voice was enough for Stiles to lean in toward him to hear more, even as he grinned at the joke. "He could have dreamed of you, though. Those might have been sweeter."
Derek's eyes went wide and he turned back to the game quickly enough for an errant Gobstone to shoot liquid at him. He stood up, looking down at Stiles with an expression of horror, and then raced off just as Boyd was declared the winner while Erica argued that the liquid hadn't hit her so it didn't count.
Now, Stiles couldn't help but think about Derek Hale.
Three more encounters of Stiles trying to broadly hint to Derek that he was cool with being his anchor and/or having a crush on him and then, suddenly, Derek wasn't in any of their shared classes one day, didn't show up for dinner that night, and when Stiles slept that night, there was no black wolf who made soft noises--not unlike Derek now that he was reasonably certain that he should be considering that. With Scott shouting questions after him, Stiles was racing out of the Slytherin dormitories the next morning without bothering to even put on socks or fully pull on his shoes.
He didn't stop for the changing staircase, but made a giant leap down instead which made his joints ache and made several first-years applaud. Half a dozen portraits shouted at him for running and a teacher or two tried to speak up, but gave it up as a lost cause as he dashed on past before reaching the infirmary. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped inside, tripping on nothing as he spotted Derek in one of the beds looking awful. "You... you're sick?"
Derek pulled his blankets up, looking for all the world like a blushing maiden, and shrugged. "Just from the Wolfsbane. The full moon was last night. You just missed the smoke from my ears from the Pepper Up."
Stomping over to Derek's bedside, Stiles glared at him. "Look. I know I'm your anchor. And I'm okay with that. If it's because you want to be friends? Let's be friends. And if you want to date me? Let's date! And if you want to suck on the same Sugar Quill until we're fighting over the last bits of it with our tongues and then there's heavy petting in that one back corner of the library? I could be very into that. So stop running away. I'm not going to be a reason you lose control of your humanity and your magic or whatever. It happened to Cora because she heard one answer and refused to ask more questions. That doesn't mean don't ask questions!"
Smirking, even as a little smoke wafted out from his ears to ruin the look a bit, Derek asked, "Would you go to Hogsmeade with me?"
A shiver ran down Stiles' spine at the sound of Derek's voice as he asked that question. He licked his lips and sat down on Derek's bed. "I'll buy the first Butterbeer."