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A Summer in Bath

Chapter Text

The Martin estate was abuzz with the arrival of the Stilinski family, up from London for their annual summer trip to Bath. Alpha Martin and his daughter Lydia had the servants tidy up and prepare for afternoon tea, as the carriage bearing their guests made its way to them.  

The Honorable Omega Stiles Stilinski stared aimlessly out the window of the carriage, whilst his father read the paper.  

“Don’t look so glum, son, you’ve always enjoyed our holidays to Bath,” the older man chided lightly.  

“Ah yes, another month spent drifting about the estate and attending balls where no one will dance with me,” the boy’s honeyed voice grated out.  

“You are almost of age now, Stiles, I won’t interfere any longer if you wish to dance.”  

Stiles snorted. “And how long before your position in Parliament affords any suitor I may find a lifelong cell in Newgate?”  

“You tease, and I find it quite flattering you think me merciful enough to spare your suitors execution.”  

“One can only hope, I could arrange visits for prison, at least.”  

Lord Stilinski merely rolled his eyes, “Your coming out ball will be held at the end of the year, you can worry more about your courtships then. As for this summer, you can meet some eligibles at tomorrow night’s dinner party. I would’ve thought you’d be more than eager to one up your cousin Lydia.”  

Stiles smirked at him. “Don’t play coy, Papa, it doesn’t suit you.”  

The gates were open and the servants waiting when they arrived, with the Martins waiting at the top of the steps to the estate.  

“Brandon, Lydia, it’s been too long.”  

“Johnathon, Stiles, a pleasure to see you again!”  

Lydia looked to her cousin, giving him a rare, genuine smile. “Cousin, how are you?”  

Stiles stepped into the other omega’s embrace, giving her a squeeze. “All the better to be here. There’s nothing quite like Bath.”  

“Or the colonels who reside here?” The redhead responded with a smirk.  

“Careful now, daughter, I work with a great deal of those men,” her father chided wearily.  

The four stepped into the grand house, the two visitors removing their heavy coats, which had been needed in London’s ever drab weather, and moved to the sitting room where hot tea and fresh pastries awaited them.  

Stiles wasted no time in indulging in the pastries, having quite the notorious sweet tooth, while his father drank his tea black, which often bewildered others. Lydia took her tea with the smallest dollop of cream, and Alpha Martin ignored all in favor of a cigar.   

“Minnie has made all the preparations for tomorrow night’s party; the guests have all been properly invited, of course.”  

“Mother has spent the last day and a half over at the McCalls, making sure the Alpha McCall knows to keep his tongue in front of Allison.”  

“Is he really still vying for her? She turned him down on at least half a dozen separate occasions.” Stiles knew all too well of the epic war the Alpha McCall waged for the Omega Argent’s affections.  

“She’ll be here early for luncheon with Mama, I expect we’ll get the full story then, should nothing more interesting come up first.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The train from London moved far too slowly for Derek’s liking, and his uncle’s obvious flirtations with the woman seated across from them did little to ease his nerves.   

“You must tell me, Alpha Hale, wherever did you and your uncle learn such beautiful French?”  

“In France, one would assume.”  

Peter shot his nephew a withering look before continuing to charm the lovely and married, by the gold twined about her finger, woman from Liverpool or Devon or somewhere equally as dreary. Derek had refrained from divulging that while his own handle of the French language came from years of tutoring, his uncle picked the language up by working his way through all of the whorehouses in Paris, and would surely have made his way to the ones in Marseille and Lyon as well had he not been called upon to attend the annual summer season in Bath, as well as the ever charming dinner at the Martin Estate.  

“If you’ll excuse me, Lady Pembrook,” Derek interjected, “I must take my leave.”  

Leaving his seat in the dining car and, hearing the poor woman insist to his uncle her name was Pembry , made his way to the private compartment he shared with his uncle for some much needed rest, for he had spent his previous season managing his families lesser estates as part of his grooming to replace his dear mother Talia as head of the Hale family and assume the title of Marquis of Westminster, and had gone without a decent sleep since the first frost of winter.  

Chapter Text

“Must you cover yourself with such excess? One would think you were planning to steal away into the night with all your family’s jewels.”  

Lydia sneered at her cousin. “Mock me for my propriety, if you must, however I won’t be the one left unattended when the guests arrive and the conversation begins.”  

Stiles gave Lydia a smile so sweet it looked as if it hurt. “I’m never at a disadvantage in conversation, dear cousin, no matter how few pearls I truss myself up with. Never mind that we’ve yet to have tea with Aunt Minnie and Allison; you’ll have had to change three times over before the first colonel sets his infirm eyes upon you.”  

Lydia puffed up at the insult, before sighing and childishly sticking her tongue out. Stiles returned the gesture, and the two fell into the kind of easy laughter only long-suffering siblings can have.  

“It matters not, for I hear that most of the eligible men of Bath will be kept from our circles, as always.”  

Publicly, Lydia Martin was the perfect society Omega, hosting teas and attending balls, saying grace at the table and never caught without the expected layers of finery. Privately, she hated that Omega were separated from Alpha and the Beta men, seethed over how little she could do to fulfill her life beyond a good marriage and a bevy of children. Omega couldn’t speak their mind in any impactful way, save for Stiles’ occasional opinions allowed in Parliament, and Lydia seethed over that as well, for had her father been in Parliament and she the Omega all of London found as lovely as an English rose, perhaps she too could speak out of turn and have it made law.  

The two descended to the salon, where Lady Minerva Martin and the Omega Argent awaited them.   

“Allison! How lovely to see you.”  

The Omega shared hugs and pleasantries, Stiles giving the lady of the house a proper greeting before an informal hug and cheek kiss reserved for family.    

“The trip here was awful, as it always is. The McCalls live so far from us, I dare say I could fly with the geese there and it would be just as unpleasant.” Lady Martin groused.  

“How was the train, Allison? Surely Lord Argent wouldn’t allow you to come unescorted.”  

Allison smiled tightly, “I’ve brought my handmaid, and my aunt was kind enough to escort me.”  

Lady Argent was a tempestuous creature, seducing her way through all of Leeds until her brother corralled her and sen t her to America with his mother in law to behave. She didn’t get on with her family, nor anyone else for that matter, and was rumored to have murdered her husband for his fortune, setting fire to her own home to hide the evidence.  

Lady Martin, ever the diplomat, steered the conversation in another direction, smiling as she did so. “Stiles, tell me how you have been. How is London? You must be so excited with your season coming up so soon.”  

The Omega gave the woman a weary smile. “It’s all been rather stressful, I’m afraid. I’ve been planning my coming out ball with some of the matrons of the Omega Tea Society, but they’re awfully traditional; I should look frightfully Shakespearean if I allow them any more power.”  

Lydia smirked at that, “Perhaps they mean to keep you a spinster so as to join their ranks.”  

“I’d rather run away to join a convent.”  

Allison hid a giggle behind her tea cup. “Have you any suitors you wish to be personally invited?”  

Stiles shook his head, “I haven’t gotten to meet very many. Papa keeps me locked up in the manor or within the walls of Parliament, and any unmated Alpha who might be foolhardy enough to seek out my attentions is chased away. I dare say the only suitors who will attend my coming out will be as old as Babylon and as fortunate as Jobe.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sun had made its way west and began its slow descent as the carriage wearing the Hale crest rolled to the front of the Martin estate. Derek fidgeted with the cuffs of his sleeve and his collar, while his uncle made sure to remove all traces of the Lady Pembry’s lipstick from his face and neck.  

“It is truly a wonder that you are allowed near the Omega of Bath, knowing your reputation, Uncle.”  

Peter snorted. “All the public has is rumor, my dear boy; without it, I am as virtuous as any Omega.”  

Derek rolled his eyes, but said nothing further. The valet helped them from the carriage, smoothing Derek’s lapels before walking them to the parlor to be introduced.  

“Lord Peter Hale and Alpha Derek Hale, of Westminster.”  

The two made their way to where the men had congregated, some of the women and a few Omega already present and seated farther away. Derek accepted a glass of brandy and listened as his Uncle and the Alpha Martin spoke of business deals in India and Africa.  

“The Natives of India had every right to revolt ,” the Alpha Martin said, “the dissolution of the East India Trading Company has certainly lined my pockets, less competition, you know.”  

Derek was about to interject with a choice comment on how profiting off of the disenfranchised could make him as culpable as the East India Trading Company, when the valet returned.  

“Introducing the Omegas Lydia Martin, Allison Argent, and the Honorable Omega Stiles Stilinski.”  

Derek turned to see the Omega, wearing pastels and pearls and all manner of Omega finery, the male Omega leading the others to the lounge in front of the fire, no doubt the setting sun and drop in temperature left the Omega chilled and uncomfortable.   

Peter smirked as he noticed where his nephew’s eyes were trained. “And you accuse me of impropriety, while you stare down the Omega like the Grimm Wolf.”  

Derek glared at his uncle, before returning his gaze. “I remember Omega Martin, but the other two are unfamiliar, is this their first Summer?”  

Peter, ever a fountain of gossip, leaned in. “The Omega Argent hasn’t come in recent years, due to the Alpha McCall's growing obsession with her, not to mention the tensions with her family, and the Honorable Omega’s father keeps the boy locked in a tower like the princess he undoubtedly is.”  

Peter looked around to ensure privacy before continuing. “His first season is coming up soon, meaning he’ll be looking for suitors this summer. I suggest you make his acquaintance, dear Nephew.”   

Derek scowled at his Uncle’s antics, but there was a thoughtful look in his eyes all until dinner.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I believe the Lord and Alpha Hale are looking this way,” Lady Martin whispered to the Omega with her.  

“Perhaps he is appalled by Stiles’ lack of dress,” Lydia snarked.  

“Or your excess of dress,” he fired back. “You look fit to sit atop the great Yule pine at Westminster Palace, an angel without vice or restraint.”  

Allison lightly smacked the both of them. “Do behave, we haven’t been down five minutes and you’ve both resorted to acting like unpresented, callow children.”  

Stiles had the decency to look guilty and, though her face remained impassive, Lydia’s cheeks reddened at the chastisement.  

The valet returned. “Introducing Lord and Lady McCall, the Alpha Scott McCall and the Omega Isaac Lahey.”  

Whispers broke out amongst the men and women alike, for it was quite unusual for two male Omega to be at the same event, rare as they were, even more so unusual as the Lahey family had recently been disgraced.  

The Alpha Lahey, following the death of his son Camden, began to heavily drink, and took to wasting away his fortune on opium. His excess imbibing had him thrown into debtor’s prison, his Alpha title stripped and his son Isaac forced to live in an Omega convent up until his presenting, at which point it was rumored he moved into the Whittemore home, without a season, to live as a companion to the Lady Whittemore, who had been recently widowed.   

The lack of gloves on the Omega and the escort by the Alpha McCall suggested a formal courtship, and Allison was thoroughly shocked.  

“Oh dear, I suppose it was only a matter of time,” Lady Martin muttered, fanning herself.  

“All for the best, right Allison? You often spoke of how vexing the relentless nature of the Alpha McCall has been for you.”   

Allison sat rigidly for a moment, before excusing herself and rushing from the room.  

“I’ll speak with her,” Stiles offered. He wasn’t as close with her as Lydia, but as a good childhood friend of the Alpha McCall, he knew all too well the mind games the two played with one another.  

“Let her be, Stiles,” Lady Martin advised. “She needs time.”  

Chapter Text

Dinner was a slightly awkward affair for half of the table, with the Omega Lahey seated directly opposite Allison. The Alpha McCall sat with his father and mother beside them whilst the Martins sat at the head of the table, where Stiles, his father, and the Hales were also seated. Lady Argent sat with her niece, and the Colonels Whittemore and Parrish, who had been tardy, sat at the end, with the seat directly opposite the head chair left unattended, for the good Doctor Deaton had been unable to attend due to a complication with one of his patients.   

Peter, true to form, had taken immediately to the Omega, particularly the Omega Martin and her cousin.  

“Tell me, Honorable Stilinski, what does an Omega do in Parliament?”  

“The expected duties of Omega; I read and wear finery and aid the London Omega Tea Society in hosting galas and balls. In addition, I ’ve found quite a knack for trouble, and am sure to bring it with me wherever I go.”  

Lord Stilinski snorted at that. “He has all the Lords of Parliament wrapped about his finger. There has been more than one act passed with his influence in these recent years.”  

“I can’t help having brilliant ideas, and further, it would be wrong of me to keep them to myself.”  

Derek looked to him. “It certainly speaks to your intelligence and social clout that you can work outside your caste, if only indirectly.”  

Stiles reddened at the compliment. “You are kind, Alpha Hale, but I’m afraid my social clout goes the way of pestering. Perhaps I would have less of a voice in Parliament if I weren’t as loquacious.”  

“An Omega who speaks their mind is a rarity indeed,” Peter interjected smoothly. “Perhaps you could offer me some of these influencing ideas.”  

Lord Stilinski shot him a warning glare. “Careful, Lord Hale, or you shall find yourself returning to Westminster unable to sire.”  

“Papa! He was only teasing.”  

“Fret not, dear Omega , Lord Stilinski and I share a history. He is as likely to maim me as I am to bed you.”  

“Uncle!” Derek snapped.   

Stiles had turned tourmaline pink, and the Lady Argent seemed to be eyeing the Lord Hale with thinly veiled intrigue.  

“Omega Lahey,” Allison broke the silence. “Tell me how you are liking Bath. Much more favorable than Canterbury, is it not?”  

The Omega Lahey stiffened slightly, his eyes wary. “I suppose so, though living in a small town had its benefits. Things are so spread out here in the country.”  

Allison’s smiled dangerously at the boy. “Think of it as a perfect opportunity to learn to ride, something you have not yet experienced, correct? Have you tried your hand at hunting? Not really an Omega sport, I concede, however I happen to be a crack shot, and would love to take you out, show you the ways of Artemis.”  

The Omega paled at the underlying threat, and the Alpha McCall immediately began to soothe him, much to Allison’s dismay.   

“Take care how you speak to my intended, Omega Argent,” The Alpha spoke coldly. “Your tone is your father’s and demeanor your mother’s; I should think you much happier in your woods and your home without the suffocation of an unwanted courtship.”  

Allison froze. It was true she had rejected the Alpha McCall many a time, however her belief in his tenacity never wavered. The thought that he may find another never crossed her, and she was now looking at an upcoming season without any potential suitors.   

The Lord and Lady McCall looked on the scene wearily, for it was a tale they had seen before, and was certain to be played out again before the night ended.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The guests retired to the salon; the men drank whiskey and smoked while the women and Omega sipped wine and played cards. Fed up with his Uncle’s chattering, Derek joined the Omega Stilinski for a game of cards by the fire, Colonel Parrish watching them with interest.  

“You must excuse Allison’s behavior tonight,” the Omega spoke. “She has been most vocal about her distaste for the Alpha McCall, but the threat of another Omega has her temper up. We Omega are as jealous as sin and are as unforgiving as the Old Testament.”  

Derek huffed out a laugh. “I’ll excuse it if you forgive my Uncle’s bad form; seduction intended or not, he shames himself as easily as a fishwife sells pike.”  

Stiles grinned. “You can be rather charming when you choose to be, Alpha Hale.”  

Derek smiled back. “I could say the same of you, Honorable Omega.”  

“Stiles,” Lydia addressed as she came towards the two. “Allison and I will be retiring soon, I daresay you should join us before too long; we have to go into town tomorrow.”  

Stiles gave Derek a soft smile. “It seems our game is over. Goodnight, Alpha Hale.”  

“Goodnight, Omega Stilinski.”  

The ride back to the Hale’s summer estate was spent with Peter teasing his nephew relentlessly over his little crush on the Omega Stilinski. Derek tuned him out, choosing instead to recount the number of freckles the boy had, and debating on whether he had more, and where.  

Chapter Text

The town of Bath was bustling during the summer months, to the degree it could give London stiff competition. Stiles noted several of the London social scene amongst the villagers, and offered them smiles and a warm greeting as they passed, for if the Omega were to have a favorable season, he would need as many suitors as possible in attendance at his coming out.  

The Omega perused the bookstores and boutiques of Milsom Street, admiring and purchasing this and that, gossiping as they did.   

“The Hales certainly cut a nice figure,” Lydia remarked. “I do believe Lord Alpha’s time with the Royal fleet has done marvels for his stature. And the Alpha Hale looks as capable as a carpenter.”  

Lady Martin, who had been content to tend to her own affairs while her daughter and charges shopped, joined them in conversation, for she was never without gossip for long and yearned for it when she was. “I daresay Colonel Whittemore has grown into his features, he looks as though he was carved by DaVinci’s hand. And the Alpha McCall looked quite healthy.”  

Allison stiffened next to Lydia, but kept her stride. “Yes, I suppose he did.”  

“Oh dear, I’m terribly sorry Allison; I meant you no harm, only I had forgotten of his recent...engagement.”  

Allison nodded politely. “Yes, I understand. I suppose we must all come to terms with it.”  

They spoke no further on the matter, and kept spirits lively with a trip to a bakery, picking out sweets to take back to the Estate. It was here that Stiles ran, almost quite literally, into Colonel Jordan Parrish, whom he had the pleasure of meeting the night before.  

“Omega Stilinski, what a wonderful surprise.”  

During their assessment of the eligible suitors in attendance at the Martin’s dinner, Colonel Parrish had not been covered. As Stiles regarded him, he noted that they were very wrong in doing so, for Colonel Parrish was of excellent stature, his face handsome and his demeanor very fitting for a young, accomplished Alpha.  

“Colonel Parrish, how lovely to see you. I trust you enjoyed yourself at the party?”  

Parrish nodded. “My evening was delightful, though I expect had it not been for your attendance I would have found it lacking.”  

Stiles blushed lightly. “You flatter me, Colonel Parrish, and make me sad , for our time was too short to make a proper acquaintance.”  

The Colonel’s smile turned a bit shy. “Then perhaps you shall allow me to amend that. I have made plans to walk the gardens of my family’s estate, and I should very much like to have you accompany me.”  

The Omega let out a breathless giggle. “I should like that very much, only I’m not sure I can be spared.”  

Lady Martin, for all her shameless gossip and wheedling, had excellent timing, for she caught the Colonel’s invitation just as she reached the two. “But of course, you can! Lydia and I will be more than capable of keeping Allison and your father company whilst you are out, enjoy yourself!”  

Stiles gave her a grateful smile, before offering the Colonel a shy one. “I shall be delighted to join you, Colonel Parrish.”   

Parrish’s grin was wide and bright, and he clasped the Omega’s gloved hand softly. “Then let us go at once, we shall take my carriage.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The entire ride back to the Martin Estate was unbearable for the Lady Martin, for Allison sulked and brooded over the Alpha McCall and Lydia bitterly recounted her cousin’s departure.  

“He is here but two days and has already caught the eye of two well to do Alphas, while my attentions have gone to the bottom of my wine glass.”  

“You should be happy for your cousin,” her mother scolded. “He has had a hard and lonely life; he deserves what pleasures life offers him.”   

Lydia huffed but her demeanor softened. “ Of course I’m happy for him, I’d be downright giddy if I wasn’t so terribly jealous.”  

Lady Martin patted her daughter’s hand. “In good time, my dear. You presented only a month ago; when you have your season, I daresay your father and I will have to invest in some stronger gates, for the neighboring Alphas will all be fighting to get to your window. Only, I should hope you omi t the death scene in your reenactment of Romeo and Juliet. "  

Lydia smirked at her mother. “But Mama, what is Shakespeare without tragedy?”  

The two laughed, and even the despondent Allison cracked a small smile at that.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

  Eichen House was truly a sight to behold; large green meadows and a lush surrounding wood. The house itself was Georgian, as was the Martin estate and many others of the countryside, with small touches of Victorian architecture added to renew the house with modern charm. The gardens themselves were immaculately kept, to the point Stiles feared should he trip and fall, he could potentially ruin several months' worth of careful landscaping.   

“I hope you find the gardens to your liking.”  

Stiles smiled up at the alpha escorting him. “I do indeed, you must take great pride here, for it is a lovely home.”  

Parrish nodded. “I do, my father left me this house after his passing, and I’ve been determined to uphold its splendor.”  

“And what of your mother, if I may be so bold?”  

The Colonel smiled sadly, “I never knew her, for she left my father when I was very young, taking some of her fortune with her. I am told we are very different people, and I shouldn’t have liked her if I had known her.”  

Stiles squeezed the alpha’s arm comfortingly. “I am truly sorry, and indeed she has missed out on a wonderful person.”  

Parrish smiled down softly at the omega. “You are most kind, Omega Stilinski.”  

“You may call me Stiles, if you like.”  

“I should like that very much,” the alpha growled lightly, kissing the omega’s gloved hand and staring him down with an intense passion. “You must call me Jordan in return.”  

Stiles, being a respectable omega, blushed brightly at the heated gaze he was receiving. Colonel Parrish drank in the sight, determined to see it again, and hopefully soon.  

Chapter Text

Stiles returned to the Martin estate unescorted, the chaperone at Eichen House having twisted her ankle walking back to the house. The valet helped him down from the carriage and ushered him inside, where the entire house greeted him in the solarium. Lydia and Allison smiled warmly at him, the Alpha and Lady Martin looked smug, and his father looked downright suspicious.  

“I am told you went off alone with a strange Alpha today,” he commented lightly, his words betraying his casual tone.  

The omega rolled his eyes. “Colonel Parrish is an Alpha of high society, and a paragon of virtue. His servant Miss Tate chaperoned us, and it may well have cost the poor girl her foot.”  

His father still looked a bit wary, but Stiles came forward and gave him a small hug. “I would never be so foolish as to risk my ruination, Papa, least of all to such a proper Alpha.”  

“Better an improper one?”  

“If I am to be ruined before my season, I should like to be as scandalous as possible. Lord Peter Hale, perhaps.”  

Despite being a Beta, Johnathon Stilinski could growl and intimidate as well as any Alpha. “I should have him on the hill with pistols drawn before the first pin fell from your hair.”  

This granted him a laugh from the others, save Stiles, who knew from experience his father meant every word of it.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lydia Martin found herself, not for the first time, thoroughly disenchanted with Bath. She had lived her life here, in the country, and was left with little to do outside the summer season, when the wealthy aristocracy flocked there to enjoy the weather and gaiety. She had the day to herself, with Stiles out with Allison having tea at the McCall estate. Lydia had been invited, of course, but the tension that no doubt would take root in Lady McCall’s parlor was enough to keep the Omega home bound. She was reading in her family’s rather large library when the valet came in, announcing a visitor as he did.  

“Lord Peter Hale, miss.”   

Lydia stood and curtseyed, while Peter gave a slight bow.  

“Omega Martin, I am looking for your father. We have some business to speak of and I thought him in here.”  

The valet would have to be admonished, leaving an alpha of high society alone with an unmated omega. As Lydia looked on him, she understood her cousin’s teasings of ruination by the Lord’s hand, for he was quite handsome, and his charm was spoken of all throughout London, reaching as far as her own ears in the country.   

“You have traveled here in vain, I’m afraid, for Papa has gone away for the week, we do not expect him back for some time.”  

“A pity then, though I daresay my trip was not wasted, for I have had the pleasure of speaking to a lovely Omega in doing so.”  

Lydia blushed at the compliment. “I could say the same, though I should think flattery would only serve to feed your ego further.”  

Peter crossed the room to her, taking her hand and kissing it, teeth scraping lightly against the soft skin. “My ego is rather ravenous, I admit. It could do with a good feeding.”  

Lydia jerked her hand back, though every instinct told her not to. “You go too far, Lord Hale. I am without my gloves and my chaperone, and you have been most improper by taking liberties.”  

Peter backed away, “My apologies, Omega Martin, I meant no offense.” The look the older man wore expressed his guilt, and Lydia could not find it in herself to be angry with his actions.  

“I forgive your indiscretion; however, I suggest you leave before your mere presence ruins me.”  

As the Hale carriage pulled away, Lydia watched it go with a desire coiling in her gut that surely meant trouble.  

~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~

Tea with the McCall family was, if Stiles were to speak plainly, utterly disastrous. The Omega Lahey and Colonel Whittemore had been in attendance, which caused several problems, as Stiles was not fond of Whittemore, Whittemore was not fond of the Alpha McCall, the Alpha McCall was no longer fond of Allison and Allison was most certainly not fond of the Omega Lahey. Lady McCall had joined them, while Lord McCall had been wise enough to avoid the gathering altogether, choosing to go on a hunt with the neighboring family instead.   

“Tell me, how have you been finding the country, Stiles? We haven’t received you in some number of years.”  

“It is as wonderful as it was during my childhood. I must say, maturity is quite over rated, I sorely miss rolling about in the grass and scouring the forest for woodland creatures.”  

Jackson looked to him. “We went on such a hunt once, before my family moved estates. You and McCall got us hopelessly lost and I was bitten by a wild fox.”  

Stiles hid his smile behind his fan. “I maintain that the darling creature was merely protecting me, for after you berated Scott for getting us lost, you rounded on me for it being my idea.”   

Jackson snorted. “I was right in my accusation; it was indeed your fault and you deserved to hear it.”  

Isaac frowned. “You would yell at an Omega?”  

The Colonel smirked. “The most Honorable Omega is not so delicate that he is unable to bear reprimand, for his father gave him such a tongue lashing when we returned I daresay he stayed indoors for the rest of their stay.”  

Stiles nodded. “The Colonel is right; it was my idea and I cared not that he chose to admonish me. Truly it was rather amusing, even more so after the cunning little fox took a bite out of him.”  

Allison shot Isaac a poisonous look. “Our caste does not dictate our nature, we are allowed to be more than wilting flowers.”  

Scott placed an arm around his intended’s shoulders, thumb brushing his scent gland. “I rather enjoy your nature, Isaac.”  

Everyone in the room gaped at the alpha, for touching an omega’s scent gland was incredibly intimate, and toed the line of impropriety, courtship or not. Allison looked on the two enviously, and Stiles could see the prickly Colonel doing the same.  

Chapter Text

Derek noticed a rather peculiar look on his uncle’s face when he returned from the Martin estate. “You're back. How was your business with Alpha Martin?”  

“The Alpha Martin is away at the moment. The Omega Martin was the one to inform me.”  

Derek arched a brow. “The Omega Martin? I trust she is not without her virtue.”  

Peter shot his nephew a withering look. “I am not so foolish as to bed an unmated omega of society in her own home.”  

Derek gave him an unimpressed look, but dropped the subject. “We’ve been invited to the Assembly Rooms for a ball in a week’s time.”  

Peter smirked, “We best avoid it, given your distaste for dance. Unless you could be persuaded otherwise by the Honorable Omega, perhaps?”  

Derek rolled his eyes, but the dusting of color upon his cheeks betrayed him. “No doubt I shall find myself tethered to the Card-Room, as I do every season, waging war against Mr. Finstock and his marked Kings.”  

“No matter, we shall attend. Have you heard from your mother?”  

Derek shook his head. “I should not expect any letter from her nor anyone else until next week; I’m sure you have not forgotten the date.”  

Pater sighed. “I have not, although I sometimes wish that I could. Laura’s passing gets more and more difficult with time.”  

Derek smiled sadly. “I would give every title and coin I have just to see her crooked smile again.”  

Peter, in an uncharacteristic display of affection, hugged his nephew tightly.   

“As would we all.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Upper Rooms were filled with music and laughter, drinks and dancing, and, above all, wealthy Alpha and beautiful Omega. Lydia and Stiles danced merrily, Lydia sharing a particular dance with the charming Mr. Greenburg, while Stiles was held captive by the most revolting Mr. Harris.  

“All the wealth in England could not find that man a wife,” Stiles groused. “For it would take all that fortune to find a potion that removed the grease from his hair.”  

Lydia giggled, offering more frivolity than she normally did. “A dance is a dance. Look here, poor Allison affixed to the wall! If we cannot have her moved from her position, I dare say she will become a permanent fixture! And these colors do so terribly clash with her complexion.”  

Stiles regarded her. “How much have you had to drink, Cousin?”  

“Omega Martin, might I have this dance?”  

And Lydia was off once more, twirling about with another fine suitor. Stiles chuckled, and was keen on joining the stationary Allison, when the Alpha Hale stepped in.   

“Honorable Omega, may I have this dance?”  

Stiles smiled at him. “I am afraid I’m rather tired for dancing at the moment, however I’d love a stroll in the fresh air.”  

The two made their way to the courtyard, where several couples had convened for a quiet moment. Gas lamps cast an ethereal glow about the space, and the night air was brisk, enough so that the Omega quickly began to feel chilled.  

“Perhaps I did not think this through, I shall be cast in ice before we return.”   

Derek smiled at the omega’s complaining. “Shall I get you a blanket? Some furs? Stay right here, I shall chop down the nearest tree and lay a fire at your feet.”  

Stiles barked out a laugh. “You dare tease me? A poor, cold Omega?”  

“Of course not! I shall begin chopping immediately.”  

It was rather unusual for Derek to feel so at ease with the fairest caste. Omega were treated with abnormal reverence, so much so each one was gifted a title upon presenting, and though they were given little power, they were treasured greatly. Derek was gruff, coarse, and could often be likened to the disposition of a wolf, clearly not fit for Omega company.  

But Stiles, Honorable though he may be, was wild and reckless, witty and charming, and did not wither or break when faced with adversity.  

Stiles grinned. “You are awfully cheeky this evening. I trust you are enjoying yourself, then?”  

“I am indeed.”  

“Excellent, I should hate to have your opinion of the country ruined.”  

Stiles shivered as the wind picked up, and Derek, not thinking of propriety, placed his coat upon the Omega’s shoulders.  

“You forget yourself, Alpha Hale. It would most improper if I wore your coat, unmated as I am.”  

Stiles handed the coat back to him, and Derek had to suppress a small whine.  

“Of course, my apologies.”      

“Let us return inside, it is warm in the ballroom and I believe the brisk air has returned some of my vigor. We shall dance at once.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Lydia danced with Colonel Whittemore, whom her parents wished her to ultimately marry once she enjoyed the splendors of her first season, she noted the heated gaze of Lord Hale following her about the room. The coiling in her gut, paired with the excess of mulled wine, made her practically giddy, and she spun and twirled herself so much she became dizzy and sought the table Allison was tethered to once the dance ended.  

She watched as her cousin slipped inside with the Alpha Hale and danced, the two quite wrapped up in one another.  

“I do believe Colonel Parrish has some competition, quite a shame he could not attend tonight. And look at Miss Reyes! Dancing with Mr. Boyd for every song, she will have scorned every man in Bath before the night is through.”  

“Oh, enough gossip, Lydia! I can barely stand sitting through my aunt’s tirades about the company we keep, I don’t wish to hear it from you as well.”  

Lydia frowned. “Your aunt may be given to tirades, but even she is having fun this evening, dancing with poor Uncle John who looks as though he’d rather be out back cleaning the stables.”  

The redhead paused to take a sip of wine, which she was most irritated to find had been watered down by her meddling cousin. “If you are so determined to be angry with the Alpha McCall, I suggest you subject him to it, instead of the table or me.”  

Having nothing further to say, Lydia stood up at once, marching over to the Lord Hale and demanding a dance.  

The man gave her a dangerous smile.   

“Anything for you, dear Omega.”

Chapter Text

After the dance, Stiles denied Derek another.  

“I must not dance with the same man twice in the same evening, not before my coming out, at least.”  

“I confess I know little of such matters; my sisters are all alpha, and never had a coming out.”  

Stiles groaned. “It’s all terribly tedious. The matrons of the Tea Society gave me a book to learn by heart of all the rules set in place. No repeat dances for any gentlemen, no unchaperoned visits. Gloves must be worn at all times to prevent scandal and of course, my scent has been thoroughly overpowered with dried rose petals and crushed blackberries.”  

Derek looked to him. “Such commandments you endure! I should thank every star in the sky that neither myself nor my sisters have had to acknowledge such rigid standards.”  

Derek leaned in closer. “And the roses and blackberries do you no favors, for even a lesser Alpha can scent you beneath them.”  

Stiles pinked at that, before he became curious. “What do I smell of? I can scent others but I’m afraid an Omega’s sense of smell is not like an Alpha’s.”  

Derek leaned in even further, his nose dangerously close to the omega’s scent gland.   

“Honeysuckle, and the bark of an oak tree.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Allison found Scott in the Card-Room, losing hopelessly to Mr. Finstock.  

“Might I have a word, Alpha McCall?”  

He eyed the Omega warily, but nodded.  

The two moved towards the fire, where many had vacated due to the already high temperature of the room. Scott would soon be uncomfortable, but the omega would be glad of the added warmth.  

“I find it highly disagreeable of you to attend my friend’s parties, invite me for tea, and all the while flaunt your courtship in my face .”  

Scott frowned. “I should think you happy to be rid of me; my affections were never returned and, quite often, publicly rejected.”  

“I knew not what I felt.”  

“And you do now, that envy has taken you so suddenly?”  

“I- yo - wha -how dare you, sir !”  

Scott moved away, but not before leaning in, muttering softly in the Omega’s ear.  

“You should have loved me before you had competition, for now in comparison you appear shallow, cruel, and most disagreeable.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“You should dance with me.”  

Stiles frowned at Jackson. “Good manners say that I must, now that you have offered, but I am surprised that you should offer at all.”  

The Colonel smirked. “I do not find you unhandsome; indeed, you are as pretty as your cousin and as charming as Lord Hale.”  

The two moved to the floor, where they began to dance.  

“He’s terribly jealous of you.”  

Stiles looked at the Colonel. “Who?”  

“The Omega Lahey. Male Omega are very rare, as I’m sure you already well know, rarer than female Alpha; that he should have any competition, especially one of Honorable status and great wealth, is maddening for him.”  

Jackson moved closer. “He complained of your beauty after the dinner at the Estate, once we returned home and McCall could not hear. He thinks it unfair you should be a model Omega of society while he has landed at the bottom of the heap, often regarded more as a Beta. He shall be burning with envy before our dance is finished .”  

“And who does this serve? For it does me no good to upset the Omega Lahey; truly, were he not at odds with the Omega Argent I should think he and I good friends, with time and acquaintance. And I could hardly be considered a model Omega, I speak out of turn at every opportunity, and would trade in all the Omega finery in the world for a comfortable pair of breeches.”  

Jackson laughed at that. “You are certainly a most unique Omega, and in regards to the Omega Lahey,” Jackson had the temerity to cup Stiles’ face, eliciting a growl from the other male Omega that went unheard by the two. “I have...noticed him, in his time with my mother. He is of good stature, for an Omega, taller than the Omega Argent, even. He is kind and reserved, and I should think myself a far better match than that callow child McCall.”  

Stiles glared. “And you wonder why I do not care for you.”  

“I do not dislike you, Honorable Omega. I admire your loyalty to McCall, misguided as it is. You must know, he called upon the Omega Lahey a mere fortnight before your arrival, and I dare say the dinner at the Martin Estate had something to do with it, for it was known well by both of our families that Omega Argent would be in attendance this year in hopes of seeing you and Omega Martin, and to aid in the planning of your coming out.”  

Stiles gaped, determined to inquire further, but the song ended, and he could not ask for another.  

Jackson kissed his hand softly and, unlike the one from Colonel Parrish, there was no heat to it.  

“A pleasure as always, most Honorable Omega.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Derek watched with no short amount of envy as Colonel Whittemore held the Omega Stilinski close and whispered to him during their dance. Socially, he had no right nor grounds to object, for the Omega was expecting a season and apparently had to ensure as many single Alpha to attend as he could, for too few at his coming out and he would be mocked for his lack of appeal.  

I would have it that I be the only one there, the alpha thought bitterly.   

Peter joined him shortly after the song ended, looking flushed and most unlike his usual composure.  

“I see the Omega Martin has tired you out.”  

“She has imbibed to the point of near poisoning, I should think, and is quite a ferocious dance partner. I expect she takes after her cousin, in that sense.”  

Derek agreed, but said nothing.  

“I wish to court her, Nephew, for she is unlike any other I have encountered.”  

Derek knew all too well of his Uncle’s affinity for romance and the dramatic, and brushed it off as mere fancy.   

He would later learn of his Uncle’s sincerity, and the trouble it would cause.  

Chapter Text

The Alpha and Lady Martin took an unholy delight in the exhaustion of their guests the following day at breakfast, so much so they hardly scolded their daughter for her behavior.  

“Really, Lydia, must you have drunk so much? Most unlike you.”     

“I do not wish to speak of it, Mama. I am feeling most unwell.”  

Stiles laughed weakly. “I may never dance again. I secured a room full of suitors to attend a coming out ball and I may never dance again.”  

John smirked. “What a shame; I suppose we shall just have to give your suitors and hour of attention to Lydia.”  

Omega politeness and manners away from the table, Stiles threw a strawberry directly at his father, taking pride in the stain it left when it smashed against his chest.  

John raised an eyebrow, and reached for the syrup, causing Stiles to shriek and flee the table. Lady Martin shook her head.  

“You two are as puerile as any babe, surely.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I regret not getting to dance with you the night of the ball, but unfortunately I had some business to attend to.”  

Stiles smiled at Parrish. “I understand, only you missed dear Lydia ingesting a small cask of wine and flinging herself about with half the room.”  

 The Colonel laughed. “I should very much have liked to see that; she is always so composed! Easier to believe she joined a nunnery.”  

Parrish had proven himself to be quite the suitor in the weeks since their first encounter, calling on Stiles at the Martin Estate at least every two days, and the pair spent their time split between the fields of Martin Estate and the gardens of Eichen House. It was on one such stroll through the fields of the Martin Estate, escorted by a glum Allison and watched from inside by a threatening Lord Stilinski that the two spoke of the ball.  

“I hear the Alpha Hale has taken a liking to you,” Parrish commented, attempting to hide his jealousy.  

“Difficult to say, he is so very private. And of course, I am only permitted once dance per Alpha, it could be only friendship.”  

“Instinct tells me otherwise.” Parrish stopped the two, grabbing Stiles’ gloved hands fervently. “I implore you, tell me now if it is too late to win your affection.”  

Stiles looked up at him, taken aback by the statement. “Surely you know I cannot pledge my affection any, not until my coming out.”  

Parrish stroked the omega’s hands, fingers brushing the sliver of skin between the gloves and the sleeves of his coat. “I know it, only I fear time will distance you from me, for I am bound to Eichen House and may not get to call on you in London until the start of your season.”  

He stepped closer. “I would have you be mine, my Omega, and you would live out your days in those beautiful gardens you admire so much, and we would be happy. Stiles-”  

Allison cleared her throat loudly, cutting off the informal use of the Omega’s name, and Parrish allowed some space between them, remembering his place.  

Stiles looked uncertain. “Surely we wouldn’t leave Papa alone in London?”  

“I don’t see why he should leave Parliament for the country.”  

Stiles bit his lip. “You misunderstand, my father needs me. When my mother passed, it was only the two of us. It was hard on the both of us, losing her to such a painful disease, and we managed as best we could. Papa is getting older, and his health is declining as well.”  

Parrish frowned. “He does not look ill to me.”  

“It is an infirmity of the heart; it grows weaker without constant care. I attend to his meals, making sure they are of quality, and keep him regular on his medication. He may not want to admit it, and he certainly would not stop me marrying because of it, but his illness could claim him without my checking on him. I should not wish to leave London, for I love him and have grown to love my place in Parliament, limited though it may be.”  

Parrish smiled. “Fret not, sweet Omega, for we shall find a medium that will content us both. Now, let’s leave the unpleasant conversations for solicitors and undertakers. Let us talk instead of how lovely you look in your finery this morning.”  

Stiles smiled at the Colonel, but it did not reach his eyes.    

Chapter Text

The Stilinskis had their belongings loaded onto their carriage, the Summer in Bath at its end.  

“Allison is to spend the next few months in London, to help me prepare for my coming out,” Stiles told Lydia.  

Lydia nodded, “I desperately wish I could join you, but Mama wishes to have me prepared for my own next Summer.”  

Stiles smirked, “Do you mean to tell me you will feast on the remains of my scorned suitors, oh Great Devouring Vulture?”  

Lydia smacked him on the arm. “Cousin or not, I will dispose of you for your insolence.”  

He smirked. “You’re beginning to sound like a certain Lord Hale.”  

Lydia rolled her eyes, but said nothing. “Come now, we have one last tea with the McCalls and the Whittemores before you leave. I shall not sit through it alone.”      

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was beginning to feel much like their first dinner at the Estate, with longing looks and heated glares thrown about the room. The Hales had come as well, to say their goodbyes, for they too were to return to London. Stiles, Lydia and Scott’s fathers elected to go on one last hunting expedition in favor of the tense and awkward tea, and Lady Argent was flighty as ever, abandoning her niece in Bath to visit a lover in Brighton the day after the ball, and had not been back since.   

The tense affair came to a head when Scott, foolhardy and brash, placed a soft kiss on the unmated Omega Lahey’s neck, right on the mating gland, causing Isaac to squeak, Allison to faint, and Colonel Whittemore to shout.  

“You go too far, McCall! Stand and meet me on the hill, we draw pistols at half past.”  

Stiles, who had rushed to check on Allison, whipped his head to look incredulously at Jackson. “Colonel, you jest.”  

“I do not, I shall defend the Omega Lahey’s honor and declare my intentions to court him.”  

Lady Whittemore looked pale. “Please Jackson, excuse yourself before something tragic happens.”  

“Listen to your Mother, Whittemore,” Peter advised.  

“Scott, don’t you dare,” Lady McCall warned, her voice steely.  

Scott’s jaw tightened. “I accept your challenge. We duel at half past. “  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sun had retired early, giving in to early autumn’s desire for darkness and casting an orange hue about the estate’s fields as it set. Jackson and Scott prepared for their duel, removing their coats and selecting their pistols. To the side, Lydia and Stiles watched grimly, Derek placing a firm hand on Stiles’ shoulder and Peter and Lady McCall flanking Lydia. Allison was inside being attended to by Lady Martin, and Isaac looked pale and shaken next to Lady Whittemore. Normally it was highly improper for Omega to witness a duel, frail as they were thought to be, however considering the complex entanglements all Omega present had with the dueling Alpha, it seemed fitting.  

The two took their pacings, stopping at ten, then rounding on one another. Isaac screamed as the first shot rang out, and even the hardy Stiles couldn’t hold back a soft cry. Derek’s arm found its way wrapped protectively round the Omega’s waist, and Peter looked close to dragging Lydia away from the duel.  

Both men had missed spectacularly, for Scott was an Alpha of privilege who had never had to fire upon another, and Jackson a naturally poor shot. They fired again; this time Jackson being pinked in the shoulder. Later inspection would reveal that the bullet grazed Jackson’s shoulder so narrowly the scrape would scab over in three days' time, however in that precise moment, when his arm bled and he fell from the impact of it, Isaac wailed, throwing himself over Jackson’s body, shielding him from further harm. Lady Whittemore fainted from the shock.  

“Isaac, the duel is over, Scott has won and Jackson won’t be harmed further.” Lady McCall spoke softly.  

“I don’t care! I love him! Truly, I do!”  

Isaac cried loudly and buried his head in the Colonel’s chest, whimpering as the Alpha tried to soothe him.  

Scott stood stock still as he stared at the pair, his expression stricken. He returned the pistol and marched towards the house, not speaking a word.   

Derek lead Stiles inside along with Peter leading Lydia, Lady McCall staying to patch up Jackson and attend to the Lady Whittemore.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I dare say this has been the most exciting Summer I’ve had since Papa and I traveled to the Americas and I was able fire a cannon that had been unused in the war.”  

Derek smirked at the Omega. “I can picture it now, the little Honorable Omega sat atop a cannon, grinning madly as it blasted off into the blue sky.”  

Stiles smiled softly, “You may call me Stiles, if it pleases you.”  

The Alpha’s eyes grew dark and possessive. “It pleases me greatly. Call me Derek, for I would have it no other way.”  

The Omega’s expression turned shy. “I should hope this means I shall see you before my coming out.”  

Derek, in a bold and quite improper display , took the Omega’s hand, pulled the glove adorning it off with his teeth, and kissed it bare, nipping at the skin.  

“I shall call on you the moment we arrive in London,” Derek growled, his voice rough and heady, “Little Omega.”  

Stiles whimpered.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lydia was quite well after witnessing the duel, and prided herself on her composure. She did, however, allow herself to bask in Lord Hale’s overprotectiveness by leaning on him as he guided her into the house, feigning her legs giving out so he would carry her to the chaise in the parlor.  

“You did that on purpose,” he accused.   

Lydia grinned devilishly. “Do you wish I hadn’t?”  

Peter leaned in, scenting her.  

“Not at all.”  

Chapter Text

True to his word, the Alpha Hale called upon the Stilinski Manor the day after the family had returned. He showered the Omega with affection, and, though he had been more lenient in the country, Lord Stilinski kept the Alpha at bay for the rest of the autumnal season.  

“Don’t look at me so,” John spoke wearily as his child pouted and glared at him. “You’ll have plenty of time to court during your season; now is the time for you to be planning it.”  

Though he had been unable to make it to London, Colonel Parrish wrote to Stiles once a week and, though Allison and the matrons kept him frightfully busy, the Omega made sure to write back the very same day the letter was received. Lydia wrote as well, to both her cousin and her dear friend, wanting to know every detail about their daily on goings. She also noted that, while no one was to know for certain, it seemed the Alpha McCall’s engagement to the Omega Lahey had been ended, more than likely due to the Colonel Whittemore’s interference. She had not so subtly inquired after the Lord Hale, and whether or not he had made an appearance at any of the assemblies the two attended, both social and in regards to Parliament.  

Allison marveled at the work Stiles did in Westminster Palace, and truly he had softened his explanation of what he did there, for she noted that each alpha the Omega spoke to took every word he issued to heart, and had the privilege of watching a law overturned at the boy’s insistence one late November day, when he simply made a discontented sound, and let his disappointment show in his scent, and six of the Lords changed their vote immediately.  

Allison had the sneaking suspicion the boy could become the Omega Regent if he asked kindly enough.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

The day of Stiles’ coming out had finally arrived, and the Omega was more nervous than Allison had ever seen him. During their childhood, when she, Stiles, Lydia, Scott and occasionally Jackson would summer in Bath, enjoy short holidays in Essex, and came to important functions in London, Stiles had been the most adventurous, Lydia a close second. The brave face of the grinning Omega had inspired such confidence in both her and Scott, and often irritated Jackson.  

Now, the boy shook so badly, adjusting his pearls was too difficult a task. His hair kept coming undone from the ornate pins the matrons had set in it, and his silks should become decidedly mangled should he continue to tug at them.  

“Be still, dear Stiles,” Allison soothed, pushing her presence out into the room. “All will be well.”  

“I fear I have been overly confident in my invitations, perhaps no one comes at all?”  

“Every Alpha in Bath we danced and dined with shall be in attendance, out of respect and friendship at the very least. You will have a full ballroom, and have already won the affections of an Alpha and a Colonel! I am certain Lydia is on her way here now, seething with envy.”  

Stiles smirked. “I should think her envious only if the Lord Hale refuses her, and I imagine the chances of that occurring to be equal to the chances of Papa playing a fair game of cards.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

The Alpha Hale stood proudly amongst the throng of Alpha in attendance for the Honorable Omega’s coming out, noting many of the guests had also been present at many of the events in Bath. Derek’s head, as well as the heads of the other guests, turned as the Lord Stilinski appeared with one of the valets .  

“Introducing, the Honorable Omega Stiles Stilinski, of Westminster!”  

Stiles glided into the room, his silks catching the light and gleaming as they did. He wore a fur about his shoulders, as the January night air proved cold for even the heartiest of Alpha. His face was lightly painted with makeup, and Derek was sure his overprotective father had fought with him over it for at least a week. His hair had been pinned back and he seemed to be wearing as many pearls as all the Omega in the room put together. His smile was dazzling, and Derek was thoroughly in love.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

Stiles felt positively giddy with all of the attention he received. He noted several of his suitors from Bath, as well as the Alpha McCall, Colonel Whittemore and Lord Hale, no doubt there in support of their friend and, perhaps, to find Omega for themselves.  

His father was the first to receive him, planting a kiss on his cheek and giving him a hug. The two danced, as they would one day do for his wedding, and Stiles willed himself not to cry, for he knew nothing would have made his mother prouder than this moment between them.  

He then danced with Colonel Whittemore, who once again took the opportunity to strike up conversation.  

“Isaac and I are to be married,” he muttered to the boy. “and we should both like very much for you to attend our wedding.”  

Stiles grinned. “I should be delighted to, and I wish you both well.”  

Next, he danced with Lord Hale, who moved about a bit like a predator. Should Stiles not have known of the Lord’s designs on his cousin, he might’ve had the man escorted out for his inappropriate display. As it was, Stiles laughed merrily at the older man and his flirtatious nature.   

The night wore on and Stiles became fatigued from the dances, but he knew he must continue them, for propriety’s sake. He danced more than once with the Alpha Hale, Colonel Parrish, and even Mr. Greenburg, whom he had no interest in, but was handsome enough and provided quite a few envious looks as they moved.  

At the height of the evening, Colonel Parrish sought Stiles for a moment alone, and Lydia was gracious enough to keeps the matrons at bay in their absence.  

They adjourned to a quiet alcove just beyond the party, and Parrish took the lovely Omega’s hands in his own.  

“Honorable Omega, Stiles, I should like to ask for your hand in marriage, for I love you and I think us an excellent match.”  

Stiles stared at him solemnly, for he had expected this from the Colonel and knew precisely what to say to him. “Have you offered for me to my father? It would be most improper for you to propose without having done so.”    

“I confess, in my excitement I did not think to, but I can’t imagine he’d disagree.”  

“Colonel Parrish, I am sorry, but I cannot accept your proposal.”  

Parrish looked thoroughly taken aback, eyes wide and confused, and a little hurt. “I do not understand.”  

“Sweet Jordan, from the letters we shared I came to understand that you would have me moved to Eichen House, away from both my father and Parliament, and would expect me to be the model Omega wife. I cannot do so, for it is completely against my nature to be docile and subservient. Here in London I have power and purpose, and I cannot give that up, no matter how much I may esteem you. I am sorry.”   

Stiles removed his hands and, with one last apologetic smile, left for the laughter and dancing of his ball, and he delighted in the thought.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

Allison had retired to one of the rooms adjoining the one Stiles’ ball was being held in, where the mated members of society smoked and played cards, and situated herself by the fire.  

Indeed, the young Omega Argent had been through quite a transformation in her time in London, for she knew now the great, covetous value in the things she had previously taken for granted. Alpha McCall had been right to drop his pursuit in her, for she had acted very young and silly, as though she were no older than a fifteen-years-old child, and not a young lady of twenty, and it was laughable that she be the eldest of her friends and the most immature.  

She stoked the fire, which Omega were not usually permitted to do, however she was cold and did not give a whit what the society Alphas would think.  

 “Omega Argent,” Allison turned to see Alpha McCall, standing before her looking quite handsome and mature, though the crooked smile he gave her reminded her of the boy she spent her childhood with, and a longing filled her.  

“Alpha McCall, please, won’t you join me?”  

Scott sat with her, and the two enjoyed the silence for as long as it endured.  

“I wanted to say how very sorry I was to hear of the end of your engagement, and how deeply I regret scorning your affections, for you are a good man and I was wrong to do so.”  

Scott gave her a soft smile. “I should not have you think I am unhappy, for though I loved Isaac very much, I did not love him as much as I love you. I ended my suit as I thought it what you wanted; however, after seeing your rather amusing display of jealousy, I knew of your affections. I concede, I did enjoy being on the other foot of things.”  

Allison gaped, before smacking his arm. “You absolute beast! You mean to tell me you toyed with me?”  

Scott gave her a heated smirk, “Are you upset with me, truly?”  

Allison’s cheeks reddened. “Oh, enough of this! I would very much like to court you, or have you court me, or whatever bloody else we must say, now kiss me!”  

And so he did, kissing her with a passion and ardor that she returned tenfold, and though they were missed, they did not return to the party for the rest of the evening.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

Lydia looked on as Stiles returned to the party, looking a bit upset but recovering quickly enough, dancing with the Alpha Hale a fifth time, much to the jealousy of his suitors and the amusement of his father.  

“Don’t they look quite cozy,” a voice purred in her ear.  

Lydia turned to see Lord Peter Hale standing beside her, that insufferable smirk upon his face. “You old gossip, you ought to be sat with the Omega at every assembly.”  

“So I keep insisting.”  

To no one else’s knowledge, the two had been meeting in secret at least once a month since the end of the summer season in Bath. Peter had been charming and flirtatious, attempting to seduce her at every turn. However, Lydia’s mind was sharp and her constitution strong, and she played the older man as well as she did the piano, and now had him eating from the palm of her hand.  

She removed her glove and took his hand, causing the man’s eyebrows to raise. She smirked, looking very much like him.  

“I should think it time for everyone to know.”  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~  

As the dance ended, Derek pulled Stiles aside, the Omega’s father giving him a knowing look. “I have spoken to your father and offered for you; I wish to court you through your season, and I should hope you find me worthy enough not only to accept, but to continue our courtship beyond the season and eventually to marry.”  

Stiles smiled shyly at him. “I should like that very much, only I wonder whether you expect me to abandon Parliament in becoming your wife.”  

Derek shot him a wry smile. “I dare say the lords of Parliament would have me thrown in Newgate should I even attempt it. I also do not seek you abandon your father, for he told me of his condition and I should be honored if you would allow me to help you in caring for him.”  

Stiles let out a choked sob, before throwing his arms around the Alpha.  

“I accept, I accept!”  

Derek wrapped a possessive arm around the boy, letting out a light growl.  

In the coming months, all of London would gossip about the impropriety of the Alpha and Omega sharing a heated kiss in the middle of the Omega’s coming out ball, but neither cared, for the summer in Bath had proven successful, for all who attended.