Chapter 1: Chapter One
Felicity hid a yawn behind her hand as she made her way to the Great Hall for breakfast. She waved and greeted the younger Hufflepuff students that passed her by, stopping for a while for polite conversation before sending them on their way with a reminder not to run in the halls. She made her way straight to the Slytherin table and the very familiar head of messy dark hair.
“Mor…” She yawned, “…ning.” None of the other Slytherins batted an eyelash at seeing the Hufflepuff prefect in their midst.
“Good morning, sunshine.” Stiles, who was reading a thick book while eating, looked up at her with a smile. He grabbed his wand to conjure up some breakfast for Felicity. “Slept late?”
“Yeah,” Felicity said, smiling her thanks for the toast and eggs as she sat down. “The prefects’ meeting with the Head Boy and Head Girl ran a bit late last night.” She grabbed a comb from her pocket and started tying her hair up as she talked. “Where are Scotty and the twins?”
“Scott and Jackson went out early for Quidditch practice,” Stiles said, taking a sip of orange juice and frowning when a drop landed on his book. “As if they don’t already have Quidditch practice later this afternoon.”
“Well, we can’t say they aren’t dedicated,” Felicity said. “Where’s Roy then?”
“Went with them. He wanted in on the exercise and said something about his brother always whining about his shoulder so he has to be there to stop him being a baby over it.” He snickered.
“Sounds like them.” Felicity grinned. “What are you reading by the way?” She took a bite of her eggs and moaned at the taste. This was so good.
Stiles grinned and showed her the Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles in his hands. “Just some hilarious reading material.”
Felicity bit back a giggle. She grew up with Muggle relatives while Stiles had lived in a mostly Muggle town. They were both more than well-versed in the so-called ‘Muggle culture’.
Stiles actually tried to take Muggle Studies as an elective, citing the amount of entertainment value it would cause him with minimal effort expended for the coursework, but Felicity convinced him not to. She thought the professor didn’t need the added stress of a snarky and sarcastic Stilinski hanging around him. Instead, they were both taking Arithmancy with Study of Ancient Runes for Felicity and Care of Magical Creatures for Stiles.
Felicity ate breakfast while Stiles went off on a tirade about the book, finding it hilarious how it went off tangent on a few topics and how it portrayed Muggle life. She piped in with a comment or two, bantering happily with the male. For all her best friend was a fourth-year and younger, he was far too smart and mouthy.
There was loud laughter as a small group of people entered the Great Hall.
Stiles ignored it and Felicity only shrugged, going back to her breakfast.
“…in preparation for the new season,” Sixth year Ravenclaw prefect, Laurel Lance, was saying to her giggling friends. “And I know it’s for Gryffindors only, but I’m going to surprise Ollie after practice later and see if I can’t help him… unwind after.”
Laurel’s friends tittered excitedly. “Ooh, you go girl! / That sounds great! / You two will be so perfect once you get together. / Tell us everything, ok?”
Stiles placed his fists under his chin and fluttered his eyelashes at Felicity. She placed a hand over her mouth to hide her laugh.
Laurel was talking on and on. “After losing a few players due to graduation and Amy having to transfer to Beauxbatons, Ollie and Derek are really nervous but I think they have a lot of good players on their team for this year.” She tossed her brown curls over her shoulder. “I’m confident my Ollie will do just fine.”
Felicity rolled her eyes and Stiles snorted loud enough to get the group’s attention.
“Stilinski, Smoak,” Laurel said, nodding at them. Her friends gave them both cool glances.
“Lance,” Stiles said, voice not hiding his disdain for Laurel’s… everything.
If it was at all possible, Felicity thought the entire Hall would ice over at those two. She didn’t really know why Laurel and Stiles disliked each other. Ok, maybe she could understand Laurel’s hostility. Her best friend was sadly a bit of an acquired taste, was picky with friends, and quite unforgiving when provoked. But she didn’t know what it was about Laurel that set Stiles off. Laurel was somewhat flirty and aggressive, but she was smart and responsible. She wasn’t a prefect for nothing. In fact, Felicity thought Stiles would get along with her.
But sadly, they didn’t, and have been locked in some kind of never-ending cat fight since around last year. It was funny considering that Stiles got along very well with Laurel’s sister, Sara Lance, and that both of their parents worked in law enforcement. Stiles’ father, John, and Laurel’s father, Quentin, both work for the Ministry. John was a retired Auror and now worked at the Muggle Liaison Office, while Quentin worked for the Improper Use of Magic Office. Their fathers were actually good friends.
Felicity also didn’t know why Laurel hated her. They got along somewhat civilly until sometime last year when Laurel started acting cold towards her. Probably because of her association with Stiles. She’d pick Stiles over Laurel any day anyway, so it didn’t bother her as much.
“Lance, stop cheering for other Houses,” Stiles drawled. “Slytherin’s taking the Quidditch Cup this year anyway.”
Felicity kicked his leg under the table but Stiles didn’t even flinch. Laurel was a prefect, running for Head Girl, and two years older than Stiles, and Felicity was not in the mood for another one of their legendary fights. She sighed when other people nearby started tuning in and a few nosy Slytherins down the table snickered and nodded at hearing him.
“I don’t know about that,” Laurel said, cocking a hip to the side. Her friends started giving them evil eyes. “Gryffindor’s looking to be a strong team this year.”
Stiles scrunched his face up and Felicity groaned at the look of mischief in his eyes. “Uh, remind me again what House you’re in, Lance? Aren’t you a Ravenclaw? And a prefect at that?”
Laurel seemed to falter a little but she stood strong. “So? I don’t see anything wrong with showing a bit of support.” She raised a brow at him. “Your best friend McCall is on the Gryffindor team, isn’t he?”
“Knowing that my House is going to take the Cup this year has nothing to do with me wishing my friends do well and enjoy themselves, Lance,” Stiles said, giving her a smarmy smirk. He tossed a biscuit into his mouth. “For all Oliver Queen is nice to look at, I’d have thought you’d show more House loyalty.”
Felicity sighed as Laurel flushed red with anger.
There were the loud sounds of wings and squawking as the owls delivered the morning mail. Felicity and Stiles didn’t even look up. She didn’t have an owl as there was no one to send mail to and had no desire to get a pet. Stiles had a family owl so he didn’t set out to buy one of his own.
Laurel ignored all that and stomped towards Stiles.
“And just what do you mean by that?” Laurel slammed her palms on the table and leaned across the table towards Stiles. “Was that some kind of crack at me? I don’t appreciate–”
Stiles let out a little noise of surprise when a newspaper and a package fell on the table beside him. He ignored Laurel almost entirely and beamed. “Ooh, look, Felicity. I got mail.”
“Were you expecting anything from your Dad?” Felicity asked.
“No, but ooh.” Stiles grinned when he read the letter with it and untied the pack. “It’s a sweater from Detective Tara from the Yard, kind of like a ‘good luck at school’ thing. She got you a matching one too!” He tossed a purple sweater at her and waved his green one. “You remember how she doesn’t know we’re magic, just that we’re at some exclusive school.”
Felicity beamed. “Nice! Does she still think we’re dating though?”
Laurel was getting angrier and angrier at being ignored. She reached over, attempting to grab Stiles’ arm.
“Now, listen here, Stilinski, I’m not done with y–”
Laurel screamed when a blur dive-bombed just inches from her face. She stumbled back just as a very large brown owl with white and black tips stretched its wings in front of Stiles and screeched at her face.
Stiles rolled his eyes but didn’t call his owl back and instead started searching through his bag for a quill and some parchment.
Another owl soared into the scene, almost completely black in color save for scattered grey feathers on its back and the three striking interconnected red swirls marking one wing. This time Laurel completely backed away. There was no mistaking that owl.
Derek Hale was walking towards them. He looked at Laurel and her friends.
“Is there something wrong, Laurel?”
“Oh, look, Der. Semyon brought us a letter from Mom and Thea.” Oliver Queen followed after him, with a letter in his hand and a loud owl circling his head. He looked at everyone, confused. “Oh? What’s going on here?”
The arrival of best friends and famous Gryffindor Quidditch team co-captains triggered the gaggle of fangirls and fanboys until giggling and whispering were heard all over the Great Hall.
“Oh, nothing,” Stiles said, smiling wide. “Lance and I were just talking.” His voice was saccharine sweet as he finished his letter with a flourish.
Derek nodded at the owl. “Cybele.”
The black owl, Cybele, looked at Laurel as coolly as an owl could before making a graceful arc in the air. She swept a wing against Stiles’ owl, cooing, before flying towards her owner, landing on Derek’s shoulder.
“Nelek, come.” Stiles tapped the table.
Nelek flapped her wings, landing close to Felicity. Felicity stroked her head gently before she hopped off towards Stiles. Nelek was Stiles’ late mother’s owl and she was as calm and controlled as Claudia was and just as protective. The first time she met Felicity years back, Nelek bit her pinky finger thinking she was hurting Stiles when Felicity was only tugging at his hair childishly to convince him to get a haircut. She now stayed with Stiles’ father.
“Ollie, hi,” Laurel said, getting her poise back. Felicity sighed when Stiles rolled his eyes. “Good morning.”
“Morning, Laurel,” Oliver said, smiling.
Felicity grabbed her wand to conjure up a few treats for the owls, not at all surprised when Oliver’s rather precocious and always-hungry owl, Semyon, also flew over. The two owls cooed at each other before eating.
“Cybele, you want some?” she called towards Derek’s owl. Derek rubbed his owl’s wing before letting her fly towards the table.
“Have you eaten breakfast yet, Ollie?” Laurel asked. “Maybe we could both eat–”
There was a squawk from Semyon and he looked over at Oliver.
“Uhh…” Oliver shrugged. “I’m fine. Maybe some other time, Laurel.” He reached over to Semyon. “What is now, you weird bird? And stop eating all of Nelek’s portion.”
“Sorry, Lance,” Stiles said, voice still sticky sweet as he tied his letter securely to Nelek’s leg. “Guess this table is for owl owners only, and Felicity.”
Now that Felicity thought about it, Laurel didn’t have an owl, too.
Laurel huffed angrily and stomped off, followed by her friends.
Felicity sighed. Hooboy.
“What was going on there?” Derek asked, looking at Laurel’s retreating form and then Stiles.
Stiles waved a hand. “Nothing new.” He checked his watch. “Anyway, classes are due to start soon and I have just enough time to drag Scott, Roy, and Jackson from practice before they’re all late.”
“Aww, you’re such a good friend,” Felicity said, giggling.
“Aren’t I?” Stiles asked, grinning. He stuffed all his things into his bookbag.
“I’ll come with you,” Derek said.
“Nah,” Stiles said, grabbing his Muggle Studies book. “You should eat some–”
“I’ll come,” Derek insisted.
Stiles thought about it. “Well, considering your owl did defend my honor, I’ll agree.”
“Defend your what? You have honor?” Derek deadpanned.
“Oh, funny man. Funny.” Stiles punched his arm lightly. He reached over and Cybele didn’t even pause eating when Stiles touched her wing. “Thank you, Cybele.” He reached down, smiling as Nelek looked up and accepted a kiss on the head. “Thank you, my love. Send this to Detective Tara and make sure Dad stops eating those doughnuts. And Semyon, stop eating so much.”
Semyon squawked, looking offended. Oliver laughed at his own owl and leaned back when Semyon flapped a russet colored wing at him.
Felicity smiled when Stiles leaned over, kissing her cheek.
“Later, sunshine,” Stiles said. “Oliver, you look after her, you hear me?”
Felicity blushed when Oliver nodded. “Always do, Stiles.”
Stiles and Derek walked off after Derek stroked a hand down Cybele’s back in parting.
“You heard the man, Felicity,” Oliver said. “Your first class of the day is History of Magic, right? I’ll walk you.”
“Um, yeah,” Felicity said, surprised. “How’d you know?”
They both made sure to see the owls off after a few more treats, before Oliver gentlemanly carried Felicity’s bookbag for her as they walked out of the Great Hall despite her refusal.
“I saw Stiles reading that Muggle Studies book,” Oliver said. “Which reminds me, you know how Derek’s taking Muggle Studies, right? His sisters are both much better at Muggle things than he is and they keep annoying Derek by saying stuff like ‘Y-O-L-O brother’. What does that even mean?”
Felicity laughed. “It’s pronounced YOLO. It means ‘you only live once’.”
“Of course a person only lives once.” Oliver looked confused as Felicity giggled some more.
Felicity felt eyes on her back as she and Oliver walked out, talking amiably. She didn’t look back to see who it was.
“What is this?” Lydia tutted, displeased. She sat down on a free seat beside Stiles and grabbed his hand.
“What?” Stiles asked, looking at his spindly hand in Lydia’s dainty one.
“What is this?” Lydia asked again, using her wand to point at the bandaid on Stiles’ middle finger. It was a pretty pink one with purple flowers. It was pretty banging.
“A bandaid…?” Stiles looked at her in confusion. “I got a papercut reading at the library.”
“And it isn’t healed?” Lydia asked. “Was this hexed or something? Infected by some counter-curse?” She flicked her wand and the bandaid came flying off revealing a thin red line on the pad of Stiles’ finger.
“Lydia! Jeez!” Stiles tried to tug his hand back. “It was just a cut and I didn’t–”
Lydia murmured a spell and waved her hand. The cut healed instantly and she dropped his hand. “There.”
Stiles sighed. “Fine. Thanks.”
“I don’t know why you insist on the weirdest Muggle habits.” The Ravenclaw tutted at him again. “You’re a wizard, Stiles. Bandaids are beneath you.” She murmured a spell and the used bandaid disintegrated into smoke.
Stiles sighed, and just repeated, “Thank you.”
Of course Lydia wouldn’t get it, she was born in a pureblood family of wizards and grew up in a rich and exclusive wizarding neighborhood. Stiles used to live in quaint Beacon Hills, a mostly Muggle town. His Dad and his Mom, for all that they were skilled magic users, didn’t believe so much in using magic to fix every single thing so Stiles grew up with a certain independence from it. He and his Dad moved away from Beacon when Stiles received his invitation to Hogwarts and his Dad retired from becoming an Auror, but they still kept their house there, going back during vacations or holidays.
“Hey, there you guys are,” Scott said, walking inside the room and looking panicked. “Have you guys finished the essay for Professor Martell yet?”
Lydia nodded while Stiles said, “Just have the conclusion to finish”, and Scott visibly deflated.
Stiles sighed. “Dude, I told you to get started on it two days ago.”
Scott scratched the back of his head. “Er, two days ago?”
Stiles smacked his friend lightly on the stomach. “This is what happens when all you have in your head are Quidditch and Allison.”
Lydia hummed in agreement, her nose scrunching up in distaste. “Even Jackson’s got Quidditch fever. It’s infuriating.”
“When’s the deadline?” Scott asked, eyes wide.
“In three days,” Stiles said. “You still have two days after tomorrow’s Quidditch game against Hufflepuff to finish it. And yes,” Stiles sighed as Scott trained puppy-dog eyes on him. “I’ll help.”
Scott whooped and lunged at him, hugging him tight. “You are the absolute best. I love you so much and I owe you and you are the best bestfriend I– hi, Allison!” Scott darted off to her.
“Alas, delegated to second place so easily,” Stiles said, chuckling. But he wasn’t one to come between young love and especially not with Scott so he just placed Scott’s backpack on the other chair beside him.
Lydia rolled her eyes. “You need to stop spoiling that boy and let him do his own work, Stiles.”
“Morning,” Jackson said as he and his brother, Roy, arrived.
Jackson Whittemore and Roy Harper were twins. They were separated when they were six because of their parents’ rather bitter divorce and were allowed to keep in touch only through calls and letters. They were reunited at Hogwarts in their first year and have been inseparable since. Stiles personally liked Roy a bit more. He was seven minutes older, grew up with his mediwizard Mom, so was calmer under pressure than Jackson. Plus, he and Felicity got along very well. Jackson grew up with his rich-ass editor Dad and was more of a douche and a hothead in Stiles’ opinion.
Lydia wiggled her fingers at them. “Late again?”
“Jackson’s fault,” Roy said, shouldering his twin lightly and sitting down in front of Stiles. “Kept whining like a kid about how his shoulder hurt from Quidditch yesterday.”
Jackson tossed a paper ball at his head. “Shut up. I wasn’t whining.” He turned to Lydia and Stiles. “Are you guys coming to the Quidditch game tomorrow?”
Lydia smacked her lips in thought. “Most likely.”
Stiles nodded. “Yep. Felicity’s going to be there. And Scott. And okay, maybe you two so…” He ducked when Jackson threw a paper ball at his head.
“And also Captain Derek,” Lydia added.
“And Derek,” Stiles repeated. He saw the smirk on Lydia and Roy’s faces. “What?”
The two shared glances. Even Jackson looked smug.
“Nothing.” Lydia smirked. She stood up, walking over to her seat. Roy just laughed. Jackson rolled his eyes.
Their Professor waltzed in and Stiles looked at his friends’ amused faces, confused.
The day of the opening games started off as all games did, ridiculously exciting and loud and competitive, with almost everyone not in the mood to concentrate on classes.
The opening games for this year was Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff, and there was a rather charged but civil air. There was no bad blood between both Houses so everyone was excited for one another. A few Slytherins with friends on either Houses showed support through flags, but their crowd remained almost entirely a strict sea of green. The Ravenclaws were almost clearly divided in two.
Felicity was seated on the commentators stand between Stiles, who was unabashed with his green-clad-self holding a yellow flag on his left hand and a scarlet flag on his right, waving for both teams, and Sin, the third-year Slytherin commentator for the games.
“Ooh la la. Guess what I see?” Stiles perked up.
“What?” Sin asked, rolling the megaphone between her hands.
“Guess which non-Gryffindor and her posse are sporting all scarlet?” Stiles asked, jerking his head.
Felicity sighed, even though she did take a quick peek. “Stiles, stop it. Who cares what Laurel and her friends are wearing?”
Sin snickered. “Hey, everyone knows Lance has had a lady boner for Queen ever since third year.”
“Oh, Laurel,” Stiles suddenly said, voice taking on a high and feminine pitch. “You and Oliver would make such a cute couple! Oh my!” His voice took on a slight rougher but still feminine edge, reminiscent of Laurel. “Of course, we are. We’re perfect together. And after the match, I’m gonna find my dear Ollie, kidnap him, and pull down his pants so I can suck–”
“Stiles!” Felicity shouted outraged, while Sin cracked up and started laughing so hard she almost rolled off her seat.
“Stiles, that is seriously rude!” she chastised.
“Psh. Whatever. It’s not like Oliver even likes Laurel and she keeps throwing herself at him,” Stiles said, leaning back on his seat.
“He doesn’t?” Felicity asked. She didn’t know that.
“Everyone knows that,” Sin commented, getting a hold of herself. “Queen has eyes for someone else.”
“Oh, who?” Felicity asked. She didn’t know about that.
Stiles cut in. “At least Lance’s sister, Sarah doesn’t act like that. She’s cool.”
“She totes is,” Sin said, grinning. “And wow, Stilinski. Your catfights with Lance are pretty legendary, but damn. It is awesome to hear.”
Stiles snorted. “Hey, I didn’t start this shit. She did.”
“Language, you two. And I actually don’t even know why you hate her so much,” Felicity commented, sighing. “Just ignore her. She’s two years older and a prefect. You’re lucky she isn’t terribly vindictive.”
“Oh, sure she isn’t.” Sin snorted. “The only reason she can’t do anything is because she’s going to get in trouble for it.”
“Yes,” Felicity nodded. “The professors aren’t going to like–”
Sin grinned. “Oh, I’m not talking about professors, Smoak.”
Felicity looked at her in surprise, even Stiles.
Sin grinned. “Let’s just say Stiles has an angel looking out for him.”
“How do you even know all this?” Felicity asked. “You’re a third year.”
“I know people, Smoak,” Sin snorted. “And I have eyes.”
Before the two of them could argue, Sin turned on the megaphone with a wink.
“The sun is shining, the wind is on our side, and everyone’s already a tad bloodthirsty. Good day, kids. Welcome to this year’s Quidditch Opening Games.”
The game was exciting and Felicity was cheering and gasping with everything happening. She held onto Stiles’ hand, squealing as the Chasers swooped past their heads or whenever the Hufflepuff team scored. Beside her, Sin kept up a rousing commentary. For all she was a Slytherin, she wasn’t terribly biased about any Houses and she had kept up a mix of dry and fun commentary, poking fun at everything from the game to the players to the Houses and even the audience.
“Ooh,” Sin winced. “That’s going to leave a mark on his pretty face. Try to steer clear of the head area, kids. We have a lot of good-looking players out there and I don’t know about you, but I still want to see those pretty faces after the games.”
“Derek’s good,” Felicity heard Stiles murmur beside her.
Derek was the Gryffindor team’s Keeper, a strong wall of defense as he guarded the rings. Oliver and Jackson were Beaters, working in tandem as they tried to strike down the Chasers from the opposing team. Scott was the Seeker, still busy skirting the edges of the pitch for the Snitch.
“And Reyes gets ten points for Gryffindor,” Sin said to the megaphone. “And looking hot as she does so. Good job, Miss Reyes.”
Erica, a fourth-year Gryffindor Chaser, did a circle in the air, blonde hair flying behind her. She and Captain Oliver exchanged fist bumps as they flew past one another.
“Ooh! Spectacular save by Hufflepuff Boyd!” Sin cheered. “Those are some sweet moves, bro!”
Felicity cheered when Boyd, the fifth-year Hufflepuff and one of Felicity’s close friends managed to kick away and intercept a Quaffle. Boyd had almost completely gotten off his broom, doing a midair twist to kick away the incoming Quaffle and sending Erica ducking. The stands were going wild over his save.
“Ooh, and are we having a little lover’s spat over there with Reyes and Boyd?” Sin asked. She cackled when both players waved fists at her. “Oh, so not a spat then? More of a romantic eye-gazing?”
“They’re together?” Felicity asked.
Sin wiggled her eyebrows at them. “Yep. Just recently. Hopefully they don’t kill me for the advertisement.”
The games went on and Felicity squealed when the teams got a bit too close to the commentator stand with Oliver batting a Bludger away from them and towards one of the Hufflepuff Chasers.
“Careful!” Oliver shouted before flying off.
“Ooh! And Queen saves poor commentator me, his lady love, and her loyal knight just in time!” Sin shouted at the megaphone.
Stiles’ laughter and Felicity’s loud, “Stop joking, Sin!” were caught loudly on air. People in the stands cheered.
Felicity flushed, batting at Sin’s arm, but Sin suddenly shouted. “And Hufflepuff Seeker Lahey is making a dive! I think he’s found the Snitch!”
The slight debacle was forgotten as everyone concentrated on the action.
“McCall’s right behind Lahey! We have a battle going on, folks!” Sin shouted. “Oh, and while we were distracted, we have ten more points to Hufflepuff thanks to their Captain Jaime.”
“Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!” Felicity held Stiles’ hand tightly as she watched. “Get it, Isaac.”
“Damn, Scott’s got this,” Stiles said softly. Even when Felicity slapped his arm, he said, “Isaac’s got speed but Scott has better control. With the that angle, Isaac’s going to have more trouble banking to the side when–”
They all gasped as Isaac veered off sharply and Scott flew past him to continue his descent. The golden glint of the Snitch suddenly flew around a stand and Scott had to direct his broom before he and Isaac continued the chase.
The score before the Snitch was caught was almost a tie at 220-210 in favor of Hufflepuff, but even then they were left defeated when Scott pumped the fist in the air which held the Snitch for a clear 150 additional points.
“That was so close,” Felicity whined, joining Stiles and Sin as they entered the castle after the game. “We could have won the game. Boyd and Isaac practiced so hard too.”
Stiles held her hand and squeezed it comfortingly. “We have a few more games coming up, Felicity. It’s ok.”
“I’m excited for the next match in two weeks,” Sin said. “Ravenclaw versus Slytherin, dudes. It’s gonna be bloody as hell.” She was grinning gleefully to herself like she knew something they didn’t.
Stiles paused just outside the Great Hall. “Coming?” he asked Felicity.
Most Slytherins and Ravenclaws were heading inside the Great Hall for dinner as majority of the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs went straight to their common rooms to either celebrate or comfort one another.
Felicity shook her head, smiling softly. “No, I’m heading back. I’m going to go wait for Isaac and Boyd.” She placed a kiss on Stiles’ cheek. “See you tomorrow, Stiles. Bye, Sin.”
“See ya,” Sin said, waving a hand.
Stiles and Sin were debating between grabbing some food and just eating down at the Slytherin Dungeons or if they’d stay to eat in the Great Hall instead, when the Quidditch players all entered the castle. The Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs were talking amiably and upon catching sight of Stiles and Sin, many waved hello.
“Bro!” Scott jumped on him.
Stiles grinned and hugged him hard. “Bro, good game! Congratulations on the win!”
“Good game, Hufflepuffs,” Sin said, saluting them.
Stiles patted Boyd on the shoulder, gave Isaac a friendly hug, and shook hands with some of the other players and their captain, seventh-year Jaime Carson.
“Thanks,” Jaime said. “And your commentary was stellar as always, Sin.”
Sin grinned and did a mock bow. “I aim to please.”
“Felicity not with you, Stiles?” Isaac asked.
“Already went to the common room,” Stiles said. “Prepare to be smothered when you get back, especially you.” He nudged Isaac. “She was worried about you.”
Isaac smirked. “Not a problem with me. Felicity gives the best hugs.”
“Oh, she does,” Erica suddenly spoke up. She had an arm around Boyd’s huge bicep. Huh. So they really were dating. “I’ve had a hug from her.”
“Me too,” Sin added, grinning far too wide.
“Even me,” Jackson said, shrugging.
“And me!” Scott said. “She’s so warm and squishy and smells like gingerbread.”
“Hug her. Don’t eat her, Scotty.” Stiles laughed.
“How about you Oliver?” Erica purred. “Ever been the recipient of one of Felicity’s magical hugs?”
Stiles hid a grin behind his hand. Sin, Isaac, and Erica looked gleeful. Jackson, Boyd and Jaime just looked amused. Derek was biting back a smile. Oliver was glaring at everybody.
“…no,” he said.
“Aww, shame,” Erica tsked.
“Ollie,” Stiles immediately mimicked with a roll of his eyes. Sin, Isaac, and Erica burst out laughing while Scott nudged him.
“Hey, Laurel,” Oliver said politely as she and her friends appeared.
Laurel, who had a scarlet scarf around her shoulders, was beaming. “Congratulations! You were so amazing!” She went off on a tirade, recapping everything and singing him praises. Oliver took it calmly. He occasionally made comments pertaining to his entire team, but Laurel ignored them.
Stiles felt his skin crawl. He was making faces, which the others found amusing, Erica and Sin in particular.
“We have to celebrate,” Laurel said gushed.
“Oh, we will,” Erica swooped in. She pressed against Oliver’s side, thumping her captain on the side. “Come on, Captain! To the common room!”
“Sure,” Oliver said, wrapping an arm around Erica. “Later, Laurel.”
There was a flash of irritation on Laurel’s face that only Stiles seemed to notice, but she smiled and nodded.
“Of course,” she said. She stepped forward, trailing a hand across Oliver’s arm and forearm. “We can celebrate some other time, right?”
Laurel tossed her hair over her shoulder and walked off. Stiles was immensely glad.
“Anyway, let’s go!” Erica said. She reached up to kiss Boyd’s cheek and started dragging Oliver off. “Come on, Captain, before something else happens. Bye, Stiles, Sin!”
“Well, entertainment’s done for the night,” Isaac said, grinning.
“Come on,” Jaime grabbed him and led his team off.
Everyone started walking off. Stiles waved off Scott and Jackson and turned just as Derek wrapped his big hand around Stiles’ elbow.
“Hey.” Stiles tilted his head and smiled up at him. “That was a good game. You did really, really great.”
Derek smiled and despite the tiredness on his face, Stiles couldn’t help smiling at how absolutely good he still looked and grinned at the light pinkish tinge to his ears.
“Thanks, Stiles. Are you ok though? From when the Bludger almost hit you and Felicity?”
“Hm? Oh, that. I didn’t think you knew where I was sitting.” Stiles waved a hand. “That’s all good though. Except for a tiny whiplash from watching the action and suddenly ducking to save our heads, we’re fine. I’m fine.”
“That’s good,” Derek said, sighing. He squeezed Stiles’ elbow. “And I’m glad you liked the game.”
“But Slytherin’s still going to win the Cup.” Stiles stuck his tongue out at him.
Derek chuckled. “We’ll see.”
“Go on.” Stiles nudged him. “Go celebrate.”
Derek nodded. “Have breakfast with me tomorrow, ok?”
“Sure.” Stiles grinned, feeling a little warm when Derek looked pleased.
A lot of people are still hyped up from the Quidditch games and the upcoming match in two weeks, and while Felicity also wanted to bask in the joys of Quidditch season, it was interrupting her study time. She couldn’t have that, not if she wanted to keep her grades up.
She was spending her time by the lake, poring through her textbooks, Defensive Magical Theory and Dark Arts Defence: Basics for Beginners. She was doing very well in all her other subjects but Defense Against the Dark Arts was her weakness, enough to possibly have her pull out something less than an Outstanding once she took up her O.W.L.S. And that just wouldn’t do. She was a quick thinker and she was very smart, true, but she didn’t have the kind of instinct, competitiveness, and drive suited for dueling.
Felicity sighed, rubbing her eyes behind her glasses, muttering expletives to herself. When she opened her eyes, there was a sunflower on top of her book.
“Oh.” She took it, surprised, and looked around. She turned around and grinned. “Hi.”
“Hey.” Oliver was grinning, hands in his robes’ pockets with a matching sunflower poking out of his robes. He stepped forward.
Felicity waved the sunflower at him. “What’s this for? And this is my favorite flower by the way.”
“I know.” Oliver shrugged. “Thought you could use something to lighten you up. You look pretty as ever but I can see thunderclouds over your head.”
Felicity flushed. “Oh, hush the compliments. And thanks for this.” She patted the grass beside her. “No last period?”
“Nope. Professor gave us an off day for homework,” Oliver said, grunting as he sat down beside her, stretching his long legs. “And before you ask, you know how Der gets during Quidditch season, gets more studious than usual in between practices. He made me finish it all last night.”
“And where is Derek, by the way?” Felicity stroked the sunflower before placing it on her lap.
“Stiles has Care of Magical Creatures now so Derek went off to watch his last class,” Oliver said. “You know how it is.”
Felicity snorted. “I can’t believe Stiles still doesn’t know Derek has a crush on him. They have breakfast and dinner together every once in a while, just the two of them, like a little date.”
“Well, Stiles is just fifteen, plus for all the kid’s ridiculously smart, he’s also a bit dense.” Oliver gave her a lopsided grin. “Like some people, I know.”
Felicity was confused at that. “Hm?”
Oliver shrugged. “Nothing. Anyway, what has you in a mood?” He looked at the book in her lap. “D.A.D.A.?”
“Um, yeah. It’s just… I was just nervous about the Defense Duels.”
The yearly Defense Duels was a fairly new tradition that was started a few years back by Professor Lyla Michaels when she was invited to Hogwarts to became their new D.A.D.A. instructor. Third to seventh years students were allowed to sign up and were pitted against one another in duels. Students only competed against those from their year and were paired up by Ualtar, a creepy enchanted Irish puppet that shuffles the cards where people who signed up wrote their names. He was enchanted to pick names fairly and based purely on skill set. No one knew how it was done, only that Ualtar actually paired people off perfectly.
Professor Michaels always prioritized safety though, bringing in seasoned professors, duelists, and actual Aurors to oversee the event, setting up ironclad rules that were followed to the letter, and even pulled out students when deemed necessary. In the few years it has commenced, there has never been a serious issue that the wizards and witches on hand weren’t able to handle immediately.
When Felicity watched her first Defense Duel in her first year, she had personally hated the idea of it. She saw no reason to pit students against one another. There was a major uproar in the wizarding world when the curriculum was first introduced, something she agreed with, thinking it unsafe to allow students to duel. However, meeting Stiles had changed her perspective on things.
Oliver chuckled. “Felicity, that’s still in January. November just started.”
“I know that.” Felicity huffed. “I’m just… I didn’t do so well last year and I… I suck at dueling.”
“Yeah, you kinda do. I remember last year.”
Felicity gaped at him and slapped his arm. Oliver laughed, lying back on the grass and looking up at her with a cheeky grin. She felt herself flush at the mirth in his eyes.
“You’re mean,” she said instead, placing her thick book on top of Oliver’s stomach. She hadn’t signed up in her third year and when she tried to participate last year, she barely lasted five minutes.
Oliver chuckled, sending the book shaking. He gave Felicity an understanding look. “I know last year was bad, but you know Professor Lyla always says dueling isn’t for everybody. And the duels aren’t mandatory anyway.”
“I know that.” Felicity sighed. “And I know it’s not the thing for me and you know I’m not planning on becoming an Auror or something, but you get so much extra points just for signing up and more for winning even just one duel. This will help my grades, since I suck at D.A.D.A already as it is. I can’t get a failing grade, Oliver. Not in any subject. I can’t.”
Oliver sat up, leaning back on his hands. “Well, it takes practice, that’s all. It’s not really something you can read about, Felicity.” He patted the book that slid to his lap.
“I know that,” Felicity said. “But it’s not like I can just ask someone to practice with me.” She shook her head before Oliver could ask. “Stiles doesn’t count. He’s already semi-obligated to help me as my best friend, but I don’t want to take up all of his time. He’s the defending champion of his year, and I know he takes the Defense Duels seriously.”
That was true. Stiles was actually a natural at dueling, virtually uncontested as being among the best of his year. He signed up last year and totally swept the competition away and his duel during the Finals with fellow Slytherin Danny Mahealani was considered one of the best matches in the school thus far.
Felicity was actually concerned over Stiles’ skills. She wasn’t stupid. She knew part of the reason the Ministry eventually bowed down to letting Hogwarts try out the Duels was because this was a good way to screen students who seemed likely to have an aptitude for dark magic. There had been a few rumors in the past years, like that Ravenclaw girl three years ago who was so good at dueling that even Ualtar turned down her card when she tried to sign up for the Duels. She was now working as an Auror fresh after graduation so even if she did have the makings of a dark magic practitioner, at least that was nipped in the bud.
As far as Felicity knew though, that girl was just really magically-skilled. Stiles, on the other hand, had a history of dark magic over his head.
It took her a while to realize that Oliver had said something.
“Um, I’m sorry. What?” she asked.
Oliver just smiled patiently. “I said someone’s saying hi.” He pointed.
Felicity looked at what Oliver was pointing at and squealed when she saw a large tentacle drifting their way and a large head emerging from the water, blinking its big, glassy, black eye.
“Oh, hi!” Felicity waved at Hogwarts’ resident friendly Giant Squid. She squealed when the tentacle waved back.
“Come on,” Oliver said, holding out a hand.
Felicity took it without hesitation and together the two approached the edge of the water.
“Hi!” Felicity reached out when a large tentacle slithered their way and giggled when she patted the wet slimy appendage. “How are you, Mister Squid?”
“I was actually hoping we’d see it,” Oliver said. He pulled out an extra sunflower from his robes. “For you, Mister Squid.”
The tentacle wiggled in what Felicity could presume was happiness. She saw another tentacle their way that appeared to be pushing a large piece of driftwood towards them.
“Oh, should we…” Felicity grabbed the piece of wood. It was big enough for her and Oliver to fit.
“Yeah, definitely!” Oliver looked delighted as he scrambled towards it first and held out his arms for Felicity. The driftwood was steady under their feet thanks to the Giant Squid and once they were settled in side-by-side and Felicity had Accio-ed her books, the tentacles gently prodded their little makeshift boat towards the giant head peeking out at them from the water.
“Hello, Mister Squid,” Oliver said, placing the sunflower on a flat spot on its head. “A little something for you.”
The Giant Squid blinked and its head wiggled in delight. An extra tentacle emerged from the water and slithered over to oh so gently pat the sunflower on its head. Felicity laughed when the tentacle danced in front of them, showing how pleased the Giant Squid was. Taking care not to get her books wet and pushing her robes up her arms, she reached over until she could press her palms against the large and wet appendage.
“Are you going to keep us company while we study, Mister Squid?” she asked.
“And we’ll keep you company too while you get some sun,” Oliver added, reaching out to pat the Squid’s head where he was closer.
A tentacle curved around Felicity’s hand and forearm before slithering off.
Felicity spent the rest of the time reading and studying spells with Oliver’s help, as he was a far better dueler than she was. Oliver played with the Giant Squid, occasionally tickling its tentacles or splashing water on its great head. It was fun and sweet and Felicity realized this was the first time she’s ever been alone with Oliver, barring the giant invertebrate with them.
Felicity had always liked Oliver. She had known about him ever since her first year, when he and Derek were already popular figures around Hogwarts. They had only started talking last year at Platform 9 ¾ when she was running late and accidentally hit him with her trolley. He was kind about it though, introduced her to Derek, and they offered to help her, even escorting her into finding the compartment Stiles saved for them. They started becoming close after she noticed Oliver around more and more often, and after she figured out Derek had a crush on Stiles, she didn’t mind letting the best friends hang around.
And honestly though, Felicity thought it wasn’t half bad having Oliver around, with his laughter and warm smile and bringing her sunflowers.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
“Tonight,” Oliver muttered.
“Hm? Tonight what?” Felicity asked, still looking at her charts.
“Derek’s planning on telling Stiles how he feels tonight.”
“What?” Felicity almost dropped her wand. She lowered her voice when Oliver shushed her. “Are you serious? Now?”
Oliver smiled, moving closer. “And Felicity, it’s not just Derek who has something to say tonight.”
“R-Really?” she asked, heart thudding fast in her chest.
The next chapter’s longer than the last, so yey for that.
We have more Quidditch here and a cliffie ending that I hope you won’t kill me for. Oh, and Nyssa Raatko is, of course, Nyssa al Ghul. I decided to go with her original Arabic surname from DC. Also, the planned number of chapters have changed because I’ve been getting more and more inspired for this verse, like there wasn’t supposed to be angst but ooh, lookie there!
“Scott,” Stiles muttered. “Pinch me.”
Scott did him one better. He reached over and punched Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles flinched but beamed when he realized he wasn’t dreaming.
“Are you serious?” Stiles burst out in the middle of class.
Professor Christopher Argent sighed. “Yes, Mr. Stilinski. We are serious.” He waved a hand, trying to calm down the students as they all started chattering excitedly. “This is considered a great honor for Hogwarts because of the many esteemed guests that have agreed to take part this year. They will be arriving to share with you their expertise, answer any questions you might have, and to hopefully inspire you all.” He looked at the parchment in his hand. “The partial list of attendees are as follows.”
He rattled off a list of names, like the editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet, a healer from St. Mungo’s, and even a famous actress and musician, but Stiles noted the more interesting guests.
“… and magizoologist Alan Deaton, businessman and arithmancer Walter Steele, the Head of the Auror Office Amanda Waller, Professor Noshiko Yukimura from Mahoutokoro School of Magic in Japan, and the Minister for Magic himself will be coming in for a quick visit, but no panel. This will be held sometime on January. We will give further updates on schedules and rotations so that everyone will have the chance to attend the panels they want.”
Professor Argent talked about it for a little while, citing the accomplishments of each one. Stiles was only half-listening as he was biting back excited whimpers. Holy shit, it was going to be Career Week at Hogwarts and this year was going to be so much better than last year. He’ll get to listen to Amanda Waller and Professor Noshiko Yukimura.
Once classes were over, the entire class was buzzing excitedly about this year’s guests.
“I can’t believe we’ll get to meet the editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet,” Allison said. “I can’t wait to attend her panel. And Scott, you can meet Alan Deaton.”
“Yeah. I’m glad they could invite a magizoologist this year.” Scott grinned.
“And we’ll be getting an actual celebrity on campus,” Jackson commented. “Too bad they couldn’t bring an athlete again like last year’s Harken Hornbill’s Quidditch Captain.”
“How about you, Stiles?” Lydia asked. “Can’t wait to meet Amanda Waller, I take it.”
“Definitely,” Stiles said. His desire to be an Auror wasn’t a secret from his friends. “Her and Professor Yukimura.”
They all turned the corner and saw Oliver and Derek talking in the hall.
“Oliver, I heard your stepfather’s coming to Career Week,” Lydia said. “I can’t wait to meet him.”
“Felicity is going to flip at the chance to meet Walter Steele,” Stiles said. “Better grab that chance, Oliver.” He waggled his eyebrows at him.
“That’s what I told him,” Derek grinned, nudging his friend in the ribs.
No sooner had he said those words that Felicity came skidding across the hall. She was out of breath, but beaming. “Oliver! Walter Steele is coming here!” She latched onto Oliver’s arm, bouncing on her feet.
Oliver grinned. “Yeah. He told me last week. I wanted to tell you since I know you’ll be excited for it, but I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Felicity looked absolutely excited. “Mister Steele wrote an extended journal explaining the magical properties of pi! That was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever read in my life!”
Derek looked thoughtful. “Isn’t that the journal he wrote that’s… what, three volumes each over fifty pages long?”
“Four volumes actually, all of which have fifty-seven pages,” Felicity corrected him.
“Felicity isn’t Queen of Arithmancy for nothing.” Stiles snickered.
Oliver rubbed her shoulder. “By the way, Walter’s taken a break to focus on our family businesses and stuff, but if you’re interested to know he’s working on a new theoretical study during his off days. I can introduce you to him if you want and you can ask him about it.”
Felicity gaped. “Oh my god! Oh my god! Thank you!” She jumped up, wrapping her arms around Oliver’s broad shoulders and hugging the male tightly. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are the absolute best, Oliver Queen!”
Oliver looked shocked, before a pleased smile erupted on his face and he wrapped both arms around Felicity’s waist, giving her a squeeze.
Jackson and Roy did a fist pump, Scott gave him a thumbs up, Lydia and Allison giggled, and Stiles nudged Derek happily as he chuckled.
Felicity was already excited about getting to meet Walter Steele so her excitement was doubled with the upcoming Quidditch match between Slytherin and Ravenclaw.
Felicity waved. “Hi, Sara.”
Sara Lance, fifth-year Gryffindor, approached her and smiled politely. Felicity liked her better than her sister, Laurel.
“Hi, I was wondering if Stiles was with you?”
Felicity shook her head. She was actually eating breakfast by herself that day. Stiles was with the Slytherin Quidditch team right now. Year after year, he was encouraged to try out for the team, but he always declined saying sports weren’t quite his thing. Instead, he offered his services as a coach slash strategist.
When Felicity said so, Sara sighed. “I hoped he was still around,” she said. “I wanted to give something to Nyssa, and only Slytherins and Ravenclaws are allowed at the pitch right now.”
Nyssa Raatko, a seventh-year, was the team’s Captain. Everyone knew she and Sara had a thing.
“Maybe you can get Danny to give it to her,” Felicity said, looking over at the Slytherin table but the fourth-year Beater wasn’t there. She spotted Sin. “Oh wait, maybe Sin. She goes to the pitch early since she’s the commentator. She’ll probably pass it along.”
“Great idea. Thanks,” Sara said. “Oh, and one last thing, I was wondering if you knew if Oliver had signed up for Apparition classes?”
An optional twelve-week Apparition course was open to students who are seventeen years old or turning seventeen before a certain date. It was held after the Christmas holidays.
“Um, I’m not sure,” Felicity said. She knew Oliver had turned seventeen earlier this year. “But I remember Stiles told me that he was. Why?”
Sara shrugged. “My sister was curious so I thought I’d ask. Thanks.”
With that, Sara walked off. Felicity frowned down onto her orange juice. It wasn’t like she didn’t think Laurel had a right to be interested in Oliver, but if what Sin and Stiles said was true about Oliver not liking her, Felicity felt just a bit torn over Laurel’s strong advances. Then again, it was none of her business anyway.
Felicity exited the Great Hall later on and bumped into Lydia, Allison, Isaac, Erica, and Boyd out on the hall.
“Hi Felicity!” Allison said, smiling.
“Hey, pretty lady,” Isaac said, swinging an arm around her shoulder.
“Hi guys, heading out?” she asked.
“Yep,” Erica said. “Stiles already out on the pitch?”
Felicity nodded at that.
“Danny mentioned they were up all night strategizing,” Isaac said as they all made their way down to the pitch. “They’re really determined to get the Cup this year.”
“And we all know Stiles takes the game seriously,” Lydia added.
“Well, I’m definitely Team Slytherin for today,” Erica said. “I want Gryffindor to have a match against Captain Nyssa.”
“Did you hear she’s already being scouted by the Selene Suresnipers?” Boyd said.
“Seriously?” Allison asked. “They won the Women’s French Quidditch League last year, right?”
Boyd nodded and Allison whistled, impressed.
They arrived at the pitch soon enough. Allison and Erica walked off to the Gryffindor stands and Boyd and Isaac went off with the other Hufflepuffs, leaving Felicity and Lydia for a moment to finish a conversation they were having on one of the latter’s Herbology classes.
Lydia suddenly paused between sentences.
Lydia was looking at something and Felicity turned around. She felt confusion and not a small bit of worry inside her because standing a ways away near the tree line was Derek and he talking to a girl with a Slytherin scarf around her neck. Derek had his arms crossed, looking stern, and stepped back when she tried to touch him.
“It’s probably nothing,” Lydia suddenly said. “Come on, Felicity.”
Felicity was confused but tried to follow, unable to look back as Lydia quickly led her away.
The two bid each other goodbye and Felicity immediately scurried off to the Hufflepuff stands to find Boyd and Isaac. While Stiles always so unabashedly sat at the Hufflepuff stands with Felicity during certain games, Felicity knew better than to sit with Stiles during games like these. Captain Nyssa usually allowed Stiles to stay at the Quidditch tent with the other reserve players, especially when there was a strategy Stiles had proposed that they were going to try out.
Felicity found Boyd and Isaac easily enough, sitting down between them. She pulled out the green Slytherin scarf she got from Stiles and put it on, wriggling in her seat excitedly.
“Hey, Felicity,” Isaac said, whispering in her. “Look.”
Felicity looked at what Isaac was pointing to and saw Derek, Oliver, Erica, and the other Quidditch team members seated together. She giggled at the sight of a noticeable green pin on Derek’s robe.
“That’s actually sort of sweet,” Felicity said. Isaac grinned with her.
There was a loud echo as Sin from the commentators stand turned on her megaphone. The crowd cheered.
“Well, well, welcome, kids to our second game of the season, with Slytherin versus Ravenclaw!”
Felicity smiled as she saw the teams assembling. As soon as the balls were launched, the game was on.
Captain Nyssa and Ravenclaw’s Captain, Darwin Amoro, were seventh years and determined to graduate with the Quidditch Cup so today’s game was a lot more heated than the last one. It was also a lot more fast-paced and Felicity was afraid of getting whiplash with the way everyone’s flying around and around.
Felicity watched with wide eyes when at one point in the game, Captain Nyssa, her Chasers, and Beaters all ascended, flanked closely by the Ravenclaw team. The entire audience gasped when the Slytherins did a sharp arc, dropping backwards and almost entirely freefalling straight towards the rings at one end. There was a blur and the Ravenclaw Keeper was left shocked when the edge of his broom was clipped by the Bludger smacked his way and the Quaffle completely passed him and scored Slytherin ten points.
Even Sin seemed to take a moment to figure out what happened and when she did, she whooped.
“Holy hippogriff, kids! Did you see that? The Slytherins just performed the Darshound Dervishes’ signature move, the Descent of the Hounds!”
“Goddamn, they actually did it,” Isaac’s jaw dropped. “Holy shit.”
“Language,” Felicity nudged Isaac automatically.
“This has Stiles written all over it,” Boyd muttered.
Isaac nodded. “I heard him and Danny joking about it during Astronomy class. They were talking about Quidditch moves by really great teams and they mentioned the Darshounds. I didn’t think it was for this.”
Boyd cursed at that. “Damn that kid.”
“Language,” Felicity nudged Boyd this time.
“We have to find a way to counter that,” Boyd said. “Even Derek and Oliver look shocked.”
Felicity glanced at them and the Quidditch co-captains were whispering furiously. Scott, Jackson, and their team members with them looked gobsmacked.
Sin was still waxing poetic on the beauty of the Descent of the Hounds and no one was berating her. That was a really impressive strategy.
The game eventually ended 540 to 360, the Snitch uncaught, because Captain Darwin had to concede defeat after Captain Nyssa and her team managed to tire out even their reserve Chasers. The Descent of the Hounds was based on speed, stamina, and balance, something Captain Nyssa and her team had in spades. They doled it out sparingly but it was obvious that its appearance had shaken the other team.
It was obvious who the winners were this time.
Stiles was feeling on top of the world. He was so relieved all the crazy strategies he and Danny had worked on actually went off without a hitch. He knew his suggestions were met with disbelief at first, especially considering how difficult it was, but Captain Nyssa had placed her faith in him and he didn’t fail her.
Stiles jolted in surprise when someone slung an arm around him. He laughed when he realized it was Danny nuzzling his cheek.
“You’re fucking awesome sometimes, Stiles,” Danny said, grinning.
“Just sometimes?” Stiles teased, laughing when Danny nudged him playfully and winked. “And give yourself some credit too, Danny. We both planned this.”
Danny kissed his cheek teasingly, making Stiles flush and laugh, before joining the fray of Slytherins celebrating around the Great Hall.
Felicity giggled across from him. “Ooh, a bit of kissy-poo with Danny?”
Stiles scoffed, fighting his blush. “Oh, come on. It’s just Danny.”
“You did have a thing with him before.”
Stiles shook his head. “That was before. Danny’s my pal now. And I actually think he has a thing for Isaac so…”
Captain Nyssa approached him and Stiles felt himself straighten in her presence. She was tall, beautiful, intelligent, kind to her underclassmen, and often scary to those who couldn’t see past her intimidating aura. Stiles had always nursed a slight attraction to her and always felt giddy whenever he pleased her.
Stiles smiled shyly when Nyssa wrapped her arms around him, one hand burying itself in his hair.
“You are a gem, Stiles. I’m so very proud of you,” Nyssa said, smiling. She leaned down, placing a chaste but firm kiss right on his lips.
“C-C-Captain Nyssa!” Stiles flushed as Danny and the other Slytherins nearby cheered and hollered. Felicity giggled. More than half the Great Hall looked surprised.
Nyssa just smiled, unperturbed and calm in that way she always was. “If we win the Cup this year, it’s all going to be thanks to you, my love.”
Stiles felt his face flaming. “I just wanted to help.”
Nyssa laughed, looking beautiful as she did so. “Oh, my love, do not underestimate yourself. You do more than help.” She stroked his cheek.
Nyssa was so very easy with affection for those she felt kindly to, liked Sara Lance, her fellow seventh years, the members of her Quidditch team, and even Stiles. Stiles has been a recipient of hugs and nuzzles from her since his second year when he started assisting the Quidditch team. A kiss was nothing to be ashamed about.
He still felt a bit tickled pink at the thought though, remembering Nyssa’s lips against his.
There was a cough and Stiles saw an odd little smile appear on Nyssa’s face. He turned.
“Hi, Derek, Oliver, good morning,” he said, waving.
Oliver was sighing and shaking his head. Derek was looking at Nyssa with a weird expression on his face.
“Hello, Captain Derek,” Nyssa drawled.
Derek’s face scrunched up before he settled on a polite nod. “Congratulations on yesterday’s game, Captain Nyssa. That was impressive.”
“Why thank you,” Nyssa said. She hooked her chin on Stiles’ shoulder and nuzzled his cheek. “I have my little love here to help. We couldn’t have done it without him.”
Stiles flushed from Nyssa’s sweet affection… and he felt so weird that it’s happening in front of Derek.
“Stiles is so very important, you know,” Nyssa said.
Derek glared harder. “I do know that.”
Nyssa hummed. “If you did, you wouldn’t be taking so long, now would you?”
Stiles looked between them, confused. “Um… is this about Quidditch?”
Oliver burst out into laughter while Felicity sighed, placing her forehead on the table.
“No, Stiles. It isn’t,” she said.
Nyssa laughed softly. “Anyway, I should go.” She leaned back, smiling at Stiles. “I’ll see you later, my love. Keep up the good work.”
Stiles grinned. “I will, Captain.”
Nyssa placed a kiss on his cheek before standing. “My warm regards, Captain Oliver, Captain Derek. And you look rather radiant today, my beautiful Felicity. Have a good day.” She sent Felicity a flying kiss before walking off towards the other seventh years.
Stiles turned to Felicity, who looked a little pink in the face. “Captain Nyssa, eh?”
Felicity glanced at the woman’s back. “Yeah, she’s something.”
Derek sat down beside Stiles with a humph, so close that Stiles’ side was pressing to his chest. Stiles didn’t even want to ask what the hell that staredown with Nyssa was about. It was probably some Captain thing, or something about the Gryffindors getting a coach like Slytherin did.
“Don’t feel blue,” Stiles said. “Just because we’re going to beat you for the Cup.”
“It’s not about Quidditch, Stiles,” Felicity mumbled.
Stiles elbowed Derek gently. “But don’t think I didn’t notice you wearing a little green pin during the game. You’re so sweet to me.”
“He always is,” Oliver commented. He slid across the table so he could sit beside Felicity.
“He always, always is, Stiles,” Felicity added.
Derek glared at them.
“Breakfast?” Stiles asked instead, offering Derek a piece of bacon on his fork. Maybe that will get Derek out of whatever funk he’s in.
Derek held Stiles’ wrist, very gently despite the slightly thunderous look on his face, and held it close to his face so he could take a bite before leaning back and crossing his arms, looking moody.
Felicity looked up. “Stiles, are we still on for the Astronomy Tower at eleven tomorrow night?”
“Astronomy tower?” Oliver piped up. “You two are liable to get in trouble, you know? And you’re supposed to be a prefect.” He nudged Felicity.
Felicity batted at his arm. “Stiles and I had Pluto-related arguments with one of the Muggle-raised kids in Ravenclaw two days ago. We’re both feeling astronomical.”
Stiles snorted. “That, and Felicity has been reading advanced chapters on her Astronomy and wanted to study the Orion’s Belt and a few other constellations ahead of class.”
“Pluto arguments? Is that about Pluto not being considered a planet anymore?” Derek asked.
Stiles beamed at him. “Hey, you do know Muggle stuff after all. I’m so proud.” He patted Derek’s face teasingly.
Derek gave him a small smile. “My sisters told me it’s a bit of an issue with some Muggles.”
“I don’t get it,” Oliver spoke up. “Is this like the thing with the dinosaurs and feathers?”
“Yes,” Felicity said. “Because science ruins some people’s childhood dreams and people take it seriously. I think feathered dinosaurs are cool.”
“Same,” Stiles said. “Hey, you two could help Felicity. You two got Outstanding on your O.W.L.S. in Astronomy last year and you’re both still taking it as electives this year, right?”
“Fine by me,” Oliver said, grinning at Felicity. “I think I still have my fifth-year notes on constellations, or at least Derek’s notes. I can bring them.”
“That would be great,” Felicity said.
Derek sighed, and he was so close Stiles shivered at the hot air against the side of his face.
“A ploy to get them together?” he whispered, placing a hand on Stiles’ back.
Stiles grinned at him. “You know me so well.”
“How can you be so observant that you figured out Oliver likes Felicity, but aren’t able to notice anything else?”
Stiles narrowed his eyes at him. “…Is this about Quidditch?”
Derek just huffed and smiled, stroking his back. Stiles wriggled, liking the warm pressure. “We’ll see you at the tower, ok?”
Felicity let Stiles tug her wherever, his hands on her shoulders, as she kept on reading the star chart in her hands, her wand illuminating the page.
“I hate this,” she muttered. “I keep forgetting just where Io lies relative to the sun. And I keep forgetting the coordinates for Orion’s Belt.”
Stiles shushed her. “Quiet for a sec, Felicity. We’re almost there.”
Felicity hummed under her breath, continuing on reading as Stiles led her towards the stairs leading up to the tower.
“Pay close attention to this, Stiles,” Felicity said as they ascended. “When you start your Astronomy next year, this coursework is going to kill you and you are not allowed to come to me for help.”
“As if you could resist me. Or I can just ask Derek.” Stiles scoffed. “Oh, here.”
Stiles approached the door to the tower and was pleased to see it open smoothly. He peeked inside.
Felicity grinned, seeing the two Gryffindors already waiting. “Hi!”
“Come on,” Derek said, waving them inside. “Oliver already set the telescope for you, Felicity.”
“Thank you!” she sighed, walking over to sit beside him.
Stiles and Derek joined her and Felicity concentrated as Oliver walked her through some of the constellations that she needed to study. She knew Oliver was smart but she didn’t think he’d be so good at Astronomy. Derek piped in every once in a while and Felicity felt so pleased at them both.
Felicity closed her eyes and recited the coordinates for Orion’s Belt. “Er, is that right?”
“Perfect,” Oliver said, grinning at her. “Told you you’d memorize it easier using that trick I taught you.”
Felicity smiled back, couldn’t help the slight warmth blooming in her cheeks at the way the moonlight hit Oliver’s face, making his eyes shine. He was always so nice to her.
“Thanks, Oliver,” she said.
“And don’t forget that Ancha is found in Aquarius and Alzir is on Gemini,” Derek added. “They use that to confuse students sometimes.”
Felicity repeated that a few times, trying to get it in head. “Ok. I think I got it this time.”
Derek turned to him. “Tired?”
“A little,” Stiles said. “If you guys don’t mind, I’m moving. I think my butt’s asleep or something. I’m moving to the fluffy cushions by the windows.”
“I’ll come with you,” Derek said.
“You two stay there in the dark shadowy corner,” Stiles said, snickering and scooting back when Felicity tried to swipe at him. “Especially you, Felicity. You’re a prefect. We can’t take chances with you getting caught.”
Derek pulled Stiles up, chuckling when Stiles wiggled his hips to get his butt back to working order, before they both moved towards the tall glass windows at the back of the room around the corner from where Oliver and Felicity were settled in front of a telescope.
“Tonight,” Oliver muttered.
“Hm? Tonight what?” Felicity asked, still looking at her charts.
“Derek’s planning on telling Stiles how he feels tonight.”
“What?” Felicity almost dropped her wand. She lowered her voice when Oliver shushed her. “Are you serious? Now?”
“Well, you heard Nyssa,” Oliver said. “I think it hit Derek hard and he’s been antsy about it. Plus, the mood’s pretty romantic here, don’t you think?”
“Under the stars with the moonlight shining down over their heads?” Felicity giggled. She turned, leaning back until she could take a peek at where the two were seated side-by-side beside the tall windows, whispering to one another. Stiles was laughing at something Derek said and he leaned sideways, fitting his head on the spot between Derek’s shoulder and neck. They looked cute and cozy.
“I’m kinda excited.”
“Yeah,” Oliver said, leaning back on his hands. “To be honest, I am still surprised.”
“That you don’t mind Der going after Stiles.”
Felicity frowned. “Well, for one thing, it’s not really my choice. I don’t own Stiles. But what do you mean by that?”
Oliver shrugged. “I thought you didn’t like us. Me and Derek.”
Felicity’s jaw dropped. “What?”
“I mean, you know, like athletes or sportsmen or something,” Oliver said. “We never really got to talking until last year after that incident at the Platform. I mean, not that I think you were being a snob or anything, but Der and I have hung out with Jaime and Boyd and Isaac since before. You’re close to those three and whenever Der and I were around, you either left or didn’t talk much. I mean, if it was me and Der, I’m really sor–”
“I… Well, I thought you guys probably wouldn’t want to talk to me,” Felicity said, feeling a bit embarrassed. She didn’t think Oliver would notice that. “You two were athletes, I’m just…” She waved at her books.
“You’re so smart though,” Oliver said. “I always noticed you reading stuff and Isaac told me about how you tutor him once in a while and I heard from Boyd about how you’re always the best in your classes and Jaime was convinced you’d become prefect because everyone in your House likes you. It’s kind of amazing.”
“Y-You think so?” Felicity asked, knowing her face was flaming red about now.
“Yeah.” Oliver chuckled. “I’m pretty sure I’m not stupid, but I was nervous to talk to you. I thought it would be awesome if I could impress you somehow. Turns out all it took was to stand on the Platform and have you bump into me and I’d finally get the chance to be friends.”
Felicity wrung her hands together. “I… um… er… sorry?”
Oliver leaned towards her. “Hey, it was the best thing ever though, because I got to meet you. You’re pretty remarkable, Felicity Smoak.”
Felicity looked up at him, noticing Oliver’s face so close to her own, his eyes soft and fond in the moonlight.
“I…” She licked her lips nervously, jolting a little when Oliver’s gaze darted down briefly. “Thank you for… um… remarking on it.”
Oliver smiled, moving closer. “And Felicity, it’s not just Derek who has something to say tonight.”
“R-Really?” she asked, heart thudding fast in her chest.
She heard about how Oliver liked someone.
It couldn’t be… Was there a chance…
“Yeah,” Oliver said and if it was possible, he looked even more fondly at her. “Felicity, I’m so very–”
They both stiffened. Felicity’s eyes widened.
‘Oh, shit,’ Oliver mouthed.
‘Language,’ Felicity mouthed back, frowning.
Oliver moved to a crouch, so smoothly that Felicity felt impressed. Well, he was a Quidditch player after all. Probably light on his feet.
“Well, well, lovebirds out tonight?”
“Shit,” Oliver muttered.
Felicity and Oliver scurried quietly around the shadowy corner of the room until they could see who had arrived. She held back a huff of surprise. There were two girls with green scarves.
“Braeden,” Stiles said, waving a hand. “Harley.”
Felicity knew Harley Quinn, a sixth year Slytherin. She had never talked to her before but Stiles had warned her not to get involved with the girl, saying he thought she was ‘pretty loony and kind of crazy-eyed’. She didn’t know a Braeden, although she seemed familiar.
With a jolt, Felicity remembered this was the girl talking to Derek before the Quidditch match.
“Yo, Stilinski,” Harley said, giggling.
“Any reason you’re up here, Stiles, Derek?” Braeden asked. “Just the two of you out on a romantic night?”
“Star-gazing,” Stiles said, scoffing.
“Though I don’t think that’s any of your business, Braeden,” Derek said.
“I was just curious, Der,” Braeden said. “You have to admit, this looks pretty… intimate.”
“Only Oliver calls me Der, so don’t,” Derek says, standing up and holding out a hand to Stiles. “Come on, Stiles.”
“Sure,” Stiles said. He reached for his hand and Derek twined their fingers together easily.
“So sweet. Reminds me of the good old days, right Der?” Braeden said, voice smooth as velvet.
Stiles paused in his tracks, just enough that was noticeable.
“Have fun,” Braeden continued. “While it lasts.”
Felicity saw an expression of shock and sudden defeat cross Stiles’ face and she felt an ugly feeling erupt in her chest. She watched Derek’s face tighten before he wrapped an arm around Stiles’ shoulders and hustled him off. She could feel herself standing, wand held tight to her hand, a spell itching to skirt past her lips.
“See you around, kiddies,” Braeden called out.
Felicity felt arms around her, a hand over her mouth, and a soft voice in her ear.
“Felicity, don’t,” Oliver whispered. “I’m sorry, but calm down.”
Felicity felt her anger simmer. She loved Stiles beyond all else, and she would hurt that Braeden right back for what she said.
Oliver held her back and shushed her gently. “Breathe.”
“How long did you and Hale last anyway?”
Felicity almost stopped breathing.
“Dammit,” Oliver muttered, hands moving to Felicity’s ears. “Felicity, don’t listen to this.”
Felicity pushed him back, ears straining. She was able to catch Braeden’s answer of ‘a few months’.
“Why’d you break up though?” Harley asked.
“It was just a fun thing,” Braeden said. “Der wasn’t really all that serious back then, actually. You know, I never expected he was bi.”
“What, so he’s just experimenting?” Harley asked with a tell-tale coo of amusement at the end.
“Maybe,” Braeden said. “I knew there were rumors and shit that he was crushing on Stiles, but I didn’t think he was that serious.” She scoffed. “ Derek’s a good kisser though. Stiles should enjoy it.”
This time Felicity had her own hands over her mouth to stop her loud breathing and outraged whimper.
No. Derek wasn’t like that. He actually liked Stiles.
Arms wrapped around her once again and there was a soft voice in her ear as Oliver stared talking, hushed and quick.
“Derek really did hook up with Braeden for a few months last year but it didn’t last. Derek has known he was bi since we were thirteen and he had a crush on one of Laura’s friends. It’s not like it’s a secret but Derek just didn’t feel the need to tell people who didn’t matter to him. Derek has liked Stiles for months, really likes him, is serious about him. You and I both know this.”
Felicity felt herself calming down slowly, which was helped by the fact that she could hear Braeden and Harley exiting the Tower.
“Braeden hasn’t talked to Derek in months,” Oliver continued. “So I don’t know what’s her deal now. But please do not think anything bad about Derek. Please.”
“If she gets within teen feet of Stiles, I swear to God, Oliver,” Felicity hissed.
“And if Derek doesn’t fix this, I swear…” she let that threat hang in the air.
Oliver nodded again. “Understood.”
Despite the fact that Christmas was coming, Stiles’ favorite holiday in the entire world, things seem to be in some sort of confusing limbo.
Stiles kept thinking about that night at the Astronomy Tower with Braeden and Derek. It ended far differently from how he thought it would. Derek escorted him right down to the dungeons, never once letting go of Stiles.
“Stiles, I can explain,” Derek said, looking Stiles right in the eyes.
“Nah.” Stiles shrugged, holding back feelings of confusion and hurt. “You don’t have to. It’s not my business anyway.”
“It is,” Derek insisted. “Because yes, we had a thing, but it’s been over for a long time. She started talking to me during the last Quidditch match wanting to hook up again, but I turned her down.”
“You did?… I mean that’s still not my business,” Stiles said, voice growing weaker.
Derek shook his head, green eyes radiating fierceness. “I chose you, Stiles.”
Stiles’ breath caught in his throat.
“I like you,” Derek said, voice strong and impassioned. “I’ve liked you for almost a year, since after Felicity bumped into Oliver at the Platform and he and I helped her look for you and I found you in one of the compartments eating that Muggle treat…” His lips pursed for a moment. “…a Reese’s Cup.”
“I… yeah,” Stiles said, surprised. Derek remembered.
Derek plowed on. “I was going to tell you up at the tower but things got interrupted.” He paused, taking a breath. “But I’m still going to tell you so… Stiles, I like you.”
Derek looked determined but there was the telltale flicker of nervousness in his eyes. Derek has never, ever been nervous or scared towards Stiles before. It was enough to have Stiles reaching forward. Derek held his hand back at the Tower, his big hand warm and firm. Stiles liked that, and now he twined their fingers easily, momentarily amazed at how warm and solid it felt, how anchored he felt.
“I like you too, Derek. I do. I’m just… this kinda took me by surprise,” Stiles said. “I’ve always liked you, admired you. Hell, Derek, I love spending time with you and I admit I’ve always thought you were amazing, funny, the kindest, most beautiful person I’ve ever met.” He paused, noting the sudden flush on Derek’s cheeks and he felt a thrill at having done that. “Derek, I’m probably kind of more gone on you than a platonic friend should be but I’m…”
Stiles was usually so sure and steady, never backed off, was never at a loss for words, but Derek liked him and he… he was surprised.
Stiles took a breath. “I haven’t thought about it before.”
Derek’s face crumpled and Stiles felt the breath knocked out of him when he felt Derek trying to tug his hand away.
“I… I’m sorry if I came on too strong. I don’t want to force you. I just wanted to tell you.”
Stiles held on tight. “Just give me time, ok? Please? Because I care about you, Derek, I do. I’m just… I’m just surprised. Please let me think about this?”
Derek looked at him, hope shining so clearly in his eyes. When Stiles squeezed his hand, Derek squeezed back.
“Ok,” Derek replied softly. “Ok.”
Stiles walked out of his and Danny’s shared room and down the hall to the Slytherin common room. He paused just before he exited the hall, could hear a familiar voice talking and laughing. He’s never taken notice of that voice before, but now it was like his ears tuned in no matter how hard he tried to ignore it.
But Stiles was nothing if not resilient and he could easily pretend that he didn’t give a damn. He walked out, head held high. He saw the group of fifth years huddled around and smiled when some of them greeted him. Braeden kept on talking to her friends, unaffected by his presence in the least. But when he felt eyes on his back as he left, he didn’t care.
The rest of the day didn’t fare better. Derek wasn’t around, or at least not as often as he always was, and Stiles knew him well enough to know he was respecting Stiles’ desire for time and space. Without Derek around, Oliver was scarce too. Felicity’s schedule was packed and so Stiles could only talk to her sparingly.
Scott looked at him oddly when Stiles sat down beside him during D.A.D.A class.
“You ok, bro?” he asked. “You’ve been looking a bit off the past few days. What’s up?”
“Derek told me he liked me,” Stiles said. They were seated at the back of the room so at least they were safe from being overheard.
“You mean he finally did it?” Scott asked, looking a little pleased.
Stiles sighed. “Felicity told me everyone knew about it. And you did too?”
“Oh, um. I think I was actually one of the last to notice?” Scott rubbed the back of his neck. He looked embarrassed at that before it whittled away once he studied Stiles’ face. “Are you… Everyone knew you had no idea but I’m guessing you really had no idea, did you?”
“You know how I am, Scott.” Stiles ran his hand through his hair. “I like Derek. I’ve always thought he was attractive and I like being around him, being with him. But I never thought about it being, you know, something more.”
Scott’s face scrunched up in the way that meant he was thinking hard. Stiles kept talking.
”And there’s something else. You know Braeden, right? Fifth year Slytherin? Did you know Derek and Braeden used to hook up?”
Scott looked surprised but he answered honestly. “Um… yeah, but I only found out like earlier this year. Do you remember that weekend when the Quidditch team had that bonding, get-together thing? Erica was being nosy about relationships and she threatened to hex anybody who didn’t answer. Derek told us he and Braeden hooked up but it was long over. Erica was all, ‘and now you like Stiles?’ and Derek just nodded.”
For all it confused Stiles that Derek willingly told the Quidditch team about his feelings but spent so long decidedly not telling Stiles, he couldn’t help feeling a little pleased that Derek had been so forthright.
“Stiles, do you not like Derek?” Scott asked carefully.
“Of course I like him,” Stiles said. “I’ve always liked Derek and maybe it’s only now I’m kinda thinking about him…” He waved a hand.
Stiles huffed and nodded.
“Dude, I know all about The Plan,” Scott said. “And I know you’re dead set on The Plan, but Derek’s a good guy. Maybe something a little different from The Plan wouldn’t hurt.”
Stiles had talked to Felicity a few times before and she had said the same thing.
“…There’s a reason I have The Plan, Scott.”
Scott sighed. “Well, yeah, but I just want you to be happy, bro. Plan or not.”
They lapsed into silence as Professor Lyla walked into the room. D.A.D.A was one of Stiles’ best subjects so he was mostly passed over by the Professor in favor of the other students. They also didn’t have practical lessons today so he was safe to let his mind wander.
Stiles was a straightforward person who never pulled his punches because he had already compartmentalized everything: He loved his Dad, his grandma, Felicity, and Scott. He liked Derek. He thought Oliver was good for Felicity. He was extremely friendly and personable to everyone but knew there was only a handful of people he actually wanted to keep because all the rest were expendable. He knew his best and worst trait was his cutthroat and ambitious drive. He loved Quidditch, but not playing it. He was bisexual. He disliked Laurel for reasons he would never, ever divulge. He detested dark magic.
With that, most of his life had already been carved into The Plan: He was going to get top grades in everything, graduate Hogwarts with flying colors, and take the time to travel and learn more about magic before he settled for Auror training. Then it was just a matter of fulfilling that craving in his bones to fight the good fight before he eventually goes back to Hogwarts to become a Professor. He had it all mapped out clearly in his head.
Now an emotional component had landed in his lap and he didn’t know how to fit it in The Plan.
It wasn’t like Stiles wasn’t attracted to people before but he didn’t take them seriously. He had a thing with Danny for experience’s sake, and that was more of a thing of convenience since they were roommates and easily accessible to one another and Danny was a Slytherin who understood Stiles’ need for a social experiment that was in no way meant to interrupt his ambitions.
It was just that now, for the first time, he actually wanted to do something with someone, something not in The Plan. No matter how much Felicity and Scott assured him that emotions wouldn’t tamper with The Plan, it still made Stiles nervous.
A few days later, Stiles found himself and Scott humming Christmas carols as they headed to the Great Hall for lunch. There were three days left before Christmas vacation and everyone was already feeling the holiday spirit. Stiles beamed at the portraits humming Christmas carols along with them and the ghosts chatting with the students about holiday plans. There were hollies, garlands, and sparkling lights everywhere and everyone was talking about gifts and who was spending Christmas where and with whom. The twelve Christmas tress already lined the halls, and fairies were flitting about, and everything was so festive and warm and wonderful.
Stiles perked up, seeing Felicity rushing down the stairs towards him. She looked radiant. She had a sunflower pinned to her hair which was in a smoothly coiled bun and not her trademark ponytail. She was in her thick robes because she got cold easily, and her face was flushed from excitement and the cold winter breeze. She had a smile on her lips as she descended on Stiles in an embrace.
“I’m so excited,” Felicity mumbled into his neck. “I can’t wait to see your Dad.”
Felicity was spending most of the holidays with them instead of her not-so-nice Aunt and Uncle.
“I know,” he said, grinning. “Even Grandma’s excited. She and Dad can’t wait to see you.”
Felicity smiled at him and leaned closer, whispering, “Today, are you still…”
Stiles nodded. “Yep.”
It’s been six days since the Tower and Felicity had been a comfort as Stiles sorted through his dilemma. She was supportive, knowing how Derek’s ardent confession was skewering Stiles’ usually logical head. Stiles had gotten over that mess, kind of, because all he wanted now was to see Derek and talk to him because it’s been six days and he missed him.
Felicity beamed at that. “I’m happy for you.”
“We still need to talk though,” Stiles said. “I’m still not feeling really good about it, I think. But I just really want to see Derek.”
It wasn’t just because he missed the other male but also because of a not-so-well-known fact about Derek that Scott had told him, something only Oliver and the Quidditch team knew.
Derek’s birthday fell on Christmas Day.
Stiles wanted to clear the air before then, wanted to talk to Derek and get their relationship, no matter its nature, back on track.
“Hey, guys!” Scott waved as their friends all descended the stairs, Lydia, Allison, Jackson, Roy, Danny and Isaac.
“Hey, everyone,” Allison said, dimpling at all of them.
“I’m hungry,” Roy was saying, an arm around his twin’s neck and dragging him down past everybody else. He grabbed Stiles’ arm. “Need food. Now.”
Jackson scoffed at his brother, letting himself be dragged. “He forgot to eat actual dinner and breakfast like a human being because he ate all the Christmas chocolates Dad sent him yesterday.”
“That’s gross, Roy,” Isaac said as Danny laughed.
“Jackson did too,” Roy countered. “It’s just that he ate all the bread rolls from Mom without sharing so he has actual food in his stomach. Traitor.” He shook his brother by the neck.
“You two are going to get fat,” Lydia said, sighing but smiling fondly at them.
They all headed for the Gryffindor table and nobody really cared because everyone was mingling happily, excitement and delight palpable in the air. They passed the sixth years and Stiles felt his heart thudding excitedly when he noticed eyes trained his way. Because now that he thought about it, Derek was always looking at him and watching out for him.
His guardian angel, he remembered Sin saying.
Stiles and the group were passing by them. Beside Derek was Oliver, Erica, and Boyd. They finally noticed Stiles and company approaching and Oliver was pretending that he was busy eating, while Erica looked excited and Boyd just looked like he normally did.
Stiles stopped beside them and he didn’t even care that Felicity, Scott, and everybody else stopped to watch.
“H-Hi,” Stiles said. “Can we… Can we sit with you guys?”
Derek looked him in the eyes, searching, before he nodded. “Sure.”
When Stiles smiled, Derek’s lips curved into an answering one and his eyes shone with a hopefulness that made Stiles feel giddy.
Stiles’ little bubble of happiness was popped in an instant.
“Oh, god,” he muttered, rubbing his face as Laurel appeared from nowhere, leaning across the table towards Oliver.
“Ollie, hi.” She smiled at him. Laurel ignored everyone and Stiles itched to hex her, fingers straining.
Stiles glanced at Felicity, who was quietly fiddling with her robe.
“Hello, Laurel,” Oliver said politely.
“I just wanted to remind you that the deadline for the fee for Apparition classes is in half an hour,” she said, smiling. “If you haven’t paid the twelve Galleons yet, I’ll come with you.”
Oliver looked confused. “Apparition classes?”
Erica suddenly spoke up. “Oh yeah, you’re seventeen, Captain! You can learn to Apparate! That’s so cool!”
Oliver smiled at her, always fond of Erica. “That would be cool, if I was taking the class.” He turned to Laurel. “I’m not taking it this year, Laurel.”
Laurel’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. “But I thought you were… Sara said…”
“You’re not?” Felicity asked, confused.
Oliver shook his head. “No, I’m not. There was a September deadline and Der has a late birthday and is turning seventeen later this month. I’m waiting until I take it with him.” He nudged his best friend. Derek nodded.
Laura was still gaping. “But I thought you… I heard… I was told…”
Felicity turned to Stiles. “You told me Oliver was taking the class.”
Laurel glared at Stiles, who shrugged. “I guess I was wrong. Sorry, Lance.” He gave her a cool look.
Laurel looked like she wanted to hex him and Stiles actually noticed her wand hand twitch. Stiles felt Derek shift in his seat between him and Laurel. He noticed it too. Stiles almost hoped she did. Laurel might be older but Stiles was a near-expert dueler.
“Well,” Laurel said, suddenly beaming widely. She threw her hair over her shoulder. “I guess I must have heard wrong then.”
“I don’t know where you heard about it, but sorry, Laurel,” Oliver said. “Good luck with the class. I’m sure you’ll do well. You’re really smart.”
“In some things,” Stiles muttered softly. He felt someone nudge him, could smell Lydia’s vanilla perfume behind him.
“Thank you, Ollie,” Laurel said sweetly, leaning more towards him. “By the way, I hope you have a fun Christmas.”
“You too,” Oliver said. “And Sara.”
Laurel nodded. “Oh, and here’s a Christmas present.”
Laurel reached into her pocket and pulled out a sprig of mistletoe. She held it over her head and before anybody could react, leaned down to press her glossy lips to Oliver’s.
Stiles should have seen it coming. He should have. Rules be damned, but he should have hexed Laurel when he had the chance. But he was just as shocked as everybody by Laurel’s forwardness and was unable to do anything but watch.
Laurel pressed harder against Oliver before leaning back. Oliver looked stunned, eyes wide, mouth slack and lips the same cherry-red color of Laurel’s gloss.
Laurel licked her lips, grinning. “Merry Christmas, Ollie.”
With that said, she straightened, patted down her robes, and swept out of the Great Hall.
There was dead silence.
There was a whisper. “We should all eat.”
Felicity was already heading towards the safety of the Hufflepuff table. On the seat laid her sunflower, forgotten.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Oliver and Derek were seated to the side at the front row, offering support to Oliver’s stepfather. Right now though, Oliver was blatantly twisted in his seat, looking over his shoulder at Felicity and Barry.
“Jealousy,” Stiles scoffed. “Such a cliché between young lovers.”
Lydia grinned, amused. “But it always does its job, don’t you agree?”
“As long as it does its job soon. I’m glad Felicity’s dealing with it, but Oliver’s pining is taking a toll. Scott, Jackson, and Erica have been pestering me to give them their Quidditch Captain back.”
I’m so sorry it took me a while to get a chapter up. I was out of town for three days and didn’t have my laptop with me and when I got back, real life was being an ass. The chapter after this is hopefully going to come quicker because I already have a chunk of it written, like the Defense Duels. Yey!
And oh hey, Barry's here. You guys know what that means.
Felicity squealed as someone towered over her. “Oh, you! You grow a few inches over Christmas break and now you keep looming over me.”
Stiles snickered, sitting down beside her. “Hey, I consider this payback over you laughing at me when I got cramps.”
Felicity pinched his side, giggling when Stiles squeaked. “Still ticklish, I see.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” He narrowed his eyes at her.
“Try me,” Felicity grinned.
Stiles whimpered before curling up so he could butt his head at her shoulder like a cat. “You’re evil.”
Felicity smiled and kissed his cheek. “So, how were the last few days of your Christmas break?”
Stiles shrugged. “Pretty quiet. Dad had to get back to the paperwork he ignored and I started training.”
“For the Defense Duels?” Felicity asked.
Stiles nodded. “You know me, I’m not planning on giving up my defending title. Plus, Dad had a few tips, which was helpful, so I had to train harder. How about you? Have you been working on your stamina like I told you to?”
“Yes, I did the workout thing you said,” Felicity said. “I don’t think it helped much though.”
“It will,” Stiles insisted. “And we can amp up your training now that we’re in Hogwarts, okay sunshine?”
Felicity smiled. “Thanks.”
Stiles stood up stretching and Felicity couldn’t help feeling awed at the inches he shot up even though she had indeed laughed at Stiles’ cramping muscles over Christmas break. They were lucky his grandmother was over and fixed up Stiles’ robes or else he’d be sticking out everywhere.
“Anyway, Scott and most of the gang are already in,” Felicity said, pointing towards Hogwarts. “And I’ve already said my hello. I’ve got a prefects’ meeting later, so you go and catch up with them.”
“Prefects’ meeting, eh?” Stiles said.
“I’m fine, Stiles.” Felicity snorted, going with nonchalance and a bravery she didn’t quite possess. “I’ve had weeks to get over it. I’ve had the entire vacation to get a grip and realize Oliver can be with whoever he wanted. Even Laurel.”
Stiles sighed. “Chill, sunshine. I wasn’t going to say anything. I know you’re fine.” He gave her a serious look. “I’m concerned, yeah, and I won’t deny the desire to hex the fuck outta miss yahoo–”
“–but I won’t look down on you like that. You’re far from a damsel in distress, Felicity.” Stiles scoffed.
This was the reason she loved Stiles.
“I love you, you know,” she said softly.
Stiles smiled, more honest and truer than the smirks and smarmy grins he gave other people. “I love you too, of course. More than anybody.”
Stiles gave her one last look and kissed her cheek and walked off, waving over his shoulder.
Felicity waved him off, watching him trek up to the castle. She then went back to escorting students to the castle. No matter how much she wanted to just go to the common room and savor the last few hours before classes started tomorrow, she had responsibilities. She welcomed it all though. With studying, playing prefect, and training with Stiles, she would be too busy for anything else.
That was a good plan.
After her prefects’ meeting, Felicity was walking down the hall, rubbing her temples as she tried to read her schedule for the upcoming Career Week. She felt a headache coming on from having to deal with so many students. She liked her job but sometimes she disliked it.
She was gnawing her lip and contemplating her schedule, wondering how many panels she could squeeze in a day, when she rounded a corner and promptly bumped into someone.
Felicity yelped, managing to place a hand on the wall to steady herself. “Oh my, I’m so sorry! I should have been watching where I was going!” She looked up.
It was Sara. She looked just as surprised to see Felicity.
“Um, sorry about that,” Sara said, straightening her robes.
“It’s okay, Sara. No harm done.” Felicity nodded. She smiled. “Anyway, I should get going. See you around.”
“Are you…” Sara looked hesitant. “The thing before Christmas… with Laurel… and um, Oliver…” She took a breath. “I know it’s not any of my business but for what it’s worth, I told my sister off about it.”
Felicity shook her head. “It’s fine, Sara. It’s not… She didn’t… There’s nothing between me and Oliver.”
“…Yet,” Sara said, giving her a knowing luck.
Felicity felt herself flush hot then cold. “I… No, it’s… We’re… just friends.”
“Everyone’s always known, even Laurel,” Sara said, looking a bit frustrated. “She’s just… She… She’s just being Laurel,” she finished weakly.
Felicity took a deep breath. “Sara, I don’t have any bad feelings or bad thoughts towards Laurel and I hate that people are thinking I do. I know how Oliver and I look to most people, but…” She paused, biting her lip. “But Oliver and I weren’t in a relationship. We weren’t seeing one another or exclusive or whatever else people think, so I don’t like being treated like the jilted party because I’m not. It’s still Oliver’s feelings and Oliver’s choice, and I don’t have anything to do with that.”
Sara looked at her, head tilted to the side. She didn’t look slighted, just… considering.
“You’re kind of remarkable, you know that?” Sara said softly.
Felicity remembered that same comment. It hurt. She swallowed. “I… I’ve been told.”
Sara nodded. “I understand. I swear I won’t bother you again. Thank you.” She smiled in parting and walked away.
Felicity waited until Sara was gone before letting out a rush of breath. She reached out, placing a hand against the wall to steady herself.
She hated this. This wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t supposed to be. She didn’t like being questioned like this. She didn’t like being treated with kid gloves, or being watched or scrutinized. She didn’t like it that everyone’s expecting her to keel over and cry.
Felicity wasn’t like Stiles. She didn’t know how to compartmentalize, wasn’t one for confrontation, wasn’t ruthless or unflinching. She took things to heart, tended to worry and work herself up. She preferred keeping things to herself and didn’t like being front and center. But she was strong and steady in her own way, and she was smart and she knew her place.
She didn’t lie to Stiles or to Sara. She really had come to terms with whatever happened before Christmas. She wasn’t that unaware. She knew she and Oliver had a thing that was probably going somewhere, and she knew how she felt about him. But they weren’t at the point where other people couldn’t swoop in between them, literally. In her mind, there wasn’t a ‘no harm, no foul’ moment because there was nothing to harm or foul (yet) and Felicity knew better than to nurse negative feelings.
She was hurt over Oliver, yes. But maybe that was because she just presumed some things that she shouldn’t have. She’s done that many times before and so disappointment wasn’t a stranger, but she’d get over it and she’ll come out better.
Oliver was one guy. It wasn’t the end of the world.
Stiles was seated on the staircase steps, bopping his head to the beat of the song playing in his head. He was waiting for Scott, Roy, and Jackson before heading for the Great Hall and they were all obviously running late.
Stiles leaned back on his hands and tilted his head back only to yelp in surprise at the face looking down at him.
There was a chuckle. “Hi.”
After the shock wore off, Stiles pouted. “I hate you.”
“No, you don’t,” Derek said, moving to sit beside Stiles.
Stiles scoffed. “You’re lucky I didn’t hex your pretty face off.”
“Ooh, scary.” Derek rolled his eyes. His entire form then softened as he sat close enough for their shoulders and thighs to brush.
Stiles smiled as he looked at him. Part of him was glad he was waiting at one of the back staircases where he and the gang usually hung out and where they all crossed paths after coming from their respective common rooms. At least here, it was somewhat private.
“I missed you,” Stiles said. It kind of surprised him to be honest, but he did miss Derek. He missed him more than Scott. That meant something.
“Me too,” Derek said. He smiled, small and shy and pleased, and it sent a little spark of pleasure through Stiles’ chest. Stiles reached for his hand and grinned when Derek laced their fingers easily.
They hadn’t kissed yet, especially after The Incident at the Great Hall that kind of kept them apart since they had to see to their own best friends. But Stiles had kissed Derek on the cheek that very last minute when they parted ways before Christmas. For all he was sympathetic over Felicity and Oliver’s problem and detested Laurel for her brazenness, he had made a decision about Derek and he wasn’t about to let things slip him by.
After all, he saw it happen with Oliver and Felicity.
With that thought, Stiles looked around. “Is it just you?”
Derek paused but nodded. “Yeah. Oliver’s sleeping off the travel lag. Aunt Moira planned their trip until the very last second so he’s kind of tired.”
“I see,” Stiles said, eyes narrowing. “How is he?”
He knew Derek would always remain loyal towards Oliver. He didn’t expect anything less, and he knew Derek knew that Stiles was always, always on Felicity’s side. But he was still concerned.
Derek squeezed his hand. “He promised me he was going to fix things.”
“That’s good,” Stiles scoffed. “He’s lucky I don’t hex him. I could you know.”
Derek nodded. “I know.”
They lapsed into silence for a moment before Derek decided to comment on something else.
“You got taller.”
Stiles grinned. “Yeah, I did. A few inches.” He held his fingers apart. “I’m probably going to be taller than you eventually.”
Derek snorted. “As if. I’m still growing, Stiles.”
“Even so,” Stiles said. “My Dad says I’ll probably end up taller than him.”
Derek chuckled. “Most of my family is really tall, Stiles. It’s in my genes.”
Stiles pouted but smiled when Derek just rolled his eyes.
“Speaking of family, how are they? How was Christmas? And your birthday?” Stiles asked, playing with Derek’s fingers. His were thick, calloused, and warm, while Stiles’ were long, spindly, and ran cold and clammy.
“It was fun,” Derek said. “Almost all of my family members were able to come up and I got to hang out with my cousins and see my aunts and uncles. And Christmas and my birthday are all right. We celebrate them both the same and they always have a birthday cake and sing me the birthday song first thing every morning before we open Christmas presents.”
“That sounds nice,” Stiles said, smiling.
Derek smiled. “It is. When I was younger, everyone always gave me two sets of gifts for both occasions but that’s kind of changed. Sometimes some of my cousins give me late birthday presents, though I think they just pass along the Christmas gifts they don’t like.” He chuckled. “But it’s still fun and every year my parents and brothers and sisters still give me different presents. How about you?”
“It was great,” Stiles gushed. “Just me, my Dad, and my grandmother, my mom’s mom. Felicity spent a week with us before she went home, which was great. We spent it at Beacon Hills, the town where I grew up.”
“You grew up around Muggles, right?” Derek asked interestedly.
Stiles nodded. “Yep. Ever since I was born, we’ve spent all our Christmases in Beacon. It’s tradition. The town is small so everyone knows one another. People spend like a whole week before Christmas going around one another’s places, inviting one another to breakfast or lunch or dinner, sharing recipes and food and treats or trinkets for all the kids. The local police don’t like fireworks so most of us just have lots and lots of lights and decorations. It’s the warmest, nicest place in the world.” He knew he was getting wistful but he couldn’t help it.
Derek smiled. “That sounds really great.”
“It is,” Stiles said. He turned to his messengerbag, pulling out a box. “And I actually have something for you.”
Derek looked surprised, and then pleased. “For me?” His face fell. “But I… I don’t have anything… I’m sorry!”
“It’s ok,” Stiles said, laughing. “It’s just a small thing, Derek. Don’t worry.” He handed him a rectangular box wrapped in blue and white with broomsticks on it.
Derek still looked hesitant but excitement was winning. He looked at the box and shook it a little. He smiled at Stiles before slowly opening the box at the top. He opened it and pulled out a pinwheel.
“What is it?” Derek asked curiously, turning the stick and the pinwheel this way and that.
Stiles chuckled. “It’s called a pinwheel and…” He grabbed his robes and whipped it over his and Derek’s head to cover them both a little until Stiles could point at the pinwheel’s neon colors. “…it glows in the dark.”
“That’s so cool,” Derek said. When Stiles blew at the pinwheel to make it spin, Derek’s eyes grew wide. “Wow!”
Stiles chuckled, sliding his robe off their heads. Sometimes it paid to live with Muggles. Wizards get so amazed over the littlest things.
“It’s kind of a thing with my M-Mom,” Stiles said. Derek shifted just a little, as if noticing the slip, but thankfully said nothing. “We put pinwheels on our yard, and the fence, and the windows and the neighbor kids all love it. It’s just a toy though so it’s okay if you think it’s a bit juvenile–”
“I love it,” Derek said, smiling at him, looking earnest and fond. “Thank you, Stiles.”
Stiles rubbed his nose, hiding a flush. “And uh, there’s something else.” He motioned to the box.
Derek looked confused. He shook the box and three orange wraps fell on his lap.
“It’s a…” He read the label. “It’s a Reese’s cup.” He looked at Stiles. “This is your favorite Muggle candy. You don’t ever share this with anyone because they don’t sell this even in Hogsmeade.”
Stiles shrugged. “It’s okay. My Dad gave me an entire pack for Christmas. Those are for you. And I got you three because there are three words to ‘Happy Birthday, Derek’.”
As soon as Stiles said those words, Derek had his arms around him, face going to Stiles’ neck and pressing their bodies together.
Derek’s breath was warm against Stiles’ neck and his arms were locked gently but firmly around Stiles’ body. He leaned back just enough so he could place a small, somewhat shy, kiss on Stiles’ cheek, the curve of his smile pressing against the skin.
“Thank you,” Derek whispered.
Stiles blushed, face feeling hot at the sweet gesture.
“I’m sorry I don’t have anything for you.”
“Derek, it’s okay.” Stiles pushed him back so he could look at him. Derek’s eyes were so bright and soft and fond, and Stiles could only smile a little shyly before pressing a kiss of his own to Derek’s cheek. If it was possibly, Derek smiled wider.
“You’re amazing,” Derek said.
Stiles chuckled, placing a hand over Derek’s mouth. “Ah! Cut it out with the compliments.”
Derek chuckled and just hugged him tighter.
It was a few days later and Stiles was still feeling on top of the world as he entered the Great Hall. He and Derek had met a few more times after that, talking and getting to know one another and spending time together, and now Career Week had finally arrived.
Stiles greeted a few students and made conversation before detouring to the Ravenclaw table where Lydia was seated.
“Stiles, schedule,” she said, snapping her fingers.
Stiles gave it up to Lydia. “I have Felicity’s sched too. You want it?”
Lydia nodded and Stiles handed her another piece of parchment . He watched as she placed it down on the table in front of her, her breakfast pushed to the side. She had a chart with her, all of them contained her friends’ schedules. She was coordinating the best times so that everyone will have a chance to get to the panels they want and be with a friend. She did the same last year.
Lydia wrote something down on his and Felicity’s schedules before handing it back. She looked pleased. “We have all of our panels together, Stiles, and you and Felicity have everything the same except for one. It clashed with one of her prefect rotations.”
Stiles looked at his schedule and nodded. “Thanks, Lyds. I’ll see you later.” He saluted and jogged over to the Hufflepuff table instead.
“Hey, Boyd, Isaac.” He waved at them. They were both looking at their schedules.
Isaac was frowning. “I’m confused. Am I going to Alan Deaton’s panel with you or Felicity?”
Stiles looked at his notes. “Um, Felicity, actually. I’m going with Scott and Allison.”
“How about the Amanda Waller panel?” Boyd asked.
“We’re all in that together.”
“Lydia’s scheduling is good,” Isaac said.
“You know how meticulous she gets about things like this. Anyway, I–”
“Oh… hi, Oliver,” Stiles said, mood dampening just a little. He didn’t exactly hate Oliver, but he didn’t exactly like him right now. A glance at Isaac and Boyd’s pinched expressions indicated that they felt the same way.
Oliver still looked as put together as he always was, but Stiles noticed the darkness in his eyes.
“Hi,” Oliver said softly. “I’m sorry to bother you but I just wanted to ask if you’ve seen Felicity.”
Stiles was torn between lying and not but he knew Felicity, and even Derek, would be disappointed in him if he lied. “I think she’s busy.”
“She had breakfast and then left,” Isaac said, sounding flippant.
“She has prefect duties,” Boyd said. “She shouldn’t be bothered.”
There was a catch in both their voices, obviously displeased. Oliver noticed that. He didn’t look angry, just resigned.
“I promised her she’d get a chance to meet Walter and I just want to make good on it,” Oliver said quietly. “It’s something for her. No strings attached.”
Isaac snorted, elbowing Boyd. “Oh, sure because she’s the one left attached and there are always none on your end, right, Queen?”
Stiles had to school his expression into neutrality. He couldn’t help agreeing with Isaac but at the same time he knew Felicity wouldn’t like this. She would never encourage hostility.
“Maybe later, Oliver,” Stiles said. “She’ll definitely go to Mister Steele’s panel anyway.” He then turned to the two Hufflepuffs. “Later, guys.”
Boyd and Isaac nodded before turning to their conversation and ignoring Oliver as Stiles walked out of the Great Hall. He knew the prefects were gathering at the front for an early meeting and to welcome the guests. There would be no harm in letting Oliver talk to Felicity, but he didn’t think Felicity was ready, especially with already feeling stressed over her responsibilities.
As soon as he exited the Hall, he knew Oliver was on his heels.
“Not to me, Oliver,” Stiles said, pausing in his steps. “It’s not me you have anything to say to.”
“I know that,” Oliver insisted. “But Felicity is your best friend and I know you’re upset too.”
“I’m more upset that she’s upset, but I’m not angry with you, Oliver. I’m just…” Stiles sighed. “Explain to me what the hell happened?”
Oliver let out a frustrated grunt. “I know how it looked–”
“That Lance planted one on you and you didn’t do a thing,” Stiles said, raising a brow. “Yeah, literally everyone saw that.”
“I know that.” Oliver looked frustrated. “Stiles, you know I like Felicity. I’ve liked her for almost a year. But what was I supposed to do? Laurel caught me off guard. I didn’t have time to do anything.”
“Hexed her?” Stiles scoffed. “Oliver, it wouldn’t have escalated into that if you had done something before. You can’t tell me you’re too dense not to notice Laurel flinging herself at you.”
Oliver rubbed the back of his neck. “Stiles, I know you hate Laurel, but you don’t know her. Laurel and I knew each other from even before Hogwarts. We live in the same neighborhood. Our parents know each other.”
Ok, Stiles didn’t know that.
“Laurel has always been nice to me,” Oliver said. When Stiles snorted, he pressed, “Yes, Stiles, she’s always been this way towards me. We had childhood crushes on one another, but nothing more happened with me and she… well, it took me a while to realize that she never stopped.” He took a breath. “But even if every single one of you, even Sara, keep asking me to just drop Laurel hard or reject her, I can’t. She’s still my friend, Stiles.”
Stiles pursed his lips. “But Oliver, for all that she’s your friend, you don’t owe her anything, at least nothing romantic, especially if you have feelings for someone else. And don’t you think that, as her friend, you do owe her an explanation that you really are just friends and nothing else?”
Oliver seemed to deflate at that, running his hands through his hair and looking a little defeated.
“Just think about it,” Stiles said. “I’ll always pick Felicity over you, Oliver, and even over Derek. But it’s just that I think you and Felicity are good together and would be happy if you had actually done something.”
Stiles left Oliver to his thoughts and walked off.
The first day of Career Week went far too slowly for Felicity’s taste.
She was placed on duty at Professor Noshiko Yukimura’s panel, ushering in students, making sure there were enough seats, and to stand guard and watch out for unruly students. She actually didn’t have to do much because Professor Noshiko was a very engaging panelist and commanded a room easily, leaving everyone enraptured with her talks.
After the panel, she inched her way to the front where Professor Lyla was talking to Professor Noshiko. Sitting quietly to the side was Professor Noshiko’s daughter, Kira, and her assistant, Barry Allen. Kira was a fourth year and Barry was a fifth year student. They were chosen to deliver a short speech on how student life was at Mahoutokoro to give the Hogwarts students an insight on a different culture and school.
“I hope everything’s going well so far, Kira, Barry,” Felicity commented, smiling at them. “I hope you two aren’t sick and tired of delivering your speeches.” This was going to be their third and last panel for the day.
Kira smiled back. She was a pretty girl, petite, with long dark hair, a bright smile, and a tinkle in her soft voice. She seemed shy though, and Felicity had seen her watching the students but never approaching them. Barry seemed a little more outgoing, if a bit awkward. He was a nice guy, always smiling. He was kind of cute.
“It’s all fine, Felicity,” Barry said. “I’m still surprised at how different it is, but so far everyone’s been cool. Hogwarts is amazing.”
“Yeah.” Kira nodded. “And then tomorrow we’ll get to take part in your classes. I’m kind of nervous.”
Earlier in the day, Professor Argent had told Kira and Barry that they had been given permission to sit in on a handful of classes for experience. They both seemed nervous and excitement over it.
“I’m sure it’ll be great,” Felicity said. “I can introduce you to some of the prefects so that you won’t have any trouble getting around.”
Kira looked relieved while Barry nodded excitedly. “That would be awesome.”
Felicity paused when she heard a group shuffling in and beamed when she realized it was Stiles, Scott, Allison, Lydia, and, oh, even Derek and Oliver. Her smile dimmed at that, and it wasn’t because of Derek.
“Some more friends of yours?” Kira asked.
“Oh, yes,” Felicity said, waving them all closer. Nyssa, Erica, Boyd, Isaac, and Roy came in earlier and she had already introduced them to the two. She knew Stiles, Allison, and Lydia were the only ones actually interested in the panel and that Scott and Derek were here mostly for moral support. She didn’t even want to know what Oliver was doing here.
Stiles was already heading straight for them, with a sparkle of determination in his eyes. He held out a hand to her. “Hi. You must be Kira Yukimura and Barry Allen. One of our friends attended your panel earlier in the day, and he spoke highly of you and Professor Noshiko. My name is Stiles Stilinski.”
Kira looked surprised while Barry all but jumped at the chance and shook Stiles’ hand.
Felicity giggled. “Kira, Barry, he’s the one I was telling you about. Stiles is my best friend and he’s a big fan of Professor Noshiko.” She then did a round of introductions.
There were hi’s and hello’s all around. Stiles was alternating between glancing every few seconds at Professor Noshiko, who was still talking to Professor Lyla, and vibrating where he stood. Lydia was elbowing him, looking amused. Felicity just avoided Oliver’s gaze.
“How are you guys liking Hogwarts so far?” Allison asked.
“It’s a bit of a culture shock, to be honest,” Barry said, smiling. He grinned at Kira and laughed. “Different uniforms for one thing.”
Kira and Barry wore matching white long-sleeved shirts with the school crest on the right breast pocket, navy blue vests, with a matching necktie, and a skirt for Kira and pants for Barry. Kira wore knee-high socks, and they both had on brown shoes.
Kira waved a hand, motioning to them all. “And you all have a very… kind of like an electric aura.”
Barry nodded. “Oh yeah, I totally noticed that.”
Stiles suddenly burst. “Electric aura? Does this have something to do with magical synergy?”
Both of them looked pleased.
“Oh, yes. We study it at Mahoutokoro,” Barry said. “You’re familiar with it?”
Stiles looked so excited. “Is this part of the Magical Differential curriculum? Mahoutokoro is the first school to have that program.”
They both looked as excited as Stiles.
Kira nodded. “Yes. We study, practice, and promote different styles of magic practices and also an in-depth study of varying magical synergy.”
“It’s a very comprehensive course,” Barry said. “Only fourth to seventh years. Professor Noshiko is still refining it but we’re all pretty confident in the program.”
“Oh? Are we starting the panel already?”
Stiles’ eyes were wide and he looked near breathless when Professor Noshiko approached their group. “Professor Yukimura, good afternoon. My name is Stiles Stilinski and I am a big, humongous, ginormous, fan of your work.”
Professor Noshiko smiled, looking amused. She shook his hand and Stiles looked giddy with it. “Hello Mr. Stilinski.”
Kira introduced everyone and Felicity giggled at how absolutely reverent Stiles looked.
Stiles went off on a roll. “Professor, you wrote that dissertation on the differences between the magical properties and mechanics of wandlore between cultures, and I think it is amazing. And I’m such a fan of the study you did between the magical synergy and operatory currents in Asia compared to Europe. I think it’s brilliant.”
“Why thank you, Stiles.” Professor Noshiko looked surprised and then pleased. “You are a fourth year, correct?” Stiles nodded. “I’m quite impressed. Those reading materials are usually referenced for sixth and seventh years.”
“I’m actually still studying it,” Barry said, looking at Stiles with awe.
“I had free time,” Stiles said. Felicity, Scott, and the others laughed. “What? Shut up. It was a really good study. If you guys even read it – except for you Lyds, Felicity, because I know you did read it when I suggested it – you’d be really amazed at Asian magic practices.”
Professor Noshiko seemed amused. “Magic becomes as modernized as we are, but I’ve seen how Asian countries practice a more ethnic type of magic. Southeast Asian countries in particular, due to their large number of indigenous tribes and reverence for folkloric magic and traditional practices, have a more raw and primal kind of magical energy.”
Stiles looked like he was going to faint from so much excitement. “I had the chance to read the journal published by Professor Arlington, the one that referenced your work for his study on Asian Muggle practitioners’ ability to channel magic. Is that what you meant by primal?”
Lydia was biting back a grin. “I think we should leave you for a bit, Stiles. We’ll get seats.”
Stiles didn’t even seem to register that which even Professor Noshiko noted with a laugh.
“Kira, Barry, come sit with us,” Scott invited her.
Kira nodded quickly. “Oh, yes, please.”
Felicity giggled, patting Stiles on the back, and then leading everyone to their seats.
“You guys can sit here. Best seats in the room and Stiles can freely gape and gasp over Professor Noshiko’s brilliance.”
“I’m pretty impressed with Stiles,” Kira commented, sitting between Derek and Allison. She looked back at where he and her mother were still talking avidly. “I know some people are interested in my Mom’s works but this is the first time I’ve met someone my age who is that interested.”
“Stiles has always been smart like that,” Scott said. “He’s really interested in stuff like how magic works and about other places and other countries and stuff.”
“Is he planning on becoming an academician or a professor?” Barry asked.
“No, Stiles wants to be an Auror,” Felicity said.
Kira looked confused. “What’s an… Auror?”
Scott gaped. “You don’t know what an Auror is?”
“They probably call it differently in their country, Scott,” Allison said, chastising him lightly.
That then started a discussion on what an Auror was and also the differences between Hogwarts and Mahoutokoro. Everyone was very interested when Kira explained that unlike Hogwarts, the students were sorted into five different Houses and that she had been sorted into House Hi, which is also the Japanese word for Fire, while Barry was sorted into House Sora, meaning Sky.
“But you aren’t Japanese or Asian, Barry,” Felicity commented. “Not that I mean anything by it though. Just curious.”
Barry chuckled. “Oh no, it’s fine. Mahoutokoro has an exemplary foreign exchange program and I transferred during my third year because I was really interested in Professor Noshiko’s work. I go back on my seventh and final year.”
“Which school are you from?” Lydia asked.
“Trion Institute of Magic, Languages and the Arts,” Barry said.
Lydia looked impressed. “That’s a really good school.”
Kira nudged him, smiling. “Barry is one of the top candidates for academician. He’s ranked among the best three in the entire Magical Differential curriculum. And he’s also good at…” She pursed her lips. “Well, we call it differently at our school, but you all refer to it here as Arithmancy.”
Felicity felt her jaw drop. “Seriously?”
Barry flushed and chuckled. “Ah, yeah. Part of the reason I was so intent on coming along was that I heard Mister Walter Steele is also coming, best arithmancer in Europe.”
“Me too!” Felicity said, beaming at him. She had never met anyone else, save for Stiles and Lydia, who were that interested in arithmancy. “Did you read the pi–”
Barry jumped in immediately, looking just as ecstatic as she felt. “–the extended journal explaining the magical properties of pi? Yes! Definitely!”
“That was amazing!”
“It totally is! And have you read the paper on the possible correlation of magic with Muggle calculus?”
Felicity gaped. “You read that? You know Muggle math?”
“My parents are Muggles.” Barry looked proud of that fact.
Felicity found herself seeing him in a new light. “That’s really amazing.”
“Thank you,” he said, face flushing a light pink. “The theory behind it is impeccable. Er, the Muggle calculus, I mean, not me and my parents.”
Kira giggled and elbowed him. “Wow, Barry. This is a nice coincidence.”
Felicity felt her face aching a little from her large smile, but Barry looked just as excited as she was.
Someone coughed. “Um, Walter Steele is Oliver’s stepfather.”
Barry turned to Derek and then to Oliver, wide-eyed and impressed. “Really? Wow. I knew his stepson was in Hogwarts, but I didn’t think I’d meet him.” He held out a hand. “I love your stepfather’s work.”
“Um, yeah…” Oliver said.
Felicity noted his hesitation but he did shake Barry’s hand. She only then noticed the aura that suddenly blanketed them. Lydia, Scott, and Allison were looking at her and Barry. Derek looked uncomfortable. Oliver looked blank.
“Anyway, I’m also excited to attend Arithmancy classes here at least once,” Barry said excitedly, he and Kira oblivious and unaware of the odd aura. He snapped his fingers. “Oh! Felicity, we’re in the same year. Maybe, if it’s ok with you, we could…” He waved a hand, smiling crookedly at her. It was charming. “We could share a class?”
Kira was obviously biting back a smile. “You could share all classes? I mean, wouldn’t that be easier?”
“I don’t mind,” Felicity said, smiling. It was so exciting to find a new friend and know more about him. “Professor Lyla’s handling your schedule, right?” She motioned to the woman who was now talking to both Stiles and Professor Noshiko.
“Yeah, we could request it now, I think?” Barry asked, standing up. He offered her his arm and Felicity couldn’t help but be pleased at the chivalry.
Felicity giggled and weaved her arm through his. “Sure.”
This will be fun.
Stiles was seated beside Felicity during the Walter Steele panel and at her other side was, surprisingly, Barry Allen.
In fact, he’s seen a lot of Barry the past few days ever since he and Felicity started hanging out. Barry often joined Felicity for meals at the Hufflepuff table, instead of being with Kira over at the Gryffindor table. Then when they had time, the both of them would go for a little stroll-slash-sight-seeing around the castle or they’d spend time at the library poring over books. They also shared classes together so he saw them talking and laughing as they walked down the halls, with Barry gallantly carrying Felicity’s books for her.
Scott, Allison, Lydia, and Derek had given him the lowdown on Felicity’s friendship with Barry while Stiles had been busy going ga-ga over Professor Noshiko. It threw Stiles for a loop, but frankly speaking, he’s never been more amused.
Stiles knew better than to think Felicity was playing the jealousy card. Felicity could care less what Oliver thought at this point, and even less about other people. Affection and friendship were things she doled out freely and easily, and if people took it differently, then that was their problem. Stiles was still keeping his eyes and ears open for any negative press that came her way though, because he didn’t like people thinking Felicity was petty enough to resort to a third party. But so far, it seemed most spectators were just enjoying the show.
According to a gleeful Sin, – who had cornered Stiles at one point and ranted nonstop against Laurel in Felicity’s defense. She was as protective of Felicity almost as much as Stiles – most people considered it rightful payback for what Oliver and Laurel had done, although most people could see Felicity really was just being friendly. It was Barry who was so obviously enamored.
Like right now, Stiles noticed Barry making heart eyes at Felicity as they talked about the difference between Europe and Asia’s approach to Arithmancy.
Lydia sat down on Stiles’ other side. She leaned towards him, whispering, “So much drama so early in the morning.” She inclined her head to the front.
Oliver and Derek were seated to the side at the front row, offering support to Oliver’s stepfather. Right now though, Oliver was blatantly twisted in his seat, looking over his shoulder at Felicity and Barry.
“Jealousy,” Stiles scoffed. “Such a cliché between young lovers.”
Lydia grinned, amused. “But it always does its job, don’t you agree?”
“As long as it does its job soon. I’m glad Felicity’s dealing with it, but Oliver’s pining is taking a toll. Scott, Jackson, and Erica have been pestering me to give them their Quidditch Captain back.”
“That, and you want to be able to spend more time with Derek.” Lydia raised a brow, looking amused. So far, she was the only one who had completely figured out the change in nature of Stiles’ relationship with Derek.
Stiles wasn’t able to answer as Walter Steele stepped up to the podium, ready to start his panel. On his other side, Felicity and Barry were whispering and giggling to themselves, and Stiles saw Oliver’s face fall before Derek nudged him so he’d turn to the front.
Stiles caught Derek’s eye and gave him a smile, feeling pleased when he smiled back. Felicity really needed to get back with Oliver because not being able to sit beside Derek really, really sucked.
Walter Steele cleared his throat, getting everyone’s attention and immediately sweeping them away.
“… is quite a concern,” Walter was saying. “Arithmancy remains to be one of the most influential forms of magic, as well as being one of the oldest, but it has evolved differently between cultures. In some cases, arithmancy itself takes on a different form due to extraneous factors, such as magical influences, culture, language, experiences, etc. My esteemed colleague, Professor Yukimura, who is currently at panel herself, has been among those who immerse themselves in a more cultural approach to their craft. While we study different fields, I have always been quite impressed with her work and dedication and have considered embarking on a more traditional approach to my field of study as well.”
Felicity and Barry each asked a question, enjoying themselves as they listened and whispered to one another about their ideas. Lydia was also thoroughly immersed in the discussion, so much so that she and Stiles switched seats so that Lydia could talk to Barry and Felicity about it. Stiles loved Arithmancy too, but he let them handle this one. He had already fanboy-ed his ass over Professor Noshiko.
When the panel ended, Felicity grabbed his hand, twining their fingers. “That was amazing,” she said, a flush of excitement high on her cheeks.
Stiles grinned. He loved seeing her happy. “Are you going to keel over and die now?”
“He’s just so impressive in person, you jerk. And you’re one to talk. You almost peed in your pants while talking to Professor Noshiko.”
“That sounds so dirty. What’s wrong with you?” Stiles said, nudging her.
“I’ll be heading off first, guys,” Barry said. “I have to hurry to catch up with Kira and the Professor. I’ll see you guys later?”
“Sure thing,” Felicity said, waving a hand as Barry darted out the door.
Stiles, Felicity, and Lydia waited until most of the crowd has left, before standing up and leaving the place. Just before they could exit, there was a voice.
“Excuse me, Miss Smoak?”
Felicity’s grip immediately tightened on Stiles’ so hard that he flinched. They turned.
Walter Steele was walking towards them, smiling politely. Behind him were Oliver, who looked sheepish, and Derek, who was nudging the other male.
“M-Mister Walter Steele,” Felicity said, meeting the man halfway down the aisle. “H-Hello, sir.”
Walter’s smile was polite and kind. “My stepson Oliver has told me about you.” He motioned behind him. Oliver ducked his head. “He said that you are quite proficient with Arithmancy,” Walter held out a hand to her. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“I… I… yes,” Felicity said, shaking his hand. “Arithmancy is my favorite subject and I’ve admired your work for so long, Mister Steele.”
“For which I am thankful and flattered, my dear,” Walter said.
“Oh, this is my best friend, Stiles, and my friend, Lydia,” Felicity said. “They’re both fourth-years and also very good at Arithmancy.”
Stiles scoffed. “True, but I don’t hold a candle to you two.”
Lydia shook Walter’s hand. “It’s wonderful to meet you, sir.”
The three of them got to talking as Stiles sidled over to Derek’s side.
“Hey,” Derek said softly. His eyes were warm as he smiled at him.
“Hey, dork,” Stiles said, chuckling. He felt the back of Derek’s hand brush against his.
“You mentioned you were working on something new, Mister Steele?” Lydia asked.
Walter smiled at the girls. “Oh, yes. As I said in my lecture, Professor Yukimura has been a big influence on me, which is why I will be working with her on my new direction for arithmantic studies. We’re going to look at the various forms of arithmancy through the eyes of older cultures.”
Even Stiles perked up at that.
“I didn’t know you were talking to Professor Noshiko,” Oliver piped up, stepping towards his stepfather.
“It was fairly recent, Oliver,” Walter said, patting his shoulder. “Remember that two-week trip to Singapore that your Mother and I went to last month? We met her and her daughter Kira there.”
“…So you’ll be seeing more of Professor Yukimura?” Oliver asked, face scrunching up.
“Yes, most likely. In fact, I’ll be meeting her, Kira, and her assistant later on,” Walter said. He started looking around. “Perhaps you’ve met him. I remember seeing Barry in the crowd. Smart young lad. Hopefully you two will get along.”
Oliver looked like he swallowed something sour. He turned towards Felicity.
“Walter, maybe you and Felicity can chat later,” he said. “She and I have something to talk about.”
Felicity gaped at him. “W-What?”
Before anybody else could do or say something, Oliver had already grabbed Felicity’s arm and quickly and gently steered her out the door.
“What are you doing?” Felicity hissed, gaping as she was dragged off.
Even Walter looked surprised.
Lydia grabbed Stiles’ arm and whispered, “As you said, such a cliché between young lovers.”
“But it always does its job,” Stiles muttered in reply. He sighed. “What? He was jealous? The hell, Oliver?”
“Shall I run intervention?” Lydia asked, nodding at a confused Walter.
Stiles nodded. “Please and thank you.” He turned to Derek.
“Go on,” Derek whispered. “I’ll talk to you after, ok?”
Stiles hastily but politely excused himself from Mister Steele before darting off. He stopped at the hall, wondering which direction Oliver dragged Felicity off to. There were very few students around but no one was paying him any attention. He took a guess and turned left. The path to the right led to more classrooms while there were a handful of empty corridors to the left. They could be there.
Stiles was hurrying down the hall that he almost walked right into Oliver and Felicity who were arguing rather heatedly. He bit back a yelp and scurried back around the corner.
“…will slap you,” Felicity was saying.
Oliver had his palms up and was shaking his head. “I didn’t mean it that way, Felicity. I’m sorry.”
Stiles kept to the wall and listened. Felicity sounded absolutely livid.
“I can’t believe you’d ever imply that I’ll use Barry to… to what? Make you jealous? Do you think I’m that petty?” When Stiles peeked through the corner, Felicity looked a mix of angry and hurt. His wand hand twitched as he frowned. If she cried, Oliver wasn’t going to get out of this unscathed.
“That’s not what I meant, Felicity,” Oliver said, stepping towards her. “It’s just… he… He likes you.”
“And I like him,” Felicity snapped. “What’s the problem with that?”
“I… he… but…” Oliver huffed in frustration. “I just…”
Silence descended. Felicity sighed, rubbing her face. Stiles kept as still and as quiet as possible.
Oliver’s voice was soft. “I don’t think you’re petty, Felicity. I don’t think you’d ever do that to someone. And I didn’t mean to imply anything like that. I’m sorry.”
“…thanks,” Felicity muttered. “And you’re forgiven.”
“And I’m sorry. I’m really sorry about… about the Laurel thing.”
Stiles bit his lip to stop from making a sound while Felicity looked at Oliver, surprised.
“Yeah, well, you don’t have to apologize for me because of that.” Felicity looked away, rubbing her arms as if to comfort herself. “It’s not like we were… together or anything, so whatever.”
“We were!” Oliver said. He paused. “I mean, I…”
Stiles bit back a snort. Wow. Oliver was pretty bad at this. Stiles had to remember to thank Derek for being a bit more proactive.
Oliver took a breath. “Felicity, you have to know that you’ve always been important to me. I care about you.”
“I know you do, I mean… as a friend,” Felicity said. She held up a hand when Oliver opened his mouth. “But come on, Oliver. It’s not like I would… I mean, I don’t want to ask you to make a choice or anything. I won’t force you, but I’m not the type of person who just waits around for you either.”
“I know I waited too long,” Oliver said, voice soft. “I know it always seemed like there was no attachment, that I wasn’t taking it seriously, but I was. I just… I waited too long.”
Felicity leaned against the wall, looking pained.
“I really, really liked you Oliver.”
Stiles let out a soft ‘ooh, past tense’ while Oliver looked like he was slapped on the face as he choked out, “…liked?”
Felicity looked down, fidgeting on her feet. Stiles sighed silently. He knew Felicity still liked Oliver and he’ll always be of the opinion that those two would be good together, but he loved and respected Felicity enough to let her make a choice.
Well, they had a good run, at least.
“But you… you never did or said anything. I guess I never did anything too though, so I’m sorry. In my defense, I didn’t know until that night at the Astronomy tower that there was even a chance.” She seemed to sink in on herself. “But let’s just stop since we–”
Oliver cut in, voice soft. “I keep remembering Nyssa asking Derek why he was waiting so long if Stiles was so important to him, and I ended up being the one to make that mistake.” He took a step forward, holding Felicity by the arms gently. “But I choose you, Felicity. I chose you about thirty seconds into your long-winded apology after hitting me at Platform 9 3/4 and every single day since I’ve chosen you over everybody else. But I was an idiot about it, got too comfortable and complacent that you’ll always be there, and didn’t make it clear enough that I would always choose you over Laurel, over the Quidditch team, over Stiles…” He paused. “Um, not always over Derek because he’s been my best friend forever and–”
Felicity actually smiled at that. It was small but it was there. “Yeah, yeah, I get that. It’s the same with me and Stiles.”
Oliver seemed to relax at seeing that he got Felicity to smile. He tugged her forward gently and Felicity willingly stepped closer to him until Oliver could press their temples together.
Stiles debated on leaving. This was getting too intimate to be peeking in on.
“I’m sorry,” Oliver said. “I’m sorry for hurting you.”
Felicity sighed, placing her hands against Oliver’s chest. “That… that wasn’t fun, Oliver.”
“I know. I didn’t mean it. I was stupid. I'll make it up to you, I swear.”
“Yes, you were. But what’s done is done, ok? Let's just move on.”
Oliver reached into his robes. He pulled out something yellow. Stiles craned his neck trying to see it. It was a sunflower.
Felicity smiled and Stiles felt something in his chest loosen at the sight. He sighed in relief.
Stiles jumped when he felt someone press against his back. He relaxed when he felt strong, familiar arms wrap around his middle.
“They’re ok?” Derek asked, nuzzling Stiles’ cheek.
Stiles tilted his head back to kiss Derek’s cheek. He smiled.
“Yeah, they’ll all be all right.”
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
It was the start of the Defense Duels.
“For our next match, we have fifth-year Ravenclaw, Ariana Coven…”
Felicity noticed Stiles whirling back to watch Professor Michaels before Felicity even noticed what was being said.
“…and fifth-year Hufflepuff, Felicity Smoak.”
Isaac grabbed her hand, squeezing tightly.
Felicity’s first thought was: Oh shit.
I’m so sorry it took me a while to post this. I have fics on queue so I’m scrambling around to finish them, send them off to my beta, or edit them. Also, I changed my mind three times on the ending because with my previous ideas I would have ended up extending the number of chapters. Not that I wouldn’t want to write more of this verse, but not yet and not right now. Not to mention the fact that I write incredibly slow. Boo!
I hope the chapter makes up for it. This one features dueling, more action, and slightly more angst. Enjoy.
It was the start of the Defense Duels.
Stiles tried to suppress his grin as he entered the Great Hall, bringing up his usual flippant and casual demeanor to mask the adrenaline coursing through him. He was dressed in a green shirt with his House emblem stitched right at the back, jeans, sneakers, and black fingerless gloves. He was also among the five people in the school who had an Elite’s badge. His was displayed proudly on his shirt, a silver pin of two wands crossed with sparks at the ends. He couldn’t wait to get another badge.
Stiles jerked in surprise when an arm wrapped itself around his waist. He turned to see Derek, dressed in a scarlet shirt, gloves, and jeans.
“You look good,” Derek said, unabashed with his admiration of Stiles. He stroked the badge on Stiles’ chest.
Stiles laughed. “You’re biased.”
“Of course I am.” Derek grinned. “Come on.”
Together, they headed for the Slytherin table and Derek sat down right beside Stiles, close enough for their thighs and elbows to press together.
“Did you see Shado?” Derek said, nodding towards the end of the Hall.
Seated together were the professors, the Headmaster, and their guests such as Head of the Auror Office, Amanda Waller, Professor Lyla Michaels’ Auror husband, John Diggle, Alan Deaton, Professor Noshiko, and Walter Steele. However, another special guest in attendance was last year’s seventh year Ravenclaw Champion, Shado. Her Champion’s badge was pinned proudly on her shirt.
“Yeah, she was so good last year,” Stiles said. “She’s amazing.”
“You’re amazing,” Derek said.
“And again, you’re being biased.” Stiles laughed. “But I’ve only competed once, Derek. This is your fourth time. And you’ve always been in the top ten. That’s more amazing.”
“You’re a Duel Elite,” Derek said, eyes shining with warmth. “That kind of means something, you know?”
Stiles almost choked on his drink when Scott and Allison descended on him, wrapping him in their arms and practically squeezing the life out of him.
“Ow! Guys!” Stiles pushed them off with a laugh.
“Oh my god,” Allison said, staring at Stiles’ Elite badge. “I want one of those.”
“Me too.” Erica cocked her hip to the side. “Wait until I pry it out of your hands, Stilinski.”
Stiles grinned smugly. “You can try.”
This was the only downside to the Defense Duels. He had to compete with all of his friends.
Everyone scatted off, getting to their tables for breakfast.
Among all of his friends, Allison, Erica, Roy, Jackson, and Danny were all competing. Scott had passed on, as well as Isaac and Lydia. They had all competed last year and while Scott and Isaac weren’t the dueling types, they had spent more time concentrating on Quidditch than practicing dueling. Lydia decided not to compete this year, saving it for next year.
Sin also wasn’t competing among the third years, having no interest at all in duels. For the fifth years, Felicity, Boyd, and Sara all joined. For the sixth years were Derek and Oliver and last Stiles heard, Laurel had decided not to. She wasn’t much of a dueler anyway. Among the seventh years were Jaime and Nyssa.
This year’s Duels were going to be so much fun.
“Good morning, my love.”
Stiles looked up and smiled. “Captain Nyssa!”
Nyssa was dressed in a long-sleeved shirt cut low at the front, no gloves, and Stiles could see her Champion’s badge pinned to her long hair. She looked ready for battle.
“Excited?” she asked, a tinge of bloodlust appearing on her calm features.
“Definitely,” Stiles said. They both shared the same enjoyment of dueling.
“A kiss for luck?” She pursed her lips with a wink.
“No,” Derek immediately replied.
Stiles elbowed him. “Derek.”
Derek frowned and Stiles poked at his forehead.
Nyssa just looked amused. “A hug then?”
Derek didn’t comment and even then Stiles wouldn’t pass up a chance for a hug. Nyssa wrapped her long arms around him and Stiles squeezed her in turn.
“I’m expecting you to be an Elite again this year, love. I have faith in you,” Nyssa said, sending him a flying kiss. “And good luck to you as well, Derek.”
Stiles waved at her retreating back. He turned back to Derek and elbowed him again. “You’re so jealous.”
Derek snorted but kept quiet.
“Captain Nyssa’s just being nice.”
“Yeah, she is,” Derek drawled. “By kissing you. On the lips.”
Stiles snickered, placing a hand on Derek’s thigh and leaning towards him. Derek was being so cute.
“Aww, is my poor Derek jealous he hasn’t gotten a kiss yet?” He pursed his lips. He knew he hit the nail on the head when Derek huffed.
Stiles just chuckled and squeezed Derek’s thigh under his hands. Derek’s hand lowered and twined their fingers together.
“Morning,” Oliver said, popping up and sitting across from them. He was dressed similar to Derek and he looked ready to go.
“Morning, Oliver,” Stiles said.
Oliver flicked his wand and a small cup of tea appeared on the table. Stiles smelled the familiar scent of peppermint tea just as Felicity appeared.
“Tea. Give me tea,” she mumbled, making grabby hands at Oliver. Oliver handed it to her and she took a sip. “Thank you.”
Oliver smiled and Stiles was still surprised at how different it was now. He’s seen Oliver happy before but this was the first time he’s seen him this kind of happy.
It’s been three days since Oliver had finally manned up and apologized to Felicity and while many had noticed them both returning to their previous routine, spending time with one another, taking walks around the castle grounds, and having long, private talks, only Stiles and Derek were really aware of the change in their relationship.
Stiles knew more than a few Galleons were being passed around by the betting pools – this time about whether or not Felicity would forgive Oliver, because the other pool on whether or not they would hook up was still going strong – and while he hated people having amusement at Felicity’s expense, he let them slide. Felicity was happy, albeit the real nature of it remained private, and that was all that mattered.
At first, Stiles wondered why Felicity wanted to keep it quiet, especially when keeping silent was the reason Laurel ended up messing with them in the first place. Then again, it was easy to see why. Felicity didn’t doubt Oliver’s sincerity or else she wouldn’t have given him a second chance, but she wasn’t stupid either. She wasn’t exactly seeking to test Oliver, but she sure as hell still needed the reassurance that if a Laurel situation ever happened, Oliver wouldn’t let it, or would at least be more vocal about it.
Besides, Stiles’ favorite part of the whole thing was that Laurel looked pissed off now that Felicity forgave Oliver. He could only imagine how she’d look when the real news came out. He’d absolutely relish that moment.
Like right now, a quick glance over at the Ravenclaws told him Laurel looked near murderous.
Derek waved his wand for some chocolate and handed it to Stiles. Stiles smiled at him before turning back to Felicity. Felicity only drank tea when feeling jittery.
“Obviously,” she said, smiling weakly.
Oliver nudged her shoulder comfortingly. Felicity smiled in response. Stiles also noticed both of them being more tactile but also more subtle. It was kind of sweet.
Felicity tapped her wand against her cup for some more tea. It wasn’t quite noticeable but Stiles could see the slight twitching of her pinky finger. He reached over to lace his fingers with her free hand.
“I’m sure you’ll do well, sunshine.”
“Well, I had a good teacher,” Felicity said, winking at him. “Teachers, actually.” She smiled at Derek and Oliver. “Hopefully I can actually use those things for longer than ten minutes.”
“Just remember to keep calm,” Derek said. “That’s the first thing. And your stamina has improved a lot which is good.”
Felicity smiled, looking a bit calmer as she daintily sipped her tea.
“Hey, Stilinski.” Harvey Connelly, sixth-year Gryffindor and a fellow Duel Elite, approached. “They want the Elites on the field in twenty.”
“Thanks, Harvey,” Stiles said, drinking the rest of his juice. “Later, taters.”
“See you at the field,” Oliver said.
“I’ll walk you out,” Derek said, standing up.
“Me too,” Felicity said. “Hold the fort, Oliver.”
Stiles helped Felicity shimmy over the table and to their side. She wrapped an arm around his waist and Stiles felt her squeezing his hip as they walked out the doors and into a private corner, Derek following a step behind them. He was thankful when Derek let them have a moment first, turning his back to them.
“Keep calm, ok?” Stiles asked. He was thankful he shot up in height and now he could very easily wrap his arms around Felicity in a fierce embrace. “You got this. Just do your best.”
He knew Felicity wasn’t looking to win the whole thing because she herself was more than aware of the fact that she wasn’t much of a dueler. This was something of a validation, that she was just as strong as she was smart. Stiles personally didn’t see the need for it, though maybe it was because he knew Felicity well enough not to see her lack of dueler’s instincts as a weakness. But he knew she needed this and he would support her as much as he was able.
Felicity pressed a kiss to each cheek and pressed their temples together. “I will. I’ll make you so proud.”
Stiles smiled as Felicity walked back inside, waving over her shoulder. Just as she left, Derek pressed up behind him, arms around his waist.
“A kiss for luck?” he asked, breath warm against Stiles’ ear.
Stiles chuckled. “When it’s Captain Nyssa asking, it’s a no, but when it’s you, it’s a yes?”
“When it’s me, then it’s a yes,” Derek said.
Stiles turned around in Derek’s arms. While most people had already guessed the nature of their relationship – yes, Stiles saw Galleons being handed around with their names attached and he even walked into their room to see Danny unabashedly counting his winnings. At least Danny offered to treat him at Hogsmeade – he and Derek preferred keeping most things private. Right now though, he didn’t much mind anyone seeing them.
“A kiss for luck,” he asked cheekily. “Is that for you or for me?”
Derek grinned. “Both.”
Stiles chuckled and leaned forward to press a light kiss to Derek’s lips. Derek rubbed his back and pressed a teeny bit harder, tilting his head to slot their lips more seamlessly. When they pulled back, Stiles felt his lips tingling.
Derek looked content, beautiful eyes shining with satisfaction. “Do well. As you’ve always done.”
Stiles grinned. “I intend to.”
Stiles watched Derek walk back inside, waving. He waited until Derek was gone and there wasn’t anyone close by.
“Liked the show, Lance?” he asked, turning around. He felt his wand hand twitch as Laurel appeared around the corner.
“It’s not like everyone hasn’t guessed it yet, but you and Hale, huh? How sweet,” Laurel cooed.
Stiles saw red for a moment, unable to believe Laurel, of all people, would watch a private moment. But he took a breath and schooled his expression into its best mask, a smarmy, overconfident grin and sharp eyes.
“Yes, it was sweet. Nothing better than a kiss freely given and not taken, eh Lance?”
Laurel’s eyes flashed but she smiled. “So I see little Miss Smoak has forgiven Ollie. How nice of her. I really didn’t think my little Christmas present would cause such a fuss though.”
Stiles was itching to hex her, but he let it slide and let his mouth run instead. “Cut the sweet act, Laurel, and better yet, get over your delusions. Even you know that Oliver has always liked Felicity over you.”
“I won’t begrudge Ollie’s right to get a taste of so and so before he gets bored and goes for better options,” Laurel sneered.
Stiles laughed again. “Wow. Ok then, I see that these are not delusions. I know what it is. It starts with pa– and ends with –thetic.”
Laurel’s eyes narrow and Stiles saw her changing tactics. “You’ve always hated me, Stilinski.”
“Oh, please, Lance. It’ll take up too much of my energy to hate you.” Stiles scoffed. “I don’t hate you. I just dislike you. Extremely. Which actually takes up less amount of energy than hate.”
“Because I’m getting between little Miss Smoak and Ollie?” Laurel rolled her eyes.
Stiles was getting tired of this. “Lance, everyone in the fucking school knows Felicity’s got Oliver the moment she almost ran him over at Platform 9 3/4.”
“Like I said, a taste for other things won’t curb my interest in Oliver,” Laurel said. “Felicity’s nice, but you can’t get by on being nice. If she had wanted Oliver, she’d have done something.”
Stiles almost sighed. Felicity hadn’t done anything because she wasn’t sure her feelings were reciprocated. God knows she would have hexed Laurel faster than Stiles could if she had known. But no, people always thought Felicity wouldn’t dare hurt a fly.
In fact, Stiles felt offended for Hufflepuffs everywhere for the stereotype. Being kind, loyal, and honest was a choice. It didn’t mean the lack of a backbone. Stiles was always thankful that there were people like Felicity who would choose those over things like reckless bravery, daunting rationalizing, or double-edged ambition. The world would probably be a better place if there were more Hufflepuffs running around.
“That’s true. Felicity is nice,” Stiles said. “But what she lacks in bad blood, she makes up for by having me.”
Laurel sneered. “You’ve always fought her battles for her.”
Stiles smirked. “First of all, Felicity can fight her own battles, thanks. It’s just that unlike some people I know, she’s got a smart enough head on her shoulders not to go charging in like a drunken bull. I, on the other hand, don’t show the same restraint…” He let his wand hand twitch deliberately, satisfied when Laurel’s gaze flicked towards it. “…Or mercy.”
There was a flicker of fear in Laurel’s eyes, something Stiles took great pleasure in. Surprisingly enough, Laurel was the only one apart from Felicity who knew just how dark Stiles could get, probably because she has been the target of Stiles’ dark and sharp-edged comments for the past year. He might be two years younger than her, but god knows he had seen things Laurel hadn’t. Still though, he was impressed when she tampered it down, despite obviously struggling to do so, and squared her shoulders.
“You’ve always been the sharpest tool in the box, Stilinski,” she said, voice soft but strong. “But you’ll turn dull eventually. I can already see it starting.”
Stiles paused. What?
Laurel seemed to hear the question and she grew bolder. “People can keep telling me that I’m not a good match for guys like Ollie, and maybe that’s true. But guys like you can’t possibly be happy with guys like Derek.”
Stiles didn’t have much of a response, but he snapped at her, “What does Derek have to do with this?”
“People like you and me have The Plan,” Laurel said, ignoring his words. “And with good reason. We don’t do well when we’re off the rails.” She turned on her heels. “Just something to think about, Stilinski.”
She walked off, leaving Stiles staring at her back, stumped for the first time in his life.
Felicity was picking at a stray thread on her sleeves. She was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt under her yellow dueler’s shirt, black jeans, and sneakers. She was wearing one of Stiles’ gloves, worn and snug in her hands, and she stroked her wand. She was so nervous.
“Deep breaths,” Oliver said, his shoulder pressed to her back. He was looking up at the bright blue sky and leaning back on his hands, one arm of which stretched across Felicity’s back to offer comfort.
Felicity took a breath and let it out slowly. She was sitting with Oliver, watching as the stands filled up for the Defense Duels. She wanted to come early, feeling jittery and hoping that seeing the field would calm her nerves. Despite her fidgeting right now, she felt it working. Earlier she felt like she was vibrating right out of her skin but now she felt it as a low simmer. It also helped that Oliver was with her.
Oliver pointed down at the field and Felicity looked down to see Barry jogging up the steps their way, smiling.
“Hi!” Felicity called out, waving. She turned back to Oliver, who had a pinched expression on his face. She scoffed at him. It would be hypocritical of Oliver, of all people, to be jealous. “Really, Oliver?”
“I know,” Oliver said, sighing. “I’ll be good. Promise.”
“Thank you.” Felicity turned back just as Barry was climbing their way.
“Hey, guys,” Barry said. “Just wanted to wish you luck on the Duels.”
“Thanks, Barry.” Felicity smiled.
Barry nodded at the tent pitched at the other end of the field. “We were just getting to know the Duel Elites. I didn’t expect Stiles to be a dueler. I mean, based on my first impression. I assumed he was more of an academic.”
“He’s a dueler, and a defending champ too,” Felicity said. “I’m not quite into dueling, though I try. Oliver’s really good.” She smiled at him.
“Don’t you have dueling back at Mahoutokoro, Barry?” Oliver asked.
“We do, but only for the sixth and seventh years,” Barry said. “Dueling is considered a very honorable sport.” He waved a hand. “Not that I meant it’s dishonorable in other schools, but culturally speaking, dueling consists of a lot of ceremony and restriction in most Asian countries. There are entire family bloodlines of born and bred Duelers, royalty even.”
“That’s fascinating,” Felicity said, eyes wide.
Barry chuckled. “I know. That’s why I’m excited to get to watch this. Hopefully later on we could talk about it.” He waved a hand, glancing at Oliver. “For academic reasons?”
“Of course,” Felicity said.
“Anyway, good luck, Felicity, Oliver,” Barry said. “I’ll see you guys later.”
Felicity waved a hand as Barry left. She then turned to Oliver.
“See? That wasn’t so bad.”
“He didn’t hit on you, so…” Oliver shrugged.
Felicity smacked his chest at that, rolling her eyes at him.
They lapsed into silence, relaxing and watching the preparations being made, until they both noticed the crowd slowly coming in.
Oliver straightened, bringing his arms to the front. His hand subtly brushed against Felicity’s back, warm and comforting. He nodded down the stands and Felicity saw Stiles coming out of one of the tents. Stiles spotted them and started jogging over.
“I know you’ll do well,” Oliver whispered.
“I hope so,” Felicity said, smiling. “I know you’ll do well, too.”
“I’ll leave you two alone.”
Stiles nodded at Oliver as they passed and when Felicity stood up, he immediately wrapped her in a warm hug.
“I only have about two minutes out here,” he said. “We’re not through meeting some of the guests.”
“I know. I’m happy I got to see you though,” Felicity said.
Stiles leaned back and cupped her face. He looked at her. “I have faith in you. You know that, right?”
“Fingers crossed then,” Felicity said, laughing. She knew her voice sounded a bit strangled but she also knew she was feeling better than before. Stiles had that effect on her.
Felicity didn’t have much family. Her father abandoner her mother when she got pregnant, and Felicity hadn’t seen her mother since she was seven. Felicity ended up living with her aunt and uncle, the latter of whom was her mother’s second cousin, decent enough people but very distant. Their religious and old-fashioned ways were a barricade between her and them as they had mixed feelings over Felicity’s magical nature. In the end, Stiles, his Dad, and his grandmother, were all the family Felicity actually had.
Felicity trusted Stiles without question. If he thought she could do it, then she could.
Stiles smiled and kissed her cheek softly before jogging off. He was headed down the clearing when he paused. Felicity noticed him locking gazes with none other than Laurel as she and the other Ravenclaws came pouring in. They both turned away and walked in opposite directions.
Stiles thought Felicity didn’t know why he was so angry at Laurel, but it really wasn’t quite hard to figure out. All she did was do the math. Stiles and Laurel’s hostility towards one another started last year around the time Stiles and Felicity became friends with Derek and Oliver. It was also the time that Laurel started acting cold towards Felicity, something that upset her because while she and Laurel weren’t best friends, she had thought they were friends or at least acquaintances. Felicity knew her best friend well enough to guess that Stiles most likely confronted Laurel about it. It also wasn’t hard to guess that Laurel probably had a lot to say about Felicity. Stiles was protective and nothing could rile him up like badmouthing the people most important to him.
Felicity could quite accurately guess that she was the cause of the unholy feud that Stiles and Laurel were engaged in.
It saddened her, mostly because it was because of Stiles’ current attitude that everyone had forgotten the truth that Stiles had looked up to Laurel. It seemed she was the only one who remembered how Stiles trailed after Laurel back then, asking her questions about advanced subjects a second year like him had no business knowing about yet, or how she and Stiles actually shared a table at the library every Saturday back in Stiles’ third year when they did their homework.
Not even Stiles or Laurel probably remembered those times. Or at the very least they denied such events.
Felicity sighed and kept to herself, watching and waiting as the stands slowly filled up. Eventually there was a buzz in the air as everyone waited for Professor Lyla Michaels to officially start the Defense Duels. Seated on a raised stage opposite them were the guests and professors, and placed on a table at one end was the magical Ualtar. The puppet had a stack of cards in his hands which he shuffled every once in a while as his beady eyes stared at the crowd. Felicity had always thought the puppet was creepy.
Standing on the clearing in the middle of the field were the Duel Elites. Stiles was at one end, being the youngest, and was followed by fifth-year Ravenclaw Diana Dyers, sixth-year Gryffindor Harvey Connelly, seventh-year Nyssa Raatko, and at the end, as a special guest, was last year’s seventh-year champion, Shado.
Professor Lyla stepped up and gave her opening speech, welcoming the students, professors, guests, duelers and champions. She introduced Ualtar, who flicked his cards at the spectators, and also named the defending champions. She then explained the mechanics and stated the rules with a few well-placed and subtle threats, and reminded everyone of the safety barrier put up around the clearing so as to keep the audiences safe from the match, as well as of the Aurors, among which was her husband, who would be overseeing the match.
“It’s going to be a pretty interesting day, ladies and gentlemen,” Professor Lyla said. “Good luck to you all.”
The Duels spanned a few weeks, cutting into the Quidditch season that was still ongoing, partly to give the competitors enough time to recuperate between matches and also because there seemed to be a lot more people signed up this year than last year. The rounds ended quickly enough because there was a time limit set for each duel, and it was waived only during the semi-finals and finals which was usually a duel to the K.O. In the event of a no-K.O., Ualtar was the one to pass judgment on who had a better overall performance. It also decided on the order of matches, picking them at random, which was why all duelists had to be ready at any moment.
Felicity glanced at Stiles, who was seated at the front row among the Slytherins. He had his elbows on his knees, chin propped up on his twined hands as he concentrated on the match. Felicity turned back to the field.
There were two sixth years dueling and they stopped when a bell clanged. They were evenly matched, no one having been knocked off his feet. They both bowed to one another and watched Professor Michaels consult Ualtar. The puppet shuffled his cards before holding one up. It was blue.
“The match goes to Ravenclaw’s Isis Kennedy,” she announced. “Congratulations.”
The girl beamed and the crowd burst into applause as both parties bowed to one another before leaving the ring. They were immediately taken in by the mediwizards and matrons on hand to see to any injuries.
Ualtar flapped his hands and a scarlet card appeared in his hand. It was followed by a silver card. The crowd cheered loudly.
“Ah.” Even Professor Michaels looked excited. Silver cards meant a defending Elite was going to compete and this was the first of the night.
“We have a defending champion up to plate then,” she said. She held both cards. “We have fourth-year Gryffindor Wesley Prince…”
The guy was a fourth year. That meant…
Felicity whipped around as Stiles stood up even before other people even started turning his way.
“…and fourth-year defending champion, Stiles Stilinski.”
For all Felicity was more than confident over Stiles’ skills, she still felt a swoop in her stomach as she watched Stiles jog down the steps and head to the clearing.
“Holy shit, it’s Stiles’ turn,” Isaac whispered from beside her.
“Language,” Felicity said half-distractedly as she watched.
There was a murmur going through the stands, people scooting forward on their seats to watch. Felicity also noticed Professor Lyla whispering to Amanda Waller, while Shado sat up straighter, watching closely. Professor Lyla’s husband, Auror John Diggle, and the others in attendance seemed to straighten.
Felicity knew all the Professors were aware of the story of Stiles’ mother’s death at the hands of dark wizards, and there was no doubt in her mind the Aurors and Amanda Waller did too, considering Stiles’ father was a retired Auror. She knew that because of that, Stiles was always one to watch closely during duels, but whether it was to see his Auror potential or something else, Felicity didn’t know.
She knew Stiles’ past still plagued him. That’s why he wanted to be an Auror, considered it some kind of vengeance or penance. What he didn’t notice was that it was also because he didn’t want other people to feel the way he did, to have families and loves ones taken from them so easily.
Stiles always tried so hard to divest himself of emotions, to stick to The Plan, and compartmentalize like a robot, but Felicity knew better. If anything, Stiles was one of the most emotional person she’s ever met. He just didn’t know that they were emotions.
So she wasn’t feeling nervous, only worried. She was always worried about him.
Stiles was already in his fighting stance before the match started, even if it didn’t look like he was. Felicity knew the way Stiles stood, shoulders loose, arms at the sides, his wand held in one gloved hand, feet apart with one placed just an inch or two forward, and a blank look in his eyes to hide his excitement.
His opponent, Wesley, looked nervous. Felicity knew Ualtar paired them up for some magical reason, but she couldn’t imagine what. Stiles seemed more… well, more.
They bowed to the audience, then the guests, and then one another.
“Wands at the ready,” the Auror, John Diggle, held his wand between them.
Stiles simply lifted his wand hand while Wesley placed one foot in front of the other, bent his knees, and held his arms up, wand pointed at Stiles in a standard dueler’s pose.
Felicity quickly glanced around the stands to where she knew Derek was sitting. The male was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, a look of pure concentration on his face.
Auror Diggle waved his wand. “Duel.”
Immediately, Wesley casted a Stunner and Felicity gasped as it flew right at Stiles. Stiles had a Shield Charm in place just in time and the duel was immediately underway.
Spells and all manners of jinxes were flying through the clearing between the duelers, so fast and frenzied that Felicity couldn’t follow much of who was throwing what spell or where the spells were landing. Smoke was also billowing through the air as spells were deflected or missed their targets.
There was one thing apparent in the mess though, and that was Wesley was the one casting more than half the spells, leaving Stiles to constantly put up a Shield Charm.
“Stiles…” she muttered nervously, looking at the ticking clock.
Wesley had speed and stamina, easily sending a barrage of spells at Stiles. He casted spell after spell and Stiles waved his wand and Shield, deflecting them all.
“Wesley’s fast but to be honest, I think he hasn’t gotten a single spell past Stiles,” Isaac commented.
Strengthening your Shield is one of the best things you can learn, sunshine. When all else fails, when you need a break, when you need to regroup, it’s always a Shield Charm that will save you. Fights aren’t just won by brawn, but brains. And a hell of a stamina.
There was a lull in proceedings soon enough as Wesley seemed to slow down just a little, and immediately Stiles was in motion and he fought with a ferocity that impressed. Unlike most people, Stiles had never been one to just duel, but to engage. Felicity watched as Stiles stepped back and forth, left and right, a dueler’s dance that a trained eye would notice he was leading. Wesley sent a spell flying but Stiles whirled, a Shield Charm protecting him easily, before he quickly retaliated.
Don’t stay stationary, Felicity. Find a rhythm. Most people go for an offensive stance right away. If you learn to move between offense and defense in a snap, it’ll be easier to make openings and attack.
“Fuck, Stiles is really good.”
“Language.” Felicity slapped her hand over Isaac’s mouth, concentrating on the duel.
Stiles was now stepping up to the plate, spells flying at Wesley from as many angles as Stiles could fire a spell, twisting and stepping to and fro to catch openings. Wesley’s Shield Charm was shuddering under the assault and he couldn’t find much leeway to fire a jinx back.
“Oh my god! Is he casting nonverbal spells?” A girl somewhere behind them gasped.
That question immediately started flying through the stands as people started noticing Stiles. His face barely moved and his body moved fluidly.
“But he’s a fourth year!” Another person argued, but the evidence was right in front of their eyes.
Hogwarts taught nonverbal magic to students in their sixth year, but even then performing spells nonverbally was considered very difficult and required practice, concentration, and mental discipline. Felicity knew Nyssa and Jaime, as seventh years, could do it well, while both Derek and Oliver were passable.
Isaac turned to her. “Felicity, is he…”
Felicity shrugged and kept herself from saying anything else.
Most spells are considered less effective than normal when casted nonverbally, because spells needed a certain gravitas and resolve to be performed. It was as if by saying it, it became something existed and was therefore more tangible. It was difficult because it required control and being able to will the spell into existence with as minimal physical effort as possible but with more magical, mental, and emotional effort.
Felicity knew that Stiles had been practicing nonverbal casting with his Dad for the past two years. It was obvious he succeeded.
Felicity cast a glance at the Aurors. Auror John Diggle was narrow-eyed as he watched and the Head Auror herself, Amanda Waller, was leaning forward in her seat. The other guests all looked surprised, even Shado.
Wesley found on opening in Stiles’ assault and Stiles had brought his Charm Shield up at the last second, sending him skidding back on his sneakers and crouched on one knee. Before Wesley could continue though, Stiles sped off, running to the side and sending spells at Wesley’s right side. He slid to a stop just as the timer suddenly went off.
Before the bell even stopped ringing, Wesley had slumped down to the ground.
Felicity, Isaac, and the crowd were up on their feet cheering loudly as Ualtar waved Stiles’ silver card in declaration.
Professor Lyla smiled, holding out a hand towards Stiles. “The match goes to Slytherin’s Stiles Stilinski. Congratulations.”
Stiles quickly bowed to the guests and then the audience before running towards Wesley faster than the mediwizards could. He was already talking to them with hurried remarks and helping them hoist an unconscious Wesley to a stretcher before following them off to the inspection area. Stiles didn’t have a hint of an injury on him.
Felicity was so busy watching Stiles that she hadn’t noticed Ualtar already dish out the next cards.
“For our next match, we have fifth-year Ravenclaw, Ariana Coven…”
Felicity noticed Stiles whirling back to watch Professor Michaels before Felicity even noticed what was being said.
“…and fifth-year Hufflepuff, Felicity Smoak.”
Isaac grabbed her hand, squeezing tightly.
Felicity’s first thought was: Oh shit.
There were words of encouragement flying from her Housemates but Felicity wasn’t hearing any of them. She looked over the crowd’s heads, eyes landing on Oliver and Derek across the way. Derek was smiling encouragingly and Oliver looked serious and concerned. She immediately looked for Stiles.
Stiles didn’t look nervous, concerned, or encouraging. He just smiled, like this was nothing, like this was easy, like Felicity could do this.
Felicity nodded to him. She took a breath, squeezed Isaac’s hand for luck, and then stood up, descending the steps. As she walked over to her spot, she noticed another girl making her way. She was a tall girl with long hair in a ponytail and Felicity noticed she was a leftie. She had seen Ariana Coven around, but she didn’t remember much about her.
There’s not much time to know every person in Hogwarts and plan an attack, sunshine, and as much as I don’t buy into House stereotypes, they do help.
Gryffindors are aggressive and headstrong. They leave a lot of openings, but they’re not noticeable because they’ll attack more than they’ll defend and take an offensive stance half the time. Focus on simple spells you can keep throwing at them and bank on your Shield and stamina.
You Hufflepuffs are the least battle-driven so most of the time you incapacitate by disarming or just attacking with a bang so that you knock them out and the fight ends. Be smart about when and how to attack. Don’t leave openings. They’ll seek to end the fight asap.
Slytherins are stealthy and sneaky. I can certainly tell you that you’ll have to expect the unexpected. You have to be more observant. You know a lot of spells, so try to gauge which one they’ll throw because they will throw it. They’re the most balanced when it comes to mixing defense and offense, but also the cockiest. Cocky isn’t good.
Felicity racked her brains for Stiles’ advice on Ravenclaws.
Ravenclaws are the hardest to gauge because half use their heads while the other half actually manage to tap into their instincts, but they all tend to strategize before and during matches. If you can identify a pattern, which I know you’re good at sunshine, then try and disrupt it. While they’re trying to set up a new one, you engage.
“Ok, sounds easy enough,” Felicity mumbled to herself as she held her wand in her hand.
If those don’t work, look at the person. Are they short or tall? Thin or large? Left or right-handed? Do they favor one side? Wear glasses? Long or short hair and tied up or not? Find something of theirs to use against them.
Felicity took a deep breath as she bowed to her opponent. Ariana looked calculating and somewhat smug. Felicity might suck at dueling but even she knew smug wasn’t good.
Felicity’s goal wasn’t to win duels. She kind of wanted to win one duel, maybe, if she could, but most of all she just wanted to learn to fight, wanted to know what it’s like to be able to wield raw power and utilize physicality in a way she’s never done before and then come out on top.
Also, she couldn’t keep on counting Stiles to fight her battles for her. He has done it before in short bursts and small situations, but if worse comes to worst, she needed to be able to hold her own. She couldn’t very well wait for the day she’ll be in too deep and there was no Stiles around to help her.
She needed to be strong for Stiles and she needed this for herself.
Felicity squared her shoulders and got into position.
While Stiles kept his calm visage on the outside, on the inside, he was fidgeting like mad.
He had faith that Felicity would do well, he did, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t worry. He was always worried about her.
It was just his luck that he knew Ariana but didn’t prep Felicity for the fifth-year Ravenclaw. As much as he had told Felicity that it was impossible to do recon on all possible opponents, that didn’t mean Stiles hadn’t tried. He had always had an impeccable memory and he could remember the more noteworthy duelers from years past.
Ariana Coven wasn’t quite that outstanding and Stiles couldn’t remember anything noteworthy in terms of speed, strength, stamina, caster properties, or dueler’s stats. But there was one thing Stiles distinctly remembered about her. Ariana had a tendency to combine Levicorpus with Petrificus Totalus, hoisting her opponents into the air by their ankles and then performing a Full Body-Bind Curse to bring them down.
Truth be told, those were simple spells, the kind of spells often used by inexperienced or young wizards, and not often used for fast-paced dueling, especially not by a Ravenclaw. Yet it was the simplicity and unexpectedness of it that actually impressed Stiles. Ariana almost reached the semi-finals with that trick.
Felicity knew both spells so Stiles could only hope she would recognize them just in time to counter.
Surprisingly, it was Felicity who fired first, sending a Stunner right at Ariana as soon as the bell sounded. Ariana managed to dodge it and then fired off Stunners off her own. Felicity immediately had a Shield Charm up to cover her, though she stumbled back from the impact. More and more spells started flying through the air and Stiles narrowed his eyes, watching everything happen.
Stiles frowned when he noticed the momentum leaning towards Ariana as she started firing more spells, leaving Felicity to stick to defending herself, unable to cast spells of her own. Felicity was generally a good multitasker and Stiles knew she could attack and defend at the same time, but not when faced under this much pressure. Even from a distance, Stiles could see her strained face.
This wasn’t good.
Felicity managed to find an opening and fired a spell, but a last minute Stunner knocked her off balance and she missed Ariana, sending dirt flying through the air. Stiles cursed. Felicity actually had pretty good aim. If she could just throw a spell at the perfect time she would hit her opponent.
Spells kept flying and Stiles cursed when Felicity just barely dodged a spell. Her Shield Charm was still going strong though, which made him proud, and it seemed that as time went by, Felicity started firing more and more spells of her own but none of them were hitting the target.
“Goddammit.” Stiles bit his lip as he watched what was happening. He squinted his eyes as he saw Ariana evade another curse from Felicity.
Dust was flying everywhere and Stiles had to squint his eyes just to see what was happening. He watched Ariana hold an arm up, trying to shield her eyes from the dust. She stepped forward and almost stumbled.
Stiles paused. What?
Felicity fired a few more spells, sending dirt flying everywhere. Ariana started coughing, trying to attack some more.
Felicity was… She was missing shots on purpose.
Ariana was obviously not happy about this. She gritted her teeth and Stiles watched as she finally started making her move. She sent Felicity a flurry of well-aimed Stunners and since the smoke was pretty dense, not even Stiles could see if any made contact. Then there it was, Ariana threw a Levicorpus spell and Stiles’ breath caught in his throat, expecting to see Felicity be lifted up in the air. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw the spell hit the protective charm around the field. At least Felicity wasn’t hit.
Before Ariana could let loose another barrage of spells, there was a flash of green light from the smoke and Ariana yelped when Felicity threw the curse back at her. Stiles saw her get jerked into the air and almost end up upside-down. The crowd of onlookers gasped. However, Ariana waved her hand.
“Fuck, counter-jinx,” Stiles muttered.
Ariana dropped to the ground, managing to land on her back. She sat up and fired off into the billowing smoke.
There was a scream.
Stiles stood up. Oh, god. No. Felicity.
Ariana grinned, taking gulps of air, trying to look through the slowly dissipating smoke.
“Fuck. Come on, Felicity,” Stiles muttered. He checked the clock. If the smoke cleared and Felicity was bound, she would lose the match.
There was a bright orange light as Felicity sent a Blasting Curse hurling Ariana’s way. She shrieked as it came her way. It would have hit her directly had a Shield Charm not come up to defend her, just in time for the bell to ring.
Stiles looked to see that Auror Diggle had his wand out, pointing it at Ariana. Another Auror waved her wand and the dust smoke thinned off to reveal a disheveled Felicity, breathing heavily but still standing.
“Felicity.” Stiles gaped. He turned to the stage.
Professor Lyla hadn’t even approached Ualtar yet but the puppet was already holding a card in his hand.
A yellow card.
Stiles smiled as he watched Felicity happily hanging out with the other Hufflepuffs in the courtyard. It’s been a few days since her unexpected victory at the Defense Duels and Stiles couldn’t be any prouder. Even his Dad and Grandma were so happy at hearing about his and Felicity’s success that they immediately owled them candies, so much so that Stiles had been gorging on Reese’s cups for the past three days now. His roommate Danny kept joking about finding Stiles in a sugar coma one of these days.
Speaking of, Stiles reached into his pockets and pulled out a Reese’s cup. He unwrapped one and took a bite as he stood up and walked off. Derek, Oliver, Scott, and most of his friends were at the Quidditch pitch, so he was contemplating going to find Lydia at the library so he could finish his homework instead.
The Quidditch Finals between Gryffindor and Slytherin cut in between the Defense Duels, not just to give everyone a break but also as a spectacle for their guests, most of whom would be leaving soon. Captain Nyssa and co-captains Derek and Oliver were pretty fired up, the former determined to win the Cup before she graduated, and the latter determined to continue their winning streak from last year.
“Ah, fancy meeting you here, Stilinski.”
Stiles snapped out of it and looked up. Braeden was leaning against the wall, arms crossed, and a smirk on her face. He didn’t even bother rolling his eyes or acknowledging her. He was in too much of a good mood to let Braeden ruin it. He popped the last of his Reese’s into his mouth and walked past her.
“What? Too high and mighty to say hello?” Braeden said. “Just because you’re best bet to win the Defense Duels, your boyfriend is a Quidditch Captain, you get to work with Noshiko Yukimura, and rumors have it that Amanda Waller has been eyeing your duels?” She clicked her tongue against her teeth.
Stiles paused and only allowed himself a curt reply of, “I just don’t want to waste my time on meaningless conversation.”
“Fine then,” Braeden drawled. “But I think I should inform you that we are changing the line-up for the upcoming Quidditch Finals.”
That had Stiles’ attention. He turned around. “Excuse me?”
There was a superior smirk on Braeden’s face at finally getting a reaction from him. Stiles fought the urge to scowl at her.
“Oh, I guess Captain Nyssa hadn’t informed you yet. It’s understandable, considering you were probably too busy with your meetings with professors and sucking face with your boyfriend.”
Stiles scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Feel free to continue your jealousy, Braeden.”
“I’ll be replacing Harper as Chaser at the final game.”
Braeden grinned, smug and superior. “Captain Nyssa thinks Harper won’t be able to handle some of the stunts you've got planned so I’ve been asked to replace her.” She pushed herself off the wall and stepped towards him.
Stiles didn’t have a reply to that. He could feel his blood like ice in his veins, scenarios flashing through his head.
“I’m pretty excited to get to work,” Braeden said, stepping towards him and standing so close Stiles could feel her breath on his face. “Competing against the Gryffindors, Oliver, Scott, and, of course, we can't forget Derek.” She smirked. “I hope there won’t be an issue.”
Stiles steeled himself and raised an eyebrow, summoning all acidity in his glare. “There won’t be.”
Stiles turned on his heels and walked off.
Felicity looked around the Great Hall, tapping her nails on the wooden table. She was seated with Isaac, Boyd, Barry, and Kira. Derek, Oliver, Stiles, and the others were already at the Quidditch pitch in preparation for the upcoming game. Tension and anticipation was thick in the air and there were banners, scarves, pins, and flags of scarlet-gold and silver-green all over the walls, halls and staircases. Gryffindors and Slytherins were gearing up for a heated match and even the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were dragged along.
“I’m so excited,” Kira was saying. “I mean I’ve seen Quidditch before back at Mahoutokoro but I’m so excited to watch you guys play.”
“Who’s your bet to win?” Barry asked.
“Definitely Gryffindor for me,” Isaac said, grinning. “I have faith in Captain Derek and Captain Oliver.”
Boyd shrugged. “Slytherin has Captain Nyssa, Danny, and Stiles’ brain. That’s kind of a dangerous combination.”
“Is Stiles good on a broom?” Kira asked.
Isaac tapped his chin in thought. “I’m not sure. I remember back when we were first years in Flying Class that Stiles was pretty fast, a bit of a daredevil too, but I haven’t seen him in an actual Quidditch match. Stiles prefers to be the strategist and coach for the Slytherins.”
There was the sound of running feet and everyone looked up as Roy skidded to a stop in front of them. He was panting.
“Hey, man,” Boyd said. “What are you doing here?”
“Shouldn’t you be at the pitch supporting your twin?” Isaac asked.
Roy took a breath and said, “Did you hear the news?”
Roy turned to Felicity. “Stiles is playing.”
Felicity dropped her fork.
Isaac’s jaw dropped and even Boyd looked surprised.
Roy nodded. “Captain Nyssa put him on roster this morning as Seeker.”
“As Seeker? Against Scott?” Isaac gaped.
Felicity shook her head slowly. “But Stiles doesn’t play.”
“Everybody knows he doesn’t,” Roy said. “Did he tell you about this?”
Felicity shook her head. “But Stiles doesn’t play.”
Kira and Barry looked at Felicity in confusion.
“Well, isn’t this more exciting then?” Barry asked.
“No, you guys don’t understand.” Felicity stood up and grabbed her scarf. She looked at them, eyes wide. They couldn’t possibly understand.
“Stiles doesn’t play.”
Felicity ran out of the Great Hall.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Felicity was feeling panicky. “Nyssa, Stiles has coached you guys through dozens of strategies since he was a first year without needing to get on a broom. He doesn’t need to get on it now, whether it’s the Quidditch Finals or not. Stiles doesn’t… literally, is not allowed play Quidditch.”
“Oh, god,” she muttered as she started pacing. “What am I going to tell his Dad? Stiles promised his Dad he wasn’t ever going to play team sports. I’m going to strangle him with a broom, I swear!”
I seriously sat down and concentrated on finishing this in honor of the season premieres of Arrow and The Flash. I hope you’ve all seen them. They’re so good! The CW’s doing a good job of making me happy.
On a side note, I did a bit of editing on the last chapter, just the part where Braeden and Stiles are talking about strategies and tactics. I started going through the HP wikia page and saw tons of Quidditch moves and rules and stuff that could be better.
I can say that the next and last chapter is definitely going to come sooner compared to how long this chapter took. I write dueling scenes faster than I write Quidditch matches, and I already have most of the ending written up. I know this chapter is pretty Stiles-centric but trust me that Felicity is going to get most of the spotlight in the next chapter.
Felicity hurried across the Quidditch pitch, casting uneasy glances at the darkening skies. She only had a few minutes before the match started and she needed to hurry. She headed towards the large green and silver tent, panting a little from running so fast. She heard voices from inside that grew louder as she approached. She pushed open the entrance flap…
And saw Braeden amidst the Quidditch players.
“What the…” Felicity gaped. She stepped forward, planning to ask for an explanation or better yet shoo Braeden away. The only reason she’d be here was to pick on Stiles anyway.
She was almost inside when someone grabbed her arm and pulled her back out, letting the flap swing shut. She whipped around. “Hey, I– Nyssa!”
Nyssa was in front of her, a pinched expression on her face. She put a finger to her lips, motioning for silence, and then tugged Felicity’s arm. She followed the Quidditch captain obediently. They walked away from the entrance and went around to the back. As soon as Nyssa turned back to her, Felicity blurted out.
“What is she doing here?”
Nyssa didn’t even bother wondering who Felicity could be talking about. “Braeden is one of our Chasers.”
“WHAT?” Felicity practically screeched. “First, Stiles is playing. Now, Braeden’s playing?” Her eyes narrowed in realization. “Oh, god. Stiles is playing because Braeden is, isn’t he?”
Nyssa ran her fingers through her hair, sighing uneasily, which was confirmation enough.
Felicity was feeling panicky. “Nyssa, Stiles has coached you guys through dozens of strategies since he was a first year without needing to get on a broom. He doesn’t need to get on it now, whether it’s the Quidditch Finals or not. Stiles doesn’t… literally, is not allowed play Quidditch.”
Felicity remembered Isaac’s earlier words to Barry, calling Stiles a daredevil on a broom. That didn’t even come close to how Stiles actually was.
Stiles had always declined the invitation to join the Quidditch team, claiming that sports weren’t his thing. It was a lie. Dueling was a sport, Stiles’ favorite sport in the world, and so in some ways, Stiles most definitely played sports. Stiles didn’t play Quidditch in particular not because of an aversion to sports in general, but because he was epically bad at team sports.
Don’t get him wrong. Stiles didn’t have anger issues and he was kind of a team player, but only if he used his brains to serve a team. Felicity had seen him before during the annual Beacon Hills’ Christmas lacrosse scrimmage where he was the coach and helped his team win for the third year in a row, but if you put him out there with a crosse, he was liable to hurt someone, even himself, or worse.
The memories played like slow motion in Felicity’s head; that one summer when Stiles and his Dad were playing hoops on a broom and Felicity was shocked when, instead of passing the ball, Stiles threw himself off his broom just to get a point. It was like he literally forgot he was several feet above the ground and could just pass the ball off to someone. Luckily his Dad’s Auror instincts kicked in, swooping down to pluck him from midair.
She also remembered when Stiles decided to try out for the Quidditch team. He was practicing with Felicity and Nyssa. He was in such a hurry to score that he divebombed at them, flying like a crazy man. Felicity ended up hitting her arm against the metal ring, spraining her elbow, and Nyssa fell off her broom, unconscious from a blow to her head from the end of Stiles’ broom.
So yeah, Stiles was actually all for teamwork so long as he wasn’t part of it, and he was most definitely not allowed to play team sports. At least with dueling, it was one-on-one so Stiles wasn’t liable to hurt anyone else, just his opponent, and Stiles was an honorable dueler and wouldn’t harm anybody once the duel ended.
“Oh, god,” Felicity muttered as she started pacing. “What am I going to tell his Dad? Stiles promised his Dad he wasn’t ever going to play team sports. I’m going to strangle him with a broom, I swear!”
She made a mental note to ask whose broom he was using. She knew damn well Stiles didn’t have his own after Felicity confiscated his.
“It’s Helena. She lent him an extra broom,” Nyssa commented, and Felicity didn’t notice she was actually blurting all that stuff out.
Felicity groaned, rubbing her face. “Placing him as a Seeker, though? Where he has to fly everywhere?”
“Not my best plan, I’ll admit,” Nyssa said, sounding defeated as she rubbed her temples. “But at least he’ll be an independent party and when he ends up zooming around like a maniac, he won’t cause as much damage to the game itself and, most importantly, the players. Also, Stiles has good eyes. He’ll at least be able to spot the Golden Snitch pretty easily.”
Felicity sighed. “Why is he even playing? I mean, Braeden is there, I get it. This probably has something to do with Derek. But Stiles doesn’t even care about her, not usually.”
“I wondered the same thing, but Stiles isn’t saying anything,” Nyssa said. “And you should know that I did not add Braeden on the team to spite Stiles. It’s just that she’s a good player.”
“I know that,” Felicity said. “And I know how Stiles’ head works. Even if he disliked someone, if they’re of use to him in any way, he’ll make do.” She sighed, rubbing her temples. Even for Quidditch, Stiles would suck up his hatred if it would help him win. “But I can’t understand why he has to be there, in the game.”
“I would have stopped him if I could.” Nyssa gave Felicity a pained look. “But I’ll look after him, Felicity, as much as I’m able.”
Felicity sighed. “Please do.”
Stiles wasn’t nervous. Much.
He was definitely not nervous about the game. He was a good flyer, had sharp eyes, and was light on his feet. He was pretty much fit for Seeker. He was more nervous about what Felicity and his Dad would say once they find out he was playing.
Stiles wanted to sigh but he kept himself in check, schooling his expression into its easy confidence and smarmy grin.
The entire Quidditch team was shocked when Captain Nyssa announced the change in their roster to include Stiles as Seeker. No one really questioned it though, not only because Captain Nyssa and Stiles had a compelling argument for it or because Captain Nyssa’s words were law, but mostly because everyone was curious, excited even, to finally see Stiles in action.
Braeden had taken the news gracefully enough, though her eyes had narrowed at Stiles and he could feel her studying him. It made him uneasy, but he was skilled at ignoring people he didn’t like.
“Any particular reason you’re choosing to play now?” Danny asked, brow furrowing in concern as he handed Stiles his goggles. The skies were steadily growing darker and they were all expecting it to rain.
Stiles took the goggles, snapping the straps at his friend with a grin. “Did you seriously think I’d pass up a chance to play at the Finals?”
“You’ve refused to play in the Finals for the past three years.” Danny raised an eyebrow at him. Unlike most, he never fell for most of Stiles’ tricks. “This doesn’t have anything to do with Derek, does it?”
Stiles froze for all of a second, before easily turning it into a scoff and a look of offense. “Never thought you’d think I’m that type of guy, Danny boy.”
“Never thought you would get on a broom after claiming you weren’t into sports.” Danny scoffed back. “Lies, omission, and misdirection, my brother. Don’t think I don’t know your tricks.” Despite his words, Danny smiled fondly at him. This was the reason Stiles liked Danny. He was sharper and blunter than most, but accepting of Stiles’ occasionally devious nature.
“Point taken.” Stiles chuckled. “But you insult me, Danny. Does everything have to do with romance? I’m not that arrogant enough to challenge my involvement with Derek through a game, a literal game.”
Very few people seemed to know about Braeden and Derek’s previous tryst and therefore couldn’t assume that part of the reason for Stiles joining the team was really more because of that woman than Derek. At most, they’d think the reason was just Derek. Stiles was only partly relieved. He didn’t want people to think he was that petty because he was certainly not some kind of lovesick maiden, but on the other hand, the real reason for this far outweighed whatever people thought of him anyway.
Except for Felicity, of course, because Felicity’s opinion always mattered and Stiles knew she was liable to murder him after this, or most likely to strangle him with Helena’s broom.
“I’m not criticizing you, Stiles.” Danny shrugged. “I think it’s a nice change actually.”
Stiles tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve always been competitive and argumentative and a bit of a jerk,” Danny said with a laugh. “And you’ve always been like a drill sergeant during games. It’s nice to see you loosen up a little and join us minions of yours in a game.” He motioned to the other Quidditch players.
Stiles didn’t quite know what to say to that. He loved Quidditch and decided to become the team’s coach and strategist only because that’s the only way he could help the team, what with his tendency to hurt people during team sports.
Everyone turned to Captain Nyssa as she strode purposefully inside the tent. Just behind her, Stiles could hear the chatter and see the swell of the crowd as they started coming to the Pitch in droves. He saw a brief flash of yellow dart past before the tent flap closed behind the captain.
Nyssa snapped her fingers. “Assemble!”
Stiles joined everyone as they immediately faced their Captain. Nyssa looked at all of them in turn and Stiles felt her eyes linger on him as he stood at the end. He gave his Captain a subtle nod.
He had heard Captain Nyssa’s pre-game pep talk before but this was the first time he was actually part of it as a player and not a coach. She usually does a quick run-through of their gameplay, reminded them of tips and tricks they had to remember, and provided gentle and sincere encouragement. She let Stiles speak to the team for a few minutes, letting him run through all his crazy plans and tactics, before wrapping up with one last encouraging message. By the time she was done, they had five minutes left before they had to exit the field and Nyssa dismissed them to their own things before they had to go.
Stiles slipped the goggles around his neck and was lacing his boots up tightly when Braeden sauntered over to him.
“Good luck out there, Stilinski,” she said.
“I don’t need luck,” Stiles said, double-knotting his boot and moving to the other. “You’d best be more worried about yourself, boo.”
“Oh, I can handle myself, kiddo,” Braeden said, sneering. “You’d do better to concentrate on you. Wouldn’t want you to fall or be injured, now would we?”
Stiles almost scowled but he managed to control his expression. Despite the fact that Braeden was being a shit right now, he had to calm down or else his already skewered instincts were going to end up sending him crashing into Braeden instead of, you know, actually trying to help his team win.
“Stiles.” Nyssa motioned for him.
“Yes, Captain.” Stiles jogged over to her, slinging his broom over his shoulder. He felt a sense of satisfaction when Braeden grunted and stepped back to avoid getting hit. “Captain?”
Nyssa looked cool and composed as ever but Stiles knew her well enough to see the smidge of worry in her pretty eyes. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed his forehead then his cheek. Stiles gave her a one-armed hug back.
“Keep calm. You know that if you get riled up, you’re liable to crash into someone,” she said softly. “You’re a Seeker, so concentrate on the Golden Snitch. Leave the game to the rest of us, no matter how restless you get, okay, love?”
Stiles gripped the broom handle. He couldn’t completely promise her that. He had enough self-awareness to know about his occasional recklessness when stressed.
“I’ll try, Captain.”
Felicity’s leg was jiggling up and down and she was biting her thumbnail as she watched the stands fill up with people. After talking to Nyssa, she was more nervous for the game than she usually was. Her eyes darted around to try and find Stiles. They hadn’t gotten to talk so she felt off and uncomfortable. She and Stiles always talked before a game, but after finding out what mess Stiles was in right now, Felicity knew better than to dump more stress on him by adding her own. She sighed, running her fingers through Stiles’ green scarf around her neck.
“There you are!”
Felicity practically jumped up her seat in shock. She turned around to see none other than Oliver clambering down the stands towards her, looking breathless and a little sweaty and already dressed in his Quidditch robes.
“Oliver?” Felicity stood up. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at–”
“I had to see you,” Oliver said.
Felicity’s brow creased in worry. “What’s wrong? Is this about–”
“About Stiles?” Oliver shook his head. “Don’t worry. We know and we… Derek understands.”
“He does?” Felicity asked, the tightness of her chest easing just a little. “That’s good.”
“Don’t worry about Der. Trust me. I think he knows Stiles more than that to start thinking of stupid stuff,” Oliver said, grinning. “And believe me, Scott, Jackson, and all us Gryffindors are more excited to get to play against him. Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. And I actually have to hurt.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a maroon and gold Gryffindor scarf. He looked bashful as he handed it to her. “Um, for you.”
Felicity took it, fingers running through the soft fabric, worn from use, but warm and clean. She brought it to her face, smiling when she smelled a hint of Oliver on it. She looked up at him, flushing once she noticed how intently he was watching her.
“You want me to wear your scarf,” she said, feeling warm and tingly all over.
“You don’t have to,” Oliver said, shaking his head. He motioned to the green scarf hanging from her neck. “I know you’re cheering on Stiles and the Slytherins and that’s okay. I’m not asking you to break tradition on that. I just…” He rubbed the back of his neck, face looking warm. “I just wanted you to have this.”
Felicity smiled. She unwrapped Stiles’ scarf around her neck and let it hang down before putting on Oliver’s. She arranged them neatly around her neck, twisting them so the two colors were prominent.
“I’ll wear it. See?”
Oliver was beaming at her, making her giggle shyly. The next thing she knew, the Quidditch captain leaned over to kiss her cheek gently.
Oliver pulled back and winked at her. “A kiss for luck.”
Felicity’s face felt so warm, but she smiled back and leaned up on her toes to place a soft one on his lips. When she stepped back, Oliver was wide-eyed with a dash of red across his high cheekbones.
“Um, I…I think that one will be, you know, luckier.” Felicity fidgeted, tugging on the scarves around her.
Oliver grinned. “Y-Yeah.” He shook his head, slapping his face a little. “I-I should go. I’ll see you after, ok?”
“Good luck,” Felicity said, feeling excited for him.
Oliver gave her a two-fingered salute and a warm smile before jogging off.
Felicity sank back down on her seat, toying with the edge of Oliver’s scarf. She bit back a giddy smile. This definitely raised her spirits.
She looked up to see Barry, Kira, Isaac, and Boyd headed towards her.
“You completely disappeared on us!” Kira said as she and Barry sat down beside Felicity. Isaac and Boyd sat on her other side.
“Sorry,” Felicity said, smiling weakly. “I just... I had to try and talk to Stiles.”
“What’s he say? He’s really playing?” Barry asked.
“He’s really playing,” Felicity said, hiding a wince. Heaven help them all. “But I actually didn’t get to talk to him.”
“And you were probably busy with someone else,” Isaac commented, pointing at the Gryffindor scarf around her neck. Kira started giggling and Barry and Boyd had knowing looks on their faces.
Felicity flushed. “T-That’s not it! O-Oliver just… He… Those are two mutually exclusive events! And Stiles was busy with Captain Nyssa so I couldn’t talk to him!”
“Probably planning more devious techniques.” Isaac snorted, dropping the scarf issue. “Anyway, I still can’t believe he’s willing to go against Derek and Scott and everybody else.”
“I thought you guys said he and Derek were dating though?” Kira asked.
“Maybe he wants to prove people wrong that he can play even if it was against Derek,” Boyd said, shrugging.
“Plus Stiles has always played to win, that competitive jerk,” Isaac said. “No doubt he just wants to show everyone what he can do.”
Felicity kept quiet. She knew people would have varying opinions as to why Stiles suddenly decided to play. She remembered Oliver’s words about Derek and Stiles’ friends. All that mattered was that they understood and didn’t take it personally.
The megaphone screeched to life and Sin’s voice rang through the Pitch, excited and loud.
“Good morning, ladies and gents. Welcome to this year’s Quidditch Finals!”
The stands erupted in cheers and Felicity clapped her hands along to the crowd. She took a breath, trying to get herself in the mood to lessen her worries. She half-listened to Sin greeting the crowd, the students, professors, and guests, and then going through a quick recap of the previous Quidditch matches leading up to the finals.
Felicity scanned the crowd. She and her friends were at the edge of the Hufflepuff crowd, close enough to the Ravenclaws. She saw some friends in the crowd, who happily waved to her, and most of them looked intrigued at the rival house colors around her neck. She could practically hear the whispers and rumors starting.
She was about to turn back to the pitch when she caught Laurel’s eye. She was seated high up and pretty far off, but she was easy enough to pick out from the crowd. She saw Laurel’s eyes flicker to the prominent Gryffindor colors wrapped around her. Their eyes met and it was like electricity went skittering somewhat unpleasantly down her spine. Laurel’s eyes narrowed but her face was closed off as she looked away.
Felicity turned back to the pitch, holding one end of the Gryffindor and Slytherin scarves in each hand. It was best to ignore that. She looked up, noting how dark the skies were despite how early it was in the day.
“And the line-up!” Sin exclaimed. “Now, kids, I know we’ve all been hearing rumors flying around the Great Hall this morning about some line-up changes. We don’t usually get changes the morning of the match, most especially the Finals, but it appears that for this year we do have several changes.” She paused to give the crowd a moment of cheering and chatter. “So hold onto your hats as we welcome the new line-up to both teams.”
“Really?” Isaac gaped. “I didn’t know Gryffindor was changing anything.”
Gryffindor was introduced first since they won their previous game against Hufflepuff by a lower 360 points to Slytherin’s 540 points against Ravenclaw.
“For the Gryffindors led by co-captains, Derek Hale and Oliver Queen,” Sin started. “We have the team Chasers Oliver Queen, Derek Hale, and Sara Lance.”
“What did she say?” Felicity stood up, followed by almost everyone as they watched the team approach the pitch.
The crowd burst into surprise at that and while Felicity was shocked too, she distinctly remembered that Derek and Oliver had played as Gryffindor Chasers back in their third and fourth years, before becoming the team Keeper and Beater respectively. It wasn’t unusual for them to switch up positions. What was a surprise was Sara’s addition and she was really standing among them, right between Oliver and Derek.
Sara was athletic, everyone knew that. She was a decent dueler, took jogs around campus every morning, and occasionally helped train the Quidditch team. She was shortlisted to be added to the team before she reportedly gave up her slot, so this was the first time she was actually going to play.
“Holy shit, and Sara’s actually going up against Captain Nyssa?” Isaac gaped.
“Is there something wrong with that?” Barry asked, confused.
“They’re together,” Boyd explained. Barry ‘ooh’ed at that.
“Wait,” Kira said. “Then, it’s Derek versus Stiles and Nyssa versus Sara? That’s taking lover’s quarrel to a whole new level.”
“And it’s not just Sara who they added,” Felicity said. “They also have…”
“For Beaters, we have twins at the pitch, people! Let’s welcome Jackson Whittemore and Roy Harper.”
“…they also brought in Roy.” Felicity sighed as she watched the twins, one arm slung across each other’s shoulders and looking excited.
“I’m not surprised,” Boyd said. “Roy has been helping them train for a long time and he’s long since been a reserve player. He was bound to join them sooner or later, especially since Jackson plays.”
“It’s not like they’re the only ones who changed,” Felicity said.
Sin was continuing on. “From Chaser to the team’s new Keeper, we have Erica Reyes. And lastly, for Seeker, we have Scott McCall.”
“And that, I did not know,” Boyd said, looking down at his girlfriend.
Scott and Erica were pawing at one another, laughing excitedly.
Everyone cheered and Felicity was feeling light-headed with what she was seeing.
“And definitely not far behind,” Sin shouted, sounding slightly more enthusiastic for her House. “Let’s cheer for the Slytherin Quidditch team!”
Felicity was more prepared as she watched the Slytherin team approaching the pitch. She spotted Stiles among them, standing between Danny and Captain Nyssa with his broom propped against his shoulder. If she didn’t knew him well, she wouldn’t have noticed the really straight and tense set to his shoulders that showed how he was trying to keep calm and control himself.
Sin started announcing the line-up. “We have our Chasers, Captain Nyssa Raatko, Helena Bertinelli, and newcomer Braeden.”
Felicity scowled at hearing Braeden’s name, but ducked her head to hide it from the others.
Sin continued. “We have our Beaters, Danny Mahealani, and the return of Slytherin’s infamous Deadshot, Floyd Lawton. We missed you at the last game, Lawton. Hopefully the eye exam did you well.”
The Slytherin crowd cheered loudly as Lawton saluted the crowd, cocky grin in place. He had his trademark eyepatch on his right eye, the Slytherin crest prominently displayed on it.
“Wow. Who’s he?” Barry asked. “And what happened to his eye?”
“Floyd’s a seventh year,” Felicity said, watching as Stiles turned to say something to Floyd and the guy laughed, ruffling Stiles’ hair. “He accidentally got hit in the eye by a curse during his third year that severely impaired his vision. Because of that he was held back a year so he’s actually a year older than most.”
Barry nodded. “Why’s he called Deadshot then? I’m not trying to be mean, but I thought that with the eye and all, he wouldn’t… couldn’t be…” He waved a hand awkwardly.
Boyd answered him. “Lawton’s called Deadshot for two reasons. Despite the eye, he’s actually something of an expert marksman. He’s better with one eye than most people are with two.”
“What’s the other reason?” Kira asked, wide-eyed.
Boyd looked a mix of grim and begrudging admiration. “The other thing is that he’s a really good Beater, never misses his target.”
Sin spoke loudly. “We can’t forget our Keeper, The Count himself, Werner Vertigo.”
Werner Vertigo waved his broom at the crowd, twirling on his heels and bowing rather dramatically to all four houses. His broom accidentally hit Helena’s back and she rounded on him, waving her fist. Werner ducked to hide behind Danny, grinning at her.
“And last but certainly not the least…” Sin said. “And seriously, I don’t know about you guys but this shocked the hell out of me when I first found out so I can only imagine how you guys are going to take it, but for Slytherin’s Seeker, we have Stiles Stilinski!”
The Slytherin crowd cheered madly at that while the other Houses peered down at the pitch excitedly, all eyes on Stiles, who grinned confidently.
They all watched as Coach Finstock stood between the teams. He was saying, or rather shouting, something at them, probably going over the rules and sharing a few words of encouragement before holding out a hand, palm out. Everyone spread out, brooms at the ready. Felicity kept an eye on Stiles.
Coach fisted his hand and Felicity could read his lips saying, ‘Mount your brooms’. When he raised his fist, everyone ascended. Felicity watched Stiles, smooth and steady on his broom, and tugged the Slytherin scarf around her neck. Coach Finstock was throwing the Quaffle between his hands, surveying the team to see if they were ready.
Felicity rubbed her arms. She could feel the tension even from so far away and she had a sinking feeling this was not going to end well. She looked up and it even looked close to raining.
“Damn.” Isaac was wiggling in his seat. “I’m so excited.”
Coach Finstock pressed his whistle to his lips. With a shrill whistle, he tossed the Quaffle in the air.
Sin’s voice rang clear. “And they’re off!”
The moment she said that, the clouds broke and rain started to fall.
Stiles flew around leisurely, keeping to the very edges of the pitch in an effort to avoid the people playing hard and fast. Despite the rain, he didn’t bother putting on his goggles. The rain wasn’t quite heavy enough yet to impede his vision and he didn’t want to run the risk of running into people.
“Nyssa passes to Helena, and Helena soars straight for the goals!” Sin was saying. “Will she get a point for her team?”
Helena weaved easily between the other players, ducking when Roy sent a Bludger flying right at her. She dived, avoiding Derek and Oliver flying towards her, and just barely managed to avoid Jackson on her way. She was headed straight for Erica and threw the Quaffle. Erica was gearing her arm to hit it back when Braeden swooped out from nowhere, snatching the Quaffle in midair and shooting it into an unguarded hoop. Erica pumped a fist angrily and tossed her wet hair over her shoulder with a scowl.
Sin cheered. “Point goes to Slytherin. We’re tied 40 to 40.”
Stiles sighed in relief, diving a little and keeping his eyes peeled for the Snitch. He shielded his hand over his eyes and blinked away the rainwater.
He’s been sticking to the sidelines the past few minutes, keeping himself from venturing too far inbound. He was also trying not to watch the game too closely to stop himself from just flying right in their midst and… and… like, mess people up or something.
Stiles sighed. Captain Nyssa was both helpful and cruel in putting Stiles as Seeker. It was killing him not to just grab that Quaffle and shoot it in the damn hoop. Like how hard was it to shoot a damn ball in a damn hoop? It was like Muggle basketball, for god’s sake, and with not just one, but three big-ass hoops.
Stiles yelped when Scott suddenly appeared before him and screeched to a halt. Scott laughed loudly. He flicked his glove at Stiles’ face, splashing rainwater at him.
“You are so flipping out, bro,” he said.
“Fuck you, bro.” Stiles shook his fist at him.
They both ducked as the Chasers flew over their heads, Nyssa and Braeden trying to catch up to Derek and Oliver who were passing the Quaffle between them. Nyssa flew to intercept the ball, but Derek did a U-turn to cut her off. Oliver laughed loudly and ducked from the Bludger Danny sent his way in retaliation.
Stiles and Scott watched as Oliver flew right at Werner ‘the Count’, who was swaying side-to-side on his broom, flicking his hair this way and that, all with a wide maniacal grin on his face. Oliver mimed a throw and the Count reacted, zipping to defend the ring, but Oliver was just feinting and launched the Quaffle at an undefended ring. The Count just laughed, shrill and mocking, and spun his broom. He half-threw himself off of it, twisting his body in mid-air to kick the Quaffle away.
“And Count Vertigo blocks the Quaffle!” Sin shouted excitedly. “You’re crazy, man, but well done!”
“Yes,” Stiles murmured to himself, pumping a fist. He chuckled as Vertigo hung from his broom, swaying to and fro like a wet limpet and laughing like a madman. He was fit though and easily swung himself back up his perch without strain. That man was always cackling and acting so loopy, like he was constantly high or something, but it was his gravity-defying stunts during a game that saved them more times than they could count.
The Quaffle was thrown into play and the game resumed. Stiles watched them avidly, pushing his wet hair off his face and biting his lip. They both watched Floyd beat a Bludger, sending it flying right at Sara. It clipped her on the arm but she regained her balance quickly. Roy sent it flying back at the man with a well-aimed hit, which Floyd avoided with a mocking laugh.
“You obviously want to play,” Scott suddenly said.
“I am playing though.” Stiles waved at his wet Seeker’s robes.
“I meant, play over there.” Scott nodded at the action going on in the field. He motioned his head and they both started flying around the perimeter again. “How’d you end up as the Seeker anyway?”
Stiles shrugged. “I wanted to be the one to end the game.”
Scott shook his head, sending his wet hair flying. “No, not that. I mean, you’re fast on a broom and have sharp eyes and yeah, I can imagine you being the Seeker actually. But what I meant to ask was how’d you end up here? Playing?” He wiped rainwater out of his eyes. “Bro, you don’t play Quidditch.”
Stiles licked rainwater off his lips. “Why does everyone keep saying that?”
Scott snorted. “Because it’s true.”
They were quiet as they directed their brooms around the pitch. Stiles was keeping his eyes open, brushing rain off his face, and keeping an ear out for Sin’s commentary about the game. The score was now 70 to 50 in favor of Gryffindor after Sara and Derek managed to score consecutive points.
“I have to admit though,” Scott suddenly said. “The only reason we had this drastic of a change in our line-up was because of you.”
Stiles tilted his head at him. “Me?”
Scott nodded. “Yup. We didn’t know what tricks you’ve come up with, so we had to do something.”
Stiles huffed in laughter. “You guys see me as such a threat.”
“Aren’t you?” Scott asked, smiling despite his words. He leaned forward and flicked rainwater at Stiles’ face again, making him sputter. “Stop holding back or you’ll lose.” With that said, Scott suddenly kicked his heels and sped off, moving inbound and into the throng of players.
Stiles watched him, wet gloves gripping his broom handle tightly. Since the game started, he’d been plagued with doubt and discomfort, conscious of the chance he’d end up hurting the other players, and more than willing to stay in the sidelines even though he really wanted to get into the thick of things. But now Stiles felt the strong surge of competitiveness in his bones, the same kind he felt during dueling.
Sin was shouting. “And Sara’s got the ball! But Floyd and Danny are definitely not making it easy for her.”
Stiles watched Danny hit a Bludger at Sara, but it was intercepted by Jackson. Floyd suddenly zipped into the scene, hitting the Bludger back. It clipped Sara’s broom and sent her flying, but she managed to pass the Quaffle to Oliver. Flanked by Derek, Roy, and Jackson, they flew off to the rings.
Braeden came descending from above, trying to disrupt Oliver and make him drop the Quaffle, but she missed. Oliver passed it to Derek just as Nyssa came from below this time and made him lose his balance. Derek passed it back to Oliver to avoid Floyd aiming the Bludger at him.
“And it is getting hot in here!” Sin shouted. “Seriously, the ball’s switching hands faster than the Galleons did earlier this morning for the betting pool!”
There was a scuffle from the stands and Professor Chris Argent’s voice was heard, stern and berating.
“Not that we condone betting!” Sin suddenly amended. “No, we don’t! We definitely do not!”
They were closing in on the hoops when Oliver tossed the ball to Derek. Derek threw the ball in the air, quickly rolled off his broom, and swung it by the handle. He hit the Quaffle dead on with the end of his broom and the Count wasn’t able to intercept the ball when it flew right into the goalpost.
“And Hale executed a flawless Finbourgh Flick!” Sin exploded from the commentator’s stand. “The Gryffindors are going wild as they pull ahead at 90 points to 70! Congratulations to Derek Hale!”
Stiles felt his breath come out in a rush at what he had seen, watched as Derek managed to swing right back on his broom, heaving and tried, but happy. The rain was cold and wet but Stiles felt warm, his heart was beating wildly in his chest. Derek was really, really good.
A horn blared as a time-out was called and Stiles flew towards his team. On the way, he passed Derek. Then, Stiles saw it, a green pin on Derek’s shirt, the same pin he wore when he watched Slytherin’s previous game against Ravenclaw to show his support to Stiles. Stiles stopped.
Derek also stopped just a few feet away, looking at him in confusion.
“Impressive,” Stiles said.
Derek grinned. “I always am.”
Stiles cleared his throat and nodded to the pin. “Green, eh?”
Derek noticed Stiles’ gaze and raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m supporting my significant other.”
“Oh?” Stiles’ eyes widened, surprised.
“Yup,” Derek said. He tossed his wet hair back, looking handsome, confident, and cocky all at the same time. “But he’s still going to lose.”
Stiles couldn’t help it. He burst into laughter and grinned back. “Oh, damn you, Hale.”
Derek winked and flew off. Stiles watched him approach the other Gryffindors, all of them looking to be in high spirits as they started talking strategy. He turned back to his own team.
Stiles could remember what he once said to Laurel, that having friends on the Gryffindor Quidditch team didn’t stop him from wanting his friends to play well, that he could be loyal to his House and his friends and Derek.
Stiles tilted his head up and letting the rain wash his face and soothe his troubled spirit.
Stiles looked down at Captain Nyssa’s concerned face.
Stiles had trouble playing in a team, that was true. That was why he agreed with Captain Nyssa to put him as Seeker where he couldn’t hurt people and couldn’t engage in the game, but…
“You ok, love?” she asked, reaching out to stroke his face. She suddenly paused and gave him a considering look. Her eyes turned sharp and serious at the expression on Stiles’ face.
“Game on?” she asked, lips curling into a smirk. She knew him so well.
Stiles grinned, baring his teeth. “Oh, it is so on.”
Felicity looked at the scoreboard, shivering a little from the rain and the damp and heavy fabric of the scarves around her neck. She kept them on though, still gripping tightly to each scarf. Gryffindor was leading, which was good for Oliver and Derek, but awful for Stiles. She tried to shake off the raindrops clinging to her glasses. Isaac and Boyd managed to procure umbrellas from nowhere and she was somewhat dry as Isaac held one over her head.
She watched the teams huddle up, looking for Stiles. Stiles had kept to the sidelines during the game, unassuming and quiet. It was so unlike him that people in the stands were actually growing paranoid.
“I bet he’s doing recon first,” Isaac said, watching the Slytherins gather for the time out. His blond curls were damp and matted against his skin. “He always has something up his sleeve.”
“I agree,” Boyd said. “So far the Slytherins haven’t pulled out a lot of tricks. Maybe Stiles has them all waiting for something.”
Felicity bit her thumbnail and watched Stiles, who seemed to be taking charge during this time-out. He was pointing around, speaking hurriedly, and everyone was listening to him avidly. There seemed to be a change in him and looked like he was planning something. Felicity sincerely hoped it wasn’t dangerous.
The time-out eventually ended and the Quaffle was once again thrown into play. Nyssa had the ball under her arm and she was hovering, waiting.
“And the ball goes to Slytherin,” Sin was saying, “In the hands of our lovely Captain Nyssa Raatko.”
Nyssa tossed her wet hair over her shoulder. She raised a palm in the air. Suddenly, her team flanked her. All of them, save for the Keeper.
“What the hell?” Isaac spoke for all of them as they saw Stiles join the line-up, hovering at Nyssa’s right.
Suddenly, the entire Slytherin team flew off. Nyssa was at the middle, Helena at the head, and Braeden and Stiles at both ends. Floyd and Danny flanked them, waving their beaters.
Sin was incredulous enough for the whole crowd. “Oh! Oh! What do we have here? A Seeker flying with their team? Is this even allowed?” Her voice grew a little fainter as she talked to someone. “Hey, is that against the rules? Where’s the handbook? Get the handbook! What do you mean the handbook’s wet? Then ask Coach Finstock!”
There was the murmur of discussion at the commentators’ stand.
Felicity watched as the teams flew on, Stiles in their midst. The Gryffindor team looked shocked, but they followed, trying to figure things out. Derek and Oliver tried to intercept the triangle, but they were obviously hesitant to engage Stiles.
Nyssa passed the Quaffle to Braeden, who managed to avoid Sara from swiping it from her. Braeden and Stiles suddenly switched positions, so now Stiles was buffering Sara’s advances.
“It is not against the rules!” Sin said as they finally clarified it. “A Seeker may fly with their team so long as they do not touch the Quaffle! I repeat, Stilinski’s free to fly so long as he does not touch the ball!”
Energized with the news, Roy reared back and hit the Bludger, aiming it right at Stiles. Stiles rolled his broom, managing to avoid it, and was defended by Floyd who beat the ball away.
“But yes, that means Slytherin’s Seeker has just signed up for Bludger City,” Sin said. “You’re in for a treat, Stilinski!”
Felicity pushed her wet hair back. “Oh, god. Stiles, oh god. Oh my god. What are you doing?”
“Stiles is crazy!” Kira squealed as they watched the game.
Barry was wiping rainwater from his eyes. “Seekers are usually in their own world during a game. They’re important to it, but they usually keep away from the thick of things. Until now.”
They watched the Slytherins fly, but suddenly Stiles veered off, cutting past Jackson. Jackson looked so surprised that they almost collided, but Stiles managed to avoid him in time. Floyd seized the Bludger Jackson was unable to hit from Stiles’ sudden flight and instead sent it sailing right at Derek, who had to descend to avoid it.
“I think Stilinski has found the Snitch!” Sin screamed. “Stilinski is flying for the Snitch! And McCall’s hot on his trail!”
Felicity gasped. “Wait! He was flying with the Chasers! How did he have the time to even look for the Snitch?”
Stiles’ sudden change in trajectory seemed to have distracted the Gryffindors and Braeden managed to shoot the ball in the hoop, moving Slytherin up to 90 versus Gryffindor’s 100.
Stiles suddenly flew in a different direction, arching his broom up as he returned to the Chasers. Scott had to bank hard to control his broom and he was left there, looking confused, head twisting and turning to look for the Snitch.
Murmurs erupted throughout the stands.
“What happened?” Barry asked, confused. “So Stiles didn’t find the Snitch?”
There was a whistle and everyone watched Coach Finstock flying into the pitch. He had an umbrella over one shoulder to keep the rain off, and was blowing his whistle again and again to urge the players to move fast and surround him.
“We have Coach Finstock calling for a pause in the game,” Sin said. “I think they’re discussing Stilinski’s flying escapade with the Chasers.”
They all watched as the Coach talked to the players, nodding his head and waving a fist at them. at the end, Nyssa and the Slytherins were grinning, while the Gryffindors looked stumped. Coach blew his whistle and turned to the commentator’s stand and started making motions with his hands as he flew over.
“He is awarding a penalty shot to… to Slytherin?” Sin sounded as confused as they all were. “Okay. I am officially lost. It also doesn’t help that the handbook’s wet as all hell.”
Coach Finstock reached Sin and there was the sound of whispering over the megaphone before Sin’s soft ‘Oh!’ of realization was heard.
“Got it, Coach,” Sin was heard saying. “We’ve got the official word here. Remember, kids, that it is against the rules to obstruct or get in the way of the opponent’s Seeker on a bid for the Snitch. They’re hitting Whittemore with a foul and awarding Slytherin a penalty shot.”
There were murmurs of mixed feelings going through the crowd.
Isaac looked at them. “I’ll bet you all ten Galleons Stiles didn’t really find the damn Snitch.”
Boyd snorted. “I’m not taking you up on that. We all know Stiles didn’t really find the Snitch.”
Kira gaped. “Man, that’s so sneaky.”
“It’s Stiles,” Felicity said, as if that explained everything. And it did.
Helena managed to pull off a point against Erica during the penalty shot, bringing the score at an even 100 points for both teams.
Felicity watched Stiles, who everyone was giving pats on the back. He was grinning, confident, and looking to be in his element. For all she couldn’t believe he’d think of such a move, she was also proud of him.
The game continued on even with the continuously pouring rain, the strong wind, and the players’ growing tension. The entire crowd was left gaping in disbelief whenever Coach Finstock kept on calling penalty shots every time Stiles’ veers off and one of the Gryffindors ‘obstructs’ his way.
“Am I getting this right?” Kira asked as Nyssa scored the Slytherin’s another penalty shot, bringing the score a clear 140-100 in favor of Slytherin. “The Gryffindors literally cannot block Stiles’ flight path. Like, at all. Like, even if they can’t be sure he saw the Snitch.”
Felicity nodded. “Yes, because Seekers are given a lot of leeway even with the rules. Seekers have one job and that’s to concentrate on the Snitch. They’re not expected to engage the others. Technically speaking, if someone does get in the Seeker’s way, the only possible reason for that was to obstruct the path to the Snitch. Even if they think that Stiles isn’t exactly diving for the Snitch, they can’t stop him because he’s virtually allowed to fly however he wants.”
“Dirty trick,” Boyd said. “But damn if it doesn’t make sense.”
“Sneaky, but you have to admit that’s also ridiculously smart of him,” Barry said, swiping his wet hair back. “I mean, there are no rules specific for Seekers engaging Chasers and avoiding Beaters. Stiles had to really think outside of the box for that.”
“It’s Stiles,” Felicity said, echoed by Isaac and Boyd.
Felicity sighed, feeling a little relieved. She couldn’t believe Stiles managed to find a way to work with a team. True, he was still in danger of hitting the other players but this time he managed to turn the tables. Instead of him having to work to avoid people, it’s now everybody else who had to work hard to avoid him.
Damn, that boy was too smart and sneaky for his own good.
Felicity felt proud.
Stiles’ plan was going off without a hitch. With every penalty shot that passed, the Gryffindors grew increasingly more agitated and warier of him, and that was making him and the team play better and faster. He knew the downside though, that he was taking a risk letting Scott search for the Snitch while Stiles spent time flying with his team, but given the circumstances, this was actually the best way to shove the formidable Gryffindors into a corner.
The Golden Snitch earned a team 150 points and ended the game, but it did not secure a win. With that scenario in mind, there were only two ways this could go: One, the Slytherins take advantage of Stiles as their blocker while they get a sizeable lead of more than 150 points. Once secure, Stiles could break off from them to get the Snitch, confident that the others would be able to maintain the above-150 lead. It didn’t even matter if Scott got the Snitch first or not. Or two, Scott might hold back from catching the Snitch until Gryffindor lessens Slytherins’ lead, but Stiles could just as easily snatch the Snitch for himself first and win the entire game.
In short, no matter what happened, so long as Stiles blocks their efforts, the Gryffindors would be cornered and forced to follow Stiles’ game plan.
“Dirty tactic,” Braeden commented.
Danny laughed. “Isn’t that what makes it more fun?”
Helena winked at Stiles. “Smart boy.”
“Thanks.” Stiles grinned as Floyd made to ruffle his wet hair.
Captain Nyssa was looking so proud of him that Stiles felt his face flush warmly despite the cold rain.
They played on. Their scoring streak was broken when Erica managed to intercept some penalty shots with a skilled double-eight loop, flying in front of the three goals at a high speed to block the incoming Quaffle. The other Gryffindors were also getting more used to Stiles’ presence, easily dodging him, directing more Bludgers his way, and getting smarter with their plays.
Oliver even managed to evade the Bludger Danny aimed at his back by doing a sloth grip roll, rolling off his broom and hanging upside-down. The ball ended up clipping Stiles’ tail, sending him crashing against Helena and Nyssa and awarding the Gryffindors a point. The Gryffindors weren’t able to get the penalty shot from that though as the Count literally stood on his broom, waving his arms and cackling like a madman, as he punched the Quaffle away from the goalposts.
Stiles wiped his wet face, glaring at the still-pouring and steadily-darkening skies. He had a feeling lightning was going to follow, as well as a strong crack of thunder.
“We’re doing well,” Captain Nyssa said as they huddled. “Eyes on the Snitch, Stiles, and everyone remember to keep out of his way. The score’s 220 to 130. We’re more than halfway to a good lead.”
They flew off, implementing a neat Woollongong Shimmy as they flew in a zigzag motion to confuse the opposing Chasers and Beaters. It was in mid-flight when Stiles noticed it for the first time since the game started, a hint of gold fluttering along the commentator’s stand. He immediately flew off after it, ignoring how Derek avoided him.
“And Stilinski makes another dive, which Hale avoids,” Sin was commenting. “I don’t know where Stilinski is headed this time but– oh my god! He’s gunning for the Snitch!”
Scott seemed to have noticed this too and Stiles noticed him fly, trying to catch up to Stiles, who was closing in on the Snitch and already had a large gap ahead of him. It seemed that after so many, Scott thought this one was a feint too.
Stiles gritted his teeth, flying faster and faster, arm reaching out. He was so close.
A Bludger suddenly came from above and Stiles was forced to do a roll to avoid it, jerking his broom handle upwards so he didn’t head straight for the ground. He huffed, blinking through the wet rain to see that the Bludger even caught Scott, who was close to the ground, breathing deeply and gripping tight to his broom. When Stiles looked around, the Snitch was gone again.
“Goddammit!” Stiles shouted, huffing tiredly. He was so close.
The game didn’t stop and Stiles had to keep out of the way as the Gryffindor Chasers flew in a triangle shape, cutting like a knife through the Slytherin’s defenses and executing a stellar Hawkshead Attacking Formation. The Count wasn’t able to defend that point and he was shouting curses as he hung from his broom like a monkey, almost bawling at being unable to stop the Quaffle. Captain Nyssa had to soothe him and help him get back up on his broom.
Slytherin retaliated with Captain Nyssa’s favorite, the Porskoff Ploy. She flew upward, Derek and Sara flying after her, and then threw the ball directly down at Helena who punched it right through the rings in perfect, pinpoint timing.
The score by now 260 to 130 in Slytherin’s favor. It was a good lead, despite not being the 150 points they were hoping for, and it didn’t help that the rain was getting stronger, but as much as Stiles’ plan would have them gaining more scores, it was also getting harder to actually look for the Snitch this time.
Stiles gritted his teeth and finally put on his goggles. At this rate, he had to hurry and get that damn thing.
“I’m gunning for the Snitch,” Stiles said during a time-out. “The rain’s coming down too strong and I can’t see as well. We can’t risk it falling in Scott’s hands.”
“I agree.” Captain Nyssa turned to the team, growling. “We’re not wasting time here. We keep the lead growing and leave the Snitch to the Seeker. Do you all get that?”
They all nodded. “Yes, Captain!”
“It seems Stilinski is keeping clear of the Chasers this time,” Sin was saying to the crowd. “I think we now have a race for the Snitch, people.”
Stiles was scouring the stands, looking out for the Snitch. There was already a rumble in the distance and Sin had to raise her voice to be heard. With the threat of heavier rains, thunder, and lightning, Stiles needed to find the Snitch and now.
There was more action going on in the pitch as Gryffindor and Slytherin kept fighting for points, but Stiles ignored all that, keeping his concentration on the task at hand.
Then he spotted it. Gold.
Stiles didn’t even think. He flew.
There was a shadow from somewhere to his left and Stiles instinctively knew it was Scott.
“Dammit!” Stiles flattened himself on his broom, urging himself to go faster, faster.
Stiles could vaguely register Sin shouting like mad. She was commenting on the teams fighting in the pitch, both Gryffindor and Slytherin trying to get a point in their favor if ever it was their Seeker that got the Snitch first, and the two Seekers flying fast and low from different directions, hands outstretched for the golden Snitch flitting a few feet away, low to the ground and almost invisible from the surge of pouring rain.
Stiles gritted his teeth. He was… so… close…
A bolt of lightning suddenly cut through the air and the thunder was loud in their ears, just like the sound of Stiles and Scott in a full-body collision. Pain erupted in Stiles’ right side and he shouted, his right hand still trying to reach for the Snitch and his left hand grappling for the broom handle that felt like it splintered beneath his fingers.
There was more pain, ringing in his ears, his body flying and hitting the ground, and then nothing.
The world went dark.
Felicity was there the moment Stiles woke up. She had been there for the past few hours, keeping vigil at his bedside. She was the only one in the Infirmary at that moment, save for the matron.
Stiles’ eyes flew open and he took a shuddering, obviously pain-filled breath.
“I’m here.” Felicity reached out, immediately holding Stiles’ left hand as he kept gasping for air. The matron appeared beside her, clutching a mug.
Stiles was breathing heavily, grip tight around Felicity’s hand. The matron and Felicity had changed his wet clothes for him with the flick of their wand, so Stiles was now in a soft sweater and pajama bottoms. The pillows and blankets were large and fluffy and Felicity made sure he would be as comfortable as possible. However, the fact that his entire right arm was bandaged and in searing pain probably undermined everything else.
Felicity was bent over Stiles, cooing softly into his ear, and trying to get him to calm down, while the matron checked over his bandages and did a few soothing spells to try and get the pain to subside. It took a few minutes but Stiles finally calmed down, his sweaty face pressed to Felicity’s cheek, his hot breaths and soft whimpers against her ear.
“Stiles, here. Drink up,” the matron said, offering a mug. “This will take away the pain.”
“No, no,” Stiles gasped, his entire body shaking a little. “I can deal with pain.”
The matron frowned. “Stiles.”
Felicity shook her head gently at the woman. “He has a high pain tolerance, Madame. It’s fine.”
“I’m fine,” Stiles said, sinking back onto the sheets. He took gulps of air. “I’m fine, Madame. Just… shocked. Just… Felicity…” He reached for her hand.
It took a while for Stiles to completely calm down, never once letting go of Felicity’s hand, and taking deep and slow breaths. Felicity had to reassure the matron that he’d be fine and softly whispered that it would be far better to leave Stiles alone with Felicity. The matron hesitantly nodded, leaving the mug on the bedside before walking off. Felicity didn’t bother handing the mug to Stiles. Stiles had a healthy respect for pain, was practically raised as a Muggle, and had experienced far worse injuries in his boyhood adventures. Besides, he liked pain.
Silence reigned, punctuated only by Stiles’ heavy breathing. When Stiles tugged her hand, she wordlessly helped him sit up, extra mindful of his arm. She watched him look himself up and down, cataloging his injuries.
Felicity spoke softly. “You have a dislocated shoulder, broken wrist, sprained elbow, three broken fingers, and various cuts and injuries from the broom and the collision to the ground. There are bruises on your torso, and also a sprained knee.” She stroked his knuckles with her thumb. “You collided with Scott at a really bad angle, strong enough that even your brooms splintered and you ended up slipping off yours. Scott couldn’t grab you. You bounced a few times on the pitch, and Floyd managed to break your fall by swooping down to catch you. Scott’s fine, just some cuts to his hands, a sprained wrist, and a concussion. You got off worse.”
Stiles didn’t speak.
“They did a Healing Spell on you even if I told them you wouldn’t react well to that,” she continued. “They had to break the bones again and splint it.”
Stiles’ face was unreadable, but not to Felicity. She noticed the jerk to his jaw. She reached over to hold his hand. Stiles looked away from her, looking around until his gaze landed on something at the end of his bed.
Felicity noticed his gaze on the pinwheel tied there, looking bright and cheery with its neon colors. She reached over and flicked it, letting it spin. Stiles wasn’t saying a word, so she started talking.
“You’ve been out of it for a day. Derek dropped by yesterday, left that there.” Felicity chose not to comment on how absolutely stricken Derek looked, wet and tired and clutching the pinwheel in his hand, telling Felicity that he ran straight to his room to get it so Stiles could see he had it and asked if he could leave it behind to comfort the injured player.
“In fact, everyone dropped by to see you,” she continued. “Captain Nyssa, Danny, and the team, Oliver, Scott, and the Gryffindors, Barry, Kira, a lot of the Professors.” She gave him a wry grin. “And no, Braeden didn’t stop by.”
That was enough to make the corner of Stiles’ lips quirk just a little. “Good.”
“Laurel did, though,” she said carefully. “Wished you a speedy recovery.”
Stiles didn’t comment on that. Instead, he lifted a foot to toe the pinwheel into spinning some more.
“Results?” he asked softly.
Felicity smiled, a mix of pride and sadness. “You wouldn’t let go of the Snitch.”
That had a little light shining in Stiles’ eyes. “I see. That’s good.”
They lapsed into silence. Stiles reached out for Felicity’s hand and she gave it, letting him twine their fingers. She watched him, his face going through a myriad of expressions, and could only imagine how her best friend must be feeling.
“I love winning,” Stiles suddenly said.
Felicity went with it. “I know you do. And you did.”
Stiles snorted. “I much prefer winning everything. The House Cup and the…” He looked at his right arm and Felicity watched him slowly and obviously painfully curl his right hand into a fist. “ And the Defense Duels, too. I guess I’ll have to bow out this year then. Goodbye, Elite.”
Felicity didn’t really have anything to say to that, but she could try. “I have something that’ll make you feel better.”
Stiles barked out a laugh that sounded almost mean. “And what do you think could possibly make me feel better after this? Because if that’s the damn House Cup, I’ll probably just throw something at it… or throw it.”
Felicity ignored the snippiness. “The team was insistent but I know you wouldn’t want to see the Cup just yet. I had Danny take it away.” She then reached under the bed where she stored the roll she kept for him. She handed it to him.
Stiles took it, eyes widening at the little ‘pop’. He unrolled the sheet. “…Bubble wrap?”
“I’ve had it for a while,” Felicity said, shrugging. There wasn’t anything like bubble wrap in the wizarding world. “I’ve been experimenting with it. It’s like a,” she pursed her lips in thought, “like a forever popping bubble wrap.”
Stiles was quiet for a few moments, popping the wrap here and there and watching when the plastic mended itself and filled up. While he played with it, Felicity grabbed the mug by his bedside. She drained the pain-relieving drought with a flick of her wand and conjured up some hot chocolate instead. She handed it to Stiles, who dropped the wrap for a moment. He took the mug with his left hand and Felicity kept a hand out just in case as she watched him drink a tad clumsily.
Once he was done, Felicity smiled and kissed his cheek. She felt Stiles’ arms snake around her waist and let him hug her tight. She felt something wet against her neck, but ignored it.
“Thanks, sunshine,” Stiles whispered.
Felicity kissed his temple. “You’re welcome, Stiles. Always.”
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
“I know that. I just… I just want to cheer him up.” She shrugged. She bit the thumbnail of her free hand. “Do you think if I keep winning matches, Stiles will be happy? I mean, I’m not the best Dueler but…”
Oliver kissed her cheek. “Felicity, I think he’ll be happy no matter the result, as long as you do your best and don’t get hurt, especially not as much as he did. And I would also rather you don’t get hurt while dueling, even if it’s for Stiles.”
Felicity sighed. “I know all that. I just… It’ll be nice, I guess. I think he’ll like it. If I win.”
Super late update. Ha! I suck. But here it finally is. I'm usually much better at updating fics. This one was sadly a victim of Real Life events and computers crashing. Blegh.
Enjoy the final chapter everyone. I am so thankful for your support.
It was three days after the Quidditch match when Stiles finally exited the infirmary. Actually, he was discharged the night before by the matron, just in time for him to join the celebratory dinner at the Great Hall to honor Slytherins' victory, but Stiles declined and opted to stay at the infirmary instead, completely not in the mood to meet anybody just yet.
Felicity decided to stay with him. Of course, she would. She even asked, practically begged, the matron to turn down any other visitors with the excuse of Stiles being too tired to meet anybody or join the celebration. She then did everything she could to distract Stiles, which was difficult, – and seriously, this was the one moment she hated how Hogwarts didn't have WiFi, gaming consoles or television – but she managed.
But classes were still ongoing and the anticipation over the Defense Duels was growing. Stiles had to start facing people now because while he might be unable to duel, he was still expected to show his support as the defending Elite of his year.
Felicity huffed a bit tiredly as she jogged up the steps of the West Tower to the Owlery. She was holding a slip of parchment in one hand and owl treats in the other. She had already informed Stiles’ dad about what happened. John was pretty calm about it, though he did send a creative and threatening letter addressed to Stiles on just how much trouble he was in, but she guessed that John was already somewhat used to his son’s foolhardiness and the injuries that resulted from it.
The sounds of flapping wings and screeching owls grew louder as she approached the top of the stairs. She was contemplating if she had enough owl treats for Stiles’ mom’s owl, Nelek, and also for Derek’s and Oliver’s owl, Cybele and Semyon. Semyon, in particular, had a hearty appetite and liked to hoard treats, that silly owl.
Felicity reached the landing and wrapped the Slytherin scarf tighter around her neck. She tucked the ends into her robes to keep them from getting dirty from feathers or owl droppings. She worried for Oliver’s sunflower pinned to her hair, but she guessed she would just have to watch her head.
She walked inside the Owlery, whistling a little to get Nelek’s attention, when she realized there were already two people inside.
“Felicity.” Oliver looked surprised for a moment before his face melted into a fond, little smile that had Felicity flushing pink and smiling back shyly.
Derek’ initial surprise turned into a look of worry and he looked like he was just barely stopping himself from lunging at her and probably asking about Stiles.
“Hi.” Felicity waved a hand. It happened to be the one holding the owl treats and Semyon immediately perked up from his perch on Oliver’s arm. He squawked and stretched up on his legs, ready to fly to her.
“Nuh-uh! No way!” Oliver placed a big hand on his back to stop him. “I just fed you! How the hell are you going to fly when you start getting a huge gut, you silly bird?”
Semyon screeched, looking offended, and nipped Oliver’s hand. Oliver just laughed and kissed Semyon’s head in apology.
Nelek came soaring from above, landing on Stiles’ scarf around Felicity’s neck. She let the owl nuzzle into the fabric. She had told Nelek about what happened to Stiles and the bird was beside herself with worry at not getting to see her young charge.
Felicity kissed the bird on the head and gave her a few treats before finally turning to Derek.
“Hey, Derek,” she said, walking towards him with a comforting smile. Oliver wrapped an arm around her shoulders and leaned down to kiss her cheek. She wrapped an arm around his waist, giving him a squeeze.
“How is he?” Derek asked softly. Cybele, Derek’s black owl, was circling the air above his head. She hooted softly, probably sensing her owner’s mood.
Stiles had been hiding away since getting discharged. Nobody knew about the state of his injuries yet and all their friends knew better than to pester Stiles when he was injured, especially as rumors have already spread throughout the castle that his chances of participating in the Duels were slim to none.
“He’s fine. It’s Stiles, after all,” Felicity said. “He’s a lot sturdier and definitely more resilient than most of us.”
That had Derek’s lips curling a little in a small smile, before it turned down into a frown. “Will he be able to duel?”
Felicity briefly thought of going with, ‘You should ask Stiles yourself’, but with how Derek had willingly exiled himself from Stiles’ side despite how obviously worried he was, she decided to cut him some slack.
“He’s actually talking to Professor Lyla right now,” she said. “And he’s… well, he’s formally withdrawing.”
Derek looked stricken at the news and Cybele hooted, landing on his shoulder. She stretched one wing around the back of Derek’s head and nuzzled into his cheek.
“…really?” he asked softly, disbelievingly.
Felicity nodded. She felt Oliver squeeze her shoulder and hug her harder and knew he felt just as distressed as Derek.
“You should go to him.”
Derek looked surprised, like that wasn’t what he expected her to say, but it made sense.
“Go on. I know he’ll want to see you,” she urged. She gave him a small smile. “Even if he won’t act like it, he’ll be glad to see you.”
Derek nodded, running a hand through his hair and then patting Cybele on the wing. “That’s… ok, then… I’ll go find him.”
Oliver nodded. “Go on, Der. I’ll see you later.”
Derek made to run off, but Felicity held up a hand.
“Wait. Wait.” She slid Stiles’ scarf off her neck. She tossed it over Derek’s head and wrapped it around his neck. “There. Go.”
Derek smiled, looking so thankful, and exited the Owlery.
Felicity smiled. She turned to Oliver before pulling out a familiar Gryffindor scarf from her messenger bag. Oliver looked pleased, fond, and bashful all at once before he wrapped his arms around her waist, his front to her back. Nelek, Semyon, and Cybele lined up on the stands and the two were quiet as they offered treats to Nelek and Cybele and kept most of it away from Semyon.
“So he’s really not going to take part?” Oliver asked gently once all the birds were fed, petted, and groomed.
“Nope. His arm won’t recover in time.” Felicity sighed. Nelek hooted softly and she kissed the bird’s head, speaking to her softly, “He’ll be fine, love, but he’ll be sad for a while, that’s all.” She tied the parchment to her leg. “Give John our love.”
Nelek didn’t fly yet. Instead, she hopped in place before turning her head this way and that.
“She wants to stay with you for a while,” Oliver said, kissing the spot just below her ear. The other owls nodded their heads. “They all do.”
Felicity stroked their wings, giggling a little when Semyon wriggled his body and made her rub his rounded gut.
“Stiles won one battle, but lost the other,” Oliver commented. “He can’t win them all.”
Felicity snorted. “He knows that. Doesn’t mean he likes it. We all know Stiles likes to think the mere idea of losing is beneath him.”
Oliver smirked at that, before looking worried. “But he’ll recover from it, right? I mean, I don’t know Stiles as well as you do, or even Derek or Nyssa, but I know that he’ll be devastated at not getting to compete.”
“He’ll be okay,” Felicity said. “I mean, he’s expected to show his support since he is the reigning Elite of his year which is definitely going to be hard for him, but Stiles isn’t going to let people think he’s weak or easily affected by anything.”
Oliver scoffed. “He’s liable to start hexing people even with a shaky hand if he gets upset at them. How is it that he’s scarier when injured than when he has both hands in working order?”
Felicity giggled, feeling her spirits lift at the lighthearted tone to their conversation. She tugged at his hand and smiled when Oliver tangled their fingers together without hesitation.
“I wish there was something I could do though,” she said softly.
“You’ve done more than enough, Felicity,” Oliver was quick to say.
“I know that. I just… I just want to cheer him up.” She shrugged. She bit the thumbnail of her free hand. “Do you think if I keep winning matches, Stiles will be happy? I mean, I’m not the best Dueler but…”
Oliver kissed her cheek. “Felicity, I think he’ll be happy no matter the result, as long as you do your best and don’t get hurt, especially not as much as he did. And I would also rather you don’t get hurt while dueling, even if it’s for Stiles.”
Felicity sighed. “I know all that. I just… It’ll be nice, I guess. I think he’ll like it. If I win.”
“I know,” Oliver said softly.
Felicity leaned against him, stroking the wings of the cute little owls lined up in front of her, lost in thought.
“I would like to respectfully withdraw from the Defense Duels.”
Stiles couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth, and it looked like Professor Lyla couldn’t believe it either.
Professor Lyla motioned for him to come forward and Stiles did so. He slowly pulled up the sleeves of his robe and the professor gently took hold of his arm. Stiles’ entire right arm was splinted and bandaged and her fingers traveled lightly from Stiles’ shoulder to elbow to wrist.
“What did they say at the infirmary?” she asked, gently turning his wrist.
“It was a bad break and it’s taking longer than usual to heal, but it’s okay,” Stiles said, shrugging. “The first Healing Spell they tried didn’t work on me because I’ve had a broken elbow and wrist before from when I was a kid. I have metal in my wrist and my elbow has always been a bit angled so the spell didn’t help the bones set right. They had to break the bones again, splint it, and gave me a Healing Potion instead.”
“That must be painful.” Professor Lyla winced as she let go of his arm.
Stiles pulled down his sleeve and slowly circled his wrist and shoulder. He had a sling around his neck to support his arm, but he used it sporadically, preferring to exercise as often as possible.
“It’s just the arm that’s the problem, professor. All the other bruises and cuts have healed and so did the sprain in my knee thanks to spells and a few healing droughts. My shoulder is fine but it’s still sore, and it doesn’t help that I move around a lot. I’m used to injuries and I’ve had far worse in the past. Also I’ve always preferred normal healing methods than relying on magic all the time anyway.”
Professor Lyla nodded. She cleared her throat. “How is your wand hand then?”
Stiles hesitated, before pulling out his wand with his left hand, moving clumsy and slow. He moved it to his wand hand, his right hand, and curled his fingers, ignoring the jab of pain. He lifted his arm. The tremors in his right hand were evident. He hated it.
Professor Lyla made a soft sound of disappointment and Stiles had to fight from wincing. The professor saw it though. She made to speak, but a knock on the door interrupted her.
“Excuse me,” she said, smiling at him kindly before standing up to get the door.
Stiles remained standing, rocking a little on his feet. He could see Ualtar, the Defense Duels doll, placed on a stand on a corner table. The duelers’ cards were arranged neatly beside it. Stiles was contemplating looking for the silver card that bore his name when someone called to him.
“Yes, professor?” Stiles turned but stiffened as he recognized their guest. “Oh, um… G-good morning, Miss Waller.”
Professor Lyla was closing the door behind Amanda Waller, Head of the Auror Office herself. She was in surprisingly Muggle-inspired business suit and skirt, but still looked very intimidating.
“Good morning, Mr. Stilinski,” she said, voice soft but stern.
“Obviously no introductions are needed,” Professor Lyla said, waving a hand. “Amanda was actually on her way back to her office. This is her last day here at Hogwarts.”
Stiles felt a bit faint at the implication that Ms. Waller knew his name, but he tried to be as composed as possible. This was not only his Dad’s boss, but also his future boss, hopefully.
“Oh, um, that’s quite a shame, Miss,” he said. “We would have loved to have had you longer.”
“Thank you,” Amanda said, nodding. “But I have enjoyed my short time here. Let me offer my congratulations on your win during the Quidditch Finals.”
Stiles felt the fingers of his right hand twitch. By the quirk of Miss Waller’s eyebrow, he knew she saw it.
Amanda continued. “And I have to admit that I was impressed with how you presented the ruling that prevented the other team from blocking you.”
“It wasn’t,” Stiles said. “I mean, it wasn’t that impressive. I didn’t really do much. It was all in the rules.”
“Or rather it was not in the rules,” she said, stressing the words. “There was no rule specifically designed for Seekers playing that kind of position, flying with their teams as buffer, bait, and distraction. For you to have picked up on that and used it in your favor was tricky, but you made it work.”
Stiles felt his face flush with warmth.
Amanda seemed amused by him, which made him flush harder. “I’m very well-acquainted with your father. During his time as an Auror, John Stilinski had done superb work and I still consider it a loss when he retired. I’ve heard him sing praises of your dueling skills.”
Stiles groaned quietly, rubbing his face in embarrassment.
“…I see they are very much warranted.”
“Oh.” Stiles’ head jot up. “Uh, um, thank you.”
“I heard that you are unable to continue dueling.” Amanda motioned to his arm.
“Yeah, um.” Stiles curled his left hand around his right wrist. “I really wanted to compete more, show my skills if I could.”
Professor Lyla laughed. “Honestly, Stiles, with your performance at the Duels and the ingenuity you’ve shown during the Quidditch match, you’ve already shown more than enough skill.”
Amanda nodded in agreement. “I hope you continue to do well, Mr. Stilinski. I’ll be watching you.” With that said, she turned and walked off. After a few more words with Professor Lyla, she exited the room.
The professor turned back to Stiles. “A glowing recommendation from Amanda Waller herself, eh?”
Stiles let out a rush of breath. “Yeah. Wow. That was… that was kinda awesome, prof.”
Professor Lyla chuckled, stepping towards him to pat his left shoulder. “Well, you heard her. She’s got her eyes on you. I guess that speaks a lot on your potential to be an Auror.”
Stiles could only nod wordlessly, still reeling at what has happened.
Professor Lyla approached Ualtar. With a wave of her wand, the puppet came to life, hands suddenly shuffling the cards in its hand. It held up a silver card. The professor took it and walked back to Stiles.
“I know you were looking forward to competing at the Duels again this year,” she said softly, holding the silver card out to him.
“I was, but it is what it is.” Stiles made a face. “Besides, I figured I still have a few years to compete anyway, you know?” He took the card, flipping it around. On one side was the Slytherin crest and on the other was his name, signature and year level. Next year, he’ll definitely reclaim the title and never let go until he graduated.
“Feel free to approach me if you need anything else, Stiles.” The professor smiled at him kindly.
“Thank you.” Stiles nodded politely and headed for the door. He grabbed his messenger bag from the table, jolting the little pinwheel tucked into it. As he walked out the door, his fingers plucked the toy lightly, making it spin.
Stiles’ thoughts turned to Derek, as it had a lot of times in the past few days. He hadn’t seen him yet and he wasn’t sure how Derek would react once they saw each other.
It was if his thoughts summoned the man himself.
The moment Stiles opened the door, he saw Derek leaning against the wall opposite him with a very familiar green and silver scarf around his neck. The moment he stepped out, Derek straightened, hazel eyes immediately scanning Stiles from head to foot. While Stiles usually hated it when people sized him up, he didn’t mind it on Derek, who looked concerned and thirsty for reassurance.
Derek’s gaze zeroed in on the pinwheel in Stiles’ hands and sent him a small smile.
Stiles felt a little embarrassed for some odd reason, but he smiled back.
“I have a feeling you’ll hit me if I ask you if you’re okay but…” Derek trailed off. He looked down, shuffling his feet awkwardly.
Stiles shrugged. “Well, my ability to duel was sacrificed for the greater good, but other than that I’m peachy keen.”
Derek made a face at that, making Stiles laugh in surprise. He smiled at Derek, who smiled back.
“Take a walk with me?” Stiles asked. “Please?”
Derek was already nodding. “Of course.”
Stiles slipped his hand into Derek’s as they walked out. He felt Derek squeeze his hand and he did the same.
Felicity sighed, spinning her wand in her hand. She was decked out in her usual Dueler’s outfit, the long sleeved black shirt under her yellow shirt, jeans and sneakers. She had Stiles’ gloves on her lap, stroking the worn but comforting fabric with her free hand to try and calm her.
Another day, another round of the Defense Duels.
They were still whittling down the number of duelers before they commence next week’s semi-finals and then the finals the week after that. Since the Quidditch season was over, everyone was now concentrating on the duels with much anticipation and, in Felicity’s case, trepidation.
And while it wasn’t easy for Felicity, she could only wonder how Stiles was faring.
She resisted from looking at her best friend, who was seated across the row. They couldn’t sit together because they were from different Houses, so they picked the closest seats they could just across one another. Felicity was still competing, but Stiles was not, and she could practically feel the irritation and frustration pouring off of him in waves as he watched the duel.
It was between a Gryffindor and Hufflepuff seventh year, who everybody knew was a couple. They weren’t holding back though and Felicity winced when she saw Diana throw a ball of flames at Trix.
Stiles was muttering something under his breath. No doubt analyzing the match. Then he suddenly sighed.
“All this shouting is annoying,” he grumbled. “People should learn nonverbal spellcasting, just saying. I mean, where they hell would they be if they couldn’t speak?”
Felicity ignored his mutterings.
It wasn’t long before Trix was declared the winner, though it was more Ualtar’s choice than because she knocked her opponent down. They both fought valiantly and remained standing at the end, so Ualtar had to make a choice.
“Huh. I’d have thought Diana would win,” Felicity said, watching the couple exit the field.
“Probably because she fought more aggressively,” Stiles said from across the aisle. “Trix actually had a better balance with her offense and defense, and she got in more hits than Diana did.”
Felicity nodded. She knew better than to doubt Stiles. She turned to him, fought from grimacing when she saw the white-knuckled grip his left hand had on his knee. His right hand was still bandaged and Felicity pretended that she didn’t see it shaking. Stiles kept a serene expression on his face though, politely amused and engaged in the proceedings. She could only imagine how he was feeling at seeing other people duel when he couldn’t.
The duelers walked off and everyone waited with bated breath as Ualtar shuffled the cards and Professor Lyla announced the new pair that will be competing.
“Fifth year Hufflepuff Felicity Smoak...”
Felicity sighed. “That’s my name.” She tugged her gloves on quickly and stood up. She turned to Stiles, sending him a smile that she felt was more of a grimace.
Stiles was smiling at her, encouraging and genuine. She took strength from that.
Felicity jogged down to the field, and in her head she ran through some of Stiles’ advice.
The Shield Charm is important. Do not stay stationary and find a rhythm. Defense and offense are both important. Observe your opponent and read their body language.
Five minutes later, Felicity could hardly remember any of that, let alone execute them.
Her opponent was Luke Fisher, a Slytherin who ironically enough hated Stiles. Felicity felt a bit of pressure to beat him in Stiles’ honor.
Luke ducked the blasting curse and fired a Stunner her way, and a standoff was in play.
Felicity yelped when she almost got hit by a Trip Jinx, and she actually vaguely heard Stiles in her head shouting ‘That’s the most childish spell ever!’ What an idiot! Or maybe he was actually shouting it from the stands. She wasn’t sure. She wouldn’t be surprised.
Luke continued his barrage of spells and Felicity could feel her Shield Charm shuddering under the assault. Her opponent had impressive stamina and she would surely lose if she didn’t think of something.
She had to think. She had to stop him. She had to…
She winced. Stiles was going to get such a big head after this. She ducked one of Luke’s spells and then swung her wand.
Immediately, Luke’s hand flew to his neck, clutching his throat. His tongue was glued to his roof of his mouth right about now and, as always, Stiles was right. The barrage of spells stopped because Luke didn’t know to cast nonverbal spells.
... Well... That certainly did the job.
Thin cords flew from the end of Felicity’s wand, binding Luke and ending the game just as the bell rang. Technically Felicity knew she had already won, but it still surprised when she saw Ualtar waving her card.
She immediately whipped around, vaguely registering Oliver and Derek applauding from the Gryffindors’ section. She found Stiles’ and he was standing up, whooping loudly and looking the happiest he’d been since the Quidditch incident.
Felicity beamed. Winning two duels and making Stiles happy? Not half bad.
The day after Felicity’s match, Stiles was still snickering to himself at Luke’s frankly embarrassing defeat – because seriously, getting incapacitated by a Langlock spell was just amateurish and weak – but he stayed his tongue for now, happier at seeing how elated Felicity was at winning two matches.
He was so happy for her and proud of her, and had been indulging her whims all day, which is why he now willingly let himself be dragged along like a rag doll.
“Sunshine, need I remind you that I was recently injured?” Stiles groaned, keeping his right arm curled against his front as they practically ran down the hall.
“Oh, go suck a cactus you drama queen,” was Felicity’s eloquent reply. Stiles couldn’t blame her. It wasn’t like his arm was hurting or anything. They both knew he had a high pain tolerance anyway.
They reached the Chamber of Reception where a few people were gathered and Stiles almost stumbled when Felicity let go of him and made a beeline straight for Barry.
“Felicity! Didn’t think you’d make it,” Barry said, lighting up the moment he saw her.
“Sorry! Someone was being a slowpoke.” She looked back at Stiles, who rolled his eyes at her.
Stiles bounced off to pay his respects to Professor Noshiko and Kira, promising to email them – because thank god the Yukimuras were Muggle-inclined and appreciated the joys of the World Wide Web – as often as he could. He almost fainted in joy when the professor promised to send some interesting reading material and research papers to him.
By the time he was done, Stiles turned to see Barry and Felicity hugging.
“Lover boy isn’t going to like that,” Stiles muttered, thinking of Oliver.
Kira nudged him with a giggle. “Barry’s just sweet. Besides, he has a lady friend back home.”
Kira frowned. “Sadly, no.”
They all said a few more goodbyes and Stiles shook Barry’s hand.
“It was awesome meeting you, Stiles,” Barry said, sounding genuine. He then swooped in for one more hug with Felicity at the last second. “And it was really great meeting you, Felicity. And I know you and Oliver are together but… ” He pressed close and placed a kiss on her cheek. “I just had to. See ya.”
Stiles snorted as Felicity blushed red, and waved at a grinning Barry and a giggling Kira as they walked out the door.
“Oliver is not going to like that,” Stiles couldn’t help commenting.
Felicity scoffed. “It was just a friendly kiss.”
Stiles snickered. “Oliver still won’t like it.”
“Oliver definitely doesn’t like it.”
They both jumped, whirling around to see Oliver and Derek headed their way. Stiles grinned as Derek headed straight for him, snaking an arm around his shoulders, careful of his injured one. Stiles leaned against him instantly.
“No way,” Felicity said, wagging a finger at Oliver. “Jealous caveman routines are a no-no.”
Oliver was smiling though, so they all knew he was just teasing.
Stiles snorted. “No-no for her, but not for me, boo.” He turned to Derek. “Take a hint.”
“Sorry, I was ignoring you,” Derek said, rolling his eyes.
Felicity and Oliver were talking, looking so happy and lovey-dovey and Stiles realized this was the perfect time to make his escape. Oliver could be the one to dote on Felicity this time. He tugged at Derek’s arm.
Derek wordlessly followed after Stiles as he jogged off down the hall. Stiles laced their fingers together, swinging their arms a little as they walked down the hall.
“How’s your arm?” Derek asked.
Stiles shrugged. “The pain doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I hardly feel it. Pain tolerance and all that. It’s really the itchiness that irritates me.”
Derek nodded. “That’s good. That means it’s healing.”
Stiles made a face at that and Derek just chuckled.
They passed the trophy display cases and Stiles’ steps faltered a little as he looked at some of this previous years’ House Cups. Despite the entire team’s insistence that he keep it for himself, Stiles had Nyssa display the House Cup at the Slytherin common room. He still had mixed feelings about it and he didn’t really fancy seeing it all the time. At least he didn't have to see it much when mixed with all the other Slytherin trophies and medals.
“I heard there were talks of an MVP coming your way,” Derek said softly.
“Just gossip.” Stiles shrugged. “According to the rules, a Quidditch player has to have played all season to be eligible, something you well know being a Captain and a former MVP.” He side-eyed the older boy.
Derek met his gaze. “I just meant that you did really well and everyone knows it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” He paused. “…or angry about.”
Stiles didn’t reply to that. He just tugged Derek’s arm and they continued their little walk, ending up at the courtyard.
“You still haven’t told me, you know,” Derek said after a few moments of silence.
“Told you what?” Stiles asked, sitting down at one of the benches under a great big tree and dragging Derek down beside him.
“Why you played Quidditch. You don’t play, Stiles. Ever.” Derek’s voice softened. “Why’d you do it? Played the game when you didn’t want to or have to?”
Stiles sighed. He was afraid of this. He didn’t really feel like lying, but he didn’t feel like explaining it all either.
“Some people made some unsavory comments and I wanted to prove them wrong, that’s all.”
Derek made a face at him. “Since when did you care about what other people say. Or scratch that, since when did you care about what people unimportant to you say about you?”
Stiles rubbed the back of his neck. Derek had a point there.
“They talked about you and me so…” He let out a breath. “I was emotionally compromised, I guess. And another person told me that people like me don’t do well when I’m… falling off the rails. Or rather, falling off a broom in this case.”
The corner of Derek’s lips twitched, and Stiles felt him squeeze his hand.
Stiles sighed. He let Braeden and Laurel get under his skin when talking about Derek, and now look what happened.
“Guess she was right,” he mumbled.
Derek tilted his head. “Did you get it out of your system now? Ready to get back to The Plan?”
Stiles was only partly surprised that Derek knew about The Plan.
Maybe Derek did understand him.
“Yeah. I’m not good being all emotional.” Stiles made a face. “There is a reason I’m the brains and Felicity’s the heart… and also the brains, really. She handles emotional stuff better.”
“You’re not bad at emotions. You’re just intense.” Derek wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “And for the record, I’d rather you stay safe and plan like a mastermind than listen to what other people say.”
Stiles nodded. “Noted.”
Derek looked at him. “For all you’re frustrated, I know you had fun being Seeker though. I’m happy for you.” He smiled, rubbing his arm.
Stiles just kissed his cheek in reply. Yeah, Derek really did understand him.
Felicity was pretty sure it was unlikely she’d win three matches in a row. It wasn’t that she was being a downer. She was being a realist. Plus, she did the math.
By now, they were narrowing the pool of Duelists into the best of the best and while she wasn’t as informed about these Duelers as Stiles was, she still knew them and had observed them compete last year. The ones that were gathered now were those who knew complicated, deadlier and stronger combinations of spells.
She held no illusions that she was not at the same level as these people.
That didn’t mean she was going to go down without a fight.
Felicity winced as she shuddered against the force of her opponent’s spells. She was up against Gryffindor Dueler Ava Adams, who she knew was a beast with a wand.
There was a red light from Ava’s wand and even through the buzzing adrenaline, Felicity heard the crowd gasp when a boulder from the edge of the field shot up into the air and went free-falling straight for her head. Before Felicity could even try and move, Ava kept her pinned in place by firing a flurry of spells at her.
She glanced up.
She had to… She was…
Felicity’s Shield shattered and with no choice left, she fired a spell. “Confringo!”
She didn’t know if Ava managed to avoid that blasting curse, but Felicity was more worried at the boulder almost upon her.
She pointed her wand up. “Arresto Momentum!”
Just in time, its descent slowed. Before she could even think, she sent the boulder flying right at Ava.
A blue light hit the boulder and it exploded, sending pieces flying Ava’s way. Felicity immediately pulled up a Shield charm, unsure if that counter attack was enough to incapacitate her opponent.
“Oh god. Oh god.” She muttered. She could feel her knees and elbows shaking and sweat across her brow. She wasn’t going to last much longer. Ava had a godly amount of stamina.
Felicity yelped, diving on instinct to avoid the spell instead of facing it. She would have gotten thrown backward considering how weak she already was. She could only fire back stunning spells to retaliate.
There were dust and rocks all around and it was hard for Felicity to see. She kept her Shield in place and made to move, hopeful that she could confront Ava straight on and surprise her.
Before she could even take a step, she found Ava standing right in front of her.
“Everte Statum,” Ava whispered.
Felicity didn’t even have time to gasp when a burst of orange light shattered her Shield and then hit her dead on the chest. She found herself flying backwards and then crumpling to the ground from the short burst of intense pain that gripped her.
Felicity was on her back, still fidgeting a little from the pain, and it took no effort at all for Ava to disarm her, sending her wand flying.
She curled into her side, twitching from the pain.
Guess that’s that then.
There was the sound of the timer and Felicity’s eyes slid shut.
“...something about this school year and the two of you taking turns in the infirmary, I swear.”
That was the first thing Felicity heard as she slowly climbed her way toward consciousness and it warmed something in her to hear Oliver’s voice.
As expected, Stiles was also present, and he was being snippy and sarcastic, something that usually happened when he was nervous.
“That’s how we are, Oliver. We’re troublemakers. Ha!”
“Don’t we all know it,” Derek drawled.
“But seriously, what are you even doing, Stilinski?”
Huh. That sounded like Roy.
“Studying, what does it look like?” Stiles snapped. “And seriously, Hogwarts needs to retire the scrolls and quills and invest in Muggle school items.” There was a clicking sound, Stiles’ mechanical pencil probably.
“Why the hell are you even studying now? And here?” Isaac piped up. “And you two?”
Felicity heard laughter before Scott replied.
“They're studying. Derek’s being a supportive boyfriend, and Lydia doesn’t want to get beaten.”
There was a ‘thwack’ and then the sound of Scott’s yelp of pain.
“You won’t believe Stiles’ marks,” Allison explained. “His marks are ridiculously good. Even better than before.”
Stiles’ sigh of exasperation was loud. “Stiles was injured, which meant no duel. No duel, meant Stiles was bored. If Stiles was bored, he studies.”
“Don't talk about yourself in the third person, Stiles,” Derek said, sighing.
There was a scoff, and then Sin spoke, “Oh, god. That is the scariest and most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Who studies when they're bored? You have a boyfriend, Stilinski.”
Felicity slowly opened her eyes, unable to keep silent. The first thing she saw was someone’s backside.
“Whose butt is on my face?”
She saw the person jump – oh, it was Sin – and then heard the scrape of chairs before Sin stepped back and Stiles’ and Oliver’s faces appeared, hovering over her.
“Hi.” Felicity smiled.
“Hey, sunshine,” Stiles said softly.
Oliver kissed her temple. “How are you feeling?”
Felicity checked. “A little sore, but good.”
There were relieved sighs all around and Stiles looked less tense upon hearing that.
Felicity then turned to the rest of the room. Practically everyone was here. “Hey guys. And why was your butt on my face, Sin?”
Sin waved her hands. “Hey, hey, I was just passing by to put those on the table.”
Felicity looked at the table and smiled at the sunflowers on the vase and the boxes of candy. “This looks great. Thank you.”
“Glad to see you’re okay,” Isaac said, patting her hand. “All the other Hufflepuffs are pretty worried about you.”
“But you did really great at the Duels, Felicity,” Allison said, smiling reassuringly.
“Thanks, but we all know I barely scraped by,” Felicity said, smiling but feeling sadness churning in her gut. She didn’t have to ask to know that she lost.
“You should have seen Ava though,” Roy said. “Your trick with the exploding boulder got her pretty banged up.”
“She was bleeding,” Jackson said, making a face. “She was sent here to the infirmary too. She just left actually.”
Derek nodded. “Ava didn’t really expect that. We all saw it.”
Felicity turned to Stiles, who smiled. “You did so well.”
She sighed in relief. That sounded so good to hear coming from Stiles. That was all that mattered.
Oliver nodded, holding her hand. “You were great, and the matron said you can take a rest and go back to your rooms either later tonight or tomorrow morning if you want.”
“I’ll stay here for a bit,” Felicity said. “I think I’ll be okay enough to catch you guys later at dinner, okay?”
Everyone took that as a cue and started gathering their stuff.
“Thanks for coming to see me,” Felicity said.
“We’ll leave you two alone for now,” Oliver said, nodding to Stiles.
Felicity smiled, waving a hand to the others as they exited. She accepted one last kiss to the cheek from Oliver before it was finally just her and her best friend.
Her head lolled to the side, turning to Stiles as he kicked off his shoes. She shifted sideways a little and watched Stiles climb the bed to sit cross-legged by her hip and hold her hand.
“No battle scars?” she asked, looking down at the butterfly bandages on her arms.
Stiles smirked, shaking his head. “Nah. No battle scars.”
“Aww, that would have been cool.” She couldn’t help pouting.
Stiles chuckled. “Maybe, but I’d rather you not get marked up. Maybe we could leave all the scars to me?”
“That’s not nice. You’ll be in pain.”
“Well, I do have a higher pain tolerance,” Stiles joked.
“That’s still not right.”
Stiles smiled down at her, rubbing the back of her hand.
“Sorry I couldn’t win,” Felicity suddenly blurted out.
He looked at her in confusion. “Sunshine, you know I don’t care about that. You did amazing.”
Felicity sat up despite Stiles trying to stop her. “I wanted to last long–”
“But you did.”
“–so you’d… you know.” Felicity bit her lip. “You didn’t compete. I could at least… for you...”
“Hey. Hey.” Stiles leaned towards her. “I would never… I’m pissed off yeah, but that’s my own fault. You know I don’t care about you Dueling.” He paused. “That came out wrong, but you know what I mean.” He squeezed her hand. “You being okay is all that matters.”
Felicity sighed deeply and fell back onto bed with a soft ‘oomph’.
“I just really tried.”
“And you did, sunshine,” Stiles said reassuringly. “Winning two duels and lasting that long against a really good opponent? That was amazing, Felicity, and hell, Dueling isn't even your forte. And you know I’m really proud of you.”
Felicity smiled, feeling a little better. “Yeah?”
“Totally,” Stiles said, nodding. “You kicked ass.”
“Language,” she said by reflex, making Stiles laugh.
Felicity didn’t end up as an Elite, which she already did kind of expect, but for all she wasn’t a Dueler, she still won two matches, which was more than what she expected. She also had Stiles by her side, who said he was proud of her.
“That’s good. I’m happy.”
Stiles grinned. “Me too.” He pointed a finger at her. “Now rest up, sunshine. I’ll be right here when you wake up, and you'll get to see my face, not my butt.”
Felicity giggled and went back to sleep.
Everyone was in high spirits during the official awarding ceremony for the new Elite Duelers, and also the still-reigning ones.
They started off with the third years where they awarded Hufflepuff Erin Smith. The young girl swept the competition away with quick feet and a surprising knack for aiming a Stupefy at just the right moment. Shado was the one to pin Erin's Elite’s badge on her and Erin was flapping her red face with her hands and staring adoringly at the woman.
When it was time for the fourth years, Felicity watched as Stiles stood in front of the students, ready to pass on his badge. His arm was completely healed and the bandages had been taken off, showing off a manly-looking scar across his forearm. His wrist was the only thing still somewhat tender, but he twisted his wand deftly with the fingers of his right hand.
Felicity watched as Stiles’ fellow Slytherin Danny stood up to accept his badge. For all she knew Stiles was still pissed at not getting to duel, she couldn’t think of anyone better to pass on his Elite title to other than someone from his own House.
As was custom, Stiles was supposed to pin it on Danny’s robes and then they would bow to one another, holding their wands in fists pressed to their chests as a show of respect. Instead of stepping closer though, Stiles just flicked his wand and the badge flew towards Danny, pinning itself to his shirt. Danny laughed and the Slytherin table hollered and cheered.
Isaac coughed into his fist. “Attention seeker.”
Felicity laughed, nudging him. “What else did you expect?”
After bowing, Stiles resumed his seat and Felicity saw him and Danny receive kisses from Captain Nyssa, who was beaming proudly.
She caught his eye and Stiles waved to her. Felicity sent him a flying kiss in reply.
Fifth year Ravenclaw Diana Dyers was next to pass on her badge and Felicity was pretty sure everybody was both surprised and also somewhat unsurprised when she passed it on to Gryffindor’s Sara Lance of all people. She fought valiantly against Boyd during the semifinals and then knocked Diana out during the finals to get the win. Sara did a tremendously good job and Felicity respected that.
Sixth year Gryffindor Harvey Connelly passed the badge on to Ravenclaw Christy Romero and Shado was seen cheering proudly for her Housemate.
And finally, seventh year Slytherin Nyssa Raatko stood in front of the student body to reclaim her badge. Shado pinned it on her proudly and talked to Nyssa softly before they bowed to one another. Nyssa had bested Hufflepuff Captain Jaime during the semifinals, and then Helena Bertinelli during the finals. She was the only one this year who was able to hold onto her badge.
After a few speeches, the Headmaster formally started the Feast. Food started appearing, everyone started tucking in, lively conversations began and Felicity smiled, feeling elated and festive.
She wasn’t surprised when moments later someone popped up by her elbow. She was however surprised to see Oliver sit down beside her. He kissed her shoulder, making her blush.
“Hm? Thought Stiles would get here first,” she said.
“Derek was pretty fast.” Oliver grinned.
She looked up, giggling as she watched Stiles and Derek bickering over at the Slytherin table. Captain Nyssa, Sin and Danny were there too laughing at them. No doubt it was probably about Captain Nyssa's kiss.
“I see you’re wearing this,” Oliver said, reaching up to stroke the sunflower pinned to her ponytail.
Felicity couldn’t stop the blush on her face. “Of course I am. It’s my favorite.”
Oliver looked pleased, stroking her cheek.
They chatted for a bit and ate and a few moments later they looked up to see Stiles and Derek approaching, holding hands and whispering to one another.
“Neat little trick with the pin, you show off,” Felicity said. “You just had to go out with a boom.” Oliver chuckled at that.
“Oh, definitely.” Stiles grinned shamelessly. “I did not get to duel as much this year and I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from withdrawal. I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to at least have a show.” He shrugged. “But Danny and Captain Nyssa were the ones who became Elites and I helped win the Quidditch House Cups so I’m just happy we’re keeping it all in Slytherin’s hands.” He cackled in satisfaction.
“Greedy,” Derek commented. Stiles pinched him on the hip and he didn’t even react. “Gryffindor will get it next year.”
“Hah!” Stiles scoffed. He grabbed a piece of bread and an apple, sticking the latter in Derek's mouth. Derek rolled his eyes and took a bite.
“So, double date?” Felicity asked, motioning to the vacant seats around her.
“Nah, just escorting this invalid here, and grabbing this one,” Derek said, ignoring Stiles and Oliver’s squawks of indignation. “The Gryffindor Quidditch team wants to hang out for a bit.”
“Fine, fine,” Oliver said. He kissed Felicity’s cheek.
Stiles was already shooing Derek off and Derek rolled his eyes and swooped in to press a kiss to his lips. Felicity giggled as she watched Stiles look flustered for a moment.
“You two can bond for a bit,” Derek said. “See you in a bit.” He waved over his shoulder as he and Oliver went off to where the rest of their Quidditch team was gathered.
“I think I’ll keep those two,” Stiles said, sitting down.
“They do have their uses, don’t they?” Felicity teased.
“Arm candy for one.” Stiles nodded. “And I’ve fulfilled the cliché of being an athlete’s pretty little thing on the side.”
Felicity snorted. “Not that you’ll ever let yourself just be someone’s pretty little thing to the side. You’d just sooner put Derek in that role.”
“Or you with Oliver,” Stiles said.
Felicity nodded, taking a sip from her goblet. Looking around the room, she first noticed Braeden talking to some of her girlfriends. She looked like she was having fun, not that Felicity cared, but she had at least backed off and hadn’t approached Stiles or Derek at all.
By the Gryffindor's table was the Lance sisters. Sara kept rubbing the Elite’s badge on her chest and Laurel looked proud of her. As if sensing her gaze, Laurel looked up. Felicity held her gaze for a moment and Laurel simply nodded. She inclined her head in reply.
It wasn’t much, but it was progress, and probably the most they’d ever do to fully acknowledge one another.
Felicity glanced at Oliver and Derek, and their other friends Scott, Lydia, Sara, Nyssa, Sin, and everybody else. She turned to Stiles, who was the most important person to her. These were the people who mattered anyway.
She poked Stiles’ arm.
“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask. I know you’ll still go for Elite next year, but you’re not going to start playing Quidditch, are you?” She looked at him suspiciously. “I know you’ll definitely enjoy winning everything, but you’d better tell me now so I can start telling people to never, ever, ever, ever lend you their brooms.”
“No way,” Stiles said. “I am completely swearing off team sports now and forevermore. I’ll stick to being their tactician, please and thank you.”
“Good to know.” Felicity raised her candy at him in a toast.
“Besides, playing Quidditch ruined everything anyway,” Stiles said, picking at his bread and leaving crumbs everywhere. “I wanted to continue my streak as Elite. Now it’s broken. The hell, man.”
“You only have yourself to blame,” Felicity sing-songed.
“Next year’s the Triwizard Tournament though,” Stiles said slowly.
Felicity threw a piece of candy at his face. She hissed at him. “Stiles, I will seriously kick your butt if you even think of signing up for that.”
“I’m not!” Stiles whined, rubbing his forehead where the candy hit.
Felicity nodded. “Good. Will Derek sign up?”
“I think he will, him and Oliver,” Stiles said. “You know how they are. They’re fit to be Champions.”
Felicity nodded. “It’ll be a good year.”
“A batshit crazy year,” Stiles corrected with an excited grin.
“Hopefully with less bruises, or emotional confrontations, or fights, and all that jazz.” Felicity laughed. “And no trips to the infirmary.”
“Even if it does, we’ll deal with it. We always do. You and me,” Stiles said. “And those crazy people… less crazy. Let's be honest here. We two are the crazy ones.”
Felicity giggled and leaned against Stiles.
“We’ll be amazing,” she whispered.
Stiles grinned at her. “We always are, sunshine.”