“I know this is hard for you, but you need to pick at least three.” Peter pauses. “If it’s easier, I can choose.”
She shakes her head. Gnaws her lip. “Not Scott,” she says finally. He nods. Probably expected that.
“Boyd.” Because whatever he thinks about it, he’ll keep it to himself. “Lydia.” Because she won’t judge, and can stand in for Scott as her tether.
The last name makes her hesitate. She wants him there as much as she doesn’t. In the end, this isn’t just about her, so she looks Peter in the eye as she says, “Derek.”
“Inviting my boyfriend and not me? Rude.”
Stiles looks away as Erica sprawls next to her. Her heart speeds, and she knows what scents are slipping through her skin. Fear. Embarrassment. Guilt.
“Oh, Stiles,” Erica says, voice full of pained comprehension. She pulls Stiles against her, wrapping her arms around the slender frame and propping her chin on Stiles’s head. “You know I won’t judge you, right?”
“I’d judge me,” she whispers. And she would. She’s always been a little intimidated, felt less noticeable with her short hair and boyish body, put next to Erica’s curvy frame and confident sexuality.
“I said no, Peter!”
Her breath comes short and her heart is pounding against her ribs. She won’t do this. She can’t. He could make her, but she doesn’t want him to. She’ll do something terrible if he tries.
Peter looks at her, and he must see the way every line of her body screams panic and fear and prey, because he reaches for her slowly. She’s wary, but lets him draw her close. Lets him melt her fear away with gentle fingers that stroke up and down her spine. “Alright. It’s alright, sweetheart. We’ll figure something out.”
“I really don’t see what the problem is.”
Stiles rolls her eyes. “Of course you don’t.”
Lydia glares. “Stiles, you’ve seen every member of this pack partially, if not fully nude before. Why is this an issue?”
She splutters. Tries to make words. Fails. Understanding lights Lydia’s eyes.
“It’s not really the nudity, is it? It’s the whole ceremony.”
Stiles hunches her shoulders. She doesn’t know how to explain why the thought of being naked and completely vulnerable to anyone who isn’t Peter makes every cell in her body scream NO.
(Peter thinks she’s good enough. She’s not so sure.)
She’s not surprised that Derek seeks her out. Or that he offers to withdraw from the ceremony, the martyr.
“Derek, you need to be there.”
His brow furrows. “You don’t want me there.”
“Yes and no.” He looks confused. “Derek, Peter needs a tether, and you’re family. After this, you and I will be family. And,” she looks down, voice growing small, “if, if something happens, I know that—that you won’t,” she draws in a deep, shaking breath. “Even if Peter’s control slipped, I know you’d keep me safe.”
Derek brushes his fingers along her jaw, eyes soft. “Okay.”
“What are you doing?” she yelps, slapping a hand over her eyes.
Erica tugs it away. “Proving a point. Look.”
“Um?” She isn’t sure what Erica in her underwear is supposed to prove.
But then Erica’s pointing to a patch of uneven flesh on her thigh, the skin waved like old glass. “I seized while clearing the dishes. My mom had to dig out the shards.” She points to her stomach, etched with faint silvery lines. “For a while, the meds I was on made me gain a bunch of weight.” Erica gives her a look, and she gets it.
She doesn’t know why she’s surprised that Derek offers her the solution to her problem, but she is.
“It’s not mandatory?” she asks, needing to double-check.
Derek shrugs. “It’s symbolic. You’re supposed to be vulnerable before your pack. It’s a sign that you trust us to protect you, that we accept you as you are, approve of you.” He shifts, hands jammed in his pockets. “It’s also about giving everything to your Alpha. Trusting them to lead you.” He pauses, looks away. “To take care of you.”
“Thank you,” she breathes. Trust, acceptance, submission. Vulnerability. She can work with that.
She changes her mind. Invites Allison. Asks Erica to come, be First Bearer. She tells Peter Isaac can be there, as long as the snarky beta stays in line. She doesn’t need anyone being an asshole about this.
And Scott. Dear, sweet, precious Scotty. He won’t be there, but that’s okay. Neither of them are comfortable with him watching Peter claim her as his mate. But he’ll be the one to bind her eyes and take her shoes and give her into Erica’s keeping. She’ll have his scent on her skin, his love and acceptance, even if he’s not there.
Peter takes to her suggestion outrageously well. Better than she expected he would. Better than she’d dared to hope.
“You don’t mind?”
A slow smirk curls his lips. “Why would I mind being the only one to see every part of you?”
She blushes. His smirk becomes a grin. “But, seriously. Is this—”
He buries his face in her hair. “A blindfold is a perfectly acceptable substitute, darling. It might even be more appropriate, given who and what you are to this pack.”
She holds him, realizing that he’s relieved. This had been bothering him. More than he’d let on.
It’s weird, being in the passenger seat of her Jeep. But Scott had a point about her being too jittery to get behind the wheel. They park at the Preserve, and her legs feel like jelly.
“You’re sure?” She nods. “Okay.”
And then he’s brushing her chin-length hair behind her ears, and carefully tying the blindfold over her eyes. He busses a kiss over her forehead before carefully scooping her up, and her heart nearly bursts. She kicks off her flats, and he takes a few steps before she’s being pressed into Erica’s arms.
“Take care of her,” he says.
She fights against feeling self-conscious or anxious, and loses. She distracts herself by nuzzling into her First Bearer’s neck. Erica laughs, but it’s fond. It seems like barely a minute passes before she’s being pressed into another set of arms, Erica tucking her dress up between her knees to preserve her modesty. Not that she’ll have much left after tonight.
The thought makes her tense, and she’s surprised to hear Boyd’s deep rumble. “I’ve got you.” He draws her closer to his chest, and she curls up against his shoulder. He rests his cheek against the top of her head.
When Stiles first read about the mating ceremony in the book Peter’d loaned her, she didn’t understand. The pack being present didn’t throw her—even if what they were going to be witnessing kind of did—but. The carrying. Why?
“Partly, it’s about scent,” Peter explained, nuzzling the back of her neck. “It makes you smell like pack. But it also allows the pack a chance to disagree with the Alpha’s choice.”
“If they put you down instead of delivering you to the next Bearer, or the Alpha—”
“—speak now or forever hold your peace,” she muttered.
Each Bearer in the mating ceremony is a test the potential Alpha’s mate needs to pass. Because of that, the mate gets to choose a First Bearer, a werewolf from the pack they have a connection with, the one least likely to stand between them and the Alpha.
When Stiles explains what she’s asking for, Erica calls her an asshole. “You’re not going to make me cry, Stilinski! I refuse to ruin my mascara for you!”
But the way she clings to Stiles and refuses to let go, whispering, “Of course you idiot,” takes the sting out of her words.
After Erica and Boyd, either Isaac or Derek will be next. She’s less certain of their acceptance than she likes, a little worried they’ll set her on her feet instead of continuing towards Peter.
So when she realizes it’s Isaac she’s being passed to, she grips him harder than she had the others, less sure of her welcome. He misunderstands the way she clings, murmuring, “I won’t drop you,” and giving her a reassuring squeeze.
It goes quickly, then, no time at all before she’s being passed to Derek, the smell of leather and rasp of his stubble oddly comforting.
She thinks that Derek’s are the last hands she’ll pass through, so she’s surprised when he sets her gently into another set of waiting arms.
Allison and Lydia link hands, and together carry her the last three steps. She presses quick kisses to their cheeks (or what she thinks are their cheeks, hard to tell blindfolded) before they tip her onto what feels like a thick blanket. Lydia’s soft hands steady her as she wobbles, and Allison wraps an arm about her waist for a quick hug. She didn’t think she’d want the huntress here, but. It feels right. Safe.
She stands there a moment, her heart a hummingbird inside her ribcage, and it feels like time stops. Like there’s an eternity between when Allison and Lydia take their places in the pack circle, and when Peter steps behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders. They drift to curl possessively around her waist as he speaks. His voice isn’t loud, but is pitched to carry across the clearing, to human and wolf ears alike.
“You have come tonight to bear witness to your Alpha’s mating. Do any stand against?”
“Do any believe themselves a better match?”
And then it’s her turn. She sinks to her knees, graceful when it counts. For all that her bird-heart is beating rapidly, her voice is breathless. Almost inaudible, but only almost. “I’ve been bound and borne by pack to rest at your feet, Alpha. I can only offer myself, though I do so sincerely and without reservation.” She pauses. “I will give you everything, if you’ll have me.”
Three, five, eight wingbeats.
Then Peter gives a deep growl that’s as hungry as it is pleased. He tilts her head back, his fingers cupping her jaw firmly. “On your back, Beloved.”
She obeys, but fear nips at her.
Peter’s hands guide her legs up and open before he shoulders between them, ducking under her dress to mouth at her. She gasps, thighs snapping shut as she jackknifes. Peter snarls a warning against very delicate flesh, and her heart feels like it’s going to fly right out of her chest.
But then Derek’s hands ease her back down. “It’s okay. Peter’s just trying to get you ready.”
She hears what he doesn’t say. (Please, let him.) She unclenches, touches Peter’s head through her skirt. He starts lapping at her.
She lets him.
At first, she fights. Not against Peter and his tongue, but herself.
She fights to stay still, to keep quiet, to forget the pack is watching, to not feel stripped-raw and afraid. Mostly, she fights to become aroused. Peter’s petting her hips and licking ever-so-softly and tears well up because she can’t—
Then Erica’s there, pressing their foreheads together, hair tickling Stiles’s skin. “Let go, baby.”
Stiles whimpers. (Can’t.)
“No one’s going to judge, and Peter won’t mate you unless he’s sure it’s not gonna hurt.” Peter rumbles soothingly, still licking. Erica takes her hand. “It’s supposed to feel good.”
“You’ll need to train for this.” She’d shrugged, unconcerned. “Sweetheart, you don’t understand”— and his seriousness had caught her attention, then—“you’ve never taken anything even close to that size. I’d rip you apart.”
So they’d practised, starting slow, until she’s used to Peter rutting fast and hard and almost-careless between her thighs. Until she’s used to riding out her orgasms stuffed full of Peter’s fingers or toys, fuller than his unknotted cock can make her.
In the end, it’s just a muscle. Stretched and grown flexible, it’ll accommodate Peter easily enough. If she enjoys ‘training’, it’s their little secret.
Derek texts her a few weeks before the ceremony. You won’t be able to use condoms, he sends.
She frowns, confused. This is random, even for Derek. Because of the knot? she replies.
Yeah. Scent, too.
This is old magic, Stiles. There’s a chance you could get pregnant, even if you’re on the pill.
Thanks for letting me know. She flips through the calendar, tracking her cycles. Their ceremony isn’t during the high-risk phase, and she is on birth control, but. Magic.
She touches her flat stomach, imagines it round. She thinks she wouldn’t mind. She doesn’t tell Peter.
She turns, hiding her face in Erica’s curls and drawing in a deep, coconut-scented breath. When she exhales, she lets herself go limp.
She thinks about how Peter’ll be hers. About the way she’s been excited, eager even, to be knotted for the first time. About how patient Peter always is when he’s eating her to climax.
Stiles misses the moment Erica slips away, caught up in the tingle of her growing arousal. The tip of Peter’s tongue nudges inside, like he’s considering spearing her on it. She grips the back of his head, chasing the sensation. “Tease.”
It’s no time at all before she’s panting and moaning shamelessly, onlookers forgotten. Her hands twist in Peter’s hair, legs thrown wide as he tongue-fucks her. She’s desperate. Needy.
Just as she’s about to beg, his lips seal around her clit, sucking. He nibbles gently, and his teeth are the match-strike that sends orgasm blazing through her. He doesn’t stop until she’s shaking, spent.
Then, and only then, does he come out from under her skirt to kiss her. She licks at his lips and chin lazily. She likes the taste of herself, and Peter likes feeding it to her.
The sticky kiss breaks when she hears a familiar click. She has a moment to wonder—and then his fingers are stroking between her lips, coating her with so much slick she’s glad she wore an old sundress for this, because it’ll be irretrievably stained after tonight.
The lube was a fight she’d lost. (“I’m not some delicate flower, Peter, and we’ve been working up to—”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m not taking chances.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
“I’m not interested in causing you pain. I’d much rather have you squirming and whining on my knot because you’re delirious with pleasure.”
After drenching her in lube, Peter slides his big hands under her. She links her ankles behind his back as he cups her ass, tilting her up so he can slip inside. The easy glide of his cock into her cunt makes her mewl—it’s a relief, being filled.
She expects him to start thrusting, but he drops down, blanketing her. He cradles her, one arm around her waist and the other hand on the back of her neck. She clings just as tightly, arms around his shoulders, legs hooked over hips, touching nothing but warm skin.
He starts rocking.
She thought mating would be rough, animalistic. She thought Peter would be a little selfish, would chase his pleasure and see to hers after. She expected a quick fuck while the pack looked on.
Instead, Peter’s hips roll smoothly, steadily, in a rhythm she knows he can keep up for hours. He’s been nothing but solicitous, all his attention focussed solely on her comfort and enjoyment. A blind man could see this isn’t fucking. This is Peter making love to her slowly under the light of the full moon.
It’s beautiful and overwhelming long before his knot starts to swell.
She notices right away when it starts. When the base of Peter’s cock starts to thicken, spreading her a little wider with each flex of his hips. Her breath hitches. It feels obscenely good.
Peter maintains his steady pace. He doesn’t speed up, doesn’t put more force behind his thrusts. That steadiness, combined with the way he’s carving her open, renders her helpless to stop the build of her second orgasm.
He rocks into her a final time as his knot finishes growing, and her back arches. He grinds against her, pressing against her clit and g-spot simultaneously. She comes.
She shudders, feeling strung-out and owned and full. She can barely hold on to Peter, she’s trembling so hard.
He kisses her cheek. She can feel the way his cock pulses as he pumps her full of seed, the knot holding it all inside. “Doing so well, sweetheart,” he whispers between kisses.
“Bite me?” she whimper-asks.
“Soon,” he promises. “I want you to give me one more, first.”
He tuts. “We both know that’s not true.”
And then he’s moving them, pulling her astride his lap as he sits back on his heels. “Come on, sweetheart. One more.”
She’s slumped against Peter’s chest, cheek pressed to his bare shoulder. She can’t move. It feels like her bones have melted.
But he’s worming a hand between them and under her dress to massage her clit. She lets out a low, wavering sound when it makes her clench around the knot. His thumb works in firm pulses, and she knows he’s going to make her come again.
He suckles and nips at her bared throat and shoulder as he works her to a breath-stealing orgasm. It’s as she’s riding the last waves of heat that he bites, fangs piercing skin.
She comes back to awareness panting against Peter’s chest. His hand cradles the back of her head, fingertips massaging gently.
She licks a line up his throat, tasting salt and musk and Peter. It makes him groan. She sucks up a rapidly-fading hickey at the base of his throat, and then closes her teeth around the thin skin just above his collarbone. She doesn’t have the jaw strength he does, and she’s jelly-limbed besides, but it’s not finished—he’s not hers—until her blunt human teeth mark him.
His blood in her mouth shouldn’t taste like victory, but it does.
They hold on tightly after biting, nuzzling and breathing each other in. Stiles doesn’t know how long it lasts, but she can feel Peter’s knot start to go down, and wetness start pooling in his lap. The pack bays, a joyful, triumphant sound.
He lifts her off him carefully, laying her back down on the blanket. She doesn’t know what she expected, but Peter ducking back under her skirt wasn’t it. He licks at the come growing tacky on her thighs before lapping at her entrance.
“Peter!” she squawks, blushing hotly.
He slurps—loudly—as he sucks up their come.
She doesn’t know whether she’s more embarrassed or turned on. He’s never done this before. Granted, they’ve never boned without condoms before, either. Or knotted. This is a night chock-full of firsts.
After he’s done sucking and squelching and generally sounding like he belongs on a porn set, he kisses her. She can taste him and her and the organic lube he favours, and suddenly understands why he enjoyed that so much. It’s a heady combination, and she chases his tongue back into his mouth.
He pulls away, chuckling fondly. “Home,” he murmurs. And, yeah. She can get behind that.
Peter carries her back to the rebuilt Hale house. She’s not sure whether their front-facing piggyback is to preserve their modesty—unlikely, since Peter doesn’t have any, and that’s what her dress is for—or because it lets them kiss and nip and nuzzle at each other on the way home. It’s affectionate and sweet enough to distract her from the way her dress grows increasingly damp where it’s caught between them. Where she’s leaking what Peter didn’t manage to slurp up.
She can hear the pack behind them, yipping and laughing. She wishes they could always be this happy.
Peter tugs the blindfold off when they’re alone in the upstairs bathroom. He stares at her with undisguised awe, and she has to kiss him.
But then she has to drag him into the shower, because they’re sticky as hell. There’s no self-consciousness as she shucks her dress. Not when it’s just the two of them. Not when his hands pass over her reverently in the shower, washing her. Not when his touch is feather-light between her thighs, because he knows she’s sore.
After, she borrows one of his V-necks and a pair of his boxers. She ignores his smirk.
She heads downstairs a few minutes behind Peter. She’s not sure how to face the pack, knowing what they just witnessed. She’s wary of them in a way she hasn’t been in years.
She runs into Derek first. He looks over his shoulder, but no one’s paying them any attention. He splays a hand over her belly, one eyebrow quirking in silent question. She shrugs, giving a small smile. “We’ll see.”
His expression blows wide open, the happiness and naked hope nearly painful to see. He kisses her forehead. “Welcome to the family.”
He huffs when she beams at him.
The next person to find her is Allison, and Stiles can’t help the way her face heats. The huntress smiles, taking it in stride.
“I don’t know what I expected. Hunters don’t have much information on mating ceremonies, you know? But,” she pauses, eyes shining. “I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so, so much for having me there. It was beautiful.”
“You’re welcome, but—beautiful? Are you sure that’s the right word to describe—all that?” she splutters, surprised.
Allison shakes her head. “You didn’t see the two of you tonight. ‘Beautiful’ is definitely the right word.”
She escapes into the living room. The pack is around—eating in the kitchen, taking turns showering—but for the moment, she’s alone. It’s a relief.
Nothing about tonight was anything like what she expected.
The couch dips on one side of her, and she doesn’t have to look to know it’s Isaac. She stares at her lap. Isaac fidgets. Neither of them speak.
Before Stiles can prove the existence of spontaneous human combustion from the awkwardness, he pulls her into a one-armed side-hug, nuzzling her briefly before running away.
She smiles at his retreating back. They’re gonna be okay.
Eventually, she goes looking for Peter. Lydia points her to the den, an approving smile curving her mouth. She doesn’t get more than three steps before Peter’s wrapping his arms around her from behind, brushing kisses across her mating bite.
“I gotta say, I never took you for a size queen, but seeing that knot of his, you’ve lost deniability.” Erica grins, lowering her voice. “Seriously, though, if I’d known how much time he spends with his head between your thighs, I’d’ve fought you for him.”
Erica laughs when Peter playfully snaps his teeth at her.
“Too late,” Stiles quips.
It’s Isaac, surprisingly enough, that announces the need for a puppy pile. Stiles is completely on board, but is more than a little thrown when Erica and Derek get into a glare-off.
“Derek,” she warns. It’s Erica’s don’t make me hurt you voice.
“I just gained a family member,” he growls.
“I’m not losing a best friend!”
Stiles turns to Peter. “The fuck is going on?”
He smirks. “They’re fighting over who gets to snuggle you.”
She rolls her eyes and leads him to the king-size mattress they use for pack cuddles, leaving Eyebrows and Catwoman to duke it out.
Stiles and Peter are in the middle, legs tangled, her forehead against his chest and his arm under her neck. Derek’s on her other side, with Lydia pressed against his back. He’d been awkwardly squirmy about it until she’d snapped, “I’m spooning you. Deal with it.”
Isaac is hugging Stiles’s leg while using Peter’s thigh for a pillow. It’s adorable.
Less adorable was Erica’s attempt to pinch Peter’s butt when she plastered herself to his back, but. Erica. Boyd is snugged up against his girlfriend, and Allison is invisible behind him but for her arm around his waist.