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On idiocy and stupidity

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John doesn’t like the magical world at all. If he was completely honest, he would go as far as to admitting he hates it. Alas, that doesn’t happen unless he’s reached the bottom of a bottle of whisky, and he’s trying to keep away from that path nowadays, so he’ll just say that he would have been a man happy in his ignorance.

Again, no matter how he wishes that was true, that’s not the case.

The first time Stiles had a burst of accidental magic, it left John nearly in shock. He actually had a moment where his brain refused to catch up with what he was seeing and his whole body trembled, leaving him unable to even take a step further, so no, it wasn’t a figure of speech.

One of the frequent visitors to the park Claudia liked had a very big mixed breed as a pet. That beast was as humongous as it was mean, so there were a lot of complaints issued to the police department about it, and the owner, as mean and temperamental as his pet, was facing losing the dog because he refused to leash it at the very least.

He had talked about it with Claudia, but she refused to back down. She liked the park, it was the only one near their house and Stiles loved the play park, and she wasn’t going to let that awful man take that from them. John knew how to choose his battles, so he didn’t insist more on a lost one.

He should have.

It was Sunday, sunny, warm and his day off for a change, so they prepared a little basket with sandwiches and the like and went to the park to spend the morning and lunch hour there. After a couple of hours they managed to reign in Stiles for enough to have lunch. All was nice and well until John went to get coffee nearby and a blood curling toddler scream pierced the air just as he was coming back.

It attacked Stiles.

There wasn’t anything left from the beast besides the blood splatter on the ground of the play park and the owner was hysterical by the time he rushed in. Stiles was wailing, covered in blood, and Claudia was trying to calm him unsuccessfully.

Then, obliviators came and went, and John found out that his three year old baby boy was a wizard. A very, very powerful one, the ones that came to explain everything gushed, issuing a lot of recommendations about how to proceed.

It may be selfish or bad on his part, but John was more hung up on the fact that his wife had been lying to him since the very beginning, because she was a witch too.

(He’s also always being secretly grateful that they never acknowledged the fact that she would have never told him if Stiles hadn’t presented, even though he knows it is a cowardly thing.)

The instances where Stiles had accidental magic continued to grow in number as the time passed, but it got almost to an unbearable point when Claudia got sick from some magical sickness John has never been able to understand the facts of.

The last time Stiles’ magic acted out of control was when he blasted his own mother out of a window when she tried to strangle him, out of her mind and seeing things that weren’t there.

No, John doesn’t like the magical world.

If he was drunk, he’d admit he hates it.

Ignorance would have been, certainly, a bliss.

And this way of thinking has cost him a son.

He knows he should have done something, said something before Stiles left to that school, but he couldn’t. And now his betrayed expression will haunt him forever.

He’s such an idiot.

The Salem School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is, very inconspicuously (not), located in Salem, Oregon. Stiles has always thought it was a way to flip the bird at the ones responsible for the witch trials… and mooning at them too, just for good measure.

(Even if, historically speaking, it’s a fact that no real witch was burnt in those.)

Founded by Salazar Slytherin after he left England, Salem is as similar to Hogwarts as day is to night, and that’s being generous.

For starters, it’s students start their education way earlier, some being as young as seven years old. As soon as their core is proven to have stabilized (age which varies from one kid to another, none of that nonsense of waiting until the standard age of eleven) they can be accepted at Salem. And even before that, they are portkey ports for parents to leave their kids at the daycare building at the edge of the property, if they wish that their kids start to get in touch with the theory and various simple exercises and they can’t handle that themselves.

Another different thing about Salem is that the formative journey is much lengthier, some wizards and witches staying up to twenty years as students. Since the structure is that of a free school, but without the age classifications, there’s a lot of magical and procedural failsafes to ensure that older students don’t abuse the younger ones. Add in that Salem’s castle is as sentient as Hogwarts, with surrounding wards to match, and it’s one of the most secure places for it’s students.

Because the magic at the States is more raw and wilder in comparison to its European counterpart, unlike at Hogwarts, Salem’s students aren’t divided according to their personality traits, but according to their levels of raw magic. It’s not meant to be an elitist system, but to ensure the students safety.

Literally, when untrained, a student from the first tier could fry another from the third just by being around them daily.

Also unlike Hogwarts, starting as a part of a particular tier doesn’t mean necessarily that the student will remain in it. Cores grow with age, after all, and that may cause a necessity of changing the placement of the student.

Age doesn’t especially matter either on the placement in the classes that conform each tier, but knowledge. The more you study and the more magics you master, the higher the class you are on. There’re no exams, besides the grade ones, and even those are optional because one only takes them if they want to qualify to advance a class or a tier forward (it’s a double edged sword, though, because you can be demoted too) to have access to their libraries and laboratories, and the mentors and professors.

To sum it up, the organization at Salem is power and merit based, which can be fucked up sometimes, in Stiles’ opinion, because it places a lot of pressure on the students (or their parents) who put a lot of importance on the class and tier they’re part of. But it generally works, because as a free school, it’s your choice to remain or what to study or on which magic center your attention on, so…

It can get really expensive, though, the more one advances. Not the basic tuition, that’s not it. Third tier students rarely struggle for money, because the tuition covers for the basic supplies and meals, and the libraries have enough copies of each books that you never have to wait for a text. But the more you dabble in side experimentation or if you want to have your own copies of certain books…

Stiles is not a third tier student.

Or a second tier, for that matter.

Stiles vaporized an animal large enough to double his size when he was three years old and blasted his own mother out a window with enough force to propel her into the next building when he was eight, it’s obvious he’s not a first tier, either.

He’s been part of the special tier, which has less than twenty students, ever since he set a foot in the school, nearly ten years ago, and he made first class at the third semester of his second year at Salem.

(For him, the entire education system is perfect. Except for the daily reminders to eat (and there’s a handy spell for that) and periodical medical check-ups every student has (which forces to take care of yourself, or you’ll be sanctioned), he can study what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. He’s good at what he does so, unlike his first year when he struggled with the pocket money he had, he now sells potions, rituals and rune work all over the country (getting his laptop to work in his dorm what a bitch) and he can afford almost anything he wants without having to contemplate contacting his father… which he has never resorted to, anyway).

As a rule, he doesn’t go home unless he’s forced to and he spends all his time either studying or experimenting with anything and everything that catches his attention. He doesn’t care about making friends but he does have some people he’s in good terms with. He doesn’t want more, attempts to force the issue with him will be met with a sneaky and swift retaliation, as many can attest.

He may be an idiot like professor Callaway always tells him, but he doesn’t care.

He doesn’t need anyone, he thinks as he signs on the sheets to stay at Salem for Winter break.

Peter doesn’t like the third tier dorms and common rooms at all. It’s not a matter having to come all the way here when his own dorms are at the other end of the castle, but another thing entirely… though he has to admit that grates him quite a bit too. Out of all the tiers, the third one has the highest number of younger children in it, and that makes it’s dorm noisy and grating, and more frequently than not, messy. He eyes with distaste the clutter of unorganized books and paraphernalia that decorate the far end corner.

The thing is that if he doesn’t check on Talia’s brats more or less daily, she gets insufferable, and he prefers to brave the jungle before listening to another of her rants and empty threats about making him end his student career prematurely, so…

Don’t get him wrong, it’s not that he doesn’t like the rugrats (he did grow so close in age to them to consider them his siblings more or less, after all), but maintaining his status as a first class of the first tier (status that is a great source of pride for him because it’s extremely rare for a werewolf to reach higher than second tier) requires a lot of dedication on his part.

Dedication and a lot of studying.

Two kids run across the common room squealing and laughing and topple over a pile of books, startling another kid into messing whatever he’s working on, which explodes into his face. Other students rush in to check if he’s alright and march him to the infirmary just in case. A first class girl is left behind to somehow deal with the fire salamander the kid accidentally freed.

Studying he can’t do here, no matter how funny what just happened was.

He shivers and eyes the containing band around his wrist with distaste. Another reason to hate coming by the third tier dwellings. Students visiting another tiers have to wear one of those always to avoid getting hurt or hurting others. It’s a containing or shielding band depending on if you are visiting a tier below or above your own, but either way, the sensation is of being dumped in ice cold water. Needless to say, Peter hates it.

He sighs and turns his attention back to his own work.

Maybe he’s being an idiot for opposing Talia about ending his studies now. Just thinking about Cora with them all alone and without her only ally makes his stomach turn.

Another summer comes and goes without no sign of Stiles. He doesn’t know why he’s so surprised. How can he be so stupid? Of course he didn’t, exactly just like all the past summers and no measly letters are going to change that. The only information he’s had about him for the past ten years is what professor Callaway tells him sporadically. Melissa reaches over to take his hand and he squeezes it.

He just has to persevere, he tells himself. He messed up real bad and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

He wanted ignorance, and now that he has it, it feels like a curse.

So far, ever since he came to Salem, only three people have tried to mess up with Stiles, and that was only in his first year. They learned better than to cross Stiles and try to impose something he didn’t want on him.

Until this year.

Until ickle itsy bitsy Cora Hale entered Salem, got sorted into the special tier and, wide eyed after one of his experiments blew up spectacularly, she pointed at him before telling professor Callaway, who was with her, I can choose anyone right? I want him to be my mentor.

And that was a week ago.

He’s been evading her for a week straight and she stubbornly won’t give up.

“This is stupid,“ he grunts, out of breath.

“If it’s stupid, then give up,” she throws, just as out of breath at him.

“You’ve got guts, I’ll give you that.“ He looks at her thoughtful and she holds her breath. “Okay, if you manage to get out of this, I’ll give in.”

And then he promptly curses her.

Out of the three of Talia’s children, little Cora is the one Peter adores the most. She’s a sarcastic, smart and evil little shit and Peter loves that. He also loves that she gave the entire family the imaginary finger when, after being born a simple human, not a werewolf, not a witch, and being though almost as a useless disappointment for six years of her life (of course, nothing to her face which, stupid, because she is smart enough to notice it all), she presented not even two months ago when she blew an omega into smithereens.

And then she’s proceeded to be accepted at Salem and gotten transferred into the special tier on her very first year.

Peter, who has been the only one to treat her like the smart and wonderful kid she really is (not with pity, like Derek and Laura, not with disappointment like the rest of the family) cannot even feel a smidgen of jealousy that she’s surpassed him but instead is enjoying a vindictive kind of successful feeling.

Now, normally, Peter would hunt down anyone who dared to curse Cora and rip his throat out, but it seems to be harmless and Peter’s own mentor did something similar back in the day.

And he hasn’t been able to stop snickering ever since he recognized her.

“And what are you going to do?” he asks her.

“I don’t even know which one is the curse,“ she chirps from where she’s perched on his finger. “Flying is kind of cool, though.”

“Back on topic, aren’t you supposed to be trying to break this on your own?“

“He never said that I couldn’t ask for help,” she pipes and Peter snorts delighted. “Well, are you going to stop laughing like an idiot and help me out?”

“If you ask so nicely…“

John gets remarried to Melissa on a nice spring morning. Stiles is nowhere in sight. Scott, very angry, lets his feelings on the matter out while his girlfriend tries to calm him.

John, very calmly and with his heart breaking, because talking about it makes it even more real, explains who’s at fault. He can’t look at his new son in the eye.

When he gets back from the honeymoon, he finds a letter dated from the day he remarried, day in which he didn’t check the mail.

It’s short, succinct, way too formal and mostly cold, but John cries like an idiot.

“You’re ruining my reputation,” he grumbles at Cora as he braids a new protection charm he’s been working on into her hair. The cauldron with another of his projects bubbles in front of them.

“If it makes you feel better, I still think you’re as much of an asshole as the first day,“ Brandon deadpans as he not so subtly approaches said cauldron with his hands hidden behind him.

“Time to reaffirm that reputation,” Stiles mutters, patting Cora’s hair, and she presses her lips to contain a giddy cackle, seeing hell and damnation coming.

She’s not an idiot, though, so she covertly gets herself near the door, just in case.

Peter’s again at the third tier common rooms when a big explosion rocks the entire castle, making the ground tremble and the bottles in the shelves rattle. Derek curses when the sudden noise startles him into jerking his hand to the left, successfully messing completely the runic wards he was working on. He panics as it starts to sizzle, dark brown smoke coming from the paper in a matter of seconds.

Peter rolls his eyes at him and, without taking his eyes from the text he’s been studying for the better part of the afternoon, he nicks his finger and swiftly reaches to neutralize it before the wound closes.

“Showoff,” the fifteen year old grumbles before sighing at the ruined project. He growls frustrated, showing a bit of fang. “Damn it.”

“I bet it was your crush, uncle Peter,“ Laura grumbles, closing her notebook noisily.

As much as it pains him to admit it, he's coming to dislike Laura more and more as she grows. Seeing as she is more like her mother with each passing day, it’s not really that surprising that his brotherly love is souring as the time passes, though.

He arches a brow at her before going back to his text. When she sees he’s not going to raise to the bait, she continues.

“Who else could it be? I still don’t get why mom can’t make Cora have another mentor, he’s going to end up seriously hurting her.“

(She also doesn’t seem to get, just like her mother, than the more they dislike Cora’s mentor, the more she likes him. And the same happens with Peter, to be honest.)

When Cora rushes into the third tier common room, Peter ignores Laura’s validated exclaim, because, really, an explosion of that magnitude? Of course it was Stiles. He looks expectantly at Cora, waiting for some juicy story from her about her mentor and she doesn’t dissapoint.

“Stiles invoked a demon,“ she cackles gleefully after she jumps into his lap and it tells something that Peter isn’t surprised that those are the first words that come out of her mouth. “Brandon tried to trick him and Stiles messed” here she makes quotation marks with her hands, “a ritual and it charred Brandon’s ass… and his eyebrows.”

“Did he now?“ he inquires silkily, taking a short moment to envy the containment black bracelet Stiles made for her. According to Cora, she doesn’t feel cold at all and she can activate and deactivate it at will. He’s been trying to manipulate Stiles into making him one like that for months, but his subtle approach has bore no fruits yet.

“Yeah,“ she smirks evilly, obviously remembering the entire thing at this very moment and savoring it.

Peter’s lips twitch.

He rubs his cheek over her hair discreetly and she molds into his chest without a complaint about the scenting. If it was another person than him, even her own mother, she would have snarked her way out in disgust.

“You know what’s even better?“ she crows, turning to look at him in the face. She doesn’t wait for him to answer. “Brandon got demoted a class until the next grade exams and lost all library and laboratory privileges for a semester. And the professors are going to reward Stiles for his timely intervention.”

He smirks with Cora. Now, that’s a loss. Peter has already tried to sneak into the special tier’s library three times and failed each and every one of them. And that was the third class’ library. He’s not ashamed to admit that he would drool at the prospect of accessing the first class’ one. Losing all privileges…

“He also got the demon to accept to being his familiar,“ she finally adds and Peter raises his eyebrows impressed.

“What?!” Laura exclaims. “He can’t… That’s really dangerous! No one is that stupid!”

“Now, that would hurt if I actually cared about your opinion,“ a new voice drawls from the doorway.

Laura growls at Stiles and the nogitsune growls back at her from atop his hair (an ancient and overpowered being’s miniaturized form shouldn’t be that deceptively cute), making her back off, wide eyed and fast as lightning. Peter hides a delighted snicker in Cora’s hair but she’s not as considerate. Stiles grins at her, not even bothering to cover it either. Derek, who as a rule doesn’t like trouble and just likes to be calm and relaxed, rolls his eyes at their antics and pulls a paper out to restart his project.

“Well, Ikari, Cora, my disciple, well met and all those things,“ Stiles says with a whimsical wave of hands. “Don’t eat her… or the one behind her either, for that matter. That’s Peter and he provides enough entertainment to not let him suffer that fate.” Peter waves at the kitsune sassily, trying to not let out an embarrassing pleased smile. Judging by Cora’s snort, he’s not entirely successful. “That other one is all right…”

“Thanks,“ Derek deadpans, not taking his eyes from the blood ward he’s trying to etch into the parchment again. “The name’s Derek.”

“… she, you can eat, I don’t care. Might upset your stomach, though. The name’s bitch.”

“Hey! It’s Laura, you fucker!“

“Tche, no one cares about the name of their food unless they want seconds, and I doubt there’s someone else like you. Anyways,“ Stiles claps his hands, “since they’re still clearing the common room, I thought you’d like to go to the dungeons, Cora.”

“The last time you said that…“

“We agreed to never talk about that ever again,” he interrupts her hastily, and Peter raises an eyebrow, intrigued. “But, no, it’s a completely different thing I just thought you’d enjoy, but it’s obvious that you don’t want to, so…”

“Wait,“ Cora squeaks, and Peter catches Stiles covering a smile. “I’m game.”

“Well that sounds sufficiently intriguing. Mind if I tag along?“ Peter drawls from his seat.

Stiles looks at him over Cora’s head, gaze considering, as he adjusts some protection charm necklaces on her (and they worry about her safety, hah!). It’s telling that she doesn’t mind the contact and actually seems to enjoy it and preen at the attention.

“Sure,” he says finally and then throws to him a bracelet like Cora’s, but exactly on his size.

Score, Peter thinks, taking in all the implications of that. Cora, the brat, rolls her eyes at him when Stiles is not looking. Even the nogitsune smirks at him.

Aaannnddd now a fox mocks him too.

Wonderful.

He needs to get his act together.

Pronto.

But how to court Stiles? Everything he knows he would enjoy, he already has and in more quantity (and quality) than what Peter would be ever able to provide even if he tried. Other things he could get him with no problem, like clothes and other amenities, he doesn’t care for. What to do then?

Peter is a fan of the big gesture, but maybe that’s not the path to take in this case? Maybe it’s the small things are what he needs to watch out for…

He can already tell this is going to be a lengthy campaign. He sighs and follows after Cora and Stiles.

Spy, it is.

After a month of watching him (subtly, very subtly, not like a weirdo, no matter what Cora says about that) like a hawk, he feels confident enough to start.

Stiles, of course, foils all his plans when, after two or three measly small (but thoughtful) presents, he comes by the first tier common room to kidnap him, all exasperated.

“Seriously, Peter,“ he complains and grumbles after he slips a protective charm pendant around his neck. “Now you want to court me? If this wasn’t cute in it’s own way, I’d give up on you. How can you not have noticed I’ve been courting you for months?”

“What,“ Peter rakes his head dumbfounded and Stiles rolls his eyes, taking his hand to pull him out of the dorms. He lets him.

The texts Stiles lends him (they have to be from his own collection not the school’s, because that’s forbidden), the charms, the bracelet… Cora and Ikari’s exasperation makes a lot more sense now. Peter wants to facepalm really bad.

“I’m an idiot,“ he sighs chagrined.

“Yes, you are, but just sometimes and you have an amazing physique to compensate,“ Stiles makes a show of sticking his nose in the air, acting long-suffering, “so I’ll let it slide this time.”

Peter may be, quite possibly, in love, he realizes.

John starts getting at least a letter a month. Again, they’re stiff and too formal, but he’s not an idiot and he’s not going to look a gifted horse in the mouth, so he cherishes every and each one of them.

“Do you have a limit?” Cora asks wide eyed.

“Of course,“ Stiles purrs as she scratches behind his ear. “It’s not as easy at it seems. It’s taken me almost ten years to get at this point. I had to learn the anatomy of the ones I wanted to shift into perfectly before even attempting it. And even so, if professor Callaway hadn’t been there those first few times I would have died. Seriously, the first time I nearly had a heart failure because I didn’t have the heart of a cat clearly in my mind before shifting”

“Oh,“ she utters quietly.

“Cora?”

“It’s nothing, just a stupid thought.“

“If you’re sure…”

“Cora has been really quiet lately,“ Stiles tells him one day in December, sprawled on Peter’s bed with a thick tome in front of him. “I had to take her out of the laboratory because she nearly caused an explosion. The bad kind.”

He doesn’t look at him, but he can tell he’s worried. Peter sighs and lets himself fall into the bed, which makes Stiles bounce. He swats at him half-heartedly and Peter crushes him under himself playfully. He then rests his face between his shoulder blades and inhales deeply.

“I didn’t know there was a good kind?“

“No one but the special tier knows… you guys must live such a sad lives,“ he deadpans and Peter snorts.

“It’s the Wolf Moon,” he confesses after a beat of silence. Stiles makes an inquiring sound. “Basically, in January, the whole family has a reunion to run under the full moon, to strengthen the bonds and a lot of mystical whassit. Since she’s the only human in the family right now… Their attitude has gotten better ever after she presented, but this is something…”

“Fuckers,“ Stiles mutters darkly.

“Exactly. Ever since she got accepted, I’ve defied Talia by staying here, with her, but I still need to run. I can control myself and not leave her behind or hurt her, but she still feels bad about it, about making me hold back.”

“So it’s a matter of shifting?“

“I’d say more like a matter of willingness,” he huffs. “If they wanted, they could control themselves enough for her to run with us and for everyone to enjoy themselves. It’s what other packs with human members do (even the Hales when there used to be more human members). But they don’t want to, they want to be free or some stupid shit like that. Nonsense, because out of the whole family, only Talia and I manage a full shift, and if I can do it…”

After a moment of silence, Stiles speaks again. “So that’s why…“

And that’s that. Peter doesn’t hear anything else about the matter until Cora starts insisting about going home for the holidays this time, baffling Peter. Stiles is strangely accommodating about the whole issue, telling him has a lot of work to do, because a coven has hired him to draw some wards around their home and the rituals necessary for that have to be done the last day of the year and the first. And that’s not counting the two weeks of beforehand preparation he’s going to have to do in a week and a half.

Peter finally shrugs and decides to roll with it. Whatever it is that they have planned he’ll know soon enough. Hopefully.

The whole vacation, they spend more time outside their home than inside. Peter is losing hope of ever finding out what they have planned, but he’s not very heartbroken, because just the way Cora is getting back at the family (because it’s most certainly her, not Peter like everyone suspects… not that he’s going to confirm or deny anything) is the most entertaining thing he’s ever witnessed .

Then, Wolf Moon comes.

And Cora comes to the garden, protective charm necklace around her neck and with a defiant expression on her face.

And, in front of everyone, she performs a full shift and tackles the already wolf Peter.

If he could, he would cackle.

When Wolf Moon ends and they shift back, she proceeds to pull a cloak over him and look around at the stark naked people disdainfully.

“And, look at that, I don’t flash at anyone,“ she humphs as she leaves the clearing, a cackling Peter in tow.

He’s going to marry Stiles.

The letters keep coming. They’re not warm but they’re not cold, either.

The first time Stiles addresses him as dad again, John doesn’t even feel like an idiot for crying his eyes out.

“I want to try shifting into a cat next.”

“While I appreciate the irony, do you want to end as dog chew?“

“Don’t be an idiot, I never said what kind of cat.”

Stiles cackles.

Two years later, Peter decides it’s enough and that, since he’s never going to make special tier, he’s exhausted what he can (and wants to) learn from Salem. He knows Stiles is the same, but he’s just waiting for Cora to decide on a mentee.

He’s going to ask him to marry him. And since his initial courting got thwarted, he’s going to make it amazing and unique and memorable and all around awesome.

He spends an entire month mulling over it, about the how and the when. He gets a ring he knows Stiles will love. He researches wedding rituals. He cajoles and manipulates and blackmails some students and professors into helping. Basically, he does everything he can before feeling confident enough to finally go for it.

The day comes, everything is perfect, Stiles says yes.

Later, at Stiles’ common room cuddling each other, a sudden though assaults him… and a couple or three memories. And he recalls Ikari and Cora’s exasperated looks as of late, again.

“Stiles?”

“Mmhm?“

“Have you been courting me again?”

“Ah.“

“Dude,” comes from the end of the room, “he spent three months carving and assembling a protean charm. And he blew the laboratories three times before that.”

“And he went to the dragons to get those scales. He came back without eyebrows and had to grow them back with Capilagro.“

“Lets not forget about…”

“Okay, okay, I get it,“ Peter finally recovers enough to cut in. Stiles is shaking with the effort to contain his laughter.

“You were so cute planning all that and trying to hide it from me that I couldn’t destroy your efforts like that,” he admits with red all over his cheeks. Peter groans.

“I’m an idiot,“ he sighs chagrined.

“Yes, you are, but just sometimes and you have an amazing physique to compensate,“ Stiles snickers at him, “so I’ll let it slide this time.”

What Peter is, is so stupidly in love, he realizes.

He raises from the couch, pulling his wayward fiance with him and hoisting him up over his shoulder, and starts climbing the stairs to Stiles’s room enveloped by the sound of his laughter.