Years ago, the Hale castle was invaded by the Argents. Derek remembers being with his sister Laura and their nanny. They were studying in one of the rooms of the west wing when everything started to collapse. The servants were shouting, windows broken and a fire that was spreading at full speed. They were trapped and that was the first moment where Derek experienced actual fear for the first time.
There was a boy, though. He was younger than Derek, but apart from that, Derek knew nothing about him. Except how he saved their lives and helped them escape through a secret passage inside the castle.
The city was a chaos, people pushing everywhere, stealing the nearby shops and taking everything they could. That’s how Derek stopped holding Laura’s hand. She screamed his name, but it was too late. He was being dragged by the crowd, the train was leaving and he was too small to climb it. A shiny necklace was being thrown at him and as soon as he caught it, he glanced up to look at Laura. “Find me.”
When Stiles’ mother dies, he and his father are left with bills and more bills because of a treatment that never worked. His father leaves the city temporarily to look for a job, but it’s been two years since Stiles is left trying to make a living in this city. Well, not entirely alone, he has Scott with him. Together they manage to find some small jobs here and there. But their way of living is to find some hidden treasures inside the Hale castle. Stiles knows that castle upside down, he knows every secret passage, every chamber, every little corner. When Scott can’t come with him, Stiles spends hours walking around the castle, looking at the pictures of a family long lost. He remembers the Hales, the parties, their smiles… He also remembers the only prince of the family and how he always wanted to be allowed to play with him. He remembers saving his life.
Scott meets him one day with the greatest news ever, he said. Laura Hale, the oldest princess, was looking for her long lost brother. Their nanny passed away a year ago and she has no one else left. Laura believes that her brother is still alive and, the best news for Stiles, she offers a good amount of money for anyone who finds him. Enough to make him quit this meaningless life, pay all the bills and live happily with his father.
Obviously, the city is in a frenzy. No one mentioned the Hales for years and suddenly not only they found out Laura is alive, but the prince might be alive too. Stiles always knew it though, but right now he doesn’t have time to search around the world for a boy with dark hair and hazel eyes. That’s how Stiles and Scott, while everyone is looking for the real prince, go on a quest to find out someone that looks similar. Stiles is good with faces, he will find his long lost fake prince.
At first, Derek was just a business deal. Some replica of the prince, too perfect to be true. Derek is rude, grumpy, they fight a lot and it’s mostly Scott who convinces Derek to come around. They never tell him the truth though. It’s a good deal. Derek doesn’t have a family, Laura doesn’t have a family; and Stiles and Scott are watching both their families fall apart. Everyone wins.
The plan goes smoothly. Thanks to Stiles, Derek starts to behave like a real prince; it’s difficult at first, but during the trip to where Laura is living, they manage to not tear each other apart. They become close, maybe too close.
When Derek finally opens up and shows Stiles his most valuable and only treasure, Stiles finds out that Derek is not just a simple replica, he is the prince. He is the one that Stiles saved that night. And Stiles is about to lose him one more time.
“You’ll be fine, Derek,” Stiles tells him at night when he notices that Derek can’t sleep. It’s probably their last night living like peasants. Their last night together.
“How are you so sure?” Derek whispers and there’s something in his voice that makes him look like he’s that scared kid again.
“I know that when you lose someone, your only wish is to see them again. Laura wants to see you.”
“What if it’s not her? What if she doesn’t recognize me? What if I don’t feel like she’s really my sister? What if–”
“Derek,” he looks straight at Derek, his hazel eyes flickering with the low light, just like that night of the fire. But this time there’s no screaming and no smoke, there’s only the sound of Scott sleeping next to Stiles’ bed.
“You’ll know. Trust me.”