Stiles wakes up to Derek pulling him into his lap; arms protectively wrapping around him while softly hushing him. His throat is sore, he’s sucking for air, but he’s not screaming anymore. His heart is racing, the terror still aching heavily in his chest, and he’s clutching the arms holding him on pure instinct.
“You’re awake,” Derek tells him, his hot breath curling over the back of Stiles’ neck. “You’re okay. You’re awake.”
It takes a moment of further reassuring before Stiles remembers how to breathe again. He goes limp in Derek’s arms and probably would’ve fallen to the floor if it hadn’t been for Derek firmly keeping him in place. Stiles whimpers, wondering if his dad will come running, but figures he would’ve done it already if not thinking Derek could handle it.
“This was a bad idea,” Derek sighs into his hair. “I’m not helping.”
“You are,” Stiles pants out, chest still heaving and fingers still digging into Derek’s arm. He hadn’t been screaming as much this time, and despite the nightmare he has a feeling it’d be twice as horrible if Derek hadn’t been there. “Please, just— Don’t leave.”
His plea is barely a whisper, but he knows Derek heard it when he nuzzles his neck and tightens his arms around him.
It’s their 7th year at Hogwarts, and while Stiles is looking forward to Quidditch matches and kicking ass on his N.E.W.T.S., the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is becoming quite the distraction.
Stiles faces the cameras, waves his hand and smiles like he’s been trained his whole life to do. His back aches from the stiff posture, and he resists the urge to run his hands through his hair. A reporter asks him a question about his father’s upcoming peace summit, and Stiles automatically recites the answers.
Remember to smile. Remember the answers. Remember to be charming like Mom taught me.
The reporter thanks him, and Stiles continues down the line, answering more questions about the summit, but also superficial questions like who he was rooting for in the World Cup and what’s the worst thing about being the son of a king. “Never getting good curly fries,” Stiles answers, which isn’t what the reporter expects. “I never get to just run through a drive thru and get fries, and the one time I did, the workers were so nervous my fries were burnt.”
“Couldn’t they just make them for you at the castle?” the reporter asks.
Stiles grins and winks at her. “Just not the same.”
Be charming. Be funny. “You don’t have to be Prince William,” his mother had told him. “You don’t always have to be serious.”
His bodyguards stand by watchfully as Stiles takes photos with a few people, and then he faces the cameras again. His fingers self-consciously go to the waist of his dress pants, because they feel too tight, too restricting. But Lydia had insisted that his outfit was perfectly tailored. “This is what you pay me for, Stiles,” she’d huffed. “Now let me do my job.”
He trusts Lydia with everything, from his clothes and hair to booking his appointments, but that doesn’t make him feel any less constricted and ridiculous in these tight-fitting pants. He misses the days when he could wear oversized khakis and hoodies, despite the fact that he was heir to the throne. Sometimes, he thinks turning eighteen had been the worst thing to happen to him.
Stiles walks towards the car waiting for him on the curb. He waves for the remaining cameras, shouts out a few one-word answers to reporters’ questions, watches as his bodyguards keep more eager reporters from rushing him. At the car, he turns and gives one final, regal wave before slipping inside.
He takes a deep breath once the door’s closed. Without the adrenaline that comes with being in the public eye, his hands start to shake violently.
His driver, Isaac, turns around to look at him. “Are you okay, your highness?”
Stiles concentrates on his breathing – in out in out in out – the panic ebbing, though the shaking doesn’t stop. “I’m fine, Isaac.” He shoots him a weary smile. “Let’s go home.”