If Castiel was something, it was lonely. He never cared about it, he always told himself, even on his short 11 years, that the only friends he would need were his books and the owl his big brothers just have him when his Hogwarts' letter arrived.
His close family made a big feast in his honor, the younger member of the family was finally starting his school life to become a wizard. Castiel loved his family, he really did, but with the constant commentary of how he was 'finally going to get friends', he was ready to call it quits on the celebration. All his family was there; it wasn't unusual for the Novak-Milton clan to reunite, but the younger Novak wasn't very sure about his acceptance in Hogwarts being a success important enough to throw a party of that magnitude. Anyway, his family didn't care.
Now, the younger ones of the clan had left the party, which they knew the older ones were grateful for. Cas was petting his gift while his cousins Hannah, Anael and Samadriel lied next to him on his gigantic bed his brothers had insisted of buying him when he was still a toddler.
"Come on, Castiel, you can't not be excited by this. You are finally going to school!" Anael was already a year ahead of him at school and she was excited to share everything she could with his younger cousin. "Aren't you a little iti bit excited?"
"Of course, Ana" Cas answered and looked at his pet "I'm just overwhelmed by my brothers. Gabriel made a map of the school he made a few years back when he was on 5th grade and Michael and Luc are taking me tomorrow to buy everything for school. Thank God Raph is not that enthusiast about this" he bit his lip "although I'm sure he will be passing me all his notes and books so I can study from them"
"I know it looks overwhelming, Castiel" Hannah comforted him by touching his shoulder "but you are really going to be happy there. My mom told me they have an incredible library, so if the whole 'making friends' thing doesn't work you will still have something to pass the time" Castiel nodded and smiled at her.
"I wish I could go too" Samandriel still had a year more so he could get in Hogwarts, and Castiel felt bad for him, he wished he had the same expectation that his cousin.
"Next year, Alfie, next year" Anna comforted him.
Two weeks later Castiel was in Diagon Alley praying for his sanity. Instead of just Michael and Lucifer going with him, his other older brothers wanted to come too; there is how poor young angel-face Castiel Novak found himself rounded by his intimidating (Lucifer and Gabe) and serious (Michael and Raph) brothers who called the attention of every bystander. First it was his wand, he knew it would be a lost cause to ask Mich for his old wand. 'it's not yours, Cas, it won't answer to you as good as your own would'. Batshit.
It took Ollivander approximately 10 minutes to find Cas' wand: 'pine wood with a phoenix's feather core, 10 inches, reasonably supple' the wand-maker had said.
Next were his clothes and he had to endure half an hour of his brothers beaming at him when he tried on his robes. It seat a question on Cas' head he haven't had yet; which house was he going to be put in? Michael has been put in Gryffindor and everyone expected Luc to be the same but he had been put in Slytherin, the same as Gabriel and Raphael had been a Ravenclaw.
"Gabe" he started when they had left with his new clothes and were walking to the library. "Do you-"
Someone coughed behind them "excuse me?" A gruff voice made Cas turn around and watch the man. His brothers did too and the man looked uncertain. "Sorry for interrupting but...do you know where I can buy these...books?" The man had on his hand a parchment with the Hogwarts' shield printed on the top.
"Oh, you can buy them in Flourish and Blotts, we are heading there" Michael answered and extended his hand "I'm Michael Novak" the man took it and shook it.
"John Winchester" he looked behind him " and these are Dean and Sam, my sons"
Castiel just then realized that there were two boys behind the man. One of the boys couldn't be older than 7 or 8 years old and was claspping his father's hand tightly, afraid of letting go. The other one...
Castiel had never seen a kid so pretty before. The kid had to be his age and had eyes that shined as bright as two emeralds. The boy waved a hand to his brothers and smiled brightly to Castiel who just looked at the kid awestuck.
"Oh, my bad" he heard his brother talking "this one here is our younger brother, Castiel. This is his first year"
"Oh, it is Dean's too" John looked at his son "I'm afraid we are taking too long buying the things on his list. His mother was the witch and knew about this..."
"Why..." Cas hawked shyly and tried again "Why don't you come with us, sir? My brothers know where to go and have experience at buying their school lists"
"That is, of course, if you don't have anything else to do" Gabriel added and looked at his sibling impressed, the kid never talked to strangers.
"It would help us a lot, thank you" John answered and looked down at his children "we'll go with them, boys." Both kids nodded and they started walking by the tight alley.
Castiel couldn't stop looking at the older child while they walked, so he turned bright red when he caught him spying.
"You are 11, then?" The kid, Dean, walked closer to Cas and without asking for permission he took him by his elbow "we could get lost" he explained and Castiel nodded.
"Yes... I'm 11" he answered the previous question.
"Cool, we are going to be close friends" Dean said with a tone of authority that made Cas crack a barely-there smile. They walked in silence for a while and Dean spoke again "Which house do you want to be in? For what my mum used to tell me there is 4 of them, she was a Gryffindor, I don't know what it means but she was good at Quidditch."
"I-I don't know..." Castiel stuttered "I heard it is common for wizards families to all be put in the same house but with us each house had been changing"
"I hope to be a Gryffindor too" the kid smiled and Castiel saw how he had a teeth missing. The arrived at the bookstore and they were ordered to stay together (and take care of Sam) while they bought their books so the subject was dropped for a second but Dean, Castiel found out, never forgot a thing because he continued "So...any idea of what house you like?"
"I will probably be put in Ravenclaw" Cas flinched, right, now he would think he was some kind of weirdo "no-not because I'm smart of something I just like to read"
"That's cool! I like books too but mostly fiction things, I don't like homework" he paused "So, do you like Quidditch?"
"I haven't played but I have enjoyed some of the matches I've seen with my cousins" he paused "you probably play, don't you?"
"I haven't played for real" Dean smiled "My mom did. When she was still alive she taught me how to play. Sadly, I haven't fled a broom ever"
"We will be taught how to fly one in our first year" he mumbled and jumped when he heard Raphael came behind him saying they were ready. "Oh..right...well" he played with his fingers "It was nice to meet you Dean and Sam, I hope to see you soon" just as his family had taught him over the years, he stuck his hand out for Dean to shake, which the other boy awkwardly did, finally parting ways with the half-blood kids.
Castiel still had time before school started but he didn't want to get there and be behind the other kids so he borrowed his brother's old books (he didn't want to ruin his new books...not yet at least) and closed himself off in his bedroom to study. Gabriel would come bargaining from time to time to mock him, Michael would appear to make sure Castiel was well fed (he was) and wouldn't be reading past his curfew (he did anyway). Raphael was the only one who wouldn't bother him, just coming once in a while only to sit with Cas on his desk and work or read in silence.
He didn't want to admit it, but when the time to leave his home came, he felt disappointed by the lack of time he had with his brothers, and he told Gabe as much.
"Don't worry, kiddo, Luci is going with you anyway, and you got Grace with you, we'll be writing as much as possible...we will bug you so much you won't remember we are not really there" Gabriel messed up Castiel's hair affectionately and kissed the top of his head. "We'll miss you Cassie"
It was 10:45 and he still had to find a sit so he said his goodbyes to his brothers and took his luggage, carrying it to the train while his brothers, the upstanding wizards that everyone looked up to, started screaming at him
"Write as much as you can!"
"Don't curse anyone!"
"Don't do anything that I wouldn't do!"
So, yeah, he was embarrassed by his brothers, but oh how would he miss them while he was away. He saw Lucifer climbing in the next waggon with other teachers; so he really was alone, then. Giving his other brothers a wave he climbed on the train and set himself to find some seat where he wouldn't bother anyone. He passed the normal seats but there was none left for him to take so he reluctantly walked by the cabins which with luck would have space for him.
"Heya, Cas!" He jumped in surprise and turned around to see who had called. The older Winchester, who he had met two weeks early, was calling for him while pointing the cabin where he was. He thought it and decided that it would be better to seat with someone he did know instead of some stranger.
He took his small bag with his uniform and walked towards the boy and entered in the cabin.
"Hello Dean" he greeted the guy and sat in front of him carefully putting his bag beside him. "It's nice to see you again"
"Yeah you too man" Dean smiled and looked out of the window "the train is starting, let's say goodbye!" the wizard kneeled on the bench and started shouting. "GOODBYE DAD! BYE SAMMY!" He turned around "come on Cas, come say goodbye to your family" reluctantly, the boy accepted and climbed beside him and started waving at his brothers. In the end he was glad he did it because his brothers faces lightened when they saw him, even Raphael started screaming at him.
Yes he was glad to see his family one last time.
The next hours felt kind of awkward for Castiel; he really was not a sociable being and spending hours with Dean had brought his weirdness (is that even a word?) to the surface. Dean didn't seem to mind thought, because he kept talking about things without calling Cas out for his lack of speaking.
"So, 4 older siblings?" Dean started after two hours of random fact like hobbies, pets, favourite meal, etcetera.
"Ummm...yes" Cas fidgeted with the edge of his seat where a thread was missing.
"What are their names? Do they go to our school? Is any of them younger than you?" Cas flinched a little over the enthusiasm of the boy but tried to relax, it was time to start making friends...
"Th-the older one is...M-Michael, he's 30, he works for the International Confederation of Wizards." He took a deep breath and shuddered "Then there is Lucifer who works here on Hogwarts, he's the teacher of Defence Against Dark Arts since...two years ago? But he's leaving this year so he can marry his fiancee, Ruby. Then there's Raphael who's 25 and is a non-fiction writer, mostly things about magical devices he discovered. The last one is Gabriel who's 19 and opened a candyshop on Hogsmade. I'm the younger so..." he looked down and blushed when he realized how much he babbled, not used to talk that much. "A-a...I'm sorry..."
Dean was awestruck and was happy to see how much the boy opened up to him. Since he saw him on Hogsmade he knew the boy was shy, he could see it in the way his hand fidgeted with everything or how he couldn't look him in the eyes when they were talking or how he would himself look smaller than he was. He found him endearing but he didn't want to make the guy uncomfortable so he tried to talk as much as he could so the kid wouldn't have to talk to much. He was happy to see how he started warming up to him.
"Doesn't matter!" Dean exclaimed happily "I like to talk about my brother too! Yours appear to be really nice"
A few minutes later a lady with a cart full of candy appeared in front of the cabin "want any, sugars?"
Dean looked like a kid in a candystore (duh) but then looked downcast "sorry miss..."
Cas stood up and took a bunch of coins from his pocket "don't worry, choose anything you like, my treat" he said with more confidence that he felt. Deep inside he knew Dean problem came with the lack of money and he wouldn't stand the kid feeling so bad over something as simple as money.
"Cas-" be sighed but stood up "thank you" Castiel smiled and paid for the guy, then closed the door behind himself when the lady left "seriously Cas, thank you, you didn't need to do that"
"Don't worry, Dean. I wanted to"
From the on their conversation fled smoothly. Cas still had problems having a chat with his fellow classmate (was he even?) but worked hard to keep up with the conversation, only stopping when a girl passing by announced they were close to the school. They got their uniforms from their bags and changed without looking at the other.
"I'm so excited!" Dean was close to jumping on his seat when they stopped. "Let's go!" Both scrambled to get their bag and left the train stopping in front of a big man with a beard who introduced himself as Hagrid. All the first year's kids walked behind him towards an staircase where he left them for a moment. Beside them was a kid trying to tie his tie and another girl next to him was talking to herself and jumping nervously.
"Cas?" Dean tapped his arm "do you know what's next?"
"My cousin told me someone's going to fetch us and we are going to be lead to the Great Hall where the hat is going to sort us in one of the four different houses" he looked around "someone's coming"
A woman came from the top of the stairs and stopped in front of them to greet them and explain what Castiel had just said. "Follow me" she started walking up the stairs again and Dean latched himself to Castiel's arm while they hurried behind her. Two big doors opened and they were standing inside the Great Hall where four long tables and thousands of candles adorned the ceiling that projected a beautiful night.
When they reached the end of the hall they stopped in front of a chair where moments later a hat was placed. The kids gasped when they saw the hat moving and starting to-was it dancing?- and singing. When it stopped the same woman opened a parchment and started calling their names. The first one was the girl they saw bouncing at the start who confidently sat on the chair having the hat placed on her head later. The hat hummed and called out "Ravenclaw"
As the kids passed Cas felt himself more convinced he would be put on Ravenclaw as Raphael has said back home. So invested he was on that that he missed his name being called, only regaining his focus when Dean touched his hand and gripped it tightly.
Silently he walked to the chair and looked down while the hat was being placed above him.
"mmm...you have a very interesting mind, young kid, do you have anywhere you want to be?" the hat spoke to him.
"my brother said I would go to Ravenclaw" he answered back
"but it is that what you want? What do you want?"
Castiel looked up and looked at Dean by reflex and blushed. Just as that The Sorting Hat spoke aloud "Hufflepuff!"
The woman, Professor McGonagall, led him to a table in the middle-left where he sat, expectant of the result of his friend. When Dean's name was exclaimed, the Hufflepuff stopped hearing what the 5th year girl at his side was brawling and focused on the kid.
Dean was excited. His mother had told him when he was younger that when she had been sorted she learnt a little cheat that was to keep in mind something you felt or wanted or loved so the hat would sort you depending on it. So he did.
He sat on the wooden chair and looked up to the hat and concentrated his mind and heart on a single thought. 'Mom'
The hat was quick with this one, crying out "Gryffindor!" for everyone to hear. He bounced put of the chair and ran to the the table the teacher in front of him told him to, quickly engaging himself in a conversation with another student. He completely forgot about the other kid on the other table.
It was a blur from then. The Headmaster gave a speech to the new kids, introduced some new teachers and gave them warnings about not going to the Forbidden Forest or being out of their beds after curfew. Dinner was served and Dean busied himself with pumpkin pie and meeting his new classmates. When time came to go to their bedrooms he was already excited for classes.
Castiel was not as aflame as Dean. The guys on his house weren't like him: they were charismatic and had a lot of friends; they were friendly which Castiel was not. He was questioning the hat's motive to put him on Hufflepuff; it did not make sense for a lonesome to be put with them.
He did not want to send a letter to his brothers explaining how he was not good enough to be sorted in one of the 'strong houses' as some people liked to say it; he could not bear to witness the disappointment in his family's letters.
His mind was full of dark thoughts about his future, thoughts that made him felt worse the closer they got to the kitchens. He barely felt or paid attention to the trip to their common room; only once he was inside, his mind caught up with his surroundings. The older kids already had their bedrooms sorted and when he finally realized he would have to find roommates it was too late: every kid had found a place. After going room after room he found one that had two kids inside; it was the only bedroom with an empty bed so he shyly brought his luggage to a bed next to the door.
"Hey kid! What are you doing here?" One of the children asked him and Cas flinched.
"This...this is the only empty one" he answered turning around. Now that he had a better light he saw that the boys were twins, their only difference being their eye color which was green in one and brown in the other.
"I don't care, we don't want anyone else in our room! Get out!"
That being said, Castiel Novak spent his first day in Hufflepuff and in Hogwarts, sleeping alone with a coat covering him up, in the couch of the Common Room.