It’s been almost three hundred years when Castiel finally dies, but his memory, like the rest of him, is perfected. He knows his brother’s light.
"Where are we?" he asks. They cannot be where they are. It can’t exist.
Two hundred and fifty years ago Dean had clutched Castiel’s hand with a grip too strong for his failing frame, and demanded, Where do you guys go when you die?
Castiel couldn’t answer him, or the six who came after, unwilling to tell any of them what he thought he knew: nowhere, not anymore. He’d looked down and away seven times, kissed seven hands, anointed seven faces.
"You know." Samandriel’s voice chimes with its old, familiar song. "You always knew. You just forgot, for a while."
Castiel has no eyes to lower anymore, but he makes himself small and dim and veils his sight. “Then I have no place here.” Samandriel is proof of that. A hundred other names, a hundred thousand. Castiel is perfected; he remembers every single one.
Soft wings enfold him, lift him toward a shimmering peak. As they draw nearer, Castiel sees a table there, and chairs, and hears so many voices.
He sees seven faces.
"No," he says, suddenly frantic, struggling in Samandriel’s warm grasp. "No," louder and louder until it shatters the air. "No, I want it, no—this isn’t right.” To his shame, he can’t make himself look away. “Don’t let me,” he begs wildly, “please—”
"Look, Castiel." Samandriel’s wings tremble with joy. "Don’t you remember?"
Samandriel seats him gently. “We are forgiven.” His wings skim through Castiel’s grace like a hand across the waters as he withdraws, his voice growing fainter. “We always have been.”
Castiel looks at the table. He looks at the plate set out for him.
He looks up.