"I'm not sure I follow." Castiel frowns, pulling his telescope away from his eye to frown at Crowley. The other boy rolls his eyes and gestures at the open textbook in front of them.
"It says right there. I don't know why you kept Astronomy, you're terrible at it." Crowley doesn't even look away from the sky as he points, clearly admiring the clarity of Orion.
"Family tradition, I suppose. Michael and Raphael both took it to N.E.W.T. level, as did our father. Balthazar excels at it, and I assume Anna will when she starts studying it." Castiel repositions his telescope a little and looks through it again.
"Gabriel and Luke never studied it?" Crowley comments as he marks a few positions on his star chart.
"You know that. Gabriel failed the O.W.L. and it didn't exactly fit with Luke's career path, shall we say." Castiel frowns again, pulling away to fold up his star chart and stuff it back inside his book.
"Where are you going?" Crowley asks as he leans away from his telescope to watch Castiel force his book back into his bag and throw it over his shoulder.
"Bed. It's past one in the morning and we have Quidditch practice tomorrow. If we're half asleep on a broom with a bat in our hands, someone could be Bludgered to death."
"And I take it you're thinking I'll let you copy my star chart before Sinistra has your head?"
"Maybe. We'll see." Castiel smiles, just barely, like Crowley is used to, and disappears down the stairs towards the Grand Staircase.
Crowley is half asleep and grumbling over breakfast the following morning when Castiel shows up in his knitted green-and-grey Quidditch jersey with his bat tucked under his arm and an almost smirk on his face.
"I heard you come in last night." He says as he sets his bat on the table and his owl deposits a Daily Prophet in front of him. "Four am. New record for you, I think."
"Why are you still talking?" Crowley groans into his cereal as Castiel rustles his paper. He looks up to glare at him but spots Anna over his shoulder. "And why is Anna talking to a Hufflepuff?"
Castiel wheels around to look at his sister, who is sitting over at the Hufflepuff table talking animatedly with a boy he recognizes as Sam Winchester.
"I think they're friends."
"Doesn't she know she's a Novak? One of the most revered pureblood families in the wizarding world? Why is she talking to him?"
"I think they're friends." Castiel repeats, reading the headlines in his paper absently.
"It's too early for this." Crowley drinks his juice down in one and stands up, picking up his bat and hitting Castiel on the shoulder with in it what's supposed to be a playful way. Castiel frowns at him. "Come on, we'll be late."
By the time they arrive at the Quidditch grounds, most of their team is already there, as are, bizarrely, several members of the Gryffindor team. Meg and Ruby are arguing loudly with Jo, the Gryffindor captain.
"We booked the pitch; it's our practice session that you're interrupting." Ruby shouts loudly, and Crowley and Castiel hang back beside Bela, one of their new Chasers.
The Gryffindors only appear to have brought four members of their team; their new Keeper, Ash, and their Chasers; Jo herself, Dean, Sam's older brother and a new, terrified second year.
Eventually they relent and agree to halve the pitch, since they only need to practice formations. Ruby sighs and agrees, mounting her broom and kicking off from the ground with the Quaffle in her hand. Castiel and Crowley release one of the Bludgers and kick off into the air themselves.
They hit the Bludger back and forth to each other until Crowley gets bored and decides to take a wider swing and aim at the Gryffindors at the other end of the pitch. It heads straight for the new second year, so Castiel glares at him and leans forward on his broom to head after it.
Dean spots Castiel when he turns around to reposition behind Jo and sees both a Bludger and a panicked Slytherin sixth year barrelling towards them. His eyes widen as Castiel overtakes the Bludger, swings around and draws his arm back, firing the Bludger back at Crowley.
"What the hell was that?" Dean shouts across at him, eyes narrow. Castiel sighs, pushes up the sleeves of his sweater carefully and turns to talk to him.
"Sorry. My teammate gets a little overzealous when it comes to competition."
"Does this look like a competition to you?" Dean retorts, and Castiel frowns at him, setting one hand back to the front of his broom.
"I'm sorry, Dean. It's not like I didn't stop it in time."
"How do you know my name?"
"We're in several classes together. You sit next to me in Ghoul Studies. And I believe my sister is friends with your younger brother."
"Wait, that's you?"
"Yes, well done. Castiel Novak." He introduces himself properly, sitting back on his broom and holding out his hand.
"Er, Dean Winchester." Dean shakes his hand with a small, awkward smile on his face.
"Sorry about the Bludger incident. I'll talk to Crowley. I'll see you in class tomorrow." Castiel twists his bat in his hand and turns to fly back to Crowley. Dean watches him go, and laughs lightly when he hits Crowley around the head with his bat.
"Dean! Stop making eyes at that Slytherin and get over here!"
"Why were you talking to one of the Gryffindors?" Meg, their Seeker, asks as she flies over. Ruby is drilling Bela on basic shots and dodges.
"Because my idiotic excuse for a teammate here," he pauses to flick the back of his broom out to hit Crowley in the side, "decided to try and take them out with the Bludger."
Meg looks between them for a few moments and sighs, shaking her head at the two of them and straightening her robes.
"Just... Go, okay? You two are obviously as... co-operative as ever, you've done about as much as you can. Go and relax for the game tomorrow. And try not to kill each other."
Crowley laughs at her and follows Castiel as he heads back to the ground to wrestle the Bludger back into the trunk. Meg shakes her head at the two of them, laughing lightly as she watches as they dismount their broomsticks and Castiel watches as Crowley tries to coax the Bludger back without getting hit in the face. She's turned back to watch Ruby and Bela when a loud thud rises from the ground and Crowley swears loudly.
Crowley is sporting a mostly faded black eye when they regroup below the stands next morning before the game. Madam Pomfrey was apparently unable to do much else, much to the amusement of everyone else on the team. Crowley grumbles under his breath when Ruby laughs in his face when they huddle together.
"Now, we stand a good chance of winning this match," Ruby says with a smug smirk on her face, tying her hair back as she talks, "especially since most of their team are new and don't understand that we're a force to be reckoned with."
She laughs again, and Castiel rolls his eyes at her. Meg hits him playfully around the arm and he pulls his green cloak fastened over his chest.
"Chin up, Novak." Ruby continues, raising her eyebrows at him and throwing him his bat. "We can't lose."
Crowley wraps his arm around Castiel's waist as they fly up to the pitch to huge cheers. Castiel pushes Crowley away from him as he comes face to face with Gryffindor's number two Beater, Gordon Walker; a surly seventh year who supposedly has anger management issues. The guy actually growls at him, and Castiel rolls his eyes and looks over his head to see Gabriel and Balthazar in the stands, holding a huge Slytherin scarf that Gabriel had obviously transfigured bigger. He shakes his head and laughs to himself, and then the Quaffle is thrown in the air and the game is underway.
He spends the majority of the game circling above the stands, while Crowley weaves in and out and almost knocks Jo off her broom at least twice with a well aimed hit.
Crowley is distracted hitting a Bludger at Gordon to protect Ruby as she scores that he doesn't spot Meg leaning forward on her broom and barrelling towards the ground at high speed. Gordon hits the Bludger at her and Castiel sighs as he dips down quickly to intercept and send the Bludger at the huddle of Chasers heading towards the Slytherin goal hoops.
Meg catches the Snitch behind him, raising her hand in victory, golden wings flapping pathetically outside her closed fist.
But Castiel isn't watching.
Dean is falling off his broom. Or rather, he's hanging on by one hand and all Jo is doing is screaming at him. Castiel hesitates for a second, considers flying over to help until Meg and Crowley are grabbing him and grinning and pulling him over to the rest of the team.
Everyone lands and the teams shake hands, just to be civil, and Castiel stares at Dean's bloody nose and for some reason feels remorse.
"I'm sorry about... You know." Castiel says as everyone walks off the pitch. Dean laughs quietly, wiping away the blood with the back of his hand.
"It doesn't matter. It's just a game. Nothing Pomfrey can't fix." He slaps Castiel on the back and smiles lopsided at him, and Castiel frowns a little and attempts to smile back. "I'll see you in class tomorrow."
Castiel watches him go, and Crowley hesitates beside him to watch the expression on his face.
"Oh, Christ, I know that look. A Winchester? Really, Cas?"