"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?"
"Quidditch Through the Ages, huh?" Dean asks as he slopes up outside Classroom 3C and leans against the wall beside Castiel.
"What? Oh, right. It's for my brother; he finds Madam Pince unnerving, so I have to withdraw books on his behalf." Castiel admits with a small laugh. "I mentioned I was going to collect a copy of Defensive Magical Theory and Gabriel demanded I pick this up for him. When he plans to get it from me is another matter, though."
"Where's your friend? What's his name, Crowley or something?" Dean asks absently, watching as Castiel rearranges the books in his hand until his copy of The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self Protection rests on the top. Dean remembers then that he left his in his trunk in the dormitory.
"Crowley is in his Xylomancy class. He found Defence Against the Dark Arts to be both tedious and pointless." Castiel replies, with an almost practiced rhythm.
"What the hell is Xylomancy?" Dean asks, raising his eyebrows and frowning slightly.
"Apparently it's some ludicrous form of Divination that involves analyzing burning wood." Castiel looks back at Dean's dumbfounded expression as they walk into class behind two Ravenclaw girls that have just arrived. "I know. As if Divination wasn't ridiculous enough."
They take their seats on opposite sides of the classroom and wait, for what seems like an age, for Professor Merrythought to appear from her office at the top of the stairs and start lecturing them on non-verbal magic. Castiel makes some notes, but ultimately, no one manages to produce a decent shield charm except for a particularly cocky Hufflepuff girl.
Dean considers slyly hexing her, but Professor Merrythought dismisses them with a smile and a wave before he gets chance.
"Where are you going?" Dean asks as he catches up with Castiel as he leaves the room.
"I was planning on going to Study Hall to make a start on my Arithmancy essay before Crowley tries to get on my nerves. And maybe find my brother." Castiel replies as he heads on to the Grand Staircase.
"Mind if I come with you? Sam might be up there, he's kind of a nerd."
"Your relationship with your brother seems... Interesting." Castiel replies, raising an eyebrow as he pushes open the door to the fourth floor corridor.
"I love him, don't get me wrong, he's just kind of a bitch sometimes."
"I know how you feel. I'm the youngest boy in a family of eight, and the only one of us younger than me is my baby sister, so I have to put up with all the hell from my brothers. They'd never irritate a girl; they know better than that."
"Eight, really? How did your parents cope?"
"They didn't. They relied a lot on my oldest brothers to look after us most of the time, but most of them weren't very good with children, despite being children themselves. Uriel was nine when I was born, Raphael was five, but neither of them liked me much. They still don't, actually. Then the first set of twins, Michael and Luke, were three, so they spent more of their time fighting with each other than doing anything else, really. Gabriel and Balthazar were born two years later, but they were barely a year old when I was born. Then Anna was born when I was four, and our parents just stopped caring when she was one, so I basically had to bring her up."
"...That's kind of messed up." Dean replies, and Castiel fixes him with a look that would silence him if he knew him any better. "Seriously?"
"Yes. And I think we did an okay job, considering the circumstances." Castiel takes a few longer strides as he talks, and Dean knows he's inadvertently touched a nerve.
"Sorry. That came out wrong." Dean says sheepishly, catching up with him as they enter the study hall. "I mean, I probably couldn't even look after myself for four years, let alone Sam too."
Castiel looks at him for a long moment, frowning slightly as if he's calculating something. His expression softens after a second, and he nods, just barely. Dean wonders if it's some kind of gesture of forgiveness.
"Dean! Hey." Sam says, spotting his brother from across the room. He's sitting with Anna, who waves at Castiel. He smiles at her and moves over, Dean following behind him.
"How was Potions?" Castiel asks his sister as he sits down opposite her. Dean forces himself into the seat next to him.
"It was good. You were right, swelling solutions are really easy."
"No they're not." Sam and Dean reply in unison, and Castiel and Anna stare at them for a long moment before Castiel laughs.
"Dean, you study N.E.W.T. Potions. How can a basic second year assignment stump you?" Castiel mocks him as he rummages through his books to find his copy of Numerology and Grammatica.
"Just because I study it doesn't mean I enjoy it." Dean practically pouts, frowning as Castiel opens his book to a page full of charts.
"Then why do you do it?" Castiel asks as he rummages for a piece of parchment and a quill.
"He hasn't told you?" Sam stares at his brother in disbelief. "It's usually the first thing he tells anyone!"
"Shut up, Sam."
"Dean wants to be an Auror, and he needs Potions to do it."
Castiel surveys him again, an expression of quiet interest on his face.
"Well, I suppose it's a bit more interesting than wanting to be an Arithmancer. I'll be staring at numbers every day for the rest of my life." He smiles lopsidedly at Dean, and Anna frowns at her older brother. He hasn't smiled like that in years.
"What does this even mean?" Dean asks, sounding exasperated, as he gestures at the book Castiel is reading from. He spots Castiel's timetable wedged between two books and leans over him to grab it. "You must take at least one interesting class."
Castiel seems to ignore him, and starts noting down a few number patterns on his parchment.
"You do Advanced Arithmancy too? How smart even are you?" Dean asks in quiet disbelief.
"Oh, Cas is really smart." Anna interrupts with a smirk. Castiel goes pink across the top of his cheeks and looks down at his work.
Dean is about to make a comment, but a boy slides into the seat on Castiel's other side.
"Hey, bro." He says, leaning over Castiel to grab Quidditch Through the Ages.
"Gabriel." Castiel replies, looking up at his brother for a fraction of a second before frowning. "Where's Balthazar?"
"He's doing some boring Prefect thing. He did tell me, but I didn't listen to him." Gabriel explains lazily, flicking through the book.
"Actually, Gabriel, I didn't tell you." Balthazar appears behind his brother and frowns at him. "Because I knew you wouldn't be listening."
Dean watches them bickering and he swears Gabriel's eyes change colour when he blinks. Castiel sighs and slams his book closed after a few minutes.
"This is hopeless." He announces, and the twins stop snapping at each other for long enough to look at him. "Balthazar, I need your help with some Astronomy work."
"Okay. What is it?"
"It's just a star chart, nothing too complex."
"Let's go to the Astronomy tower and get it done, then. We've got no hope with this idiot around."
"I'm offended." Gabriel pouts, and now Dean's positive his eyes just turned blue.
"Oh, shut up." Anna snaps, rolling her eyes. "Mind if I come with you?"
Castiel and Balthazar nod, and she gets up and follows after them.
"I'll see you in class, Dean." Castiel says, raising his hand as he turns to leave. "Sam."
The Hufflepuff nods at him before he turns back to his Potions essay.
Gabriel sits with them for a few more minutes, in near complete silence as Sam writes up his potion theory and Dean starts flicking through Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in search of fire crabs.
"Well, it was a pleasure meeting you, Winchester." Gabriel announces as he slams his hands on the table and stands. "I'll see you around. Be gentle with him."
"You know." Gabriel almost glares at him, and it would be intimidating were it not for the fact that he's clearly small for his age and probably couldn't hurt a fly. He walks away from the two of them, and smirks a little to himself.
"Oh my God." Sam laughs when Gabriel is out of earshot.
"You like him, don't you?"
"What? No! We're barely even friends." Dean retorts, flipping through the pages in his book angrily.
"Yeah. Okay." Sam shakes his head at his brother and looks back at his work.
"Explain. Now." Balthazar demands as he and Anna push Castiel down the stairs to the second floor study hall.
"There's nothing to explain."
"So you didn't smile bigger than I've ever seen when he just looked at you?" Anna stares at him, her eyes fierce. Castiel stares right back at her, eyebrows furrowed. Balthazar looks between them, considers pushing them both if one of them doesn't say something, but Castiel's shoulders drop and he lets out a quiet breath. His voice is tiny when he speaks.
"I didn't, did I?"
I have no excuse for this taking so damn long, other than the (admittedly pitiful) fact that I've not long since got my A Level results and school crap kind of took over. Sorry! Also how do you Crowley/Jo/Dean/anyone.
Dean is grumbling quietly to Jo over dinner that night, absently pushing his food around his plate, when he sees Castiel, Balthazar and Anna walk into the hall together. Balthazar wraps an arm around Castiel's back and hugs him loosely, before he moves off to the Ravenclaw table. Castiel and Anna carry on whatever conversation they're having as they sit down at the Slytherin table on either side of Crowley.
"Any reason why Winchester is glaring a hole into my skull?" Crowley deadpans as he looks up from shovelling food into his face. Dean is glowering at him from the other side of the hall. The blonde girl sitting beside him seems to be lecturing him about something that he obviously cares little about.
"He glares at everyone." Anna replies, small smirk on her face. "Well, everyone that's not Sam or Cas. Or that girl sitting next to him, apparently."
"Isn't she the Gryffindor Quidditch captain?" Crowley asks, narrowing his eyes at her. "Name's Harvelle or something. Oh, that reminds me. Ruby told me to tell you that Quidditch practice is tomorrow, and on Thursday. Something to do with us needing to be ready to beat Ravenclaw."
"Does she realize that game isn't until February?" Castiel frowns, twisting his fork between his fingers. "It isn't even Christmas yet."
"Probably. But she also probably overestimates the abilities of the Ravenclaw team. But then, it's Ruby. I think she gets some kind of sick enjoyment out of working us like dogs."
Castiel frowns at his plate for a second, pours himself a coffee from the pot in the middle of the table and looks up. Dean is now no longer eyeing Crowley, and is instead staring at him. He stares back until the girl next to Dean taps him and draws him away.
"Stop staring at him! It's weird." Jo chides him, elbowing him in the side.
"He does it all the time." Dean replies with a huff, dropping his cutlery to his plate and sighing.
"So? His whole family do, I don't know if you've noticed. Michael was the worst for it; he used to terrify me during practice." Jo retorts. "And besides, just because he stares at you doesn't mean you should stare back. If he fell off his broom, would you fall too?"
Dean narrows his eyes at her, and she just laughs.
"Actually, don't answer that. You probably would."
"I hate you."
"I'm going to go say goodnight to Sam." Anna announces, swinging her legs over the bench and standing up. "I'll see you in the common room." She hugs Castiel around the neck and moves quickly off to the Hufflepuff table.
"How does it feel?" Crowley asks, draining his glass and slamming it on the table.
"How does what feel?"
"Your sister already has more friends than you. She's twelve, Cas."
Castiel stays silent, drinking his coffee quietly until only the dregs remain.
"I have enough friends."
"Really? Name one."
"I have you."
"I don't think that counts. We grew up together."
"So, what are you then? Are you still just the idiotic seven year old who lived next door and got his broom stuck in the tree in our front garden?"
Crowley frowns at him, straightens his blazer haphazardly with one hand and gets to his feet.
"I told you not to talk about that. We made a deal." He narrows his eyes at the other boy, and Castiel raises his eyebrows as if humouring him. "So, I'm going to try and get this Potions study finished before bed. Are you coming with me?" Crowley continues, offering out his arm.
"I suppose I'd better. I finished it on the day it was set, but I know you'll complain if I let you go alone."
"You know me so well." Crowley smirks at him, grabs his arm and pulls him out of his seat and down the gap between the tables to the doorway. Dean watches them go from the Gryffindor table.
"If you glare at him any harder, I think you might actually explode because of all of your suppressed rage." Jo comments with a laugh in her voice.
"Shut up and eat your chicken."
"So, I don't think Winchester likes me much." Crowley laughs as he leaves the Great Hall with Castiel on his arm. Castiel frowns at him, but doesn't say anything, then pushes his free hand through his unruly bangs and lets Crowley drag him to their common room.
"What's an appropriate use for a bezoar?" Crowley asks later, after two hours of flicking through the mountainous pile of textbooks next to him. Castiel sighs from the floor, where he's lying in front of the fire and staring out of the windows into the lake.
"They're an antidote to most poisons. That's first year knowledge, and I told you in class last week. Has your memory really gotten that bad?"
"I probably wasn't listening to you in the first place. Your voice has a certain drone to it that I tend to block out."
Castiel glares at him, and Crowley smirks almost playfully back at him as he scribbles down the few words on bezoars.
"See, you even bored Anna to sleep." Crowley points out as he rolls up his parchment and drops it unceremoniously on top of his copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Castiel looks up half-heartedly at his sister, who is sprawled out in one of the huge, leather armchairs, hair in her face and breathing quietly. Castiel smiles at her, almost affectionately, and hauls himself up from the floor to wake her.
She glares at him through her hair when she finally opens her eyes, and he almost smiles at her again as she bats him away and stumbles to her feet.
"You should go to bed." Castiel comments, eyeing his sister's sleepy frame. She pouts at him half-heartedly, but hugs him loosely with one arm around his waist and tells him goodnight before she heads for the girls' dormitories.
The two boys watch her go, and Crowley wraps an arm around Castiel's shoulders and steers him towards the stairs to the boys' dormitories.
"We should go too. Quidditch practice tomorrow, and all." Crowley sighs, sliding his arm away from Castiel's shoulders as he pushes him down the stairs. Castiel almost sighs, as if only now remembering. Crowley smirks softly, pushing Castiel into his bed before falling into his own.
He wakes the next morning to Castiel kicking his bedpost as he ties his tie.
"Get up. I can't take you to Transfiguration if you oversleep, I'd be late for Arithmancy."
Crowley groans at him and sits up, watching absently as Castiel rolls his shirt sleeves up and pulls his sweater over his head.
"Do I have to?" He grumbles, pulling himself up and fumbling around for his uniform.
"Yes. Unless you want Professor McGonagall on your case again."
Crowley huffs at him as he tugs his shirt on to his shoulders.
"I'll meet you in the common room." Castiel announces, scooping up his Arithmancy books. "And don't forget your essay on Animagi. I think that would get you killed."
The two of them stumble into the Great Hall ten minutes later, Crowley still straightening his blazer, with two rolls of parchment tucked under his arm.
"Remind me why I took Transfiguration?" Crowley sighs through a mouthful of toast as Castiel stirs his coffee.
"Because you're good at it, everyone else in your family took it, and you want to work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement." He replies with an almost practiced rhythm as he thumbs through his Arithmancy essay.
"Oh, yeah." Crowley deadpans, voice toneless. He had forgotten that Castiel doesn't have the best grasp of rhetorical questions. Castiel drinks all but a mouthful of his coffee in one motion, slamming the mug down and getting to his feet.
"I'm going to Arithmancy. I need to speak with Professor Vector before class. I'll see you in Potions." Castiel nods at him, and Crowley attempts to nod back, but gives up and slumps forward instead. Castiel almost laughs before he walks away.
Crowley sits there, forehead resting on the table, and is almost drifting off into a nap when a cough startles him.
"You're Crowley, right? Castiel's friend?" Dean asks, standing on the opposite side of the table, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Indeed I am. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Winchester." Crowley pulls himself up into a sitting position and holds out his hand. "Crowley Fergus McLeod, at your service."
"Uh, hi. I'm Dean." The Gryffindor frowns at him, but shakes his hand anyway.
"Oh, I know." Crowley almost smirks at him, priding himself on the wide-eyed expression he receives in response.
"Don't worry about it." Crowley stands up and pats Dean on the shoulder. "You're in my Transfiguration class, right? Let's take a walk."
"I actually needed to talk to you." Dean admits as the two of them cross the Transfiguration courtyard. Crowley raises an eyebrow at him.
"Oh, really? Fire away. I'm all ears."
"Castiel's your best friend, right? He's like family to you?"
"I suppose, yes. I have known him since we were children."
"Well, uh, do you know if he-"
"Is a mass of walking social awkwardness? Why yes. Yes, he is."
"That wasn't what I-"
"Do you really think talking to me is the right way to go about this?" Crowley stops in the doorway of their classroom to stare at him. "Given what you know about him, of course."
Dean's shoulders drop a little as he sighs.
"I guess you're right. I'll talk to him." He tries to push past Crowley and into the classroom, but the Slytherin grabs him by the arm and stops him.
"Now, when did I say I wouldn't help?"