Actions

Work Header

The Sum Of My Regrets

Chapter Text

Dean ends up on the carriage of Jacob Miller, a local farmer whose grounds lie next to those of Mrs. Sunder and who happens to know that she will be in the library of the university this time of day. When he stopped beside Dean on the road, Dean told him he’s a distant cousin and Jacob offered to take him over there.

Jacob has a broad face, already or still tanned from working outside all day, and calloused hands that hold the leather reins of his black field horse with practiced ease. The cart is old, but well-kept. Dean implicitly trusts a man who takes good care of his ride.

They stay silent for a while, before Jacob turns to him: “Where are my manners. My condolences. It’s a pity that the Lord took Jim so early.”

Dean’s brain needs a second to catch up. Jacob seems to assume Dean knew Lily’s late husband who died a while ago. He shakes his head and admits “I haven’t seen Lily since before the wedding, never met Jim. Though I hear he was a good guy.”

Jacob jumps at the opportunity to share some gossip. He liked Lily’s husband and they had worked together to bring the harvest in each year. He speaks highly of the widow, but Dean can see that he isn’t as close to Lily. A female scholar still was an exception in these times, and a woman who worked to provide for her child instead of going back to her parents or marry another man still counted as strange.

There’s no malice in Jacob’s tale, though. He tells him how he helps around the house when something’s broken or needs to be lifted and Dean thanks him. Jacob nods in answer.

“Now that you’re there, I guess I won’t be needed anymore?” His smile is warm and he sounds genuinely glad that his neighbor will have company.

“I’m not sure if I will stay long and if I will stay at the Sunder’s farm,” he says and Jacob shakes his head.

“You’ve come all the way here to visit, of course you’ll have to stay. And I don’t think Lily won’t offer you the guest room or the old crofter’s cabin. That one needs a whole bunch of repairs, so you’ll have something to occupy your hands for a few weeks.” Jacob looks awfully pleased with his solution. Dean is sure the whole town will have heard about his plan by afternoon.

Chuckling to himself at the idea that a visitor will be the biggest news in weeks, Dean concentrates on his surroundings again. They leave the town and enter the forested outskirts. Under the high canopy of trees, the temperature drops, and Dean is thankful for his warm clothes.

The road leads straight ahead where a circle of sunlight grows at the end of the dark and cool tunnel. Suddenly, Dean can’t wait to be back in the sun and he shivers ever so slightly. The trees open around them – finally – and Dean sucks in a relieved breath.

A few minutes later they stop by a large building with high windows and thick walls made of red brick. Jacob points to the sturdy wooden doors. “Here we are, Mr. Winchester.”

Dean extends his hand and shakes with the burly farmer. “Thank you.”

 

***

 

He recognizes Lily immediately. She’s leaning over one of the broad library tables and the afternoon light flooding through the high windows sets off flames of red and copper in her hair. Next to her, another woman leans over the array of old books in front of them. Dean can only make out dark hair and a white dress. The women are talking animatedly, obviously discussing what they read.

Dean clears his throat when he approaches the table and two sets of eyes land on him. They don’t look happy about the interruption. “Can we help you?” Lily asks.

“Yes. My name is Dean Winchester and I’m looking for Mrs. Lily Sunder?” Dean reaches out to shake her hand, and Lily grips it with a surprised glint in her eyes. Right, not yet common. He makes the best of it and offers his hand to the other woman, too. Her grip his tight and she nods. “Francesca Durruti.” Despite the foreign name, something feels familiar about her, but Dean can’t quite pinpoint what…

Lily’s voice cuts through his thoughts.

“I am Lily Sunder. Have we met?”

“No,” Dean says, trying to recollect what he wanted to say. “I’m here because I heard about your research about angels and would like to talk to you about your findings.”

Her face scrunches up in doubt and distrust before her features smooth into a mask of wary interest.

“I don’t think I recall your name. It’s not a very popular discipline. I would know your name if you published anything.”

Dean puts on his best innocent smile, the one that gets him into the houses of old grumpy men with sawed-off shotguns next to the door. He’s not sure if he can fool Lily Sunder.

“You’re right. I haven’t published anything. I’m part of a larger group that takes an interest in the supernatural. We like to keep out of the spotlight.” His gaze flicks over to Lily’s colleague and catches her brows lifting in surprise.

Lily turns to her and they seem to have a silent discussion, before her focus lands back on Dean.

“Can you tell me what this word means?” Her elegant fingers point to an Enochian term in one of the books in front of her.

Dean racks his brain and hopes it doesn’t show. “It’s Enochian and it means law.”

 

***

 

They talk for hours. It turns out that Francesca is an Italian scholar who sought out Lily after reading one of her articles on an Enochian inscription found in a cave in India. Her voice is soft and the vocals drawn out around the words she’s not yet fully familiar with, and Dean would think it’s cute if he didn’t sense the steel underneath. He won’t make the mistake to underestimate her.

Their eyes lock over the open books between them that deals with Angelic rules and laws. Francesca’s irises are a unique light shade of blue and Dean’s reminded of glaciers with millennia old water streaming under and through them. That strange feeling of recognition comes back, and it’s silly because there’s no way he’s met this woman before.

He shakes his head and turns to Lily who delved into a lecture about her studies. Lily explains her research so far and something about it bugs Dean. She doesn’t mention the possibility of “summoning” an angel at all. At first he thinks she doesn’t trust him, but he can’t shake the feeling that everything she’s telling him is purely hypothetical.

“Have you ever seen one?”

Lily smiles a sad little smile. “An Angel?” She laughs. “No. I haven’t.”

Being a professional liar himself, he’s gotten pretty good at reading others. And Lily sounds sincere, exactly like a scientist that still dreams of seeing a live specimen instead of reading books about it. But it’s spring, and by now she should have met Ishim and send him away and called Akobel for help. That doesn’t bode well. At all.

“Excuse me for a moment.” Dean turns and runs back to the entrance of the library where he saw a stack of newspapers when he came in. Lily isn’t keeping anything from him. It’s May 5 th .

1900.