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Magik Unbound.

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Magik unbound

 

Prologue.

 

Long ago, the War of High Magiks had almost destroyed the continent of Atritia, leaving the whole land uninhabitable due to the unstable magik that still lingered, even after thousands of years. Even the bravest sailors and explorers turned back at the sight of its blackened and ruined coastline, the air crackling with magik even miles out to sea.

After the war, the other Kingdoms formed a treaty to prevent such a catastrophe happening again. The Atritia treaty banned High magiks and required those that lacked control over their powers to have their magik bound in a binding ceremony. Low magiks were acceptable, as long as they were not considered a danger to others. The treaty took twenty years to complete. In the thousands of years since, war had broken out many times, but none had come close to matching the destruction of the War of High Magiks.

The Kingdom of Enoch had been stable for generations. It's current King, Charles the first, was beloved by his people and was known affectionately as 'Chuck'. His marriage to the daughter of one of his own Lords had been controversial, as he had been expected to choose an Omega from the royal family of one of the neighbouring Kingdoms. But, no-one could deny that the marriage had been a love match and the royal couple had quickly gained popularity. Their obvious affection for one another carried over to their official duties and they were rarely seen apart. They quickly produced a son Michael, an Alpha and heir to the throne. Followed by Lucifer, another Alpha and a favourite of everyone who knew him. A daughter followed. Hannah, an Omega, her quiet nature belied her strength.

They thought their family was complete, and for many years they were content. But the Queen began to long for one more child, she and the King were now of an age where it would be difficult, but Chuck found he could deny his Queen nothing and soon the Queen was expecting again.

Due to the Queens age, the pregnancy was a risk, but she sailed through with little difficulty and she could often be found cradling her bump and smiling to herself. As the pregnancy progressed the royal nursery was prepared for the expected royal baby. Chuck doted on his wife and the Kingdom waited eagerly for the birth.

Finally, the Queen went into labour. It progressed slowly and news spread of the impending birth. Crowds began to gather outside the castle walls. As darkness fell, the crowd settled in for the night, not expecting to hear an announcement before morning.

The Queen, weak from labouring for so long, no longer had the strength for a natural birth and the royal midwives called on the College of Elders for their assistance. Chuck was banished from the room in order for the Elders to do their work and instead paced the throne room anxiously, worried for his wife and unborn child.

A huge explosion rocked the castle. The crowd outside watched in horror when the sky lit up as the royal birthing chamber collapsed and the castle walls cracked.

An hour later the royal guard finally broke through the rubble to find the birthing chamber utterly destroyed. The single survivor was the new royal prince, another Alpha, fast asleep amidst the chaos, his tiny body cradled in his dead mothers arms, his umbilical cord still uncut.

 

The Kingdom plunged into mourning. The plans for celebration for the birth of the royal prince were put on hold as an investigation was carried out as to what had happened.

Chuck doted on his new son, his last gift from a beloved wife. He vowed the tiny Alpha would be just as loved as if he had two parents.

The investigation began, raising more questions than answers. Whatever had happened in the birthing chamber had been high magikal in origin, but the source was a mystery.

Outside influences were ruled out. The wards placed on the castle walls ensured that no malevolent forces could even enter the castle grounds. Foul play was impossible. Whatever had happened, had clearly been an accident, but with nothing to go on, the investigation stalled.

Chuck left the investigation open. He had hopes that one day, the mystery would be solved. He withdrew from public life, only attending his daily briefings with his advisers before retiring to his private wing of the castle to spend time with his children.

 

Chuck attended one last public celebration, his new son's naming ceremony. Crowds cheered below the steps of the Temple of Magi as the King announced the name of his newest baby son. Prince Castiel of Enoch.

 

******************************

 

Castiel was a gentle and curious soul. At four years old, he would often be found in the castle gardens, badgering the gardeners with questions about the various plants and flowers. The head gardener, Cain, took the young prince under his wing and, with the Kings blessing, began to teach the curious boy everything he knew. The sight of the little blue-eyed, black haired boy trailing after the gardener with his own tiny gardening tools charmed visitors at the palace to no end.

Michael had grown into his role as heir to the throne, as the years had passed, he had taken on more and more of his fathers duties. His magik was based on his skills as a warrior. He channelled his powers into fighting with any weapon and he was considered unbeatable in single combat.

Lucifer was a close second, his magik was based in telekinesis. He also had a small measure of empathic ability. He idolised his elder brother and father, to the point of ignoring his younger sister and brother.

Hannah had grown into a beautiful woman with many suitors. She had so far refused all offers, choosing to spend time with her father and little brother instead. Her magik was based in healing, something that came in handy with Michael and Lucifer around.

Chuck wondered about his youngest child, people manifested their powers at puberty, but Castiel already had a powerful aura. At four years old, he could already see the auras of everyone he met. It was worrying, but Chuck felt sure that his own power of sight would warn him if anything was amiss.

 

The little prince was fiercely independent, something Chuck was equally proud and appalled by. At bedtime, when Castiel was supposed to be taking a bath and then being tucked in, he would often go missing. At first the castle was turned upside down in panic, but after the first few times of finding Castiel in the barn petting the kittens of one of the palace cats, it became commonplace to look there first.

His first temper tantrum had been after being denied the chance to say goodnight to all of the animals in the barn. The sight of a harried Chuck wearing pyjamas and carrying an utterly distraught Castiel back to the barn in order to say goodnight to the animals, had been tactfully ignored by the palace staff, who all had a soft spot for the usually well mannered little prince. The startling fact was, the animals didn't settle until Castiel said goodnight either.

The only time the little prince lost his independent streak, was in the presence of his older brothers. The age gap between them gave them nothing in common and they delighted in intimidating him. Chuck intervened where he could, but could not protect Castiel from their bullying completely. He knew they tormented him, but his warnings to them about their behaviour just made them sneakier and more determined.

 

Things came to a head one day as Castiel explored the main banqueting hall, his four year old self fascinated by the paintings and tapestries hanging on the walls. He had slipped away from Hannah as she had been distracted, and had taken full advantage of being unsupervised. He climbed onto the vast solid oak table and ran up and down, his toy horse clutched in his hands, sliding on the polished surface in the soft slippers he wore inside the castle. This was great fun in his opinion. Until Michael and Lucifer found him, that is.

As his older brothers entered the massive room, he froze. Knowing that without their father present, they would take full advantage of the situation. They hadn't noticed him yet and were discussing their upcoming marriages to Omegas from neighbouring Kingdoms.

Trying his best to go unnoticed, he clambered down onto the nearest chair and slid under the table. It was his best chance of avoiding his brothers and their particular brand of torture.

He shook with fear as they approached the table, deep in conversation. He held his breath as they stopped mere feet away from where he hid.

 

“Father says that Princess Anna is being difficult about the match, it seems she has her heart set on marrying a commoner, instead of me.” sneered Michael, as if such a thing were unthinkable.

“Let her, brother. She is clearly not worth wasting time or effort over. Perhaps her Omega brother Ion will be more amenable?” suggested Lucifer, reasonably.

“I will be King, Lucifer. I need a Queen, not a consort. I don't mind dabbling with a male Omega now and again, but they are unfit for the role our mother filled.” Michael said, haughtily.

“I disagree, I don't think it matters whether they are male or female. As long as they take a knot, produce an heir or two and keep their opinions to themselves, who cares?” Lucifer dismissed.

“You have a point, brother. But, I want Anna, I will have her even if I have to resort to blackmail. Father put me in charge of diplomatic relations with her fathers Kingdom, I shall threaten to cut trade with them until I get what I want. She'll have to give in, eventually. The crop failure they suffered last year left them much worse off than they let on. She won't allow her people to starve.” Michael chuckled as Lucifer snorted.

“At least I won't have to go so far in my endeavours. King Crowley of Perdition offered me his eldest daughter, Lillith. She has been writing to me since, she is very keen for the marriage to go ahead. As Crowley only has Omega heirs and she is the eldest, I would ascend the throne and rule after his death. Imagine, brother. Both of us as Kings. With both of our armies, we could conquer the entire continent.” Lucifer said slyly.

“That had occurred to me.” said Michael. “It certainly merits further thought.”

 

Castiel didn't understand most of what his brothers talked about and was rapidly becoming bored and hungry. He wondered if he could possibly crawl out unnoticed and sneak into the kitchen where he might be able to beg a treat or two from one of the cooks.

He dropped from a crouch into a crawl and began to move between the legs of enormous table, crawling towards the door to the kitchen. However, luck was not with him as he accidentally bumped one of the chairs that lined the sides of the table, causing the loud squeal of the chair legs scraping over the polished wood floor.

Castiel froze in horror as his brothers abandoned their conversation and ran to where he cowered, both dropping to a crouch to peer under the table at the terrified boy.

 

“Castiel, you little sneak. Come out of there at once.” demanded Michael, as he tried unsuccessfully to grab him.

“No!” the tiny boy said, stubbornly. Hoping to hold out until his father or Hannah came along.

“Then I shall have to make you come out.” sneered Lucifer.

 

Lucifer flexed his hand and Castiel screamed in terror as the chairs surrounding him moved of their own accord and he felt a tugging sensation as Lucifer used his telekinetic power to drag him from under the table. He fought against it in vain and struggled in mid-air as Michael and Lucifer laughed. He sobbed in fear as this was the first time his brothers had dared to use their powers on him, their usual bullying limited to taunts and the occasional pinch or slap.

Lucifer pinned Castiel to the table with his powers and both brothers loomed over the terrified four year old.

 

“Do you know what happens to sneaky children who listen in where they shouldn't?” growled Michael, inches from Castiel's face.

“I wasn't! Let me go!” begged Castiel, wriggling furiously as Lucifer frowned and pressed harder with his powers in order to hold him down.

“You'd better not have been, because otherwise I'd have to tell Father that you were the one that killed Mother.” said Michael, cruelly. “If you keep our secrets, we'll keep yours.”

 

Castiel stopped struggling in horror. “I didn't kill Mama.” he said indignantly, although he looked unsure as his brothers looked accusingly at him.

 

“Yes, you did. But Father doesn't know that, and if he were to find out, he wouldn't love you any more.” said Lucifer, maliciously.

“You liars! Papa knows everything, he knows I didn't kill Mama!” screamed Castiel, who began struggling again and screaming bloody murder at the top of his lungs.

“By the Magi, shut him up before he brings half the castle in here!” hissed Michael at Lucifer who nodded and flexed his hands again.

 

Castiels screams cut off as he suddenly found his airways blocked and his tiny body went rigid before thrashing desperately in an effort to break free in order to breathe.

Lucifer frowned as he struggled to maintain his hold on the tiny boy, it shouldn't have been as difficult as it was.

 

The air began to crackle with magik and pulses of energy began to make the room shake.

“Uh, Lucifer. Steady on, you don't want to kill the child. It will raise too many questions and he is our brother after all.” said Michael, worriedly.

“It's not me! I'm barely managing to hold him. I...I think it's him.” stuttered Lucifer, looking terrified.

 

The pulses of energy got stronger and Castiel began to glow, a bright white that reached almost blinding proportions. Lucifer lost his grip on the boy and he and Michael grabbed each other in order to stay upright as the room shook with each energy pulse.

They watched in horror as the tiny boy began to rise in the air, his arms and legs hanging loosely and his eyes open and unseeing, they were lit up with an eerie blue glow that outshone the rest of the light that seemed to come from within his body. He hovered a few feet above the table.

The pulses of power suddenly stopped and Michael and Lucifer looked at each other, equally terrified as a gigantic pulse of power suddenly exploded outwards from where Castiel hovered. Shaking the entire room. Michael and Lucifer were lifted off their feet and thrown backwards. Then there was silence, broken only by the sounds of dust settling.

 

Michael and Lucifer groaned from the ground as the door to the banqueting hall burst open, revealing a white faced Chuck and half of the royal guard.

Castiel was slumped on the floor in the centre of the chaos, a perfect circle of empty space around him before the utter destruction of the rest of the room. He was unharmed, but unconscious.

“By the Magi! What happened?!” demanded Chuck as he ran to his youngest sons side, desperately checking him for signs of life. He found a strong pulse and breathed a sigh of relief. “Michael! Lucifer! One of you two had better start talking, or so help me, I will clap you both in binding irons.” he threatened, as he tenderly lifted Castiel into his arms, smoothing his wild black hair away from his cherubic face.

 

Michael and Lucifer looked at each other warily as they sat up and faced their father.

 

“Honestly father, we don't know what happened. We heard a noise and ran in to find Castiel hovering above the table, he was glowing and the magik was so strong in the air we could barely stand, then the room shook and then, well, this.” Lucifer said gesturing around the room as he lied smoothly.

Michael joined in the explanation, he looked genuinely shocked. “Father, the Magik... it came from Castiel. I don't know how, but it did. We tried to stop it, Lucifer even tried to restrain him, but the magik was too strong.” Both Michael and Lucifer kept the lie as near to the truth as possible.

“Castiel is too young for magik of this level and power. I don't understand it.” said Chuck, looking at the small boy, his mind racing. He took in the circle at the centre of the destruction, it did indeed look like the blast had radiated from Castiel.

“You should summon the Elders, maybe they know something about this.” offered Michael. “They should look at the boy anyway, to make sure he is unharmed.” he added.

Chuck nodded, his eyes fixed on Castiel, his face a mask of worry and concern.

“Yes, good idea. Both of you should be examined too, of course.” said Chuck, turning to the awestruck guards who jumped to attention as soon as Chuck spoke.

“You must seal this room, and send a message to the College of Elders. Until the Elders arrive, no-one else is to enter.” he ordered, nodding when the guard bowed in confirmation of the order.

“Father...” began Michael. Chuck cradled Castiel close to his chest and turned to look at his eldest son who suddenly looked haunted.

“Do you... do you think this is what happened... before? With mother?” said Michael carefully. Nodding his head towards Castiels unconscious form.

Chuck looked angry for a split second and then gave his eldest son a hard look.

“Even if it was, and I have yet to see proof, Michael. I doubt he has any control over it. Until the Elders have completed their investigation, I'll thank you to refrain from indulging in idle speculation.” he said coldly, before marching out of the room towards the royal apartments, cradling his youngest son to his chest. Several concerned palace staff trotting along in his wake.

 

Michael and Lucifer sat for a few moments surrounded by the wreckage of the once beautiful banqueting hall. The guards left them alone as they organised sealing off the room. The giant oak table had been destroyed, the centre of the table where Castiel had been, was gone and only the very ends of the table remained, the wood looked chewed and mangled. Everything else in the room was shredded and even the windows had blown out.

 

Lucifer spoke first. “I've never seen or heard of anything like that before. I held him down with all my power, and the little bastard was pushing my limits, even before he did.... this.” he gestured to the rest of the room.

“I'm not actually sure why we weren't killed. The destruction dictates we should have been at least terribly injured. I don't understand any of this.” said Michael. “I know we told the child he killed our mother, but I never really even considered it to be true, until now. Father doesn't want us to speculate, but after what I just saw, I'm convinced there is something wrong with that child, he is dangerous.” he looked deadly serious.

Lucifer nodded, the air still had the faint metallic tinge of magik in it. “Agreed.”

 

                                                                                                      *************************************

 

Castiel remained unconscious for the rest of the day. The King's brother, Gabriel, sat at the bedside, along with Chuck and Hannah. He had been investigating with the rest of the council all day and had just arrived to report to the King.

Gabriel was a member of the Grand Council at the College of Elders, the younger brother of the reigning monarch, and as a Beta, he was ineligible for the line of succession or marriage to another royal house and had instead enrolled at the College as soon as he came of age. Elders were the authority on all things magikal and medicinal. Every village or town had at least one Elder, to provide healing, or advice. Not every Elder had a healing ability, but their knowledge on medicines, treatments and magik were unparalleled.

 

“Aww, he's a cute little bugger, isn't he?” said Gabe, smiling down at the sleeping child, as he moved back to the edge of the bed.

“Both he and Hannah take after their mother.” said Chuck, smiling sadly, he reached for Hannah's hand and squeezed it and she squeezed back with a small smile of her own.

“That's obvious. They certainly don't take after you.” teased Gabe, nudging his brother with a laugh.

 

Chuck huffed a laugh and then looked at his youngest son, who looked even smaller in the huge bed.

 

“When is he going to wake up, brother? He is far too young for that level of magik, he shouldn't have any powers at all, not yet.” said Chuck, looking a little terrified.

Gabriel knelt in front of his brother and took his hands, his face sympathetic.

“I suspect he'll sleep until tomorrow, then wake up extremely hungry and with no memory of what happened. He will wake up. I promise.” he said, kindly.

 

He sat back again, looking thoughtful.

 

“Although you are right. He shouldn't be capable of magik at all, and at that level? No-one should. That was high magik. It's powered by blood sacrifice and there isn't a mark on him or anyone else. A four year old just wouldn't know how to do that, not many people do, the grimoires of the Atritia Magi were all destroyed and the College of Magi confiscated the rest. They are sealed in the vault, no-one can access them without the entire Council of Elders knowing about it, not to mention that they are written in old Enochian, which is difficult to translate. Yet, there is no doubt, it came from him.” he shook his head, and ran his hands through his hair.

“There is one more thing. You said Michael thinks this is what happened when Cassie was born? He's not entirely wrong. I did the readings myself, it bears the same hallmarks, only on a slightly lesser scale. Now, obviously a newborn can't cast a spell, so it must be beyond his control. I think what we're looking at here is raw magik.” Gabriel looked sombre.

Chuck looked horrified. “Those are just stories, Gabriel. You can't be serious! The original Magi were said to be beings of raw magik. They were Gods in their time. Are you trying to tell me that my son is..a Magi?” he scoffed. Hannah looked appalled and reached forward to take her baby brothers hand.

“No! No, absolutely not. The Magi were beings born of magik. Cassie here has human parents, he's not a Magi. He is something else entirely, but he's most certainly human. You've seen his aura, I've never seen one so powerful, and at his age, he shouldn't even have one. Something else is going on here. We're missing a piece of the puzzle.” said Gabriel firmly.

“What do we do? He's just a child, Gabe. If he is as powerful as you say, he can't possibly control it.” said Chuck, his face white.

“You're right, he can't. With magik that powerful in such a small child, I don't want to think what he could possibly be capable of as he gets older. He could level the capital. That's if the magik doesn't kill him first.” Gabriel said softly.

 

Chuck blanched. He looked like he was going to be sick. “Please tell me that there is something you can do, Gabe. None of that can be allowed to happen.” he begged.

“We can perform a binding ceremony. He'll be unable to use magik, even involuntarily. I know there is a bit of stigma attached to being one of the bound, but it's better than the alternative.” Gabe said, quietly.

Chuck sighed in relief. “Thank the Magi, I just want my son alive and safe. A bit of stigma we can live with. Between us we can protect him from that, I'm sure.”

Hannah spoke up for the first time, her expression was of concern. “Having his magik bound, it won't hurt him, will it?”

Gabriel smiled, and lifted his hand to pet Castiels hair. “No, it won't hurt him. The little guy won't feel a thing. As I said, he won't even remember this day. I'm as fond of this little fella as you are, he has that way about him.” he looked fondly at the still sleeping boy.

Chuck let out a deep breath. “When will you do the ceremony? What do you need?” he said, keen to bring the situation to a resolution.

“We can do it here, before he even wakes up. I'll do it myself, I don't want that pompous fool Zachariah anywhere near my nephew. He's an excellent bureaucrat, but a terrible Elder. The idiot can barely find his rear end with both hands, but he can schmooze the rest of the council like you wouldn't believe.” sneered Gabriel.

“Then you have my blessing. Thank you, Gabe.” said Chuck, gratefully.

 

******************************

 

Chapter one.

 

 

Twenty years later.

 

Castiel wiped his hands dry on a soft cloth left out especially for that purpose, he had just washed his hands after spending the morning tending the garden of the large thatched cottage he and Gabriel shared just outside of Lawrence, a small village situated in Lord Winchesters lands, not far from the forest that bordered the neighbouring Kingdom of Perdition.

He checked his clothes and satisfied that he wasn't filthy, looked in the mirror to make sure he didn't have a stray streak of mud on his face again. Surprisingly, he was clean, although the permanent five o'clock shadow was now full on stubble. His hair was it's usual disaster, it was thick and tended to curl a little when damp and right now it looked like he'd been dragged through a hedge.

Making sure his hands were spotless, he stepped into his favourite room in the house, the Library. Selecting a book, he folded his six foot frame into one of the large chairs by the fire and began to read.

 

Gabriel had brought Castiel here to live 15 years ago. Lucifer had already left the Kingdom and had married Lillith soon after Castiels binding, but Michael had become bitter, especially after his hard won Omega bride, Anna, threw herself from the castle walls and into the sea below not long after the wedding, her body had never been found. He'd never let go of the idea that Castiel was responsible for the death of their mother and the speculation had spread beyond the castle walls.

Despite being bound, people feared him. The taunts and bullying began to escalate. When Castiel had suffered a massive seizure after being hit on the head by a stone thrown by another child, Gabriel had suggested taking a nine year old Castiel away for his own safety after resigning his position on the Council of Elders. Chuck had reluctantly agreed.

It was announced that Prince Castiel would move to the country for his health, rumoured to be delicate after the seizure.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth, Castiel had always been a robust child and had only flourished since they had relocated. Gabriel had taken to parenthood like a duck to water and the two were close. Although Castiels magik was bound, barring him from studying at the College of Elders, Gabriel saw no reason that he should not teach Castiel everything he knew about medicine and magik theory. Castiel particularly excelled in herb work. He seemed to have an affinity with plants and the garden of the cottage was the envy of the village.

However, the once outgoing little boy was now a shy, quiet and introverted man, happy to work in his garden or read a book by the fire. He had a few friends, but rarely socialised, preferring smaller gatherings at home, rather than a night at the local tavern. The villagers respected him, he was known to be kind and gentle, but knowledgable with a dry sense of humour that sometimes caught people off guard. He'd had a few admirers, the deep blue eyes, straight nose and strong jaw drew the eye and he was unmistakably Alpha. Charlie, an Omega girl who worked for Gabriel occasionally on his more secretive projects, had adopted Castiel as her best friend many years before, she never tired of trying to pull Castiel out of his shell. He was content.

 

Noticing the fire had burned low in the fireplace, Castiel leaned forward to throw another log on the fire, dropping his book and losing his page in the process. Gabriel would be home soon and would most likely join him in the library until it was time for supper.

 

He didn't notice the book pages turning back to his page on their own as he poked the fire.

 

**************************

 

“So, Cassie my boy. I have a letter here from your father.” said Gabriel, pouring himself a drink from the well stocked liquor cabinet and dropping heavily into the chair opposite Castiel in front of the fire.

“Really? He only sent me a letter two days ago, I haven't even written my reply yet. Is he alright? Has something happened?” said Castiel, frowning worriedly.

Gabriel smiled reassuringly, and leaned forward to pat Castiels hand affectionately.

“Everything is just fine, I'm sure. He is just being his usual self, he knows you won't tell him anything about your love life, so he's just trying to wheedle information out of me instead.” he laughed and took a sip of his drink as Castiel flushed bright red and fidgeted with the book in his lap.

“I'm not currently courting anyone, both Daphne and April turned out to be huge mistakes, and I'm a little reluctant to get back on the horse right now.” Castiel said wistfully.

Gabriel grimaced. “Yikes. Yeah, I'd be a bit gun shy too after dating either of those two cranks. I must say, Cassie, you can certainly pick 'em.” he said looking sympathetic.

“Charlie said the same thing. She suggested dating someone who doesn't know I'm a prince. That way it would be easier to weed out those just angling for a title or expecting to live in a castle instead of a cottage. But that feels a little dishonest. I'm not really comfortable with that.” said Castiel ruefully.

“My boy, you wouldn't be you if you were comfortable with lying. It's why you were always my favourite.” said Gabriel fondly. “So, what do you want me to tell your father? That you're weighing up your options right now? Or shall I tell him to bug off and mind his own business?”

“He means well, I think he still feels guilty for sending me away. He has a duty to the Kingdom that comes above his role as a father. Tell him I'm not courting anyone, but that I'm happy.” said Castiel, looking over at the fire.

Gabriel looked sad. “Oh my boy. You children have always been his first priority. It's why Michael is King in all but name. He would have abdicated and taken you away in a heartbeat if he had thought Michael was ready for the Throne. As the years have gone by, he only stayed to try to guide Michael into being a good King when the time comes. He's managed to temper the worst of Michaels impulses, but I personally think... never mind. Not important. The thing is, if he had a choice, it would be you, every time.” he said, his face sincere.

Castiel looked sad “I know. Michael has done very little to reassure father that he can be trusted to lead the Kingdom on his own. He was furious when he found out Michael blackmailed Anna's father. It took months of diplomacy to prevent a war when Anna took her own life. Michael is my brother, but we have never been friends, one day he will be my King, and I know I speak for all of us when I say, I hope that day is a long way off.” he said with a hint of anger in his tone.

Gabriel looked thoughtful for a second. “All your father ever wanted was to protect you, it broke his heart that he had to send you away to do it. I think I got the better part of the deal, I got to leave those stuffed shirts at the College of Elders and best of all, I got you. I'm not sorry that I got to raise you like my own, you would make any father proud, my boy. I'm only sorry about the way it happened. That, and the fact you grew so tall.”

Castiel looked up and smiled. “If I turned out well, it's because of the two fine men who had a hand in raising me. The credit belongs to them.” he said sincerely.

“I'll drink to that.” said Gabriel, a little too loudly and took a deep swallow of the drink in his hand. Castiel chuckled.

 

Gabriel stood and walked back to the liquor cabinet, refilling his glass and pouring out a second one for Castiel. “So, my boy. I'll be leaving tomorrow to travel to the Maidenport. Lady Kali has just received a shipment of dried Blight flower. I'll need it in order to prepare enough Blight medicine for the winter. It takes months to do it properly. I'll be gone for around a week.” he walked back towards the fire, handing a glass to Castiel and sitting back down again. “Now, behave yourself whilst I'm gone young man. I don't want to come home finding underclothes hanging from the rafters or naked Omegas swinging on the chandeliers” he waggled his eyebrows, making Castiel huff out a laugh when he continued “You make sure the evidence is long gone before I get home. I know I taught you better than that.” he took a deep swallow of his drink, knowing full well Castiel would probably spend the week in the garden or library.

Castiel smirked. “Yes, I'm sure the visit to Maidenport is just about procuring dried Blight flowers and not about seeing Lady Kali at all.” he said, slyly.

Gabriel barked out a laugh, almost spilling his drink. “Well played. “ he smirked “What can I say? She has a weakness for dashing Elders.”

Castiel let out a deep chuckle at Gabriels preening, he took a deep swallow of his own drink and grimaced before inspecting the contents of the glass. “What is in this? It's revolting.” he exclaimed.

“It's moonshine. The custodian of Winchester castle makes it. Claims it'll put hairs on the chest of an Omega. Although, I'm not sure why that would be something desirable, but I can't claim to know the inner workings of Mr Singers mind.” mused Gabriel.

“I don't like it.” stated Castiel, taking another swig anyway.

“No-one likes it. But there is something about his distillery process that intrigues me. I've never known a more pure end product. He refuses to tell me how he does it though, claims it's a family secret.” said Gabriel, ruefully.

“If he truly has a a revolutionary distilling process, it could be applied to some of our medicines.” said Castiel excitedly, finishing his drink in one last swallow.

“Exactly! Imagine the possibilities. Less side effects for one. I suspect he thinks I'll use it to make my own moonshine though. I mean, he's not wrong, per se. But I'd make better potions and medicines too.” he smirked.

“Maybe he'll explain the process to me instead, if I promise to use it only for medicines.” wondered Castiel aloud.

“Oh, yeah. That might work. Those earnest baby blues of yours could convince the most hardened old coot to part with his family recipe” said Gabe knowingly. “I dunno why you don't use 'em to your advantage more often. I suppose it's lucky for me that you never did as a child, or I'd have given you damn near anything you wanted and ruined you.” he chuckled.

“If that were true, neither Daphne or April would have been half as much trouble as they turned out to be. I should never have been so foolish as to trust them.” said Castiel ruefully.

“By the Magi! Do not even attempt to take the blame for either of those two psychos! Daphne made a fake marriage certificate for you two and tried to extort your father. As for April, none of us saw that coming, she seemed so sweet and kind, right up until she tried to kill you when her plans to trap you into marriage by getting pregnant failed, because you refused to knot her when you had sex. Neither of those things were your fault. You're just too damn nice, Cas. Some people take advantage of it.” Gabriel looked furious as he ranted.

“That is why I wish to take some time before I decide to court someone. I don't wish to make such an error of judgement again.” said Castiel, quietly.

“I'll say the same to your father. You're twenty-four, you have time. Although with Michael not producing any heirs so far, it may fall on you to provide them. After the debacle with Anna, literally no-one wants to mate him. Lucifer will inherit the throne of Perdition, which takes him out of the line of succession, and Hannah cannot inherit as long as there are living Alpha heirs.” said Gabriel gravely.

“I hate to say it, my boy. But bound or not, you could one day sit on the throne of Enoch.”

 

The glass in Castiels hand suddenly shattered, glass flying everywhere as Castiel struggled to breathe. Gabriel shot out of his chair, stepping carefully over the pieces of glass and gripped Castiels biceps, pulling him to sit up and face him.

 

“Breathe! C'mon, breathe with me.” Gabe demanded and Castiel nodded, his face was as white as paper as he gasped and choked.

“That's it. In and out. I'm probably wrong, Michael might find someone and have a whole bunch of brats and it'll never be an issue. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to to upset you. C'mon my boy, just breathe for me.” Gabe babbled.

“I.. I don't..” Castiel gasped out, his eyes wide, staring at the glass everywhere.

“No, I know. I should probably have broken that to you with a bit more tact. I'm sorry. I'll clean this up, you just concentrate on breathing in and out, okay?” said Gabe soothingly.

“It didn't occur to me.... I thought...” Castiel stammered.

“You thought being bound removed you from succession? No. You aren't the first of the royal line to be bound, my boy. It's happened before. Granted, it's not well known, but the first of our family line was bound. Powers don't make a King. Look at Michael, all that power and he's shaping up to be a terrible ruler.” said Gabriel, sadly as he reached for the hand Castiel had been holding the glass in. “You must be bleeding, let me check the cuts.”

 

Castiel opened his hand obediently and looked at Gabriel in surprise when smooth unblemished skin was revealed. Not even a scratch, just the imprints of the glass shards that were all that was left of the glass tumbler.

 

“Wow, I'm not sure how you did that. That's weird. You managed to get glass clear across the room, but somehow managed to avoid cutting yourself. Neat trick. You'll have to teach me that one.” said Gabriel, frowning as he inspected the hand. “Just lucky, I guess.” he shrugged and dropped the hand and reached for the brush and shovel from the fireplace tools and began sweeping up the broken glass as Castiel dropped his head into his hands.

“I can't believe this didn't occur to me before. No wonder father is getting worried about me not being mated.” he groaned and ran his hands through his hair before sitting up and trying to concentrate on not vomiting.

“That's probably it, yes. It means that he doesn't hold out much hope of Michael ever finding another mate. Either that, or he's reached the conclusion that Michael is unfit to rule and has decided to disavow him as the heir. Not likely though, big believer in redemption, your father. He has hope that one day Michael will change.” said Gabe, sweeping up the last of the glass.

“We all do.” muttered Castiel.

“Being King, is a tough job. If it was easy, anyone could do it. I do not envy my brother, and I know you don't envy yours. It takes tact, diplomacy and knowing where and when to apply pressure to the right people. Carrot and stick. The problem with Michael is, he only knows how to use the stick. Which is going to be bad for a lot of people.” Gabriel sighed as he dropped back into his chair.

Castiel still looked a little green, so Gabriel gave him a reassuring smile. “Don't worry, as I said, it might not ever happen that way, but you should know this, just in case.”

“I've been away from the capital for so long, I fooled myself into thinking that they had forgotten me, that I could have a normal life. It's not going to stay that way, is it?” said Castiel sadly.

“No, my boy. It won't. Sooner or later, you'll be called to duty. Your father and I have kept you out of it so far, but Michael won't. He'll need you close.” Gabriel said gravely.

“Under his boot, you mean.” Castiel said bitterly.

“Not necessarily. I'd be with you.” winked Gabe.

 

 

*******************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

 

Dean stood to one side of his father and watched the proceedings without even trying to hide the amused expression on his face as his father tore strips off the unlucky Alpha suitor on the floor who had attempted to woo Dean with bullying tactics and intimidation.

“My son does not need an unworthy little snot of an Alpha, like you, Alistair.” John sneered as the unfortunate Alpha shrank into himself. “He is fully capable of taking care of himself.” he continued “You are lucky the boy has an ounce of wisdom in his head or he would have killed you where you stood and started a war. He is twice the warrior you are. However, he does not have the authority to bar you from my lands, only I hold that authority.” John raised himself to his full height and fixed the now pale Alpha with a stare that could melt glass.

“By my rights and authority as Lord of these lands, I hereby banish you from this place. To set foot on Winchester lands is to accept the death sentence that will surely follow.” said John coldly. The Alpha promptly vanished in a flash, instantly transported away. John sagged heavily, panting for breath.

Dean gasped and his mouth dropped open in shock. His father had invoked the powerful banishment spell that meant instant death should the Alpha cross the border again. It exacted a huge toll on the caster and was very rarely used. Only the Lord of the land could actually use it, the divine rights handed down the generations. One day Sam would be able to cast it, if he so chose.

Rushing to his fathers side, he helped to support Johns weight and guided him to sit in the large wooden chair nearby.

“Dad, you didn't need to do that. I could have just kicked his ass a little.” scolded Dean as he handed his father a glass of hastily poured water. John took it gratefully, his hands shaking.

John took a sip and shook his head. “No, Dean. Sam saw his intentions. What he planned to do was beyond you. The bastard had no honour. I will not allow anyone to hurt my sons. Ever. I did what I had to do. I will continue to do so, as long as there is breath in my body.” said John, looking tired but determined.

Dean went cold. “When did he touch Sammy? How?” he said angrily, his hatred for Alistair growing by the second.

Sam was a touch empath, it was more of a curse than a blessing. Sam would get visions of the persons past, and possible future due to their current intentions. He effectively knew everything about a person with one touch of their skin. It made other people uncomfortable and Sam hated it. The thoughts that ran through peoples minds were sometimes disturbing and it affected Sam and sometimes influenced his behaviour if the feelings behind them were particularly strong. He wore long sleeves and gloves in order to prevent accidentally touching someone and getting hit with a head-splitting vision. Dean had become extremely protective over his little brother as a result. Touching Sam was a capital offence in Deans eyes.

Deans own powers were elemental. He had a small measure of control over the air, fire, water and earth. It made him an excellent hunter. By controlling the air, he could guarantee his arrows would hit the target every time. He could start a campfire anywhere, even when the wood was damp. Finding water was never a problem, and he could track anything alive by manipulating the earth to highlight tracks. Alistair had dismissed his powers as being weak and only fit for making him a proper house Omega. Dean had almost taken it to heart, but his own track record spoke for itself. That, and Dean was not suited to be a house Omega at all, he was actually a bit of a slob sometimes.

John sighed and took another sip of water before replying “He did it himself. Alistair wasn't exactly subtle, Dean. Sam wanted to know just how far he would go, he was protecting you.”
The shaking was getting worse and John looked like he might fall asleep where he sat.

Dean felt a flash of indignation. “He deliberately hurt himself to protect me? Why? Because I'm an Omega and I can't protect myself? He might be an Alpha, but he's only sixteen. He's still a kid, I'm four years older, I'm supposed to protect him!” snarled Dean angrily.

John gave Dean a withering look. “What are you even talking about, Dean? You believe we did this to oppress you? Because you're an Omega? That's not it and deep down, you know it. We know you are capable. He wanted to protect you because that's what we do in this family. We protect each other. You do him a disservice by treating him like a child and dismissing his sacrifice. You speak, and it's your voice, but I only hear Alistair's words. The only one here who has any issues about you being an Omega, is you.” he said sharply.

Dean flushed and looked away, shame colouring his features.

John continued tiredly “I know you've got the idea that Omegas are weak or lesser or that we think that about you, but it has never been true. Quite frankly, I'm shocked to have to remind you of that. Now, go and fetch your mother and then go and consider your attitude.”

Dean felt tears building as the shame crashed through him. His family had protected him, both Sam and his father had hurt themselves in order to do so and Dean had lashed out over his own insecurities instead of being grateful or supportive.

“I'm sorry, dad. I didn't mean...” Dean started.

“Go, Dean. I'm tired and I don't want to hear it right now. I need your mother to help heal me, so just go and get her for me.” he grimaced in pain, but looked at Dean with a softer expression. “We'll talk later. I promise.” said John, wearily.

Dean nodded and set off for his mothers sitting room, she normally sat there doing the accounts for the estate at this time of day. She took her role as matriarch of the Winchester clan very seriously.

Climbing the stairs in the west tower of the castle, Dean wiped away his tears and took several deep breaths to calm himself. His mother would already be alarmed at what John had done and the damage it had caused himself, she didn't need to worry for her eldest child as well.

Reaching the top of the tower, Dean knocked on the heavy oak door to his mothers study and waited. Hearing his mothers soft voice calling out “Enter” he opened the door to see Mary bent over her desk frowning at a scroll as if it had personally offended her somehow.

“Mom.” said Dean, his voice more shaky than he would have liked. Mary looked up, her eyes narrowed shrewdly as she heard Deans tone.

“What's going on?” she demanded, never one to beat around the bush.

“Dad banished Alistair.” blurted Dean, having inherited his mothers trait of getting to the point.

Mary closed her eyes and looked pained. “Is he in the main hall?” she questioned, rising from her chair and straightened her long skirts in preparation to hurry to her husbands side.

“Yes, I helped him to a chair and got him some water. I didn't know what else to do.” said Dean ruefully, turning with his mother as she headed towards the door.

“No, that's good. That's good, Dean. At least he's conscious this time. He'll want something light for supper. Can you ask Mrs Harvelle to make up a broth for him? Then ask Mr Singer to come help me move him to our bedchamber.” said Mary, patting Dean on the arm absently before nodding and heading out of the room and down the steps.

Dean let out a shaky breath and listened to his mothers quiet footsteps fade. The tears he had suppressed threatened to spill over again and he rubbed his eyes furiously before gathering himself together to carry out his mothers requests.

**************************

Sam gritted his teeth and rubbed his temples, trying to relieve the splitting headache that always followed when he got a vision. Bobby had said he would talk to the Elder in the village about better pain relief, but so far nothing they had tried had worked to any great effect. Even his mothers healing ability barely made a difference.

Sam had met Gabriel only once, he had not treated him like a child as some people still did. He loved his brother fiercely, but Dean had a habit of trying to do everything for him and being so overprotective that Sam sometimes found it hard to breathe. It was overbearing and Sam struggled not to resent Dean for it. Knowing Dean, he would berate him for purposely touching Alistair in order to gauge his intentions and causing himself pain. Even if it was to protect him. Sam just hoped that Dean would wait until the headache had passed. Something he didn't always do.

Reaching for the cloth in the bowl of cool water on his desk, Sam wrung out most of the moisture and laid the cool cloth over his eyes and laid back in his chair. It helped a little and he sighed with relief. This headache was not as bad as some he had endured, perhaps it got easier as he got older, he wondered. Maybe one day he wouldn't have to worry about accidentally making skin contact and getting everything about a person at once. That would be nice. It would certainly make getting mated easier. He blushed a little at that as only a sixteen year old could.

Sam had a slight crush on Lady Jessica, Lord and Lady Moore's Omega daughter who was the same age as Sam and had travelled with them to Winchester castle for Sam's coming of age celebration a couple of years previously. The celebration had been a strange and muted affair, the manifestation of Sam's powers had not been a happy event and he had struggled to cope with it at first. Shying away from any contact as the visions were thrust into his mind with the slightest brush of skin. There were things he never needed to know about people, it was overwhelming and invasive on both sides.

Lady Jessica had been so kind and understanding. Her gentle nature had been a complete contrast to everyone else in his life at that point. The worry that Dean and his parents had for him had often boiled over into cross words with each other or outsiders. Lady Jessica had just treated him like any other person.

They had been exchanging letters ever since and had also communicated by orb a few times. Orb use was limited due to the tremendous power it took to activate them over large distances and it had only been on special occasions that John or Lord Moore had allowed such an extravagance. When Jessica's powers had manifested just after she and her parents had gone home, she had used the orb to speak to Sam for the first time to excitedly tell him that she could now heal magikal maladies. A rare gift. Most healers could only deal with physical ailments and only to a certain extent. Jessica could lift curses and heal physical ailments. When Sam had questioned whether Jessica could help with his powers, he had been met with a sad look. “No, Sam. I can't affect your powers like that. They are naturally a part of you. It doesn't work like that. I'm sorry.” she had told him sadly. Sam had been upset and had shut down the orb in a temper. His father had been furious and had insisted that Sam write an apology. Utterly ashamed of his own behaviour, Sam had written a heartfelt apology and given her one of his own books as a gift. Jessica had immediately replied accepting his apology and had sent him some lambskin gloves in return.

The gloves had been a revelation, they lessened the chance of accidental contact and Sam felt he could participate in castle life again. Dean had run with the idea and had enthusiastically gone hunting for different types of animals to create the best type of leather for several sets of gloves.

One notable thing about Sam's powers were that they worked differently with animals. He had discovered the difference one day when one of Mr Singers dogs had fallen into the well in the kitchen courtyard. Sam had been the only one small enough to be lowered down the well shaft in order to retrieve the poor animal. The dog had been half crazed with pain and exhaustion and had fought Sam as he attempted to grab him. In the struggle, one of Sam's gloves had been lost and as the dog squirmed and wriggled, Sam had instinctively grabbed it with his bare hand.

The expected pain or visions did not come. There were no complex emotions or muddy thoughts. Just the purity of instinct. Sam found he could sooth the animal and even keep it calm when Mr Singer had reset the poor dogs broken leg. The dog had followed him around faithfully from that day forward. It was a revelation. Sam finally knew what his powers were for. He could help animals.

Now, Sam had a menagerie of animals, from dogs, cats and birds to even formerly wild animals, all of which were fiercely loyal to their master. They had all been rescued or had come from less than loving homes. They had missing legs, ears or eyes, stumpy tails or broken wings and Sam loved them all. John and Mary indulged their youngest son with nary an eye roll whenever someone from the village would show up at the castle gates with an animal deemed beyond anyone else's help. John would merely nod and ask Mr Singer to make room in the new barn built especially for this purpose. If the animal was beyond even Sam's help, he could at least help them pass in peace and dignity.

It gave Sam a purpose and helped with the crushing depression that had almost overtaken him when his powers had first manifested. It was enough for now. Feeling the first layers of the headache lift, Sam sighed and lifted himself out of the chair in front of his desk. Perhaps now, he could sleep off the rest of the headache and finally recover from the vile pit that was Alistair's mind. He shuddered and then quickly undressed himself, slipping into the sheets on his bed. Within minutes he was asleep.

******************************

Dean sat on the windowsill in his room in the east tower, overlooking the main courtyard. He watched the staff going about their daily business.

Bobby Singer, the castle custodian, stood with a group of stonemasons at the base of the south tower. He was overseeing the renovations that were taking place throughout the entire castle. They were long overdue and should have been done over a century ago. In some places the stonework hadn't been touched for over a thousand years. The work had taken years so far and would probably continue for at least two more generations.

Joanna-Beth Harvelle was up to her usual tricks and taunting the guards at the south gate. The guards were well trained to fight off any attacker. But Jo wasn't just any attacker. She was a fourteen year old Omega with new powers that gave her blinding speed and a mouth to match. The guards increasing shouts of frustration as Jo seemed to suddenly appear behind one of them only to flick an ear and vanish again seemed endlessly amusing to only herself. It was only when her furious mother appeared that Jo ceased her annoyance of the guards and scowled at her mother instead. Dean watched with amusement as Ellen Harvelle dragged her back to the kitchens where she could keep an eye on her wayward daughter.

Rufus Turner, the horse master and chronic pain in Bobby Singers ass, stood next to Johns horse, brushing her down. The beautiful filly was the perfect horse for hunting. Nothing scared her and her gait was the smoothest Dean had ever seen, perfect for firing arrows at full gallop. She could change direction in a heartbeat and jump an unladen wagon. In fact, her nimbleness gave her her name. Impala. Dean had never coveted anything more in his life. He loved that horse.

Dean sighed. His father was right. His defensiveness for being deemed weak stemmed from his own insecurities. His family had never treated him differently just because he was an Omega. It wasn't fair of him to insinuate that they did. He had still been smarting from Alistair's jibes and threats and it had affected him more than he'd originally thought. His family loved him, of course they would try to protect him. His father had been on the verge of collapse and Dean had been more worried about his own pride. No wonder John had been disappointed, his attitude had been all wrong. As much as he hated it, he'd have to apologise and do better in the future.

The knock at the door startled him out of his miserable self loathing spiral and he croaked out “Enter” as he turned to face the door.

The heavy oak swung open to reveal Mary looking tired but relieved, she shuffled in and sank heavily into the chair by the fire. “Your father is resting. I healed what I could, the rest will take a little time.” she said wearily to the flames, not looking at Dean at all.

Dean released the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. “That's .. that's good. Is there anything that you need, mom?” he said, making his way to sit in the chair opposite Mary.

Mary sighed and then fixed Dean with a look. “Yes, I need to know why my son believes that Omegas are lesser. I am concerned that you value yourself so little. We consider your status in this family to be that of an equal, and your behaviour today has your father and I questioning where we went wrong for you to have come to the conclusion that we think otherwise. Did we make you feel that way, Dean? Did we do something to give you the impression that we don't value you as much as Sam? I am trying very hard right now not to be hurt, because I am actually very concerned about you, my firstborn son.” said Mary, her voice catching with emotion.

Dean's lower lip trembled and the tears he had been suppressing all day finally spilled as he threw himself on his knees and buried his face in his mothers skirts and sobbed.

“Oh, my boy. My darling boy. Please tell me what is going through your mind right now? I cannot bear to see you in so much pain and not be able to help you.” Mary crooned as she gently stroked Deans hair as he wept.

“I'm sorry. I think Alistair got to me more than I thought. He just never stopped and I thought I could handle it. I..I wanted to handle it myself because he said that only weak Omegas went running to their fathers for help. I guess I wanted to prove myself or something.” said Dean as he tried to pull himself together.

Mary clenched her jaw and her eyes briefly flashed with anger before she regained her composure. “Do you understand why he said that? What that says about him as a person?” she said, gently pulling Deans face up to look her in the eye.

Dean shrugged and tried to look away.

Mary pulled him back to face her. “Dean, he said that in order isolate you. It was to undermine you and sow doubts in your mind. To ask for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. Never be afraid to ask your family for help. We will never refuse you. Your father just asked for my help without hesitation, does that make him weak? I don't think so. As for what kind of person Alistair is, he can only feel strong by breaking down others. That just shows how weak he is. Do you understand?” she said gently.

Dean nodded and gulped as he realised the truth of his mothers words and how badly he had let himself and his family down.

“Is dad still mad at me?” he said quietly, looking at the floor.

Mary sighed and once again forced Dean to look at her. “No sweetheart. He wasn't mad with you to begin with. He was frustrated when he realised how much Alistair had gotten to you before we realised something was going on and disappointed that you had believed his vile lies. He didn't appreciate the attitude when he could barely stand though either. That was thoughtless of you and I know we raised you better than that.” said Mary giving Dean a pointed look.

“I'm sorry, mom. I didn't realise how much that creep had got in my head until that point. I'll apologise to dad as soon as possible. I know he was doing what he thought was best for me. It's what I would have done for any of you and I should have respected that.” said Dean genuinely.

Mary smiled and brushed her hand through her eldest child's hair affectionately. “And Sam? What about him? Or is he 'just a kid' and not worthy of your respect?” she said pointedly.

Dean flushed. “Yeah, I guess I'd better apologise to Sam too. Is he okay?” said Dean sitting up and cringing at the tear stains and snot he'd left on his mothers skirts.

Mary tactfully ignored the mess on her dress and smiled. “Sam's okay. He just woke up from a nap and is having something to eat in the kitchen with Jo. He recovered faster this time. He has a theory that maybe he's getting used to it or it gets easier as he gets older.” she took a deep sigh. “I hope he's right.”

Dean stood up and hugged his mother tight. “Me too.”

**************************

Chapter Text

Chapter Three.

 

Castiel took full advantage of Gabriel leaving the cottage for a week. There were no wild parties, no Omegas swinging from the chandeliers. No debauchery at all.

 

Oh yes, Castiel thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet. He spent the first day reading. The second in the garden weeding.

 

But on the third he woke with a start as he heard the sound of breaking glass. He had been having a nightmare of being chased by something evil and the more he tried to remember the details the more rapidly the dream faded and became nebulous. The cottage was completely silent, the sound must have been part of his dream.

He looked to the window at the faint pre-dawn light and decided it would be pointless going back to sleep. Sitting up with a yawn, he stretched lazily and groaned loudly at the satisfying 'pop' in his back. All of the bending as he was weeding yesterday had left him aching all of the evening before.

Sliding out of bed, he grabbed his robe and sleepily shoved his feet into his slippers. He yawned again as he slipped the robe on, leaving it untied as he shuffled towards the dresser across the room. The grey early morning light was just barely enough to see by as he clumsily opened the top drawer to begin selecting his clothes for the day.

Looking up, he did a double take as he looked at the mirror on the dresser. The entire surface was cracked and several shards had fallen out onto the dressers polished surface, leaving the bare wooden mirror back exposed. He frowned, looking confused. This must have been the sound that woke him up, but how had it happened? He moved to the night stand where he had left the lantern and matches. Lighting it, he moved back to the dresser to inspect it more closely.

 

He found nothing. He could find no reason why the mirror had broken. It was very odd.

 

He shrugged. Charlie would be visiting today. He'd need her help to get the mirror unbolted from the dresser and outside to dispose of it. Perhaps they'd discover the reason later with a little more light and a lot more caffeine.

Deciding that coffee was in order before anything else, Castiel closed the dresser and blew out the lantern before heading to the kitchen.

Preparing the coffee took longer than usual, Castiel could barely function without at least two cups in the morning. Gabriel had always set a spell to brew it every night before they went to bed and it activated when they got up. Castiel was used to doing things manually, but having coffee ready in the morning was something he sorely missed right now.

Yawning widely, he poured himself the first cup and added sugar and a splash of cream and sat down heavily at the kitchen table still stirring the heavenly smelling brew. Placing the mug down on the thick oak tabletop, he frowned in confusion as the spoon continued to stir the coffee on its own.

Blinking and rubbing his eyes in disbelief he stood up and backed away as the spoon finally stopped stirring the coffee and clattered against the side of the mug.

“What the f... “ he stammered and then laughed as he realised what was going on.

“Gabriel, of course.” This had to be one of Gabe's elaborate pranks. This is something he would definitely do. “Good one, uncle Gabe.” he said aloud and then chuckled. Charlie would laugh at him for freaking out when he told her later, but it would only be fair. It was a really good prank, after all.

Taking the spoon out of the coffee ( whilst side-eyeing it suspiciously) he took the first sip and almost moaned. Now he could pretty much cope with anything.

Breakfast was simply toast with butter and honey and no more surprises. A quick bath, shave and change of clothes and Castiel felt much better after his eventful morning so far. He decided that making some fresh scones were in order for when Charlie arrived later. Decision made, he began gathering the ingredients and the necessary tools for the job.

He wasn't the best at baking and sometimes he messed up, but he knew he'd never improve unless he kept at it. Gabe often looked exasperated at yet another culinary disaster or unrecognisable blackened lump, or whatever Gabe insisted it was, it was clearly a loaf of bread and it was only slightly charred. Gabe was an exaggerating drama queen who needed to keep his comments to himself, whatever.

Mixing the ingredients together was easy enough, laying out the scones on an oven tray was even simpler. It wasn't until Castiel went to put them in the oven that he realised he'd forgotten one crucial step.

 

He'd forgotten to light the wood fired stove.

 

Irritated with himself, he placed the scones on the table and opened the stove door, checking that he'd remembered to put in wood and kindling at least. He had, so he searched around for matches and finding none, remembered he had left a box in his bedroom. After fetching them he attempted to light the kindling only to have the match burn his finger. The second match snapped leaving just one match left. When that match also snapped Castiel cursed aloud angrily “Aargh! I just want to light the damned stove!”

With a roaring sound the wood in the stove caught fire, burning white hot flames burst out of the opening and Castiel fell onto his backside in shock. The fire was intense white for a few seconds before dying down to a warm orange glow.

 

Shaken, Castiel raised himself from the floor and gripped onto one of the chair backs for support. “Okay. Now I'm freaking out.” he gulped.

 

*************************

 

Charlie adjusted her pack and skipped down the lane leading to the village square, she was a little early to go and stay with Castiel, so she figured she'd check out a couple of the stalls in the market and pick up some supplies for a picnic and get Cas out of the house for a few hours. She'd promised Gabe that she'd keep an eye on his introverted nephew and her BFF and she figured they'd both enjoy a picnic out by the castle grounds, which were lovely this time of year. It brought back memories of her original home that were bittersweet. Her home didn't exist any more. A neighbouring Kingdom had invaded and annexed the lands. It's people had lost their identity, many had fled as refugees into other kingdoms, including Charlie.

As she entered the market, she spotted her ex-paramour, a beta named Dorothy who was haggling with the shoemaker and cursed under her breath. “Frick.”

Using her powers she seemed to vanish, true invisibility wasn't possible but Charlie's powers had a way of making her so unnoticeable as to blend in almost completely to the background. She could only be seen if someone knew exactly where to look. Her powers came in very handy in her line of work, which wasn't always on the right side of the law per se, but was, in her opinion, morally just. Punishing those in power that punched down, by stealing the hoards of gold they took from harsh taxes in order to distribute it to those in need, exposing plots and gathering fodder for blackmail was cathartic and quite profitable. Charlie never took a job unless the target was her definition of a villain.

Gliding past on silent feet, she dodged villagers as they walked towards her, oblivious to her presence.

After dodging Dorothy once again she gave up on buying supplies for a picnic. She and Cas could drop by the market and pick up supplies on the way. So she made her way out of the village square and down the small path to the riverbank and the little stone bridge that marked the boundary of Gabe's property.

 

As she crossed the bridge she felt something in the air change. The hairs on her arms stood up and the metallic tinge of magik hung heavy in the air. Her steps faltered as she looked over the hedge on tip toes towards the cottage in confusion.

The windows and the front door had blown out and the shutters swung back and forth crazily, smoke poured from part of the thatch that had caught alight, flashing lights could be seen through the open windows and there was a high pitched tone that was just on the wrong side of uncomfortable.

 

Charlie gasped. “CAS!” she screamed as she ran towards the cottage. The sky darkened and lightning split the sky as she ran along the path, cursing Castiel's high hedges that forced her to go around. As she reached the gate, rain began to pour in sheets, putting out the blazing thatch and soaking Charlie to the bone almost instantly.

Reaching the front doorway and gripping the twisted frame, she screamed into the cottage in terror. “CAS! CAS! WHERE ARE YOU?”

The light kept flickering and it seemed focused on the kitchen. So she gathered up her courage and headed into the cottage, stepping over broken furniture and dodging flying debris.

Flicking her wet hair out of her face she peered into the kitchen and gasped in shock.

 

The kitchen was a tornado, broken furniture, food and utensils whirled around, smashing into everything and creating more debris as Cas huddled in the centre completely untouched by the chaos surrounding him. What was even more shocking was Castiel's aura. Not only that it was the strongest she had ever seen, but that he had one at all.

 

“CAS!” Charlie yelled through the broken doorway. “WHAT THE FRICK HAPPENED?”

Cas looked up, utter panic on his face. “CHARLIE, GET OUT! I DON'T KNOW WHATS HAPPENING TO ME!” he yelled above the din.

“HOLY FRICK! THIS IS YOU?” she yelled back.

“I DON'T KNOW! PLEASE CHARLIE, GO. I DON'T WANT YOU TO GET HURT.” Cas looked desperate and the tornado suddenly gained power, swirling even faster and Charlie had to wedge herself against the door frame in order to keep her feet.

“CAS, I THINK THIS IS YOU. YOU NEED TO STOP PANICKING. IT'S MAKING IT WORSE!” screamed Charlie.

Cas looked at her incredulously. “SURE, I'LL DO THAT RIGHT NOW. HOW DO I DO THAT EXACTLY?” somehow, even though he was yelling, the snark managed to translate over very well.

“Dick.” muttered Charlie as she gripped the door frame tighter “JUST TRY TO CALM DOWN. I'LL STEP OUTSIDE TO BE SAFE.” she yelled, knowing that her presence was probably making the situation worse at this point.

Shuffling backwards, she worked her way back to the front door and stood just out of sight and waited, panting as she tried to control her own panic.

 

A few minutes passed and the high pitched tone began to lessen and the furious storm began to dissipate, there were several large crashes from the kitchen as the larger items swirling around began to drop. After a few more minutes the noise had completely ceased and the rain stopped. The clouds broke up, and the sky became blue once more.

 

“Charlie?” Cas called out timidly. “Are you alright?”

Sighing with relief Charlie called back. “I'm good Cas, is it okay to come in now?” she waited for a reply.

“Um. Yes. It's stopped.” he said, sounding unsure about that.

“Okay. I'm coming in. Just keep calm Cas. Deep breaths.” said Charlie making her way back through the cottage slowly.

As she entered the ruined kitchen, she stopped just inside the doorway and paused with a small gasp. Without the tornado, it was easier to see her friends aura. It was pure white and more powerful than anything she'd ever seen. It radiated out from him like a beacon as he sat slumped on the kitchen floor.

She knelt down to look Cas in the eye and said quietly “What happened, Cas?”

He looked completely baffled. “I was just trying to make scones.” he said with a bewildered shrug.

 

Charlie burst out laughing and Cas looked confused before realising the ridiculousness of that statement and started laughing as well.

Both of them had tears running down their faces and then Cas let out a half sob as the shock began to wear off. Charlie drew her friend into a hug and he clung to her like a lifeline.

“It's okay. We'll figure it out. One thing at a time, Cas. I'll contact Gabe and get him back as soon as possible. He'll be able to help us. I'll stay with you, I won't leave you on your own, Cas.” she said soothingly as her friend silently cried on her shoulder.

 

**********************

 

Cas made himself busy piling up the broken furniture as Charlie swept the debris from the counters to the floor. Cas had gone silent and Charlie was content to let him stay that way for now. Whatever had happened, had come as just as much of a shock to Cas as it had come to Charlie. He was entitled to a moment to absorb what had happened.

 

“We need to board these windows up, Cas.” she said pointing to the open space where the leaded stain glass windows had once been.

“I know” said Cas quietly. “I have some boards in the gardening shed, but they won't be enough for all of the windows.” he looked lost as he looked around at the destruction.

“I'd be surprised if you did have enough, we'll make do with what we have and work out the rest later. Remember, one thing at a time, Cas.” said Charlie gently and Cas nodded.

 

Contacting Gabe had been surprisingly easy, explaining to him what had happened was decidedly less so, when they couldn't make sense of it themselves. But one look at Castiels face in the orb and Gabe had cursed and told them he would be home by morning.

 

Charlie looked around and sighed as Cas went through the motions of cleaning up. Glancing out of the window, she spotted a problem.

“Cas! You have to go hide. We have friendly helpful neighbours at the gate. They can't see you like this.” she hissed, pushing Cas towards his room.

“What? Why?” said Cas, frowning confused.

“Because your aura is like the sun, dude. It'll probably raise a few questions we can't answer because, oh, I don't know, you're not supposed to frickin' have one?!” she said snarkily, pushing him again.

Realisation sank into his shock addled brain and he hurriedly darted into his room and shut the door quietly, leaning against it and straining to hear what was going on outside.

 

Charlie made her way to the open front doorway and greeted the worried looking neighbours with a tired smile.

“Hey folks! Sure could use a hand cleaning up this place and some boards for the windows.” she said cheerily.

“Where is Castiel? What happened here?” said the apparent leader of the group.

Thinking fast, Charlie grimaced. “He's gone to fetch Gabe. That was some storm, huh? The cottage got hit by lightning and one of Gabe's distilled concoctions went off like a bomb. Seems to have fizzled out now though, so it's all safe. Just left a bit of a mess.” She lied smoothly.

Most of the villagers looked relieved and began spreading out to inspect the damage. The leader was apparently not satisfied.

“Why is the smell of magik in the air? It's so strong I can taste it.” he said suspiciously.

Charlie scrunched her nose up in disgust. “Did you mean that to sound as creepy as you did? 'cause that was preeeetty creepy. I told you, one of Gabe's concoctions went off. Magi knows what was in it. This is Gabe we're talking about. Could have been moonshine for all I know. Also, did you miss the part about the lightning? I'm sure I said something about the lightning.” she said, arching her eyebrow in silent challenge.

“It just seems strange to me, that's all.” the leader sniffed.

“I didn't say it wasn't. Now are you here to help, or stand around and getting in the way of people who are trying to clean up?” she said getting annoyed.

One of the other villagers laughed and patted Charlie on the shoulder from behind.

“Don't mind Frank, he thinks the worst of everyone and everything. He believes the King is secretly a dragon, that replaced the real King years ago and that even the royal family don't know about it. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that's all bollocks.” the man said loudly making the rest of the villagers laugh along with him, including Charlie.

“Mark my words, something strange is going on here! One day you'll wish you'd listened to me.” cried Frank as he stormed away in a huff as the villagers roared with laughter.

Charlie rolled her eyes and looked at the rest of the villagers “Ooookay. Few scrolls short of a binder, that one. Obviously.” she laughed, mostly in relief.

The villagers agreed to go and fetch materials for patching up the cottage and meet back here to help clean up. Charlie made the appropriate grateful gestures and waved them off until they were out of sight before running to Castiel's door.

“Cas? It's just me. We don't have a lot of time before they come back. Just stay in there okay? Lock the door, I'll just tell them you locked it before you left to go find Gabe and that we'll take care of that room later. Just sit tight, okay?” she said hurriedly.

“Okay.” said Cas, his deep voice sounded extremely tired through the door.

“I've got this. Cas. Don't worry. One thing at a time, remember?”

“Yes. Thank you, Charlie.” said Cas gratefully.

“Hey, you're my BFF. It comes with the job. Maybe try taking a nap. I'll come get you when it's safe. See you later.” she said before moving away and picking up a broom.

Cleaning up took a long time and took on a bit of a party atmosphere as a small army of villagers descended on the cottage bearing tools and materials and set to making temporary fixes to the damaged cottage. Several of the older ladies of the village set up a stall in the garden and served tea and cakes for the hard working folk and mostly gossiped and knitted tiny clothing for their grandchildren. The people here were kind and willing to help those in need and more than a little bit nosy. Charlie oversaw the works, trying to save what she could of the damaged furniture and even some of the formerly beautiful stained glass windows.

As the sun began to set, the villagers began to drift away to their own homes and the cottage was at least secure, the kitchen had been almost completely destroyed but the library was mostly intact and some kind soul had even lit the fire in there. Some food had been left in a basket on the table and the bottle of wine next to it looked like the good kind.



Closing the hastily repaired front door behind the last of the villagers, Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.

She knocked on Castiel's door “Hey, Cas. They've all gone. You can come out now.”

She stood back as the lock clicked immediately and the door snapped open revealing a frowning Castiel.

“I thought they'd never leave. I've been stuck in here for hours.” he said grumpily.

Charlie huffed a laugh. “Shush you. They put this place back together and even provided dinner and more importantly, booze. C'mon you must be starving.” she said leading the way to the library. Laughing as Cas cast a critical eye over all of the work that had been done.



Seemingly satisfied, Cas sank into his chair by the fire and took the glass of wine Charlie handed him gratefully. As Charlie dug through the basket of food to make up a plate of supper for them both , Cas sipped his wine and stared into the fire moodily.

Charlie rolled her eyes and handed him a plate and sat down in the opposite chair and began eating enthusiastically.

“Hey, Mr tall, dark and brooding. Eat your food or I'll drink the rest of the wine. I'll do it, you know I will.” she threatened with a smirk.

Cas gave her a small smile and began to eat, he hadn't realised how hungry he was and the food disappeared at a rate that astonished Charlie.

“Whoa. What happened to the Princely table manners? Or did they go out of the window along with everything else in the house?” her laugh stalled when Cas gave her a filthy look.

“Sorry, too soon. My bad.” she cringed and stood up to pass the basket of food to Cas, who began to dig through it to refill his plate.

“So. I'm guessing the fact you now have an aura means that your binding broke.” said Charlie, getting straight to the point.

Cas shrugged. “I've never heard of such a thing. Ever. But I can't think of what else could have happened. Did someone do this to me? Was the ritual not done properly? There are more questions than answers.” he said quietly, his deep voice sounding strained.

“Can you use your powers? Do you know what they are?” said Charlie interestedly.

Cas looked terrified for a moment. “I don't know, I haven't tried. I don't want what happened earlier to happen again.”

“That's fair. But my friend, you should know, your aura is really strong. I've never seen anything like it. It's .. kinda gorgeous actually.” she said, with a little wonder in her eyes.

Cas blushed “Oh. Uh, thank you. It doesn't matter, I was bound for a reason. I'm dangerous, Charlie.” he said in a warning tone.

“That's crap. I wouldn't be here now if I believed that. You wouldn't hurt anyone on purpose.” snapped Charlie.

“Not on purpose, Charlie. But someone could get hurt regardless.” Cas snapped back, arching an eyebrow.

“Okay. So we wait for Gabe and he performs another binding ritual. He did the original binding, right? So he probably can work out what went wrong with this one. We just keep you under wraps until then and no-one needs to find out. People would flip out seeing an aura on someone who is supposedly bound, and not to be tactless, but Michael did a number on you with the rumours.” she said matter of factly.

Cas looked sick. “Gabe can't get here soon enough. He might have some binding irons around here or something. It would probably be a good idea to use them.” he said worriedly.

“Okay, but they won't hide your aura. Just suppress your powers. So you'd still have to stay hidden. But if it helps us both sleep tonight, I'll try to find them.” she said, willing to do whatever it took for her friend to feel safe.

Cas smiled at his friend. “Thank you. For everything, Charlie.”

*************************

Cas woke with a start at the sound of raised voices in the library. Charlie and Gabe were yelling at a third person.

“No! I'll tell myself you self important buffoon! This will be hard enough for him without your slimy false platitudes making it worse. Now get out, before I make you regret you were ever born!” yelled Gabe.

Sitting up, Cas strained to listen to what the other person was saying, but the voice was too low to make anything out or identify the speaker.

Angry footsteps sounded on the way to the front door, followed by the hollow bang as the door itself slammed behind whoever had left.

Cas looked down at the binding irons on his wrists, the chain between them limited his movement, but he had actually slept easier knowing he wouldn't accidentally hurt Charlie.

A soft knock at the door made his heart beat faster. “Enter” he croaked, his throat tight and dry.

The door opened to reveal Gabe, looking tired and worried.

“Hey kiddo. I'm guessing all the yelling woke you up?” said Gabe gently.

Cas nodded, finding it difficult to speak or even look Gabe in the eye.

“So, from what I can see with my own eyes and what Charlie tells me, we've got ourselves in a little bit of a pickle.” wheedled Gabe sitting on the edge of the bed as Cas nodded again, still unable to meet Gabe's gaze.

Gabe lifted his hand and gently brushed the chain attached to the cuffs. “Binding irons. Smart decision, probably wise to keep 'em on until we figure this all out. I can remove the chain though. They'll still work, but you can move a bit more easily. Sound good?” he said finally taking Castiel's hand and squeezing it gently.

Cas nodded again.

“Okay, I can do that in a little while. But first, I'm also guessing you're wondering what the yelling was about?” said Gabe, hesitantly.

Cas finally looked up, something about Gabe's tone made him feel uneasy.

Gabe's eyes were filled with tears and sympathy.

“What else has happened?” Cas breathed out, filled with dread.

“I'm so sorry, my boy. Your father died yesterday. It was sudden and unexpected. I'm told it was a heart attack and he didn't suffer.” said Gabe, his voice breaking a little.

Cas felt his heart seize and he struggled for breath, if he hadn't been sitting on his bed,he would have collapsed on the floor.

“No. Please, no.” begged Cas gripping Gabe's hand.

I'm sorry. More sorry than I can ever say, but yes, Cas. Zachariah was here, not so much to tell us that Chuck had... passed, but to give the official invitation to Michaels coronation. Our presence is mandatory and it's in two days, straight after the funeral.”

“What? But, how? I mean.. it's just..” stammered Cas indicating the binding irons.

Gabe nodded. “I know. We don't have long to figure out what happened and fix it. Zachariah wanted to wait here and escort us to the capital later. I managed to convince him that you would need a little while to gather yourself. So he's in town. But he'll be back. He cannot find out that the binding broke. He'll go straight to Michael and it'll be the end for all of us. Chuck can't protect any of us now. Michael holds all the cards.” he looked grave.

Cas closed his eyes as the tears silently rolled down his face. “Gabe, you have to do another ritual as soon as possible. Michael would look for any excuse. He hates me.” he said weakly.

“Yeah, but Michael hates everyone who isn't Michael. I'm not gonna lie kiddo, it's gonna be tough from here on out, and I don't know exactly what is going to happen. But I do know we're gonna stick together, okay? Me, you and Charlie. We made ourselves a little family out here and family sticks together.” said Gabe, tears in his own eyes.

“I know. This is just.. it's so much.” said Cas, wiping his face with the sleeve of his shirt.

Gabe snorted. “Right? Never rains but it pours. We don't even have time to grieve right now. We've gotta stay one step ahead of the villains of the piece. So, up and at 'em. Let's get this binding done before Zach gets bored at the tavern and starts poking around.” he said, rising from the bed and indicating the door.

 

Cas nodded. Gabe was right. Grief would have to wait.

 

*************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter four.

 

 

Dean sat on a barrel inside the barn watching Sam as he tended to a wounded falcon. The poor bird had become entangled in a poachers net and had possibly injured its wing. Left in the wild, the bird would have died, thanks to Sam it would make a full recovery.

It was fascinating to watch, the bird had been frantic and risked injuring itself further with it's desperate struggles. Sam had soothed the terrified bird and it had responded immediately, going lax and allowing Sam to untangle it from the net and inspect the damaged wing. It was currently perched on a bar with it's injured wing spread out as Sam removed the damaged feathers and cooed nonsense to the falcon who stared impassively at the door to the barn.

“I never get bored of seeing that. The way animals just know they can trust you.” remarked Dean, with more than a little admiration in his voice.

Sam turned and smiled. “I never get bored of it either. It's the best thing ever.” his grin was wide and his eyes were bright. The falcon preened its breast feathers as Sam finished his examination. “There, no broken bones. Just a few bent and broken feathers, once they grow back in you'll be right as rain. We'll keep you fed and watered in the meantime, then you can be on your way.” crooned Sam, stroking the wild bird , who gave a shriek in response.

Dean huffed a laugh. “Pretty sure if I tried that, that big guy would claw my eyes out.” he said with a little half smile.

Sam frowned. “No, she wouldn't. It's the females who are bigger. Falcons don't use their feet for that. She'd gouge your eyes out with her beak. See this little bit here on the side of her beak? It's a bit like a tooth. It's used for ripping the flesh.” said Sam with a grin as Dean balked.

“Noted.” said Dean, leaning a little further back, as if putting more space between himself and the bird.

Sam rolled his eyes at his brother as he coaxed the falcon into a large wooden cage where it would spend the majority of it's recovery.

“We need to do something about those poachers. It's not just animals getting caught in their traps. Two of the townsfolk have been injured in the last month. Old Martyn nearly lost his foot to a spring trap that was only just off the path through the forest.” said Sam, washing his hands in the bowl of water on the table.

Dean nodded. “I know. Setting patrols in the forest can only do so much though. According to dad, the problem is Lord Azazel's people coming across the border. He set heavy taxes on his people and they are starving. Unlike here where the penalty for poaching is a fine, on Azazel's lands the penalty is death. So, if they are desperate enough to cross the border, it must be really bad there. Mom says there have been a few refugees too.” he said sadly.

Sam frowned. “Can we do anything for them? Or is Azazel kicking up a stink and wanting them back?” he said warily, knowing Azazel well..

Dean's lip curled in disgust. “He sent a letter insisting that we 'round up any and all persons betraying their Liege lord by crossing the border illegally'. He wanted them carted back to Perdition to face execution and on top of that, he actually demanded that we reimburse him for each person we failed to return or he'd send soldiers across the border.” he spat angrily.

Sam's eyebrows almost met his hairline. “By the Magi...” he breathed. “I'm guessing dad wasn't impressed.” he said shaking his head in disgust.

Dean sighed. “Dad was livid at first. It's not like when Azazel lets his hunting dogs roam and they savage a few cattle before going back across the border. These are people and they are desperate and starving. Some of them were booted off their farms because they couldn't pay the taxes. Azazel wants to execute them for the crime of being poor!” he said angrily before giving Sam a wry grin as he continued “Well, dad was having none of it. Told Azazel he can go and knot himself, but if he wanted to talk about reimbursement, then dad was willing be reasonable. For every soldier he sends across the border, he'll get half a soldier back. He even stated that it was up to Azazel which half.” he chuckled as Sam's mouth dropped open in shock.

“Magi's beard. Has Azazel replied yet?” said Sam as he struggled not to laugh.

Dean smirked. “Nope. Strangely quiet. He can't help himself though, so it won't be long before he does something nasty in retaliation. He's too much of a dick not to.” he said with a resigned shrug as Sam nodded in agreement.

The barn door swung open, revealing Bobby Singer looking grave. “Hey fellas, you might wanna get up to the main hall. We just got a messenger from the capital. The King died yesterday. Michaels coronation is in two days and your parents are gonna have to go. I think your father wants to give you some instructions before he leaves.” the older Alpha gruffed.

 

Both boys looked shocked, but nodded and followed Bobby to the main hall where the servants were also gathering to receive instructions. The mood was sombre and hushed. John Winchester stood on the dais, he was already wearing a black armband of mourning and he looked grave.

After a short speech, he began issuing instructions to various servants who dashed off to carry them out.

 

As the last of the servants left, John turned to his sons, looking tired and irritated.

“Your mother and I will be gone for a week at least. Normally I'd take you boys with us, but the situation with Azazel and the refugees needs a close eye on it. I know I can trust you both to do right by those poor people. Once they are on our lands, they become our responsibility, and in this family we take our responsibilities seriously.” John looked proud as both boys nodded in agreement, twin expressions of determination.

John moved to the table where several scrolls were laid out, he began organising them as he continued. “I've ordered some extra patrols in the forest to spot them and get them the help they need as soon as possible. I've sent a message to Elder Gabriel to ask for some medicines and treatments. He is understandably unable to come himself right now, being the old kings brother he'll be going to the capital himself, but he should be able to send someone else with some supplies.” he sighed and rubbed his temples.

“Bobby will keep the castle running, I just need you to oversee the refugees. Until we can figure out where they can go, there is a temporary camp set up on the common land. It has to be managed carefully or we'll get outbreaks of disease and crime. It may not be too bad right now, but it will get worse before it gets better.” said John ruefully.

Dean nodded, his father had been through this before. The last war with Perdition had been fought when John Winchester had been a teenager. At eighteen, already the Lord of the land and a trained warrior, he had held the front line as bulwark, protecting the rest of the kingdom against the armies of Perdition.

 

Holding lands on the border held a special responsibility that only the strongest could hope to live up to. Protecting the borders was not a job for the weak. Especially the border with Perdition. King Crowley didn't have as firm a grip on his lords as he'd like. It was rumoured that because Crowley had been born a commoner and the son of a tailor before marrying the heir to Perditions throne, the lords of the land had little respect for him and often rebelled. Infighting was common. It was only through clever negotiation and complex deals that Crowley had been able to hold his crown at all. It was said that Crowley was slippery enough to navigate through a downpour without getting wet. Lord Azazel despised Crowley and held the largest army of any of the lords of Perdition. He represented a real threat to Crowley's hold on the Kingdom. He was only kept in check through Crowley keeping the various factions at each others throats to prevent them uniting against the Crown.

Azazel hated John Winchester most of all. His mighty army had been bested during the last war and had barely made it across the border before being beaten back each time they had launched an attack. The older, more experience warrior had been humiliated by a stubborn teenager and he had never forgotten it. His petty campaign to make Johns life more difficult knew no bounds. Even to the extent of hurting his own people to do it. He really was just that much of a dick.

 

Sam looked at Dean before replying to John. “Sure dad, we'll make you proud.” he said as he stood to his full height and puffed out his chest.

John smiled warmly and clapped both boys on the shoulder. “You already make me proud. It's why I know I can trust you with this. Now Sam, can you go and see if your mother needs any help. I want to talk to Dean just for a moment.”

Dean felt his stomach plummet with dread and Sam gave him a pitying look as he left the main hall to carry out his fathers wishes.

 

John rolled his eyes at Deans expression and indicated the chairs at the nearby table. “Take a seat, Dean. I'm not going to eat you. I just want to be sure that you are alright before your mother and I leave for the capital.” he said as Dean took the offered seat.

“I'm fine.” said Dean automatically, looking at the flagstone floor.

John sighed. “I don't think you are. I think Alistair's words and actions hurt you more deeply than you care to admit. It's okay to feel that way, Dean. It means you care. I'd be more concerned if you didn't. I know I was short with you before. For that I apologise, I wasn't truly angry with you. I was angry with the unworthy fool that hurt my son and caused him to doubt himself and his place in this family.” he lifted Deans chin in order to look him in the eye.

“Your mother and I will remind you every day if we have to. You are not lesser than anyone else. Omegas are not lesser than anyone else. You do not have to be mated to be valid. You are no-ones property. You never have to mate or marry if you choose not to. This is not Perdition. This is Enoch and the laws give you rights equal to those of an Alpha or a Beta. Most of all, you are our son and we love you for who you are, not your designation.”

Dean gave a small smile. “Mom pretty much said the same thing.”

John grinned. “Smart lady. Always was too good for me. My mother used to say she softened my rough edges. My hope is that one day you find someone to do the same for you. Don't settle for anyone less than the perfect person for you. Certainly not an Alpha like Alistair.” he said softly.

Dean shuddered. “Ew. No. I want what you and mom have. I've never even seen you two fight.” he said with a smile.

John laughed out loud making Dean jump. “Oh, my boy! That doesn't mean we don't fight. We've had some terrible fights. We just respect each other too much to do it front of others. Especially in front of you and Sam. No, we fight. Then I pull my head out of my ass and realise she was right all along and we make up.” he said with a chuckle.

Dean sat wide eyed with surprise. “Oh. Oh. I'm thinking back over and some things make more sense now.” he said with dawning comprehension. “The hunting trips you took were when you were fighting, wasn't it?” he said with a laugh.

John nodded. “See? None of us are perfect. If or when you find that person for you, you'll discover that they alone have the power to hurt you like no-one else can, and they inevitably will. A huge part of falling in love is trusting that they don't want to hurt you and they'll try hard not to let anyone else hurt you either.”

Dean nodded but frowned in confusion. “Okay, but I was never even considering Alistair as a mate. He was a dick from the start.” he said, with disgust.

John shook his head. “No, I know that. As I said, your mother and I are concerned that you may have taken to heart some of the cruel things he said. We just want you to know your own worth. Nothing he said was even remotely true.”

Dean shifted in his seat, embarrassed. “I'm an idiot for letting him get to me so easily. I should have come to you right away, instead of pretending he wasn't getting to me.” he said miserably.

John patted Dean on the back of the hand, giving it a squeeze. “His particular brand of poison was designed to make you doubt yourself and isolate you. There is no shame attached to you. Only his words and actions are worthy of shame. If we've all learned something from this, it's how to recognise those behaviours and not to allow someone like Alistair to gain so much power over us.” he said with a sigh.

“We? Us?” said Dean in confusion.

John nodded. “Yes, us. It took too long before the rest of us realised what was happening. I can promise you, we learned our lesson too, and it will never happen again.” he said, his eyes shiny with unshed tears.

Dean gasped. “Dad, no. Please don't blame yourselves. I should have said something. You couldn't have known. It was my fault, my pride wouldn't let me admit that he was getting to me.” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

John reached forward and gripped Dean in a bear hug. Dean gripped back with equal ferocity.

“As long as there is breath in my body, I will protect you. You can't understand how it feels to see your child hurt. If you have children one day, you'll get it. Their pain is your pain, and you will do anything, anything at all to prevent them going through it.” John murmured into Deans hair as he squeezed tighter.

 

Dean said nothing as he let the tears flow silently.

 

***********************

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five.

 

 

Gabriel had suggested that Cas eat a good breakfast and take a bath before they performed the ritual. Cas had tried to argue that they were short on time, but Gabe had told him he needed to prepare the ingredients for the spell and centre himself in preparation for what would need to be a very strong binding.

So, Cas had allowed Gabe to remove the chain from the binding irons and had eaten some bread and cheese, with copious amounts of coffee made by Charlie.

Cas shaved at the sink as the dirty bath water drained away, a towel wrapped at his waist and his hair occasionally dripping onto his bare shoulders. The razor had been a gift from his father when he had excitedly written that he had finally sprouted a wispy moustache at aged fifteen. Cas had been so proud of that moustache, even though in hindsight it had looked terrible. Now, shaving was a chore and the wispy moustache was a perpetual five-o-clock shadow.

Cas felt a wave of grief as he realised there would be no more excited letters giving his father news on the milestones in his life. No more just as excited replies or expressions of pride. Chuck had been absent physically through necessity, but by no means had he been a less than supportive parent. Cas hissed as he made the final stroke with the razor and it sliced into his cheek.

 

Looking into the mirror and expecting to see blood, Cas almost fell over as he saw the cut emitting light instead. The bright light was almost blinding to look at directly, but Cas watched in amazement as the cut closed on its own and the light disappeared.

“By the Magi! What was that?” he whispered to himself as he inspected the skin where the cut had been just moments before. His skin was smooth and unblemished, there was no sign that he had been cut at all.

 

Shaking, he rinsed the razor and brought it up to his face again. He winced as he pressed the blade to his cheek and pressed gently. The blade sliced into his cheek and he flinched as once again the bright light poured from the cut.

He gasped as he watched the cut heal itself, again.

Fighting panic, he threw open the bathroom door and marched into the library where Gabe and Charlie were setting up the ritual.

 

“Hey Cas- WHOA! Naked, so much naked.” said Charlie covering her eyes and blushing.

“He's wearing a towel Charlie, he's only half naked. Calm down.” said Gabe, rolling his eyes then frowning. “Although, why are you half naked? And why do you look so spooked?” said Gabe stepping forward and placing the brass bowl he held on the table.

Cas held out a hand to stop Gabe's approach. “Just watch.” he said quietly.

 

Gabe and Charlie shared a worried look as Cas raised the razor he was still holding.

 

“Uh, Cas? You're kind of scaring us right now.” said Charlie, her voice shaky.

“Just watch.” said Cas as he brought the razor to his arm.

Gabe's eyes widened in horror as Cas slashed the razor down his arm.

“By the Magi! What are you doing?!” Gabe cried out as Charlie squealed in horror.

Cas stepped forward and held out his arm to show the light pouring out instead of the expected blood.

“It still hurts me, but keep watching.” he said as both Charlie and Gabe stood open mouthed staring at Cas' arm in a mixture of horror and fascination.

 

All three watched as the cut began to seal itself and the light faded, leaving smooth unblemished skin.

 

“Whoa.” Charlie breathed out and she looked between Gabe and Cas as if confirming that she really had seen what just happened.

Gabe grabbed Cas' arm and inspected it. “Magi's balls. I thought I was seeing one of my own illusions for a moment. How is this even possible? You still have the binding irons on!” Gabe babbled as he gently touched the spot where there was no sign of the previous injury.

Cas slumped. “I had hoped that you knew what was happening. If the binding irons don't work, how is another binding ritual supposed to hold?” said Cas, the panic beginning to bleed into his voice.

Gabe frowned. “Cas, I'm at a loss. I'm an Elder, I was once on the Grand council. I know more about magik than anyone, and I can tell you that even with all my knowledge and skill, I haven't got the first idea what is happening to you. My first instinct was high magik, but that's not quite right either. High magik leaves a trace on the aura, it lies over the person like a veil, it doesn't come from within. This is literally a part of you. It's raw magik.” he said, looking rattled. “I might as well take these off you.” he said, fiddling with the runes on the irons and unsnapped them from Castiel's wrists. He snapped the chain back on and placed them on the table.

“Maybe we should try the ritual anyway? It doesn't hurt to try, right?” Charlie blurted. She looked hopeful.

Gabe shook his head. “Can you imagine a binding spell working on one of the Magi? They were creatures born of raw magik. They didn't channel magik like we do, they were magik.” he said with authority. The following silence was deafening.

 

Cas suddenly barked out a laugh making Gabe and Charlie jump. “That's ridiculous! It can't be raw magik, that's absurd.” he scoffed. “I am not a Magi.” he added more seriously.

Gabe nodded. “No, you are not. You had human parents. I said the same thing to your father just before I performed the binding. I think it only took then because you were so young. Magi were creatures of beauty and chaos, they were both creator and destroyer. They walked the land and the land bowed to their whims. Our ancestors worshipped them as Gods. We still uphold the tenets they passed down. The College of Elders started as a religious order, times have changed and so has the purpose of the college, but it's why Elders are still forbidden to marry or mate. Most people view the Magi as no more than a myth, but they are very real. They sleep in the Ether, it's said they will return one day.” he said as he looked Cas in the eye.

“Castiel, you are something else. Similar, but not the same. You are somehow both human and magik at the same time. Which means you have power like nothing I've ever seen, but you are also mortal.” he frowned. “I think.” he added as an afterthought.

Cas raised an eyebrow as he roughly pulled his arm out of Gabe's grasp. “You think? I am overwhelmed with confidence in your knowledge and abilities.” he snarked.

“Hey, don't be bitchy. I'm doing my best here. If we had time I'd make a more thorough study and discover exactly what is going on. This has literally never happened before, ever. All I can do is make educated guesses, dumb-ass.” Gabe snarked back.

“Guys, cool it!” snapped Charlie as she stepped between them. “We have no time and Michaels pet goon, Zachariah has even less patience. We need a plan for when he comes back. Maybe we should just... not be here when he gets back.” she suggested with a shrug.

Both Cas and Gabe briefly looked abashed at Charlie's scolding.

“All of my instincts say the same thing, Charlie. I want to run and not look back. Unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating when I say it there will be few places we could hide. Especially considering that unless Michael produces some kids, Cas is now Michael's heir. He'll turn over every rock to find him. He'll want Cas firmly within his reach. To be honest, with the power coming off Cas, they'd only need a half-assed tracker to find us.” said Gabe gravely.

 

Charlie gasped and Cas looked miserable as the full weight of their situation hit them.

 

“What the frick?! It didn't even occur to me that you are next in line, Cas. Oh Magi, we are uber-boned.” Charlie said dramatically.

Cas sighed. “Well, I'm going to get dressed. If I'm going to be handed over to Michael, I at least want to be wearing pants.” he said gloomily.

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Okay, you pair of drama llamas, I said there are few places to hide, not that there are none at all. Magi's balls, it's like you don't know me at all. We do have some options.” he said smugly.

Cas looked irritated. “Perhaps you should have started with that instead of scaring us half to death.” he growled as Charlie shot Gabe a dirty look.

Gabe looked unrepentant. “Nope, you need to understand the gravity of the situation. The options are limited and none of them are ideal.” he said seriously.

“Okay, what are our options?” said Charlie eagerly.

 

Gabe took a deep breath. “Okay, none of these are perfect. But option one, is make a run for it. Seek out allies abroad and claim asylum with a friendly nation. It's risky and we'd have to trust they wouldn't just imprison us and turn us over to Michael for political favours.” he looked up at Cas and Charlie who looked sceptical at that option.

He carried on. “Option two, Charlie and I use our less than legal contacts to hide us. Same problem as the first, these are shady people who'd sell their own mother for a profit.”

Cas shook his head. Charlie grimaced.

“Option three is hiding in plain sight. Lord Winchester has some refugees coming in, we could blend in with them in disguise for a little while, me with illusions and Charlie can't be seen unless she wants to. Cas' aura will attract attention though. So maybe Cas should hide out in the forest nearby and Charlie and I will blend in amongst the refugees. That way we can keep our ears to the ground and gather information until we figure out our next move.” said Gabe, as Cas and Charlie nodded along.

“That one sounds like the most viable.” said Cas as Charlie readily agreed.

Gabe nodded looking serious. “There is one more option. You're not going to like it. You are next in line to the throne. You could lead a revolution and depose Michael. It wouldn't take a lot to convince a few key Lords of the realm to your side. He has made many enemies with his tyrant tactics over the years. It would be laughably easy actually.” he said with a shrug.

“Whoa.” breathed Charlie.

“You're right. I don't like it. You are suggesting I start a civil war in order to save my own ass. What about the thousands of people who would die in our names. I have never wanted to be king. I'd be worse than Michael.” said Cas, his voice hard and his eyes flashed briefly. The air in the room crackled with power and the metallic scent of magik was stifling.

“Okay, keep it together Cas. Like Gabe said, it's an option, not a given. One thing at a time, remember?” Charlie soothed, repeating the mantra that they had developed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as Cas shook off the building power and centred himself. Charlie looked proud at how fast he had gained control.

“Fair enough on the civil war, although to be fair it wouldn't be just to save our own asses. I can understand your reluctance, but for the record, you'd make a great king, Cas. Michael isn't stupid, he knows it too, that's why he's keen to keep you close, to keep an eye on you and prevent you gaining potential allies.” said Gabe more gently.

“Look, I'm not talking about this, I'm uncomfortable discussing it. I would have to kill my own brother. He may hate me, he may be a terrible king and a worse human being, but he is still my brother.” Cas snarled as he began to storm off.

“Cas, where are you going?” called Charlie, her voice concerned.

“To put on some pants!” he barked back, before slamming the bathroom door behind him.

 

Gabe flopped into a chair. “I might have pushed a little too hard.” he admitted with a sigh.

Charlie snorted. “Uh, yeah, you did. Way to go antagonizing the most powerful human ever born by the way. I thought he was gonna lose it again. I barely retained my eyebrows last time.” she snarked.

“He doesn't get it, but he will. It really isn't just about him. Michael is going to start a war on this continent the likes of which haven't been seen since Atricia.” Gabe replied sadly.

“You don't know that.” snapped Charlie. “He isn't even crowned yet, you don't know the future, your powers are of illusion, not precognition.” She flopped down into the opposite chair. “I'm not willing to rule it out completely, just that maybe we need more evidence. Cas won't accept anything less.”

Gabe sighed. “I'm just uncomfortable with waiting until Michael actually starts a war. Do you know what happened to Atricia? They used High magik. It's blood magik, the leaders of the two main factions in the war captured slaves to bleed dry in order to power spells that levelled cities. No-one is even sure which side cast the final spell that destroyed the entire continent, but they must have used a lot of blood sacrifice. Thousands of human sacrifices. The only survivors were horribly twisted and almost unrecognisable as human. They didn't survive long. Some were put out of their misery as a mercy. The magik was so strong, it transformed the landscape and everything on it. I've heard stories from sailors who have found seabirds floating near the shores, they were turned inside out, yet somehow still alive. There are theories that the spell ripped a hole into the Ether. It would certainly explain a lot of what happened there.”

Charlie grimaced. “Okay, but high magik is banned now because of that. What makes you think that that will happen here?” she said questioningly.

“I know Michael. He will do anything to win. Even violating the accords. Look at his track record, he managed to piss off every other kingdom even before my brother died. Once that crown is on his head, he'll see it as a free pass to do whatever he wants and he'll destroy anyone that tries to prevent him.” said Gabe bitterly.

Charlie sagged. “I'm not disagreeing with you on that. Perhaps we could hide out for a while and then reach out for allies? At least we'd be prepared either way.” she said with a shrug.

Gabe nodded. “I think you're right. We'll get Cas hidden first, then you and I will start working on gathering a resistance. Cas will come around eventually, he'll see he has no choice once Michael starts being.. well.. Michael.” he said ruefully.

“So, we say nothing to Cas about the resistance for now? I don't like lying to my bestie, Gabe.” she said looking troubled.

Gabe shrugged. “What else can we do? You know what Cas is like, he's a stickler for the rules and incredibly stubborn. He has to come to it on his own. I'm an Elder, a tutor and a pseudo parent. Some lessons can't be taught, but they can still be learned. I should have remembered that before I hit him with it before. I was kinda rattled though, in my defence.” he said shaking his head.

Charlie nodded. “Uh, yeah. I think you can be forgiven for that. Okay, we'll get stuff in place and then tell him when it's necessary. We need to contact Hannah somehow. She'll be crucial to any plans we make.” she whispered as the bathroom door rattled, indicating that Cas was about to make an appearance.

Gabe nodded quickly and plastered a fake smile on his face. “So, Cassie. I guess we'd better get packing. Zach is not gonna wait much longer, we need to be gone before he gets here.”

 

Cas grunted in reply as he walked out of the bathroom still rolling his sleeves back on his forearms, he was dressed in a simple white tunic and black waistcoat, his black trousers tucked into his most comfortable black knee length riding boots. “I'll load up my pack and then I'm ready to go when you are.” he said, turning towards his room.

Gabe stepped after him. “Pack light, we're going on foot.”

Charlie grimaced. “Are you sure? We won't get far without horses. They'll catch up in no time.”

Gabe shook his head. “They'll track us easier on horses. Plus, we have to blend in as refugees, remember?”

Charlie nodded. “Luckily, I already packed a bag to stay here, so we don't have to go near my place, that's the next place they'll look, and you're still packed. So we'll have a little bit of a head start at least.”

Gabe nodded and began to pack up the small amount of food left as Charlie put her pack by the door. Cas walked out of his room with his pack already on his back and his tan riding cloak over his arm.

 

Everyone froze as someone began hammering on the door impatiently. Charlie's eyes went wide with barely concealed panic as Zachariah's nasal tones came through the door.

 

“Gabriel? I have my soldiers here. We're ready to escort you all to the capital.”

No-one moved as the hammering began again.

“Gabriel, open this door. Michael insisted on a tight schedule, we simply don't have time for this.. He needs to keep his heir safe.” said Zachariah pompously.

Cas' jaw flexed in anger and his eyes glittered with power. He looked to Gabriel who shook his head.

Gabe indicated for quiet and pointed towards Castiels room at the back of the house. The windows had been largely undamaged in there and they had a chance of climbing out and slipping away unnoticed.

 

The banging on the door continued as the three moved silently into Castiels room. Gabe made to loosen the window catch but swore and ducked down under the sill as a shadow moved around the side of the cottage.

 

“Soldiers, coming around the back.” he whispered, shaking his head. Cas and Charlie threw themselves onto the floor, just as a soldier appeared at the window and peered through the cracked and warped glass.

The three of them watched as the shadow of the soldier moved from one side of the window to the other, trying to view as much of the room as possible before muttering to someone and moving away, presumably to inspect the rest of the back of the cottage.

“We're screwed” mouthed Charlie. Gabe nodded. “Okay, new plan. Cas, you stay in here and don't move. Charlie and I are going to go out there and and try to convince Zach that you ran away. I'll cast an illusion to hide you. It might not work though, that aura of yours is just too strong kiddo. Be prepared for a fight in that case.” he whispered.

Charlie looked resigned as Cas shook his head indicating he was not happy with the plan.
Gabe patted him on the shoulder in reassurance. “Don't worry Cas. Charlie and I are used to talking our way out of sticky situations. This one barely cracks the top ten.” he said with a confidence that warred with the fear on his face.

 

Reaching into his pack for his blade, Cas nodded. Gabe and Charlie shared a look and moved quietly to the front of the house where the soldiers were starting to force the door.

 

Charlie and Gabe shook off their cloaks and tried to school their expressions as best as they could.

“Alright! I'm coming, this place is damaged enough without you oafs breaking down the door.”

shouted Gabe as he began sliding the bolts on the door open. The banging stopped immediately and the door swung open with a squeal in the slightly warped frame.

 

A tall, balding Alpha in a maroon robe stood on the front step, a sneer on his face.



“Zachariah, always a pleasure.” greeted Gabe, trying not to grit his teeth.

“Why were we kept waiting? I told you to be ready. Where is the heir? I bet he's lolly-gagging, he always was a brat.” Zachariah snapped impatiently.

Charlie made a small noise of displeasure and scowled openly at the pompous head of the Council of Elders.

Gabe fixed Zachariah with a cold look that made the taller man wilt a little. This was already going badly.

“You are to refer to him as His Majesty or Prince Castiel. He is first and foremost a person of royal blood and is owed your respect. You may have Michaels favour, but I know you of old, Zachariah. You were a weasel then, and you're a weasel now. You speak of Castiel in any other way than as I have instructed and I will claim the right of challenge and wipe that pompous look from your face. For all your bluster, you have little talent. You wouldn't last long in a duel with me.” said Gabe darkly. “Do. Not. Test. Me.” he gritted out.

Zachariah balked slightly but recovered quickly puffing out his chest defiantly. “Michael told me to get His Majesty to the capital by any means necessary. I assure you, he was purposely vague about the details. He wants Prince Castiel safely under his eye, he only asked you to come as a mere courtesy.” he sneered. “I'm just doing my job.” he added with a sniff.

Charlie stepped forward, her expression was furious. “No-one said you had to enjoy it so much, Baldy.” she snarled.

Zachariah sneered at her, drawing himself up to his full height, trying to intimidate her, but failed entirely.

“Charlie? Is that your name? Sounds like a nobody to me. You dare speak to me in such a way. I'll have you arrested.” he motioned to one of the soldiers to step forward.

 

Charlie smiled and suddenly her spine straightened as if made from steel.

 

“My name is Lady Celeste Middleton to those of my rank. I'm Charlie to my friends. You are neither. Do not presume to speak to me at all, you pompous windbag.” she said, her voice made of ice. The easy-going facade falling away as she assumed her real identity.

The soldier faltered in his step, looking at Zachariah with an unsure expression. Zachariah gave a small minute shake of his head and the soldier stepped back once again.

“Your Majesty. I had not heard the deposed heir to the throne of Moondor had graced our kingdom with her presence. Forgive me for failing to recognise your obvious quality.” Zachariah fake simpered and gave a slight mocking bow. The disrespect was obvious. “Although I suppose the lure of regaining a title and position would make Prince Castiel a tempting prize, would it not? I understand your presence now.” he said with a smirk.

“Not everyone is a greasy social climber like you, Zach. It doesn't matter how high you climb, who's butt you kiss or how much money you make. It doesn't buy class. That's something you've never understood. You are only nice to those that can help you up. Trust me, they won't be there on your way back down.” snapped Gabe.

“Enough of this! I tire of this useless discourse. Michael insisted that Prince Castiel be in the capital no later than tomorrow evening.” Zachariah's voice boomed.

Gabe smirked. “Slight snag with that plan. Castiel isn't here. He didn't take the news of his fathers death well, and he left.” he said with a shrug.

Zachariah looked furious. “What do you mean, he left?”

“Just what I said. I have no idea where he is.” said Gabe holding his hands out to the sides and shrugging again.

Zachariah turned to the soldiers behind him. “You four, search the cottage. See if the heir is inside or if there is any indication of where he is.”

 

The soldiers stepped forward immediately and pushed themselves into the cottage, before spreading out and searching the building. Gabe and Charlie stood back, trying to seem nonchalant. Zachariah stepped through the doorway, looking around with a critical eye.

 

“You live like this?” he said, his face screwed up with disgust.

“Rude.” Gabe objected indignantly. “I'll admit, it's not looking its best right now, but normally it's quite comfortable. Castiel makes sure the garden looks lovely all year round.”

Zachariah grimaced. “Ah, yes. I'd forgotten about his penchant for... manual labour.” he made it sound like a dirty word.

Gabe scoffed. “Yeah, you would find that weird. You've never done a hard days work in your life. Not unless you count working your nose right up Michael's as...ooof!” he cut off as Charlie elbowed him in the ribs.

“Your Excellency, the heir is not here, but we did find this.” said one of the soldiers, holding up Castiels pack.

Gabe's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Excellency? That's quite the promotion, Zach.” he said, venom dripping from every word. “We're supposed to renounce all titles and claims when we join the college.”

“It is no longer a requirement. The council took a vote and allowed it when Michael rewarded me for my loyalty to the kingdom.” said Zachariah airily, before turning to the soldier “His pack is here, he can't be far. Turn this place upside down if you have to, we are not leaving without the heir.”

The soldier nodded and walked away. Almost immediately loud thumps and the sound of breaking glass could be heard.

“Hey!” shouted Gabe stepping forward to intervene.

“Seize them!” bellowed Zachariah.

Two of the soldiers stepped out of the rooms they were searching and grabbed both Charlie and Gabe by the shoulders forcing them to stay put.

 

“So, your corruption is complete, huh Zach? Taking the bribe of a title. Did he sweeten the deal? What else did you get? Lands? Money? Whatever you got, they bought you cheap.” Gabe sneered as he struggled.

“That and more.” Zachariah smirked. “He also promised me the hand of Princess Hannah.”

Charlie gasped in shock and Gabe growled out. “Did she agree to that?”

“Her opinion on the matter doesn't come into it. She will do as she is told when the time comes.” sneered Zachariah.

“Not only is it illegal for any members of the college to take a mate, it's illegal to mate anyone against their will, you monster!” Gabe almost shouted, struggling harder.

Zachariah nodded to the soldiers holding the struggling Gabe and Charlie and they were suddenly frozen to the spot as binding collars were snapped around their necks, giving them hefty shocks that made them drop to their knees, panting for breath.

Zachariah watched them impassively for a moment before dropping to one knee in front of Gabe and leaning in.

“You forget, now Michael is king, he is the law. A lot of things are going to change in the near future. Best start accepting it now.” he patted Gabe on the head and stood.

“Y.. You never intended.... to take us peacefully. You delib... deliberately... goaded us so we'd...fight you. You wanted us in chains... from the start.” panted Gabe.

Zachariah laughed. “There's that clever mind of yours. I knew you'd figure it out eventually.”

“W... why?” panted Charlie.

“Because Michael has plans. You two are superfluous to requirements, he just needs the heir alive, for now. It just makes it easier to explain your deaths as an accident in custody.”

Charlie and Gabe began struggling anew, receiving another hefty shock for their trouble.

Their screams were drowned out by a huge clap of thunder and the whole cottage shook. Zachariah and the soldiers staggered and stared incredulously as Gabe and Charlie began laughing.

“Oh, you've done it now!” giggled Gabe.

 

Cas stood in the doorway to his bedroom, sword in hand. His aura was blinding and he looked furious.

 

Zachariah looked equal parts confused and angry. “You broke his binding? Why would you do that? You know what this abomination is capable of!” he hissed at Gabe. “SEIZE HIM!” He screamed to the soldiers.

“Antagonising the abomination. Real smart, Zach.” sneered Gabe.



All four soldiers descended on Cas, intending to seize him.

Cas was almost dragged to the floor under the onslaught, the sword was knocked from his hand and spun away uselessly, ending up near Zachariah. He headbutted one soldier in the face and kicked out at another who had managed to snap a set of binding irons over one wrist. He lashed out wildly, as the four soldiers struggled to maintain a grip on him.

“By the Magi, he's strong!” exclaimed one of the soldiers trying to hold Cas from behind “I can't hold 'im much longer, stick a binding collar on 'im!” Another nodded and attempted to do so. Cas put out a hand and made a flicking motion.

A surprised yell burst out of the soldier who was suddenly slung across the room as if being pulled by elastic, he smacked into a door frame with a sickening crack and slid to the floor unconscious.

“Aha!” yelled another soldier in triumph as he snapped the other cuff of the binding irons onto Cas' wrist. “See if you can do any magic now, royal boy!”

The soldier on Cas' back was red in the face with the effort of holding Cas. “ Hurry up! I can't hold 'im!”

The third soldier was faster, with a blur of movement he snapped the binding collar around Cas' neck and stepped back as Cas screamed and sank to his knees as the collar delivered a powerful shock.

 

The soldiers stood panting, trying to catch their breath as Cas writhed in agony, Charlie whimpered and Gabe dropped his head to his chest in defeat.

Zachariah looked smug as he observed Cas attempting to struggle, only to be shocked over and over again, screaming occasionally.

“Stubborn one isn't he?” he mused.

Gabe huffed. “You have.. no idea.” he strained out, still smarting from the shocks he had himself received.

“Go and bring the carriage up to the door. The sooner we get the heir to the capital, the better.” Zachariah ordered the nearest soldier, who nodded and left the cottage still trying to catch his breath.

 

Cas suddenly slumped onto the floor, he looked to be barely breathing he was so still.

 

Zachariah breathed a sigh of relief as he pinched the space between his eyebrows. “Thank goodness. All that screaming was giving me a terrible headache. He'll hopefully sleep the entire journey. I must say, I was surprised to see how well he fought, I'd always thought he was a passive fellow. Turns out the little runt has teeth after all.” he said with a hint of admiration.

Gabe grimaced. “Again. You have no idea. I just hope you find out the hard way.” he grunted as the nearest soldier gave him a swift kick in the ribs.

“Well, you'll never know, will you? Unless you get a good view from the afterlife. Once it's reported that you somehow broke his binding, the outcry at your death will cease. There will be cheering in the streets and no-one will mourn you.” sneered Zachariah as he gestured to one of the soldiers standing over Cas. The soldier nodded and drew his sword, stepping towards where Gabe and Charlie knelt on the ground.

Charlie squealed in pain as the soldier dragged her head back by her hair and pressed the blade of his sword to her throat. “Please.” she begged.

“Don't worry, I'll make it quick.” he sneered at her. She sobbed out a protest. “No, Please don't.”

Gabe tried to stand in order to help and screamed as the collar shocked him, dropping him down again.

Suddenly the air crackled with magik and the thunder rolled again, the house shook on its foundations and those on their feet staggered. The soldier holding the blade to Charlie's throat wobbled, drawing the blade across her skin, cutting through it like butter. Blood poured from the wound and a horrible gurgling sound came from her mouth as she tried in vain to hold the wound closed, her eyes wide in terror and pain.

“NOOOO!” screamed Gabe, crawling across the floor towards her.

Movement from the other side of the room attracted Zachariah's attention.

Cas was standing, his eyes glowed blue and the power emanating from him made it hard to breathe. He fixed Zachariah with a stare.

“H...How?” Zachariah stammered. “The binding irons should be blocking your powers! This shouldn't be happening!” he said, backing away.

Suddenly, one of the soldiers rushed at Cas, his sword drawn and his arm out ready to cast a spell.

 

Cas merely turned his head and stared at the soldier who froze mid-stride and began screaming and clutching his head. Smoke poured from the man's open mouth as he sank to his knees, his head back and his wide open eyes burned from his skull.

 

Gabe cradled Charlie to himself as he watched the child he had raised burn the soldier from the inside out with horrified expression.

 

Zachariah fled through the door, but as the soldier who had slit Charlie's throat tried to follow, Cas made a gripping motion with his outstretched hand and the man froze before being flung backwards into the room once more. He landed on his back, whimpering. He began begging as Cas advanced on him slowly.

“Please. I don't want to die! Please!” he babbled.

Cas stood over him with a cold expression on his face. “ Please.” he said flatly. “She also said that. She didn't want to die either. You slit her throat anyway.” he knelt down next to the trembling man. “Don't worry, I'll make it quick.” he whispered in his ear as he clamped his hand over the soldiers head and burned him from the inside out until all that was left was a smoking corpse.

His eyes returned to normal and the magik stopped crackling in the air.

 

Reaching to the ring of iron at his neck, he tugged gently and the collar fell to pieces, dropping to the floor with a clunk. Doing the same with the binding irons at his wrists, he removed them and turned to Gabe who shrank back slightly, still gripping Charlie to his chest.

 

“It's okay.” said Cas softly. “I'd never hurt you.” his eyes glittered with unshed tears.

Gabe looked ashamed for a moment. “Sorry, kiddo. I know that.” he said with a sob.

Cas looked at the body of his best friend. “Is she... is she gone?” his voice cracked with grief.

Gabe stroked her face and held his hand over her heart. “Almost, she's barely alive. I can't heal her, she's too far gone, and they smashed all of my supplies.”

Cas leaned forward, his tears now flowing freely, and pressed his hand to her deathly pale face lovingly. “Thank you, my friend. I love you dearly.”

 

He gasped as light poured from his hand and Charlie's wounds began to close. Her eyelids fluttered and she gasped in a huge breath. Gabe's mouth dropped open in shock as she began moving in his arms, her skin pinked up and the blue tinge to her lips vanished.

Cas pulled his hand back as she suddenly sat up, her eyes wide as she held her hands to her throat and stared at Cas in surprise.

 

“Did... did you just...?” she stammered.

 

Cas stared back, just as surprised. “I think I did, yes.” he said happily, pulling her into a hug.

“That, is a neat trick, kiddo.” said Gabe proudly as he threw himself into the hug, squeezing the two with all of his might, until Charlie began to protest at the rough treatment.

“Okay, Okay! I just came back from the dead, I don't want to be crushed to death by you two within moments. We need to get out of here, before Zach comes back with more soldiers.”

Gabe let go reluctantly. “You're right. Can someone undo this damned collar? I need it off me yesterday.” he said looking at Cas.

Cas nodded and within moments, both Gabe and Charlie were free of the binding collars and were standing, stretching their sore muscles.

Cas picked up his pack, throwing it over his shoulder. “Has the plan changed?”

Gabe frowned. “Uh, a little I guess? Zach knows about your powers. Michael is going to throw everything he has towards finding you. It's going to be really bad now. Especially if Michael thinks we might interfere with these mysterious 'plans'. The only advantage we have is that they think Charlie's dead. They won't go looking for her. So we'll split up, she's going to gather some allies, and we'll hide out nearby.” he said looking between Cas and Charlie.

“I know just where to start, I'll get Hannah out first.” she said with a smirk.

“So, I guess I am going to war with my brother.” said Cas sadly.

Gabe sighed and grasped Castiels shoulder. “Yeah, kiddo. We really don't have a choice. It's that or let him grind everyone under his boot.” he tried to look reassuring. “Don't worry, you'll make a good king. You won't be alone, we'll be with you every step of the way.”

 

Cas took a breath. Then a look of fierce determination took over his features.

“Okay. I'm ready.”

 

*************************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six.

 

The official name of the capital was Haven, unofficially known as the city of a hundred waterfalls. Today it was strangely quiet. The market squares were still open for business, but the stall owners carried out their transactions without the usual banter or loud cries about the deal of the day. Customers scurried to and fro, buying their goods and heading home or to their place of business without stopping to chat. The parks and plazas were deserted, no children splashing in the fountains or running the many winding paths around the lush gardens. The canals and ornamental lakes were undisturbed by boat traffic. Capital soldiers were stationed at regular points throughout the streets, their black and silver armour glinting in the sun. The brightly coloured buildings were a stark contrast to the sombre mood of the inhabitants.

The port was closed, soldiers were posted at the entrances to prevent anyone trying to board a ship and the fishing boats were floating idle. Angry fishermen and traders had long since stopped trying to argue with the guards after the first round of arrests and public beatings.

The temple where the former King lay in state was silent except for the occasional sniff or sob of those who came to pay their respects. The guards posted at all four points of the compass stood as still as statues. The wood for the pyre was already stacked on the raised dais in the centre of the round room, below the oculus. The midday sunlight poured through the open roof and bathed the white polished marble dais and the shallow reflecting pool, surrounding it in light that reflected onto the polished copper walls, creating an optical illusion of flames. Tomorrow, the pyre on the dais would be lit for real. Chuck's mortal remains would be burned and his ashes interred in the crypt beneath the temple, like all of the kings and queens before him.

At the castle, guests were arriving and being shown to quarters to rest before the banquet to be held later in the evening. The preparations for which were well under way. Servants carried out their tasks in silence, the stench of grief and despair hung in the air despite the many fresh flower arrangements that were placed in every room and corridor.

Underneath the castle, Michael stood in a rock carved chamber and fumed as several members of the Council of Elders inspected the Monarch vault door, taking notes and conferring in low tones amongst themselves. The huge door was set into the rock of the foundation of the castle and forged of a strange silver metal that emitted a dull shine. The entire surface was covered in old Enochian runes and pictographs and had no visible lock.

 

“I don't understand what is taking so long? I need to enter the vault in order to get to the Crown and Sceptre. How is the coronation to take place tomorrow, without them? Not to mention I need to find my fathers last proclamation.” he snapped at an aged beta that stood nearest to him. “I thought you people were the wisest and most learned in the land? Am I to believe you have been defeated by a door?

The aged beta looked unruffled “Your Majesty, this is no mere door. The Monarch vault has ties to the magik of the kingdom itself. Only the legitimate Monarch can access it. You are asking us to break spells that are part of the very fabric of the land. I'm not actually sure it can be done, and certainly not in the time frame you are asking for.” the wrinkled beta whispered, his voice dry and cracked.

Michael grabbed the Beta's maroon robe and dragged the poor man closer, pulling him in until their faces were almost touching.

Never make any reference alluding to me not being the legitimate heir again.” he snarled into the terrified mans face “Not even in passing. Are we understood?”

The beta nodded. “Y..yes your Majesty.” he stammered.

“Good. Do not forget who you owe your allegiance to. My father obviously lost his mind before he passed, or he would never have signed the proclamation disavowing me as the heir. This is all a mere inconvenience until I get that vault open and destroy the document. I will claim my birthright, and you will get me into that vault or you are no longer of any use to me, do you understand?” Michael gritted out as he shook the smaller man roughly.

“Y.. yes, your Majesty.” the Elder gasped out, collapsing as Michael suddenly released him.

Someone nervously cleared their throat nearby, causing Michael to look up with an expression of fury.

“What?” he snapped.

Another younger Beta in maroon robes stood to one side, nervously holding a brass instrument resembling a clock with various other gears and attachments. The man was as nondescript as they come, his hair was grey, his eyes were grey, even his skin was a waxy grey. He closely resembled a corpse.

“Excuse me, your Majesty, but Elder Virgil is correct. Our readings are conclusive. We cannot open the Monarch vault. It's magik is tied into the foundation of the kingdom itself. It will hold until the kingdom ceases to exist. It will not open before that time unless the proper .. uh .. conditions are met. However, we can use the replica crown jewels your father had made to display, with a glamour charm, no-one will ever know the difference. As for the document, even if you were to gain possession of it, it is protected by the same magik as the vault itself.” the second Elder said, his head bowed.

Michael glared at the quaking Elder and growled, causing the younger Beta to back away hurriedly.

Turning away and kicking a stray instrument, screaming in frustration, he saw Zachariah walk in to the chamber, his head bowed.

 

“At last. Your message wasn't exactly clear. How exactly did my brother manage to kill three soldiers and escape? I suspect it was more due to your own incompetence than any martial skills my brother might possess.” Michael sneered.

Zachariah looked terrified. “Your Majesty, I believe my report will exonerate me of any incompetence. We were woefully outmatched and we were misled about your brother and his skills. We could have gone in there with a whole garrison and had the same result.” Zachariah said nervously.

Michael gave Zachariah a hard look. “You expect me to believe that Castiel, the meekest Alpha in existence, killed three soldiers and could have killed an entire garrison on his own?”

Zachariah gulped. “Yes. Somehow, his binding was broken. The power he possesses is far beyond anything I have ever seen. He didn't just kill those soldiers, he burned them from the inside out with a mere glance. Whilst wearing binding irons and a binding collar, no less. I barely escaped with my life.” he babbled out as fast as he could, wringing his hands.

 

Michael blanched. “What? Did you say his binding was broken? How?” he demanded.

Zachariah shook his head. “I don't know, your Majesty. I had no idea it could be done. I suspect that Gabriel had something to do with it. I sincerely doubt he could have done it alone. The description you gave of his previous episode matched what I saw, only he seemed to have a measure of control over it this time.”

Michael ran a hand down his face. “That... is disturbing to say the least. He was bound for a reason, I don't know why my uncle would even consider breaking it. Gabriels own words just before he performed the binding were that Castiel could level the capital, even by accident.” he paced around, his brow furrowed in thought.

“No, I don't think Gabriel broke the binding, it just doesn't make sense. If you don't know how to break a binding, I doubt Gabriel does.” he muttered, almost to himself.

Zachariah huffed in annoyance. “Gabriel tried to hide the fact that Castiel's binding was broken. Why would he do that if he wasn't guilty?” he whined, determined to find fault in Gabriel's actions.

 

Michael gave Zachariah a filthy look. “I'm well aware of the grudge you hold against my uncle, Zachariah. Your jealousy and inferiority complex do you no favours. You've resented him for years, because you think he got advantages due to his status, while you languished because you came from poor beginnings.” he sneered, leaning in close and smirked. “Nothing could be further from the truth. You were just not good enough. You know it, he knows it, everyone knows it. But you like to pretend that this imaginary class war is what held you back, so you can sleep at night. So you can pretend that you're not the bullying, talentless dullard that you really are.”

Zachariah dropped his eyes to the floor, shame and humiliation burned across his features.

“Your petty jealousies make you blind and stupid. It is a weakness you can ill afford in your position. Gabriel loves Castiel like his own, of course he would hide the fact that his binding was broken. He would protect him with his life. It's admirable, and infinitely exploitable. Likewise, Castiel's weakness is Gabriel. He will be even more determined to protect him now that his friend is dead. All we have to do is increase the pressure and eventually, something will give.” Michael explained.

Zachariah cringed. “Uh.. Your Majesty. Are you intending to antagonise Castiel? After what I saw, I don't think that is... wise. We could inadvertently cause him to do something rash. As I said, it appears he has a measure of control over his powers, but just barely. If he decided to confront you here in the capital....” he shuddered.

Michael rolled his eyes. “It appears you can learn something. Of course I'm not going to antagonise him. I'm going to add a little pressure, then a possible solution will be dangled. Think of it as shepherding a lost sheep.” Michael smirked.

Zachariah frowned before a look of dawning comprehension crossed his face. “Oh, the illusion of choice. I like it. You don't think he'll see through it, do you?” he said carefully.

Michael shrugged. “He might. The trick is to keep up the pressure and cut off other avenues of escape, not giving them time to think. Even if he does see through it, the end result is the same. He'll have no support and nowhere to hide.”

Zachariah cringed. “There is still the matter of what to do with him once we do have him, your Majesty. He is the most powerful thing I've ever seen. It will not be as simple as locking him up. I doubt we have anywhere that could hold him.”

“I'm not going to lock him up, you idiot. He's far too dangerous to let him live. No, he'll die. I'll even spare him the usual traitors death. Wouldn't want him to become a martyr, would we?”

Zachariah nodded. “Then the throne will automatically pass back to you. Your fathers proclamation will have no power and everything will be as it should.” he said smugly.

 

Michael grinned wolfishly “Indeed.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven.

 

The rocky cliffs and peaks of the Cerberus mountains were a natural border between Perdition and Enoch. The vast wealth of both Kingdoms had both benefited from the various valuable minerals that were still mined to the present day.

The last war between the neighbouring Kingdoms had been over possession of one particular mine, the source of the rare metal Angelica that formed the crown jewels, the monarch door and the weapons in the royal armoury of Enoch.

Angelica had many properties, including heightened abilities and an effective way to channel the inherent powers of the bearer. A healer that used a staff bound with the metal wire, would find the patient being treated able to heal faster. A warrior with martial powers bearing a sword forged with it, would find the weapon weightless and as an extension of his own arm.

It's use was strictly controlled and the forging process was a closely guarded secret, the metal needed to go through a complicated tempering process in order to bring out the full potential of the object being made. The mine was the only known source of the metal and it was owned exclusively by the royal family.

The forest on the slopes and in the passes grew thick, framing the three silver peaks with the vivid colours of the various trees. From the bright evergreen of the arrow pine, to the deep reds of the blood oak, to the dusty blue of the sky birch, it's silver-white bark a striking contrast to the rest of the forest.

As the land flattened out, the forest thinned, eventually giving way to farms and villages, the lush green land criss-crossed with the silver ribbons of the rivers and streams and dotted with lakes.

 

This was the view Dean enjoyed every single morning as he stood on the balcony to his room in the east tower, sipping hot coffee as he shook away the cobwebs of sleep.

Today was a day like any other. Dean perched on the balustrade, with coffee in hand as he admired the dawn light and the fading shadows.

Sam peered around the the open doorway, his own coffee still steaming in the early morning air and his long hair flopping over his sleepy expression.

“Hey Dean, want some company?” he questioned before yawning widely and rubbing his eyes and stumbling slightly.

Dean smiled at his brothers adorable uncoordinated movements. “Sure Sam, take a seat before you trip and fall off the balcony or something. Pretty sure the birds you talk to haven't taught you to fly.”

 

Sam's bitch-face only lasted as long as it took for him to flop down onto the bench and slop hot coffee over his own hand and knee. He sagged in dismay as Dean snorted at his devastated expression.

 

Taking pity on him, Dean stood up and stepped inside the balcony door to grab a cloth which he promptly whipped at Sam's face before sitting back on the balustrade and taking another sip of his coffee and trying not to chuckle at Sam's grumbles.

“Ugh, I just got these pants. They're the only ones that fit me properly.” griped Sam, unsuccessfully trying to mop up the spilled coffee.

“It's the growth spurt you're going through, makes you really clumsy. Your brain takes a while to realise that you're not still a shrimp or something., especially when you're not quite awake yet.” smiled Dean as he gestured to the large boots on Sam's feet. “Judging by the feet, my guess is your gonna be pretty tall, probably as tall as me, so get used to tripping over and spilling stuff for a while yet.”

Sam looked puzzled “I don't remember you being clumsy and stuff.”

Dean grinned. “Oh, I was, I got the scar on my chin from tripping over my own feet at your age. Although, I wasn't as clumsy as you are. I was consistently tall for my age though, so maybe it has something to do with that. You've always been a bit of a shrimp, so you've got more catching up to do.”

Sam shot Dean a dirty look. “ Just for that, I'm gonna grow taller than you out of spite.” he said airily, trying to hide a smirk.

 

Dean's laugh burst out of him as he took a sip of coffee, causing his coffee to spill and ruining his own pants.

“Ah! You did that on purpose, you little bitch.” Dean whined as Sam doubled over laughing.

“Yep.” said Sam, smugly. “That'll teach you for being a jerk.” he took an exaggerated sip of his coffee and threw the cloth at Dean, who wiped at the stain just as ineffectually as Sam had.

Deans bitch face put Sam's to shame. “I bet you're feeling pretty pleased with yourself right now, aren't you?” he grumbled.

“I'll admit to feeling a certain level of schadenfraude, yes.” said Sam, looking unbearably smug, his eyes twinkling with mirth.

Dean rolled his eyes. “I guess I deserved it. Well done, I guess you did learn from the best after all.” he conceded as gracefully as he could.

Sam chuckled. “Oh, I've got a few tricks of my own up my sleeve, don't you worry.”

 

Sensing the challenge, Dean wisely changed the subject before the situation descended into another prank war.

“So, it's the old Kings funeral today and the new Kings coronation. I'm guessing that most people will be in the tavern, either celebrating or commiserating. I doubt we'll get many volunteers to patrol the forest looking for refugees, so I suppose we'll have to volunteer ourselves. Set an example and all that.” said Dean.

Sam nodded. “Yeah, that's probably a good idea. If we take a few supplies, medicines and such, it'll help. They've probably had a rough journey through the mountains.”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, I'd rather we didn't take guards, it'll probably spook them. They'll expect the same treatment as they got in Perdition and run from us.” he said sadly.

Sam looked grim. “I agree. We should probably bring down some game while we're there. It'll help feed those in the refugee camp and even if we don't find anyone wandering the forest, it won't have been a wasted venture.”

Dean brightened. “Good idea, Sammy. I'm sure those poor folks would appreciate a bit of meat in their stew. Some of them are barely more than a bag of bones when they get to this side of the border. We need to do our bit to make sure they don't starve.”

“It'll also discourage them from poaching and trapping. Some of the fitter folks have expressed the desire to work, they are proud people and don't want to rely on handouts. I was thinking of turning the lower meadow over to them to farm or raise a few animals. What do you think?” said Sam questioningly.

Dean frowned. “They will still need tools, seeds and some animals and feed. It's still a handout, Sam.”

Sam shrugged. “Yeah, but Bobby said that we can make a deal with them. Once they run at a profit, they agree to pay taxes like every other citizen. I'd also like to ask them to appoint a spokesperson, someone they trust so it's easier to communicate between us.”

Dean suddenly felt a surge of pride in his little brother. He was growing up to be a wise and level headed Alpha and would one day be as great a lord as their father.

“I think that all sounds great, Sam. I just want to add one thing, perhaps we should turn over the upper meadow as well. The camp is just going to keep growing, they'll need to expand soon or we'll get disease, especially when winter comes. Those tents won't keep them warm either. Any thoughts on that?” he said raising an eyebrow in question.

Sam's eyes lit up. “I have actually. I thought that we could repurpose the old stone from the castle renovations for them to build with. It's no good for castle walls, but should be good enough to build small cottages with. The stone is just being dumped near the mill right now. Dad was trying to find a use for it. I think this kills two birds with one stone, if you'll pardon the pun.”

Dean beamed. “You are so smart, kid. Two steps ahead, as usual. Dad will love those ideas. Let Bobby know then we'll get ourselves out into the forest, lets get those people to safety.”

Sam glowed under the praise. “Sure, I can be ready in about half an hour, that okay?”

Dean grinned. “Perfect.”

**********************************

 

“This is the dumbest idea I've ever had.” grumbled Gabriel. “I am too old to be sleeping on the ground, even if it is summer.” He groused from the forest floor, wrapped in his riding cloak with a pout.

Cas rolled his eyes and continued stacking wood as the litany of complaints continued.

“How do you feel about testing out those super duper powers and making us a proper shelter? A couple of comfy beds, perhaps?” Gabe whined. “I'd kill for a coffee right now.”

Cas huffed in frustration and ran his hands through his hair. Gabe watched as he slumped in defeat.

“I'm kidding. Well mostly. I wouldn't really kill someone for a coffee, not anyone important anyway, someone super old and on deaths door anyway.” he tried to joke, cringing as it fell flat.

“You could help, you know. I have no idea what I'm doing here. We're in the middle of the forest, I have only the most basic idea of how to build a shelter and I didn't get any sleep last night because I was on watch while you snored loudly enough to scare away anything I could try to hunt for breakfast. The way you are whining now, I probably won't catch anything for dinner either.” Cas suddenly burst out. His frustration and fear bubbling up again.

Gabe looked ashamed. “Sorry, my boy. I guess neither of us are at our best today. By rights you should be in the capital, lighting the pyre and saying a prayer to the Magi to protect your fathers spirit as it travels through the ether. Then getting super drunk and hoping Michael trips and strangles himself with the crown at his coronation or chokes on a chicken bone at the banquet after.” he pulled himself up to standing, shaking out his cloak and brushing off the loose leaves and dirt that had collected on it.

“Instead we're here, stuck waiting until Charlie contacts us and I'm bitching and making it harder for you than it already is. You should start with getting some sleep. I'll keep watch and try to figure out a better shelter.” he said more gently, he picked up a branch with a grimace as his hand came into contact with its grimy surface.

Cas nodded. “ Yes, I think I will. I'm so tired, I can't focus properly. I keep forgetting what I'm doing. I'll get a few hours and then I'll try to find something for dinner.” he said with a sigh.

Making his way to the rudimentary shelter made from a piece of stretched canvas and some hurriedly placed branches, Cas wrapped himself in his cloak and threw himself down onto the bare ground. He was asleep in minutes.

Gabe held the branch and looked at it thoughtfully.

“I really would kill for a coffee.” he said mournfully.



**********************************

 

Dean crouched low behind a boulder, his arrow nocked and the bow at full draw. He focused hard on his target, a young Roe buck barely into adulthood. The animal was wary, possibly sensing the presence of the hunter, but not aware of Deans position.

The animal froze suddenly and was preparing to bolt, just as Dean loosed the arrow on the exhale of the breath he had been holding.

The Roe buck reared and bolted forward, but Dean focused his powers and a sudden gust of air guided the arrow to hit its target, high in the animals neck, narrowly missing the jugular.

The buck fell heavily and kicked it's legs spasmodically, fighting it's inevitable demise. Sam ran out from his hiding place behind a tree and approached the dying animal. He shook off a glove and knelt at the bucks side, laying a hand on it's twitching flank.

The animal stopped kicking and went still, it's quick and panicked breaths slowed as Sam focused on making the animal as comfortable as possible before unsheathing the knife at his waist and slitting the animals throat in one expert move. The buck died quickly, it eyes dulling in moments as its hot blood gushed onto the forest floor.

“Thanks Sam. We're getting better at working together like this. Let's get this one ready for pick up.” said Dean, pulling a length of rope from his pack.

They worked together, tying the bucks back legs together at the ankle and throwing the rope over a branch of a nearby blood oak. Together they heaved the carcass into the air, lifting it from the ground and suspending it away from scavengers and pests, and allowing the blood to drain efficiently from the throat wound.

 

The rest of the days kills were suspended in a similar fashion from the same tree, several rabbits and birds hung like grotesque decorations, ready for the castle gamekeeper to fetch. The days haul would be skinned and butchered before being brought back to the castle, the meat would then be given to the refugees.

“You think that's enough for a few days?” said Dean, looking over the haul.

Sam huffed. “Uh, yeah, Dean. It'll last about a week or so, I should think. Not everyone eats meat the way you do. Most people eat vegetables too.” he teased.

Dean faked a pout. “Hey, I eat vegetables. Potatoes are a vegetable, I eat plenty of those, and you know how much I love fruit, I eat more fruit than anyone.” he defended.

Sam's bitch face made a reappearance. “That's pie, Dean. Fruit pie. I really don't think it counts if it's wrapped in pastry.”

“Sure it does, Sam.” said Dean distractedly, as he looked around the forest with a frown.

 

Sam stopped still and his voice dropped to a whisper. “What? Did you hear something?”

Dean held up a hand to indicate silence. He paced around the tree, listening to the sounds of the forest, carefully placing his feet to avoid disturbing the undergrowth.

He knelt and placed a hand to the ground, closing his eyes and focusing his power over the earth, he picked up the tiny vibrations of movement of the living things nearby.

“I thought I heard something. Whatever it is, it's on the very edge of my range. Could be people, could be another deer. I can't tell from here. We need to get closer.” he indicated a direction and Sam nodded.

Moving slowly and silently, the Winchesters moved through the forest stopping at intervals as Dean once again checked the earth for movement.

Pausing behind a blasted oak, Dean focused his power on the ground and pushed out as far as his powers would go.

“Okay, it's clearer now. Two groups. One pretty much stationary, probably a camp. Just two I think. They're a little way behind us and doing their best to stay quiet. The other is sweeping back and forth, they aren't really trying to be quiet. Two people, maybe a dog too, I think, yeah, a dog. Big, must be on a leash, one set of footsteps speed up and get heavier as it runs, it's dragging them. They are just over the ridge or we'd see them already. We'll be able to hear them any moment.” Dean whispered, narrating his thoughts.

Sam nodded. “So, we go and meet the second group first? They would probably move on if we go to the camp first, right?” He whispered.

“Yeah. Just stay alert. I doubt refugees would bring a dog, it's either poachers or Azazel is up to something. Either way, they have to be taken care of.” whispered Dean.

Sam gripped the handle of his blade and nodded grimly. “Okay. I'm ready”

 

*********************************



“What? I think it looks great.” said Gabe, pouting as Cas laughed at his effort of making a shelter.

A rough pile of branches and sticks made a lean to against a rocky outcrop. It was barely big enough for one person.

“Oh, it does. For a woodpile, it's perfect. As a shelter?, Gabe, it's too small, even for you.” said Cas, lying on the ground next to it and demonstrating how far his legs would stick out of the structure.

“It's clearly not finished, you ass. I'm going to add to it. You wait, it'll be the best shelter ever. You'll be eating your words when you're warm and cosy tonight.” Gabe said huffily.

“It's the only thing we'll be eating by the looks of things.” said Cas with a sigh, getting up from the ground and brushing the dirt from his clothes.

“Oh, hush. If you're that hungry I have some hard candy in my pack. If nothing else it'll give you a sugar boost.” said Gabe, rolling his eyes.

Cas shrugged and immediately dug through Gabe's pack, liberating the candy and popping one in his mouth.

He groaned with pleasure as the sweet flavour burst across his tongue. It made a marked difference from the sour flavour of his own mouth. His stomach growled loudly in response as it angrily demanded the meal it was being denied.

Gabe laughed at Castiel's scowl as he frowned at his stomachs betrayal. “Heh, makes you even hungrier, doesn't it? But at least it takes the nasty taste out of your mouth.” he held two sticks together, comparing the lengths. “Come on, between us we have to be able to make a half decent shelter. I can't believe that we really are this inept. It must be a combination of hunger and lack of sleep.”

Cas nodded. He studied Gabe's little structure for a moment before prodding it with his foot. The lean to creaked and slowly collapsed into a pile and Gabe whined in protest.

“Fine. This is clearly not my area of expertise. I'll get a fire going, I can at least do that.” he huffed.

Cas chuckled. “Use these branches, it's pretty much all they're good for.” Gabe scowled but nodded.

Cas looked around. “We could run the canvas out from the outcrop, tie it to a couple of stakes. It'll give us a roof and protection from the back at least.” he said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, you do that, kiddo. I'll just be over here making a fire to warm up my old bones. I might even go and fetch some water.” Gabe sulked.

Cas rolled his eyes. It was going to be a long wait for news from Charlie.

 

****************************



Approaching the two strangers, Dean and Sam appeared at ease, unless you counted the arrow already nocked in the bow at Deans side or Sam's hand on the blade at his waist.

“Hello strangers, we were hunting nearby and heard you stumbling around. Are you lost? Do you need assistance?” said Dean, cheerfully.

The larger of the two men, clearly an Alpha judging by the smell, stepped forward moving his hand as if to rest on the pommel of a sword at his belt, a sword that clearly wasn't there, he dropped his arm awkwardly at his side instead. The smaller man, a Beta, struggled with a large dog, a breed of hound that Azazel favoured for it's superior tracking skills and savage traits.



Sam looked at Dean who narrowed his eyes at the movement, neither Winchester had missed the small tell.



“We crossed the mountains to find safety. We 'eard that the lord of these lands is takin' in refugees. Is the camp near 'ere?” the Alpha questioned. Both strangers were clearly too well fed and healthy to be real refugees, they were obviously sent to track the poor people fleeing Azazel's regime. Maybe even the people in the nearby camp.

“I dunno what you're talking about. I've not seen any refugees around here, have you seen any refugees lately, Sam?” said Dean, smiling serenely without taking his eyes off the Alpha.

Sam smiled just as sweetly. “Nope, can't say that I have, Dean.”

Dean smirked. “Well, looks like you wasted your time coming all this way. Sorry about that, I guess you'd better get started on making your way back through the mountains. I hear the passes can be treacherous in the dark.” he gestured with his bow towards the mountains in the near distance.

“Look, we've come a long way, and we ain't leavin'. So show us where the refugees are and we might not 'urt you.” barked the Alpha, losing his temper.



Dean raised his bow, pointing it at the Alpha as Sam drew his blade.

“I told you, I don't know what you're talking about. So how about you go back and tell your master to quit sending his lackeys across the border, or we'll carry out the threat my father made.” said Dean calmly. “Which half would your mate prefer to get back? Top half or bottom half? I guessing the bottom half, can't be half as ugly as your face.” he added with a sneer.

The Alpha roared with laughter. “You think you can take me on, boy. Put down the bow and you'll see why my mate prefers my lower half.” his face fixed with a disgusting leer as his eyes travelled over Deans body lasciviously.

Dean grimaced. “Nah. I don't currently hate myself that much. I'd rather you fellas just went home.” he risked a glance at Sam who was white lipped with anger.

“You worried that the little runt of an Alpha might 'urt himself trying to protect your honour? I'd break his little skinny 'ide in 'alf.” the Alpha jeered, making the Beta laugh.

It was a little close to the mark, but Dean forced down the instinct to look at Sam again, hoping that Sam wouldn't rise to the bait.

He was rewarded when Sam chuckled instead.

“Wow. You really like the sound of your own voice, don't you?” said Sam.



The Alpha snarled in rage and reached underneath his cloak and produced a short sword hidden at his back. He prepared to charge as Dean loosed the arrow from his bow, catching the Alpha high in the chest with a sickening thump. The Alpha slid to his knees with a wet gasp and dropped the short sword, just as the beta screamed in fury and released the enormous hound who lunged at Dean with a screaming howl.

Sam went for the Beta who was drawing his own bow and tackled him to the ground as Dean brought his bow around to fire, realising he had no time to line up a shot, he clubbed the dog across the face with the bow instead, trying to buy himself precious seconds as the dog fell back with a yelp.

Hearing Sam growl in rage and pain, Dean made a fatal mistake in taking his eyes off the dog to glance at his brother. He called out worriedly “Sammy!”

The dog seized the opportunity and struck, sinking it's teeth deep into Deans leg and ragging the wound, ripping through muscle and bone like paper.

 

Dean screamed in agony and went down, unable to stand on the ruined leg. He dropped his bow as the dog pounced on him. His vision went spotty and vomit climbed in his throat as the dog released his leg and began ripping at his torso and neck with teeth and especially sharpened claws, intent on eviscerating him and ignoring Deans feeble blows to its face.

His clothes and light leather armour were no protection against the vicious attack and he realised he couldn't even scream any more as his ruined throat and chest were opened to the air. He could hear Sam screaming as blackness swamped his vision and the last thing Dean thought of as he died was how he had failed his brother.

********************************

“There, that's not so bad. Even if I say so myself.” said Gabe as he hunched over the pot of vegetables bubbling on the coals and tried to affix the two fish he had caught onto sticks in order to grill them.

Cas looked over from where he was fixing some branches to try and cover the little shelter he had made. It wasn't pretty, but would stay dry and fit both men at the same time.

“I guess we're learning quickly. Maybe by the time Charlie gets back we'll look like we know what we're doing.” said Cas with a chuckle.

“All those archery lessons we were forced to take as children in the royal family and neither of us thought to bring a bow to make hunting easier.” tutted Gabe, who was still trying to grill the fish.

Cas sighed. “I was going to, but in our rush to get away, I forgot it.” he said ruefully as he began stacking some of the rocks he had gathered along the edge of the shelter.

“I'm not blaming you kiddo, none of us were thinking clearly at that point. We'll make do, the river has plenty of fish and those wild vegetables you pointed out are everywhere.” said Gabe with the happy expression of someone about to eat for the first time in two days.

Both men suddenly whipped their heads around as a snarl and a scream cut through the forest.

“Whoa. That sounds really bad.” said Gabe getting to his feet as Cas threw on his cloak and drew his blade.

“Yes, we should help them.” said Cas already making his way out of the camp towards the sound of the screams, another voice joining in as the other screams suddenly cut off.

“Cas! We're supposed to be in hiding-” Gabe started but gave up when he realised there was there was no point in arguing, Cas was already gone. With a sigh, Gabe pulled the pot from the coals and hurriedly kicked some earth over the fire before running to catch up with Cas. His staff held in front of him like a weapon.



As Castiel rounded a tree he was met with a gory sight. Two dead men lay off to one side, one in a half crouch with an arrow lodged in his chest and the other had bled out from multiple stab wounds.

A little way from them a young man struggled with a huge dog, he was screaming incoherently and trying to simultaneously drag the dog backwards and stab the dog with a broken blade. The dog ignored the blows and continued attacking whoever was on the ground.

Running forward, Cas felt his powers surge and he instinctively reached a hand forward and made a gripping motion.

The dog ceased it's attack and froze, it's snarls and growls cut off as it collapsed dead on top of it's victim, it's heart crushed.



The young man was sobbing as he collapsed on his knees next to the bodies.

“Dean! Oh no. Dean, no!” he cried as Cas approached. “They killed him! My brother, they killed my brother.”

Cas gestured to Gabe who nodded and helped Cas lift the body of the dead hound from the poor man underneath. It was massive and very much bred for one purpose. Killing.

Throwing the body with the others, Cas returned to the sobbing boy who was cradling what was left of his brothers body in his arms and rocking.

He knelt down in front of the boy and spoke to him softly. “Can you tell me your name?”

The young man looked at him warily, but nodded, tears pouring down his blood-soaked face. “S- Sam. My name is Sam Winchester., this is Dean.” he said hoarsely.

Cas held his arms out indicating he wanted to take the body from Sam. “Okay, Sam. My name is Cas. Over there is my Uncle Gabe. I might be able to help your brother. Will you let me try?” he said gently.

Sam frowned and held his brother tighter. “He's dead. Not even a healer can help him now. That thing was- it was eating him.” he began sobbing again.

Cas grimaced. “I know, but I would like to try anyway. Please?”

Sam looked confused. “Are you a priest? Are you going to say a prayer for my brothers soul?” He relaxed his grip slightly.

“Please, Sam. Let me help him. I feel it's important that I do this now, before it's too late. I don't know why, but I do.” said Cas, with a little more urgency in his tone.

“You really think you can do this, kiddo?” said Gabe to Cas, he sounded unsure.

Cas nodded. “Yes, like I said, I don't know why, but somehow I just know I can.”


Gabe hovered nervously. “ Alright. I believe you. Um. Sam, do you remember me? I'm Elder Gabriel. I wouldn't let anyone hurt you or your brother, I promise. Just let him try.”

Sam nodded and gently laid his brother on the ground, sobbing again as he stroked his face gently.

Cas looked at the body. The torso was almost entirely ripped open from throat to navel, the viscera were in ribbons. His arms and hands where in shreds and one of his legs was almost torn off just above the knee. Above the destruction the mans face was untouched and beautiful, despite the blood and gore coating it, his green eyes were open and thickly framed with lashes.

Castiel placed his hand on the mans upper arm, one of the only places on the body that wasn't lacerated, and focused, trying to repeat the same action he had instinctively performed on Charlie.

 

Nothing happened.

 

He pressed harder and felt the power building in his core, he focused on it, willing it to do his bidding and pushed it toward Dean. The point of contact between them glowed brightly.

A loud gasp from Sam almost broke his concentration as he watched the body begin to knit back together. Slow at first, then faster, as if the body was slowly remembering where each piece was supposed to go.

Castiel's eyes glowed with power and he closed them, trying to block out all other sights and sounds in order to concentrate on his task. It was proving difficult to control.

New skin closed over the wounds and the blood began to vanish, leaving the body clean. Dean's skin began to pink up and it was impossible to see that any wounds had ever been there at all.

Cas felt the tethers of Deans soul, they were tenuous at best, so fragile that one wrong move or blunder and the most he could accomplish would to be to leave a pretty corpse for the funeral. He focused on strengthening the ties and coaxing the soul back into place. It responded eagerly, brushing against Cas as it went, he felt it's fear and longing and the love he held for his family. He felt the warmth and had to resist the urge to hold on to it, instead he guided it home and felt the relief as it settled back in.

Suddenly Dean blinked rapidly and he took a huge breath in, his back bowed as he almost lifted off the ground and a scream tore from his throat.

Cas let go and sat back hurriedly as Dean began to struggle and thrash, screaming as if he was still fighting off the hound.

Sam rushed forward and gripped Dean's wrists in his gloved hands.

“Dean! It's okay. You're okay!” he babbled. “I thought I'd lost you, but you're okay!”

Dean stopped screaming and struggling and sat up abruptly, forcing Sam to back off and grabbing the tattered remains of his shirt and running his hands over the smooth unblemished skin of his torso and neck.

He looked so bewildered that Sam choked out a laugh.

“What- I thought? Was I- Did I just?” He stammered out breathlessly.

Sam threw himself at Dean, squeezing him tight. Dean let out a grunt but squeezed back just as tightly.

Peeling Sam off of himself a few moments later. He looked around at Cas and Gabe who were both standing a few feet away and smiling awkwardly.

“Can someone please tell me what is going on? Because I think I just died and came back to life. Either that or I'm still dead and this is the afterlife.” his eyes widened as a thought occurred to him. “Oh crap! Did you die too Sam? Are we both dead?” he turned to Sam, who was laughing hysterically, between sobs.

Gabe chuckled. “You are both very much alive. It was close though. You did in fact, die. But this guy brought you back before your soul could depart for the ether.”

Dean looked at Cas for the first time, gratitude on his face.

“Thank you, I don't know your name, I'm sorry.” he said, the emotion in his voice was thick.

The Alpha looked back with a shy smile. He stepped forward and pointed at Deans upper arm.

“My name is Castiel, or Cas if you prefer, and you are quite welcome. I am however, sorry about that.”

Dean frowned in confusion and looked down at his arm. There were gasps from Sam and Gabe as he lifted it up to inspect the perfect handprint burn on his shoulder.

“Oh.” said Dean in surprise before looking back at Castiel who looked a little sheepish.

Dean looked back at the handprint. “Well, crap. That's going to be tough to explain.” he said his eyebrows high.

Sam stood from where he had been kneeling next to Dean, he winced as his cramped muscles straightened out and he staggered for a moment. Before Dean could stop him, Cas reached out to steady him with a hand to his shoulder. His fingers barely brushed Sam's neck when Sam stiffened and he started to drop to the floor, his whole body shaking and jerking. Foam began to pour from his mouth as his eyes rolled around in his head. Cas did his best to guide the boy to the floor without Sam doing any more damage. He looked panicked.

“Sam!” Dean shot forward as Gabe jumped into action, ripping off his own cloak and pushing Cas out of the way to wrap Sam and guide him onto his side to prevent the boy choking.

“Should I try to heal him?” said Cas, flinching when both Dean and Gabe shouted “NO!”

“He's a touch empath, Cas.” said Dean quietly as he helped Gabriel move Sam into the recovery position.

Cas balked and stumbled backwards with a devastated look on his face. “Oh- Oh no. I must have- it's my fault.” he said guiltily.

Gabe made sure Sam was wrapped securely as the boys seizure wound down. “You couldn't have known. I've treated Sam for this before, we should probably get him back to our camp once the seizure is over and we can move him. He'll have a headache and a few insights into your psyche, maybe a glimpse of your past and or future, but he'll be fine.” he said trying to reassure Cas who was pacing nervously as Sam's eyes flicked back and forth under his eyelids as the visions rolled over him.

A richly decorated room.....a bedchamber..... a blue eyed, dark haired woman screaming in the centre of the bed...blood on her thighs.....people in maroon robes talking in hushed tones.......a broken sob from the woman.....”her body is too weak”..... more whispers.....”we may lose them both”......a scream......the baby isn't breathing.....the woman is chanting .....they try to silence her but she doesn't stop....a bright light....destruction.....the baby cries.....

 

A garden.....Castiel is moving between rows of flowers.....he smiles to himself.....

 

A fireplace......comfy chair.....bookshelves line the walls.....a glass of whisky......the scent of honey....

 

A bed......sheets rumpled..... soft skin...... heavy breaths.....the smell of sweat in the air......an angry woman.....a knife....pain.....blood....

 

A dais......Castiel stands between two men......hands chained......the men are laughing at Castiel.....Dean screams in anger......a struggle......Sam drags Dean away.....Castiel is glowing.....he's high above the dais.....arms outstretched......the earth shakes.....the walls begin to crumble.....the ground splits......the smell of magik.....the light is so bright.....they burn.....everything burns.......

 

*******************************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight.

 

 

Dean looked around the tiny campsite and tried his hardest not to laugh at Cas and Gabe's efforts at making an effective shelter.

Cas looked embarrassed but Gabe looked proud of their achievements and had enthusiastically attempted to start the fire again after settling Sam just outside the shelter after Dean had refused to put Sam in it, afraid the structure would collapse on the unconscious boy.

“Um, how long have you guys been here?” he said politely, trying to hold the shredded tatters of his clothes together.

Cas blushed as he caught himself staring at the skin exposed by the dogs attack and ran to his pack, pulling out a spare shirt he handed it to Dean wordlessly and with his eyes pointedly staring in another direction.

“Thanks, Cas.” Dean mumbled as he took the shirt gratefully and dragged it over his head.

“We got here last night. It was already dark and neither of us had slept for a couple of days. It's been a rough few days for us to say the least.” said Gabe, he looked irritated as he repeatedly struck the flint to the tinder and nothing happened.

Seeing his frustration, Dean rolled his eyes and knelt down next to Gabe.

“Here, let me.” he said, frustrated just watching Gabe's attempts.



Holding out his hand, he focused and smiled as the tiny spark suddenly caught and the flames began to crackle. Within moments the fire was burning merrily.

Gabe smiled and then turned to Cas “Hey, why didn't you do that?” he said irritably.



Cas gave Gabe an incredulous look. “You do remember what happened to the cottage, right? Tornado? Lightning? Things exploding? I'd probably set fire to the whole forest.”

Gabe chuckled. “Ah yes, Hurricane Castiel, how could I forget that? There was me thinking it was just your horrible baking skills.”



Dean watched the exchange with amusement until he realised something.



“Wait a minute, the storm that blew up and struck a cottage in the village. That was you?” he said in surprise.

Cas flushed and nodded. “Yes. It's a long story.” he said, sitting down close to the fire and staring at it moodily.

Dean stared at Cas as another realisation occurred to him. “Oh, crap. I just realised who you are. You're the prince. Magi's balls, you're the frickin prince.” he said his mouth dropping open in shock.

Gabe huffed in annoyance. “Say it a little louder, I don't think the people in the next kingdom heard you.” he hissed.

Dean looked confused. “I don't understand, it's your fathers funeral today and you're camping in the forest?” he hissed at Cas who looked angry.

“Yes, I had forgotten that my father died and left my tyrant brother to take the throne, endangering all of our lives, thank you, so much, for reminding me.” he snarked furiously.

 

Dean blushed in mortification. “Sorry. That was rude. Sam would kick me right now if he were awake.” he looked genuinely contrite. “Wait a minute, I thought you were bound, y'know had no powers? I mean, your aura is- well it's- wow.” he looked confused again.

Gabe sighed. “Yeah, so did we. Somehow, the binding broke. It's why we're hiding out here and not in the capital.” he said before telling Dean the entire story of how they came to be in the forest. Dean sat and listened wordlessly as Gabe spoke, glancing occasionally at Cas who had withdrawn and looked furious. Gabe finished telling his story as he tried to rescue the food he had abandoned earlier. “Ugh, these vegetables are okay, but this fish is done for.” he grumbled.

Dean saw a way to make up for his faux pas and smiled. “You guys are hungry? Why didn't you say so? I've got a few fresh kills just a little way from here, rabbit, turkey, even a deer. I was getting some game to feed the refugees, but they won't miss a rabbit. I'll go get one for you.” he jumped up and prepared to go.

“Wait!” snapped Gabe, grabbing Deans hand.

“What? I'll be about twenty minutes, I'll be right back.” said Dean with a frown.

“Sam's waking up. You should be here. Cas will go get the rabbit.” said Gabe pointing to where Sam was stirring.



Cas nodded and stood, Dean indicated the direction and Cas nodded and stalked off without looking back.



“Yikes. You really pissed him off. Next time you feel like opening your mouth before kicking your brain into gear, do us all a favour, and don't.” hissed Gabe, sounding annoyed.

Dean cringed. “Yeah, not my finest moment. But in my defence, I did die today, so I think I deserve a little slack.” he said with a grin and a shrug, falling back on his bravado.

Gabe gave Dean a hard look. “Listen, dumbass. Cas is the one who brought you back, after losing his father, fleeing his home, and missing his fathers funeral to kill the damned thing that was about a quarter of the way through eating you. So drop the arrogant, flippant attitude, because with the amount of power that Castiel is packing, you really don't want to see him lose his temper.”

Dean's grin faltered. He flushed with humiliation.



“Sorry.” he mumbled after a few moments.



Gabe knelt down next to Sam, checking him over and making sure to make no contact with his skin. The boy stirred and groaned, his hazel eyes flicked open before squeezing shut with a pained moan.

“Wah-” he tried to speak, his throat clicking dryly.

“You want some water, Sammy? Here, I'll get you some.” said Dean gently, kneeling down and offering a flask that Gabe recognised as his own, he scowled as he realised Dean had somehow taken it without Gabe noticing.

Sam took a few swallows with Gabe and Deans help. “Where's Castiel?” said Sam, looking terrified.

“He's getting one of our kills for dinner, he'll be back in a few.” said Dean with a smile. “He didn't know, Sam. It was an accident. He wouldn't hurt you on purpose. He kind of freaked out when you keeled over, thought he was gonna cry.”

Sam smiled weakly. “I know. It's just, I saw some things. I need to talk to him. He needs to know.” he said his voice sounding urgent.

Gabe frowned. “You saw some stuff from Castiel? Like what?” he demanded.

Sam looked spooked and a tiny blush bloomed on his face. “Some scary things and some nice things, also some, uh, really personal things. I saw what happened when he was born. But something I saw was a possible future, he needs to know so we can stop it.” he looked terrified and agitated again.

Dean tried to settle Sam down. “Hey, calm down. He'll be back in few minutes. You just try and rest a bit. We'll get some dinner going and we'll talk then, okay?” he soothed.

Sam nodded. “Okay.” he said weakly. He closed his eyes and began to drift off back to sleep.

 

Dean and Gabe shared a worried look.

 

“I'd feel a lot better if I knew what was spooking Sam so badly.” said Gabe. “I raised Cas, he's like my own child. It frightens me that his future is so terrifying for Sam.” he sounded haunted.

Dean looked grim. “We don't know what it is, yet. It could be clowns, they've always terrified Sam.” he huffed a laugh. It came out flat.

“Whatever it is, you have forewarning, it can be changed, it's a possible future. Nothing is set in stone.” he tried his best to sound reassuring, even though he was just as rattled by Sam's terrified expression as Gabe was.

Gabe nodded and stood. “I'll check on the fire. Should probably start raking the coals over so we can cook.” he muttered.

Dean shrugged and looked around the campsite. “I guess I should see what I can do with your shelter here. You've made a good start, but one decent storm and you guys will be in trouble.” he said carefully.

“We didn't exactly get time to bring everything we would need. We had moments to get away before more soldiers showed up. I'm surprised they didn't show at the castle, to be honest. But I guess with your parents in the capital, they decided to bypass getting your input.” said Gabe.

Dean retied the knots on the canvas and smiled as Gabe watched curiously. “The knots that you guys used were good, and they'd hold. It's just if you guys need to move fast, those knots would be difficult to undo in a hurry. You'd have to abandon your only shelter.” he did the last knot slowly, demonstrating how he tied it. Gabe watched intently.

“There see, it'll hold, but if you have to move in a hurry, you just...” he pulled on one side of the knot and smiled as Gabe gave a little gasp as the knot undid smoothly.

“You wanna try?” he said holding out the rope. Gabe nodded and made his way over, eagerly taking the rope from Deans hand.

He did it on the first try, but Dean made him do it twice more to make sure he knew it.

Dean grinned at Gabe's enthusiasm. “I'll show Cas too. I can show you both a few tricks to disguising yourselves a little better as well. And if you guys are gonna be running for your lives, you'll need to know how to survive first, you won't last five minutes out here otherwise.” said Dean seriously.

Gabe looked so grateful, Dean had to stifle a laugh.

“How do you know all this stuff?” said Gabe, gesturing to where Dean was now rearranging the branches to provide more cover and hiding the shelter more effectively.

“We're on the border of Perdition. The lord of the lands on the other side of the border never forgave my father for the utter ass kicking he gave him in the last war. So, my father made sure we were prepared should anything flare up again.” he grimaced at the memory of the disguised soldiers and the dog.

Gabe frowned at Deans expression. “What? You okay?” he said worriedly.

Dean shrugged off the sick feeling. “Yeah, I guess the training didn't do me much good earlier, huh?”

“Those guys who attacked you were from Perdition?” said Gabe in surprise.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, soldiers. Tried to disguise themselves as refugees. There's been more and more of the poor folk coming over the border, half starved and terrified. Those guys thought they'd get into the camp and cause trouble or something. I don't know. Azazel is an ass. I would have thought with you guys being royals, you'd know all about this, but I guess you guys never even came to visit us at the castle.” said Dean with a sigh.

Gabe looked thoughtful. “I guess I did too good of a job keeping Cas out of politics. I was trying to protect him. If Michael thought that Cas had allies or was involving himself in anything, he'd have found a way to hurt him.” he said ruefully.

“We couldn't make waves, Dean. The moment Castiels father died, Michael issued an order to bring Cas back to the capital under guard. If we had gone, Cas would never have left the capital alive again. I guarantee it. He did it under the guise of Castiel being the heir, that he needed protection. Really, he just wants to keep Cas close to prevent him forming alliances or gaining any protection. Michael has a plan. Cas is a part of it, once he plays his part, he'll find a way to get rid of him, and anyone else that stands in his way. By now he'll know that the binding is broken and Cas is in even more danger than ever.” Gabe said in a rush of emotion. His eyes bright with tears. He held a hand over his mouth as if trying to hold in his words. He looked heartsick.

Dean looked out at the direction Castiel had left in. “We won't let any of that happen. And whatever Sam saw, well, we'll stop that too.” he said softly, but with determination.

Gabe nodded. “I won't turn down help. Magi knows we need all we can get. Our friend Charlie is out gathering information, she'll be meeting us here in a few days. So if you could just not mention you saw us to anyone, that would be great.” he said frowning.

Dean snorted a laugh. “I don't think anyone would believe us. I'm still struggling to believe it myself and I'm the one that died.” he cringed. “Yeah, I'm never gonna get used to saying that.”

Gabe smirked. “It was a first for me too. I'm an elder, I've seen almost every type of magik there is, but that? Yeah, brand new.”

“What is the deal with his powers anyway? His aura- I mean you must see it? It's so powerful.” said Dean, laying sweet smelling vale fern on the floor of the shelter. It would disguise Castiels Alpha scent while he slept.

Gabe sighed. “We don't know, his binding only broke a few days ago. He had a powerful aura as a child, you must of heard the stories, surely?” he said with a huff.

Dean cringed. “Yeah, my dad never put much stock in them. He didn't believe Michael on principal, said he tried too hard to convince everyone that Cas was dangerous.”

Gabe gave a sad smile. “Did you know I performed the binding myself? He was four years old, Dean. He had just destroyed the dining hall at the palace. Even the stone walls had cracked in places. He was found in the centre of the destruction, unconscious. His aura was beautiful, and powerful and he shouldn't of even had one at that age. Michael and Lucifer said the power coming from him made them piss their pants. I always suspected there was more to their story, they acted far too innocent in the aftermath.” he said bitterly.

“I saw what his power did, both times it manifested as a child. I was terrified of what it could do if he accidentally lost control again. So I bound him. A four year old child. “ he voice was small.

“I don't blame you for that, uncle Gabe. I never have.” Castiels voice was low and rough from behind them, startling both Dean and Gabe and they turned in surprise.

Cas was standing at the a few feet away, in one hand he held a pack, a short sword was looped into his belt and a bow and quiver was slung over his shoulder, in the other hand he held a rabbit.

 

“Hey, you've been busy!” said Dean brightly, wishing to diffuse the awkwardness.

Cas looked relieved at the change in subject. “Yes, I went back to those fellows who attacked you. I thought since they would no longer be using any of this, I might as well take it.” he began dropping various items on the ground near the fire.

Dean shrugged. “Yeah, well. To the winner goes the spoils, I guess. Lemme see if you got anything else worth something.” he held his hand out for the pack, which Cas promptly handed over.

Gabe smiled widely. “The bow will come in handy for hunting, at least. Good thinking, kiddo”

Cas smiled and looked calmer than he had before he left. “They also had a fair bit of gold on them.” he bounced a fat coin purse in his hand and looked smug.

Dean laughed “Yours now. Y'know, I wouldn't normally condone looting the dead, but they killed me, so screw them.” Cas and Gabe chuckled as Dean gleefully dug through the soldiers pack.

“Shirts....a belt......ew, underpants. They can go straight in the fire.....a map, it has the passes marked, awesome.....a knife, cool!....Hey, what's this?” he held up a ring. His enthusiasm faded and he looked murderous all of a sudden.

“What's wrong. It's just a ring?” said Cas.

“It's my mothers ring. How did he get it? They were Azazel's soldiers, and they have my mothers ring, Cas.” he said angrily.

“I can see how that would be alarming. Do you think they have someone inside the castle?” said Cas worriedly.

“They must have.” he looked annoyed. “Crap, Bobby has been giving some of the refugees jobs. One of them must be our thief.”

“But why would he bring the ring back? That doesn't make any sense.” said Cas.

Gabe looked thoughtful. “You said they were looking for the refugees, right? That they wanted to stir up trouble? No better way to start trouble than to plant that in some poor innocents belongings and reporting the find. They were hoping your father would cut off his support, probably.”

Dean scoffed. “It would take more than just one light finger for my father to cut off support to the rest of them.”

“I'm sure it would, so there will be other things in the works. Think about it. More theft, property damage, maybe even murder. Basically anything that can be pinned on the refugees to create friction between them and the locals, putting pressure on your father to withdraw support.” said Gabe, with a groan.

Dean grunted in anger. “That bastard. What do I even do about it? I can't prevent it, even if I know what's happening. We have no idea who the saboteurs are.”

 

“We'll think on it, lets get some food in us and we'll come back to it.” said Cas gently.

“Yeah. I guess.” said Dean, looking over at Sam who was sleeping peacefully.

Gabe skinned and gutted the rabbit (under Deans instruction) and set about making stew, while Cas took in the changes to the camp.

“Don't worry, I showed Gabe a few things, I'll teach you too.” said Dean as Cas studied the new knots and the vale fern on the floor. Cas nodded and looked thoughtful. “Thank you, Dean.” he murmured. He looked guarded.

Dean shrugged. “It's the least I could do, you saved my life. If I can help save yours, it makes us even.” he looked Cas in the eye briefly before looking down at his feet.

“I'm sorry. About what I said before. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me and I blurt out stuff before I think about it. My dad would have kicked my ass for what I said to you, my mom too.” he said quietly.

Cas took a shaky breath. “Thank you. I miss my father very much. Although we hadn't seen each other for a long time, I knew that he loved me. I could always rely on his guidance if I was troubled. I don't know what to do without it now.” he said sadly, his scent flooded with grief. Dean's eyes glistened with empathy, his Omega physiology reacting to the Alphas sorrow. He felt the need to comfort like a physical ache.

“I'm sorry for that too, Cas. I don't know what I'd do without my parents. I can't imagine how it feels, but you have Gabe. He'll be there for you.” he looked over at a still sleeping Sam. “Us too. Whatever your brother is doing, it will effect everyone. I'm pretty sure my father will agree. You're not alone, Cas.” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

Cas nodded. Too overcome to speak, he crossed his arms and looked away, trying to gather himself.

Dean stood up to leave, pausing to squeeze Castiels shoulder as a gesture of solidarity before leaving the Alpha to his thoughts.



The late afternoon moved into early evening. Sam slept on, and Dean was starting to get anxious about getting home before dark. Although both Sam and Dean knew the forest like the back of their hands, travelling at night would be too dangerous. Bobby would already be getting concerned by now and once full darkness fell, he would fall into a full blown panic. He would quite possibly organise a search party, putting more people in danger and it risked exposing Cas and Gabe to discovery should anyone stumble upon the little campsite. They ate the stew in silence, each man absorbed in their own thoughts.

Sam stirred and woke about an hour before sunset. Drinking greedily from Gabe's water bottle he listened as Castiel apologised profusely for inadvertently causing his seizure, before shaking his head and holding his hand up to stop the flow of words.

“Castiel. It was an accident. I don't hold a grudge.” he said smiling weakly as Cas slumped in relief.

“Nevertheless, I am sorry, Sam. And I am glad you are feeling better. Dean assures me he doesn't hold a grudge on your behalf either, so I am relieved to hear it from you.” said Cas earnestly.

Sam gave Dean an odd look causing Dean to flush slightly and look away.

“Wow, that's mature of you, Dean. Forgiving Castiel like that, and so quickly too. Normally you're a real jerk about it. I'm proud of you.” said Sam teasingly, a slight smirk on his face as Dean glared daggers at him.

“Yeah, well. It's not like he did it on purpose, Sammy. If you weren't so clumsy it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Besides, I had just come back to life, I was feelin' generous, bitch.” said Dean defensively.



Cas and Gabe followed the exchange with confused expressions, sensing an underlying conversation that they couldn't possibly decipher. Deciding to ignore the baffling multi-layered conversation, Gabe instead passed a bowl of stew to Sam and insisted he eat it before anything else was to be discussed.

Dean sat on a fallen log by the fire, anxiously bouncing his knee and chewing a thumbnail as Cas and Gabe filled Sam in on their story.

Cas, noticing Deans growing distress laid a hand on his shoulder in order to reassure the Omega.

“Dean, your scent indicates you are upset. Is there something I can do to help?” he said quietly, low enough that only Dean could hear it.

Dean felt a flush of indignation, but fought it as he realised his own insecurities were preventing him from seeing that Cas was genuinely concerned and not mocking him.

“I'm a little worried about getting home tonight.” he admitted.

An understanding look appeared on Castiels face. “Ah, yes. It would be far too dangerous for you to travel now, and your people will worry when you Sam do not come back as expected.” he said with a small frown.

“Bobby will have half of the town out in the forest all night looking for us, it puts them in danger.” he said, before adding “Then there's you and Gabe. They'll find you.”

Cas gave a small head tilt. “You're worried they will find us? Gabe can hide us if that is the case.” he gestured around the campsite “He can disguise this whole area, if need be. But I understand that putting others in danger needlessly would be distressing.” he looked just as concerned as he gently rubbed Deans shoulder in comfort and sought out Deans eyes to convey his empathy. Dean looked up at the Alpha and gave a sad smile. They stared wordlessly for a few moments before Sam cleared his throat noisily, breaking the tension and directing their attention towards himself.

“Dean, I can send a bird straight to Bobby. I'll tell him we decided to camp out when it got late and to pick us up with the game in the morning. Problem solved.” he said with a shrug.

Deans smile lit up his whole face. “This is why they call you the smart one, Sammy.” he said happily.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right. I'm not the only smart one, Dean. I'm on to you.” he said knowingly.

“I have no idea what you're talking about.” said Dean innocently.

“You presenting a problem you can't seem to solve and asking me how I'd fix it. Dad does it too. You guys are trying to prepare me for the future, aren't you? It's what you were doing this morning, you were testing me, because you knew the answer all along.” he said with a fond smile.

Dean laughed “Dad owes me ten gold pieces. He didn't think you'd catch on for a few months yet. I told him it would be any day now. Guess I'm smarter than he is, at least.” he laughed harder as Sam joined in.

 

Gabe and Cas shared a warm smile at the brothers easy banter and affection, it reminded them of their own close relationship.

Sam captured a bird easily, soothing it and calming its anxious flapping until the large raven happily sat in the crook of his arm as Dean attached a small note around its leg. Sam spent a few moments imprinting the bird with the mission it was to carry out and the promise of a handful of meal worms as a reward, before releasing it into the air. The group watched the bird circle for a few moments and breathed a collective sigh of relief when the bird finally orientated itself and flew in the direction of the castle.

Gabe looked thoughtful for a moment before frowning and looking at Sam with a confused expression.

 

“Sam, if you have this affinity with animals, why did the dog not obey you and stop attacking Dean?” he said as they settled around the fire.
Sam looked uncomfortable and a little sick. “I tried. Believe me, I tried. I couldn't break through to it. It had been trained to kill and brutally mistreated to the point where its mind had broken and all that was left was pure rage. I stabbed it so hard, the blade broke off at the hilt and it still didn't stop. The poor thing was insane.” he said with a disgusted look on his face.

 

Dean curled in on himself at the memory and Sam leaned into him for a comforting hug. Neither brother would ever forget the horror of that moment.

 

Sam looked over at Cas and mouthed “Thank you.” as he gave him a watery smile.

Cas shrugged and looked away, the moment too much for him.

Dean sniffed and said quietly “Man, a pint of Bobby's mead would be really good right now.” he said with a slightly forced laugh. Everyone chuckled, grateful for the break in tension.

“So, Sam. What can you tell us about what you saw in your visions?” said Gabe, bluntly. Castiels head snapped up in surprise, a frown on his face.

Sam blushed. “Yeah, sorry Cas. I get a bit of insight into the person from contact. A general picture of who they are and a few images of past, present and future. It's overwhelming and a little invasive, it's what causes the seizures.” he said apologetically.

Cas looked uncomfortable. “Yes, I know what a touch empath is, I suppose I'd forgotten you had access to my mind for a moment. But it isn't what causes the seizures, Sam. Not completely.” he said emphatically.

“It's not?” said Gabe incredulously. Sam and Dean had similar expressions.

Cas shook his head. “No. For the few moments you had access to my mind, I also had access to yours, Sam. At first I thought I had done it, that my powers had accidentally connected us. I don't really have much idea of what they can do yet, they seem to manifest on instinct or by accident. It wasn't until Dean told me you were a touch empath, that I realised what had happened and it took me a little longer to understand why you had the seizure.” he paused to take a drink of water, wishing heartily that it was alcohol.

Dean grunted impatiently. “So what does cause them? Is there something we can do to prevent them?”

Cas looked at Sam and smiled. “No-one else can prevent them, it has to come from Sam.”

Dean looked aggravated. “How is he supposed to do that? Don't you think he would already be doing it, if he could?” he said aggressively.

“Dean, be quiet for a minute. I can speak for myself.” said Sam, irritated at Deans overprotective instincts rearing up. “Tell me what's happening to me, Cas.” he said gently.

“The answer is simple, the solution is not.” said Cas bluntly. “Simply put, you fight it. The seizures are caused by your own instincts and fear of your powers, it creates a kind of bottleneck that builds up pressure and overwhelms your defences, it's too much all at once and it forces your mind to shut down. Thus the seizure.”

Sam looked a little shocked. “You- you mean I do this to myself? Without realising?”

Cas looked sympathetic. “Look, I imagine when your powers manifested, it was a shock to you, suddenly seeing things that were private and intimate, someone else's thoughts in your mind. It was probably terrifying. You yourself described it as invasive. Your mind tries to defend itself, its instinctual and completely understandable. You need to override those instincts and let it happen. Think of it like a dam. You hold control of the flow of water, if you try to hold it all back all the time, the dam will break. But letting some through eases the pressure. Eventually, you may even be able to pick and choose what information to receive, and build proper defences, enabling you to divert the flow of information.” he said earnestly.

Sam's mouth dropped open. “I could live a normal life. I could marry and have children. I could hug my family without worrying.” he looked emotional.

Cas smiled warmly. “I hope that makes up for my mistake, Sam.”

Sam beamed, his whole face lit up and he seemed taller somehow. “Castiel, it more than makes up it. For the first time, I have hope. I never thought I could have any meaningful contact again. Thank you. I'd hug you, but I don't think I'm ready for that.”

Cas laughed. “ You are welcome. I can't imagine what it must be like to miss human contact. But I can understand your fear of your powers. On that, we are similar.” he said more seriously.

Sam flinched, remembering his vision. “Ah, yes. About that, I saw some of your life, and I sensed that you are a good person, Cas. I doubt you would ever hurt someone on purpose.” he paused seemingly trying to gather the courage to finish. “But I saw a possible future in which you lost control of your powers. You were glowing. There was a blast and a shock wave, then, burning.” he blurted. He looked up to see three pairs of widened eyes staring back at him.

“What was burning, Sam?” said Gabe, gently.

Sam looked sadly at Cas who looked terrified.



“Everything.”

 

 

*******************************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine.

 

 

After dropping the bombshell of his vision, Sam had tried to explain further but was cut off by Cas standing abruptly and stalking off into the night. Dean tried to follow, but was stopped by Gabe with a hand on his wrist and a sad shake of the head.

 

“Leave him, he needs a moment. I think we all do, if we're honest.” said Gabe, his voice shaking.

Dean looked like he was about to argue, but he glanced at Sam who looked distressed and had curled in on himself and sat down next to his brother instead.

“Hey Sammy, like you always say, it's just a possibility, right? It might not even happen. We've changed things before, we can do it again.” said Dean, with determination.

Sam nodded. “It wasn't his fault. He was in chains, I think he'd been tortured and was about to be executed. It was both his brothers doing.” said Sam, a little anger in his voice at Castiels possible future treatment.

Gabe tightened his fist at his side. “Those bastards. They always did bring out the worst in each other. Even as small children, they were spiteful little turds. It used to take me all of my willpower not to accidentally nudge one them into the moat. I wish I had now.” he said through gritted teeth.

 

Dean almost laughed at Sam's bemused expression at the Betas words.

 

“Eh, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I mean, yeah, it would probably have been satisfying, but you'd have ended up imprisoned on Purgatory Island and Cas would never have had you to protect him.” said Dean with shrug.

Gabe sighed. “I know.” he slumped. “At least we definitely know now that Lucifer is also a threat. It's not great news, sure. But it's better than being blind sided, I guess.”

Sam nodded. “My dad always says forewarned is forearmed. Dean's right, we've changed things before. I once saw a vision of our Mom dying in a fire in my room and my Dad almost dying from grief. We managed to prevent it from happening by simply switching my room to another. What I saw was only a possibility, and it's definitely not the full picture. But he needed to know. I'm sorry I upset him.” he said, his expression grim.

Gabe shook his head. “Not your fault, kid. Before I brought him here to live, Cas was taunted for being bound. Michael drilled it into him that he was responsible for their mothers death. That's a terrible burden to put on a child. He is justifiably terrified of himself and what he can do. What you just told him? That is his worst nightmare come to life. I'm not so much scared of him or his powers, I'm mostly scared for him.” he looked thoughtful. “Although, at least he won't be handing himself over to Michael anytime soon. I think he was considering it for a while. He wants to spare the country from a war, but it's inevitable. Michael wants a war even more than he wants Cas.” he said ruefully.

Dean slumped. “Yeah, pretty sure my Dad suspects the same. He has concerns about Perdition too. Azazel is getting too bold, even before today. Whatever is going to happen, it's going to be bad news for everyone.” he said, looking out through the trees, hoping to catch sight of the Alpha.

 

Gabe narrowed his eyes and followed Deans gaze before smiling to himself.

 

“The pressure Cas is under is immense. He's not only the last hope for our people remaining free from tyranny, he has to gather enough allies to wage war on one brother, and possibly another. He also has to deal with the fact that he himself could possibly be the destruction of everything. He wants to protect everyone, even from himself.” said Gabe, quietly.

Sam dropped his head into his hands and groaned. “By the Magi, he's going to need as much help as he can get.”

Gabe nodded. “Yes. Michael has done a good job of isolating Cas and preventing him from making any political connections. Not that Cas is very good in social situations, he can be a little blunt. But it makes his job that much harder. But Michael being who he is, will only help us in the long run. People will flock to whoever stands to oppose him. We just have to stay alive long enough.” he said, with a shrug.

“You say you have to stay here until your friend comes back? Do you even know when?” asked Dean, with a frown.

Gabe shrugged. “Nope. I told you, we had no time to make a proper plan. Everything happened so fast. I know what has to happen, but until Charlie gets back, I don't know where to start. Right now, my plan extends no further than keeping us alive.”

Dean huffed. “Well, we can help with that part, at least. Sam and I will keep our soldiers away from this area, and we'll come check on you as often as we can. I'm just hoping you can protect yourselves if needs be?” he asked, hesitantly.

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Yes, we may not be great at outdoors living, but as Royals we received the finest battle training the Kingdom had to offer. Cas may seem unassuming and meek, but he killed three soldiers in less than a minute in order for us to escape. Even without his powers, Cas is a decent fighter. His brother is Michael, after all.” he said, snarkily.

 

Dean's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Oh, I guess, I thought..... I dunno what I thought to be honest.” he floundered.

 

Gabe smirked. “See, that is going to be a major advantage. Cas is going to be underestimated, just because he doesn't want to hurt anyone, doesn't mean he won't kill when necessary. Everyone thinks because he's quiet and shy, that he is a pushover. That couldn't be further from the truth. He's almost as stubborn as his brother. Except unlike Michael, he can be persuaded to see reason and he will take advice.” he boasted, proud of the man he had helped raise.

Dean smiled. “Then I suppose we can provide you with some supplies. A decent shelter and some warmer blankets to start with. Me or Sam can teach you a little about gathering food out here. Whatever we can do to help, we'll do. I mean, we also have the refugees to look after, but we'll help as much as we can. If I send someone I trust instead, would that be okay? It'll just be Bobby. You guys already know him, I think.” he said eagerly.

Gabe grinned. “Yeah, we know him. He's a grumpy old so and so, but he's trustworthy, like you said. That's fine by me. Mostly, we need information. A general idea of what is going on in the Kingdom. Charlie is the best at that, but until she gets back, we're blind.” he said shaking his head.

Dean nodded. “Sure, and Sam can always send a bird if we can't tell you ourselves. It'll be good for emergencies too. A bird is faster than a rider. We can warn you of danger.” he said, thinking quickly.

Gabe chuckled. “You are a smart lad. Both of you are. Just, be careful, remember, there is someone in the castle who may be working against you. Don't tell anyone about us and if anyone comes looking, just tell them you thought we were in the capital. I'm banking on Michael thinking we fled as far as we could, and Charlie is laying a false trail to the coast with some help from her contacts. It'll buy us some time, but not if someone talks.” he said seriously.

Dean huffed. “Yeah, Sam and I know how to play dumb. If they show up looking for you, I'll be the simple Omega who knows nothing about the silly business of war and he'll be the young green Alpha with more eagerness than experience.” he laughed as Gabe looked a mixture of impressed and appalled at the same time.

“Wow, I suspect you've done it before to come up with that so quickly.” said Gabe, looking around as Cas emerged from the trees, his eyes slightly red and his face pale.

Dean nodded and followed Gabe's line of sight to see the Alpha approaching the campfire.

 

“Hey, Cas. I'm sorry. I know it sounded bad, but now that you know, it can be prevented...” Sam babbled before trailing off as Cas shook his head and waved off his explanations.

Cas sat down on the log next to the fire and smiled sadly. “I know, Sam. I'm glad you told me. I just needed a moment to take it in. The last few days have been... overwhelming to say the least. I'm fine now.” he reassured, looking anything but fine.

Dean grimaced. “Yeah, right. You are not fine. But you will be. Sam and I are going to help. I can't speak for my Dad, but I think he'll help too. My Mom will probably insist on it.” he grinned, making Cas return a small smile.

Gabe patted his nephew on the shoulder with affection. “We'll get there, kiddo. What was it Charlie said? One thing at a time. We'll figure it out, step by step.” he said, softly.

Cas looked at Sam. “What else did you see?” he asked, hesitantly. His hands gripping the log he was sitting on.

 

Sam blushed. “Um, you were with a girl. You and she were- uh, together. Then she stabbed you.” he said, looking mortified.

Cas flushed. “Oh.” he said in a small voice as he cringed. “That was April, a previous lover. She reacted poorly at my refusal to... um... knot her.” he said, burying his flaming face in his hands. “I'm sorry you saw that. You have no idea how much.” he muttered.

Dean had to bite his lip to keep from laughing, he sobered quickly though as Gabe shot him a filthy look.

“She almost killed him when her plan to trap him into marriage didn't work.” Gabe muttered bitterly.

Dean looked contrite. “Crazy ex's, huh? Been there. Just had an Alpha try to woo me with tactics more suited to the battlefield. Bastard made me doubt everything I knew.” he sympathised.

Cas nodded his head. “That's the worst part of it, to be honest. I kept telling myself I should have known, but it took me by complete surprise.”

Dean nodded sympathetically. “Yeah, I guess you wouldn't expect that though. She was just crazy, that's not on you.”

Gabe looked at Dean with approval. “Told you.” he said to Cas, smugly.

 

Sam sat forward. “I also saw your birth.” he blurted.

Gabe sat forward and stared intently at Sam. “Tell me everything you saw, even the smallest detail. We've never understood what happened that night. It could explain Castiels powers.” he demanded.

 

Sam described everything he had seen. The blood, Cas not breathing, the chanting and the horrified look on the robed figures faces. The bright flash and finally the infant Castiel lying in his dead mothers arms.

 

Castiel and Gabriel looked stunned.

 

“Oh, Rebecca.” he sighed, rubbing his temples.

“She had no idea what she was doing. She cast a protection spell while you were still connected by the cord. She was haemorrhaging and the blood powered the spell. It was high magik after all. By the Magi, I'm not surprised you are so powerful.” said Gabe to Cas, his face white as a sheet.

 

“Why would it matter that they were connected?” asked Sam.

 

Gabe sighed. “High magik is blood magic. Her blood to be precise. Until the cord is cut, mother and child share blood. That's why it killed her, to save him. The magikal explosion killed the others and fed the spell even more. No wonder you manifested so young.” he said to Cas who still looked dumbstruck.

 

Sam gasped. “Could it also explain why your binding broke?” he asked Cas, hesitantly.

Gabe nodded. “Oh yes. I'd be willing to bet that it was. To the spell, him being bound was a danger to him at this point. It's part of his blood, and will act how it sees fit to protect him in whatever way it can, independent of his own thoughts.” Gabe answered for the Alpha currently sitting open mouthed in shock.

Dean sat forward and touched Cas on the arm, trying to bring him out of his stupor. “Hey, Cas. However it happened, it's not your fault, right? And I for one am grateful it happened, you saved our lives. You are going to save a lot of lives.” he said softly, smiling when the Alpha looked at him with sad eyes.

Sam frowned. “But, why did it not manifest when April stabbed him? Surely he was in danger then?” he said looking confused.

Cas balked. “I- I think it did. When I woke up, she was unconscious and the other side of the room. I still had the knife in my chest, I should have been dead. I assumed at the time that I had pushed her, but where I was, and where she ended up, I thought it was odd then.” he said, realisation on his face.

Gabe's looked thoughtful. “I'll admit, she was saying some odd things about what happened. But everyone dismissed them because she seemed crazy. We were more concerned about you at the time.” he said, grimacing at the memory of finding Cas, naked in a pool of blood.

“Like what?” asked Cas, looking at Gabe accusingly.

“She said something invisible threw her.” Gabe muttered, looking ashamed.

Cas dropped his head into his hands, his body tense. “We could have figured this out much earlier.” he growled.

 

Sam and Dean cringed at the deep Alpha rumble coming from Cas's chest.

 

Gabe wasn't fazed however. “Don't you growl at me, young'un.” he snapped. “I had no way of knowing any of this until now. Like I said, at the time I was more concerned with you and your terrible taste in women.” he huffed indignantly.

Abashed, Cas stopped growling and blushed. “I apologise. The last few days have been trying to say the least.” he said quietly.

Gabe snorted. “I'll say, but growling at me will not solve anything. You need to apologise to Sam and Dean too, they must think I raised a savage who growls when he doesn't get his own way.” he turned to Sam and Dean who both looked wide eyed with fear and embarrassment.

“He's not normally like this, I swear. He certainly wasn't raised that way.”

Cas looked up, his face was contrite. “I apologise to you both. Growling is unpardonably rude and below the standard of any decent Alpha. I will endeavour to ensure I do not repeat such a barbaric action again.” he said, his voice stiff and formal but genuine.

Gabe rolled his eyes. “By the Magi, could you sound like more of a stuffed shirt?” he grumbled.

 

Dean and Sam shared a look, amusement in their eyes.

Dean didn't trust himself to speak without laughing, so he deferred to Sam who accepted Castiel's apology with grace.

 

“I think we should think about getting some sleep. Who's taking first watch?” asked Gabe, looking around at the rest of the group.

Sam sat forward. “I slept for most of the day, I don't mind taking first watch.” he said eagerly.

Cas stood up to throw another log onto the fire. “I'll keep you company, Sam. I'm not ready to sleep yet either, and there is only room for two in the shelter.” he pointed out.

Gabe nodded. “Alright, looks like Dean and I get to sleep first. I hope you don't snore, kiddo.” he joked.

Sam snorted. “Nah, but be careful, he does kick, and he drools.” he said, dodging a light-hearted slap from his elder brother.

 

With that, Gabe and Dean settled down for a few hours sleep in the shelter as Sam and Cas kept watch, Sam chatting idly and Cas listening, occasionally adding something of his own.

The forest was quiet, the silence broken only by the occasional hoot of an owl or the skittering of smaller animals. For the first time in days, Castiel felt calm.

 

********************************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten.

 

Charlie stood at the rear of the procession from the temple. Blending into the background was more difficult here, with so many wards protecting the Royals, her powers were partially nullified, so she had “liberated” a guards uniform and armour and had gone with a disguise instead.

She watched as a white-faced Princess Hannah followed her elder brother out onto the temple steps as he moved to address the crowd gathered below. The Crown already resting on his head, and an arrogant look on his face.

The decision to hold the coronation in the temple as his fathers body still burned nearby had led to gasps of outrage and many of the gathered Lords and Ladies looked furious at the flagrant disregard of the memory of a much loved monarch, by a son who looked too eager to receive the burden of the crown.

The gathered crowd didn't seem to think much of it either, judging by the jeering and booing from the mob, already angered by the strict curfew Michael had put on the residents and the closure of the port.

 

Michael indicated for silence, but the crowd grew more restless and the jeering got louder.

 

Glaring at Raphael, the captain of his personal guard, Michael muttered an order that had the tall dark-skinned Beta issue an series of barked commands to several nearby guards who began to wade into the crowd and beat the loudest of the protesters, before dragging them off out of sight.

 

Silence eventually fell, but the crowd simmered with barely held rage as Michael once again stepped forward to speak.

 

“As your new King, I hereby announce that as a Kingdom, we will be taking a stronger stance against those who have taken advantage of us. For too long we have been seen as weak, that will no longer be the case. My father was a kind man, but too soft on those who grew fat on our generosity while we received dust in return. My armies will be expanded and all ports and border crossings will now be placed under martial law. All Alphas of military age are required to register for service in my new armies.” he paused for breath, ignoring the rumbles from the crowd and the Lords alike.

 

“On a lighter note, I am delighted to announce the betrothal of my sister, Princess Hannah, to His Excellency, Lord Zachariah Adler. They will mate by the next full moon. Join me in congratulating the happy couple.”

 

The crowd gasped and there was a smattering of polite applause as Zachariah stepped forward, his expression smug. Hannah looked stunned by the announcement and for a moment she staggered, held up by one of her ladies in waiting. When Zachariah approached her, she shrank back in disgust as her took her hand and kissed it.

Snatching her hand away angrily, she bared her teeth as she hissed under her breath. “You will never touch me, I'll kill you first.” He merely laughed and winked, staring at her lasciviously.

Charlie was close enough to hear the exchange and knew she did not have long to get Hannah out of the capital. Michael would be expecting Hannah to run now that she knew about her betrothal and would have her under permanent guard from now on.

 

She moved a little closer to Hannah, so close that Hannah's cloak brushed against the breastplate of her borrowed armour.

 

“When the procession starts, follow as close the back of the line as you can get. When you see the signal, get ready to run with me, your Majesty.” whispered Charlie into Hannah's ear.

 

Hannah jumped slightly, but recovered quickly enough not to alert her ladies in waiting.

“You are presumptuous, I do not know you. Why would I go anywhere with you?” Hannah murmured, without looking around and pretending to fiddle with her dress instead.

 

“He who watches the bee's sent me. I am to take you to him, he is safe for now and only wishes for Alice to follow him to Wonderland.” Charlie whispered.

 

Hannah choked back a sob, holding a hand over her mouth. She chanced a look over her shoulder to look Charlie in the face, searching her expression for a lie. Finding none, she gave a brief nod before facing the crowd again, who were listening to the rest of Michaels speech.

 

A line of soldiers began to march down the centre of the crowd as Michaels speech came to an end. They parted the mob, forming a path towards the palace for the procession to follow.

The Royal procession moved forward, the soldiers lining the street, holding back the crowd who were less than impressed with their new monarch. Some more vocally than others. Hannah pretended to fuss with her dress and cloak, holding back until most of the group had gone ahead. Michael did not even look back, but Zachariah hung around, holding out his arm, determined to escort his unwilling future mate to the palace.

Hannah sneered at him, refusing his arm and stomped ahead of him drawing her ladies in waiting around her, shielding her from the slimy Alpha. He simply smirked and followed, not noticing Charlie who fell into step right behind him.

 

Michael smiled and waved to the uninterested, mostly silent crowd, their sullen faces and worried looks seemed to have no effect on the Alpha who strutted towards the palace as if the crowd were rejoicing and throwing rose petals instead of muttered insults.

The main arch in the castle wall was richly decorated with silks and banners, the flags flapping in the breeze. As Michael approached, several loud pops were heard as coloured powder exploded high above the castle battlements, in a display meant to mimic fireworks. The crowd gasped and Michael grinned and looked up as the Kingdoms colours filled the air. Trumpets sounded as more pops were heard and streaks of coloured smoke criss crossed over the castle.

 

Charlie used the distraction to move forward, shoving past Zachariah and gripping Hannah's elbow, she hissed into her ear. “That's the signal, come with me.”

 

Hannah gathered up her skirts and prepared to run, only to turn and slam into Zachariah, who looked furious.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” he sneered, gripping Hannah's arm.

“Anywhere that you are not.” she snapped, pulling her arm free.

Zachariah laughed. “I don't think so. You belong to me, Princess.” he sneered.

Charlie, who until this moment had remained unnoticed, rolled her eyes, stepped forward and kicked the Alpha in the groin. Her armoured boot made quite the impact and his eyes bulged out of his head as he dropped to his knees, the breath stolen from his lungs.

 

Hannah let out a hysterical giggle as Charlie grabbed her hand and began to run towards a gap in the crowd. Several guards had begun to notice the furore and were trying to move to intervene, but the crowd, having witnessed everything, did what they could to block the guards and aid the two Omegas.

Charlie gripped Hannah's hand and charged towards an alley, ducking into it and through a gate into a small paved area at the back of a fishmongers. The stench was gag worthy, but it would cover their scents if they were followed.

“Quickly, through here, I think.” said Charlie, rattling the lock on the door of the building.

Hannah looked incredulous. “You think? I thought you knew what you were doing?” she hissed as she strained to listen for pursuers.

Charlie popped the lock on the door and shrugged. “Had to make it up on the fly. Didn't have time for a proper run through. Michael is super paranoid and I took what chance I had to get you out. Now, c'mon, lets go before they catch up.” she said, dragging Hannah through the doorway and closing and locking the door, throwing the bar across for good measure.

 

Hannah stood in the back of the shop, grimacing at the stench of fish guts and cringing away from the surfaces that still looked slimy even though no fish had been caught recently, since Michael had closed the port.

 

“Where to now?” whispered Hannah as Charlie began to strip out of the armour and don her own clothes from the pack she had hidden under her guards cloak.

“We go up.” said Charlie cryptically, as she shoved a bundle into Hannah's arms. “Here, put these on, and wrap your hair. I'm going to check that the way is clear, I'll be right back.”

She shoved her feet into her own boots and threw her cloak around her shoulders before moving past Hannah and towards the stairs.

“Hurry, we have to move fast.” she said urgently to a shell-shocked Hannah who stood looking at the bundle with wide eyes.

 

As Charlie padded silently up the stairs, Hannah put the bundle down on the cleanest surface she could find, a chair just inside the shop itself. Pulling frantically at her clothes she huffed in frustration as she realised she would never get her laces undone by herself. She turned around in a half panic and laid eyes on a curved fish gutting knife on the marble counter. An idea formed and she smiled.

 

Charlie crept back down the stairs and gasped in surprise at Hannah's transformation. Gone was the elegant princess in a gown with long flowing sleeves and her hair in a complicated style that fell to her waist.

Instead, a common urchin stood before her. In a loose smock and cut off ragged pants, a wrap and cap covered her hair and an old brown cloak covered her shoulders. She looked a little sheepish.

“Whoa. That's a good disguise even if I say so myself.” breathed Charlie, looking impressed, “Where are your other clothes?” she asked.

Hannah shrugged. “I had to cut myself out of the dress, I doubt it can be saved, so I threw it into the privy. I doubt anyone will look there.” she said proudly.

Charlie winked. “I knew you had to be smart. Your little brother had to get it from someone.” she joked.

Hannah's breath caught. “Is- is he really alright? I've been so worried. Michael said such awful things, I didn't know what to believe. Did he really break his binding and murder those men?” she asked, her concern for her sibling overriding her desire to escape in the moment.

“He's alive and in one piece, just in hiding. He killed those men in self defence, Zachariah was torturing us and tried to kill us, but Cas saved us. I'll tell you the rest once we get out of here. But we need to go, now.” said Charlie, indicating the stairs.

 

Hannah followed Charlie up to the top floor of the building, pausing in confusion as Charlie stopped in front of a ladder to the roof space. “Up here” Charlie pointed as Hannah frowned.

Rolling her eyes, Charlie explained. “We're going to move through the roof spaces so we won't be seen. They connect all the way to the city wall, that's when we go up over the roofs to the section by the river, then we climb down and swim under the water gate and we'll grab a couple of horses and head for the forest.”

Hannah's eyes went wide. “Sounds simple when you say it like that.” she said sarcastically.

Charlie shrugged. “Eh, it's easier than fighting through a thousand guards. I can't kick everyone in the nuts.” she quipped, startling a laugh out of Hannah.

“Yes, that was satisfying to see.” she grinned, pushing herself up the ladder, closely followed by Charlie.

“I owed him that and more, believe me.” Charlie said darkly.

 

They moved through the roof space, occasionally having to climb over objects stored or the odd crossbeam. Charlie led the way until she halted at a window cut into the roof itself.

“We're here. I hope you aren't afraid of heights. Just, don't look down and you'll be fine. Stay low and stay quiet.” Charlie whispered, lifting the window open and climbing out onto the sloped roof.

Hannah gratefully accepted Charlie's help as she too climbed out onto the roof, they both crouched low to prevent being seen from the street and moved towards the massive city walls, stopping to hide behind the chimneys as they heard the shouting of soldiers below. The streets were being cleared and the gates locked in the hopes of preventing their escape.

 

Moving on once more, they came to the section of the city wall with the water gate. A massive wood and metal behemoth that protected the city from invasion by boat. It was heavily guarded.

 

“Frick!” hissed Charlie. “We're going to need a distraction.” she crouched down looking thoughtful.

Hannah crouched down next to her. “Um, what about that.” she said pointing to the stables down the street.

Charlie followed her line of sight and frowned. “What are you thinking? Release the horses to stampede through the streets? Risky, they'll be more likely to start chomping on someone's hedge.”

 

Hannah shrugged. “Those are the stables to the dung carts. They collect the waste in the city. The big round vats next to the building? They're full of urine for the tanners and liquid slurry for the farmers. I'm thinking we open the taps and flood the street, the guards move out of the way and we can escape in the chaos.” she said, a mischievous look on her face.

Charlie looked equally disgusted and impressed. “All that...uh.. stuff will go right into the river. Where we need to go to get out of here. You do realise that, right?” she pointed out.

Hannah wrinkled her nose in disgust. “We could do that, or we could wait until they open the sluice gates and ride the counterweights down the other side of the wall. All we have to do, is figure out how to get up into the water gate tower without being seen.”

Charlie's mouth dropped open in surprise at the simple genius of the plan. “They'll have to open the sluice gates to clear the muck from the river on this side of the city walls. We'll be on the wrong side of the river once we're down, but we can make it work.” she looked impressed as Hannah looked smug.

 

She looked around for a way to get to the tower.

Spotting a possible route she pointed to the guardhouse by the base of the tower.

 

“Think you can be sneaky enough to go over the guardhouse and scale that section of the wall? The jut of the tower should hide us from onlookers below and it places us right by the mechanism for the gate.” Charlie pointed out the route with her finger and Hannah arched an eyebrow.

“Is that a no? We could still swim for it I suppose.” said Charlie, with a grimace.

“It's not a no. I can do it, the question is, can you?” Hannah replied smartly.

Charlie scoffed. “Pfft. Like it's my day job.” she boasted, making Hannah laugh.

 

They quickly planned out a route to the stables, then to the guardhouse roof. Then they waited for the right moment to strike.

Just before sunset, and a little before the guards were due to change, Charlie nudged Hannah and indicated they should make their move.

Creeping back along the roof, they headed towards the stables and the vats of waste.

 

Waiting for the guard to pass by proved irritating when he decided to stop just next to where they were going to drop down. He lit a pipe, standing in a doorway and smoking it calmly as he wasted time waiting for his shift to end.

Hannah was on the verge of drawing the fish gutting knife she had stolen from the fishmongers and ending the idle guards life when Charlie breathed a sigh of relief as he tapped out the remainder of his pipe against the wall and stamped on the embers before continuing his patrol.

The sun was almost on the horizon and the citizens were already in their homes for the night, unwilling to miss the curfew of sunset due to Michaels brutal crackdown on those who had violated it previously. Hannah wondered where he could be putting the prisoners, as by now the local prison must surely be full.

As the guard rounded the corner and disappeared from sight, Charlie indicated that she would jump first, then Hannah would follow. Hannah nodded and pointed the direction Charlie should move in once she landed.

Letting out a breath, Charlie leaned out to check her landing spot in the hay piled in the courtyard of the dung wagons. Nodding she took a step back and then ran forward and leapt the three stories into the hay below, landing with a soft whisper.

Climbing out, she got to her feet and looked up, giving Hannah the thumbs up signal to show that she was okay then moved to hide behind one of the covered dung wagons.

Hannah didn't even hesitate, within moments she joined Charlie behind the wagon and they moved towards the giant vats, grimacing at the stench. Hannah knew the guards attempting to track her would have great difficulty finding her scent in this part of town, even more so after what they were about to do.

 

However, they were dismayed to find that the taps they were going to open to flood the street had been chained shut. A thick iron chain was woven through the wheels and padlocked together. It would take too long to pick the lock and the noise of the chain could alert the nearby guards.

 

Charlie swore under her breath and looked around for an alternative before pointing to a heavily laden dung wagon at the top of the sloped courtyard. It was almost sagging at the axles and had obviously been hastily abandoned so the driver could make curfew.

Charlie crept across the courtyard and waved for Hannah to follow. Pointing out the vats and the wagon, she mimed the wagon rolling down the slight hill and hitting the vats. Her graphic description of what happened once the wagon hit the vats made Hannah want to laugh at the absurdity as Charlie mimed a guard drowning in waste.

 

Together, they moved to the side of the wagon and prepared to leap away once it began moving. Charlie released the brake expecting the wagon to roll immediately, but nothing happened. The wheels were set into a groove in the cobbles obviously meant to prevent this very thing from happening by accident.

Hannah huffed impatiently and moved to the back of the wagon, vainly trying to ignore the smell and the flies, and planted her feet on the cobbles, put her shoulder to the wagon and pushed. The wagon rocked forward and backwards as she tried to free it from the groove the wheels had settled in. Charlie joined her on the other side and did the same, together they heaved the wagon forward and with a creak of the sagging axles, it began to roll down the slope towards the vats.

 

Both women held their breath as the wagon picked up speed and slammed straight into the vat supports with a noise that made their eardrums itch. With a loud groan and a crack of split wood, the supports gave way and the vats began to topple into the courtyard.

Charlie grabbed Hannah's arm and indicated they should begin running when the ground shook as the massive vats slammed into the cobbles of the courtyard and burst upon impact.

Almost falling to their knees, they scrambled towards the building at the back of the courtyard and began climbing to the roof, making it over the lip of the building as the first screams began to ring out as the slurry mixture overflowed the courtyard and began to race down the sloped street like a foul smelling tsunami.

Fighting back laughter, Hannah raced Charlie across the rooftops, leaping the gap between buildings with ease until they reached the guardhouse where they ducked down once more as the guards streamed out of the building to investigate the commotion in the streets.

 

It was mass panic as the guards ran to avoid the literal river of waste still running down the street, they slammed into each other, dived into the river or tried to climb the buildings to escape, but in each case they were hampered by their heavy armour and they eventually succumbed to the foul mixture. Some of them sinking below the surface, never to see the light of day again.

 

Charlie tugged on Hannah's sleeve and indicated she was going to make the jump onto the guardhouse roof first, but Hannah shook her head. She was going first this time. This was the most fun she'd had in years and she aimed to make the most of it.

Stepping back, Hannah took a breath before taking a running leap over the alley separating the two buildings. Landing softly and rolling into a crouch, she turned and grinned as Charlie made the same jump, landing just as gracefully as she had.

 

Together they carefully crept across the roof of the guardhouse towards the tower.

 

At the base of the tower, Charlie insisted she go first. Hannah reluctantly agreed and the women slowly climbed the tower, around the jut and out of sight of the soldiers still milling around the streets below.

As Charlie reached the top, she heaved herself up onto the battlements and then reached down to haul Hannah over the lip where both women laid out flat on the floor, panting heavily and exhausted from the climb.

Charlie turned her head and faced Hannah who was grinning wildly, her skin flushed and her eyes sparkling.

 

Charlie huffed a laugh and playfully shoved at Hannah's shoulder as she also stifled a laugh.

“Come on, we're not free and clear yet. We've got to figure out how to get down.” Charlie whispered, rolling to sit up and look around.

 

Hannah groaned and moved to a crouch, edging towards the room at the top of the tower where the mechanism for the water gate sat.

The giant gate operated by releasing two massive counterweights that opened the sluice gates and increased the flow of the river out of this end of the city. Hannah's plan was to ride one of the counterweights as it lowered to the ground on the outside of the main city wall.

 

Charlie saw the problem immediately.

 

“The weights are inside the tower itself” she hissed. Annoyed that they had wasted time and energy climbing up to the mechanism for nothing.

Hannah rolled her eyes. “Well, yes. Or an attacking army could sabotage them. But there is a trapdoor to the river on the out side of the gate that only opens from the inside.” she said, patiently.

Charlie looked abashed. “Oh. Yeah, that makes sense.” she said, slightly embarrassed at her hasty judgement.

Hannah stepped out onto the platform between the two huge counterweights. “Come on, we'd better get into position. If we miss our ride, we won't get another chance.” she said, balancing on the barrier and stepping out onto the counterweight nearest the door pulling Charlie up to stand opposite her as they wrapped their arms around the massive chain.

 

Charlie's stomach lurched as the weight swayed slightly, revealing the drop below.

 

“Are you sure this is safe?” she asked worriedly.

Hannah chuckled. “An elephant could stand on these and they'd hold. The whole tower is completely over engineered. My father had this built to withstand a siege and everything Perdition could throw at it. Just hold on tight and don't let go. Maybe you'll even enjoy it.” she smirked as Charlie gulped.

 

The wait was tedious and Charlie was just beginning to get bored when a loud clang sounded from the base of the tower.

 

Hannah's eyes lit up. “This is it. Hold on.” she said excitedly.

 

Charlie's stomach almost came out of her mouth as she suddenly became weightless when the counterweight dropped out from below her. Gripping the chain tightly and squeezing her eyes shut, she held on for dear life as several tonnes of iron dropped several stories in seconds.

 

Jerking to a sudden stop, Charlie fell to her knees and panted. Willing the contents of her stomach to stay put.

 

Hannah shook her gently. “Hey, come on, we're only one room away from the main bulk of the gate guards. We can't hang around.” she reminded, she looked exhilarated and her grin was manic.

Charlie groaned quietly and staggered to her feet in time to see Hannah jumping down from the counter weight and moving to a heavily barred trapdoor, through which the faint sounds of the river below could be heard.

 

“Come on, I need your help. The trap door weighs more than I do.” hissed Hannah.

“By the Magi, you are totally insane. My stomach is trying to force everything I've ever eaten up into my throat, and here you are almost dancing with joy.” whined Charlie, reaching to pull on the iron ring connected to the trapdoor.

Hannah giggled. “This is the most fun I've had in a very long time. It's rather boring being a princess. I much prefer this to parading around in dresses or listening to some self important buffoon trying to impress me with his Alpha prowess.” she said with a grunt as the trapdoor swung open under the combined effort of the two Omegas.

“Tell me about it.” muttered Charlie.

 

The sound of the river below was louder now but the water level could not be seen in the pitch black of the shaft. Charlie estimated it to be at least ten feet below where she stood.

Hannah guessed correctly what was on Charlie's mind.

 

“It's a bit of a drop. But don't worry, it's not so bad. Just tuck in your elbows and point your toes and jump. You'll pop right back up to the surface like a cork and the current will take you down to a natural landing point a little way downstream.” she reassured.

Charlie narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Wait. You've done this before, haven't you?” she guessed.

Hannah just grinned and shrugged. “Maybe once or twice. I told you, it's really boring being a princess.” she chuckled.

Charlie shook her head. “I'm guessing the boredom sent you crazy. Because you are utterly bonkers, lady.” she laughed. “Okay. You go, I'll be right behind you.”

Hannah nodded. She stepped to the edge of the opening, crossed her arms over her chest and jumped. The splash came a second later and Charlie took a deep breath before she too leapt into the darkness.

 

********************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven.

 

 

“Sam!”

 

Sam turned around at the voice. Dean stood in the doorway of the barn, he looked flustered and breathless.

 

“Everything okay, Dean?” Sam asked, he looked concerned.

“Mom and Dad just got back, three days early.” said Dean, scrambling forward to the table where Sam had various tools, quills, ink and paper.

Sam frowned. “Oh, why? I mean, they were supposed to stay for the festival and everything. Are they okay?” he asked worriedly.

Dean looked up from where he was writing a hurried note on a scrap of paper. “Huh? Oh, yeah they're fine, there was some sort of accidental spillage of slurry in the city and the festival had to be cancelled. Due to half of the lower city being covered in crap. But the real news is that Princess Hannah was kidnapped, right out of the procession in front of the whole city. That's what I'm writing to Cas about, he needs to know that his sister is missing. I'll need you to send this note with a bird.” he said, rolling the scrap of paper into a narrow tube and tying it off with a green scrap of ribbon. The signal that the message was from Dean.

Sam looked shocked. “Hannah was kidnapped? That's terrible. Cas is going to- wait. Wait a minute.” he paused, looking thoughtful.

Dean frowned. “What? What are you thinking?” he asked, holding the note out towards Sam.

Sam narrowed his eyes as the gears in his mind turned. “Gabe said their friend had gone to find allies. Do you think that one of those allies could be Hannah? What if she wasn't kidnapped, but rescued instead? You have to admit, the timing fits.” he said, looking at Dean who's own face suddenly had an expression of realisation on it.

“Oh.” said Dean, dumbly.

Sam shrugged. “I could be wrong. But maybe you should rewrite the note a little? Less panic, more information maybe?” he said gently.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, Do you think you can get the bird to wait for a reply? We should know if we need to help search for her for real.” he asked Sam, who nodded.

 

Dean took a little more time writing another note, tying it with the green ribbon and burning the original on the lantern on the table.

 

“There, less panic, more information. Can you send it now? Mom and Dad want to see us both in their room. They want to know how things went here, and I think we're going to have to tell them everything. We should probably play it down though, maybe don't tell them a dog ate me.” said Dean, looking squeamish at the last part.

Sam shuddered. “Yeah, I don't think I could bring myself to say it out loud anyway. Maybe, just that we were attacked and Cas saved us and healed you.” he agreed.

Dean nodded. “Mom will be suspicious, but if we stick to the story she can't do anything.” he said confidently.

 

Sam tied the message to one of the crows settled on a perch on the wall of the barn. He stroked it's head and murmured to it gently, conveying through the bond what he wanted the bird to do. Before walking to the barn door and releasing the bird into the air.

Dean watched the bird circle the courtyard before flying off towards the forest. Satisfied he'd done what he could, he nodded to Sam who quickly cleared his work away before joining Dean as they walked up to the family quarters of the castle.

 

Entering their parents private sitting room, they were greeted by John and Mary who looked exhausted but happy to be home.

 

“Hey Mom, Dad. How was it?” asked Sam, taking a seat on the overstuffed chair nearest his mother.

Mary sighed and smoothed out her dress, still wrinkled from the journey in the carriage. “Worse than we thought. It looks like Michael is gearing up for war. He's started conscription for all Alphas of military age and he's closed the borders.” she said bitterly.

Sam went white. “What? But, that means- I'm sixteen, I'm military age!” he blurted out.

John nodded. “Yes, that means you, Sam. But I'll be damned if I let that bastard take my son to fight in his damned vanity war. You are not to join up, and that is final. We'll find a way around it.” he said, the faint hint of a growl in his voice.

Dean clenched his jaw. “What about the rest of the Alphas? What can we do about them?” he seethed.

Mary shook her head. “We don't know. Other than outright rebellion, there isn't a lot we can do.” she sighed.

 

Dean and Sam shared a conspiratorial look. John and Mary looked suspicious at their sons behaviour.

Dean coughed and cleared his throat. “Um, about that. We have a lot to tell you about what happened while you were away.” he whispered.

Sam got up and checked the hallway before closing the door and nodding at Dean who continued in a quiet voice.

 

“There may already be a rebellion in the making.”

 

John sat forward with a frown on his face. “Tell me everything, leave nothing out.” he demanded, his voice low.

 

Sam and Dean launched into a description of what had happened over the few days their parents were away. John and Mary listened patiently, although hearing of Azazel's soldiers crossing the border made John start ranting angrily, he calmed down when Mary shushed him, eager for the boys to finish their story. Mary then began to rant angrily when she learned that Dean had been hurt and it was Johns turn to calm his mate.

Mary crossed the room to check on her jewellery box, nodding stiffly to confirm her ring was indeed, missing. Dean still had it wrapped in the soldiers pack hidden in his room.

When the boys finished their story, John looked thoughtful.

 

“So, what do you think, Dad?” asked Sam, quietly.

John pressed his lips together in a thin line, looking serious.

“I think I need to meet with Castiel.” he said, grimly. “You said you can get messages to him? Go and send one now. Tell him I want to talk. I have some questions for him.” he ordered Sam, who looked wary.

“What are you going to do, Dad?” Dean asked worriedly.

John's jaw twitched in irritation. “Just do as I ask. I just want to talk to him, I'll make a decision about what to do after that.” he said, sounding annoyed.

Sam nodded but looked miserable. He stood and walked to the door to carry out his fathers orders.

Dean stood with him. “Dad, I'll go to his camp and tell him myself. He'll be more likely to trust me more than a note.” he said, moving towards leaving the room.

“No, you will not. You won't go into the forest without an escort ever again. You boys must think we're stupid to think we don't know when you are lying or playing something down. Whatever happened out there was worse than you are making out. I'm going to find out, either from you, or Castiel. So either you tell me, or I'll ask him. And if he lies to me, I'll hand him over to his brother myself.” he snarled angrily.

 

Dean sat down heavily and sighed. Sam looked mournful.

Mary sat forward and lifted Deans chin forcing him to look her in the eye.

“Tell us the truth, Dean.” she said softly.

 

Dean told them the unsanitised version of the story. How he had died and Castiel had brought him back. He rolled up his sleeve and showed them the handprint that Cas had accidentally left on his arm. He told them that Cas had accidentally touched Sam and caused a seizure, but that he also had discovered the reason for them in the first place and how Sam could work to overcome them. He described Sam's visions and Castiels reactions. John and Mary listened intently. Their expressions giving nothing away.

Dean finished talking and looked at Sam who looked just as worried as Dean was feeling.

 

Mary looked upset and her scent became acrid. John wasn't much better, his scent took on the notes of ash and sour wine.

 

“You died? My son died and you didn't tell us?” Mary said hoarsely.

Dean looked miserable. “Mom, he brought me back. I'm alive because of him. I didn't want to upset you when I'm fine now.” he said, weakly.

John huffed. “That is not the point and you know it! You are asking us to trust you about Castiel, possibly join his rebellion and yet you lie to us! How can we trust anything you say after this? When your judgement is so flawed that you would lie about almost losing your life?” he growled, his voice rising.

 

Sam shushed his father who glared at him, causing Sam to shrink back.

 

Mary trembled as she spoke. “I'm glad you are alright. I will also go and meet Castiel. I would like to thank him for saving my sons. But, I am disappointed in you both. Never lie to us about something so important ever again. You will both stay here when your father and I go to meet Castiel.”

 

Both Dean and Sam began to protest until John stood up, silencing them both.

 

“Your mother has spoken. We agree on this. We'll hear no more about it.” he said, his tone implied that the subject was now closed. “Sam, I'll go with you and you will write what I tell you.” he said to the younger Alpha who nodded.

Johns face softened. “Dean, I am very glad you are alright. To lose a child is the worst thing for a parent. To come so close has left your mother and I a little shaken. You will have to bear with us if we are a little overprotective of you both from now on.” he said quietly, his fear bleeding into his tone.

 

Dean nodded, realising just how much it had affected his parents as they shared a look that only they could fully interpret, but the fear and anger were the most obvious overtones.

 

“I had hoped to never have the conversation about keeping things from us ever again. I can see that you didn't take it to heart the first time. You are an adult, Dean, it's time you grew up. The lies have to stop. No matter how hard the truth is, the lie is worse, do you understand?” said John, not as harshly as he could have. The effect was somewhat ruined by the tremor in his voice.

 

Dean suppressed the urge to whine. His Omega instincts clamouring to placate and comfort his Alpha. He nodded instead, his cheeks a little pink from the scolding he had received.

 

“You would do well to listen as well, Sam. You are just as guilty.” John reminded the younger Alpha, who also nodded, shuffling his feet and wringing his hands nervously.

“Alright. We'll draw a line under this. No more lies to us and we'll move on. Now, that said, you both know to keep quiet about this. I assume. If, and I stress if, I agree with Castiel and his plan, secrecy will be key. No talking to anyone outside of this room. Agreed?” said John, seriously.

 

Dean and Sam made noises of agreement.

 

“He's a good man, Dad. So is Gabe. You'll see, and supporting them is the right thing to do.” said Sam, eager to plead Castiels case.

“I guess, I'll see for myself. So we'd better get that message sent to them. Let's go, Sam.”

 

John and Sam left the room, leaving Mary and Dean sitting by the fire. The silence stretched out making Dean nervous. He began sweating, just waiting for his mother to speak. He flinched as Mary sat forward, but she merely reached into the basket next to the chair and picked up her knitting. Dean breathed out unsteadily, tapping his fingers on his knees. The only sounds were the crackling of the fire and the clicking of Mary's needles.

 

Eventually he snapped.

 

“I'm sorry for trying to keep it from you.” he blurted out, making himself jump. Mary simply sighed and continued with her knitting.

“We thought it wasn't worth upsetting you, when things turned out okay.” he continued.

 

Mary finally looked up, glaring hotly at her son.

 

“It wasn't worth it? My eldest son was killed and my youngest would have been next. If it wasn't for Castiel being in the right place at the right time using powers he didn't even know he had to bring you back, we would have lost you both. But it wasn't worth telling us about it? Dean, do you even hear yourself?” she said angrily.

Dean cringed. “Okay. The truth is, I can barely get my head around it myself. It sounds unbelievable, even to me. I died. I was halfway to the ether and the dog had- and when Cas brought me back at first I thought I was dead because there wasn't a mark on me, except this.” he said pointing to the angry looking handprint on his arm.

Mary leaned in and studied it. “Does it hurt? It looks painful.” she asked curiously.

Dean shook his head. “Nah, tingles a bit around Cas, I think it's residual magik from his powers. He doesn't have a lock on them yet. He's not even sure what he can do. He said he just knew somehow that he could bring me back. Weird, huh?” he said with a shrug.

Mary shook her head. “Not really. Remember what it was like when your powers first manifested, that you somehow just knew? It's instinct. It's the same for everyone. I think Sam was an exception because of the nature of his powers.” she said looking sad for her youngest son.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” he paused. “I really am sorry. Don't judge Cas by my actions. He really is a good man. He doesn't want a war, but he doesn't think he can avoid one at this point. That is if he can survive long enough to even begin to fight back.” he said, passionately.

Mary studied her son carefully. “He seems to have made an impression on both you and Sam. I'd be biased towards him anyway, he saved you both. But it's still a long way from that to open rebellion.” she reminded.

Dean nodded. “I know. But even if he hadn't saved us. Helping him is the right thing to do. Even if we just hide him for a while? Until he can figure out his next step?” Dean asked.

Mary's expression gave nothing away. “We'll decide once we meet with him. Not before.”

Dean slumped. “Okay. I guess I can't ask for more than that.” he said, resigned.

 

 

***************************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve.

 

 

The clearing was bright in the late morning sun. The scent of Arrow pine and damp earth filled the air. The faint roar of rushing water from the nearby waterfalls and birdsong the only sound in the forest.

 

John and Mary stood under a giant Blood oak, it's tan bark and deep red leaves a striking contrast to the bright blue of the sky.

John was dressed as a simple hunter. A light cotton shirt over heavy linen trousers, leather boots and bracers. A medium sized hunting bow and quiver on his back and a leather bag hanging from his belt, from which also hung a long skinning knife. Mary wore a simple cotton dress, a linen cap on her head, her long blonde hair plaited down her back. She carried an open basket covered with a muslin cloth.

 

“They should be here by now.” Mary muttered impatiently.

John turned and smiled at his mate softly. “Oh, they are. I'm guessing they are making sure this isn't a trap or we weren't followed.” he said quietly, stepping closer to her and looking down into her face.

Mary frowned and resisted the urge to look around. “How do you know?” she whispered.

John huffed a laugh. “It's what I would do. It's a point in their favour, they're that smart at least.” he said, brushing a lock of Mary's hair away from her face tenderly.

 

Mary smiled up at her mate. The years had not dulled the fierce love they had for one another, it had become deeper and more intense if anything.

John leaned down and kissed her softly on the mouth, cradling her jaw as she kissed him back and pulling her into his own body, she responded by dropping her basket and throwing her arms around his neck as he held her waist.

 

Mary broke the kiss and smirked up at her husband. “They're watching us, aren't they?” she whispered.

John chuckled. “Yup, that will make them feel awkward, but it should reassure them that we're alone.” he murmured.

Mary narrowed her eyes. “That was naughty of you to use me like that. When we get home, you had better kiss me properly to make up for it.” she said, her voice loaded with promise.

Johns eyebrows shot up, but he smiled. “Your wish is my command, my Lady. I'll make sure to thoroughly make up for my behaviour.” he flirted.

Mary arched an eyebrow. “Thoroughly, you say? Hmm, I guess I can forgive you. But only if you make good on your promise.” she flirted back.

John grinned. “Absolutely.” he promised, holding his mate close and scenting her.

 

A twig snapping nearby alerted them that the other party had finally arrived.

 

John released her and Mary stepped back as John moved in front of her protectively.

Gabe stood by a boulder that had suddenly appeared in the centre of the clearing, his smirk half hidden in his beard, but his twinkling eyes said everything he was thinking.

Adjusting his long brown robe, Gabe stepped forward. “Good morning Lord and Lady Winchester. I trust you are well?” he said politely, but still smirking.

John returned the smile. “Elder Gabriel. It is good to see you. I thought we would also have the pleasure of meeting your nephew?” John questioned.

Gabe nodded. “You will. We are being understandably cautious under the circumstances. I can see you have come alone, and I thank you for your trust, we will do our best to both live up to it and return it.” he said, looking at both of the Winchesters in turn.

Mary stepped forward. “I would like to meet and thank the man who saved both my son's lives.” she stated softly.

 

Gabe smiled as Cas stepped out from behind the boulder. John and Mary both gasped at the strength of his aura.

 

“Your- your aura. It's so- I've never seen anything like it.” exclaimed John as Mary stared openly at the young Alpha.

Castiel smiled shyly. “That's what everyone says when they see it for the first time. It came as a shock to me too.” he said, his voice deep and gravelly.

Mary stepped forward. “Your Royal Highness, Prince Castiel.” she said, her eyes filling with tears and her throat thickening with emotion. “Thank you for saving my boys.” she half sobbed out.

Cas blushed. “They were entirely worth saving. They are good and kind and a credit to you both. It was my pleasure.” he said shyly. “I thought you would have brought them with you. I like them both very much.” he said, blushing harder.

 

He huffed in surprise as Mary stepped forward and threw her arms around him, enveloping him in a tight hug. He gave John a panicked look over Mary's shoulder and at John's answering laugh, tentatively hugged her back. Patting her between the shoulders awkwardly as she sobbed into his shoulder.

 

Taking pity on the poor Alpha, John stepped forward and peeled his mate off of Castiel. “Come on, my love. Let the poor man breathe. We have serious business to discuss.” he soothed.

Mary shot him an irritated look. “What could be more serious than our son's lives?” she scolded, but her heart wasn't in it and John merely shook his head.

“My sons tell me you are an honourable man and that you need allies for your war against Michael.” said John, getting straight to the point.

Cas shrugged. “We need allies in order to stay alive. I don't want a war if I can help it.” he said calmly.

John looked impressed. “So, you don't want to replace your brother as King?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.

Cas shuddered. “No, I don't. But I do know my brother needs to be stopped, and I'll do what I have to to ensure that my brother doesn't achieve his goals.” he said, looking determined.

John smiled. “My mate brought some food from home. Let's eat and discuss things in a little more detail, shall we?” he said, gesturing to Mary who held up her basket.

“I thought you fellas would appreciate some decent food, living in the woods makes you miss some of the finer things in life, like bread and cheese.” she smiled as Cas and Gabe both looked hungrily at the basket.

“And soap.” Cas whined, self consciously fingering at his clothes that were beginning to show the rough living.

Mary huffed a laugh. “I'll see what I can do for you.” she promised.

 

The four of them settled down under the blood oak, and Mary handed out food to the rest of the group who gratefully accepted.

Cas told John and Mary his story, with Gabe filling in some of the more difficult parts as Cas faltered when it became too emotional.

 

“You poor thing!” Mary exclaimed to Cas. “So much has happened in so short a time, and now you have the responsibility of fighting a war.” she said sympathetically.

John nodded, before digging into the basket and handing out slices of cold apple pie. “Do you have any idea what it takes to fight a war, young man?” he asked Cas, sternly.

Cas shook his head. “No, Lord Winchester, I don't. That's why I'm hoping that you will be amongst my allies. From your reputation, I certainly wouldn't want to face you on the battlefield.” he said seriously.

John narrowed his eyes. “Y'know anyone else and I'd think they said that to flatter me. But you actually mean that, don't you?” he said, looking puzzled.

Cas nodded. “I do.” he confirmed.

Gabe snorted a laugh. “He really does. For better or worse, he will always tell you the truth. It was a blessing and a curse when he was growing up. He'd confess when he'd done something wrong, but he'd also point out the giant pimple on your nose.” he chuckled as Cas shot him a dirty look.

Mary giggled. “Ah, yes. My Sam was like that. Also, his curiosity would get him into trouble, he never could stand a mystery, that boy. He'd keep digging until he found the answer. Even if it burned him. Dean was more content, but no less curious.” she sympathised with Gabe.

 

John and Cas both had fond smiles on their faces as they watched Gabe and Mary bond over parenting.

 

John studied Castiel carefully. “I'm sorry for your loss. Your father was a good man, I had the pleasure of meeting with him several times and he was honourable in his dealings. He was also quite the warrior in his day. During the war with Perdition, he took to the battlefield himself and earned my respect for how he handled himself, both during the battle and after. He treated the enemy with honour and had the prisoners given medical treatment and an escort home. Those of us who fought with him that day, never forgot it.” he said, reverence in his tone.

Castiel looked both proud and sad. “He was also the best of fathers. I will miss him. I only hope I can live up to his memory.” he said, his throat thick with emotion.

 

John and Mary shared a look.

 

Mary cringed. “Has anyone told you what happened at the funeral?” she asked hesitantly.

Cas frowned. “No, Dean sent a message that Hannah had possibly been kidnapped, but that was actually a rescue by a third party. Other than that, we are woefully under informed out here. A friend is meeting us here soon, we hope to get more information then. Dean also promised to come and visit us regularly to keep us updated.” he said.

 

Mary took note of the Alphas expression whenever he mentioned Dean. It was soft with a little bit of longing. An expression mirrored on her sons face whenever he talked about Castiel.

 

John nodded. “Then allow us to fill you in on the situation. Although, none of it is good, I'm afraid.” he said gravely.

John and Mary described the funeral-slash-coronation, Michaels speech, his announcement of Hannah's betrothal and her apparent shock and surprise at it. Then Hannah's apparent kidnapping and the chaos in the city that had forced the festivities to be cancelled. John's jaw was clenched as he described Michaels utter rage at the situation and his orders that every guest at the ball was to be detained and searched before they were allowed to leave the city.

Castiel listened closely, his mood becoming darker and his eyes briefly flashed with blue light as he took in everything that was said.

 

Mary gasped in fear as she sensed the power coming off the younger Alpha. Cas flushed and visibly calmed down, taking deep breaths and seeming to centre himself.

 

“I apologise. I am still learning to control my powers. They seem to be linked with my emotions and I am upset by this news. I would never hurt you.” Cas said, genuinely contrite.

John looked a little shaken himself. “You are very powerful. I don't doubt your intentions, or your resolve. I do however have reservations about your powers. That much power seems too much for one person. My son told me his vision, and I have to tell you, it scares me more than anything Michael could possibly do.” he said, warily.

Cas looked crushed. “Me too.” he said, bitterly.

Gabe spoke up. “But Sam told us himself that it's only a possibility. That it can be changed. Right? He wasn't lying about that?” he said, hope in his voice.

Mary nodded. “Yes, that's true. I would have died in a fire if we hadn't been warned by one of Sam's visions. It can be prevented.” she reassured.

Cas sagged in relief sharing a look with Gabe who also looked happier with that information.

John sighed. “Look, I sympathise with your situation, and I'll give some real thought to joining your cause. In the meantime, I can offer you asylum. You can stay with us until I figure out what to do, maybe there is a way to avoid a war.” he said, decidedly.

Gabe shook his head. “We can't. First of all we have to wait here for our contact. Secondly, His aura is a little hard to hide, he tends to stand out. And thirdly, you have someone in the castle working against you. It's too risky.” he reminded.

John's face fell as he remembered. “Oh. Yes, I had forgotten for a moment. I'll root out the traitor, don't worry. In the meantime, we can at least make things more comfortable for you out here.” he offered instead.

 

Gabe and Cas gratefully accepted. Mary produced a quill, ink and paper from her basket and they wrote a list of things that would be needed. Mary made sure to include soap at the top of the list. John, ever the warrior, included weapons and some light armour and a couple of field tents.

Cas and Gabe began to look a little overwhelmed as the list grew longer.

John paused as he saw Castiels face fall as he began to look despondent.

 

“Is something wrong? Have I missed something?” he asked, looking concerned.

Cas shook his head. “No!” he blurted out, before looking ashamed. “No, you are being more than generous, it's just I hadn't considered more than half of those things. I'm realising just how unprepared I am for the coming days.” he said, worriedly.

John huffed a laugh. “It comes from experience, son. Even I had to learn it from somewhere.” he reassured.

Cas nodded. “I only hope I can learn it in time. I'm grateful for any help you can give, but your advice on these matters will be the most vital to me. Should you choose to join me, you will find me an avid student.” he said humbly.

John looked truly flattered. “Whatever happens, Castiel. You have my respect. You are nothing like your brother and in many ways, you remind me of your father.” he said, genuinely.

Cas's face broke out into a smile that lit up his whole face. “You couldn't have paid me a higher compliment, Lord Winchester. Thank you. I hope you will consider us friends.” he said, looking between John and Mary hopefully.

Mary returned the smile and the sentiment. “Castiel, you saved my sons lives. We consider you family.” she said warmly.

 

John nodded his agreement and Cas and Gabe looked at each other in amazement as John and Mary chuckled.

 

Gabe looked at John appraisingly. “That is a very nice thing to say. But in the long term, does it mean you will protect him, even against Michael? If Michael showed up on your doorstep with an army, demanding that you hand him over, what then?”

John shook his head. “My word means something. I offered you both asylum, and I meant it. Aside from that, I just really don't like Michael. He's weak and a bully. At the ball he was talking non-stop about the glory he was going to bring to the Kingdom. He has a plan, alright. I just want to know what it is before I commit to open rebellion.” he said, a hint of anger in his voice. Mary reached out to him, placing her hand on his arm to sooth him automatically.

Cas narrowed his eyes. “From what you say, the other Lords don't seem to be happy either. How many of them do you think could be persuaded to come over to our side?” he asked.

John shrugged. “They'll be thinking along the same lines as me. Cautiously. Some will support Michael, they may not like him, but he is our King, for better or worse. Some will come over once someone else declares. A lot more will declare for neither, wanting to stay out of it or wait until they see which way the wind is blowing. They'll want to back the winning horse.” he said, knowingly.

 

Cas nodded, absorbing the information.

 

“Be warned, before anyone declares for you, they'll want favours. Things like more land or power, possibly even a marriage pact. Be prepared to negotiate and don't let on that you are desperate. They'll smell it on you.” said John, sagely.

Gabe looked at John shrewdly. “And what do you want, Lord Winchester?” he asked, suspiciously.

John looked him in the eye. “My children safe. That's it. Although some lands on the bay of Aminata would be nice. I hear the weather there is lovely all year round. I could build a lodge and spend a few weeks each year drinking rum from a coconut and swimming in the ocean.” he joked, laughing as Mary elbowed him and rolled her eyes.

Cas smiled. “My family owns lands there. My father took me as a boy. It's one of my fondest memories.”

John looked more serious. “Castiel, in all honesty, if I declare for you, it will be because I think it's the right thing to do, not because of what you can do for me.” he said, softly.

Cas nodded. “Thank you, Lord Winchester. I wish there were more men like you in the kingdom.” he said, quietly. “I can see where your sons get it from.”

 

Mary snorted and John gave her a dirty look.

 

“What? He isn't mated to you. He doesn't pick up your dirty socks when you leave them lying around.” she said primly.

John frowned. “Neither do you, dear. That's why we have servants.” he reminded her.

She scoffed. “We don't pay them enough for that.” she replied smartly and John flushed a little.

 

The conversation turned back to the list and soon after, John and Mary said their goodbyes and began heading back to the castle, after promising that Bobby would be bringing the first of the supplies the following day.

 

On the way home, Mary held her mates arm as he guided her through the forest.

 

“I like him.” she declared.

 

John hummed in agreement.

 

“He'll make a fine King.” she added.

 

John nodded.

 

“I think he'd be a good mate for some lucky Omega one day.” she mused.

 

John narrowed his eyes at her.

 

“What are you thinking?” he asked suspiciously.

Mary looked innocent. “Oh, nothing.” she said, brightly.

 

“Mary.” said John, his voice dropping low.

 

“John.” she answered sweetly.

 

“I am not offering our son in marriage. It's Dean's choice, not ours.” he said, sounding annoyed.

Mary looked offended. “I'm not talking about anything like that. I just noticed that Dean seems to be quite taken with him. All I'm saying is, a little nudge in the right direction is all that's needed.” she said huffily.

John sighed. “Mary, leave them alone. If Dean gets his heart broken, you'll never forgive yourself.” he said sternly.

Mary stared at her husband. “Dearheart, I love you. But a mother knows these things. Castiel is taken with him too. All I plan to do is arrange for them to spend more time together, and allow nature to take its course.” she said, with a grin.

John balked. “You don't mean- Mary Winchester! He is our son, how can you think like that!” he said, looking shocked.

Mary rolled her eyes. “Not like that, dear. Although it did work with you, if I'm remembering correctly.” she arched an eyebrow and side eyed her mate.

John flushed and spluttered. “You minx, I knew you arranged for that barn door to get locked by “accident”. You didn't seem to be concerned at all that your father found us together.” he fumed.

Mary shrugged. “You were dragging your heels with nerves and needed a nudge. It worked out for the best, didn't it?” she said smugly.

 

John sighed and looked thoughtful as Mary glared at him.

 

“What? I'm thinking about it.” he said, laughing and dodging when she reached out to flick his ear.

 

Mary chased him until John suddenly whirled around, catching his mate in his arms and sweeping her off her feet to kiss her soundly.

 

He smiled into the kiss and pulled away looking into her eyes. “Of course it did. I knew what you were doing and I went along with it anyway. How could I not? You are perfect for me.” he declared.

Mary smiled. “Then take me home and keep your promise, my dear. I'll make sure you never change your mind.” she said, huskily.

 

John grinned and did just that.

 

*******************

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen.

 

 

Dean had been surprised when his mother had relented and allowed him to accompany Bobby to Castiels camp the next day. Her reasoning had been that Bobby would need help and secrecy was paramount, the less people who knew about it, the better. Although she had a strange smile on her face as she had said it. It was doubly strange when she had refused to let Sam go too. He was needed at the castle apparently. John had narrowed his eyes at his mate, but had reluctantly agreed when she gave him a hard look.

Now, Bobby was leading a small horse drawn cart and Dean followed behind, eradicating the tracks with his powers to disguise the route to the camp. Secrecy was useless if the tracks could be followed by anyone entering the forest.

Hearing a low whistle, Dean smiled. He gave the answering whistle, three notes in descending order, and waited. The reply came quickly, four notes in ascending order.

 

The way was clear and all was well.

 

Bobby jumped and the horse reared as Cas dropped from the trees above to land in front of them. He had his bow and quiver slung across his back and Dean recognised his fathers skinning knife in his belt.

 

“Ya idjit!” roared Bobby, trying to calm the horse who was still twitchy in the traces. “Damn near gave me a heart attack, and you scared the poor horse half to death.” he grumped angrily.

“Apologies. I saw you coming and wanted to surprise you.” said Cas, grinning at Dean who was trying not to laugh, but failing miserably.

“Congratulations, you succeeded. Luckily for me, I'm an old man suffering from constipation, or I'd have soiled my pants.” Bobby growled.

Cas pressed his lips together to suppress the laugh threatening to burst out. Dean however, had tears in his eyes as he laughed harder than he had in a long time.

“The camp is this way.” said Cas, just for something to say as he pointed in the direction they were already heading.

“I know. I've been runnin' around these woods since I was knee high to a grasshopper, boy. Ain't nowhere in these woods that's a secret to me.” Bobby grumbled, leading the horse forward.

 

Cas stepped aside and let Bobby and the cart pass him by and fell into step next to Dean.

 

“Hello Dean.” he said, smiling widely.

Dean smiled back. “Hey, Cas. So, you met my Mom and Dad, huh? They seemed to like you. Dad sent off a bunch of messengers last night, I think he's trying to gather some information for you.” he informed Cas, who nodded.

“Yes, they are very good people. I can see where you get it from. You look very much like your mother, she's beautiful.” said Cas, shyly. Two pink spots appeared on his cheeks above his scruffy beard.

Dean noticed and tried to hold back a blush of his own.

“Uh, thanks.” said he said awkwardly, ignoring Bobby who coughed loudly, trying to cover up a laugh.

Cas rubbed at his scruffy beard self consciously. “I'm eager for a change of clothes and a shave. I'm beginning to look like a wild man of the woods.” he joked.

Dean gave him an appraising look and shrugged. “I dunno. The beard suits you. If you tidy it up a bit, you could look distinguished.” he said, fidgeting with his pack and clearing his throat nervously.

Cas smiled. “I'll think about it.”

 

Both men looked away from each other and Cas rubbed his neck in an obviously nervous gesture.

 

Bobby rolled his eyes. “Oh, brother.” he muttered, hiding a grin in his beard.

 

As they approached the camp Gabe came rushing to meet them.

 

“Please tell me you brought more bread. I need it like I need air.” he whined.

Dean chuckled. “We did, and something even better. Pie.” he said, laughing when Gabe moaned loudly.

Cas grinned. “You just made his day.” he laughed.

Dean chuckled. “Well, who doesn't like pie?” he asked, shrugging.

“Cas doesn't. He doesn't want any, he said I can have his.” said Gabe, lifting the canvas covering the cart and flinching as Bobby slapped his hands away.

Dean looked over at Cas who looked indignant. “I don't think so.” he said lowly. “You'll have to fight me first.” he threatened, turning to wink at Dean who laughed.

“Nobody is gettin' pie unless this cart gets unloaded. Instead of flappin' ya maws, how 'bout helpin' the old man out.” Bobby snarked, rolling back the canvas to reveal boxes, barrels and baskets of items.

 

Dutifully, everyone pitched in to help and in no time the cart was unloaded.

 

Bobby released the horse from the traces and allowed her to roam around the clearing, nibbling at the long tufts of grass that grew in patches under the cover of the trees.

Cas and Dean busied themselves putting up the field tents. John had last used these during the war, but they were in good condition and had been dyed to match the colours of the forest. Disguising them further would be easy once they were up, using the same methods as before.

Dean smiled as he saw Cas using the knots he had taught them. Cas saw him looking and smiled back.

“I never forget good advice.” he assured Dean.

Gabe delighted in taking down their previous rough shelter and tried to claim one of the two tents for his own before Cas reminded him that they would soon have guests.

“Fine.” Gabe sulked. “But I get the hammock.” he demanded.

Cas slumped. “Fine.” he said with a sigh, as Gabe swanned off looking smug.

Dean chuckled. “Have you ever slept in one? Not as comfy as they look.” he whispered to Cas.

Cas turned to look at him with a twinkle in his eye. “I know. But for now he thinks he got the better deal. He'll never admit he was wrong and now I get the bedroll.” he whispered back conspiratorially and Dean roared with laughter.

 

Once the tents were up, Cas picked up the tin containing the soap and opened it, smelling the delicate fragrance and looking over at the river longingly. Dean followed his eyeline and realised just how desperate Cas was to be clean and feel like himself again.

 

“Go on, I'll finish setting up inside. I won't see anything, I promise. I won't even come out of the tent.” he said quietly.

Cas met his eyes and blushed hotly, even the tips of his ears turning pink. “I couldn't. It wouldn't be right, you're an unmated Omega.” he said, although the lure of the river and the soap showed on his face.

 

Dean rolled his eyes and opened the bag next to the one with the soap. He pulled out a linen wrap and handed it to Cas.

 

“Go. Go on. If you go behind the big boulder there is a small pool and none of us will see you.” he insisted, pointing to a large pointed rock in the river.

Cas rubbed at his beard again and fingered his dirty clothes. He nodded briefly and began gathering up a change of clothes from the nearby bag and wrapping everything up into the linen cloth.

Dean grinned and indicated he was going into the tent. “I promise, I won't peek.” he teased, making Cas blush again, although his own cheeks had a tinge to them as well.

 

Cas looked eager as he finished packing and headed to the river without looking back. Dean realised he was still staring after the Alpha when he got to the river and dropped the linen on the ground and began undoing the buttons on his waistcoat.

Jumping back with a start and a full on blush, he distracted himself setting up the tent. Trying not to think of the naked Alpha only twenty feet away from where he stood, he set up the bedroll and the hammock, before lining the floor with sweet smelling vale fern.

With Gabe being a Beta, his scent was muted, but Cas' Alpha scent would be a dead giveaway to anyone searching the forest. Vale fern would help to disguise it. It's sweet and fresh scent tended to seep into everything and would counteract an Alphas spicy, earthy scent.

Looking around, he spied Cas' pack and resisted the urge to peek through it. Instead he set it at the foot of the bedroll and smoothed out the hardy blanket before realising he was probably getting his own scent all over the Alphas bed, it seemed a little too intimate and he scooted backwards hurriedly, feeling embarrassment and thanking the Magi no-one else had witnessed what he had done.

He dragged a medium sized chest to the centre of the tent and set a lantern on it, then set the writing implements next to the lantern.

 

He looked around and huffed impatiently, Cas was taking a long time and he'd run out of things to do inside the tent. He wasn't going to break his promise to Cas, so he sat down to wait just inside the doorway, leaning against a large chest and closed his eyes, enjoying the slight breeze that ruffled the cloth of the tent.

 

“Dean?”

 

Dean startled awake, bleary eyed to see Cas kneeling next to him looking concerned. He realised he'd dozed off in the warmth of the afternoon.

He blinked and rubbed his eyes. “Sorry, I finished in here and then got bored waiting and fell asleep.” he said, his voice rough. He looked up and almost gasped at the Alphas transformation.

 

The rough beard had gone, Cas' face was smooth and he'd scrubbed his skin until it was pink, making his deep blue eyes stand out even more. His dirty clothes had been replaced with a clean white shirt and dark pants tucked into boots. He hadn't laced the shirt and right now, with Cas leaning over him and his shirt hanging open, Dean could see his broad chest, a light smattering of chest hair covered his pecs and his skin was golden and smooth.

But the thing that affected Dean the most, was Cas' scent. Scrubbed clean of the grief and blood and the dirt of the forest, it was pure Alpha and the best thing Dean had ever smelled in his life. It was spicy, but with a hint of smoky richness to it. It reminded Dean of bitter chocolate and he had to resist the urge to bury his nose in the Alphas neck and scent him. He felt the tingling that signalled he was beginning to slick.

 

“Dean? Are you alright?” said Cas, looking concerned as Dean realised he's completely zoned out.

“Huh?” he said, shaking himself out of his daze.

“Are you alright?” repeated Cas, patiently, leaning back just enough so his scent was no longer overwhelming.

“Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. Just dozed off and having trouble waking myself up, I guess.” said Dean, not meeting the Alphas eyes and praying the Alpha couldn't smell his arousal.

“Then I have good news, Gabe made campfire coffee, Bobby showed him how.” said Cas, with a grin that showed off half of his gums.

Dean groaned. “That sounds awesome. I just want to refresh myself and I'll join you guys in a moment.” he said, with a small smile.

 

Cas beamed and stood, offering a hand to Dean.

Dean hesitated, before taking the Alphas hand and allowing himself to be pulled up from the floor but he faltered and stumbled against the Alpha.

 

Dean blushed furiously as his other hand came into contact with the Alphas bare chest and Cas steadied him and stepped back politely. Dean squeaked out a thank you and almost ran to the river, leaving Cas looking confused by the Omegas strange behaviour.

Dean ducked behind a tree and ran a hand over his face. He untucked his shirt and tore off a section at the bottom in order to clean as much slick from himself as possible. Sitting at the campfire with Bobby, Gabe and Cas whilst smelling like aroused Omega would be mortifying.

He cleaned himself up and splashed some water on his face from the river, taking some deep breaths to calm himself.

So he was attracted to Cas, so what? It wasn't he first time Dean had been around a crush and it certainly wasn't the first time he'd produced slick around an Alpha. When he had first hit puberty, just the smell of an unmated Alpha not related to him had made him damp. It still did when he got close to a heat. It was normal. Maybe the stress of the last few days had brought his heat forward. That was probably it.

 

Feeling calmer and more composed he made his way back to camp and smiled at the group sitting around the fire drinking coffee from tin mugs.

Taking a seat across from Cas and next to Gabe, he gratefully accepted the coffee that Gabe handed him along with a slice of buttered bread.

 

“Enjoy your nap, Sleeping beauty?” teased Bobby, adding something from a flask to his own coffee.

Dean huffed a laugh. “Sure did. I got so comfy, I forgot where I was for a minute. Thought I was still dreaming. I was confused when I wasn't in my room at home.” he chuckled. Falling back on his charm to cover his embarrassment seemed like a good idea right now.

Cas chuckled with him. “You did look a little dazed. I was beginning to worry for a moment there.”

Dean shrugged. “Sorry, it took me a while to wake up. I was up late last night and I think it caught up with me.” he said, avoiding the Alphas eyes and taking a sip of his coffee.

 

Cas looked sympathetic and began lacing his shirt, huffing in frustration when he skipped a hole and laced it wrong.

 

Gabe groaned. “Thank the Magi, I thought you were going to walk around like that all day. 'oh look, I have muscles and chest hair'. We get it, you're a big strong Alpha, stop making the rest of us feel inadequate.” he teased, and Cas huffed an embarrassed laugh.

“Who feels inadequate? I don't. Speak for yourself, Gabe.” gruffed Bobby, winking over the top of his mug.

“Yeah, you're saying a lot more about yourself than you realise, Gabe.” said Dean, joining in.

“Hey, you don't know what it was like raising this kid. I'd turn my back for five seconds and his clothes would vanish. Never knew a kid that hated clothes as much as this one. He'd run around in the buff scandalising the poor servants.” he retorted, pointing at his nephew.

Dean risked a look at the Alpha who was grinning. “Castiel, did you really do that?” he asked, with a laugh.

Cas looked a little embarrassed but shrugged. “I was a child and I hated those stuffy clothes they made me wear.” he defended.

“The last time was when you were sixteen and you made the poor laundry woman faint from shock.” said Gabe sternly.

Cas cringed as Dean and Bobby started laughing.

“That was an accident! She walked into my room when I was changing, it doesn't count.” Cas insisted. “ and it didn't stop her from barging in again, I noticed.” he added. Making Bobby roar with laughter and Dean choke on his coffee.

Gabe chuckled. “Yeah, I had to let her go after that. It got a bit creepy.” he admitted.

“Have you quite finished trying to embarrass me? Or do you want to go into more of my childhood exploits?” asked Cas, arching an eyebrow. “Perhaps we could discuss my first crush? Or the bed wetting until I was seven?” he snarked.

Gabe shrugged. “Nah, that would be mean.” he said with a smile. “Truth is, Kiddo, you were also the sweetest kid I've ever met, and you've grown to be a fine man. That's not the bias talking, although I'm pretty biased. Let me tell you.” he said, being serious for a moment.

Cas smiled shyly. “Thank you, uncle Gabe. I had a good example to follow.” he said quietly.

 

Bobby watched Dean who looked soft at the exchange, the boy was just about head over heels and by the looks of it, so was the Alpha if the longing looks were any indication. Mary was right, it wouldn't take more than a nudge with these two. That and time.

 

“So, we need to do a bit more work to hide the camp. Gabe's illusions don't hide his highness here, any ideas?” Bobby interrupted.

Castiel looked at Gabe who shrugged. “You should probably show them.” he said to Cas.

 

The group watch curiously as Cas stood and walked over to a small sky birch tree on the edge of the clearing, it's white bark and blue leaves waving in the light breeze.

With a look of concentration, Cas lay his hands on the trunk. Bobby and Dean both gasped as Cas' aura flared and his eyes glowed with blue light.

 

The tree shivered and with a loud groan, began to grow.

 

The trunk expanded, the bark splitting and growing over almost instantly. The branches seeming to reach out for something as they lengthened, new branches splitting off and leaves bursting out all over with a rustling sound. It kept growing to enormous proportions, dwarfing it's nearby neighbours. Cas released the tree and it seemed to sigh with relief as he stepped away and his powers faded.

 

Cas turned to the group to see Gabe looking proud and Bobby and Dean looking shocked, their mouths hanging open.

“I was thinking of growing some of the trees and plants to hide us. I can control how they grow too, if needs be.” said Cas, looking pleased with himself.

 

Bobby abandoned his coffee and drank heavily straight from his flask.

 

Dean walked over and touched the tree trunk hesitantly. He looked over at Cas with wonder on his face. “I guess I shouldn't really be surprised, but that's awesome, Cas.” he said smiling and looking up at the now fully mature tree.

Bobby stepped up and inspected the tree himself. Even knocking on the trunk and walking around it, looking it up and down.

“So, you thinkin' of surrounding the clearing with more of these, huh?” said Bobby.

“That's the idea, yes.” said Cas.

“Think you can grow some ivy over 'em? Fill in the gaps?” Bobby asked.

Cas nodded. “Yes, I grew one early this morning when I was practising.”

Bobby hummed in thought. “Let me plot out a boundary and figure out what goes where.” he said, picking up a big stick and marching off.

 

“So, you're figuring out your powers, huh? Good for you.” said Dean, looking at Cas with admiration.

Cas shrugged and rubbed his neck nervously. “A little. The more control I have, the better for everyone, don't you think?” he said, quietly.

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I don't think fighting it is the answer.” he agreed, kneeling down to inspect a wild moonflower just beginning to bud. It grew everywhere nearer the base of the mountains, but was a little more scarce here in the forest.

 

Cas knelt down next to him and gently brushed the petals of the moonflower, it began to grow, more buds sprouting from it's base, it's pale and fragile petals unfurling and releasing it's delicate fragrance.

 

Cas picked the biggest bloom and handed it to Dean. “Here, for you.” he said, his cheeks pink and his eyes shining.

Dean gaped and took the flower carefully, trying not to crush it's delicate petals. “Thank you.” he squeaked nervously. Perhaps the Alpha had smelled him earlier after all.

Rising to his feet, Cas once again held out a hand, which Dean shyly accepted and pulled the Omega to his feet with a gentle squeeze to his palm.

Dean and Cas stood for a moment, staring at each other when the silence was broken by the sound of hoof beats.

Cas' eyes widened and he looked around before whistling sharply. Gabe and Bobby dropped what they were doing and reached for weapons. Dean drew the knife from his belt and Cas placed himself in front of Dean, drawing his own knife.

 

Two enormous black horses trotted into the clearing, bearing riders in long black cloaks.

As if they had co-ordinated it, both riders dismounted at the same time and threw back their hoods.

 

One red head, one brunette.

 

“Charlie! Hannah!” Cas gasped, taking off at a run and scooping both women up into his arms and spinning them around as all three laughed.

He gently placed them down and kissed both women on the forehead, hugging them tightly in turn.

“I'm so glad you are here, and safe.” he said, his voice deep with emotion.

 

“For now.” said Charlie, holding up a scroll. “We have a lot to tell you.” she said ominously.

 

*******************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen.

 

 

“Well, I can't say I'm surprised.” said Gabe, with a groan. “But they didn't capture our likenesses very well. My hair doesn't look like that and they didn't get your nose right.” he said to Cas as he held up the unrolled scroll in his hands, rotating it and squinting.

“It's a pretty high reward though. Michael must be desperate to get his hands on you.” said Dean, with a grimace. He took the reward poster from Gabe and studied it again. “They really didn't get your nose right.” he agreed with Gabe.

Cas scrubbed his face with his hands before running them through his hair. “The reward is always high for bringing in traitors.” he muttered, looking sick to the stomach.

“That's just one of the charges.” said Gabe. Snatching the poster back from Dean. “Look, Reward for the capture of Prince Castiel James Emmanuel Novak and Elder Gabriel Richard Novak. Wanted alive for the crimes of Treason, Kidnapping, and Murder. Considered extremely dangerous. 100,000 gold coins. Cheeky bastard. We're worth five times that at least.” he said, looking disgusted.

“One of your middle names is Emmanuel?” said Dean, biting his lip to keep from laughing.

Cas gave him a dirty look. “That's what you a going to focus on? Really? This isn't funny, Dean, that poster says I'm out of options.” he said in a bitchy tone.

Hannah snorted. “It is a little bit funny, Castiel.” she said, giving Dean a wink.

Cas rolled his eyes. “I didn't exactly name myself, did I? And you're a fine one to talk, Hannah Esmeralda Gretchen Novak.” he said primly, smiling smugly when Hannah narrowed her eyes at him.

Dean sniggered and Hannah stuck her tongue out.

“We gonna stand around sayin' our own names, or we gonna finish up what we were doin'? Daylights burnin' and I wanna get home before dark.” barked Bobby.

 

Relieved at the change in subject, Cas stood up and gestured to the boundary that Bobby had set out. “Please, lets do just that. Where shall we start?” he asked, looking at the older man.

Bobby pointed out his plan to weave the branches of the trees together and create a hiding place that wouldn't be spotted by anyone unless they knew where to look.

Dean watched Cas and Bobby as Charlie and Gabe bickered good-naturedly, he jumped when Hannah suddenly sat down next to him.

 

“I can't stop staring at him either. His aura is something else.” she said quietly, smiling at Dean who smiled back nervously.

“Yeah, he's still working out what his powers do, but they are something else too. I've never seen magik like it. I think if he puts his mind to it, he could do anything.” he said, with a slightly awed tone.

Hannah's eyes widened and she looked at her younger brother with a critical eye. “You've seen his magik?” she asked, with excited interest.

Dean huffed a laugh. “You could say that. He brought me back from the dead.” he said, grinning when Hannah's mouth dropped open in shock.

“Wha- How?” she stammered, looking Dean over as if something would confirm his story.

Dean grimaced. “It's a long story and it kind of weirds me out to be honest, but long story short, I got kinda torn up by a hunting hound using me as a chew toy. My little brother was gonna be next and Cas killed the dog, then healed my body and brought me back to life.” he said as Hannah held a hand over her mouth, looking horrified.

“Charlie told me he healed her after she almost died. But to actually bring someone back from the ether, by the Magi, that is- it's, I don't know what that is.” she said in awe.

Dean shrugged. “You've got me. I have no idea.” he said, looking over at Cas who was gesturing between two trees as Bobby wrote something down.

“Did you see the ether? What comes after?” asked Hannah, curiously.

Dean shook his head. “No, I remember thinking that this is it, y'know? Then I felt a pull, but something held me back. A voice. It was warm and safe and it felt like comfort. I didn't want to go yet and it seemed like a good idea to stay, so I did. Then I woke up and Cas and Sam and Gabe were staring at me and I had this on my arm.” he rolled back his sleeve and showed Hannah the handprint on his shoulder.

“Oh, is that where he healed you?” said Hannah, sitting forward and studying the raised burn.

“Yeah, isn't as painful as it looks. Like I said, he's still figuring his powers out. I think he used a little too much mojo.” said Dean, rolling his sleeve back down.

“And you're alright now? No lasting effects?” asked Hannah, looking concerned.

Dean shook is head. “Nope, healthy as an Ox. Just a couple of bad dreams, but I think that's to be expected to be fair.” he shrugged.

Hannah nodded. “I should think so, it must have been terrifying. I'm sorry that happened to you, Dean.” she said, sympathetically.

Dean looked away, over at where Cas and Bobby were standing next to a blood oak discussing something. He watched as the Alpha began rolling back his shirtsleeves, revealing muscular forearms and tanned skin.

“He's filled out since I last saw him.” mused Hannah. “He was just finishing up a growth spurt and he was all arms and legs, still a boy really but so very proud of the moustache he had grown. We write to each other every week, but it's not the same as seeing him in person. We missed out on so much of his life when he left the capital. I missed him terribly.” she said mournfully.

Deans heart clenched. He couldn't imagine being separated from Sam like that. “You're together now, you can start making up for lost time. He'll need all of us in the coming months.” he said, softly.

“Yes he will. I'd be happy to help him kick Michaels ass. He tried to sell me like cattle. His own sister.” she said indignantly.

Dean wrinkled his nose. “Looks like he's taking a leaf out of Perditions book.” he said, equally disgusted. The practice of Omega trading was common there, but had been outlawed in Enoch for a very long time.

“Yes, it was very satisfying to ruin his coronation by covering the capital with slurry.” she said, her lips twisting into a grin.

Dean looked at her incredulously. “Wait, that was you? I thought it was an accident!” he exclaimed with more than a hint of admiration in his voice as Hannah nodded and laughed.

“Was it now? Was this Charlie's influence or your own?” came a deep voice from a few feet away.

 

Dean and Hannah looked up to see Cas standing a few feet away with his hands on his hips, a look of disapproval on his face was ruined by a twinkle in his eye.

 

Charlie butted in. “Hey, I'm not taking the blame for that. It was all her. You could have warned me she was crazy.” she said, looking put out.

Cas shrugged. “All the best people are.” he grinned, winking at his sister who laughed. It was obviously a private joke between them.

“So, when do we get a practical demonstration of these powers of yours? Dean tells me you have a little more control over them now. I can't wait to witness it.” said Hannah, looking excited.

Cas smiled shyly. “Right now actually, We're going to set up the boundary. I'll need you all to stay in the centre of the clearing, just in case.” he warned.

 

With a few excited whispers and some shuffling around, the group gathered in the centre of the clearing, eagerly awaiting the spectacle.

 

Cas shared a few quiet words with Bobby who showed him the notes one last time, then he stepped away from the group and dropped to one knee, and pushed his hands into the dirt.

The glow of his aura brightened considerably, making it almost painful to look at and the ground began to shake.

Hannah gasped as pulses of power began to pour out of her brother and the trees surrounding the clearing began to shiver and scream as they suddenly began to grow.

Trunks expanding, limbs twisting and leaves bursting out, closing off the clearing from the rest of the forest as the branches entwined with each other. Tree roots burst from the earth, like skeletal fingers they crept over the ground before punching back through as if to establish a better grip on the ground as the trees swayed and flexed above.

 

Cas looked serene as he wove his tapestry of nature.

 

Hipthorn began to spring up between the trees, it's long poisonous barbs a deterrent to anyone trying to sneak through the boundary. Before Scarlet ivy seemed to crawl over the trunks of the trees, flowing like a red tide and sealing the gaps. The group watched as Cas created an archway with the tree branches, wide enough for a small cart to pass through, before the Scarlet ivy draped itself over it like a velvet curtain, hiding the entrance from view.

The ground was shaking so hard, the group was having trouble keeping their feet and they staggered as several shards of rock burst through the earth, establishing a secondary ring of defence inside the first. A ripping sound filled the air as the earth on one edge of the clearing split and cracked, before collapsing in on itself and filling with water. It bubbled and frothed, steam filling the air as it boiled, heated by the friction in the ground, which shook so hard it began to undulate wildly, rippling like water.

Cas threw back his head and yanked his hands out of the earth, his powers cutting off abruptly. The group fell to the ground as one as the tremors suddenly ceased.

 

The landscape was completely different. The clearing was now secure from prying eyes and even had it's own water source. Bobby's horse whinnied as it trotted around in circles, terrified by the events, pulling at the rope she had been secured to a post with. Charlie and Hannah's horses barely flinched. As trained warhorses they were used to the battlefield, and although both of them shifted with their ears flicking back and forth, they stayed put.

 

Cas stood and turned to look at the group, his expression was exhausted but elated. He took two steps before his eyes rolled in his head and he collapsed to the ground. Hannah screamed and was the first to reach her brother, who was floppy and unresponsive.

 

Gabriel pushed everyone out of the way. “Let me see him” he shouted, shoving people out of the way to inspect the unconscious Alpha. “Move out of the way. Move!”

Gabe checked his breathing and heartbeat, sighing with relief when he confirmed both. The group hovered as Gabe continued examining his nephew.

“Is he alright?” asked Dean, worriedly.

“I think he felt himself losing control and cut himself off too quickly. Magik can have a nasty backlash when that happens. He doesn't have enough experience with it to know that, especially at that level. He'll be fine after some rest and food.” reassured Gabe, to sighs of relief.

“When will he wake up?” asked Hannah, worriedly. She brushed a lock of hair from Castiels face gently.

 

A loud groan came from Cas as he opened his eyes.

 

“About now, I guess.” said Gabe, looking surprised. “Huh, I thought he'd be out for a while yet.” he admitted.

Cas sat up rubbing his temples. “Ow.” he grumbled.

“Yeah well, that's what you get when you show off, ya idjit. That was more than we discussed.” said Bobby, a fake stern look on his face. His own relief was evident in his tone, which was softer than usual.

“I felt inspired.” quipped Cas, with a sheepish smile and a shrug.

“Castiel, that was amazing. But please, never do that again.” begged Dean. “You scared us.” he added quietly.

Cas looked guilty. “I'm sorry, it was a lot more violent than I anticipated. Once I started, I found it difficult to stop.” he said, looking ashamed.

Hannah rolled her eyes. “Not the magik, you idiot. The fainting.” she said, irritably.

Cas looked indignant. “I did not faint. I collapsed from exhaustion. It was more heroic and manly than fainting.” he said, scowling at his sister, but his eyes twinkled with mirth.

“Oh, my apologies. Please excuse my phrasing. I of course meant that you manfully and heroically fainted from exhaustion.” Hannah teased.

 

Everyone broke out into laughter, more than relieved to break the tension after witnessing such a spectacle.

 

Dean and Gabe helped Cas to his feet and he shuffled between them over to the fire.

Setting Cas down on a log, Dean fussed over Cas, dusting off his clothes from where he had hit the ground and picking the leaves and grass from his hair and Bobby finally went to tend to his horse who had almost yanked the post from the ground and was still anxious from the earth tremors.

 

Cas locked eyes with Dean and grabbed his wrist, stopping him from straightening his hair.

 

“I'm alright, Dean. Really, I'm fine.” he said quietly. “Sit down, you're making me dizzy.” he joked as Dean blushed.

Dean sat down, leaving a little space between himself and the Alpha. “Sorry, Omega instincts and all.” he mumbled, embarrassed.

Cas smiled at him softly. “It's fine. I didn't mean to scare you, but I did, it's no wonder you feel the need to fuss.” he said, gesturing to the rest of the camp. “Look, you aren't the only one.”

 

Dean looked out and almost laughed as he realised Charlie was making coffee and Hannah had run to the tent to get Cas a blanket, Gabe was rummaging through a basket for food and Bobby was petting and soothing his horse, feeding her chunks of apple and murmuring to her.

 

“So, it's not just my silly Omega instincts, then?” he laughed.

Cas shook his head. “No, sometimes in comforting others, we find comfort for ourselves. It's easier than asking for it.” he said wisely.

Dean looked thoughtful. “Huh, I never thought about it that way. I guess you're right.” he said, thinking of his relationship with Sam.

Hannah walked over with a blanket, draping it over her brothers shoulders and fussing with it, making sure he was adequately covered. Once she was satisfied she stepped back to allow Charlie to hand him a cup of sweet coffee as Gabe took over at the fire, announcing he was making baked potatoes.

Cas gave Dean a look that said See what I mean? making Dean stifle a laugh.

 

Hannah and Charlie walked away to unpack their things into their own tent after getting the nod from Dean that he would keep an eye on the exhausted Alpha.

 

“I'm guessing you letting us fuss over you is your way of comforting us?” said Dean with a chuckle as Cas took a sip of his coffee.

“It's not easy, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.” said Cas, dryly, a slight smirk on his face.

 

Cas looked a little less pale and shaky, but no less tired.

Gabe stepped over, lifting Cas' face to look into his eyes and frowning slightly.

 

“I think I'll nix the baked potatoes, kiddo. They'll take too long and you are ready to drop at any moment. I'll make you a sandwich and then you'll go take a nap, okay?” he said, looking concerned.

Cas nodded. “Yes, that sounds good. I think I overdid it a little.” he said, drooping enough that the blanket dropped from one shoulder.

“Uh, yeah you did. The power you put out today would have killed anyone else. Hell, it would have killed ten people, and you shouldn't cut off your power like that, the backlash can do real damage.” Gabe scolded.

“I was worried it was getting out of control. I didn't want any of you to get hurt.” said Cas, with a grimace as he rubbed at his temples. “Do you have anything for a headache?” he asked quietly.

Gabe shook his head. “No, not yet. Bobby is bringing more supplies tomorrow and I'll get something then. In the meantime, I'll get Hannah, she should be able to sooth it a little.” he said, before heading over to Hannah and Charlie's tent.

Dean leaned over and adjusted the blanket so it sat on Cas' shoulders again.

“I'm sorry you got hurt, but what you did, it's amazing. Look at it Cas, it's beautiful.” said Dean, gesturing to the boundary.

Cas smiled. “I always did like gardening.” he chuckled.

 

Hannah hurried over with a frown on her face. “Why didn't you say your head was hurting so much?” she scolded, placing her hands over Cas' temples.

 

Within moments the drawn look fell from Cas' face and he looked a little less pale. The relieved expression said it all.

 

Hannah moved her hands from Cas' temples and ran the through his hair instead. “Better?” she asked gently.

Cas looked up at her and smiled. “Much better. Thank you.” he murmured.

“Okay, little one. I'm going to finish unpacking. So, eat your sandwich and then it's off to bed for you.” she said said sternly.

Cas nodded. “You'll get no argument from me.” he assured.

Hannah raised her eyebrows in shock. “Well, that's a first. You were a terror at bedtime as a child. That's why I started reading you those stories, remember?” she said, with a smile.

“I do. My favourite was Alice in Wonderland.” Cas said with a fond look on his face.

“Well, you're a bit old for me to read you a story these days. But I'll find you a copy of the book. I missed your birthday with everything happening, we'll call it a late birthday gift.” she promised.

Dean smiled. “You had a birthday recently? Did you do anything special?” he asked, leaning in.

Cas cringed. “Uh, that's difficult to answer.” he said quietly.

Dean frowned. “Oh, too private?.” he said awkwardly.

Hannah sighed. “It was the day of our fathers funeral, Dean.” she said, sounding bitter at her elder brother.

Dean flinched. “That's the day I- The day day you saved me.” he said, sadly. “ That was a horrible day. I'm so sorry.” he whispered.

Cas frowned. “I'm not. I made new friends because of it. You and Sam, your parents and even Bobby. I don't know where we'd be right now without you all. So, maybe it wasn't so bad after all.” he said with a small smile.

Dean smiled back. “Maybe not.”

 

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Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen.

 

 

John stood in the clearing, trying not to gape at the changes that had taken place since his last visit.

Mary was just as amazed, but recovered quickly and before long was excitedly chatting with Hannah and Charlie, as Cas, Dean and Sam were discussing something about books nearby.

Bobby nudged John and arched an eyebrow. “It's somethin' ain't it?” he said, gesturing to the boundary.

John nodded, still not quite able to find words to describe it.

“Should of been here when he did it. I thought he was gonna go tree by tree, but the idjit did it all in one go. Hurt himself doin' it too. He was pale as milk and shaky as a foal after. Still looked better than I did, thought I was gonna die of heart failure.” Bobby joked.

“It's amazing. Like something the Magi did.” said John, finding his voice at last.

Bobby nodded. “Yeah, the quote from the sacred texts came to mind. “Where they walked, the land bowed to their whims” Lets just say, I'd rather be on his side than not, you get me?” he said, with a hint of reverence in his tone.

John nodded. “That's what I'm here to discuss.”

Bobby narrowed his eyes. “Made your decision, have you? Well, whatever it is, I'm with you old friend.” he said, slapping John on the back.

John smiled at his oldest friend. “I know, I can't seem to get rid of you. Believe me, I've tried.” he quipped, making Bobby roar with laughter.

 

Gabe was happily unloading the cart of supplies, cooing over the chest with medical supplies and the baskets of food.

John whistled, causing his sons to look around, he indicated for them to help Gabe and they rushed to obey their father, abandoning their conversation with Castiel.

Cas looked guilty and joined them , lifting a large chest weighing more than two men could comfortably lift between them from the back of the cart by himself and making the group collectively gasp as he carried it as if it weighed nothing to the tent.

 

John and Bobby looked at each other in amazement, before Bobby shrugged. “I think from now on, we should just go with it.” he offered.

John nodded. “That's probably best, yes.” he agreed.

 

Once the cart was unloaded, the group gathered around the fire underneath the new canopy that had been set up for bad weather. It wasn't too soon, the clouds above had built up overnight and seemed to hang low enough to touch the treetops, the smell of rain hung in the air even though a drop had yet to fall. Conversation was light and the mood slightly merry, thanks to the barrel of Bobby's beer.

 

John was admiring a large buck that was hanging from a tree, ready to be skinned and butchered.

 

“So, you've been doing a little hunting, I gather?” he said to Cas, who nodded.

“Yes, I brought him down this morning. He had been attacked by wolves and was suffering greatly. His other flank is in a bad way. It was more of a kindness than anything.” said Cas, sadly.

“Was it a clean shot?” asked John, sipping on the beer that Bobby had handed out.

Cas nodded. “Yes, to the heart, it was instant.” he assured John.

“Good. Although the wolves being in this part of the forest is concerning. They must have been driven over the border by Azazel.” he said, thoughtfully.

“I'll keep an eye out.” promised Cas.

 

John cleared his throat and the group fell silent. “Speaking of keeping an eye out. I heard back from some of my messengers.” he said, gravely.

Cas sat forward. “And?” he asked.

“Lord Fitzgerald has had his lands confiscated and he and his heir have been imprisoned at Bann rock tower, before being sent to Purgatory. He had objected to Michael's conscription of Alphas and insulted him. Apparently, Michael took it very personally.” said John, angrily.

Cas looked at Hannah, both looked grave. “Michael is a fool, Fitzgerald land holds the rest of the border with Perdition. With no Lord in place, it weakens the Kingdoms position.” said Cas, clenching his jaw in anger.

“He's set up a garrison to hold the castle, and handed it over to that weasel, Zachariah.” said John, wincing as Hannah flinched and Charlie growled.

Cas looked thoughtful. “He doesn't trust Zachariah to hold it on his own, that's why he left the garrison.” he said, as John smiled approvingly.

“Exactly. Several other Lords are very unhappy about what Michael did to Fitzgerald. He is a good man and fought well in the war, he's popular. It also makes them nervous for their own lands.” he said, placing his beer on the ground in front of him. “Some of them are already murmuring about rebellion, others are still undecided.”

 

Cas looked at John, narrowing his eyes. “And you? What do you say?” he asked, his voice hard.

John smiled. “I say this is your opportunity to gain support and announce your intention to challenge Michael.” he said shrewdly as the group listened intently.

Cas frowned. “How?” he asked.

John grinned. “You free Fitzgerald, and restore him to his lands. Declare yourself, Fitzgerald will join your cause and more Lords will follow.” he said, sounding sure of himself.

Cas looked confused. “I have no men to stage a rescue or take a castle.” he said, with a frown.

 

John smiled. “Yes, you do. Mine. I'm joining your cause, your majesty.” he said, holding out his hand for Cas to shake.

 

Cas grinned and shook Johns hand enthusiastically. “Thank you, John. I'll try not to make you regret it.” he said happily as the rest of the group chattered excitedly.

“I already do.” joked John, slapping Cas on the shoulder. “We have plans to make, your majesty.”

Cas snorted. “I'm not a King, John.” he said, rolling his eyes.

“Not yet.” said John, with a grin.

 

Bobby handed them both a beer. “We got time for a drink first, ya idjits.” he said, sounding almost jovial. He stalked off, handing out more beers, and even sneaking one to Sam, which John decided to tactfully ignore when Mary didn't appear to notice.

 

A little while later, the group stood around a map spread out on a hastily made table, discussing the plan to rescue and restore the Fitzgerald's to their lands.

 

“I can use my contacts to get some insight on what's going on in Fitzgerald's lands right now. Maybe cause Zachariah a few headaches. Nothing too overt, but enough to keep him on his toes.” Charlie offered.

John arched an eyebrow. “Like what?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.

Charlie shrugged. “A little of this, a little of that. It's probably best you don't know to be honest.” she said mysteriously.

John looked at Cas, who shook his head. “She's right, it's probably best you don't know.” he agreed.

“If you can get an idea of the numbers inside the castle, that would be a big help. A list of defences and supplies would be even better. If Zachariah is distracted, it'll make our job that much easier.” John agreed.

Charlie looked to Cas, who nodded. “I can get to the next town before dark if I leave now.” she said with a determined expression. She left the table and headed to her tent to pack for a journey.

 

Hannah spoke up. “I have an idea.” she said, hesitantly.

Cas frowned. “Okay, what are you thinking?” he asked

“I can contact some of the palace staff, we need spies in Michaels camp. I can guarantee their loyalty. They helped me in the days after father died and they hate Michael.” she said, hopefully.

John looked sceptical. “That could backfire on us, if they get caught, it'll lead Michael right to you.” he said.

Cas looked thoughtful. “It would be good to have someone on the inside. It depends on how close they are to his inner circle.” he said.

Hannah smiled. “Close, but unnoticeable. Like palace staff are supposed to be.” she said confidently.

Cas nodded. “Then do it, but don't give them any information about us. And no meeting them yourself, it's too dangerous.” he insisted.

 

Hannah nodded and smiled smugly.

 

Gabe spoke up next. “Some of my less than savoury contacts can lay a false trail. I can arrange for sightings of us anywhere you want.” he shrugged.

Cas frowned. “I'm not sure that's wise. Michael will send soldiers and innocent people could get hurt. Look what happened to us.” he said, looking at John.

John nodded. “He's right. Although, it's something that can be revisited later if needs be.” he said, looking thoughtful.

Gabe slumped. “What about the common folk, we'll need to win them over. Sooner rather than later. Gaining their sympathy will be essential, any ideas?” he asked, looking around.

Sam spoke up. “Cas needs to perform some heroic deeds, it'll happen naturally after that.” he joked, making the group laugh.

“Actually, he's not wrong. A couple of public demonstrations of your awesome powers and the common folk may well storm the capital themselves.” John chuckled.

Cas didn't look as enthused. “I'm not confident I can control them enough just yet.” he said, looking unhappy.

Dean looked across the table. “You're getting better everyday, Cas. You'll be fine.” he reassured the Alpha, who gave a small smile in response.

Gabe playfully punched his nephews shoulder. “You have more control than you think, dummy. You're just in your own head because of the vision. The more you worry about it, the less control you have.” he said, shaking his head.

Cas nodded. “Logically, I know that. But I can't forget about the vision either.” he said, with a sigh.

John placed his hand on Cas' shoulder. “Nor should you, but letting it get to you like this will bury you. It will become a self fulfilling prophecy. We would not be here, risking everything if we didn't believe in you. It's time you started believing in yourself.” he said, softly.

 

Cas chewed on his lip as he considered the words. “I'll try. It's all I can do.” he promised.

John smiled. “That's all any of us can do.” He gave Cas a friendly back slap. “Now, I think rescuing the Fitzgeralds is the priority. They are only being held at Bann rock until Michael can get a ship from Maidenport to Bann rock harbour.” he said, gesturing on the map. “It's being held up right now because of repairs, but they will be done by the end of the week, with sailing time, it gives us eight days to get them out.” he said, looking at the rest of the group.

“If we get them out first, Michael will expect an attack on Zachariah.” warned Gabe.

“If we attack Zachariah first, they will kill the Fitzgeralds, and if we can't take the castle quickly, we'll end up having to lay siege to it. We don't have the luxury of time to do that, especially once Michael sends reinforcements.” argued John.

 

Cas frowned. He studied the map, walking back and forth.

 

“We should do both at the same time.” he said, looking up.

John shook his head. “It's what I'd do, but we don't have enough men.” he said with a sigh. “To break the walls at Fitzgeralds, we'll need every man we have. Bann rock tower is hard enough to take on it's own.”

Cas huffed. “Bann rock doesn't need to be taken. A small group can sneak in and smuggle the prisoners out. The whole place is decrepit and crumbling, it hasn't been used in generations and it's barely fit for purpose. Michael is only using it now as a symbol, because of what it stood for in the past.”

Bann rock tower was notorious as a prison for the worst criminals the kingdom produced, they were tortured and executed in horrible ways and never saw the light of day again. People still told tales of the horrors that took place within it's blackened stone walls. It had fallen out of use when prisoners had instead been shipped off to the Island of Purgatory, a barren island that was impossible to escape from.

 

John looked intrigued. “ I like it, but it will still be difficult to take Fitzgeralds castle.” he pointed out.

Cas smiled. “We could take it with thirty men.” he said, to looks of incredulity.

“Oh, is there a secret entrance you know of, or something?” asked John, his interest piqued.

Cas shook his head. “Nope, they're going to walk right in through the main gate.” he said, his eyes twinkling as he looked extremely pleased with himself.

 

As he laid out his plan, John's grin grew wider until he was laughing openly.

 

Dean looked worried that Cas would be humiliated by his father. He looked around the table, everyone had the same bemused expression. Dean wasn't even really listening to Cas' words, he was more interested in the reactions.

 

Cas looked at John impassively.

 

“By the Magi. That is brilliant.” John crowed. “It will only ever work the once, mind you. After that, we'll lose the element of surprise. But, no-one will ever see that coming.” he said, lifting his beer to his lips.

 

Dean sighed with relief.

 

Bobby chuckled. “It's crazy, is what it is. But then again, these are crazy times. I'd pay to see Zachariah's face when he realises.” He said, scratching at his beard and adjusting his hat.

 

Cas couldn't wipe the smile off his face if he tried. Hannah looked proud.

 

Gabe looked at Cas in wonder. “Who knew you could be such a devious little shi- OW!” he said, rubbing his ear and scowling as Mary threatened to flick it again. She pointed to her youngest son and fixed Gabe with a hard look.

John chuckled. “Mary, dearest. Sam is about to go to war, I think a little bad language is to be expected. He'll hear a lot worse, I'm sure.” he said, looking at his mate fondly.

She shook her head. “Not if I can help it.” she muttered, turning her hard look on John.

 

Cas gave Dean a sympathetic look at the tension coming from his parents.

 

“Lets hammer out the details, shall we?” he said, interrupting the awkward silence to the relief of everyone else around the table.

 

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Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen.

 

 

Bann rock tower stood on an ancient outcrop of black volcanic rock, that jutted out into the sea in a giant wedge hundreds of feet above the black sand of the beach below. Built from the same volcanic rock, it's ruinous moss covered appearance almost made it blend in with the cliff it stood upon.

Originally built thousands of years ago as a lighthouse, it had served many functions in it's very long life. None more famous than as a notorious prison for the kingdoms most dangerous criminals. The torture and executions of famous figures imprisoned there were the stuff of legend.

It was said to be haunted. On stormy nights, screams and groans could be heard coming from the tower. It had been proven that the sounds came from the wind blowing through the ruined structure itself. It didn't stop the rumours, however. And it wasn't hard to see why they persisted. The whole structure was eerie, especially viewed through the frequent fogs that rolled in from the sea.

Very much like it appeared right now, the torches around the structure backlit the ruined tower with an orange glow, giving it a hellish appearance.

 

Castiel checked on his companions, assuring himself that their group had stayed together in the dark. They hid behind a low stone wall, the remnants of a watchtower that had collapsed long ago.

 

Charlie had finished her mission and had insisted on joining Cas for his rescue of the Fitzgeralds from Bann rock tower. With her powers, she would be essential on a stealth mission. Cas was glad to have his best friend by his side.

Dean had demanded to join. His father had been reluctant, but had given in when Dean had pointed out that a representative of the Winchesters should be there. The Fitzgeralds may need to know they would have the additional backing of Lord John Winchester to the cause.

Sam had almost ruined the mission from the start. When he had requested to join the rescue effort, Mary had flat out refused, insisting he was too young and his powers put him at risk. John had agreed with her and Sam had been furious. So furious, that he had snuck out of the castle and followed behind the rescue party, catching up when it was far too late to send him back alone. So they had reluctantly brought him along. Although Cas had put him in charge of the horses as punishment and he would have to remain with them outside whilst the mission was carried out.

The tower itself was heavily guarded, but the crumbling outer wall was barely manned, the damage and decay was too great to waste the manpower on it. Getting into the complex would not be a problem. Getting in and out of the tower itself was the difficult part.

 

Charlie sidled up to Cas who was scanning the tower for a weakness in the guards route.

 

“We could use Hannah's ploy and create a distraction?” she offered.

Cas shook his head. “No, we can't risk them killing the prisoners if they suspect an escape attempt.”

Charlie looked thoughtful. “Candle and rope trick?” she suggested.

Cas gave her a long suffering look. “No.” he said, grouchily.

“That one was a stretch if I'm honest.” she admitted.

Dean snorted. “I think Charlie should sneak in and start screaming like a ghost. It'll scare 'em half to death.” he joked.

 

Charlie looked at Cas hopefully.

 

Cas chuckled and shook his head.

“No, we'll go with the original plan. I know you're trying to spare me from having to kill anyone, and I appreciate it. But I'm alright. I can do this.” he assured the others.

Charlie scoffed. “We know you can, we're just trying to spare you from having to.” she said quietly.

“The fog should cover us until we get almost up to the tower.” said Dean. “With any luck, most of the soldiers won't even realise we were ever here.”

“Let's aim for that, shall we?” said Cas, checking his light armour and weapons one last time.

“Ready?” he asked. Dean and Charlie nodded. “Let's go.” he said, and ran at a low crouch towards a section of the bailey wall that had completely collapsed. A guard had just passed by on his set route, torch in hand. It's light utterly useless in the fog.

 

The three crouched behind a pile of rubble and waited as another guard passed by, whistling a tune.

As the tune faded, the group moved again. Stopping at the base of the tower behind another section of rubble. Charlie took a running leap and gripped a low hanging bar attached to the side of the tower. Hoisting herself up onto it, she balanced on the balls of her feet and gave a thumbs up before climbing up the rough stonework to the nearest window.

 

Cas and Dean watched as she paused just below the sill, before she seemed to vanish as she activated her powers.

Dean saw the fog swirl as Charlie swung herself up and through the window.

They waited in silence for a few minutes before a small thud alerted them to Charlie's presence as she dropped from the tower, just before she reappeared next to Cas.

 

Charlie indicated with her fingers how many guards were in the tower. There were eight, two to each of the inhabited floors and four with the prisoners. The Fitzgeralds were being held on the topmost intact floor. The uppermost part of the tower had collapsed long ago.

Dean tapped Cas on the arm, indicating that another guard was coming. All three of them ducked down and waited as the guard passed by, hearing him call out something to another guard nearby before both of them laughed and moved on.

Rising up again, Cas indicated it was time to move and Charlie nodded, climbing back up the side of the tower, to the window.

Once inside, she leaned out and gave the nod. Dean was next, Cas braced himself against the wall, cupping his hands and indicating he would give Dean a boost. Dean put a foot into Cas's hands and gasped as Cas lifted him as if he weighed nothing, pushing him up to the bar where he pulled himself up and continued climbing to the window, where Charlie pulled him through.

Cas was right behind him, climbing through and dropping to a crouch as if he had been doing it all of his life.

 

The room they were in was some sort of rudimentary barracks, several bedrolls were on one side of the room where a fire was burning in a makeshift fireplace. Dust and rubble were everywhere, broken pieces of masonry littered the floor. A dead guard lay half in and half out of one of the bedrolls. Another guard was slumped at the rough wooden table nearby, face down in his meal.

 

Dean looked at Charlie, who shrugged and indicated that she had done it. Cas moved to the guard at the table, picking him up and placing him on one of the bedrolls. Dean looked confused before realising that if anyone came by, it would look like he was merely sleeping. It would buy them time before the alarm was raised.

Dean moved to the other guard, rolling him back into his bedroll and covering him up.

Charlie moved to the stone archway that led to the stairs to the next level, listening out for anyone coming. Everyone froze when the heard boots on the steps and the clink of armour.

 

Cas positioned himself at the side of the archway, behind the pillar, as Dean and Charlie ducked down behind the table and out of sight.

The guard stomped down the steps, heavy footed and grumbling to himself. As he passed through the archway, Cas darted forward, clapping one hand over the guards mouth and wrapping his arm around his neck and squeezing. The guard panicked and began to struggle, Cas merely held on tight, barely moved by the desperate mans thrashing, his face impassive.

The guard gripped Cas' arm, trying to free himself and breathe, but Cas squeezed harder until a loud sickening crunch was heard and the guard sagged and went floppy as his neck was broken.

Cas shuffled forward, dragging the guards body to another bedroll, where he laid him down and arranged his limbs to make it look as if he too, was sleeping.

 

Not one word was spoken.

 

Charlie indicated that there were seven guards left and Cas nodded. Dean indicated he was going up the stairs first and Cas and Charlie fell into step behind him.

Creeping up the stairs, Dean peered through the archway seeing the guard in the middle of the room with his back to him.

 

Darting forward, Dean clapped a hand over the guards mouth and slid his knife between his ribs, aiming for the heart. The guard stiffened, and sighed before slumping to the floor, guided gently by Dean.

Cas walked over, touching Dean on the shoulder and nodding his approval, before lifting the guard from the floor and hiding the body behind a pillar. Charlie kicked some dust over the small pool of blood to disguise it.

Cas took the stairs first this time. As they climbed the steps, they began hearing a sobbing sound from above them. It was faint, but persistent. It sounded like someone in agony. The Fitzgeralds were being tortured.

Cas turned to Dean and Charlie with a pained look. Charlie nodded and Dean flexed his fingers on the handle of his knife, determination on his face.

 

Cas took several deep breaths to calm himself, before peering around the archway.

 

Two guards stood on opposite sides of the cold, damp room, peering out through the gaps in the walls, supposedly keeping watch, although the fog rendered the activity pointless. Cas put a finger to his lips and pointed to Dean, then the guard furthest from the archway. Dean nodded and crept across the stone floor as Cas killed the guard nearest by snapping his neck, this time it was even quicker than the last one.

Dean approached the guard with his knife out ready. Same as before, he clamped his hand down over the guards mouth and stabbed him, although this time the guard shifted and the knife missed it's mark, glancing off the guards ribs instead and leaving a messy, bloody slash.

The guard began to struggle and Dean almost let go, but clamped his hand down harder as the he tried to shout. The Alpha tried to throw Dean off, but he held on like a limpet and stabbed the Alpha guard in the neck in a desperate move. Blood sprayed up the side of Deans face as he pulled out the knife to stab him again and again.

The guard began to topple forward, as if to fall out of the hole in the wall to the broken courtyard below. Dean panicked and held on, trying to pull him back in, but the guard was heavier than he thought and he felt himself go past the point of no return as he too began to fall from the tower.

 

A strong hand gripped the back of his tunic and yanked him backwards, pulling the now dead guard with him.

 

Dean fell onto his back, panting on the stone floor, the dead guard sprawled on top of him, and stared up at Cas who looked a mixture of terrified and angry. His nostrils flared wide and his lips pressed together tightly.

He nodded his thanks and Cas gave a half smile in response before rolling the dead guard off of Dean and offering him a hand up. Dean gratefully accepted, wincing as pain shot through his lower back from where he had landed on the hard stone floor.

Cas looked concerned and Dean shrugged it off. It was a better landing than the one he had originally been heading for, thanks to Cas. He couldn't really complain.

 

Dean looked around, but didn't see Charlie. He frowned and looked at Cas who pointed up.

The sobbing was louder now, the sound broken and marred as if the person's throat was raw from screaming for a long time.

 

Heavy footsteps began descending the stone steps, pausing as someone mumbled from the upper floor.

 

“I'm surprised any of these torches stay lit in this damp air.” grumbled the guard to someone upstairs. “I dunno where my flint and strike went, I could have sworn they were in my pocket. I'll just relight it on this one down here and be right back up, Jeff. See if you can get him to shut up, will you? I'm getting a headache with all of his crying and wailing.”

Deans eyes went wide and he darted to one side of the archway as Cas moved to the other. They had no time to hide the bodies still sprawled out on the floor.

The guard stepped through the archway and faltered. “What the-” he started but was cut off as Cas stepped out and punched him in the throat, destroying his larynx and trachea, his eyes bulged and he sagged as he realised he couldn't breathe.

Dean grabbed one side of him and Cas the other and they dragged the guard across the room and dumped him face down to suffocate on the hard stone floor.

 

Three guards left.

 

Dean looked up as there was a muffled thump from above then a clatter as a guard rolled down the stairs, before landing at Cas' feet, his throat cut.

 

Two guards left.

 

Cas muttered a curse before charging up the steps to see Charlie locked in battle with another guard, his hands around her throat as he snarled into her face and yelled for his comrade who was not in sight.

Cas ripped the guard away from Charlie and delivered a vicious headbutt to the guards nose, and threw him against the wall, where he slid down and didn't get back up again.

 

The last guard came through the wooden door to the left of the archway, his sword drawn and an angry look on his face. His hands were already bloody to the elbows, he was obviously the one responsible for the torture.

Cas stepped forward, his own sword drawn, he barely blocked a downward strike that nicked his cheekbone and parried to the right before stepping forward to throw off his opponent, causing him to stumble back.

Rolling the blade over his wrist he slashed the guard across the chest and stepped forward again, feinting left before ducking right and slashing him again, this time he caught the guard across his stomach and the man doubled over.

 

Dean stepped forward and buried his blade in the mans temple, ending the fight almost as soon as it began.

 

Cas looked at Dean his mouth open in surprise.

Dean shrugged. “What? You were making too much noise.” he said, staring at the cut on Cas' cheekbone. Light poured out of it as it healed as they watched, leaving no sign it had ever happened.

“Neat trick.” said Dean, nodding appreciatively.

Cas grinned. “It does come in handy, yes.” he agreed. “Lets get the Fitzgeralds out of here.” he said, gesturing to the cell.

 

The sight that greeted them would haunt their dreams for a long time.

 

The Lord Fitzgerald was chained by the wrists to the wall, naked except for his smallclothes. Cuts and bruises littered his body, and his fingernails were gone, his fingertips were raw and bloody. But the worst injuries were to his lower body, his legs had been partially flayed and his feet had been amputated just above the ankle, the stumps looked raw and blackened where his torturers had poured boiling pitch over the wounds to quell the bleeding. It hadn't done anything for the infection though, the smell of rotted flesh was enough to make Cas' stomach churn.

Charlie ran from the room as Cas moved towards Lord Fitzgerald. Calling his name gently, trying to rouse the man.

Dean looked at the other side of the cell and gasped as he realised what he thought was a pile of rags was actually a person when he moved. He knelt down at the side and gently roused him.

“Hey, we're here to get you out of here. C'mon, we're taking you home.” he said softly.

The young man turned to look at him, his bruised face was miserable. “We can't go home. We can never go home again.” he said, his voice rough and delirious. Dean began working on the locks to the young mans chains, wincing as he saw the state of the poor young mans bent and twisted fingers. “Sure you will, buddy. We'll tell you all about it once we get you out of here.” he reassured the young man.

 

Charlie ran back in with a guards cloak over her arm and a flask of water. She pushed them into Cas' hands.

“Here, give them both some water and wrap them both up in these. We'll have to heal them once we get out of here, the guards will see it when you light up like a Yule tree.” she insisted.

Cas let out a low growl of frustration. “I'm not sure they will make it if I don't heal them now, Charlie.” he said, trying unsuccessfully to give the man some water.

“None of us will if you do.” she snapped.

 

Dean cursed as he failed to open the lock on the chains. “These are warded, I can't pick them. Did you find the keys?” he asked Charlie, who shook her head.

“No, they must be on one of the guards downstairs.” she said, shaking her head. “I'll have to go look.”

Cas rolled his eyes. “For goodness sake.” he huffed, moving over to kneel next to Dean.

“Hello, I'm Cas. Can you tell me your name?” he asked the prisoner.

“Garth, Garth Fitzgerald the fourth.” the younger man said, his voice almost as rough as Cas'

“Garth, I'm going to break the chains from your wrists, I need you to stay still for me, can you do that?” he asked gently.

 

Garth nodded weakly.

 

Cas smiled and reached over to take Garths arms, the cuffs were extremely tight, cutting into the young Alphas bony wrist. He grimaced as he looked at the sores developing where the skin had worn away.

Gripping onto the iron cuff, Cas squeezed, the brittle metal snapped and one wrist was free. He quickly did the other and patted the young Alpha on the shoulder.

 

“You did well, Garth. I'm going to free your father and we're going to get out of here, okay?” he said softly as Garth began weeping again.

“They took his feet because we tried to escape. They were going to take mine too, but the bone saw snapped.” he said, breaking down completely.

 

Cas closed his eyes in horror and breathed through his nose heavily, trying to tamp down the surge of anger.

 

Dean did his best to sooth Garth. “Hey, buddy. We'll get you out of here and Cas here will fix you both up. You'll be okay, right Cas?” he said, gently accepting the flask of water from Charlie as Cas nodded.

“Here drink up. You'll feel better.” he said, holding the flask for the weakened Alpha.

 

Cas moved back over to the Elder Alpha, breaking his cuffs and wrapping the poor man in the cloak. His hands as gentle as they could be.

 

“There are two guards at the main door to the tower. After that we have to make a dash for the bailey wall and then meet Sam with the horses.” said Charlie, helping Dean get Garth to his feet.

Garth wobbled and collapsed. “I can't- just leave me.” he begged.

Dean huffed. “Yeah, I don't think so.” he looked over at Cas who was picking up the older man in a bridal carry. “Looks like we're carrying them out of here.” he said, throwing Garth over his shoulder. For an Alpha, he was surprisingly light, Dean thought. Although running with a fully grown man on his back would tax his strength fast.

Cas nodded to Charlie. “Lead the way.” he ordered.

Charlie skipped out of the door, her knife drawn.

 

The group went back down the tower as fast as it was possible whilst carrying the prisoners.

Arriving at the floor where they had originally entered the tower, Charlie stopped. She put a finger to her lips and pointed down, indicating the guards were below them.

Cas laid the older man on the table. He hadn't woken up and his fever was worryingly high, his chest barely moving when he breathed.

“We need to hurry. He's fading fast.” he whispered to Charlie. As Dean sat Garth in a chair and gave the poor Alpha some more water.

She nodded and disappeared. Cas and Dean tended to their charges. Garth seemed a little more alert now, but his father didn't respond to anything. Cas wrapped him more securely and tried again unsuccessfully to give him some water. The poor man couldn't swallow, the water merely ran out of his mouth and down his chin.

 

Charlie ran back up the steps. “All clear, but we'll have to be fast. It won't take long for someone to notice them missing.” she whispered.

Dean lifted Garth over his shoulder again, grunting as he did so. Although generally faster and more skilled than the average Alpha, and more than a match in most situations, Dean wished for an Alphas strength in that moment. Plus his back still hurt from being slammed into the stone floor.

Cas lifted his charge, cradling the poor man and moving towards the steps. “I'm ready to be gone from this awful place.” he muttered angrily.

“I'll agree with that.” said Garth weakly, and Dean had to bite his lip to prevent himself laughing.

 

They made their way down the steps and stood in the doorway to the tower. Charlie pointed out where the guards where, they were barely visible in the thick fog.

 

“It's going to be a bit of a mad dash 'cause you guys can't crouch down and hide while you are carrying our friends here. Our silhouettes are really gonna stand out should anyone look our way. So, we have no choice but to run for it. I'll run ahead and get Sam, we'll meet you halfway.” said Charlie, scanning the area.

Dean sighed. Garth was getting heavier by the second. “I wasn't expecting them to be so badly injured. I thought they'd be able to at least walk out.” he whined.

Cas looked concerned. “I know. I'm sorry, Dean. It just a little bit longer. We're almost done.” he said, his voice soft.

Dean took a deep breath. “I'm good. Lets do this before my legs give out.” he said, with a determined expression.

Cas gave him a wink and then nodded to Charlie. “After you, my Lady.” he said dryly.

 

Charlie stepped out of the doorway and scanned the area. Turning back, she nodded and both Dean and Cas burst from the doorway at a dead run, heading for the ruined bailey wall.

Unburdened, Charlie streaked ahead, she crossed the courtyard and leapt over the bailey wall and vanished into the fog before Dean and Cas were even halfway across the courtyard.

 

Deans strength was rapidly giving out. His legs and back felt like they were made of lead and his lungs were on fire. Cas began to pull ahead, his Alpha strength would have given him an advantage in this situation, even if his powers did not.

A shout from the top of the wall made Deans heart sink, but his panic at being spotted lent him an extra burst of adrenaline and he picked up speed again, pulling even with Cas as they finally reached the wall.

A thunk sounded next to Dean and he turned around in dismay as he realised that the guard who had spotted them was firing a crossbow, it's bolt was buried in the broken masonry a few inches from Deans foot.

 

“Keep going, Dean. Don't stop!” Cas growled, climbing the rubble.

 

Startled back into action, Dean staggered over the rubble, heading for the other side of the wall, Garth bouncing like a rag doll on his shoulder, his limbs swaying. He had passed out at some point which was probably a blessing for someone in his condition, but for Dean it meant that Garth was now dead weight.

Cas staggered down the other side and turned to make sure Dean was behind him, before picking up the pace again as more shouts came from the ruined complex. They were out of time.

Dean almost fell as he stepped off the rubble and onto the grass, not expecting it to be slick from the dampness in the air, he slid and went down on one knee before forcing himself to his feet and running again.

Cas breathed a sigh of relief as the sound of thundering hoof beats could be heard.

Sam and Charlie burst out of the fog on horseback, four more horses being led behind. They skidded to a stop just in front of Cas as Dean screamed and went down, Garth flying out of his arms.

 

Cas turned around with a horrified look on his face. “Dean!” he yelled. Sam jumped down from his horse and made to run for his brother, but Cas shoved Lord Fitzgerald into Sam's arms instead. “Get him on a horse, I'll get them myself.” he ordered, before running back for Dean and Garth.

 

Cas slipped on the wet grass, almost kicking Garth in his haste to get to them as crossbow bolts thudded into the grass around him and the clink of armour could be heard as the guards began their pursuit.

Cas snarled as he stepped in front of Dean and Garth, his arms wide and his aura beginning to flare brightly. A wave of power pulsed out in front of him, tearing up the grass and rubble and raining it down on the guards in pursuit. Large stone blocks dropped out of the sky, exploding in razor sharp shards all over the courtyard, shredding anyone nearby. Another pulse and the bailey wall collapsed entirely, the tower swayed and the crossbow bolts stopped thudding into the ground.

 

Cas stood for a second, listening out for more of the guards, but heard nothing. It would be a while before anyone would be able to dig themselves out, even if anyone had survived. He turned to Dean to assess the damage.

Dean was struggling to get up, but collapsed again with another scream of agony and frustration.

Cas realised he had been hit by a bolt, it was buried in the top of Deans thigh, just below the curve of his buttocks.

 

“Dean, grab onto my neck, I'll pull you up.” Cas ordered and Dean reached up as Cas motioned to Sam to grab Garth, the young Alpha ran forward and scooped up Garth in a bridal carry. “Hey Dean, you okay?” asked Sam, looking worried.

“Bastard shot me in the ass!” he wailed. Cas let out a gasping laugh as he dragged Dean to his feet. “I'll heal you as soon as we get to safety.” he promised. Sam was trying not to laugh at his brothers predicament.

 

With Dean hobbling at his side, Cas headed for the horses. Sam hoisted a woozy Garth up onto a horse, where Charlie promptly jumped up behind him to hold him in place. Cas frowned as he looked at one of the spare horses, Lord Fitzgerald was tied on face down and wrapped tightly.

Sam followed his line of sight and shook his head. “He's gone, Cas. He was already dead when you handed him to me. I'm sorry.” he said, sadly.

Cas slumped. “The tethers holding him here are gone, I can't bring him back. He was in a bad way when we found him. At least his son will be able to bury him with dignity in his family plot.” he said, lifting Dean onto his own horse, face down draped over the saddle on his stomach. Dean began objecting immediately.

“Hey! What the hell?” he squeaked. Cas jumped up behind him and pulled him to drape over his lap, being careful not to disturb the bolt still sticking out of the top of Dean's leg, Dean squealed indignantly the whole time.

“Shut up, Dean. You can't exactly sit on a horse like that, so just hold on tight for now.” Cas snapped, pushing his horse to move. “We have to go, just in case someone did survive all of that.”

Sam leapt onto his horse and without waiting, urged her into a trot, Charlie and Cas following.

 

Dean was draped over Cas' lap, face down, ass up. “This is humiliating.” he whined.

Cas laughed “I'm sorry, I can't pull the bolt out yet, it's the only thing stopping you from bleeding out and we've got to ride for a while yet.” he reminded Dean.

“Nooo!” Dean whined again. Cas chuckled.

“I'll find somewhere to stop in a little while. I'll heal you and Garth and then we'll get going again, okay?” he promised.

“Fine.” Dean capitulated. “Just don't stare at my ass the whole time.” he said with a sigh.

 

Cas couldn't help it, his eyes dropped to Dean's shapely buttocks and swallowed as his mouth watered.

 

“Hehehe, made you look, didn't I?” Dean said cheekily.

Cas blushed. “It's a nice ass.” he admitted with a shrug.

Dean burst out laughing. “Ow ow! Son of a bitch, that hurts. I can't believe I got shot in the ass. Sammy will never let me hear the end of this. This is the worst day of my life.” he pouted.

Cas snorted. “Eh, it's not so bad from where I'm sitting.” he said, dryly.

Dean laughed again. “I just knew you were a secret pervert. Ow, dammit.” he said beginning to slide a little from Cas' lap.

 

Cas adjusted his own legs to balance Dean out a little, he could now see a little of Deans face, it was bright red.

 

“I'm sorry, this is so embarrassing for you. I wish I could make it a little easier.” said Cas, feeling a little ashamed of himself. He felt guilty that he was enjoying the fact that Dean was sprawled over his lap and the whole time Dean was suffering from pain and humiliation.

“Eh, it could be worse. I could have had beans for breakfast.” said Dean, startling another laugh out of Cas. It was loud enough that Sam and Charlie were looking at him oddly from the backs of their own horses.

“Magi forbid it. If that were the case, I'd have to spank-” Cas stopped himself there. “Nope, that's inappropriate. I'm cutting myself off right there.” he said, with a chuckle. “You are a bad influence, Dean Winchester.” he scolded.

“Awww, spoilsport.” said Dean, laughing. “I'm just trying to break the awkwardness with a little humour, Cas. Keep making me laugh, it's distracting me from the pain.” he begged.

“I am terrible at telling jokes.” Cas lamented. “Gabe tells me I'm just not funny”

“I dunno, you made me laugh and that's after I got shot in the ass, but maybe that's just my weird sense of humour.” said Dean. “There's something wrong with me, I think.”

“Undoubtedly.” said Cas, dryly.

“I have to say, I didn't think that the first time I ended up face down ass up with an Alpha, that it would be like this.” Dean quipped and Cas choked on his own saliva.

 

Dean roared with laughter as Cas blushed harder than he ever had in his life.

 

“Just for that, I'm going to heal you last.” said Cas, with a growl.

Dean chuckled. “Worth it.”

 

**********************

 

The garrison marched through the town to the sound of drums. Their black and silver armour clinking and boots striking the cobbles in perfect unison. The townsfolk watch nervously as the soldiers headed along the long winding road up to the castle on the hill overlooking the town.

Over the last few days, several little acts of rebellion had taken place, from opening the gates on Zachariah's animal pens and setting them free to roam in his crops, to outright vandalism when his barn was burned to the ground. The tax collector had been chased out of town in just his smallclothes by an angry mob and almost all of the servants had abandoned the castle. Those that stayed were barely civil to Zachariah and he had taken to preparing his own meals after finding something that looked suspiciously like droppings in his soup.

 

If Zachariah had any hair left, he'd be pulling it out right now.

 

Most of the soldiers that Michael had left behind were out quelling the small uprisings that had sprung up in the last few days. It seemed the common folk had not taken too kindly to their Lord being deposed and replaced. Even if he was a traitor to his King.

Zachariah had sent a messenger to the capital asking Michael for more men. When Michael had left the garrison here, it was to help secure the lands and deter any attacks from across the border. They hadn't anticipated that they would have to secure the castle from those inside the Kingdom as well.

“Your Excellency, there are soldiers approaching the castle.” announced the butler, in a monotone. His face impassive.

Zachariah frowned. “That was fast.” he muttered. “Yes, thank you, whatever your name is. I'll go down to the main gate and meet them myself.” he said to the butler, who glared at him icily. Zachariah narrowed his eyes and gestured for the man to leave with a shoo-ing motion.

 

The butler snapped his heels together, nodded his head and left by the servants door hidden in the corner of the room.

Zachariah struggled into his fur trimmed cloak, it was still a little too warm for furs, but he felt it added a little power and authority to his look. To be a Lord, one must look the part, after all.

Making his way through the castle he noticed dust collecting on the priceless furniture and growled. The servants were taking him for a fool, none of them did their jobs properly. Maybe he'd have to start taking a horsewhip to the upstarts, then maybe then things would start getting done around here, he pondered.

As he reached the main courtyard, there was a loud banging on the main gate. The sound echoed as a shout rang out.

 

“Open the gates in the name of King Michael!”

 

Zachariah nodded to one of the guards, who opened the viewing door in the main gate.

“Lord Zachariah only sent the messenger this morning. I dunno how you got here so fast.” said the gate guard suspiciously.

The commander stepped forward and put his face up to the grill. “Do you really think his majesty would leave just you here to hold this place on your own? He sent us orders to come here as soon as he got back to the capital. Open the gate, you moron. My men have been marching all day.” he snapped impatiently.

“I need to see your orders.” the guard stubbornly insisted.

The commander sighed and pulled out a scroll with the Kings seal on it. “There, happy? Now will you open the gate?” he growled.

 

Zachariah stepped forward and inspected the seal for himself. It was authentic.

He stepped back and nodded to the gate guard who gestured to two others to unbar the main gate.

 

As the gate swung wide, the garrison marched in before standing to attention in the centre of the courtyard. Boots stamping loudly on the flagstone as the commander yelled “Stand to attention!”

As one the soldiers stood to attention, their feet wide apart, hands held crossed at the small of their backs, chests puffed out proudly.

 

Zachariah went to the commander “So, his majesty sent you before I sent my message? He must have anticipated the problems we've been having with the common folk.” he said, looking troubled. “I wish he had thought to warn me about it.”

The commander shrugged “Who knows what goes on in the mind of his majesty? A common soldier like me has no business with the thought process of a King, mine is simply to do as my King wishes.” he said politely.

Zachariah narrowed his eyes at the commander. “Do you have any additional orders, or a message from his majesty perhaps?” he asked the commander.

 

Someone in the ranks murmured something and there were several stifled chuckles before the commander gave his soldiers a hard look and the laughs abruptly stopped.

 

“No. Your excellency. Now, if it isn't too much trouble, I'd like to get my men settled, they've had a hard march the last few days.” the commander said wearily.

Zachariah nodded. “Yes, of course. Tell your men to get a good nights rest, tomorrow they will be helping to quiet down the local rabble.” he said gesturing to the gate guard.

“You, show the garrison to the barracks, make sure they have adequate food and sleeping arrangements. And for goodness sake, get that gate closed. Do you want the rabble to get in here? I swear, not one of you fools can do your job properly.” he snapped.

 

The commander saluted Zachariah before turning to the gate guard who was barking orders about getting the gate closed.

 

“Ready when you are.” he said.

 

**************

 

 

Several hours later in the dead of night, Zachariah was awoken by being poked in his flabby chest through his nightshirt.

 

“Wha- How dare you wake me at this hour?” he said indignantly before the colour drained from his face as he realised his predicament.

His bed was surrounded by several people with large, pointy swords. He gasped as he recognised them.

 

“You? How did you get in here?” he whispered, terrified.

Gabe laughed. “Why we walked right in the front gate, Zachariah old boy. You said it yourself, leaving the gate open lets all the rabble in.” he clicked his fingers and suddenly the commander was standing in front of him before the image shattered and Gabe stood there with a smirk.

“I don't- what are you going to do?” Zachariah stammered.

John stepped forward. “As of now, you are a prisoner. What happens to you next depends entirely on what you have to tell us about Michaels plans.” he said, with a low growl.

“I don't know anything? I swear!” Zachariah pleaded.

“Now, that's a lie if I ever heard one.” said a soft voice. Zachariah turned his head in shock.

“Hannah? I should have known you'd join these traitors. Michael should have kept a better watch over you, you bitch.” he spat.

 

Zachariah's head snapped back from the impact as he was punched in the mouth. His lip burst like a ripe plum and blood dribbled down his chin.

 

“That's Your Royal Highness, Bitch, to you.” said Hannah, rubbing her knuckles and smiling as John gave her an approving look.

 

Gabe laughed. “Come on Zach. Up and at 'em. The dungeons are pretty full with all of your soldiers and all, but I'm sure we can find a bit more room for you.” he said tugging the blanket off the Alpha who was desperately holding the blanket in both hands and tugging it back over his body.

“Come on Zach, don't be shy. It's not like you haven't got any- Oh. Oh, Zach. Got a little bladder problem have we? Don't worry, you'll grow out of it one day.” said Gabe, sniggering at the urine soaked sheets where Zachariah had wet himself when he'd woken up at sword point.

 

Hannah was openly laughing and even John was smirking.

 

“Michael will make you pay for this humiliation.” Zachariah sneered.

 

Gabe leaned in, his expression no longer jovial, his teeth bared in a snarl.

 

“You haven't even begun to experience humiliation yet, Zachy boy. Trust me, I have so much more planned to make things even between us, you have no idea.” he said through gritted teeth.

 

Gabe stepped back with disgust as urine dripped off the bed when Zachariah voided his bladder again.

 

“Ugh. Get him down to the dungeon, and make sure he has a chamber pot. For Magi's sake.” he said wrinkling his nose at the smell. “You might want to burn the mattress too. If it ever dries out.”

 

 

**********************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen.

 

 

 

 

The campfire burned low, the coals and ash barely throwing out any light as the sky began to show the first blush of dawn.

Sam snored from his bedroll, a strand of hair was tucked into the corner of his mouth, soaked with drool. Dean watched as he shifted in his sleep, the strand tugging free and dragging a stripe of spittle across his face as he turned over.

Garth sat by the fire, staring into the ashes. He looked a lot better, but his scent was sour and acrid. The scent of sorrow.

Cas sat at Garths side. The two had bonded somewhat over their mutual grief and Garth had been deeply touched at the respect they had shown for his fathers body. Once they had stopped to heal both Dean and Garth, the late Lord Fitzgerald had been untied from the horse and Sam and Charlie had washed the body, re wrapping it in linen with scented flowers and the traditional coins on the eyes. His remains were laid out with as much dignity as they could manage on a rock nearby. Charlie stood guard over it to deter any scavengers.

 

“I'm grateful to y'all.” said Garth. “You got my support in whatever cause you want me to be a part of. I just don't know if I can live up to my father and be all you need me to be.” he confessed. “I'm not half the man my father was.” he said sadly.

Cas placed his hand on Garths shoulder. “Your father was a good man. He always did what he thought was right. From what I can tell, you are the same in every way that matters. Don't sell yourself short.” he said, soothingly.

“Thank you, Castiel. I often wondered what happened to you. Did you know we played together as children? When my father took me to court, we ran around the castle gardens as the grown ups talked. You were very small and I was only a few years older, but I remember you.” said Garth with a small smile.

Cas looked surprised. “I don't remember that at all, I'm sorry.” he said, looking like he truly regretted that fact.

“Oh yes, but you were just a little thing. You were around three I think, but your aura was really bright even then. It's even stronger now, but I recognise it all the same.” said Garth, staring back at the fire.

“Then I'm glad to have met you again, my friend. I just wish it were under better circumstances.” said Cas, sadly.

“Me too.” said Garth, with a half sob. “I'm going to do everything I can to help you. Not just for what they did to us, but because it's the right thing to do.” Garth promised.

 

Charlie stepped up to the fire. “We have to get going again soon. It'll take longer because we have to avoid the towns and villages. We can't risk Castiel being seen. So we're going through the forest most of the way and then we'll hug the mountains until we reach your lands.” she said to Garth, who nodded.

“I guess us rebels have to be careful about who we trust now, don't we?” said Garth, looking around at the group. “Do we get to have code names, I want to be called “The Wolf” it's part of my family crest.” he said, looking eager.

Cas blinked in surprise at Garths change in mood. “Uh, we haven't picked out names for ourselves. I didn't know we were supposed to.” he said, looking at Dean for help.

Dean huffed a laugh. “It's in all of the adventure stories, Cas. It's to confuse the enemy and disguise who you are really talking about, like a secret identity.” he said, with a fond look. “I guess we'll get around to it at some point, Garth.” he said, looking at the skinny Alpha with a smile.

Garth nodded. “Do we have time for me to wash? I'd like to clean that horrible place off my skin.” he said, a slight wobble to his determined tone.

Charlie shrugged. “Uh, yeah, if you're fast. The stream is just over there.” she said, pointing down the slope.

Dean stood up. “Hey, I've got a spare shirt if you want it. I figure it will be a little big on you, but it's better than what you have, right?” he offered.

 

Garth looked so grateful it made Deans chest hurt to look at. He let out an “Ooof!” as Garth stood and hugged him with enthusiasm, surprising him so much, it took him a moment to respond and hug back.

Looking down at Cas, Dean was surprised to see the Alpha looked a little annoyed, looking away and clenching his jaw, the set of his shoulders was tight and his fists were clenched.

Dean looked over at Charlie who was also watching Cas with a bemused expression on her face.

 

Beginning to feel uncomfortable from Garths overly enthusiastic hug. Dean began to pull away, slapping Garth on the back. “Hey, it's just a shirt. No big deal.” he said, stepping back.

Garth shook his head. “It's not just the shirt. Y'all have been so kind. I can see we're gonna be real good friends. I just wanna hug y'all.” he said, heading for Charlie next.

Dean huffed a laugh as Charlie's eyes widened as she fought the urge to step back. “It's fine, really. We don't have to- Ooof! Okay, I guess we do.” she said as Garth dragged her in and squeezed her tight, rocking her from side to side.

Cas stood up, looking just as bemused as Charlie had moments before. Charlie narrowed her eyes at him.

 

Garth broke off the hug this time. With a grin he turned around and stepped towards Cas, his arms held out in front of him. “Okay, it's y'alls turn. Bring it in big guy!” he said as Cas' expression went from quietly bemused to horrified in seconds.

Dean had to cover his mouth to prevent himself laughing as Garth threw his arms around Cas and even attempted to lift him, squeezing him around the middle as Cas looked completely done with the whole thing.

Cas patted Garth on the back, eager to end the hug, before politely pushing the other Alpha away from him. “You'd better get a move on. We don't have a lot of time.” he reminded Garth, who gasped. “Darn, you're right. I'd better hurry.” before scooting away, down the slope to the stream.

 

Dean shook his head and laughed softly. “So, Garth is a bit of a hugger. Got a crazy grip too, I think he left bruises.” he joked.

Cas and Charlie both nodded. Cas huffed a laugh as Charlie groaned. “I think he may have actually cracked one of my ribs.”

“Maybe that's how we'll defeat Michael, we'll just send Garth in to hug him.” quipped Cas as Charlie and Dean sniggered.

“He's doing pretty well, all things considered.” said Charlie, contemplatively. “I think he has some way to go before he recovers from this, but it'll help for him to have something to focus on.” she said, her eyes going soft.

Cas nodded. “I agree. Keeping him busy will help.” he said, packing up his things. His spotted something on the ground and huffed a laugh. He stood up and held out the crossbow bolt to Dean. “Here, a souvenir.” he said, with an amused twinkle in his eye.

Dean gave Cas a fake scowl. “Right, because I want a reminder of the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me.” he said, but took the bolt anyway as Cas arched a brow at him in amusement.

“I don't know, I thought the squealing and cursing as I pulled the bolt out was very becoming.” said Cas, with a chuckle. “Not to mention the wriggling.”

“Whatever, I'm gonna wake Sam. You might want to stand back, he's a flailer.” said Dean, leaning down to gently shake Sam who whined. “Nooo.”

“C'mon kiddo, we let you sleep longer than you should have, it's time to go.” said Dean, laughing as Sam swiped his gloved hands through the air without looking, narrowly missing Deans chin.

“Go away.” huffed Sam, tugging the blanket over his head.

Cas huffed a laugh. “Shall I try?” he asked Dean, who shrugged. “Be my guest.” he said, getting to his feet.

 

Cas stood at the foot of Sam's bedroll and leaned forward taking a deep breath.

 

“SAMUEL WINCHESTER YOU GET UP RIGHT THIS MINUTE.” he yelled, almost breaking into laughter as Sam sat bolt upright looking terrified. Cas quickly schooled his expression back to stern to continue.

“You defied your parents and ran away to join us, and the only reason you were allowed to continue with us on this mission is because you agreed to follow orders and take care of the horses. You told us you could handle the responsibility. Everyone else is pulling their weight, but here you are refusing to get out of bed.” he said, his tone hard.

 

Sam looked at Dean who crossed his arms and gave him a look of disappointment. He looked at Charlie who just shook her head and walked off to check the perimeter.

 

“I'm- I'm sorry, Castiel. I'm just so tired. I'll do better. I promise.” he said, looking ashamed.

“Then prove it.” said Cas, arching an eyebrow and putting his hands on his hips.

 

Sam scrambled out of bed, rolling up his bedroll hastily and staggering over to the horses to get them ready.

 

Cas looked at Dean sheepishly. “Did I overdo it? He looked so scared I almost broke down and forgave him there and then.” he admitted.

Dean huffed a laugh. “Nah, he shouldn't be here in the first place. If he wants to join the big boys and girls he has to pull his weight, like you said.” he said with a shrug. “Besides, that's nothing compared to what my parents are gonna say to him when we get back.”

Cas winced. “Will your father be mad at me for not sending him straight back home?”

Dean shook his head. “No, he knows Sam too well for that, and apparently you can do no wrong in my mom's eyes, Mr perfect. The little jerk knew exactly what he was doing, he timed meeting up with us perfectly. I think my dad will probably be impressed with how you handled it actually.”

Cas looked relieved. “I'd better get both of you back in one piece if I want to keep impressing him.” he said, packing away his bedroll.

Dean frowned. “Hey, I can take care of myself.” he said indignantly.

Cas rolled his eyes. “I never said you couldn't. I couldn't have done any of this without you. From the start, you've done more than anyone would have dared ask for. We have a full blown rebellion in the making and it's thanks to you.” said Cas, smiling softly.

Dean's jaw dropped. “I didn't do anything.” he said, shaking his head in denial.

Cas gave him a fond look. “Yes, you did. If it wasn't for you, Gabe and I would probably be still hiding out in the woods, in a barely standing shelter, trying to figure out our next move.”

Dean looked frustrated. “Cas, we met because you saved my life. The least I could do was make sure you were going to be okay.” he insisted.

Cas stepped forward into Deans space. “And I am. For the first time since my binding broke I feel like I have hope, and that is because of you.” he said, his voice dropping low as his eyes roamed Dean's face, finally settling on his lips.

 

Deans heart raced as he returned the intense stare he was receiving. The tension in the air was thick and he automatically leaned in as Cas's eyes flicked up to his own before dropping to his lips again. They both drew closer until their lips were barely an inch apart.

 

“I'm gonna need help with moving Lord Fitzgeralds body.” said Sam, lumbering back into camp, oblivious to the tension between the Alpha and Omega.

 

With a sharp intake of breath, Dean stepped back, avoiding Cas' eyes that still bore into him.

 

“Sure Sammy, I'll be right there.” he said, fiddling with his pack, his face pink and his eyes downcast.

 

Sam looked over, seemingly sensing the tension a few seconds too late, he shifted awkwardly. “Um, I'll just- yeah. I'll be over there.” he stammered, before scooting away.

 

Cas tried to catch his eye again, but Dean stubbornly refused to look at the Alpha. “I- I gotta go help Sam.” he said, his scent giving off confusing and conflicting signals. Arousal was mixed with embarrassment and anger and relief.

Cas reached for his hand and Dean froze, his shoulders pulled up defensively. “Dean” said Cas, his voice soft and low.

 

Dean still refused to look at Cas, instead he looked at his feet.

 

“Dean, look at me.” said Cas, gently lifting Deans chin to look him in the eye.

 

Dean looked up and Cas gasped as he realised Deans eyes were ringed with Omega gold. The rest of his face was pink with embarrassment and his scent spiked with anxiety as Cas realised that Dean's Omega instincts had chosen a potential mate. It was an unmistakable Omega display. A biological response to a compatible match and completely out of Deans control.

 

“Oh.” he breathed. “Is that for me?” Cas asked, his face a mask of shock. Dean shrugged before nodding shyly. “Dean, I'm honoured and extremely flattered that you consider me worthy of you.” he said, sounding awed.

“But, you're not interested. Yeah, I get it.” snapped Dean, his scent turning sour as he tried to move away. “And I thought I couldn't possibly be more humiliated.”

Cas frowned and pulled Dean towards himself. “I didn't say that. If we were alone, I would show you how wrong you are about that.” he said, pressing Dean against himself. “With your Omega display, I have unequivocal proof that you want me, for me. Not because of my status. It's not embarrassing to have this reaction. It's beautiful and the biggest compliment I've ever received.”

 

Dean gasped as he felt the evidence of Cas' interest pressing against his leg.

 

“I want to kiss you, may I?.” breathed Cas, his lips almost brushing Deans. He hesitated, waiting for Deans permission.

 

Dean said nothing, he surged forward and kissed Cas as his answer, groaning as Cas responded with enthusiasm. He groaned again as Cas gently teased his tongue into Deans mouth and his hand into Deans hair, his other hand gripping his hip possessively.

Their scents intermingled and the air was heavy with the scent of arousal as the kiss deepened and Deans hands began roaming, teasing at the hem of Castiels shirt, searching for skin.

Cas gasped as Deans fumblings made him accidentally brush against his cock, that was now straining against the ties holding his pants closed. It brought him back to himself quickly as he realised this was not the place or time to continue what they were doing.

He broke the kiss, chuckling at the frustrated whine that Dean gave at being denied.

 

“We will talk about this later, when we are alone. Just know, I am very interested in being your mate. Do not doubt that.” he said huskily, running his thumb over Deans kiss swollen lips.

Dean nodded, seemingly unable to speak. He squirmed with embarrassment as he realised his hands were still bunched in the hem of Castiel's shirt and brushing the waistband of his pants. He hurriedly moved his hands, brushing the length of Cas' torso before settling on his chest.

Cas ran his hand through Deans hair before caressing his face. “We are in the middle of a mission right now, and the start of a war. I will not be able to court you properly and the way you deserve until this is all over. Do you understand?”

 

Dean nodded. Still looking embarrassed at his bodies betrayal.

 

Cas chuckled. “Where is the cocky Omega from earlier? The one who made me almost choke on my own tongue with his saucy comments?” he teased, making Dean blush even more than he already was.

“Currently dying of mortification, I think.” mumbled Dean.

Cas gave him a soft look. “It's not something you can control, Dean. An Omega display just indicates that biologically, we are compatible. Now it's up to us to see if we are compatible in other ways too and decide if we want to pursue this. We are obviously attracted to one another.” he said, gently.

Dean nodded. “We should get going. Should I ride with you again, or saddle my own horse?” he asked with a smirk as he pressed himself against the Alpha suggestively.

Cas grinned. “There's the Dean I remember. Cheeky to a fault. As much as I would enjoy you in my lap, I think you'd better saddle your own horse. Or I'm likely to give into my instincts and steer us off the path and mount you instead.” he winked as Dean gasped out a laugh.

“I was right, you are a pervert.” Dean said, narrowing his eyes as Cas shrugged, although the slight blush on his face showed that he wasn't as unaffected as he tried to make out.

“I told you that you were a bad influence.” said Cas, releasing Dean and trying to adjust his pants to disguise the sizeable tent that had formed. “I can't believe the things that are coming out of my mouth, these days. Gabe would fall over in shock.” he said, shaking his head as he gave up adjusting his pants and untucked his shirt instead, disguising his arousal, although nothing would cover the scent.

 

Dean caught himself staring at Cas crotch and looked up to find Cas smirking at him knowingly. Dean blushed a little before laughing.

 

Cas sighed. “I'm fighting my instincts here, Dean. You know what the usual outcome of an Omega display is, don't you? The couple are usually mated within hours. If you keep staring at me like that, we're going to get into trouble.” he scolded.

Dean's eyes widened. “Uh, I didn't know that. No.” he said, his voice shaky. “Oh, no. My eyes, they'll all know!” he said, looking over to where the horses were tethered and Sam, Charlie and Garth were busy getting them ready.

Cas shook his head. “It's fading already. But it's nothing to be ashamed of, Dean. They'll know about us eventually, once we're courting, everyone will know.” he said gently.

 

Dean opened his mouth to reply and was interrupted by Charlie, who stepped over to the campfire, kicking loose earth over the ashes. “Come on, we need to move. Garth's not a great rider, so we can't waste anymore time if we want to get back before tonight.” she said, looking up before reeling back in shock as she saw Dean's eyes and the flash of gold still lingering.

 

“Oh my! Your eyes. Uh, I'm sorry. This is none of my business, but-” she started before Cas interrupted.

“You're right, it is none of your business.” he snapped as Dean snatched his pack from the ground and rushed off towards the horses, his head down and his scent turning chalky with humiliation.

 

Charlie stood open mouthed as Cas ran a hand through his hair and sighed with frustration.

 

“That was an Omega display, do you know how rare that is?” hissed Charlie, rushing to Cas' side excitedly.

Cas looked irritated. “Of course I do. Dean is under the impression it's something to be embarrassed about, and going by your reaction he is now utterly convinced of it.” he growled.

Charlie cringed. “My bad. But why would he be embarrassed? It's beautiful. Omegas only display for a perfect match. I knew you liked him, you got all jealous when Garth hugged him. Oh Cas, I'm so happy for you! He must really like you for that to happen, it's so romantic.” she babbled excitedly.

 

Cas couldn't help it, he smiled and his chest puffed out a little in pride. An Omega display, for him. Something every Alpha dreams of, but very few get the privilege.

 

“Hey, whoa! Put that thing away!” squealed Charlie, throwing her hands over her eyes and turning around. “My eyes!” she whined.

 

Cas flushed, realising his shirt had ridden up, exposing the tent in his pants.

 

“Apologies. It's the normal reaction to a display. I can't control it.” he muttered, hurriedly pulling his shirt back down.

“Urgh, I didn't need to see that, ever. How are you going to even ride a horse like that?” Charlie grumbled, refusing to turn back around.

Cas wrinkled his nose at the thought. “Very carefully, I should think.” he said, picking up his pack. “I should make sure Dean is alright. Then we need to go.”

 

Approaching the horses, Cas noticed that Garth and Sam were whispering quietly as Dean sat on a horse slightly apart from the rest, his head down and reeking of embarrassment. Sam looked worried about his brother, casting anxious looks every few seconds. Cas went to the other side of Deans horse and looked up into the Omegas eyes, the gold still visible. He looked miserable.

 

“Dean, sweetheart. Please don't be embarrassed.” Cas said quietly, stroking Deans calf reassuringly. The endearment falling from his lips easily.

 

Dean's pleasure at the pet name was obvious with the shy smile and the change in his scent was immediate. The chalky tones vanished, replaced with the sweet smell of apples.

 

“We'll talk properly about courting when we get back, Okay? Then I'll speak to your parents, I want to do this properly, like you deserve.” Cas said soothingly, smiling when Dean leaned down to cup Cas's face gently.

“I know, Cas. I just wasn't ready for my crush on you to be revealed in such a way. Until that moment I thought that's what it was, but my Omega biology decided to expose me. Although, I guess that's why we're attracted to each other, huh?” said Dean, smiling softly. “'cause you're my Alpha.”

 

Something primal rippled through Castiel, being referred to as Dean's Alpha woke something deep within him and he growled softly, bordering on a purr as his chest rumbled with it.

 

Dean grinned and his eyes lit up with a mischievous glint. “Oh, you like that, don't you? Being my Alpha? Gonna protect me? Knock me up? Provide for me? My big, strong Alpha.” he teased as Cas moaned and ground his teeth together, sweat beading on his forehead.

“Dean, please. I will drag you off that horse and claim you right this minute if you don't stop. I'm begging you.” he said, laying his head against Deans leg and gripping his calf. “My hormones are going crazy and it's taking all of my willpower not to follow my instincts.”

Dean petted Cas' hair gently. “I'm sorry, my timing could have been better, I suppose. So we weren't out on a mission at least. Lets get back and we can talk properly.” he said, feeling only a little bit guilty.

 

A few minutes later the group rode away from their temporary campsite, leaving no evidence they had been there at all.

 

 

*****************

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen.

 

 

The Fitzgerald lands were known for their huge forests and timber, carefully managed to keep supplying the rest of the Kingdom with firewood and building materials without destroying the delicate balance of nature. Generations of Fitzgerald's had overseen the care of the forests and it's animals, even taking the Wolf as it's family crest, a symbol of the forest guardian.

The family crest had originally been two crossed axes, but after the forests had been almost destroyed by a succession of greedy lords, who had cut down vast areas of trees and vegetation for profit, leaving it almost unable to recover, the family had changed their ways and had adopted a more environmentally friendly approach that also made more long term economic sense.

Castle Fitzgerald stood on a hill overlooking the town of Warsaw, the castle itself was a massive fortress, capable of withstanding an army and could hold out a siege for more than a year. The town was picturesque, the houses and shops built from the strong local timber with steep roofs and patterned gables. Carved fretwork covered almost every surface, and the local carpenters were sought after all over the Kingdom for their superior skills.

The town was abuzz with rumours of fighting in the castle, and soldiers had been arriving all day. As well as several richly appointed carriages, the blinds drawn and the crests covered to disguise the occupants. Housewives gossiped and tradesmen bantered, and very little work was done as the debates raged over what could be happening in Castle Fitzgerald.

As dusk fell into darkness, a hooded group on horseback thundered through the town, heading for the castle, scattering the few townsfolk still walking the streets in alarm as the quiet was broken by the sound of dogs barking and yells of indignation.

At the castle gates, the group came to a stop, the horses steaming as they panted, froth gathered around their mouths from a long and arduous ride. They were clearly expected, as the gates swung open without a word being spoken and the group wearily entered the castle courtyard before the gates slammed shut once more.

 

John and Gabe hurried down the steps to the main hall, eager to meet them and see with their own eyes that their loved ones were safe.

John reached his sons first, dragging them into his arms and pulling them close, the relief on his face warring with the need to scold his youngest child for sneaking out.

Gabe was a little more patient, waiting until Cas approached him before giving his nephew a bone crushing hug and a hearty back slap.

Garth was swamped by the castle servants, the grief at the loss of his father and relief at seeing him alive and safe filled the air with a confusing concoction of scents.

The late Lord Fitzgerald was gently untied from his horse and carried away to lie in the small castle temple to await his funeral as Charlie greeted Hannah with a wave.

 

Hours later as the late lord Fitzgerald burned on a funeral pyre in the family temple, Dean tried his hardest not to keep glancing over at Cas, who stood stoically next to Garth who wept openly. The smell of grief from both the Alphas was a tangible thing and even John was affected, his eyes bright with unshed tears.

Dean leant in closer to his father as his instincts demanded he comfort the Alpha, John gave him a small grateful smile and squeezed his arm to return the favour.

For the first time Dean truly understood that support and comfort went all ways and allowing yourself to be comforted or supported was not a weakness, that Alphas, Omegas and Betas were the same in that respect.

 

As the flames died down, some of the servants began to add more scented wood to the pyre, to ensure the bones were sufficiently burned. Tomorrow, when the ashes were cooled the temple acolytes would gather the ashes and grind any remains not yet destroyed to powder and inter them in a stone urn in the family vault amongst the ancestors as tradition demanded.

For now, it was time for the feast, the kitchen staff had poured their own grief into making a spectacular array of dishes, for Lords and commoners alike traditionally shared the mourning feast. There was no high table in the great hall, just rows of benches where all levels of society mixed, high lords sat next to blacksmiths and all genders were encouraged to share space. It signified that death was the great leveller and all were equal in grief.

Garth sat in the middle of a bench surrounded by the castle staff, John was impressed by their obvious loyalty to their new Lord. Garth was a little odd, and seemed to be gentle, but when he had encountered Zachariah in the castle dungeon, there was an edge of steel to him that had not been apparent before. Zachariah's defiance had wilted in the face of Garths cold anger and the permanent calculated expression had slipped for a moment.

 

John looked around the great hall, lords and ladies from all over the kingdom stood chatting idly, not all were as powerful as he was, but he knew they would at least listen to Castiels plans without dismissing them out of hand or betraying them to Michael. The Moores and the Banes would probably come over immediately, their families had strong bonds forged since the last war and all had children at around the same age. The Campbell's, being Mary's family would also join, but only after Samuel gouged Castiel for everything he could wring out of him to gain his allegiance. John had already prepared Castiel for Samuel's bullish personality as best he could.

He wished Mary was here for the hundredth time since he'd left her back at Winchester Castle. She always smoothed things over between him and her father. Their strong personalities had never meshed and the two men had almost come to blows more than once. Samuel Campbell had one weakness, his only living child, Mary. Not even his own mate or his grandchildren softened him the way Mary did.

 

All talks had been suspended until the next day out of respect for the late Lord Fitzgerald, but John still coached Cas on the best way to approach each of the gathered Lords and Ladies to win them over to their cause. He guided him around the main hall, pointing out each of the families and gave him a rough outline on their allegiances and motives, whispering in his ear as Cas listened intently, soaking up the information like a sponge.

 

“It's a crime that you know so little about the kingdom, your majesty.” John murmured from the side of his mouth as Cas groaned in agreement.

“I was kept ignorant for this very reason, John. Michael wanted me to have as few allies as possible.” he said lowly. “And please, just call me Castiel, or Cas. I am not a king, yet.” he said, sounding tired.

John shook his head. “ No. The other Lords need to see you as a viable ruler and gaining their respect is more than a friendly 'how do you do'. From this moment forward, you need to act like you are already the king. Command their respect, and you'll have the kingdom in the bag.” he said, sagely.

 

Cas gulped and he struggled to keep the terrified look off his face. John chuckled.

 

“Don't look so worried. The Lords gathered here are amongst the least loyal to Michael. He wronged them all at some point or another. Just show them you are not the bastard your brother is, and they'll be only too happy to join our cause.” he joked.

“That's not really difficult. My brother really is a bastard.” Cas agreed, although he still looked a little intimidated.

John placed a comforting hand on the younger Alphas shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “Think of it this way, one day, these people will be the ones coming to you for favours. Some of them have already made up their minds before they even came here, some of them are looking to sweeten the deal before they commit. You might even have to make a marriage pact to-”

“No!” blurted Cas, louder than he meant to and looking sick to the stomach.

 

The room fell briefly silent as curious eyes turned on them, before the murmur of whispered conversation started up again with occasional furtive glances in their direction.

 

“O-kay.” said John, looking confused. “Look, I know your father didn't really push for political marriages, but you may not have a choice. You need all the allies you can get.” he reminded the younger Alpha, who was sweating, his scent taking on a sour note.

Cas looked at John and shook his head. “I- I have an intended. I will not break my promise to him. I just have to ask his father for permission to court him.” he said quietly, avoiding Johns eyes.

John frowned. “Oh.” he said sounding annoyed. “You kept that quiet. Are you sure you won't set them aside? It could cost you the crown.” he said pointedly.

Cas' scent soured further. “Never. I was the recipient of an Omega display. He is the one.” he said firmly. His jaw twitched as he contained his anger at the thought of setting aside his mate.

Johns eyebrows rose almost to his hairline. “Well, that's... my word.” he breathed in surprise before smiling. “Congratulations. You lucky son of a bitch. I can see why you couldn't pass that up.” he grinned before looking confused again. “But, I don't understand. You got an Omega display, yet you still want to court him? Why didn't you mate immediately? How did you both refrain?” he asked quietly.

Cas blushed. “Because I want to do right by him and court him properly, and because I wanted to talk to you first.” he said chewing his lip nervously and finally meeting Johns eyes with an earnest look.

As the realisation set in, Johns mouth dropped open and he stared at the younger Alpha in shock. “Oh. OH.” he whispered. “Dean? You want my permission to court Dean?” he almost hissed, looking around the room for his son. He spotted him trying to spy on the conversation from a nearby alcove, his fake nonchalant expression was a dead giveaway that he knew what the conversation was about. Dean had never really done subtly well.

 

John looked at the younger Alpha. His expression was open and honest, his scent gave no indication of anything but nervousness and his aura was clean. His son was much the same, although he was still pretending not to be aware of the conversation.

 

Cas cleared his throat and nodded. “Yes. I'm aware that this is not the appropriate time. But I felt you should know sooner, rather than later. We are more than allies, we are friends and hopefully one day soon, family.” he said, his voice a little stronger now.

John wasted no time making the other Alpha wait and he grinned. “You're already family, son. We told you that already. If Deans Omega has chosen you with a display, who am I to argue? You have my blessing.” he chuckled as Cas smile lit up his face and then grunted as he suddenly found himself shoved aside as Dean threw himself at Cas and kissed him passionately in front of the gathered crowd.

 

Gasps and laughter broke out as the two young love birds clearly forgot about their surroundings and kissed each other with enthusiasm.

John cleared his throat pointedly and the pair separated reluctantly. There were further gasps as it became apparent that Deans eyes were Omega gold. A display for his Alpha. Cas looked embarrassed but as pleased as punch and several people began applauding as they realised what they were witnessing.

Garth whooped in delight and led the cheers as John rolled his eyes and laughed.

 

Samuel Campbell approached with his characteristic grumpy expression.

 

“I take it this is your idea of an announcement of betrothal?” he murmured snidely to John as he looked at the young couple disapprovingly as they petted each other affectionately.

John gave him a cold look. “Not really my idea, but I guess so, its not conventional, but nothing about this situation is.” he said quietly. “They're young, we all were once, and no one can argue that they aren't perfect for each other. An Omega doesn't display for anyone but their perfect match.”

Samuel huffed. “I'm aware of that. But the level of affection in front of everyone here is not appropriate, especially at a funeral.” he sneered.

John shrugged. “I don't disagree with you, Samuel. But like I said, we find ourselves in unusual circumstances. We are about to go to war, seeing a true love story play out is good for morale. Especially when its our future king. Besides, Garth seems to be rather enthusiastic about it.” he said, gesturing to where Garth was leading a toast to the happy couple and hugging anyone who wandered into his periphery.

 

Samuel looked over the proceedings disapprovingly. “You seem sure that everyone here will join his cause.” he murmured, looking bemused.

 

John gave Samuel a studying look. “There is a war coming whether you choose to join us or not. Michael wants a war, he was going to find any excuse to start one. Now he has one, we should do our best to win it. He'll kill us all otherwise, he doesn't care who he has to hurt or kill to get his way.”

Samuel sighed. “I don't disagree with you either, John. We all saw what happened at the funeral and what he did to Lord Fitzgerald is disgusting. I don't doubt he'll do the same to any of us. But going against the crown is unprecedented. The crowns magik protects the land, if we upset the balance, the magikal backlash could be catastrophic. How have none of you considered this?” he hissed angrily.

John gave Samuel a cold look. “Of course we have. Castiel is the heir, not just anyone. The crown will recognise him. There won't be a magikal backlash.” he insisted.

Huffing in annoyance Samuel sneered. “Michael has to die, you mean? So regicide is your plan?”

John rolled his eyes. “Of course he does. Michael can't be allowed to live, he'll never stop trying for the throne otherwise. Thousands of people will die because of his lust for power. The fact remains, Michael is a terrible ruler and a power hungry tyrant, he needs to be eliminated for the kingdom to survive.”

Samuel raised an eyebrow and gestured to where Cas casually had an arm around Deans waist as he chatted to Garth. “Does he know that? He has to kill his own brother. I'm not sure I can trust a man that can do that.” he murmured.

Johns face took on a sneer. “Now see, he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, isn't he?” he gestured with his left hand “On one hand if he doesn't kill him, he'll be seen as weak.” he held up his right hand “On the other hand, if he does, he's as big a tyrant as his brother. He can't win with that mindset.”

 

Samuel gave John a sly look. “You already have an answer to that conundrum, don't you?” he said shrewdly.

 

John smiled thinly. “He'll get a public trial. The crown will not be allowed to interfere, and he'll be judged by the people, judges picked by lottery. Once his crimes are laid out, the sentence will be a foregone conclusion.” he said quietly.

Samuel gave an approving nod. “I like it. It keeps the crown untarnished and preserves the balance. After all, a kingdom is not just the king. The people should have a say. I take it that was your idea?” he asked.

John shook his head. “Nope. That was his.” he said gesturing towards Cas. “I wanted to send an assassin and get it over with, but he refused. He wants to give his brother a trial and he wants nothing to do with it.” he explained. “I'll revisit my idea if his fails.”

Samuel looked appeased. “And his character? Can we be sure we are not just swapping one tyrant for another? They are brothers, after all.” he questioned.

John shook his head. “The two could not be more different. Castiel would be content to live out his days tending to his garden and reading his books. His hand was forced when Michael struck first.”

Samuel looked satisfied with Johns answer. “Force is all that Michael understands. We can use that against him.” he said wisely.

 

John grinned. “ 'We?' I take it you've decided to join us?” he mused.

 

Samuel gave a stiff nod. “I don't see we have another choice. From my own enquiries, Michael is gearing up for something big. He is calling up all of the reserve soldiers and stockpiling weapons. Far more than would be needed for a civil war. I'm not sure of his exact plans, but he has ambitions beyond this kingdom, that is obvious.”

John looked at Dean and Cas, who were glowing with happiness. “Then we must cut off the means with which he can use to start a war. Undermine his position and isolate him. He cannot mount an invasion without support.” he murmured. “It's what he has done to Castiel all these years. So we know it works.”

Samuel nodded. “Agreed. Tomorrow we'll all meet and discuss a plan.”

John nodded and indicated towards the newly betrothed couple. “I'd better send a message to Mary about that, or she'll have my guts for garters should she find out from someone else.” he smiled.

Samuel scowled. “She may anyway when she finds out you gave your blessing without consulting her.” he sniped.

John clenched his jaw and ignored the deliberate goading. “I doubt it, she's the one that encouraged the match from the start. I had to stop her from pulling a stunt akin to locking them in a room together. Which as we all know, definitely gets results.” he said smugly as Samuel went purple with suppressed rage as he was reminded of finding his own daughter in such a predicament.

 

Without another word, John walked away towards the nearest table and sat down next to Gabe who was halfway drunk and watching the happy couple with tears in his eyes.

 

“They grow up so fast.” sniffed Gabe, his throat thick with emotion.

John nudged Gabe with his shoulder. “Yes, they do. I remember Dean taking his first steps, he was only eleven months old, like he couldn't wait to be on his feet and into everything. He always was in a hurry, that boy, so I'm not really surprised he fell in love so fast as well. Luckily, it looks like Cas is just as smitten and he seem to be a good Alpha. You did well, Gabe.” he said softly.

Gabe pressed his lips together. “I wish I could have protected him better from Michael. Cas has no idea of how many times Michael tried to hurt him over the years. I prevented most, but some got through. My brother was a good man, how he produced such a spiteful, spoiled, arrogant turd like Michael, I'll never know.” he gritted out bitterly.

“Chuck was a good man, but he was a little too forgiving sometimes. And he had a huge blind spot when it came to his children. Michael and Lucifer both exploited that.” John said, not unkindly.

Gabe shook his head. “No, he knew exactly who Michael was. He only stayed on the throne after Queen Rebecca died so he could guide Michael into doing the right thing. He believed in second chances and redemption. He really thought that Michael would change for the better with time.” he sighed. “Okay, I guess he did have a blind spot there, because Michael will never change.”

John nodded slowly. “No, he won't. The more he gets away with, the more he'll try to get away with. He will escalate. The old king in Perdition was the same, he was decorating his castle with the bodies of his slain enemies by the end. “Enemies” was a very loose term for “anyone who even breathed wrong in his vicinity” he was a true tyrant. It was only at his death that the war ended and the peace treaty between our kingdoms happened at all. He would have forced his people to keep fighting until every last one of them were dead otherwise.” John said bitterly.

 

Gabe sighed and then looked puzzled. “Hey, didn't he die on the commode? I remember something about a heart attack when he was taking a shi- Hey! There's my boy! Come and have a drink with your old uncle before Garth starts up the singing again.” said Gabe with a soft smile as Cas approached with Dean on his arm.

 

“I think I will.” said Cas, with a gummy grin. “Dean? Did you want some more of the mead?” he asked with an adoring look.

Dean looked flushed and his eyes were a little glassy. “No, I'm good. Bobby's mead has got a bit of a kick to it, I'll have some more in a little while when the room stops spinning.” he said, wobbling slightly.

Gabe chuckled. “Had a little too much, Dean-O? I hope you weren't trying to keep up with Cas, he can drink anyone under the table. Even Bobby's moonshine didn't affect him.” he laughed as Dean pulled a grimace at the mention of moonshine.

 

John stood and between himself and Cas, they manoeuvred Dean to sit down next to Gabe.

 

“It's Garths fault. He cried when I said I didn't want anymore, he was all like “but my father would have been so happy for you” and “it would cheer me up, you don't want me to be sad, do you?” I didn't have the heart to say no.” said Dean, hiccuping and swaying slightly.

Cas huffed a laugh. “Ironically, Garth has only had one drink himself. Yet he's barely standing.” he chuckled. “I think the shock has worn off and everything is hitting him at once. I know how that feels. He's taking any good news he can for comfort.”

John nodded sagely. “He's probably in a little bit of denial. He'll be okay though. He has all of us, you both do. I went through something similar when I was younger than you both are. Your father is gone and suddenly you have a mountain of responsibilities and everyone is looking to you for answers. I get it. Lean on those that offer support, you'll need it.” he said wisely.

Cas nodded. “I find myself doubting my decisions. I don't have the best track record in trusting the right people. I hope I stop questioning myself one day.”

Gabe shook his head and John snorted. “I hope you don't. The day you never question yourself and your decisions, is the day you become Michael.” he said, with a edge to his voice.

Cas' eyes widened as he took in the advice. “Of course, you're right. I want you all to promise me that you'll always tell me if you think I'm wrong. I will promise to always listen. I may not agree, but I'll listen.”

 

Dean, John and Gabe all nodded. “Agreed” they all said as one.

 

 

**********************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen.

 

Cas stood at the window of the room he had been given, looking out at the lake, the low mist hanging over the water beginning to burn off as the sun rose higher and the day began. He brooded over the events of the day before. All those who had been summoned to the secret council had agreed to join his cause. He was officially the leader of the rebellion. Although they still didn't have the numbers to officially declare themselves just yet. For now, it would have to be a guerrilla campaign, the dream of one decisive battle to decide the fate of the kingdom, was just that, a dream.

Some had been tougher to negotiate with than others, but no-one had asked for anything outrageous. Lord Moore had asked for a lower tax rate on the wines his people produced and Lord Campbell had asked to be on the council of advisors, as had John. Garth had declined to ask for anything, he had stated that it was he that owed Cas, not the other way around. The Banes had asked for exclusive control over certain trade routes. All of these things had been easy enough to grant, albeit that Cas had no real power to give them anything yet.

 

Hearing a noise, Cas turned to see one of the servants entrances sliding slowly open. He frowned as he realised that by now, the servants should have already been in to light the fire and prepare a bath before the sun was up, but the grate was cold and the bath was nowhere to be seen.

 

He took a sharp intake of breath as none other but Dean slipped into the room with a grin and a blush.

 

“Dean? What are you doing? Where are the servants?” Cas asked, looking bewildered.

“I asked them to let you sleep in. I came to light your fire for you instead and it gives us a chance to be alone for a while.” said Dean, holding out a hand and concentrating until the wood in the fireplace caught with a crackle of flame.

“Oh. Well, thank you. I appreciate the extra time to think this morning, if not the extra sleep.” Cas said softly, moving to one of the chairs by the fire as Dean sat in the opposite chair.

“Couldn't sleep? I guess it's a lot to think on. That's why I thought we'd take some time for ourselves this morning, before the demands of the people begin to take up all of your time. I even brought you some breakfast, see?” Dean said, as he produced a bag filled with sweet buns and dried fruit.

Cas smiled. “You will make an excellent consort, Dean. I can't wait until you are officially mine.” he said softly and with meaning.

Dean made a face. “I hadn't thought until now that I'll be your consort. I guess I'd better work on my courtly manners, huh?” he said with a nervous gulp.

Cas took a bun and broke off a piece, shoving it into his mouth and looking like a hamster stuffing it's cheeks. “Eh, manners are overrated when it's just us. Let's make pigs of ourselves while we can. After all, in public it's all pinky fingers and tiny portions.” he grinned at the Omega.

“I remember my father always complaining that he was hungry after a twenty course banquet. He'd sneak off up to my nursery during the after dinner brandies and cigars, and we'd eat buns until we were so full, we couldn't move. I used to fall asleep as he described all of the ridiculous food, outfits and manners of the court.” he smiled softly at the memory.

Dean broke off a piece of fruit and shove it in his own mouth with a grin. “So, we can be just us in private? You might live to regret that. I might have some awful habits that you don't know about.” he teased.

Cas grinned. “I think we'd go crazy if we couldn't be ourselves for at least a small part of the time. There are certain rules we have to abide by and standards we have to live up to in public, but yes, in private we are just us. Cas and Dean.” he said, dropping crumbs all over himself as Dean laughed.

“Still, Consort is kind of a big deal. What will I have to do? I have no idea how to plan a banquet or hold a ball or help run a kingdom.” said Dean, looking a little panicked. “I don't want to let you down, Cas.” he whispered as his face fell.

Cas frowned and placed his food to one side before dropping to his knees in front of Deans chair. He took Deans hands and kissed them. “Sweetheart, I don't expect anything from you but to love me. As long as you do that, you'll never let me down.” he said softly, kissing Deans fingers. “Besides, you won't be alone. We'll figure it out together, make it up as we go. Okay?” he reassured.

Dean smiled softly. “Make it up as we go? Sure, I can get behind that. It's what I live by, it's practically my family motto.” he joked.

Porro, non obstante angustia. 'Onward, despite adversity.' That's my family's motto. But I'm happy to change it to, uh, Unde Sicut Nos 'Making it up as we go' I think that's the most direct translation, anyway.” Cas joked sheepishly as Dean's jaw dropped in surprise.

“You speak old Enochian? I thought the only people who still spoke it or read it were the Elders or the priests.” he said admiringly.

Cas grinned. “I speak, read and write several different languages. I'm a prince, my education is second to none. Besides, I was raised by an Elder. Gabe would never let me slack on my lessons.” he laughed.

“I thought you were isolated in the cottage, I thought the point was to keep you away from everything, keeping you ignorant?” said Dean, looking confused.

“No, originally it was for my safety. Being bound has a stigma attached as you know, and there was nowhere in the capital that I was safe from bullies or scorn. It might have been just Gabe and I living in the cottage for all that time, but I had access to the best tutors money could buy. I learned several languages, magik theory, history, mathematics, art, cartography, alchemy and more. I even learned how to fight from my fathers personal bodyguards. I didn't have much in the way of friends, but I was too busy to be lonely. I had uncle Gabe and my father and sister wrote regularly. Michael left me alone because I was isolated.”

“Oh, so if you had made any friends or allies, you or that friend would have met with a mysterious “accident” or something. I get it. It was safer to be alone. That's awful. Michael really is a bastard.” Dean said sadly.

“You don't know the half of it. I suspect that the two omegas I courted previously were planted by Michael in order to put me off mating, and therefore gaining allies by marriage. Gabe thinks I don't know, but I'm not completely naïve. In hindsight, it's obvious.” Cas sighed. “I just wish I saw through it sooner.”

Dean grimaced. “Yikes. That's beyond creepy levels of evil. Breaking your little brothers heart to keep him isolated. I couldn't even imagine doing that to Sammy.” he said looking sick at the thought.

“And that, sweetheart is why I love you.” said Cas, standing up and dropping a kiss onto Deans surprised lips, he hovered mere inches away and smiled.

 

Dean flushed and slowly smiled in return, his eyes glowing Omega gold in an instant. “You- you love me?” he stammered shyly, squirming in his chair. His scent took on happy Omega tones and his cheeks were dusted pink, highlighting his freckles prettily.

Cas' own eyes had gone dark with passion. “Well, yes. Of course I do, I think from the start. When I called your soul back from going to the ether, I felt how full of love it was. How kind you are, how protective you are over those you love and how generous you are to those who aren't as fortunate as us. I was lost from that moment, I think.” he said matter of factly. His voice had gone a little husky.

Dean gasped and felt the tingle that signalled he was beginning to slick. “I think I heard you calling me back. You made me feel safe, you sounded like home. So I followed your voice. I think I felt it then too.” he whispered before leaning forward and kissing Cas with feeling.

 

Cas wasted no time before deepening the kiss and pulling Dean out of the chair and into his arms where Dean made himself at home, his own hands roaming greedily over Cas's shoulders and chest. The smell of arousal was strong and they both gave into it, the passion building until Cas began to steer Dean backwards towards the bed, still kissing Dean feverishly.

As the back of Deans knees hit the bed, he gasped and fell back, pulling Cas with him, his legs dropping open automatically for Cas to fall between. The scent of slick doubled as Cas ground down with a growl, their erections slotting together and making Dean hiss as Cas abandoned Deans lips to nip at his throat, just above the mating gland. He breathed in Dean's sweet apple scent and purred lustily.

 

“Do it, Cas. Knot me, mate me. I don't want to wait.” Dean begged, his eyes were almost completely gold, the green vanishing rapidly as Cas ground down again with a smooth sinuous movement. Cas growled again, his Alpha side fighting to take over and stake a claim on his Omega. Both of them wondering in that moment why they thought they would have been able to wait for this, when their whole being screamed out for it.

“I want to court you properly, You deserve better than this, Dean.” he said weakly, as his actions belied his words. His hands found their way under Deans shirt, sliding up Deans side to roll his nipples with his thumbs and nipping at his throat again, making the Omega groan.

“I don't care, court me after, just don't stop.” Dean begged again grinding up to meet Cas and making both of them gasp.

The smell of Deans slick hit Cas' nostrils and his canines lengthened in response, his eyes darkened and a deep growl rumbled from his chest. “Are you sure?” he asked, grinding down again as Deans hand ran down his back, cupped his ass and ground up.

 

“Yes, Cas. Do it. I want it.” Dean insisted, with a gasp.

Cas still looked hesitant, so Dean decided to play dirty, he smirked as Cas visibly fought with himself.

 

Breed me, Alpha.” he ordered breathlessly.

 

The response was immediate. With a snarl, Cas began stripping off their clothes and pushing Dean up the bed, kissing him greedily as more and more skin was revealed. Dean squeaked as Cas unceremoniously tore the pants from his body, shredding the fabric and tossing it onto the floor before doing the same to his shirt, leaving him completely naked and flushed on the bed as Cas ripped the clothes from his own body, his eyes never leaving Deans.

Deans eyes however, greedily took in every inch of the Alpha. From the broad shoulders that tapered to his toned waist, sharp hipbones and thick thighs, his Alpha was solidly built. His thick cock jutted out from the dark hair at his groin, his knot beginning to form at the base and wet with precome at the head. Dean felt a brief moment of nervousness at the thought of being knotted.

 

Cas hesitated as he saw Deans expression change and smelled the spike of fear in his scent.

 

“We can stop, if you've changed your mind.” he reassured Dean, stroking Deans thigh gently.

“NO!” Dean almost yelled, startling them both. “No, I'm just nervous. I've never been knotted before. That's all. I want this. Please.” he begged.

“Oh, thank the Magi, I'll be gentle, I promise.” Cas said, sounding relieved as he leaned forward to kiss Dean again, pressing their naked bodies together for the first time.

 

Cas' hands began to explore the smooth skin underneath him, cataloguing the sounds that Dean made and committing to memory all of the places that got the best response. He broke the kiss and began to explore Dean with his mouth, eliciting a sigh when he began to lavish attention on the Omegas chest, teasing each nipple in turn with gentle licks and bites. “You are so beautiful. One day soon, I'm going to take my time and kiss you all over.” he promised.

Dean ran his hands through the Alphas thick hair, tugging it a little as Cas' mouth travelled even lower. He gasped as Cas reached his groin and nipped gently at the top of his thigh, sucking a mark as his fingers gently probed his entrance, and gasped again as Cas took his cock into his mouth at the same time as he pushed a finger inside him, before adding another and crooking them slightly, setting off sparks behind Deans eyes.

Dean didn't know which instinct to give into, thrust up into Cas' mouth or down onto his fingers. He panted breathlessly as Cas' head bobbed as he worked his tongue on the sensitive underside of his cock and crooked his fingers again, and Dean bit his lip to prevent himself crying out. He let out a high pitched whine instead and Cas chuckled.

 

“Cas, please.” Dean begged. “I'm an Omega, we don't need a lot of foreplay.”

Cas frowned and crooked his fingers once more and swallowed Deans cock down to the root, making Deans eyes roll back in his head as he yanked on the Alphas hair, making him wince.

“More.” Dean begged again. “I need more, I need you Alpha.”

 

Cas slowly pulled his fingers out, marvelling at the amount of slick Dean had produced, the scent was heavenly and he released Deans cock to lick it from his fingers.

 

“Hmm, you taste divine. Next time I'm going to taste it from the source. But right now, I need to knot you more than I need to breathe.” he said, his voice deep and husky as he gently manoeuvred Dean into presenting.

 

Dean went eagerly. Raising up his hips and widening his stance, he dropped onto his elbows and sighed as Cas slowly kissed up his spine, gently scraping his teeth over the mating gland where his neck met his shoulder and breathing deeply before sucking a mark there, scenting him and marking the spot where he would lay his claim. Dean could feel Cas' cock digging into his buttock and he wriggled impatiently.

“Are you ready?” Cas whispered and Dean nodded. “Now, Alpha. Knot me, breed me.” he ordered.

Cas chest rumbled in a low growl as he nodded and began to line himself up.

Dean gasped as he felt the intrusion. Cas stroked his hip reassuringly when Dean hissed as Cas began to push in.

 

“Relax, sweetheart. I'll try not to hurt you.” Cas said, his voice shaky as he resisted slamming into the Omega who was trembling in his arms.

Dean nodded and tried to force himself to relax, he winced as Cas pushed forward in one smooth slide and he felt a brief pinch as he was finally fully breached. He panted and trembled as Cas wrapped his arms around his middle and kissed his shoulders.

 

“You're doing so well, my love. It'll get easier each time we do this. You feel amazing around me. Tell me when you are ready to continue.” Cas crooned, reaching down to cup Deans cock that had flagged slightly, Dean nodded and sighed as Cas began to stroke him back to full hardness, he clenched around Cas' cock making the Alpha gasp and grinned.

 

“I think I'm ready.” he whispered, feeling a little more confident.

“I'll go slow” Cas promised as he pulled out slightly and pushed back in, he continued, pulling out a little further each time until Dean began to meet his thrusts.

“That's it, sweetheart. Just like that, it'll start to feel really good pretty soon.” Cas panted as he gripped Deans hips tightly to stop himself thrusting wildly.

“It feels pretty good now” Dean panted back, arching his spine, causing both men to groan in pleasure as Cas began to hit the mark.

Cas widened his stance, pushing Deans legs further apart so he could get deeper and Dean began to moan loudly.

“Good?” Cas growled out.

“Yes, faster, please” Dean panted, his hands braced against the headboard.

Cas obeyed, his hips beginning to piston as he pressed on Deans back forcing his chest onto the bed and his ass higher in the air.

“Oh, there, right there.” Dean begged. “Harder, Cas. I'm so close.”

Cas snarled and began to pound into Dean, the sound of skin slapping on skin was almost drowned out by Deans moans and gasps and Cas felt his knot beginning to swell.

“My knot, so close.” Cas panted breathlessly, as he felt his balls drawing up closer to his body.

“Yes, Alpha. I need it.” Dean whined, his own canines extended and his eyes bright gold.

Cas' knot began to catch, making Dean moan even louder and Cas began to grunt with each thrust.

“Dean, I'm-” Cas gasped as his knot finally caught and he could no longer pull out. As he started to come, he moved his hips in a grinding motion, sparking off Deans orgasm. He pulled Dean upright into his lap and sank his teeth into the mating gland as Dean covered his own stomach and chest with come with a breathy gasp.

 

As Cas ran his tongue over the bite, he caressed Deans sides lovingly. Dean hissed at a twinge of pain and clenched around Cas' knot, making Cas moan gently and grind upwards as he came again. Dean gasped as he too got an intense aftershock of the orgasm he'd had before.

 

“Oh, I didn't know we could do that. More than once, I mean.” Dean breathed out in surprise, gripping Cas' hands as Cas wrapped his arms around his Omega.

Cas chuckled. “Oh yes. As many as we like apparently.” He promptly demonstrated by grinding up again and and chuckled as another orgasm hit Dean causing him to clench and massage Cas' knot, making him release another load of come with a quiet moan.

 

Cas panted against Deans neck and squeezed him around the middle. “We'd better stop that, or we'll never leave this room.” he joked with a wistful sigh.

“I like that plan.” Dean chuckled. “We're mated, Cas.” Dean said happily. “You're my Alpha.”

“And you're my Omega. All mine.” Cas said as he gently guided Dean until they were lying on the bed and pulled the cover over both of them, spooning Dean and scenting him lovingly.

“How long until your knot goes down?” Dean asked absently as he gently ran his fingers over his new bite mark with a smile.

Cas stopped scenting Dean and frowned. “I- I don't actually know. This is the first time I've actually knotted anyone.” he admitted with a shrug.

 

Dean tried to turn over, temporarily forgetting they were tied together until Cas yelped and he felt Cas' knot tugging uncomfortably at his entrance.

 

“Oh, whoops! My bad.” he said sheepishly over his shoulder as Cas glared at him. “It's just, You've never knotted anyone before? You? I don't understand. I mean you're you.” he said incredulously.

“Yes, exactly. I'm me.” Cas said sarcastically. “Socially awkward and a Prince. I couldn't afford to risk a pregnancy or being knotted to someone I didn't fully trust. I only ever wanted to knot my mate in other words.” Cas said with a shrug, he was blushing a little.

Dean nodded. “I guess that makes sense. It's quite sweet really. I guess I had the same reasons why I haven't been knotted until now. I never trusted anyone enough.” he said, pulling Cas' arm around himself. “For what it's worth, I couldn't tell. You were amazing.” he said dreamily.

Cas chuckled. “Thank you, you weren't so bad yourself. I didn't hurt you too much, did I?” he asked gently, running his free hand through Deans hair and kissing his shoulder.

Dean shrugged. “It hurt a little at first. Then it felt pretty good.” he said shyly.

“And now? How do you feel?” Cas probed further.

“Eh, a little sore, but it's bearable. The bite stings a little too.” Dean admitted.

“I'm sorry. I tried to be as gentle as I could. It will be easier next time. The bite should start to heal over by tonight.” Cas said as he kissed Deans neck and scented him again. “I love your scent, it's beginning to change already. You smell like mate.”

 

“Do I get to bite you too?” Dean asked hesitantly.

 

Cas paused in scenting Dean and frowned. “Of course, once my knot goes down, you can do it then if you want. Did you think I wouldn't let you?” he asked incredulously. “How else would our bond form properly?”

“It's just that you didn't mention it. I didn't want to assume, but...” Dean trailed off.

“Oh, I see. I'm sorry, I should have said something. Although in my defence I was distracted. You are very beautiful, especially like this, your eyes are still gold.” Cas said, kissing Deans neck. “When is your next heat?” he asked lustily, nipping at Deans shoulder playfully.

“Um, pretty soon, I think? Less than two weeks.” Dean sighed tiredly, reaching back to caress Cas' thigh.

“We need to discuss what you want to do about it.” said Cas, running his hand down Deans torso and up over his hip to cup his asscheek.

“Why do we need to discuss it? I need you here, you're my mate. End of discussion.” Dean said grumpily, closing his eyes and snuggling into his Alpha.

 

Cas went still. “So, you want a pup right away?” he questioned in a quiet voice.

 

Dean balked as he realised what he'd just insinuated. “Oh, I guess I do. But it probably isn't the best time for that right now, is it?” he said sadly.

Cas kissed his head. “Probably not. But it wasn't the greatest time to get mated either, and we did that anyway. I'd love nothing more than to see you carrying my pup. A future prince or princess. Maybe a future king or queen.” he mused, running his hand over Deans flat stomach and growling.

Dean huffed a laughed. “Most of the time you're so laid back, I'd think you were a Beta. But then you do things like this and remind me that you are all Alpha. Wanting to see your Omega all round with pup, how very cliché of you.” Dean teased. “You totally have a breeding kink.”

Cas shrugged. “Eh, I'll own it. I didn't think I had that kink until I met you, so maybe it's just the thought of breeding you up that gets me going.” he said as he ground up against Deans ass, making them both moan.

“Your knot will never go down if you keep that up.” Dean chuckled. “So, do we go for a pup or wait? If we wait, I have another heat in three months or so? Maybe then?” Dean suggested.

Cas sighed. “I know the wise choice would be to wait, who knows how long this war will go on? It could be years. Do we wait until the war is won? None of us are safe until it is. I don't want you to be alone and pregnant while I'm away fighting. I want to be there for you and any child we may have. As much as I want this with you, it's not the right time.” he said sadly, he looked broken hearted to deny Deans wish, his scent turned sour.

 

Dean turned around as far as he could and cupped Cas' face gently. “Cas, it's okay. We can wait. You're right, it's not the right time. I'm not thinking with my head right now, my Omega instincts are going crazy, wanting my Alpha to get me pupped as soon as possible.” he said softly.

“I hate this. I never wanted a war or to be king. I just want you, in a home of our own, round with pup and smelling like happy Omega.” Cas lamented.

“That sounds so good. I want a whole bunch.” Dean said seriously.

“I'll give you as many pups as you want, Dean. When it's safer.” Cas promised, dropping a kiss onto Deans lips and pulling him close. Dean yawned and snuggled in closer.

 

“Tired?” Cas asked, running his fingers through Deans hair lovingly.

“Hmm, a little.” Dean murmured closing his eyes.

“We'll have a nap while we wait out my knot. Then I'll get the servants to draw us a bath, sound good?” Cas said softly.

Dean groaned. “Yeah, I'm, uh, sticky. It's starting to feel gross.” he whined, his eyes still closed.

 

Cas chuckled. “Sleep, sweetheart. I love you.”

 

“Love you too.” Dean murmured, before drifting off.

 

 

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