From above the mountaintop the forest landscape looked massive, a huge sprawling of fir trees that stretched east and west, now dusted with white as the snow lay heavy and thick on the greenery. As another chill wind found its way past the heavy cloak and down the fur coat Dean Winchester pulled the fabric tighter around himself. The road went straight through the forest, a wide thing paved with cobblestones near the King City but this far out the road was mostly dirt and soil hardened by the passage of countless humans and animals treading on it.
The road had been made decades ago by the King's great-grandfather or the likes. Dean never paid much attention to the history classes and lore, much more interested in weapon's combat, archery and everything else that was expected by a great knight of the Kingdom. He was no fool though, the only reason the kingdom even had knights, besides to stop the occasional skirmishes and thugs, was right below him.
A movement down below caught his attention. He was still getting accustomed to his vision but he trusted his instincts, and there had been movement. The main road as it was passed by the mountain but there was a smaller one that veered of the main road into the woods leading straight to the mountaintop. And people on their way to this mountain usually meant trouble; whether that trouble meant violence or women was yet to be determined.
It was as if the mere thought of trouble summoned him. Dean could feel it in his bones, a warmth that encompassed him but right now it only brought inconvenience with it as he started to sweat immediately.
“Now you decide to come back when I'm all dressed up like the freaking yeti”, Dean muttered as he yanked off his gloves and turned his back on the magnificent view. Pulling down the hood on his cloak, he climbed down the carved out steps in the rocky mountainside and disappeared through a hidden alcove on the mountaintop.
The descent down was steeped in darkness but that was of no hindrance to Dean anymore, although, in the beginning, he had used a lantern. As he reached the bottom stairs beads of sweat covered his face and his shirt was plastered to his back.
“Gods Cas! How about a little warning next time? You are early and I was outside!” Dean's shouts echoed inside the tunnel, but all that greeted him was silence. After walking in darkness for a few feet he entered a huge cavernous space. Chests filled with silver coins, gold bars, statues of brass and a giant woven tapestry hanging on one stone wall were all obscured by the creature in front of him.
Haven't you missed me? The sound of Cas' voice was smooth and reverberated through him.
“Like a whore misses her blisters.”
That much? I'm flattered. I was to stretch my wings some more but then I saw the shiny towers of Vermilion and it had been awhile.
Dean unfastened his cloak, letting it drop to the ground and in a practiced movement removed his fur coat.
“Vermilion eh? You felt that itch again? Needed some praise and worship?” Dean glanced quickly at the tapestry but then his eyes were back on Cas again.
Hardly. I was in town for other business. The voice was tinted with amusement. And why go elsewhere when I can get all the praise and worship I desire right here?
Letting out a short laugh, Dean walked up to Cas, a hand on his skin. The scales were a deep bronze, coarse and warm to the touch. He inhaled the scent that was uniquely Cas, a coppery smell tinged with the faintest notes of honey.
“I don't go prancing around worshiping and praising you.
I never said you prance. Cas turned his head around, a huge sapphire blue eye staring at him. The eye narrowed and Dean sensed the amusement even as Cas rumbled some content sighs as Dean continued to touch and pet him.
I don't know if he is the maniacal, crazy beast the King says he is, but if he is, he sure is the most magnificent beast I've ever seen. Bronze never looked that good on anyone. Magnificent, Dean, that sounds like a word of praise no?”
“Not answering”, Dean mumbled and trailed the pattern that Cas' scales formed, bumpy, ridgy and by now very familiar. He still remembered the first time Cas flew up in the air on strong wings, the sun hitting the scales at certain angles making him shine like the sun itself. And although Dean knew all the rumors about the fearsome dragon, the evil monster, just seeing him fly high up made him wonder how anyone could claim such a being evil?
Reluctantly Dean backed away. “We can be all cuddly later, we have visitors.”
Mm, the girl. She will be here shortly. Brave little thing.
Dean snorted. “Not like she has much choice.” Noticing the stench coming off him Dean grimaced. “Gods. I will go change into something light that isn't drenched in sweat. You going to let her climb all the way up or should we use the hidden opening?”
Did she bring gifts?
“Do you smell like honey?” Dean backed away, heading towards the main quarters inside the mountain where they usually resided.
“I do not.”
“Sweet, sweet, honey my sunshine! That's you. I saw something shiny that has your name on it! You going to change or?”
When Dean was back in a long green linen tunic, brown linen pants and soft slippers making shuffling noises on the ground, Cas had curled up, his wings tucked close to his body.
“I see that was a no.”
She is expecting a dragon. It would be a shame to disappoint her. Cas wrinkled his nose, which made Dean laugh out loud.
I see you found a soap that smells of –
“It's made of beeswax.” Dean smoothed out his face, trying to go for a serious look.
You are not fooling anyone, Dean. I can see the laughing wrinkles around your eyes. Some strands of hair on your head are gray.
“Ouch, I'm hurt. Cas, I hardly think you are the one to be teasing me about age. You are freaking older then my old grandpa Sam Campbell and everyone knows that miserable old wretch was ancient went the mountains were made.”
Thumping sounds echoed in the cave as Cas' long tail lashed against the ground in annoyance.
I was there when some of those mountains were made. You may be old, but I'm regal, ancient, majestic, just mesmerizing in my glorious beauty!
“Go easy there, Cas. It's just me here, no one else to impress.”
I wouldn't say just you about you. You are quite formidable for being a puny human, Dean. Nonetheless, what you are lacking in sweet words, you do make up for in other ways. But I must admit, praising myself feels less. It lacks the utter adoration and veneration, the simpering quality of your humble yet sincere speech.
Dean sat down, leaning his back against Cas' leg.
“I have never simpered! Knights don't do that.”
Not that you are aware of. But you do it. Cas picked up a silver coin and held it carefully with his claws; he started flipping it this way and that before he let it fall down on the stony ground again.
I hope she has a shiny dragon statue for me. Why can't I get one of those? The people of Vermilion have huge temples built for me and fearsome, scaly dragon statues erected in my honor. You know most dragons don't have an affinity for humans. They are mostly hiding away in their domains, burrowed down deep in the earth sleeping, well if they are not set on burning the place down that is.
“Not you though, Cas. You could burn it all down if you wanted but you perch on your mountain, living your life and don't give a thought or care of whatever anyone else thinks. I guess we are kind of the same that way. This isn't a normal execution of a knight's mission. Consorting with the enemy, a free-thinking soldier that disobeys the royal decree.”
Falling in love with a dragon is not a common occurrence no. But I would not settle for anything less than extraordinary, Dean.
“Am I still in this world? Bring out the ale! I think I heard Castiel the Copper, Lord of the Skies, the Shield of Innocence give me praise.”
The most Exultant One, He who resides, The Golden Stargazer, Most Worthy One, The Old Worm.
“I don't care how old you are Cas, if someone called me an old worm, I would definitely not consider that a compliment. I think a fist to their face would be the appropriate response.”
Cas just breathed out a puff of air as a reply.
A nice warmth spread through him as he was leaning on Cas, and for a moment Dean almost dazed off, lost in the here and now. “You know Cas, I wish time would stop right now. You and me, in this mountain we call home, just being close to each other, you can play with your shiny stuff, I can prepare for the Yule feast. And we can just be.”
That is a pleasant thought, Dean.
Their musings were interrupted when a small voice reached their ears.
“Hello? Anybody there? I come bearing gifts.”
That took some time.
“I would like to see you in a dress climbing through the snow uphill.”
Should I spread my wings, do a fearsome roar that thunders and instills awe and admiration?
Dean got up and took a few steps away from Cas. “No, don't do that. She has enough fear to go around, besides you are awe-inspiring as is.”
Yes, you are correct.
Rolling his eyes, Dean adjusted his tunic and tried to adopt a relaxed and friendly manner. Around the corner a girl appeared, her cloak heavy from the snow clinging to the fabric and a small basket in hand. Her brown hair fell in curly waves around her hair, and her face was open and honest. Standing in the cave she appeared quite unfazed with the whole ordeal.
Waving, and wearing his best smile Dean approached her slowly.
“Hi, so you are the princess. Nice to meet you. This is Castiel the Copper, Lord of the Skies –
The Old Worm.
Turning around fast, Dean spoke quickly, irritation making his voice sharp. “For the last time Cas, I will not introduce you as the old worm. It's unbecoming.”
Turning around again, smile still plastered to his face, Dean continued.
“Name's Dean Winchester and you are?”
Pausing he waited for the girl to reply but all she did was drop the basket on the ground. He would give her a moment. It was not often one was in the company of legends. He did try to slay Castiel after all, according to official royal documents at least. Meeting a live dragon could also be quite life-altering.
“He is ...gorgeous. The biggest thing I've ever seen but gorgeous.”
Mm, I seem to have that effect on a lot of people. I will forgive her for calling me a thing. The child doesn't know better.
“I'm Indigo, but I'm certainly not a princess. I'm a seamstress, chosen to be the sacrifice.”
I wonder when they will stop sending females to me? They can't possibly believe I would eat or marry all of them? She isn't even a princess, like she will have something shiny and sparkly on her.
Cas slowly got up and walked over to the girl. He loomed over her, eyes curious and as he bent down Indigo took a step back. Taking a deep inhale Cas then exhaled sharply, the force of the exhale knocking the girl over.
She doesn't have anything shiny. At least you had your sword, Dean. What has happened with the world? No one shows proper respect anymore.
“Alright Mr. Overgrown Lizard, calm down.”
Indigo's raised her eyes in surprise at the tone of Dean's voice but still took his hand as he extended it. “You can talk to it? Is that why you are trapped here, Sir Winchester? Does he need you as a companion for the long years of solitude he has endured?”
Spreading his dark wings, Cas let out a deafening roar.
You can't calm me down, puny worm.
“Now I'm puny? ” Dean scoffed at the notion. “You do realize that I'm the one making you those honey cakes you love so much? What happened to me being all extraordinary?”
Shh, I'm doing it for her. Being impressive, imposing, all dragon-mighty. The honey cakes are acceptable. Now quickly, do your best to pretend to be a fearsome knight.
“I am a fearsome knight. You just watch me. Where is my sword?”
Cas turned towards Dean, ignoring Indigo for now, and if Dean didn't know any better he would have sworn that Cas had a guilty look on his face. He opened his eyes extra wide. Dean knew that look.
There might have been a slight accident.
“When? I saw my sword just yesterday. I know, cause I sharpened and polished it.”
My claws were getting long.
Dean's eyes went huge, and he forgot all about Indigo, walking straight up to Cas and poking a furious finger at one of his scaly knees. “You used my sword as your nail clippers?” he hissed, raking his fingers through his hair. “That was my favorite sword. I loved Baby. We do have actual nail clippers. You should have used them! That was Alistarian steel.”
Turning around, he spoke sharply to Indigo. “That is why I never reveal my honey cake recipe for him. I need something that is purely my own.”
Indigo nodded, like it all made perfect sense. “I understand. And honey cakes are really deceptive in their simplicity.”
“Yes! The butter needs to be slowly warmed up, and the honey clover or lavender based.”
Nodding her head in agreement, Indigo spoke. “Finally someone who understands. I don't know how many times I've told my father that meadow flower isn't enough, it needs to have clover. Although I prefer the mint over lavender, for that slight tartness.”
Dean pursed his lips in thought. “Haven't thought about that. Maybe I'll try some for my next batch. Not that Cas is getting any”, he added with a sullen tone.
I heard that.
“Good, that was the point. You have some dust on your –
Indigo looked down on her clothes and started to dust herself off.
“My second best ingredient though is Domoor flour.”
I'm waiting. Who is procuring that amazing flour for you? Castiel, worthy of a thousand songs.
Indigo made a sharp intake. “Domoor flour, that's like a bakers dream! How in the Gods holy names do you manage to get a hold of that?”
Suddenly a rush of heat enveloped Dean, the warmth sizzling from the top of his head down to his feet, and he quickly grabbed Indigo and turned her around.
“Why do you have to change now, Cas? Do not turn around, Indigo.” Dean ran to where the tapestry was hanging on the wall, opened up a chest and pulled out some clothes.
“I needed to be certain that you'd include me in your little story. I am the one that brings you the flour after all.” Cas voice was resounding, pleasant and did all sorts of things to Dean. “You can almost say that I'm responsible for those honey cakes.”
“Here, most splendid one, take these. I'm just going to ignore the lies about the cakes.” Dean tossed the pants and a shirt over to Cas who quickly got dressed. His blue eyes were the same brilliant shade in human skin as when he was a dragon. Dean grabbed Cas' arm, his fingers raking up and down with his nails. Cas closed his eyes, a content smile on his lips.
“Sorry about your sword, Dean,” Cas murmured.
“It's alright I guess. I hadn't even used it for ages, not since I met you.”
A shuffle of feet and Dean looked over at Indigo who was practically vibrating with excitement to turn around and find out the source of this new voice. Dean sighed. Cas would never stop talking about this. Indigo was the first girl in forever that was actually excited to meet him.
“It's all good. You can look now.”
Indigo turned, a cry of amazement escaping her. “You must be Castiel, the dragon.” Dean rolled his eyes, as Cas smiled, practically glowing with her adulation of him.
“You are correct, my sweet. The bringer of the flour, pain, and death.”
She took a step forward, uncertainty written all over her face. “May I, Old One?” Dean could see Cas almost glowing with contentment. He unbuttoned the copper sleeve buttons on his shirt – slowly and meticulously rolling them up to expose strong underarms.
“You may, child.” He bent down slightly and whispered in Dean's ear. “Reminds me of you in your early days, Dean.” Dean was about to kick him on the shin when Indigo was there, right in front of Cas. She smoothed out her skirts and then slowly took Cas hand, almost reverently. Her eyebrows shot up.
“Your skin... it's amazing. So warm, almost too hot to touch.”
Dean groaned internally. He would never stop hearing about this. After a few more strokes, she stepped back, much to the disappointment of Cas.
“So, with how things are going it seems no one is about to be eaten, but we can't really send you back either Indigo. This supposed appeasement of Castiel the dragon will not work if you are caught wandering about alive, happy as a peach.”
Indigo's face fell when she caught the implication of Dean's words. “So I can't go back home.”
Cas shook his head, and Dean could see that he truly was sad for the girl. Cas approached Indigo again and took her hands in his. “Do you still desire to be a baker? I have connections and if it would please you, an apprenticeship in Vadenya.”
“Why would I go all the way over there? That's at least a two-month journey –“ She stopped when she realized what he was saying. “You are speaking the truth, you know the Domoor bakers? An apprenticeship there is like a dream come true.”
“Good. Don't worry about the arrangements. They are used to people suddenly appearing. They will take good care of you, and you will also get some coin, courtesy of me.” Cas turned around and went to a shelf and grabbed a velvet black pouch heavy with gold and silver coins. He thrust it in her arms.
“I wish you good fortune, Indigo. But the time has come for Dean to enjoy my company. He has been aching to bask in my presence all morning.”
“For being thousands of years old, your sense of humility sure hasn't caught up.” The words seemed harsh but Dean was smiling.
Cas laughed. “Do you ask the stars to shine less so as not to obscure your puny lights? Do you beg the wild river to calm it's waters so you can gently wade across? Do you demand of the sun to diminish it's light cause you can't stand its burning gaze?”
Dean sighed. “No, Cas, I don't.”
There was a satisfied gleam in Cas eyes and then his attention was on the girl again. “Grab hold of your riches, and close your eyes. This will not cause you any pain.”
Slowly Indigo closed her eyes. Cas smiled and touched her lightly on the forehead with two fingers. With a flash, she was gone.
A calm settled over the cave when Indigo finally left. Dean wrapped his arms around Cas' waist, holding him tight. “You gave her the bag with the so-called faulty coins right?”
As Cas kissed Dean's cheek a smile played on his lips. “Of course. What is the use in having flawed coins? One of my stature deserves better.”
Leaning his head on Cas's shoulder Dean mumbled into his clothes. “A dirty gold coin is hardly faulty, and there is nothing wrong with a nicked silver coin either. You are just being stubborn.”
“Coins should be shiny. Have you seen dirt with that illustrious quality to it, Dean? I sure haven't and I have a few years over you. It would do you good to listen to wiser authority.”
“Wiser authority, Gods if your head got any bigger you wouldn't need your wings Cas, just take a huge breath and float away.” Dean backed off from the comfort of Cas skin. “For being an overbearing thing of an old dragon man, I still love you very much, Cas. But my sword ...”
Cas sighed, and stroke his fingers over Dean's cheek, around his neck, leaving a trail of warmth in its wake. He pressed a kiss on his mouth and spoke softly. “Apologies, Dean. I know that sword had a special place in your heart. I can forge it back for you. My fire burns hot enough.”
A small smile tugged at the corners of Dean's mouth. “Thanks.”
“Thanks, most Excellent one.” Castiel was grinning.
Dean shook his head. “No, that will not happen Cas. But if the Copper, Lord of the Skies –
“Stargazer, Ocean in his Eyes.”
He glared at Cas and his gummy smile that stretched even wider, the azure blue of his eyes haunting in its beauty. They held an ethereal quality that whispered of ancient wisdom, somehow in stark contrast to his human form. Cas was out of this world. Dean trailed his fingers down Cas' arms and grabbed his hand, interlocking their fingers. “I'm starting to suspect that at least half of your names are made up by you.”
Cas' voice was silky smooth. “Harsh accusations from such a small, fragile thing. They are all true though. Even Old Worm that you refuse to utter.”
Gripping Cas' hand tightly Dean pulled him towards their bedroom. “I may be fragile compared to you Cas, but you love me. And Gods save me but I love you.”
“I have bestowed you with amazing gifts; immortality, fire coursing through your blood, the presence of an amazing creature, infinite in his wisdom, remarkable in his human form -”
“Yes, Cas, your heart is made of the sweetest of candies. Close your eyes.” Letting go of Cas, Dean opened the drawer on the small table on his side, rummaging around until he found the object of his search. He gripped the small package wrapped in waxy paper. Suddenly he was nervous, his heart hammering quickly in his chest and his hands turned sweaty.
“Calm breaths, Dean.” Castiel's voice came to him, like from under a lake, all warped and unrecognizable, but still managed to soothe him.
“Stop cheating, Cas.” He gripped the package tighter.
Dean could almost feel the shrug Cas was doing as he spoke, that edge of confidence always present in his voice. “The sudden spike in your pulse combined with the sudden erratic hammering of your heart was clue enough.” Inhaling deeply, he added. “And the air is saturated with the scent from your sweat glands.”
“My sweat glands – Just stop talking.”
When Dean was sure that Cas would continue to follow his command, he waited some more. His intention was to make Cas sweat for a change but the only real outcome was that Dean could quite acutely feel the whooshing sound of his own pulse in his ears.
Walking up to Cas, he exhaled sharply. “Open your eyes.”
Cas did so slowly, the sapphire of his eyes looking straight at him and all Dean could read for once on his face was softness, peace, and calm. He was taken aback for a moment but steeled himself.
“Cas, you are one of the most arrogant, proud creatures I have ever met. You think that the sun rises and sets for you personally each day.” Maybe not the greatest of beginnings but at least he spoke from his heart. He grinned suddenly. “You snore in bed.”
“I certainly do no -”
A raised hand and amazingly Cas closed his mouth, all peaceful lines in his face.
“Yes, you do snore in bed. You can't cook to save your life or mine. You always assume you know best.”
“My life-span vastly outnumbers yours, Dean.”
That earned him a poke from Dean. “You cheat when we play chess, checkers or any game for that matter using your magic wielding fingers.”
Taking another step towards Cas, they were so close now their chest rose and fell in unison. “You save all those girls being sent up here for sacrifice. You pretend to be more than this world, yet you are so eager to take part in it. You certainly aren't an old worm. Gods, your ego certainly doesn't need this but here goes.”
Cas looked at him, a slight grin on his face.
“Stop looking so smug, Cas.”
Unwrapping the small package and letting the paper fall to the floor, Dean held up a little box.
“It's a human custom and you are far from human, but – Even though you are an arrogant asshole I love you. Even after all these years, my heart beats faster when I see you, your jokes although I've heard them many times still make me laugh. I love the sight of you, your eyes, your body in whichever form it may take is breathtaking and sometimes I have to stop myself from touching you cause I'd be content laying in bed all day, doing just that. You smell of copper and honey, of home. I want that feeling to be with me always. You are my sunshine.”
Exhaling again, Dean opened the box to reveal an obsidian ring, the circle shaped like black dragon scales. “Castiel of the Copper, Stargazer, most Brilliant One, Old Worm and Radiating Light. Cas, will you do the great honor of marrying me?”
What Dean took for a short silence stretched on until he noticed that Cas had closed his eyes again.
“Cas, are you going to – “
“Shh, I'm enjoying the praise and love spilling from your lips.”
Dean growled. “By all the living Gods if you don't answer the only thing that will be spilled tonight is your blood.”
Cas' eyes flashed open again, and he caught Dean in a hot, breathy kiss. “My answer is yes.”
Cas kissed him on the side of his face. “I'd be most“, a kiss on his neck, “honored”, a kiss on his jaw, “to be your husband.” Cas returned to Dean's soft lips, kissing him deeper and as he pulled away he left Dean panting for more.
As the ring slid on Cas finger the sight of it made Dean irrationally happy. “It looks good on you, Sir Castiel Winchester.”
Cas shook his head, a smile on his lips. “The ring is magnificent, Dean.” Cas kissed him again. “And yes, Winchester may not have the same grand opulence as Storm bringer, Sun Eater or He Who Comes with the Light but it is the name I will wear most proudly.”
Smiling, Dean hugged Cas, reveling in the beauty and warmth that was his husband. “What did you bring me as a Yule present?”
Dean felt the rumbling in his chest as Cas chuckled, then Cas' hand stroke his back. “A casket of that ale you adore from the establishment – Family Endeavors - we visited a couple months back.”
“Thank you, Cas. Maybe a sword made of Alistarian steel too?”
“So greedy for treasures and shiny things.” One hand continued to stroke Dean's back as the other hand went up in his neck, scratching hard. Gooseflesh appeared all over Dean's skin.
“One would presume you to be the dragon in this relationship. You will have your Alistarian needle soon.”
Sighing contentedly, Dean grinned and kissed him again. “Okay sunshine, now that this marriage affair is settled, your husband needs food and ale.”
Cas stopped his caresses, only to grab Dean's hand and pulled him gently out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen. “I exist to serve you, husband – until the sun is at its highest, then natural order shall resume.”
“Natural order?” Dean sighed.
“Yes. Just because the most beautiful of dragons, with infinite patience and wisdom that even the most ancient of scholars are envious of agreed to marry you, doesn't mean that I will become something I am not.”
Castiel kissed Dean's hand. “I am still worthy of worship, praise, and your touch. Wearing the name Winchester makes that even truer.”
“I deserve more than one casket of ale.” Castiel's only reply was deep laughter.