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Bluebells

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***

 

The stench of the city clings to Dean, grabbing his insides, too, and turning them around until he feels sick. He showers every day, sometimes twice, yet city living still chokes him until a lump forms in his throat and tears sting the back of his eyes. He barely sleeps, finding it difficult to enjoy eating and realises that living in a busy city makes him feel thoroughly miserable.

He reaches the auto shop early, having not slept again. His body is exhausted, even lifting his arm to knock on the glass front door is hard work. His shoulders ache, his wrists twinge and keeping his eyes open is a feat. He’s an absolute mess.

It takes a while for Bobby - who is both his uncle and his boss - to get to the door, and when he does he stops short. Dean doesn’t look that bad, does he? The door unlocks and Dean steps forward, moving his shoulder bag round to his back so he can slip past. Bobby holds out his hand, though, against his chest and he can feel Bobby’s magic weaving into him gently.

It hurts, filling a void where his own magic should be - where it has been steadily depleting over the past few months. He closes his eyes against the emptiness and has to lean against the door jamb just to stay upright.

“Jesus, kid,” Bobby breathes, and it washes over him like a bucket of ice water. “Go home, you ain’t coming in here like that, I don’t wanna see you for two weeks at least, hell if you didn’t come back for a month I ain’t gonna be mad.”

Dean takes a step back. “But—”

“But nothing, get outta here, Dean, before you fall over. I can feel you ain’t got any magic left so get yourself together, alright?” And with that, Bobby shuts the door in his face.

Dean stands there for a moment, fiddling with his bag strap. He wonders if he stays there long enough, Bobby will let him back in, but after several minutes and no sign of him he sighs and walks home. He only lives around the corner, but each step makes it feel like someone’s adding lead weights to his shoes as he walks. By the time he’s back in his studio apartment, cheap and dismal above a convenience store, Dean just wants to lie down and sleep for the two weeks, but he knows that’s not going to happen until his magic is balanced again.

He looks up forlornly at the cactus on his windowsill, brown and woody rather than green and lush. The spider plant on his bookshelf is dying too, the orchid in his kitchen is beyond saving, and the aloe he’s been growing and tending to since he was twenty is leaning awkwardly to one side, leaves shrivelled and dehydrated. Dean pulls it towards him, setting the pot on his lap and runs his fingers over the leaves.

Nothing happens. It feels like his magic is locked away somewhere he can’t reach. It’s there somewhere, it has to be.

This time, Dean lets the tears of frustration fall and he doesn’t wipe then away. He grabs his phone and Googles for somewhere to stay for a while on short notice and witch friendly. There’s usually a sign or symbol somewhere – discreet – but witches know what they’re looking for. The approaching summer means everywhere is fully booked, and disappointment clouds over him. Maybe he can just take the Impala somewhere and park up. That would make it cheaper, even if he ends up staying in a motel, it should be close enough to what he needs to rebalance himself.

Dean wipes the sleeve of his flannel over his eyes and then over his face, before setting the aloe on the nightstand and grabbing his large duffle from under the bed.

He packs everything he can think of: books, clothes, more books, some packs of ingredients that Bobby lends him; they don’t always work with his earth-based magic but he’s learning. A lot of his dry food goes into the bag too, along with tins because he hopes he can find somewhere to cook.

He feels a little more energised once he’s packed. Perhaps it’s the thought of replenishing his magic, but that’s enough for the moment. The optimism is sufficient to let him function. Dean sits on the edge of his bed, leaning back against his duffle, and breathes. He pulls the aloe onto his lap once again, and after a little tenderness, finds a pup just poking up from the soil.

If he can’t save his primary plant, then he’ll be damned if he loses the baby. He carefully detaches it and pours some soil into a small flower pot before setting the aloe pup inside and patting it down.

“If I can’t save your momma plant, then I’m gonna save you, for sure,” he whispers. Dean smiles, feeling a tiny flicker of his magic sprinkle through him. “Come on, let’s go.” He speaks to himself, and partly to his new plant.

Dean looks around his tiny studio apartment, taking in the unhealthy plants with a frown before deciding he needs to leave now. The plants had helped to keep his magic going until now, but with no magic left in him, they’re dying and it’s killing him too.

Downstairs, he finds Linda at the counter, with a smile that lessens as he nears. “You need a holiday,” she says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Dean just turns to show her his bag and shrugs.

“Have you got anywhere in mind?”

Dean shakes his head. “Everywhere was full so I’m just gonna hit the road and see where I end up. I need out of this city.”

“I’ve got a little cabin I own if you don’t mind being pretty isolated, if you needed somewhere. Free of charge if you come back looking better than that,” she gestures to all of him. Dean can’t find it in himself to argue.

“Where is it?”

“New England, near the White Mountains, pretty this time of year too.”

She’s right, New England sounds really good, all green and lush. It’ll take a couple of days to drive there and then he’ll be able to sink his hands into the forest and replenish what he needs.

“Please,” Dean crumbles easily with the thought and Linda smiles.

“There’s a guy out there usually renting the place over winter, but he’s usually out of there by now,” she hands over a set of keys which she finds in a drawer and Dean takes them. There’s one modern looking key and two mortice keys and Linda briefly explains that the modern one is for the storage shed, and the two mortice ones are for both the front door and the attic space.

He gets the address from her, buys a couple of extra supplies for the journey and waves goodbye with a gracious ‘thank you’ for the cabin.

Getting into his car, he feels exhausted all over again. He sets his duffle on the back seat and the aloe on the dashboard. Holding out his hand, palm towards the baby aloe, he mutters a quiet warding spell so that the plant doesn’t tip or spill on his journey, but nothing comes of it. He grumbles, setting the aloe pup in the cup holder instead. Just trying the spell gives him a headache and makes him feel nauseous, despite feeling like he could have eaten something five minutes ago.

Dean sighs, starting the engine and rolling out of his road, one eye on his plant for the first few turns. Once he’s confident the cup holder is a safe place, he relaxes a little, and presses his foot further on the gas to get himself as far from the city as he can. He needs to get at least eight hours driving in today if he wants to make good time.

 

The night at the first motel sucks. It’s stuffy, the sheets itch and he feels miserable. He tries to sleep, but he only manages a few hours of dozing before he gives up and paces the motel room. Dean’s reluctant to touch anything, fearing what he’ll catch from it, especially in his depleted state. The baby aloe sits next to the alarm clock and he keeps a careful eye on it, pressing a gentle finger to the soil and letting whatever magic he has left keep it healthy. The plant has enough water, good temperature and pH value from what he can tell. A small smile graces Dean’s face, this plant’s a fighter, he can tell. When all the other plants in his apartment died along with Dean’s magic, this one fought through. Maybe there’s a little part of Dean that needs to fight to get out to New England, too.

Dean sleeps, finally, the small plant still in his hand, still guarded under the warding that won’t let it tip.

Driving the next day is long and laborious and as the country passes by, his heart yearns for all of it. He could stop, soak up and recharge but he’d rather have the comfort of Linda’s cabin to head back to once he’s done. Recharging is going to take a lot of work and he knows that he’s going to crash straight afterwards. He cherishes his Impala a lot, but he’d rather sleep on a mattress and not on his leather back seat to recover.

The second hotel is much nicer, but sleep still doesn’t come. Instead, Dean has a dinner date with his baby aloe vera, and he pretends not to be embarrassed when the waitress comes over to serve him his coffee and food. As he’s tucking into his burger, he’s sure that the baby aloe has grown some, maybe only a millimeter or so, but it’s still progress and Dean grins.

He reaches the cabin the day after, weary to his bones and for a moment, he just stares at the cabin like it’s a hallucination. He made it.

Dean practically crawls out of the Impala, his limbs stiff and his brain fuzzy from concentrating for so long. The aloe comes with him first, not having the heart to leave her on the dashboard – he named her Impy because he’s original, and because he couldn’t make his brain work more than naming her after the car.

Unlocking the door with the mortice key, it swings open and he lumbers through with his heavy duffle and his little Impy, breathing in the earthy smell of the cabin. It looks lived in, which he’s relieved by, because it means he won’t have to go around clearing dust from every surface in the morning. Once he’s tossed his duffle in the bedroom area and set Impy on the breakfast counter, he goes back outside.

It’s dusk, despite having left at an ungodly hour that morning, and he’s glad that he’ll be able to start the replenishing process that he so desperately needs.

Dean heads into the woods, only half taking notice of which way he’s going before he finds a small clearing, the last of the sun dropping behind the tree tops and casting great shadows across the grassy floor. A few birds chirp and there’s an owl hooting in the distance, but Dean tunes them out at he drops to the floor right in the middle of the clearing.

The feel of the cool grass under his fingers sends a shiver down his back and he tucks one leg in close to his body as he rests his head against his other knee, breathing deeply. Torturously slow, the cage inside him keeping his magic hostage opens and he can breathe easier as the grass lengthens between his fingers and tickles the light hairs.

Weariness hits him like a falling tree but he fights to stay awake just a little longer. Dean opens one eye, looking down at his hand where a couple of tiny daisies have begun to grow and bluebells start to peek out between his fingers. He beams and a laugh bubbles from inside him until it calls out into the darkening sky. He made it; all that junk city air is free and his magic is coursing through him once again, sending bolts of electricity up his spine as tendrils of bright green flow from his hands and down into the ground. He can give back to the forest as much as it’s giving to him, and Dean can feel the trees and the earth around him respond to his touch. Somewhere near him, a once-dying shrub has life breathed into it.

A calm settles over him that he hasn’t felt in far too long, ivy crawling up his arms in loops. He’s been working too much, too hard and had forgotten to focus on himself and his magic. It’s such an integral part of him, he internally berates himself for neglecting it and getting to this point. What’s done is done, though, and he’s here now, repairing himself and everything around him, ready to face the next two weeks on his own. He’s not entirely sure how he’s going to fill the time, he figures he could explore the mountains, and practice his magic around here too.

Before he can catch himself and get up to go back to the cabin, exhaustion catches up with him. He can’t even fight it off this time. Right there in the grass, Dean drifts off into a dreamless sleep.

 

***

 

Dean wakes to a cold wetness pressing against his nose. He wrinkles it, pulling back and feeling the forest floor beneath his clothes. The wetness is back, insistent against his cheek, nose, forehead. Dean waves his arm around, whatever is poking at him can get lost. Through a night of good sleep, Dean’s regained much of his magic, though he never intended to crash outside the cabin.

His hand meets fur and his eyes snap open. Expecting a bear or wolf ready to make him it’s next meal, he’s shocked when he comes face to face with a very large, very blue-eyed cat.

Dean sits up, expecting to sneeze any moment, waiting for the itch and the rash to form on his face but nothing comes. Instead he just stares at the cat and it stares back, head cocked a little and eyes narrowed as if it were trying to decide what to do with him.

“Go away, cat,” he says, shooing it off but it doesn’t move - if anything, the already-unimpressed face gets even more so. “Go away!” he says louder and scrambles to his feet. Dean treks back to the cabin, sporadically looking back to see if the cat is following. It looked fairly domesticated, so perhaps it lives around here somewhere. The owner should still be around if the cat is, a forest is no place for a cat.

When he’s back at the cabin, he works to put all his belongings away in the compact chest of drawers in the bedroom area, and the food in the kitchenette. He’s only staying two weeks but he might as well make it feel like home.

Once he’s done, he grabs himself some soup to heat on the stove before sitting with his books. He practices incantations until they’re perfect, and his magic buzzes through him like he’s never felt before.

He takes care of Impy, recognising how she’s grown just that little bit bigger already and how much the soil is richer than it had been before. He’s able to cast a strong healing spell over her too, and watches as her leaves go from a slightly pale green to a strong healthy green.

He makes a bluebell grow from his palm and has ivy growing up his arm until it tickles his neck and he smiles. This is the best Dean has felt in years. Whatever is in this forest must be strong, and he’s enjoying it.

Dean looks forward to spending the next two weeks perfecting spells from when he was younger and learning new ones he’d been unable to master due to depletion.

 

***

 

Dean goes to bed that night sated with his day’s work, and sleeps easily and soundly.

That is, until he’s woken by a noise. A creaking sound and a cool breeze. The open layout cabin is almost pitch black and he hardly dares to peek over his covers. He’s being a child, he knows, but he can cast up a warding spell without whispering a word out loud. A wash of invisible warding goes up, just around his bed space creating both protection and a glamour to make it seem as though he’s still asleep to anyone who approaches.

He sits up in bed, heart beating rapidly and is most definitely not prepared when something jumps on his bed.

“Ah!” He shouts as it lands on his legs, scurrying back towards the headboard. In the pitch black he can just about make out a small outline of an animal. An animal shouldn’t have been able to penetrate his warding any more than a human, so whatever this was shouldn’t have been able to get to the bed.

“What the fuck?” Dean reaches through his glamour and warding to his nightstand and flicks on the lamp. The creature that jumped on him is a cat, the same damn cat that was in the forest with him that morning. The clock reads 3AM, and it’s not a time he wants to be awake. In that moment, Dean notices that a summer storm has drawn in, rattling the trees and rain lashing against the windows.

The cat wanted in from the storm. Dean sighs. He guesses it can stay. After all, he doesn’t seem allergic to this cat. It’s unusual but Dean isn’t questioning it.

“You can stay while the storm is blowing through, but you ain’t staying in my bed.” He grumbles to the cat. The cat dips its head, ears flicking as if it understood exactly what Dean said, before hopping to the floor. With the lamp casting a low glow over the room, he watches it gracefully leap onto the armchair in the corner turn around a couple of times, shake itself and then plop down in a ball.

Dean stares for a moment, pretty dumbfounded as he tried to work through what the hell just happened. Dean had locked all the doors and all the windows, so how did it get in? Sure, a human might have got in if they tried hard enough but a cat with no opposable thumbs? Surely not. Dean shakes his head in disbelief and reminds himself to work on his combined warding tomorrow. Clearly, they weren’t strong enough to keep a cat out, so who knows what could have got in.

Dean sleeps restlessly for the rest of the night even after the storm wanes. The cat on the armchair is distracting but he must sleep eventually, because when he wakes, the cabin is bright as the sunlight streams in through the thin curtains. He peels back the covers and steps onto the rug covered wooden floor and makes his way to the kitchenette. Setting the coffee machine going, he narrows his eyes at the armchair, padding towards it. Long hairs cover a round cushion - the cat had been real. He hadn’t been dreaming or hallucinating, although he wouldn’t have been surprised if he had.

Shrugging, Dean goes back for coffee, pouring a cup and sipping at it even though he knows it’s going to be hot. He settles down at the table and cracks open one of his books, flicking through it to some of the combined warding spells. He reads through the one he used that morning.

The Latin is second nature to him after years of reading and learning, and then extra learning when his younger brother decided he not only wanted to learn what was in the spell books, but also everything else too. The words he used in his mind were right and his thoughts, albeit a little startled, had been in the right place, so he can’t work out where he’d gone wrong.

He stands, drawing his hands around the table and then lifting them up, making the table and anything above it into a glamour. His coffee cup disappears, as do the several books which prove the glamour works. He lets the glamour down and sets up a protection spell.

As he can’t test his own protection spell, Dean stands back and tosses his pen at it, watching as it bounces off. That works too.

“Huh…”

This time he tries again, throwing up the combined glamour and protection spell around the table. It holds steady and he doesn’t feel a strain off it like it’s about to wobble. His coffee cup has gone and throwing a pen at it causes it to bounce back. Perhaps this morning had simply been a fluke. Perhaps, half-asleep, he wasn’t able to cast it properly.

Dean shakes his head, perplexed and not wholly satisfied, but releases the spell so he can retrieve his coffee.

For the rest of the morning, Dean lazes on the couch and basks in his recovery, before deciding to go out for food in the afternoon. A short drive away he finds the perfect diner that sells greasy burgers and the thickest milkshakes. He off on holiday, he’s allowed to indulge.

On his journey back home, the clouds begin to darken, and rain is imminent once again. Dean wonders if he’s going to be disturbed again by the cat.

He has no plans for the evening, so he grabs a blanket from the back of the couch and decides to watch whatever is on the limited channels he gets on the small TV in the cabin. He flicks through until an old western comes on, the black and white images providing adequate distraction for the evening. He turns the volume up, its tinny echo filling the room easily and Dean decides that now is a good a time as any to get dinner. He can afford to have something lighter, like the rest of the soup he had the other day, as he had a big lunch.

The bowl warm in his lap, Dean’s attention is fully enrapt in the movie and he doesn’t notice for a while that the rain has begun to lash against the windows and the wind starts howling and then he feels something else for a moment, deep down in his gut.

Guilt.

That cat is out there in this, probably hoping for some shelter from this storm and Dean shuffles his bowl onto the floor. The front porch to the cabin doesn’t provide any shelter from the storm, and as Dean peers out, he spots the bedraggled-looking forest cat in the corner of the porch, trying its best to stay out of the worst of the rain.

This doesn’t change his mind about cats - he’s still allergic and would still prefer to be a mile away from them - but he can’t leave that poor creature out there. And he’s not allergic to this cat.

Dean unlocks and opens the door, watching as the rain comes splashing in. He pokes his head out, craning until he can see the cat. “Come on, get out of the rain!” Dean calls into the storm. The cat looks at him before making a dash for the door and slips in, letting Dean lock the storm out again. Once in, the cat shakes itself, water droplets scattering everywhere.

The cat looks over to the armchair where it had made its home before and Dean sighs, catching the cat’s attention. “Fine,” he says and the cat perks up, trotting over to the armchair and curling up on it.

The cat is sweet, Dean will give it that, but he’s not getting attached - he’s not - even as he passes the armchair and scratches the cat between its ears. Albeit a little soggy, the cat’s long fur feels nice and fluffy and what’s even better is that Dean hasn’t sneezed once.

The cat closes its eyes and presses its head into Dean’s hand, and Dean feels a rush of affection and his magic fizzles inside of him.

With a smile, he sits back down on the couch and resumes watching the old western movies which are playing one after the other.

When he begins to doze off in front of the TV, Dean decides to go to bed, telling himself he’ll work on his spells more in the morning. Maybe he’ll even go back out into the forest, if it isn’t too wet, and soak up some of the energy to perform a couple of bigger spells.

He strips down to his boxers and pads around barefoot to get a glass of water to put on his nightstand. Sleep comes easier to him that night and he’s grateful.

 

***

 

A clap of thunder overhead wakes Dean suddenly, and he sits up on his elbows, heart beating fast. Another clap and Dean groans, silently begging for the storm to pass over so he can sleep peacefully again.

He lies back down and tries to pull the sheets back over him, but he’s met with considerable resistance. Dean switches on the lamp and turns over, to be met with a shock of dark hair. He blinks. It’s a man, naked save for a pair of boxers. He’s still asleep, exactly how Dean doesn’t know, but he shoves at the man to wake him.

“Hey! Get out!” Dean yells, scrambling from the bed as the man wakes up. The stranger has blue eyes, which remind Dean of the cat he’s been housing for the past few nights, and that’s the only thing that stops Dean from turning this asshole into a log and throwing him into the fire. Could it be? Dean catches the end of the sheet and pulls it before the man has time to fully wake and topples him onto the floor. There’s a loud oof before a cat trots round the side of the bed, the man nowhere in sight.

“Holy shit, you’re a shapeshifter!”

The cat transforms in front of his eyes, back into the man from moments ago. Dean gets a better look at him now, noting the dark hair and tall stature. He’s not as tall as Dean, but it’s not by much. The bright blue eyes and well-defined features are the next thing Dean notices. Dean’s eyes take in the rest of him, toned torso and thick thighs before they flick back up to the man’s face, a blush high on his cheeks. Yup, still naked.

“I’m a Familiar, how dare you compare me to those vile beasts.” He grumbles, stepping closer to Dean and narrowing his eyes as if inspecting him.

“Sorry.”

The man huffs and wanders towards the kitchenette, picking up the coffee pot and emptying the stale leftovers.

“What are you doing?”

“Making coffee. I knew you were a Witch, but I didn’t realise you were a stupid one.”

Dean takes offence but he can’t think of anything to say back to him. He flounders, mouth opening and closing until he settles on what to say.

“What’s even your name?”

“Castiel – Cas.”

“Well, Cas, what the fuck?”

“You let me in,” Castiel explains and yes, he’s right about that but he let a cat in, not a human, a Familiar.

“Yes, you were looking sorry for yourself,”

“I’d been planning to come in once you’d gone to sleep but the storm hit much earlier than anticipated,”

“Don’t you have somewhere else to go instead of breaking in to this cabin?”

“I don’t break in, I have a key,” which suddenly explains how the cat got in and out the other night.

“You’re a familiar?” Dean asks, like he didn’t hear it the first time. He’s still trying to get this straight and a grumpy, half naked man making coffee isn’t helping with that in any respects.

“That is what I said,” Castiel pours two cups of coffee and passes one to Dean.

“Thanks,” Dean takes a sip, burning his lips before something dawns on him and he chokes harshly on his coffee. “Wait—"

“Please don’t freak out about that, we didn’t officially bond,” Castiel jumps in before Dean can get another word out about how they touched one another.

“So, we didn’t bond?”

“No, though we are compatible, I felt it when you touched me last night,”

“But we’ve only just met!”

“Yes, but we can still be compatible. It doesn’t take much to sense it, I’m more susceptible and the first day you got here you sent out a pretty distressed signal which I followed back here. I had to make sure you were okay and I was going to stay in my cat form, but the storm made me lose control,”

“Oh,” Dean hadn’t even considered the impact his condition had on others, but it’s sweet Castiel came to see if he was alright.

“I’ve stayed in this cabin for years over the winters, I tend to move back home in the summer to be with my brothers and sisters, most of them channel different energies to mine and the majority of them are avian too,” Castiel smiles a little and despite the early hour and the lack of light, it brightens the room.

“Oh god,” Dean breathes, feeling a little weak. Castiel’s hands are light on his body as he directs him down onto a chair.

“Can I show you something?” Castiel asks, his hand on the back of Dean’s neck and stroking through the fine hairs. It feels good, Castiel’s energy feels good, and Dean’s beginning to feel drunk from his presence. The coffee is leeching into his system, sending a buzz through his chest and making his leg shake up and down.

“Yeah.”

“Produce a flower, like the ones from when you first got here, the bluebells.”

Dean frowns but does so, holding out his hand tentatively, shooting a wary look towards the Familiar.

Castiel rolls his eyes. “I’m not going to bond with you without your consent.” With that, Dean feels more confident and a barely-there glow shines first green, then blue, as a bluebell forms in the palm of his hand.

He nearly pulls away when Castiel lays his hand underneath Dean’s, fingers curling slowly and gently holding on to Dean’s.

Dean watches as one bluebell becomes two, then three and then slowly ivy forms between the bluebells, entwining their hands and reaching up both Castiel’s and his own arms. He can’t help but smile. Dean feels no pull of his own resource magic, no more than the first bluebell and first ivy leaf needed, but it feels amazing, like he never felt his magic before.

Dean looks up to Cas, whose eyes are glowing faintly, and is stunned by how beautiful he is. Maybe it’s the adrenaline that’s making Dean feel more than usual, but this man - this Familiar - is everything.

He loses concentration as his heart settles in place, staring at this man, coffee forgotten to the kitchen table.

“You were thinking about other things,” Castiel chides, but he’s smiling like he knows he’s the cause.

Dean just hums, forcing himself to blink and break eye contact with Castiel’s face. “Wow.”

All at once the dark of the cabin and the smell of coffee return, but Castiel is no less handsome and his heart is no less happy. His magic dances inside him, fizzing and popping and singing.

“It’s supposed to feel good.”

“It does.”

“I’m glad.”

The coffee seems to have worn off already which is disappointing and has left him sleepy. He doesn’t want to sleep though. There’s too much to consider, where would Castiel sleep? Dean can’t exactly send him on his way now, but maybe he’d go back to his cat form and curl up on the sofa.

Or maybe, since they’ve already done it, they could both sleep in Dean’s bed.

“If you’re tired, you should sleep,” Castiel tells him and Dean looks back at his bed. The sheets are in a heap and one of the pillows is on the floor.

Dean swallow hoping he can get the next few words out without making a fool of himself. “You can, you know. Share. If you want.” He doesn’t wait for an answer, just turns and heads back to his bed.

He straightens it up quickly, placing the pillow back on the bed and laying the sheets flat before sliding under. He rolls onto his side, facing the nightstand and it’s barely a moment later when he feels a dip behind him. Dean can hear a cautious breath behind him, and then he can feel as Castiel works his way under the sheets and shuffles closer.

Dean’s never done this before and he’s definitely not freaking out about it, it’s not often Dean offers up the other side of the bed to anyone but a spare pillow. He wants to look over his shoulder, but that would mean confirming he has another person in his bed and honestly he doesn’t even know why he’s so concerned. Is this solely because of a potential bond that could be formed between them at a later date? He’s heard of some Familiars stealing the bond from witches but Castiel has already said that he would only bond with Dean if he chooses too, plus, Castiel had seen him at his most vulnerable, more than once and never took advantage. It’s been a few hours, they can take their time.

It explains a lot, though, his lack of allergies, the extra exhaustion in the forest the first night and the extra fizziness of his magic the past few days. Had he really sent out a signal so strong that Castiel felt the need to come back to the cabin to see what was happening? Then again, he remembers just how awful he’d felt having lived in the city for so long. Maybe a familiar would help with that too? He doesn’t necessarily want to stay in the city longer, he hates how the city clings to him, but it would help him not feel so depleted with the lack of natural energy that he needs. It would also give him an excuse to come back out here too. Linda had said that the cabin is used for most of the year by someone else. This Familiar, Castiel, must be that someone else. If Dean’s honest, he’s really glad for that.

Fuck it.

Dean flicks off the light and turns over, facing Castiel. In the darkness, the Familiar is nothing but a shadow but with the storm passing, the moonlight just about sheds enough light to see a glint in Castiel’s open eyes.

“You really think something like this could work, that we have a connection?”

“It felt like more than that – I don’t want to pressure you, Dean, but this… it feels profound.” Castiel’s whispers are sending shivers up his spine.

“I’d… like to try, can we try?” Dean asks and settles one hand between his head and the pillow and the other bumps against Castiel’s hand accidentally. A spark, one that’s tangible, green and unexpected, flares between them lighting up their faces and a bluebell grows up from the sheets. “I’m sorry,” Dean laughs nervously and swipes his hand to rid of the bluebell.

“Are they your favourite?”

Dean rarely admits it, but they are. His mother used to pick them and put them in small vases when he was younger, before she died. All memories tied to them are happy, content, and he often uses those feeling to grasp what he needs for his magic too. He nods.

“And the ivy?”

“I like how it wraps around me, the feel of it makes me feel calm,” Dean tells him. It feels okay to say it, in the darkness and with a near stranger, who no longer feels so strange to him.

Castiel’s hand comes to rest on his shoulder and they end up shuffling closer to one other. There’s a beat, and then Castiel’s arm is around him and that feeling Dean gets, the closeness, the safety, the calm, it envelopes him.

It’s perfect. It’s familiar, it’s his Familiar - he hopes - and he realises it’s what he needs, a knot loosening in his stomach as he lets himself nuzzle in closer to Castiel. Content, Dean closes his eyes.

Outside the storm has silenced, clouds have cleared and the moon shines bright in the sky. Deep in the woods a field of bluebells get ready to bloom with the morning sun. In the small kitchenette of the cabin, Dean’s aloe grows, steady, easy and strong, just like she’s supposed to with Dean’s magic feeding her. Nothing but the sound of breathing fills the cabin, both Dean and Castiel pressed in close with one another, their bond, not yet formed, bubbling beneath the surface.