September 26th, 1994
Castiel and Laura were working on their Charms homework in the Hufflepuff dorms when Kevin came running in, excited. “You’ll never guess what today is!” he said when he finally reached them.
That seemed like a rather ridiculous statement. “It’s Monday,” Castiel stated.
“Well, yeah,” Kevin shrugged, “but other than that!”
It was at this moment, Owen rushed in, out of breath and with an uncharacteristic pink tinge to his face. He put a hand on Kevin’s shoulder to steady himself, but also to make him face him again. “Don’t… tell them… please.”
Kevin put on a sly smirk and turned to Laura. “It’s Owen’s birthday today,” he stated proudly.
Owen groaned loudly and slouched into the nearest armchair. Laura smiled, however, and said, “Happy birthday, Owen!”
This entire exchange had confused Castiel. The whole situation seemed rather… random. What was the point of this? Was this one of those things that humans did for no reason? Perhaps.
So she did what she always did in situations she did not understand: Castiel went back to her work.
It was simple homework, really. A short paragraph about the theory behind the levitation charm. Slightly repetitive, but it would be good for the young humans so they would not forget. Castiel dipped her quill in the inkwell.
It wouldn’t exactly hurt for her to practice magic theory. Quite the opposite, in fact. With the theory in place, she could easily learn more advanced magic at a much faster pace than regular magicals, which would be quite useful with her grace no longer an option.
“Aren’t you going to say anything, Cas?” Kevin said.
Castiel looked up again, her head tilted. She had somewhat forgotten what they were talking about. Something about Owen’s birthday? “Why would I need to say anything?”
Laura frowned and Kevin raised an eyebrow. Oh no. Castiel had done something outside of the regular social dichotomy. What was it this time.
“It’s Owen’s birthday,” Laura said, nodding slowly.
“Yes,” Castiel repeated. “You’ve said that. What about it?”
Kevin dramatically put his hand over face. “You’re supposed to tell him ‘happy birthday’,” he exaggerated, pointing to Owen, who was still sinking in his chair.
“I don’t see why,” she said. “It’s almost the end of the day, and me wishing him to have a ‘happy birthday’ would have no impact on whether he actually does. In fact, it seems to be having an adverse effect, if Owen’s facial queues are any indication.”
He stared at her. Laura shook her head. “You sound like you swallowed a dictionary.”
Was that a reference? Or an idiom? Castiel still wasn’t good at those. “I don’t understand,” she admitted.
“Ugh,” Kevin said. “Owen, can you explain it to her?”
Owen looked up at him with a degree of incredulity. “I didn’t want to make a big deal of my birthday, yet you immediately went and told our friends. Castiel, who is the only one who is actually doing what I want, is not caring what day it is. And you want me to explain why she shouldn’t be doing that? ”
Yes, Owen is making sense here. Laura is also looking slightly guilty.
Kevin shrugged a bit uncomfortably. “Well, she doesn’t understand and you’re the best at explaining things in ways that make sense to her.”
Staring deadpan into the air, Owen sighed loudly. “Cas,” he said, still looking at the air, “when it is someone’s birthday, it is customary to wish them well and, if you are close, to give them a present. It’s supposed to show your appreciation of someone. However, you can also show your appreciation for someone by respecting their choices to not want the fact that it is their birthday to be spread around.”
“Why don’t you like your birthday, Owen?” Laura asked, cautiously.
“It’s a bunch of people I barely know saying robotic words that they don’t mean, and when I was younger, kids would show up to my birthday party, give me a worthless gift that I didn’t like, eat all the cake and candy, and never talk to me at any other point in the year,” he complained. “It’s stupid and nowadays it’s all because society said so! People should only say happy birthday if they really mean it, and not just because!”
“... that was a more impassioned response than I was expecting,” Laura said, “but I can get behind that.”
“Yeah,” Kevin drawed out. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s alright, Kev, you didn’t know.”
Hm. Castiel did care about Owen. She did want him to have a good day, but… “I don’t want you to have a happy birthday,” she stated, earning some confused looks. “I want the majority of your days to be happy.”
“Why not all of them?” Kevin asked.
“That’s unrealistic,” Castiel said. Wasn’t that obvious? It’s impossible for one to be happy every single day. Most days are spent feeling neutral, with both good and bad bits mixed in, for normal humans at least. They then tend to judge the day by which happened more frequently that day.
Owen nodded. “Thanks, Cas.” He relaxed into the chair.
“How does your family celebrate birthdays?” Kevin asked Cas.
“Wait, what?” Laura said, taken aback.
In fact, they all seemed to be at least a tiny bit startled at that revelation. “Your family doesn’t do anything ?”
“No. Why should they? It is a day like any other. Calling attention to something as trivial as an anniversary of one’s birth serves no purpose than to distract us from our work.” Not to mention, there were so many angels. There would have been thousands of birthdays a day, year round. No work could possibly get done. How could they have time for that?
...And affection between angels was always strained the past few millennia. They were hardly the family they used to be. Even then, there was no calendar in heaven. Anniversaries were for humans, not them.
“Cas?” Laura asked. “You alright? You went quiet for a second there.”
So she had. “I was just thinking.”
“Oh.” Things were silent for a moment. “All right, then we’ll celebrate your birthday.”
They wanted to celebrate her birthday? Why? Surely, it wasn’t that important. Dean and Sam don’t celebrate theirs. Come to think of it, she didn’t know any human who does. She knew them, of course. They were simply never acknowledged.
“That’s not necessary,” Castiel said.
“Come on,” Kevin said. “We want to. When is it?”
Cas frowned. When was her birthday? Human calendars certainly didn’t go back far enough, but she couldn’t tell them that. Well, she knew one thing about her birth in relation to humans. “Thursday.”
“Your birthday is this Thursday?” Laura asked. “That’s close to Owen’s.”
“No," Castiel said. "Just Thursday.”
“You don’t even know?!”