Harry walked up the road that led to the bunker. Despite having the coordinates, the portkey had done an odd bounce when he had tried to land. It made the trip even more nauseating and he may have passed out for a moment. When he had opened his eyes, he was lying on his back in the middle of a farmer’s field down the road from where he had wanted to be. Or, at least, he hoped he was – the road wound through a small forest, without much visibility for what was ahead – but Harry nevertheless felt that he was moving closer to his target rather than away from it.
He rounded a bend in the road and felt a rush of relief when he saw what appeared to be an abandoned power plant. It was the right era of architecture, and if the Wizarding World liked to hide things behind a facade of neglect, Harry didn’t doubt that the Men of Letter’s might have thought similarly.
There was also an old, boxy Cadillac parked outside with an angel on the hood.
Castiel’s trench coat was the same colour as the car, and Harry wondered if that was why he drove it. They sort of blended together as one unit from a distance.
As Harry drew closer, he could see that Castiel appeared to be napping. Just as Harry was wondering if he should wake the angel up or not, one of Castiel’s eyes opened and looked at Harry.
“Hello Harry,” Castiel said. “I wondered if that might be you. I saw you bounce off the wards.”
Harry felt slightly embarrassed. “Er, yes, I suppose I should have foreseen that happening.”
Castiel just nodded. “They aren’t back yet.”
“Do you know how long they’ll be?” Harry asked.
Castiel shrugged and looked back up at the sky. Harry felt decidedly awkward.
“So... how have you been?” Harry asked.
Castiel looked at him. “Mostly terrible.”
“Oh,” Harry replied. “Uh, sorry to hear that...”
“I’ve lost all my followers to Metatron,” Castiel continued. “Perhaps Sam and Dean could have prevented it, but they had to go to New York to save your godson from Hunters. Granted, I understand the priority, but I do wish the timing-”
Castiel furrowed his brow. “I would have thought you would also support the priority of ensuring your godson’s safety.”
“I do!” Harry exclaimed. “But... they said they were just saying hello, they didn’t say anything about Hunters! My god... Merlin’s beard... how did they? When?”
“I don’t know the details,” Castiel said. “I was busy.”
“Right,” Harry replied, his mind reeling.
It was then that they heard the sound of rumbling engine coming towards them down the road. Castiel slid off the hood of his car and stood. Harry just turned and stared as the Impala rounded the corner and came into view. He already knew Teddy was safe, so it didn’t make sense to feel relief when he saw Teddy’s silhouette in the backseat, but he felt it all the same.
He waited until they were out of the car, before he spoke.
“Teddy-” Harry began.
“Who told him!?” Teddy demanded, cutting him off immediately and scowling at Sam and Dean. “You said you wouldn’t.”
“We didn’t,” Dean snapped back.
“My apologies,” Castiel said to Teddy. “I had not been informed that it was a secret.”
“Sorry,” Sam simply said, and Harry wasn’t sure who he was talking to, perhaps all of them.
“Teddy, what-” Harry tried again.
“Listen, it’s over now, and I’m fine, and I would have been fine without their help,” Teddy replied. “It probably would have been less bloody if we didn’t have help, for that matter, but what’s done is done, and we’re moving on. My point is that I don’t want to talk about it.”
Teddy made his way to the back of the vehicle to join Dean, who was opening the trunk. Harry watched as Teddy pulled out his travel bag and also a few shopping bags.
“Bloody?” Harry asked Sam, because he was closest and looked the least angry out of everyone.
“I told Dean not to-“ Sam started to say.
“Yeah, but I did,” Dean interrupted, as he came back around the car with his bag slung over his shoulder. “You were being an infant.”
“Dean, the Blade, or the Mark, it’s-” Sam said, only to be cut off again.
“It’s the only thing that can kill Metatron, so until he’s dead, I’m calling the shots. Capisce? You don’t have to like it, but that’s how it’s gonna be,” Dean said, and then stormed off towards the bunker.
“Sam?” Harry asked. “What’s going on?”
Sam didn’t answer, instead he gave Cas a nod as the angel followed Dean into the bunker.
“I told you over the mirror,” Teddy suddenly spoke up from beside Harry. “There’s something wrong with Dean – we’re going to try to help.”
“I’ll fill you in,” Sam sighed. “Let’s get the boys set up in the lab first.”
Sam just gestured to the building and Harry realized that he was about to see the Men of Letter’s Headquarters for the first time – well, the first time not through a mirror. He followed Sam down the steps to the door on the side of the windowless building. He was expecting the door to open into some grand foyer perhaps – but instead it opened into a dark tunnel, only very dimly lit. The tunnel wound its way to the right and then left, and then finally there was another doorway that led out onto an interior balcony.
This room looked familiar – he had seen the maps on the wall when he had called with the mirror before. He followed Sam down the metal stairs, as Dean and Cas disappeared ahead of them through a large archway – they seemed to be having an engrossing conversation about batteries.
“So, this is the Bunker,” Sam introduced. “This is the war room, through there is the library,” Sam gestured to the archway, where Harry could see Dean and Cas seated at a long table – and he knew that room well, from seeing it when he called. “And through here is the... well, it’s an infirmary, I suppose – but it’s probably the best place to do this thing. It has beds.”
Harry and the boys followed Sam into a hallway, and then down just a few doors to find a tiled medical room. There were various raised adjustable beds, as well as metal tables on wheels.
“You said you had cauldrons,” Teddy said, looking around the cauldron-less room.
“Oh, right, yeah – the lab is actually this way,” Sam said, then led them back into the hall, past the entrance to the war room. They entered another door that led them behind the glass wall of the war room and into a darker area, with tables pushed to the walls, and old equipment gathering dust in the back.
Sam made his way to a cupboard and pulled it open, then hefted out two dusty cauldrons.
“We’ll have to wash ‘em first, there’s a good sink for it in the kitchen. I’ll go do it for you,” Sam said. “There are ingredients here too, and more in the storeroom, though a lot of them are old.”
“Thanks, Sam,” Teddy replied. He and Nate, by some silent agreement, started moving furniture about and getting things ready.
“Do you need me to-” Harry started to ask.
“No,” Teddy replied curtly, cutting him off.
“Uh, you can come help me with the cauldrons,” Sam said into the tense silence. Harry nodded and followed him out. The fact that he felt relieved when he was no longer sharing a room with Teddy was more depressing than anything.
“Listen, uh, that age isn’t the best,” Sam said awkwardly as they made their way down the hall and into a kitchen.
Harry sighed. “He was such a lovely teenager, I don’t understand what happened.”
“He just wants to find his own way,” Sam said, dumping the cauldrons with a clatter into the deep sink. “And then you show up...”
“I’m helping,” Harry argued, over the sound of Sam turning on the taps.
Sam just picked up a scrubbing brush and looked at Harry.
“I’m helping,” Harry insisted and he took the brush from Sam and drew his wand. Sam’s eyes widened as the brush started cleaning the cauldrons on its own.
“Uh, okay,” Sam said. “But that’s not really what I meant.”
“Tell me about Dean,” Harry demanded, because really, Dean was probably a higher priority than Harry’s moody godson.
“Why don’t we go have Dean tell you about Dean,” Sam suggested, shaking his head. “It’s probably better to hear things straight from the source.”
They left the cauldrons to clean themselves and walked back to the library.
As they were crossing the war room, however, Sam suddenly paused and threw his arm back as if to shield Harry.
“GUYS!” Sam yelled, and that’s when Harry saw the man step out of the shadows of the other doorway. He was dressed in a leather jacket, square-jawed, and obviously wary of them.
“I’m not here to fight,” the man said, as Dean and Castiel ran into the room. The man turned to address Castiel directly. “I thought about what you said. You’re right. Metatron, he’s... something needs to be done.”
“And we should trust you why?” Sam asked.
“Because I can give him to you. I know where Metatron is. I know everything,” the man replied. “I know the bombers. They were his agents, not yours,” he added, looking at Castiel again. “You don’t trust me, fine. I understand. I’ve... made mistakes. But haven’t you? Haven’t we all? At least give me a chance.”
Harry didn’t know who this person was, but it was obvious that he was no friend of the Winchesters – still, he seemed sincere in his offer and it was an offer they needed.
It seemed Sam and Dean were having similar thoughts, as they exchanged looks and Dean stepped forward, extending his left hand for a handshake. And then suddenly time slowed down as Dean shifted on his feet the moment the stranger accepted his outstretched hand – there was a strange blade in Dean’s right hand, arching up and slashing the man deeply across the chest. Harry only had a moment to see the glowing blue light in the wound that told him that the stranger was not a man at all, before the glow faded and the stranger was falling into a bloody heap. Sam and Cas sprung forward and restrained Dean, who was screaming in rage and fighting them in order to strike a death blow.
Harry ran forward, falling to his knees beside the stranger. Harry had never seen an angel injured, but he could only assume that’s what this person was – someone that knew Metatron, someone that tried to plead his case to Castiel, who had met with him before. Harry only hoped that the angel would respond to healing spells the same way that a human would.
He began with Vulnera Sanentur, as Sam and Cas dragged Dean from the room, still snarling. The incantation took all his focus. Harry wasn’t particularly skilled at healing spells, and certainly not healing spells given to angels after they’d been struck with strange weapons. He only realized that Teddy and Nate had come into the room when Teddy knelt down on the other side of the angel’s prone body. His hair was blond and he seemed lankier than normal, but his face still looked like Teddy, heart-shaped and kind.
Teddy leaned over the angel’s head and caught his eyes, patting his hair gently and then he sat back, and reached forward and tore the angel’s shirt open further, exposing the wound that Harry was only half-way through knitting back together. Harry would have chastised him, only his voice was occupied with the incantation and he wasn’t sure the angel could afford to have him lose concentration.
Teddy muttered his own incantation and a ghostly blue image of the angel’s ribs and stomach cavity appeared in the air above them. It was Till’s spell – a Healer’s spell – Harry realized that Teddy must have learned it in the early days of looking after Kevin.
Whatever Teddy saw seemed to satisfy him, because he banished the image quickly. Harry was nearly done now, the wound mostly closed, though still red and ugly looking, like it was a breath away from opening again and bleeding anew.
Nate ran over then and passed a small amber glass bottle to Teddy. Harry realized what it was, even before Teddy carefully used the dropper to apply it to the wound.
“Essence of Dittany,” Harry said, watching as the angry wound began to look like it was days old already, healing well, the new flesh white and shiny. “I didn’t realize you had some.”
Teddy nodded. “I have the plant too,” he said. “Nate’s brewing a tea. There won’t even be a scar.” Teddy smiled at the angel, who was looking at them both with wide-eyes, no doubt, still full of adrenaline from the attack. “Can you sit up? There’s a pillar just behind you that you can lean against.”
The angel nodded and lifted himself up on his elbows. He winced a little, but the wound didn’t reopen. He probably could have stood and sat in a chair, but instead he just scooted to the side and rested his back against the pillar as Teddy had said.
“I should go,” the angel said. “Before they come back – I am obviously not welcome here.”
“No, stay,” Harry said. “Dean is not well. He speaks for no one but himself. Sam, I believe, was willing to hear you out. Castiel too. Or else why would they have stopped Dean?”
The angel seemed to think about Harry’s words and nodded slowly.
It was then that Nate came in carrying two cups of tea.
“I’ve got the tea,” he announced unnecessarily. “One for the wounded and one for Teddy. If you’d like a cup too, Harry, I can go reboil the water quick.”
“That’s okay,” Harry said. He wondered why Nate had taken the time to make Teddy a cup of tea in the first place, but then, perhaps they had already had a kettle on for that reason. Nate handed a cup to Teddy and another to the angel, who took it and smelled it curiously before taking a sip.
Teddy sipped at his own tea, holding the cup with both hands, yet still managing to splash a little over the rim. Harry only smiled, remembering Tonks’ clumsiness. Even when Teddy didn’t resemble either of his parents, Harry could still see them in his manner and movements.
“So, who are you? ” Teddy asked the angel. “Oh, wait, that’s a bit rude, sorry. I’m Teddy, this is Harry, and this is Nate. What’s your name?”
“Gadreel,” the angel said.
All three wizards froze. The angel – Gadreel – seemed to deflate.
“Do you regret saving my life?” he asked.
“Do you regret killing Kevin?” Teddy asked in return, his voice almost a whisper.
Gadreel looked pained, closing his eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath. “I do. I regret that moment and everything that has come after.”
“Then no,” Teddy answered. “I don’t regret helping you.”
“Neither do I,” Harry said, almost as an afterthought, because he was too busy being fiercely proud of his godson.
Gadreel looked up at Nate, who was standing just behind where Teddy knelt on the floor.
“I just boiled the kettle,” Nate shrugged. “But I don’t regret it.”
“Thank you,” Gadreel replied sincerely.
It was then that Sam and Cas came back into the room. Any tension that had dissipated returned as Gadreel scrambled to his feet.
“I’ll go. I’ll leave you alone-” Gadreel said quickly.
“We’re not here to hurt you,” Castiel replied, approaching Gadreel and reaching out two fingers.
“No,” Gadreel protested. “Your grace – Healing me will only weaken you. The wizards have healed me enough, brother.”
“A cut from the First Blade is nothing to take lightly,” Castiel said, as he touched Gadreel on the forehead.
“The First-” Gadreel started to say, and then he cut off abruptly and stilled completely as though someone had interrupted him. Castiel too, stood stock still, his eyes wide.
Harry caught Sam’s eyes and tried his best to convey the question, what the hell is going on? Sam shrugged. Both Teddy and Nate were looking at the angels warily.
“Do you hear him?” Gadreel asked in a whisper and Castiel nodded.
“Hear who?” Sam asked, but Castiel raised a hand to demand silence.
For a moment, the only sound was Teddy gulping down his tea.
“It was Metatron,” Castiel announced, then he addressed Gadreel. “Where is he going? What does he want?”
“I’m afraid... humanity,” Gadreel replied. “It’s why... one of many reasons, why I’ve come to you. You were right, brother, I was a fool. Metatron must be stopped.”
“Come on,” Sam said. “Let’s sit down and talk – starting with whether you know what Metatron’s next move is going to be.”
As they all made their way into the library, however, Gadreel asked another question.
“You said that Dean cut me with the First Blade – I thought only Cain could-”
“Dean has the Mark of Cain too,” Sam answered, as he sat down.
“That could be useful,” Gadreel said as he took his own seat.
“You’re joking, right?” Sam asked, incredulously. “We just threw him in a padded cell – you saw how he is.”
“Hear him out, Sam,” Castiel advised.
“Oh, excuse me. Sorry guys,” Sam’s reply dripped with sarcasm. “I’m a little less eager to arm the warhead and hope it hits the mark. This isn’t a bomb we’re talking about, it’s my brother!”
“Metatron is more powerful than ever,” Gadreel replied in a patient tone. “You saw during your last encounter – holy fire cannot contain him. He’s found some way to tap into the power of the angel tablet. I do not think an angel blade would be sufficient to kill him. Someone with the Mark of Cain, who wields the First Blade, however...” Gadreel let his sentence trail off.
The silence lingered only a second, before Sam replied.
“But if we destroy the angel tablet, then Metatron is just an angel like any other,” Sam said. “We don’t need Dean.”
“Not quite like any other,” Castiel replied. “He would be at full power. He was the only angel not to fall from Heaven. He still has his wings.”
Sam shrugged. “We killed angels before the Fall.”
“And how do you propose to destroy the angel tablet?” Gadreel asked.
Sam smiled. “Well, that’s where Teddy and Nate come in.”
Harry sat forward as Sam outlined the plan – Teddy would brew the Draught of Living Death. Then, once Sam’s soul was separated from his body, Sam would contact a Reaper and ask to be taken to Heaven – from there, he would find Metatron’s office and destroy the angel tablet, and hopefully Metatron along with it. The original plan was for Dean to come too, but Sam didn’t think it safe now – not with how unhinged Dean had become.
Harry stared at Teddy.
“I told you, I’m just brewing a potion – I’ll be here and perfectly safe the whole time,” Teddy said to him quietly, and then smiled.
Harry looked back toward the others then and realized that Gadreel was staring at Sam in an equally concerned way.
“How in Heaven do you plan to accomplish all that by yourself,” Gadreel asked. “You’ll be killed.”
“I’ll go with him,” Harry volunteered. It made sense. Dean was obviously out of commission – and Sam needed back-up.
Gadreel looked at Harry unimpressed. “The fault with the plan did not lie in the fact that there was only one human foolishly venturing into Heaven.”
“We’d have greater success if we formed two teams,” Castiel spoke up. “Do you know where the door to Heaven is, Gadreel?”
“Then Gadreel and I will also enter Heaven, in the hopes of severing Metatron’s connection to the angel tablet,” Castiel explained. “Sam and Harry will be slower to find Metatron’s office, and so may get there in time to help us fight Metatron after Metatron’s source of power is destroyed – as he will surely return immediately once he feels the connection sever. And this way, should either team fail, the other may serve as back-up.”
Sam and Gadreel both nodded.
“How long will it take for you to brew this potion?” Gadreel asked.
“An hour or two,” Teddy replied. “I have to start brewing the antidote first.”
“Then we must go,” Gadreel said. “The door is some hours away.”
Castiel nodded and stood. Teddy and Nate stood too and gave quick nods to the adults, before disappearing into the other room to get back to brewing.
“Are you sure about this, Sam?” Castiel asked. “What you plan to undertake – it is no easy feat.”
“I’ve survived Heaven before,” Sam replied.
“No, you didn’t,” Castiel replied. “Joshua saved you.”
“Details,” Sam replied with a wave of his hand – “the important thing is that I know how it works.”
“Not enough,” Castiel replied. “You need to know how to find Metatron’s office – this time, you must not follow the Axis Mundi. Instead, when you reach Heaven, you must look for something out of place, something that does not belong – that will lead you to the exit, the corridor between individual heavens that the angels use. Metatron’s office will be somewhere off that corridor.”
“Is there a way to recognize it?” Harry asked.
“Heaven’s appearance is based on perception, just as Hell and Purgatory. Its true appearance is unfathomable to humans,” Gadreel answered.
“So...” Sam said slowly.
“What Gadreel means is that Heaven will appear to you in a way that you can perceive, a way that makes sense to the human mind, “ Castiel explained. “Which means that Metatron’s office will most likely be labelled ‘Metatron ‘s Office’ on the door.”
“Oh, that’s handy,” Sam replied.
“Godspeed, Sam Winchester,” Gadreel replied, and then headed for the door.
Cas gave Sam a small nod and followed.
“Alright,” Sam replied, turning to Harry. “I guess now we just wait for Teddy and Nate to work their magic.”