Harry appeared next to an office building, Sam and Dean were walking towards it. Harry felt a pang at the sight of Dean at Sam’s side, never to be there again. They were already speaking as Till and Draco both appeared beside Harry, one after the other.
“I’m just saying, Sam, you’re out of control,” Dean was saying.
“I’m dealing with it the best I can,” Sam replied, looking hunted.
“Dealing?” Dean laughed. Harry exchanged a look with Draco, because something already seemed off. “Sorry, that’s just funny, I mean how can you deal? You think this is an office building, right?”
They didn’t have a choice but to follow Sam through the door, the scene suddenly shifting and suddenly they found themselves inside a warehouse.
“Is this a new memory?” Harry asked, but there hadn’t been the usual swirling transition.
“Sorry, wrong,” Dean said, gesturing to the warehouse.
“Where the hell are we?” Sam asked.
“It is a hallucination,” Till answered. “We have no way of knowing what is real-“
Till cut himself off when they watched transfixed as Dean morphed into someone else.
“A shapeshifter?” Draco asked.
“You poor clueless son of a bitch,” the man said to Sam.
“Stay the hell away from me,” Sam ordered and then turned to walk away.
“Hallucination,” Harry concluded, “But who-”
“Your world is whatever I want it to be, understand?” the man said.
Sam turned on his heal and shot towards the man. Harry, Draco and Till all jumped at the sound of the gun, but the man was already gone.
“Leave me alone!” Sam yelled.
The man appeared behind Sam to taunt him further, but Harry was distracted by Till sucking in a sharp breath.
“It’s Lucifer,” Till stated, when both Harry and Draco turned towards him in question. “The Morning Star. It was written on the door.”
Harry turned back towards the memory of Sam, flinching when he fired a second time, once again hitting nothing.
“Want to point that gun at something useful? Try your face,” Lucifer said, and walked closer to Sam. “Want to know the truth? Want to skip to the last page of the book? You know where to aim.” He held his finger to the underside of his jaw. “Cowboy,” Lucifer finished, and then mimicked a suicide.
“My god,” Harry whispered.
At the end of the room, a door opened and Dean walked in calling for Sam.
Harry watched as Lucifer morphed back into Dean, in order to confuse and taunt Sam further – or, maybe neither Dean was real.
“Do you think it’s really Lucifer?” Harry asked.
“I was with you, Dean!” Sam said.
“Okay, well here I am.”
“No,” Till said. “I think, only hallucination. It is a trick of the mind, to try to end pain, to convince Sam he must kill himself-“
“It may also be a manifestation of the trauma he experienced,” Draco added. Harry raised his eyebrow at Draco, who then looked annoyed at having to explain himself. “You know I studied legilimency, Potter. Try not to act surprised that I actually learned while doing so. You said his hell memories were released to him all at once – this could be the mind’s way of trying to understand the volume of what occurred.”
They all jumped and flinched again when Sam fired his gun seemingly directly at them.
“Whoa whoa! Sam! This discussion does not require a weapons discharge!” Dean exclaimed.
Sam, thankfully, lowered the gun. Harry motioned for Draco and Till to stay quiet, as they watched Dean approach Sam.
“I think that really is Dean,” Harry explained.
“Look at me. Come on. You don’t know what’s real? Look man, I’ve been to Hell. Okay? I know a thing or two about torture. Enough to know that it feels different than the pain of this – this regular stupid crappy...THIS,” Dean pleaded.
Harry heard Draco take a measured breath. He realized that Draco hadn’t known – hadn’t known where Dean had been before he was resurrected those few years ago. Neither, in fact, had Till – but Till just stared with rapt attention, assessing.
“No, no,” Sam said. “How can you know that for sure?”
“Let me see your hand,” Dean said. Sam went to lift it. “No, no, the gimp hand! Let me see it.”
Lucifer made a cutting remark, to distract Sam, but Dean grabbed his hand and forced his attention back to himself.
“This is real. Not a year ago. Not in Hell. Now. I was with you when you cut it. I sewed it up! Look!” As Dean squeezed Sam’s hand, Lucifer flickered. It was a little, but it was enough.
Harry turned to look at Till, to see the same realization dawn on his face. He saw Till’s eyes flicker over towards Draco, and then Till explained, “Last time I saw him. He would not let me heal his hand. He insisted on the... stitches only.”
“This is different. Right? Then the crap that’s tearing through your walnut? I’m different, right?” Dean continued.
“Yeah, I think so,” Sam said, as he took his hand back.
“You sure about that, bunk buddy?” Lucifer questioned. Harry felt sick at the words, he kept his eyes focused on the memory and resisted the urge to see how Till and Draco’s reactions, but he could feel their stillness just as well as his own.
He watched as Sam pushed his own thumb against the bandage as Lucifer continued to protest.
“And that is why the stitches were torn when I saw him,” Till said, his soft voice oddly empty. “He did it to himself.”
“Hey, I am your flesh and blood brother, okay? I’m the only one that legitimately kick your ass in real time. You got away. We got you out, Sammy,” Dean continued.
Lucifer made one final protest, but then disappeared, as Sam pushed even harder on his hand.
“Believe in that! Believe me, okay? You gotta believe me. You gotta make it stone number one and build on it. You understand?”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Sam said.
“He still does that,” Harry said. “The hand – he presses his hand. He did it over breakfast the other day.”
“He did it when I was explaining how I was going to remove the memories,” Draco agreed.
“So, is stone number one the fact that he got out of hell?” Harry asked. “Or is it that he can believe Dean? Because...”
Around them, the memory dissolved into inky swirls, then reformed. They were in a hospital. Sam sat on a plastic chair. Lucifer appeared beside him.
“You’re such a hypocrite, Sam,” Lucifer all but whispered into Sam’s ear. “First you want things to be real, now you don’t – luckily, as long as you’re in agony, I’m happy.”
They watched as Sam rubbed his scarred hand and Lucifer began to fade. “Precious Uncle Bobby is going to die, Sam, and that hand trick won’t work for much longer...”
Before any of them could comment, the memory swirled away yet again. This time, they were transported to a dirty ally, where Sam lay crouched against the wall.
“I just want to sleep,” Sam pleaded to a shady looking man in leather. The memory swirled again, only briefly, and Sam was in an old car next to the same man, swallowing a handful of pills. “I just want to sleep,” Sam repeated. Beside him, the man was already passing out.
“Oh Sam,” Harry said, and he felt the pressure build behind his eyes. Draco was almost green beside him and Till cringed as he watched the drugs slide down Sam’s throat. “Where the hell is Dean?” Harry asked the one person who couldn’t hear him.
Sam closed his eyes, leaning back in the seat as the drugs seemed to take effect, but then jumped awake as the front window suddenly shattered. Sam scrambled out of the car, while Harry, Draco and Till simply walked through the memory like it was made of smoke. The windshield was intact.
“Good morning to you! Good morning to you!” Lucifer sung from beside Sam. Sam just walked away, Lucifer hounding him at his back.
The memory swirled again. Now Sam lay in a hospital bed, bruised and bandaged. Dean was standing at the foot of the bed.
“Sam, if I don’t find something...”
“Then I’ll die,” Sam finished.
From the corner, Lucifer pouted, “Oh, you’re upsetting me.”
“Dean, we knew this was coming...” Sam continued, as though no one had spoken.
“No,” Dean denied.
“When you put my soul back...”
“Cas warned you about all the crap it would...”
“Screw Cas!” Dean declared. “Quit being Dalai Fuckin’ Yoda about this, okay! Get pissed!”
“I’m too tired,” Sam said.
Around them, the memory swirled once again. When the inky liquid reformed, it was to a much narrower point of view. Everything beyond a three foot radius of Sam was blurry and indistinct. Sam was lying on a hospital bed, being pushed into a room, but Harry couldn’t make out who it was that was with Sam.
“He is too tired to see,” Till muttered.
Harry could see chunks of Sam’s hair that had fallen out on the pillow beside him. His fingernails were bloody.
“What’s happening to him?” Harry asked.
“He’s dying,” Draco replied. Till just nodded.
“Where... where- where are we?” Sam asked, and then the figure of the Orderly came into view.
“Electroshock therapy-“ The orderly began to answer.
“No!” Till exclaimed.
“-get you settled. Don’t be-“
“I don’t understand, what’s-” Draco began to ask, obviously concerned at the horrified look on Till’s face.
“They can’t possibly do this!” Till yelled.
“M- m- my brother-” Sam said weakly, but the only answer was a mouth-guard being forced between his teeth.
“What IS it though?” Draco asked again, agitated.
“I don’t know much about it,” Harry answered.
“It is electricity through the brain,” Till replied. Fists clenched tightly. “The muggles... they- They use it...”
“...but I say we experiment a little. What do you say, Sam?”
“...but even then only, only when the patient is drugged – Sam cannot be drugged. We have seen this. They KNOW-”
“Shh!” Harry ordered. Till immediately fell silent. “There’s something wrong.”
The orderly was strapping Sam’s head down, when suddenly his eyes turned black.
“No,” Harry muttered, trying to resist the urge to run over and save Sam – trying to remember that it was a memory, that he couldn’t touch or alter anything, that Sam had survived.
“But is what we’re seeing real?” Draco asked.
Before Harry could even think of an answer, the possible-demon was cracking a dial on the machine, and Sam started shaking as his brain was flooded with electricity.
“Oh god,” Draco gasped.
“It must be a demon,” Till said. “No doctor would do this.”
While Harry and Till stood, horrified, but trying their best to understand what they were seeing. Draco backed away, almost stumbling, in his own horror.
“No,” Draco said. “End it. I don’t want to see this.”
“Wow, you just keep taking those lickin’s...”
“Don’t you dare leave,” Harry said. “He’s showing us this memory for a reason-”
“...Well, if it’s meat, you can cook it. You just got to turn up the heat.”
“No!” Draco said, and suddenly the demon-orderly blurred and there was a strange flash of light.
“What was that?” Till asked.
But Sam’s eyes must have been closed, because all they could see was the electrodes falling away from his head, and the mouth-guard being taken out.
“Open your eyes, Sam,” Harry muttered.
“I should have never broken your wall, Sam. I’m here to make it right.” A disembodied voice said, and then there were blurry fingers touching Sam’s forhead.
“That’s Castiel,” Harry said. Dean had told him about Castiel’s betrayal of Sam, of them all. It could be no one else. And yet, when Sam opened his eyes, the blurry figure was revealed to be Lucifer.
“You’re not real,” Sam said, still confident, before he closed his eyes again.
“Oh Sam... I’m so sorry.”
“No, that had to have been Castiel,” Harry insisted. “I don’t understand-”
“We’re viewing the memories of a madman, Harry,” Draco said, a worn out edge to his voice. “None of this could be real.”
Before Harry could respond, the memory was disappearing around them in inky swirls. When it reformed, the quality was even worse. Sam was still the only being illuminated, him and slightly blurry Lucifer who sat not far off. Sam stared blankly into space.
Harry could hear voices, but could not see anyone in the blackness of the room. The voices were mostly unintelligible, just a low murmur on the edges of the memory – Harry wondered if it was just another facet of Sam’s madness.
Till moved from beside Harry, walking towards the darkness away from Sam.
“They’re over here,” Till said. “The voices- I think there are two of them.”
“...crumbled...crushed to dust....”
“I think that’s Dean,” Harry realized, catching a familiar cadence in one of the voices.
“He can’t even see him,” Draco said, looking at Sam.
Till moved, following the voice, and Harry could hear the directionality of it now too. The Lucifer that had been reading the book disappeared, and reappeared sitting next to Sam on the bed, dressed in an almost comical doctor’s outfit.
“It’s better this way. I’ll be fine,” Lucifer said. Harry watched as Sam flinched at the words.
“This is it!” Harry realized. “It is Cas!”
“Now, Sam, this may hurt. And if I can’t tell you again, I’m sorry I ever did this to you.”
The figure of Lucifer disappeared into a blurry mess as a hand landed on Sam’s face and Sam’s eyes screwed shut. All they could see was the hand, because that was all Sam could feel – and then, energy, like fire, traveled from Sam’s head into the hand, disappearing in to the black beyond what Sam could feel himself.
When the hand was removed, Sam scrambled back, his eyes flying open, and suddenly the room was illuminated. Dean was moving towards the bed, calling Sam’s name. Castiel was on the bed next to Sam. He had red energy fading away from his eyes-
“Dean!” Sam answered, and then seemed to realize who was beside him, “Cas? Cas is that you?”
Only, Cas didn’t respond, instead he scrambled off the bed, as though terrified, and pressed his back up against the wall.
“Cas?” Dean said.
And as they watched, Cas lost his terrified expression, but it was replaced with a blank stare into the middle distance as Cas seemed to completely shut-down.
“Interesting,” Draco said.
Before Harry could ask what was interesting, the memory was swirling around them again. They soon found themselves at the cabin.
“Do you see Lucifer?” Sam was asking Castiel, who had his trench coat on, but underneath, wore the clothes of a hospital patient.
“I did at first,” Castiel answered. “But that was... It was a projection of yours, I think. Sort of an aftertaste. Now I more see... well, everything.”
“Yes,” Draco murmured.
“What are you thinking?” Harry asked.
“Shhh,” Draco waved at Harry to be quiet.
“...the weight of all my mistakes, all those lives and souls lost, I... I couldn’t take it either. I was... I was lost until I took your pain. It’s strange to think that that helped...”
“What’s he talking about there?” Draco asked, defying his own no-talking rule.
“Um, it’s a bit of a long story...” Harry said.
“Tell me quickly,” Draco ordered with a glare.
“...we’re all grateful, and we’re going to help you get better...”
“Castiel was possessed, went power-mad, killed a bunch of people,” Harry summed up. “He regretted it.”
“What do you mean “better”?” Castiel asked Sam.
“Interesting. I need another memory,” Draco announced. “Wait for me here.” Draco disappeared, and the memory suddenly froze around them.
Harry’s looked at Till, only to find him with the same confused and slightly alarmed expression that Harry was sure was on his own face.
“You know him better than I,” Till shrugged.
Harry really didn’t.
“Do you have any thoughts about what we just saw?” Harry asked, changing the topic.
Till sighed and shook his head. “I would say that it looked as though Castiel transferred the damage to his own mind, but that should not be possible. Whatever he did, I am unsure whether it has anything to do with Sam now. It is a concern that the symptom is the same – Sam does not sleep well – that is easy to see. But is it because of hallucination or the compulsion? These are two very different things in the mind.”
Harry wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Harry hadn’t been able to help Sam before, after all, and now that he knew the details of just how bad it had gotten, he hoped that Sam would never have to go through that again. But, compulsive behaviour was different than suffering from hallucinations, so perhaps Harry didn’t have to worry at all.
Suddenly, the memories around them began to swirl again, and as the scene reformed, Draco appeared at Harry’s side as though he had never left.
They found themselves in a lab. Sam was standing by the door with an Asian teenager. In front of them, stood Dick Roman, facing Dean, with a bone through his neck. Behind Dick Roman was Castiel.
“What is this?” Harry asked.
“The moment Castiel died,” Draco answered, and they watched while Dick Roman transformed into the horrible Leviathan that he was, then his face returned to human form, and suddenly he began to pulsate with energy.
“What-“ Harry started, watching as Dean took a step backwards. Sam turned to shield the teenager, and the rest of the room was momentarily cast into darkness because Sam’s eyes were no longer on it, but Harry could hear the explosion, and Sam turned back around immediately.
The room was empty, save for the black goo that used to be Dick Roman. Dean and Cas were gone.
“Sam, we should go,” the teenager said.
“What the hell?” Sam asked, walking further into the room.
“More chompers any second, Sam,” the teenager spoke again.
“Not to worry, I have a small army of demons outside...” A man in a suit appeared.
“This is when Dean died too,” Draco explained, over top of the rest of the suited man’s speech. “They went together.” He was looking around the lab in rapt interest. Harry realized that lighting in the lab had changed, becoming sinister and dark, for a moment Harry thought he saw blood dripping down the walls.
“I don’t under-”
“Sam’s current problems started with Dean’s death,” Draco replied. “But Cas died at the same time.”
“Of course,” Till said. “The spell is terminated with the death of the caster.”
“Five points to Durmstrang,” Draco announced. “But, you could have gotten ten...”
“Ten?” Harry asked.
“Shh!” Draco replied, focusing on the suited man.
“...has a bit of a kick. God weapons often do. They should put a warning on the box.”
“Where are they, Crowley?”
Harry realized who the man was – The King of Hell.
“Can’t help you, Sam,” Crowley answered and then snapped his fingers. Two demons appeared beside the teenager that Sam had left by the door. “Sorry, Sam” Crowley said, and then they disappeared again, the teenager with them. “Prophet’s mine. You got what you wanted – Dick’s dead. Saved the world. So, I want one little prophet. Sorry, Moose, wish I could help. You certainly got a lot on your plate now. It looks like you are well and truly... on your own.”
With that, Crowley snapped his fingers again – and then he too, disappeared. Sam looked around the empty lab, now clearer and brighter than it had been in the moments after the explosion.
Sam looked devastated. Harry felt devastated too. There weren’t even bodies for him to bury. His family was just...gone... through the veil, just like Sirius.
“Did you notice?” Draco asked, smiling.
“What?!” Harry asked. “What the bloody hell are you smiling about?”
“Ugh, you’re an idiot, Potter!” Draco threw his hands up. And with that, Draco once again disappeared out of the pensieve.
Harry waved his wand and the memory froze.
“Please tell me you know what he’s talking about?” Harry asked Till, but he could already tell that Till was as out of his depth as Harry was.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Till replied.
“Come on,” Harry replied, and he exited the pensieve.
He lifted his head out of the bowl and turned to see Draco kneeling on the floor in front of where Sam sat on the couch. He was extracting more memories. Sam’s hair was still wet, but he was dressed, and there was an empty bowl on the coffee table. Apparently, they’d been gone long enough for Sam to enjoy his breakfast.
Till appeared beside Harry.
“Return the memories to their vials, Till,” Harry ordered. “It looks like we need to clear the pensieve for something else.”
“No,” Draco said, adding a cork to what appeared to be the fifth vial of memories that he had extracted in only a few seconds. “We’ll be staying away from these ones.” Draco lifted his wand to Sam’s temple again, and pulled out another long chain of memories, adding them to a sixth vial.
“Then why-” Harry started to ask, and then he realized... he realized there were only two reasons to remove memories – you either wanted to view them or you wanted to avoid them while you viewed everything else. “Draco, no!”
“It’s the only way,” Draco replied, corking the vial. “Sam, why aren’t you sleeping well? Is it like before?”
Sam opened his eyes and shook his head. “No, I just need to keep moving. I can fall asleep just fine though, but usually only for a couple hours, and then I need to keep moving.”
“And there has been no return of your hallucinations?” Draco asked. Harry realized that Draco may have just been trying to clear Sam’s head a little, in order to make it easier for him to answer questions. He was relieved, and felt ridiculous for assuming that Draco was about to attempt something impossible.
“No,” Sam replied.
“Do you ever experience unbidden memories of your time in the cage?” Draco asked. “Are there memories that come without warning?”
Sam shook his head. “Not really – only... only I guess once or twice a day, I’ll kind of think of something that happened– it’s not like a flashback or... a bad event. I mean, it’s a memory of a bad event, but I can handle it.”
“Very good,” Draco nodded. “Now, I’m going to ask you to maintain eye contact, and then it’s going to be just like I explained – I’ll only be following one thought and will not pry into any of your personal matters. Do I have your consent?”
“Yes,” Sam nodded.
“What? Draco, it’s too dangerous-” Harry crossed the room. He just needed to pull Draco away, but Draco shifted and raised his wand. Harry heard Till move behind him, he didn’t have to look to know that Till had drawn as well. Harry raised his hands, showing they were empty, but he didn’t tell Till to do the same. Sam tensed on the couch, eyes going wide in concern as he saw the standoff between the three wizards.
“Sam, do you have any particular urge to do anything right now?” Draco asked, still eyeing Harry and Till.
Sam glanced between the three wizards warily. “I have to keep moving.”
Draco turned his full focus back on Sam, and it was a quick enough turn for Sam to meet his gaze head on. Surely, Malfoy wouldn’t...
“NO!” Harry yelled, but it was too late.