It had been cloudy, misty, and unseasonably cold for days. If Sam hadn't known any better, he could have sworn he was in the Pacific North-West or, god forbid, Canada; but he and Dean were actually working a case in North Carolina.
Worse yet, the weather was beginning to affect their moods. Growing up, whenever Sam was feeling down, Dean had always been there to find some bizarre way to cheer him up - usually by being an idiot on purpose. But these days Dean was just as sullen, if not more so, than Sam, a fact that only made Sam more depressed. Dean's nightmares had gotten worse too. The dark circles under his eyes were beginning to look permanent. It reminded Sam all too much of Dean's electrocution and the week he had spent slowly dying before Sam's eyes.
Sam didn't know what to do about any of it, so he tried to just focus on the hunt. Problem was that it was just a simple salt-and-burn. Although Dean usually liked those cases, they could do them on auto-pilot, which was what they were doing with this one. Sam realized it wasn't doing anything to distract Dean, or himself, from their current state of misery.
They had just parked the car and were walking back to their hotel room after their 2am cemetery visit, when the temperature seemed to drop even more. Sam paused. This really wasn't normal. It was almost like a cold spot, only Sam was pretty sure their hotel wasn't haunted. That was usually the first thing he and Dean confirmed upon arrival. He realized Dean had stopped walking too. Not only that, but he had stopped walking a few steps back. Sam turned to look at him, an eyebrow already raised in question. The expression left his face as soon as he caught sight of Dean.
It had only been a short time since Dean's roadside confession about what had happened in Hell, and Sam had prayed that he would never see Dean that broken and miserable again. Obviously, no one was going to grant the prayers of a boy with demon-blood.
"Dean?!" Sam yelled, as he watched Dean's knees buckle. He made a move towards his brother, but found himself struggling to breathe, let alone move. It felt like an icy hand had wrapped around his heart, and Dean was dying all over again, again and again and again before his eyes.
"Sammy..." Dean whispered desperately, his voice breaking over the name. Sam watched as Dean's eyes slid closed and he fell unconscious onto the pavement. Sam had failed him again, just like he always did. Sam tried to move towards Dean again, falling to his knees in the process. He tried to crawl to his brother's prone body. His vision was getting black around the edges. No, no, he was still in the parking lot, there was just black around the edges. Black figures around the edges. Sam tried to focus on them; he wondered if they were reapers, come to take his brother away from him again. But it hurt to look at them, like he couldn't quite focus.
Was Dean screaming? No, it was in his head. The hell-hounds, the fire. Sam shook his head and tried to focus on Dean in the parking lot. The screaming in his head stopped for a second and his vision cleared. He saw some of the black figures shift and glide, flying, but almost translucent like shadows.
Suddenly, something silvery blue ran by Sam - a deer? The icy grip in his chest disappeared, though he was still left cold and slightly breathless. The black figures fled before the silver thing, too quickly for Sam to get a good look at them. Looking at them hurt his head anyway, like he was trying to see something that wasn't there. Sam tried to stand on his shaking legs, to get to Dean, but stumbled.
"Slow down, mate," someone said in a British accent from just below his left shoulder, and Sam realized there were hands on his arm, trying to help him stay upright. Sam's heart was suddenly in his throat, and he whipped his head around to find the source of the voice.
He looked down into green earnest eyes, and felt himself relax, against logic.
"My brother..." Sam started to say, but the man cut him off.
"Your brother is ok, just passed out. Can you sit down, please? You're a bit heavy."
Sam realized that he was leaning on someone who was a good foot shorter than him, if not more. He let the man help him sit back down on the ground, and used the opportunity to take a good look at him. If Sam were to guess, he would probably place the guy somewhere between him and Dean in age, which normally to Sam would rule out the possibility that he was another hunter, since most hunters Sam knew were older. It was extremely rare for someone to be raised in the profession, as he and Dean had been. Yet, his eyes told a different story, and Sam knew that somehow this guy had been behind the silver deer - that this guy had just saved them.
"My name is Harry," the man said with a smile, when he saw Sam staring at him. Harry then reached into the pocket of his....robes? and held out Mars bar. "Here, have some chocolate. It'll help."
Sam gave Harry a bemused look.
"Trust me," Harry said, as he opened the Mars bar for Sam and held it out to him again. Sam took the bar from him and bit into it. Harry smiled. Amazingly, Sam felt a warmth slowly spread through him; the chill in the air seemed to lessen, and the chill in his own body that had been a constant for days all but disappeared. He widened his eyes at Harry, while shoving more of the Mars bar into his mouth.
"See, not so ridiculous after all, am I?" Harry laughed. "Now, let's see about your brother."
Suddenly feeling strong again, Sam leapt up and closed the short distance between him and Dean in a heartbeat. Rolling him onto his back and checking his pulse. Sam didn't even register Harry kneeling down on the other side of Dean. He was so relieved when there was a beat to meet his fingers and he could see Dean's chest slowly rise and fall, he leaned over and rested his forehead on Dean's chest. "Thank God," he whispered.
"I told you, just passed out," Harry intoned gently. Sam raised his head, and was about to ask Harry something when he saw another man running towards them across the parking lot. He instinctively tensed and covered Dean's chest with an arm. Sam saw Harry immediately tense as well, probably in reaction to Sam's mood change, and saw his hand fly to a pocket in his robe.
"Sir!" the new arrival said, upon seeing Harry turn towards him. "I saw your..." he then seemed to notice Sam and Dean, "...is everything alright?" Sam noted that, unlike Harry, he had an American accent.
"It's Harry, Phil, not sir, and everything is fine. Do try not to run up on people when they are on edge," Harry replied, relaxing. Sam wondered who the heck Harry was. Phil was obviously at least 15 years his senior, but seemed to talk to him like Harry was his superior. Sam watched as Phil looked over him and Dean and then seemed to dismiss them.
"Sorry sir, I mean Harry. What happened? Should I call someone from Obliviation?" Phil asked, completely ignoring Sam and Dean. Sam didn't know what that last word meant, but he knew when he was being ignored, and he didn't like it. Not when his brother was unconcsious and he didn't have an answer as to why.
"What were those black things? Where did that deer come from? Who are you?" Sam cut in before Harry could answer Phil. Harry's head whipped back around as though he had been struck.
"You..." Harry trailed off, a look of shock on his face. Sam wondered if maybe no one ever interrupted this guy. Harry seemed to recover slightly, but still looked at Sam with a curious expression. "I'm sorry, I didn't ask your name. Let's do this properly." Harry paused, and ran his left hand through his mop of wild black hair, clearing it out of his eyes, and then held out his right hand towards Sam, smiling. "I'm Harry Potter, pleased to meet you."
Sam wondered what names had to do with anything, but decided to just roll with it.
"Sam Winchester." Sam shook Harry's hand, and then pointed towards Dean's prone form. "This is my brother, Dean."
Harry just shook Sam's hand and continued to look at him curiously, then reached up and pulled his hair back over his forehead. Harry turned back towards Phil, while Sam kept his eyes on Harry.
"You didn't answer any of my questions..." Sam began, becoming frustrated.
"No," Harry said, "but Phil's about to answer one of mine." Sam shifted his gaze to Phil, and immediately tensed again. Phil was looking at him as though he knew exactly who Sam was. That look was never a good sign.
"Hunters, sir," Phil breathed. "The Winchesters, they...well-known Hunters, sir."
Sam stayed crouched, ready.
"Well-known for good or bad reasons, Phil?" Harry asked, deceptively casually, because Sam could see the tension in his body.
Phil seemed to be unsure of how to answer, but then said, "We've never had a problem with them. But, sir, he shouldn't have been able to see..."
"Well..." Harry cut him off, and Sam saw his body relax. "There's no need for Obliviation then. Have the boys set up a perimeter." Harry turned back to Sam, "This is your hotel, right? How about we go to your room, get your brother on a bed, and I'll answer your questions there. Sound good, Sam?" Sam nodded, and Harry turned back to Phil, "No word of who the Muggles are to anyone, and no one enters the room unless I call them, understood?"
"Yessir," Phil replied without hesitation, and Sam didn't blame him. For such a young guy, Harry's voice had an air of authority Sam had only ever heard from his father. Phil turned and ran back the direction he had come.
"Can you carry him?" Harry asked Sam, nodding towards Dean.
Sam carefully lifted Dean off the ground, and walked to their room, grateful that they were on the ground floor. After some maneuvering at the door that had Harry fishing the keys out of Dean's pocket, they laid Dean out on the bed, and Sam motioned to the small table and chairs.
"Answers now! What were those black things? Where did that deer come from? Why isn't my brother awake yet? Who are you?" Sam gave Harry his best glare.
"Ok...ok, to your first question: those black things are called Dementors..."